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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for June 26, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Unibet launches new action against ASO

Will Unibet miss the bus to the Tour de France?
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image) has filed new legal action against Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which is to come before a court in the French town of Lille in the coming days. The ProTour team is hoping to force ASO to grant it a last minute spot in this year's Tour starting in London on July 7.

"We want to be granted a start in the Tour de France, not with but with, the team's sponsor with which we are allowed to start races in France," explained's general manager Koen Terryn to SportWereld.

"Earlier we made a suggestion to the ASO that we could ride the Tour in our orange and black outfits. In the past, this has been allowed for other teams. An example is Boule d'Or, who, in France ride with modified jerseys displaying Sunair, instead of the cigarette brand. That is what we want to implement now also," Terryn said.

"I am not sure if I should get my hopes to high, but we need to do something. To just stick our neck out and let them chop it off is not our objective. I hope that they yield, and start using their common sense. They have already turned the clock back 20 years in cycling, they are turning new sponsors away from the sport, but it seems that they don't care about that in France."

Terryn further claimed that some Unibet riders were being barred from starting their national championships this coming Sunday, despite offering to wear their jersey. "They are conducting a witch hunt, the big three [ASO, RCS and Unipublic, organisers of the Grand Tours - ed.] are working together," he said.

"In Spain we have all the necessary licenses, but it seems that still, they would rather turn us away than let us start. Even our start in the Vuelta, is not guaranteed. We will wait and see what comes of this new court case against the ASO; afterwards, we will need to have a discussion within the team over its future."

No Worlds for Zabel

Erik Zabel at the Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

The German Cycling Federation (BDR) has said that Erik Zabel will not be named in its team for this year's World Road Championships in Stuttgart after admitting he used the banned blood booster EPO in 1996 whilst riding for Team Telekom. BDR vice-president Wolfgang Schoppe said that nominations for the German team would be decided at a meeting on Friday, but that the federation was already certain Zabel would not take part.

The decision to exclude the 36 year-old Milram sprinter was taken after insistence from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which only wants riders without connections to doping to represent Germany in national competition.

Zabel made his tearful confession at a press conference in Bonn and June 24 alongside former Telekom team-mate Rolf Aldag, and his since been told by the German Olympic Committee that he cannot compete in next year's Olympic Road Race in Beijing. However, the seven-time Tour de France green jersey winner has continued competing for Milram, with team management set to decide his future at the end of the season.

Zabel is scheduled to compete in Sunday's German national championship, an event he has won in 1998 and 2003.

Rogge: UCI doing its best

International Olympic Commission president Jacques Rogge has thrown his support behind cycling's governing body, assuring the sport of its position in the Olympics providing the UCI continues its battle against doping.

"You should not throw the baby out with the bath water," Rogge told AP. "It is not the UCI who is cheating. It is the riders who are cheating. As long as the UCI will do the utmost effort and have the same zero tolerance as the IOC, they will have their place at the Games."

Rogge's support comes just days after the UCI introduced a new doping charter, in which signatories pledge they were not involved in Operación Puerto and will provide a DNA sample to the Spanish authorities for confirmation. Additionally, those of the 600 ProTour riders who sign the charter risk losing a year's salary and face a two year ban should they be found guilty of using a banned substance.

"I believe they are doing their best," added Rogge. "It is a struggle, an uphill battle, but we want to keep them."

Despite the support of Rogge, Italian Olympic Commission (CONI) president Giovanni Petrucci has criticized the UCI for not tackling what it feels the heart of the doping issue is – team pressure. Petrucci has written an open letter to UCI president Pat McQuaid requesting a meeting to discuss ways their two organisations can pool resources to fight the sport's doping problem.

"It's just the individual rider that has to pay," read the CONI letter. "The UCI seems to completely ignore what has happened in the past and what still happens today as various investigations have shown: teams pressuring athletes to dope.

"The doping problem is too serious to be resolved with simple measures that penalize riders without producing solutions," added the letter.

Peña diagnosed with virus, unhappy over Vuelta

By Shane Stokes

Former Tour de France maillot jaune Victor Hugo Peña has been finding it hard this year for his team. He found out why during stage six of the Tour de Suisse, the day he went on the attack with René Weissinger (Volksbank).

"I was trying to show myself during the stage," he told Cyclingnews the following day. "At the moment, this is not my best year. I found out yesterday that I have a virus so I will try to get it sorted out and start again.

"At least I know what is wrong. All year I have felt empty, no energy. I have been training and taking the same care of myself as in the other years but I never had any condition.

"Now we have to talk to the doctor to discuss what to do. I don't know how long it will take to sort it could take a few days or a bit longer. But I would like to do a good end of season."

The Colombian would have ideally liked to have hit form for the Tour of Spain. However that's not going to happen, as organisers Unipublic recently decided to go back on the spirit of their March 5 agreement with the UCI and have not given the team a wildcard.

"I am very disappointed by what happened with the Vuelta," Peña said. "I think now that cycling is more like a business, it is losing the sporting side. We just have to keep racing. We feel really disappointed, we feel like they are saying, 'we have no interest in you.' Yet we have good riders, a good team, and at the moment we are second in the teams competition here [in the Tour de Suisse, a position they kept until the end]. It is like they don't see us."

He believes it is clear that his team are pawns in the battle between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI over the ProTour. "I think there is a pact between them, the big organisers. They want to win the fight. I think they are the strongest, they have the money. And we have nothing.

"For the moment I have to focus on my recovery. I hope the organisers and UCI can sort it out for cycling. They are big guys but they are acting like children."

Crédit Agricole to withdraw sponsorship after 2008

French bank Crédit Agricole will stop sponsoring its ProTour squad at the end of the 2008 season. After 10 years of sponsorship in the professional peloton, the bank has decided that it will not renew its contract.

A spokesperson for the bank said: "Crédit Agricole is pleased with the close cooperation which it maintained, since August 1998, with [team manager] Roger Legeay." The sponsor also praised the "exemplary behaviour of the riders who wore the colours of Crédit Agricole."

Crédit Agricole will not disappear entirely from cycling as it will stay active as sponsor of the Coup de France, the prestigious French racing series.

"Crédit Agricole will continue to support - until after 2008 - big races on the cycling calendar, such as the Coup de France, but also the clubs, departmental or regional committees of the French Cycling Federation," said the spokesperson.

Before Crédit Agricole, the team managed by Roger Legeay, had been sponsored by Peugeot, Z and GAN. Legeay now has over one and a half years to search for a new title sponsor for the team.

Quickstep announces initial Tour selection

Quickstep-Innergetic has narrowed down its Tour de France selection to 11 riders from which the final nine will be chosen after the various national championships taking place around Europe this weekend. Inevitably the team is based around star sprinter Tom Boonen who will aim for his first green jersey after a relatively disappointing Spring Classics campaign by his standards in previous years.

The other ten riders named are: Carlos Barredo, Steven De Jongh, Juan Manuel Garate, Bram Tankink, Andrea Tonti, Matteo Tosatto, Sébastien Rosseler, Kevin Van Impe, Gert Steegmans and Cedric Vasseur.

Predictor-Lotto for the Tour

After an evaluation of its riders performances in recent races - the Dauphiné Libéré, Tour de Suisse and the ProTour Team Time Trial in Eindhoven - Predictor-Lotto has made a 10-man pre-selection for the Tour de France, from which, one rider will not take part.

The 10 riders named in the pre-selection are: Mario Aerts, Dario Cioni, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Leif Hoste, Björn Leukemans, Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez, Wim Vansevenant and Johan Vansummeren.

The team will be assisted by sports directors Hendrik Redant and Herman Frison with Marc Sergeant as manager.

Eurosport abandons Heppner

The Eurosport TV network has dropped former Telekom rider Jens Heppner from its commentary team at this year's Tour de France following the spate of recent doping confessions from his former team-mates.

Eurosport said it had no reason to believe that Heppner, who now serves as a directeur sportif for Professional Continental squad Wiesenhof, had ever been involved with performance enhancing drugs but nonetheless decided the relationship was not in its best interests.

Heppner spent 11 seasons with Telekom, from 1992 to 2002, but has denied any involvement in the doping practices recently revealed by Bjarne Riis, Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag, among others.

Belohvosciks scores magnificent seventh title

Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has added another national title to his palmarès after taking the Latvian time trial championship for the seventh time in his career on Monday. The 31 year-old, who hails from the Latvian capital Riga, has now triumphed in seven of the past eight national time trials, only missing out in 2003 when he did not compete.

Belohvosciks took victory by two minutes over nearest rival Olegs Melehrs (Rietumu Banka-Riga) on the 44 kilometre course. The win brings Saunier Duval's count to 21 for the season so far.

Fantasy Le Tour grand prize - win a Cervelo bike

Grand prize - Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle

Win a Cervélo Soloist Carbon.
Photo ©: Tim de Waele/TDW Sport
(Click for larger image)

If you are lucky enough to come first in this year's Le Tour Fantasy game you could soon be riding a Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed, R-550 wheels, FSA cranks, bars and stem, Selle Italia Marco Ponza saddle, Cervelo aero carbon seatpost and Vittoria Diamante Pro Lite tyres. Retail value $4750 USD.

The evolution of the Soloist Carbon began in 2001, when long before Cervélo's affiliation with Team CSC, they initiated a project called FM28, which ultimately became the Soloist Carbon. The first years of the project were earmarked for aerodynamic testing. With the aero features settled on, focus switched to the structural design of the frame. Developments in carbon fibre frame design go very rapidly at Cervélo, so the design goals were adjusted several times along the way. When they started to supply frames to Team CSC, it became apparent that their ultimate frame closely matched what they were working on for FM28.

(Click for larger image)

By 2005 their relationship with the team was so close that they were comfortable enough to test the first FM28 prototypes in one of the biggest races of the year, the 2005 Giro d'Italia. Seven iterations later, the frame was picked for pilot production (nine frames of which went to the team for the Tour de France where Jens Voigt put his Soloist Carbon to good use in his Stage 9 breakaway and to capture the yellow jersey) and feedback from the Tour was so positive that they went into full production without any further changes.

Even if you don't win the Grand Prize, the Fantasy Le Tour game is a great way to follow the Tour each day here at Cyclingnews. It's free to play the first three stages - try it out today. You don't need to be a cycling expert to win prizes. Registration has already begun.

What's the Fantasy Le Tour game?

The online game allows you to assume the role of a professional team manager for the 2007 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. In what's set to be the most open Tour in decades, based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Le Tour Fantasy Game prize list

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Prize summary: From one grand prize and one first runner-up to three each second, third, and fourth runner-up prize packages, there are 11 chances for you to win based on your overall performance in the 2007 Le Tour Fantasy Game. There are also 21 daily prizes for each stage's top performer. All prizes are as listed (substitution requests cannot be honoured). The roster of prizes so far is as follows:

Grand prize from Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle worth $4750 USD. Equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed, R-550 wheels, FSA cranks, bars and stem, Selle Italia Marco Ponza saddle, Cervelo aero carbon seatpost, and Vittoria Diamante Pro Lite tyres.

Daily prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quickstep World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen.

10x runners-up prizes

  • Set of Shimano Dura Ace WH-7801-SL Wheels - three sets on offer
  • Maxxis Courchevel road tyres - 10 sets on offer
  • Descente Classic Chevron design clothing - four sets on offer
  • PRO Carbon Bottle Cage - x10 on offer
  • Giro Atmos Helmet - x3 Giro Atmos Helmet
  • BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses - one for each day of tour
Descente Classic Chevron designer clothing
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

More prizes will be announced in the coming days. To find out more visit the prizes page.

Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2007 game

Remember you can play for free for the first three stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list.

Then each day pick nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters, and general classification riders.

For more details go to the rules section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the downloads and winners sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2007.

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