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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 9, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

High winds cancel Murcia stage

By Monika Prell

Valverde believes in Rojas
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Organisers of the Vuelta a Murcia, along with commissaires, teams and riders, agreed to neutralize the second stage because of the continued strong, gusty winds that plagued the riders on stage one. The winds caused numerous crashes on Wednesday's opening stage, which was won by José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne).

In the place of what should have been a decisive stage, the riders rode only the last ten kilometres into Fortuna, crossing the finishing line together with no change in the overall classification. The riders decided to give the stage's prize money Isaac Gálvez’ family, the Caisse d’Epargne rider who died last November during the Gent Six Day in Belgium.

Alejandro Valverde, the teammate of Rojas, commented to that the suspension of the stage "is not bad for Rojas, even if it is not a gift, he showed already that he is very strong." But he said he felt sorry that "the spectacle of the famous altos de Espuña y Collado Bermejo could not take place today."

"Rojas is very strong, and I have also a good form. I don't know what can happen in this edition. I think that the decisive stage will now be the time trial on the second to last stage. I hope that the wind won't bother us for the rest of the race."

Friday's 146 kilometre third stage between Puerto Lumbreras and San Pedro del Pinatar will run over the Alto de Purias and the Alto de Cedacero, both category three climbs, but very far from the finish, so a bunch sprint can be expected.

No Kroon for Paris-Nice

Karsten Kroon
Photo ©: David Wood
(Click for larger image)

CSC's Karsten Kroon will not be starting in this year's edition of Paris-Nice because pains from a broken rib he sustained in the Tour of California. "I did a couple of hours on the Amstel Gold Race route today [Thursday] and after that I did a couple of hours behind a motorbike, but it was just too painful so I had to cancel," said Kroon.

"There's still a couple of weeks till my next race, but I'm hoping to be ready for Milano-Sanremo and I might do Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in stead to get a stage race under my belt ahead of the classics. My big goal this spring is Tour of Flanders so I'd really like to be 100 percent ready for that," continued Kroon.

Kroon will be replaced by Kasper Klostergaard.

Whatever happened to cycling? Powerbrokers play politics as the sport suffers

Française Des Jeux
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Bored with cycling politics? Don't be. It's serious. If cycling's doping scandals were not enough, the UCI vs. Grand Tour organisers spat has the potential to do irreparable damage. While some fans may turn away because of doping, to think of major events like Paris-Nice and even le Tour itself without the best riders in the world seems unimaginable. But it nearly happened this month. Although the UCI backed down and there is now a 'cease-fire', the war is far from over. So how did it get this bad? Cyclingnews' staffers Laura Weislo, Hedwig Kröner and Shane Stokes find out that it's all about the Benjamins.

Recently, you will have read - or maybe skipped over - all this reporting on Unibet and the Grand Tours and obscure European legislation about advertising gambling. It may seem irrelevant, but it's not really, because it reveals serious management issues in the sport that will affect the fans' enjoyment, and the riders' career prospects. So, who is to blame? Review the following issues and decide for yourself, but the last time we looked, media companies tended to guard their revenue streams like the crown jewels. vs. the lotteries

With an estimated €500 million in European bets taking place over the internet in 2006, the Internet gaming industry is huge, and stands to grow even larger. Industry experts estimate that in the next five years, this figure could be ten times that amount. That's why, an online gambling website that allows any Internet user across Europe to place bets on sports, casino games and other types of gambling, is throwing its weight behind a cycling team.

However, the Unibet business model is facing stiff opposition from several European countries, with France being one of the hot battle grounds. It's the fact that online gambling allows users to bet across country borders that is at issue.

In France, betting and gambling is illegal except for the national lottery (managed by the semi-public company La Française des Jeux), horse races managed by PMU and casinos. With €9.5 billion in sales in 2006 by La Française Des Jeux alone, these industries do not welcome the competition from Unibet and other online gambling institutions, and the issue has recently swung toward the side of the Internet gaming industry.

None of this would matter to the world of cycling, except that decided to throw large amounts of money into sponsoring a team, and fought tooth and nail to become a ProTour squad. They committed millions in sponsorship of cycling despite the fact that in September of 2006 the company was already facing legal action from La Française Des Jeux, with the Belgian national Lottery, Lotto, also threatening to follow - which it now has.

Click here to read the full feature.

T-Mobile for the weekend

By Susan Westemeyer

Patrick Sinkewitz
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile is going international this coming weekend, with one squad in Belgium, one in Italy and a third in France. The team announced its line-ups for Paris-Nice and Milano-Torino on Thursday.

Patrik Sinkewitz will lead the team in Paris-Nice. "It's very early in the season, but Patrik is already in good form. He is our man for the overall," said Sporting Director Rolf Aldag. He further noted that Sinkewitz had been working on the track recently to improve his time trial position.

The team's other captain, Michael Rogers, will lead the team in Milano-Torino. He will have a heavily Italian team, with Italian riders Giuseppe Guerini, Lorenzo Bernucci and Marco Pinotti, and Sergiy Gonchar, who, like Rogers, lives in Italy.

T-Mobile for Paris-Nice: Michael Barry, Marcus Burghardt, Bert Grabsch, Roger Hammond, Greg Henderson, Axel Merckx, Jaokb Piil, and Patrik Sinkewitz.

T-Mobile for Milano-Torino: Lorenzo Bernucci, Gerald Ciolek, Linus Gerdemann, Giuseppe Guerini, Sergiy Gonchar, Kim Kirchen, Marco Pinotti, Michael Rogers, and Thomas Ziegler.

Hansen in Belgium

By Susan Westemeyer

Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile's Adam Hansen is riding his first races in Belgium and has a fundamental question: "Why would anyone want to ride uphill on cobbles? Really, why?"

He asked himself that during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Le Samyn and will have the opportunity to further explore it during the Record Dreidaagse van West-Vlaanderen this weekend.

Hansen returned from the Tour of California and got a last minute call that he was going to ride the Belgian races. "I'm excited to race in Belgium, never have before," he wrote on his website, "Everyone seems to say it's going to teach me a lot how to ride, which is a good thing and also a bad thing. I'm willing to learn, but I feel it isn't going to be easy at all and it's going to hurt. But hey!"

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne was his first experience in Belgium, and the going was fast and furious. "Guys were going crazy for position. I must have locked my back wheel at least 10 times from riders in front of me crossing over without any care of what's behind."

Hansen had an additional problem over the weekend, in that he was still recovering from the flight back from California. At 3 a.m. Monday, he wrote "I hate jetlag and I'm still affected by it. I would have thought I would be fine now. But I'm not. I noticed at the race today (K-B-K) that towards the end my body just said it was enough from the jetlag. I was just tired."

He was feeling better by the time Le Samyn rolled around. "Once we got to the finishing laps, the action started to happen. With big cross winds and FJD going spastic on the front, things started to open up." Hansen did well enough to end up in the leading group on the last lap, with teammate Roger Hammond.

"It looked like a top three guaranteed." But...... "While Roger and I talked some tactics, Gilbert attacked and I must admit, we weren't ready and we were a bit off the back. I was going hard and when I noticed that they had found out that we were not there and started to work, I didn't want to take any chances, so I did a huge turn to get Roger up there, and it killed me."

"Roger made it but I had fully died. I really dug deep to get across and it took me over 4 minutes and I was dead twice." Despite his exhaustion, the team kept telling him to attack and attack. "By the time we got to 1 km to go, I had used everything and it was all up to Roger. I half made it to the finish." He finished 6th on the stage.

Hammer to defend world title

2006 World Pursuit Champion Sarah Hammer will head up the USA's team for the UCI Track World Championships in Majorca at the end of this month. Hammer took the first American world track title since 1996 last year in Bordeaux, France, setting a time of 3:37.227 in the gold-medal final. Hammer gave another gold medal performance in January, where she rode a 3:32.058 to set the American and track record.

Joining Hammer on the women’s squad will be endurance riders Neva Day and Becky Quinn and sprinter Jennie Reed.

Only two men will compete for the US - Michael Creed and Brad Huff (Slipstream p/b Chipotle). Creed will compete in the men’s points race, while Huff will contest the scratch race and the newly added omnium competition, which makes its world championship revival this year. The omnium include the 200-meter time trial, a five-kilometer scratch race, a three-kilometer individual pursuit, a 15-kilometer points race and a kilometer time trial – all tied together with a cumulative points system.

USA team for the 2007 UCI Track World Championships
Sarah Hammer – Individual Pursuit, Points Race
Neva Day – Individual Pursuit
Becky Quinn – Scratch Race
Jennie Reed – Sprint, Keirin
Michael Creed - Points Race
Brad Huff - Points Race, Omnium

Banyoles opens GP Massi International Catalan Cup

Current World champion, World Cup champion, and Olympic Champion Julien Absalon will appear in his new team Orbea Mountain Bike Team colours for the first time in competition this Sunday at the opening race of the GP Massi International Catalan Cup in Banyoles, Girona, Spain.

He will be joined by the rest of the Orbea squad, which is spending this week in the area. Among his teammates will be 2005 European champion Jean Christophe Peraud, Spanish champion Rubén Ruzafa and former junior world champion Iñaki Lejarreta.

Banyoles will play host to the first race of this series for the fifth consecutive year. The race is an early season test for many mountain bikers based in Europe.

The Orbea riders will be challenged by racers like last year's winner José Antonio Hermida, Kashi Leuchs, Cédric Ravanel, Peter Riis Andersen, Sergio Mantecón, Israel Núñez, Martí Gispert, and 2005 and 2006 Spanish cup champion Carlos Coloma.

On the women's side, two-time world champion and current European champion Marga Fullana will return to defend her title. She will take on the likes of Laurence Leboucher and Cecile Rode.

Kessiakoff is favorite for Race Under the Sun

Meanwhile, other top pros like Swedish racer Fredrik Kessiakoff, Belgian Roel Paulissen, and Italian Yader Zoli will seek sun and fitness in Yermasogia on the island of Cyprus at the Race Under the Sun, also set for Sunday.

German Karl Platt will face a tough battle to repeat last year's victory. Kessiakoff, who took bronze at the worlds 2006 in Rotorua, New Zealand, showed a good form last weekend as the winner of first and second stages in the Afxentias stage race although he suffered a flat tire during the third stage. Kessiakoff may be on his way to lead the world rankings; however the first set of rankings will not be released until March 20.

This year's women's race is shaping up to be a highly contested one. Former world champion, Sabine Spitz from Germany will lead the women's peloton along with worlds medallist Petra Henzi (Sui) and U23 racer Elisabeth Osl (Aut).

Like last year, organizers are expecting the field to begin to split on the very first climb going into the 6.1km circuit with 245m of climbing per lap.

USADA CEO steps down

US Anti-doping Agency Chief Executive Officer Terry Madden submitted his resignation to the USADA Board of Directors earlier this month. The CEO since the agency's inception in 2000, Madden will be replaced by current USADA General Counsel Travis T. Tygart effective October 1, 2007.

Scientists develop insulin doping test

According to the United Press International, German scientists have come up with a test that can detect insulin doping in athletes. A team of scientists led by Mario Thevis of the German Sport University in Cologne have developed the test to detect certain forms of insulin thought to be used by athletes to boost their performance. "Determination of long-acting insulin analogues in urine is of utmost interest for doping control purposes," the researchers said

The team used urine from volunteers, including some athletes with diabetes, to identify degradation products of a widely used form of insulin, Lantus insulin. Using urine samples from volunteers, including athletes with diabetes, the scientists in the new research were able to identify degradation products from long-acting drug, Lantus insulin, but could not detect other long-acting forms.

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