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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for June 5, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Pereiro building Tour form in the Pyrenees

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

2006 Tour de France runner-up Oscar Pereiro is continuing to train in preparation for this year's race, holding a training camp with a handful of team-mates in the Pyrenees last weekend. The Spaniard, who is likely to be Caisse d'Epargne's leader alongside Alejandro Valverde, recently helped team-mate Vladimir Karpets secure victory at the Volta a Catalunya and will return to racing at the Dauphiné Libèré this coming Sunday, June 10.

"I felt very good in Catalunya, as well as now in the Pyrenees," he told Cyclingnews. "It has been very good for us all to be here."

Pereiro has enjoyed a relatively light racing schedule this season and acknowledged he would need more competitive kilometres in his legs to reach full Tour fitness. "That's the reason I'm going to the Dauphiné," he explained, "because it is a very hard race, with long and hard climbs, just what I need to reach my peak form."

With the Alps coming first this year as the Tour proceeds clockwise around France, Pereiro believes that the Pyrenean stages will be decisive. "Without any doubt, the one of Plateau de Beille and the Col d'Aubisque," he noted, referring to Stages 14 and 16.

And the favourites? "Vinokourov is very strong, but also Klöden, and both of them are in the same squad. It depends on how they will decide who is really the team leader."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Groenendaal leaving Rabobank

Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Nadine Vos
Click for larger image

Dutch cyclo-crosser Richard Groenendaal is leaving the Rabobank squad and will ride the 2007-08 'cross season for a new team, to be announced at a press conference on June 8. "After 11 fantastic years with Rabobank, it's time for a new beginning," the 35 year-old told Sportwereld.

Groenendaal, who became world cyclo-cross champion in 2000, has requested privacy until the announcement is made on Friday as he will undergo an operation this week for an old injury, while his wife Evelien has recently given birth to their second child. "In the run up to the press conference I would like to ask everyone to please not contact me or my family regarding the planning for the up coming season," he stated.

Groenendaal turned professional in 1994 and has ridden with the Rabobank squad since its inception in 1996. In January this year he hinted that a new sponsor was on the cards after receiving a new offer from Rabobank that was considerably below his expectations. The Dutchman may also have been expecting to follow the path of other Rabobank riders into team management positions, but that didn't materialise either.

"I will ride for two more seasons," he said. "Afterwards, I would have liked to work within the team as an adviser for the cyclo-cross team, but that was not offered. That hurts more than the low offer. With my know-how and experience, I have lots to offer. Oh well, I can use this somewhere else now."

CSC not interested in Di Luca

Following reports on Belgian website that Bjarne Riis' Team CSC had made a two million euro offer to Danilo DI Luca, the team's press relations manager Brian Nygaard told Cyclingnews there had been no contact between CSC and the Giro d'Italia champion, nor did they have any intention of signing him.

"We haven't negotiated with DI Luca, nor had the intention to do so," said Nygaard. "We have never had him in mind for the team, we haven't made any contact whatsoever with him nor his manager and thus: have never made any offers to DI Luca, to his manager, nor anyone else representing him."

Di Luca's contract with Liquigas ends this season but the 31 year-old has indicated in recent interviews that he would be happy to remain leader of the Italian squad.

Stevic taken to hospital

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Toyota-United's Ivan Stevic abandoned Sunday's Lancaster Classic with what was described as chest pains and was taken to hospital after medical crews came upon him sitting down on the side of the course with breathing troubles. Stevic, who finished a strong second at the CSC Invitational the day before, was transported to an area hospital where it was determined that he suffered from cramping in his oesophagus, arising immediately after he took a drink of water.

"He might have had a bit of panic when it happened because it obviously disrupted his breathing," said Toyota-United directeur sportif Harm Jansen. "But the good news is that he will be okay and that it was nothing serious."

As a precaution, Stevic was kept for observation at the hospital overnight. He was scheduled to be released late Monday and is expected to start the remaining two races of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown series, Jansen said.

Growth hormone debate continues

There's no end in sight to the debate of human growth hormone's performance enhancing properties as new Australian research shows the outlawed drug does little to improve performance. The research, carried out by the Gavan Institute and funded in part by the World Anti-Doping Agency, says that the growth hormone must be accompanied by doses of testosterone if it's to have any impact on performance.

"We were surprised to find that human growth hormone has no effect on muscle mass or sports performance," Professor Ken Ho reported of his findings to a world endocrinology meeting in Canada. "If it had a dramatic affect, we would have found it."

The research shows that while growth hormone increased body mass it has no effect on overall muscle mass or performance, unless taken with testosterone.

"The combined drug regime enhances the sensitivity of our tests and means we can detect sports dopers for weeks after they stop taking the banned substances," Ho told AAP. "This has major implications for random drug testing."

It's hoped Professor Ho's paper, which is based on a test of 100 recreational athletes, will deter up-and-coming sports men and women from using the substances.

Järmann admits

Rolf Järmann, a professional from 1987 to 1999, has told het boulevardblad Blick that it was common knowledge during his career that many riders took performance enhancing drugs. "In the 1990s everyone thought that everyone was taking drugs, so therefore we all did as well," explained the two-time winner of the Amstel Gold Race and twice national champion of Switzerland.

Järmann, who rode for Ariostea and MG among other teams, admitted that he used EPO and other drugs extensively during that time.

Moletta back on the bike

Moletta's crash in Milan-San Remo.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

When Andrea Moletta dramatically somersaulted into a lamppost in Milan-San Remo, his Gerolsteiner team expected him to miss the rest of the season, or if he was lucky, to come back for one or two races at the end of the year.

The televised crash broke his femur and he had a metal plate put in to hold the bone but now Gerolsteiner is happy to say that the Italian is healing faster than expected. "He's back on the road and he's able to train already three hours since last weekend," team spokesman Jörg Grünefeld told Cyclingnews. "If things are going on like that, he may be able to ride the Brixia-Tour, which is held in July."

After the accident, Moletta had sworn to ride the Vuelta a Espana, and the chances are now looking better that he will fulfil his prediction.

Another Italian on the team, newcomer Oliver Zaugg, discovered that he will require knee surgery eventually after dropping out of the Giro on the 14th stage with sitting problems. "His knee was hurting, but not so much. Now they found out that a bursa is irritated by a scar on the knee," Grünefeld said. He will need surgery to take care of the scar, but it can wait until the end of the season.

Astana for Luxembourg

Team Astana will take to the hills of Luxembourg this week for the five day, 2.HC ranked Tour of Luxembourg. Needless to say, the team will feature Benoit Joachim in his homeland race where he will be supported by, among others, sprinter Rene Haselbacher. The race starts with 2.6km prologue through the city of Luxembourg on Wednesday.

Astana for Luxembourg: Igor Abakoumov, Gregory Rast, Koen De Kort, Benoît Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Alexey Kolessov and Yevgeny Sladkov.

Lampre-Fondital sort signings

Giuseppe Saronni's Lampre-Fondital ProTour squad has firmed up its rider pool for the coming seasons, with the announcement of a host of signings just days after the 90th Giro d'Italia's conclusion. After taking victory on the Giro's Stage 9, sprinter Danilo Napolitano has signed a two year extension to his contract with the Italian outfit.

Also resigning with the squad after their performances in the Giro are Marzio Bruseghin, winner of the mountain TT Stage 13, and Patxi Vila, who finished 15th on general classification. Matteo Bono has also re-signed with the squad, having won two ProTour races this season, while Paolo Tiralongo and Daniele Righi are expected to sign new contracts over the coming days.

Tom Boonen, now a cartoon

Tom Boonen's superstar status in Belgium continues to grow. Following the successful launch of his biography last year, publisher Borgerhoff & Lamberigts is now planning to release a cartoon with Boonen junior as the main character. "The comic will be about a 12 year-old Boonen and the adventures that he has around his home town of Balen," explained Ivan Claeys who is responsible for the story line.

When Boonen attended the launch of his biography last year, temporary fences were needed to keep fans from crushing Quick.Step's star rider. 500 copies were sold in less than two hours that day and Borgerhoff & Lamberigts want to play the same hand as last year, and plan on releasing the first edition of the comic in September, in time for the Belgian Book Fair.

The comic will be aimed at "Boonen fans, cycling fans, and young people who like a good, amusing comic," said Claeys, who also hinted that further publications are not out of the question, if there is sufficient interest.

Savings & Loans embark on North American adventure

Beauce, Canada is about as far as possible from the Savings & Loans Cycling Team's Adelaide, Australia headquarters, but that's where the Oceania Continental squad is heading for its North American debut. Team manager Steve Cunningham is taking a five members of the credit union-backed squad to complete a block of racing in North America.

The squad will make its debut alongside some of the power-house teams in North American cycling at the Tour de Beauce, which commences on June 12. Following the Canadian outing, the squad will head south to the might United States of America where it will contest New York's Rochester Twilight Criterium.

"We've set the first half of this year up for this Tour in particular, and will be going into it with confidence," said Cunningham. "This will be a great test for our team, competing internationally against a quality field who are currently in the peak of their season."

Included in the team's roster is Olympic Champion Brett Aitken and Oceania Championship dual silver medallist David Pell.

"If we can get Brett through the Tour in good shape, we'll have a great chance against the American pro teams [in New York]," added Cunningham. "Craig McCartney placed in this event a couple of years ago and will also provide good support and insight."

American Velodrome Challenge pulls big names

The American Velodrome Challenge has announced Jennie Reed and Adam Duvendeck will contest this year's event at Hellyer Park Velodrome on July 20-21. The pair recently won medals at the Pan American Championships in Venezuela, with Duvendeck taking silver in the team sprint while Reed, a 2004 Olympian, took multiple medals including a gold in the keirin.

The announcement of the pair's participation at this year's event is an added boost for the track race, which has also increased the total prize pot. There is not some $10,000 USD up for grabs, following the signing of SugarCRM as a sponsor.

"We're bringing on quality riders and sponsors and taking this race to the next level," said race director Robin Horwitz. "There is a decidedly new flavor being introduced to the local track racing scene."

The challenge will feature several races over two days, ranging from sprints to endurance rides.

Hayles and Downing to line up in London

Organisers of the Smithfield Nocturne have announced multiple Olympic medallist Rob Hayles and RaphaCondor team leader Dean Downing are the first elite riders confirmed for this year's event. The pair will line up alongside stars of the British Premier Calendar and ProTour guests on June 23 to take on the challenging circuit around the historic Smithfield Market in the heart of the capital.

Hayles is no stranger to circuit racing but the Smithfield course will be an unknown quantity for the British professional. "I've never been to that part of London so I don't know much about the circuit," said Hayles. "I've seen the map and it looks like the rider's technical abilities and equipment are going to be tested to the max!"

"The course certainly looks a bit tight," agreed Downing. "But that's what crit racing is about, what Rob and I would call 'real' crit racing anyway! There are a couple of long straights, that will give the opportunity to put some power down. I think Rob will be the danger man though; he seems to go round corners like he is on rails."

This year's event includes the elite criterium, junior and messenger races, as well as a folding bike race with Le Mans style start.

"It’s fantastic that an event like this will be held in the centre of London," said Hayles. "With two weeks before the Tour it will provide an interesting taster for many Londoners who know nothing about cycling."

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