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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 27, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Riis responds to doping allegations

Bjarne Riis
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis has brushed off allegations from former Team Telekom soigneur Jef D'hondt that he used EPO and other doping products to win the 1996 Tour de France. The allegations were made on Belgian TV program Panorama on Sunday evening and claimed, among other things, that "Riis had a hematocrit of 64 at one time during the Tour," caused by the use of EPO.

"I have never had a particularly close relation with Jef D'hondt and he has no validation for the allegations he is making," said Riis in a statement released on Monday evening. "There will always be someone out there trying to make money by talking about the past and in my opinion that is probably what he is trying to do here.

"This is probably not the first nor the last time these kinds of stories surface," he continued. "To me, it's all in the past and I do not wish to be held accountable every time someone finds it interesting to bring up some ten-year-old story. I truly believe the future is much more important than the past. I want to be judged on the work I'm doing with my team today, and the results we achieve - that is what's important to me."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

New Zealand dealt blow ahead of track worlds

Tim Gudsell (New Zealand)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

New Zealand's track cycling team has been dealt a blow just days away from the start of this year's Track World Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, with Tim Gudsell likely to be sidelined. The Kiwi rider has been struck down with a case of the flu which has affected several European teams in the leadup to the event, which gets underway on the Spanish island on Thursday night.

Gudsell made the announcement himself that he would not be fit to race in this weekend's team pursuit.

The Pacific nation's national track coach Terry Gyde told NZPA it will field an inexperienced team pursuit line-up in Gudsell's absence, which could end up being the youngest pursuit team in the world. Gyde will pick four riders from Marc Ryan, Jesse Sargent, Westley Gough, Sam Bewley and Peter Latham to form the pursuit team.

The nation's campaign at the worlds gets underway on Friday when Fiona Carswell and Jocelyn Rastrick contest the team sprint.

Zabel, Petacchi confirmed for Niedersachsen

Erik Zabel (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram has announced its two star sprinters, Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi, will participate in April's Internationale Niedersachsen Rundfahrt in Germany. The pair are looking forward to facing the strong competition at the five day tour, which runs from April 25 - 29, and are particularly enthused by the profile of the course which is favourable for a sprinter.

"It leads through Lower Saxony and one stage even ends in Breman. So I'm happy to start here with my team," said Zabel, who will be making his debut at the event this year. "I hope I can win a stage, but the competitors are strong and I'm sure Alessandro will try to repeat last year's success."

While one of Zabel's toughest rivals will undoubtedly come from home territory in Petacchi, the team's commercial manager, Gerry can Gerwen, stated that there's only one thing that matters: "The main thing is that the team wins. For the team, it is important to tie up to last year's success. With both captains starting our chances to repeat the fantastic results of 2006 are higher."

The decision to take its two stars to the German race was undoubtedly influenced by the team's title sponsor Milram. "The Lotto-Tour leads directly through the Milram country," explained Nordmilch marketing and sales director Martin Mischel. "Here, our farmers and employees have the chance to experience the team close by again. This is why we're especially happy that Erik Zabel agreed on his start so that both stars are in the selection."

Rund um Köln looks to the sprinters

By Susan Westemeyer

Alessandro Petacchi and Gerald Ciolek could battle it out in a sprint finish of the Rund um Köln on April 9, if race organiser Artur Tabat's wishes come true. Both Milram and T-Mobile have announced that they will send their star sprinters to the German one-day race.

Milram's other star sprinter, Erik Zabel, who has won the race twice, will not appear this year. However, the team will send the previous year's winner, Christian Knees.

Gerolsteiner is also planning on sending their top sprinter Robert Förster, who last year won stages in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espańa.

"The early registrations of the German teams point to a sprint finish," Tabat said. "But the outcome of the race in the last few years was never predictable. The public can expect some exciting moments. I figure with a sprint finish."

Lampre-Fondital announce upcoming rosters

Damiano Cunego
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian ProTour team Lampre-Fondital has announced its rosters for the upcoming Coppi e Bartali and Critérium International races. Damiano Cunego will lead the squad at ASO's Critérium International, and will be aiming to prepare for next month's Spring Classic Liège - Bastogne - Liège.

"Critérium International for Cunego begins the second part of races that will bring him to Liège - Bastogne - Liège," said Giuseppe Martinelli, who will join Maurizio Piovani as the squad's sports directors at the event. "The time trial is another test that Damiano will face without worries, but he will also aim to improve his sensation in this specialty. I think we will see again a good performance by Valjavec, [who has been] great in this first part of the season."

While the squad hasn't appointed a clear leader for the Coppi e Bartali stage race, which runs from may 27 - 31, sports director Guido Bontempi anticipates a strong performance.

"We aim to realise good performances in the toughest stages, because we have good climbers," said Bontempi. "I think that in the overall standing we can obtain good results. We haven't a leader, so our young riders will have the chance for point themselves out".

Critérium International roster:
Damiano Cunego, Matteo Bono, Giampaolo Caruso, Claudio Corioni, David Loosli, Gorazd Stangelj and Tadej Valjavec.

Coppi e Bartali roster:
Paolo Bossoni, Marzio Bruseghin, Jamie Castaneda, Francesco Gavazzi, Marco Marzano, Morris Possoni, Sylvester Szmyd and Paolo Tiralongo.

Wiggins heads Good Friday line-up

Olympic 4km Pursuit Champion Bradley Wiggins will be the star attraction at South London's Herne Hill Velodrome for the Good Friday international track meeting on April 6. Both Wiggins and fellow Briton Rob Hayles will have their hands full against a strong field of both international and local riders including Belgian Edwin Smuelders and German Stefan Steinweg.

Discovery Channel team director Sean Yates (In Gear RT) has also been named on the start sheet and should have plenty of crowd support.

First run in 1903, the Good Friday meeting promoted by the Southern Counties Cycling Union aims to showcase top class riders from Britain and abroad whilst providing an entertaining experience for fans.

Dome2Dome gets UCI sanction

South Africa's PowerAde Dome2Dome Cycling Spectacular has become the country's first commercially owned, single day race to be awarded UCI sanctioning. The event, which will now offer 50,000 Rand in prize money, is now included in the UCI Africa Tour.

"This is really going to benefit South African cycling in a significant way," said former national team manager Tony Harding. "It's very difficult to qualify our riders to ride at the World Championships and Olympic Games because they have to travel all over the world to earn enough UCI points.

"The Dome2Dome has taken the first step in this regard and hopefully the other major South African single day races will follow suit," he added.

Prior to the announcement the only UCI sanctioned events in South Africa were its National Championships and the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Giro del Capo stage race.

"This will open an avenue for riders to earn points on home soil and will ultimately go a long way in strengthening the country on the international cycling scene, which will show in our performances," said Harding.

Harding will oversee the elite race on September 16, which forms part of a weekend sports festival and expo at Northgate's Coca Cola Dome.

In addition to the elite road race, which will be shortened from 174 kilometres to 105 kilometres this year, the weekend also includes shorter road races and three different length mountain bike races.

Winfield Criterium gets new date

The Winfield Criterium Weekend has announced it will move from its traditional August date to the weekend of June 2-3. Race organisers, Main Street Winfield and the ABD Cycle Club, decided to move the event after race scheduling conflicts pushed the event back to late August in 2006.

"We really enjoyed our mid-August slot, but the move we were forced to make last year to the end of the month wasn't as conducive with less daylight and Good Old Days around the corner," said Mike Farrell, ABD president.

Discussions between Main Street Winfield, ABD and Midwest cycling representatives lead to the decision to move the event earlier in the season in the hopes residents and riders come out to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer.

"The residents around the course are really what make this race for us, so hopefully, once those grills are dusted off on Memorial Day folks fire them up the following weekend to watch some exciting races," added ABD administrator Mike Ebert.

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