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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for November 5, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Bennati writes letter to close Lampre chapter

Daniele Bennati wins his first Tour de France stage
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Daniele Bennati has had one of his most successful seasons in his six-year career by winning two stages in the Tour de France and three in the Vuelta a España. Next year the 27 year-old Italian from Arezzo will switch teams from Lampre-Fondital to Liquigas, but took the time to write a letter of gratitude to the co-workers who have supported him in the last three years on the ProTour team.

"'A warrior does not need to be reminded of the help given him by others; he is the first to remember and he makes sure to share with them any rewards he receives,'" quoted 'Benna' on his personal website. He took reference from Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho to express his feelings for Italian Team Lampre, where he has made his home since the beginning of 2005.

'Benna' continued in his own words, "I take care to underline the gratitude of all who have been near me and have believed in me, they gave their all to support the team and help obtain wins for our sponsor, Lampre. Under the care of Giuseppe Saronni, even though we were not always on the same wavelength, we achieved these successes with sensibleness and perseverance.

Bennati with team-mate Alessandro Ballan (r)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

"Thanks to my team-mates. I want to say that every victory was not 'mine' but 'theirs,' because to win it is necessary to fight together to obtain the common goal. Thanks to all the staff that work behind the scenes quietly and with great dedication to their work; they have also helped create the wins. Last but not least, thanks to my fans who have supported me, inspired me and celebrated with me," he continued in his letter.

He battled through the Tour de France to pick up his first stage win in Castelsarrasin, and the confidence gave him what he needed to win one of the sprinters' most prized wins, the final stage on the Champs-Élysées. His good 2007 form was confirmed with three wins in the Vuelta – stages Vigo, Talavera de la Reina and Madrid – and the overall points competition.

"After three years and 25 wins, my adventure with Lampre ends. My skies will not be blue and fuchsia next year but blue and green; green with the hope that once again I will be able to write another beautiful page in the book of my carrier – and my life."

For more on Bennati read Sprinting with confidence and Gunning for green.

Sinkewitz didn't think it was wrong

By Susan Westemeyer

Patrik Sinkewitz in the 2006 3-Länder-Tour
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

On the evening of June 8, while attending a training camp in preparation for the Tour de France, Patrik Sinkewitz smeared a testosterone gel on his upper arm. "I thought, it can't hurt." But it did hurt – it got him fired from his job at Team T-Mobile, brought about the cancellation of German public broadcasting of the Tour and nearly caused his team's sponsor to pull out of its contract.

In an extensive interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, the 27 year-old explained why he did it. "I had doubts about my form, despite the win at Henninger Turm. The year didn't go the way I had imagined, especially the Classics," he said. "The crazy thing is, that I actually didn't have any pressure on me," he added. "Everyone was satisfied with me. Except for me. I wanted to be better."

On the next day, he and his team-mates returned from a long ride to find the anti-doping controllers waiting for them. They knew the controllers were there, since a soigneur had informed the directeur sportif who was accompanying them. However, Sinkewitz was not worried. "I knew that it was forbidden, sure. But I assumed that the amount was too low to be picked up in a test. I never had the feeling of doing something wrong."

The lack of guilt feelings or of understanding that he did wrong runs through the interview – he knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. "That's the way we cyclists have always handled it. I didn't think about it when I put the stuff on," he admitted. "But taking something in order to improve my performance was simply a part of my life."

After the 2006 season, sponsor T-Mobile made a clean sweep of the team, installing new management with a tough new anti-doping course – a message which Sinkewitz didn't seem to understand. "Of course the word was no doping!" he said. "I understood the message this way, 'don't get caught!' But now I know that they really meant it seriously."

Sinkewitz turned pro at age 21 with the Italian team Mapei, where there was no doping, he said. However, he said things were "different" at his next team of Quick.Step. "There we understood it that we weren't doing anything differently than anyone else was doing. As though it was part of the profession."

Asked directly if team manager Patrick Lefevere knew about what was going on, Sinkewitz responded, "It is hard to believe that he didn't. There are things that nobody speaks about but which are nevertheless made clear. How many details he knew, I don't know."

Sinkewitz continued to refuse to name names, but sometimes gave coy answers as to whether T-Mobile team-mates were involved. "Theoretically only the doctor and I [knew about the blood doping]," he said. "Even if I maybe thought that other riders were having similar treatments, I didn't really know what the others were doing." He also refused to give the name of the doctor(s) who specifically handled the transfusions.

The day before the 2006 Tour de France, his captain Jan Ullrich was suspended on suspicion of being a client of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who practiced blood doping. However, that didn't stop Sinkewitz, who on the evening of the first stage of the Tour hopped in a car and drove the 90 kilometres from Strasbourg, France, to Freiburg, Germany, for a transfusion.

Now he sits home alone. "Almost all my contacts were broken off from one day to the next," he said. "It is as if I don't exist any more. Now, I have lost my job and have nothing except for my house. Now, I could use help, but nobody is there for me. When you are successful, everyone congratulates you, of course, but to find it was it is like when there is no more success, that is something else. It's like having the carpet pulled out from under you."

Rogers thinks "truth will prevail"

By Susan Westemeyer

Michael Rogers at the 2007 Amstel Gold
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

A "furious yet confused" Michael Rogers has denied being involved in doping, in response to the recent confessions by former team-mate Patrik Sinkewitz. "I think anyone in the cycling world and most of the Australian general public know that I'm an advocate for doing things the right way and I think truth will prevail," he told the Canberra Times.

"I'm confident that I'll come through this on the other side perfectly, but in the meantime there's articles being written about me all around the world," the 27 year-old Australian continued. "It's very damaging to my profile and my sporting future. It's not a very good position to be in.

"I haven't actually heard anything official directly from the mouth of Patrik Sinkewitz or his lawyer, so for me it's premature to respond directly to him in the press because we don't fully understand the extent of the accusations," Rogers said. "It it's true, I will be very disappointed in him. If it is true, I'll be making some very strong claims to put the record straight."

Rogers has received support from team manager Bob Stapleton, who took over the team in January of this year and implemented new policies at the team. "Rogers was part of a very strictly controlled anti-doping programme in 2007, and he has complied entirely with our own anti-doping rules," he said.

The T-Mobile rider also commented on the 2008 Tour de France, saying that the lack of a prologue and of time bonuses will make it "a tighter race. It will be a bit more exciting for the viewers. A little bit stressful for us, but I think for the viewers it will be great.

"But I don't think it's going to make a big, big difference, but obviously for the first week it will for the big sprinters. But I think once the race goes into the mountains, that's when the time gaps will still open up."

Armstrong betters marathon time

Seven-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong bettered his 2006 time in the New York City Marathon by over 10 minutes on Sunday. The 36 year-old ex-cyclist from the United States recorded a time of two hours, 46 minutes and 43 seconds.

"I think I came in better prepared," said Armstrong according to Reuters. He competed for 14 years as a professional cyclist, and took up running after retiring following his 2005 Tour victory. Last year, he ran the 42.16-kilometre (26.2 miles) event – his first marathon – in a time of 2:59'36".

"I feel better than I did last year leaving here. Last year it took me about four or five months to actually be able to run again because of my shins. Last year I had no idea what to expect with 26.2 miles (42.16 km), and I paid for it."

"I'll continue to run," continued the Texan, who ran in a yellow jersey. "For me running is the best type of workout right now because with a busy lifestyle and travel, all you need is a pair of running shoes and you can do it in any city in the world."

He finished 698th among 39,085 runners taking part. His time topped that of former cyclist Laurent Jalabert; the Frenchman ran the 2005 event in a time of 2:55'39". However, other former cyclists have gone faster in other marathon events; German Rolf Aldag ran 2:42'57" in Hamburg this April and Spaniard Abraham Olano went 2:39'19" in the San Sebastián marathon last November.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

No new contract for Wielinga

By Susan Westemeyer

Remmert Wielinga is searching for a new team for the 2008 season, as he has not been offered a contract from Saunier Duval. The 29 year-old Dutchman joined the Spanish team for the 2007 season.

Wielinga was not selected for the Tour de France and had only moderate results over the year, finishing eighth in the Paris-Nice prologue and 12th in the opening time trial at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

He turned pro in 2001 and rode for De Nardi and Rabobank for two years each, before spending one season each with Quick.Step and Saunier Duval.

Nine riders are leaving Saunier Duval at the end of the season, including Gilberto Simoni, David Millar and Koldo Gil. The team is still waiting to hear the final results on Iban Mayo's positive doping test, as it is still not clear whether the B-test was positive for EPO or not.

Michael Rasmussen returns to hospital for follow-up

Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen returned to the hospital in Verona last week to follow-up on a plate that had been inserted in his femur last October following a crash while racing. Doctors removed the screws and metallic support from the 33 year-old, who had to remain in the hospital for three days.

"I went to the hospital last Thursday to have the metal plate removed," he noted on It "was inserted last year after my crash at the Giro dell'Emilia. It took a bit longer to recover than expected. They [the doctors - ed.] had underestimated the size of the screws, so there were some internal bleeding. But they have now abated so much that I was able to return home on Monday. I am already walking without crutches and feel the leg becoming stronger each day.

"I thought it was just an ordinary thing they used, but when the wound was to be cleaned for the first time it turned out that there were 20 pins in my leg. They will be removed on Friday. Then we will have to see how everything looks. I count on being able to start training afterwards."

The rider was forced out of the Tour de France this year while wearing the leader's maillot jaune due to questions about his whereabouts during training, and was subsequently fired from Team Rabobank. He is currently without a team for 2008.

"If I start my training in the beginning of November there is plenty of time, especially in the light of the fact that I don't know yet when I am going to ride again."

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)