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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 14, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Tour of California names 2008 cities, stages

By Mark Zalewski

The hilly prologue will be missing from California in '08
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

The promoters of the Tour of California announced the cities and routes for the 2008 edition, including a new prologue city in Palo Alto on February 17 and a point-to-point finish from Santa Clarita to Pasadena near Los Angeles seven days later.

"We remain committed to upgrading and enhancing every element of the race experience for the cyclists and spectators by creating an even more challenging and exciting race," said AEG's senior director for sport Kristin Bachochin. However, the overall make-up of the race remains quite similar to the first two editions – both in terms of distance and difficulty of climbing, keeping in mind the early season calendar position of the race.

One big change for 2008 is the prologue, which will have no climbing. This is a stark contrast compared to the previous course which ascended the very challenging Telegraph Hill in downtown San Francisco. Stages one and two are the same as last year's race with stage one having been the same for all three.

The third stage is half-new, with a start in Modesto that will add a new section of climbing before returning to the famed Sierra Road climb just before the finish in downtown San Jose. Stage four will again travel from Seaside south down the beautiful highway 1 to San Luis Obispo, followed again by a critical time trial in Solvang.

The other big change for 2008, one that could actually affect the overall classification, is making the final two stages point-to-point, unlike the circuit race final stage of the previous two years. Stage six from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita is well-known from last year's race, but the final stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl, is completely new and could make for an exciting and tactical finish – especially if the overall race is close.

"The challenging geographical features and picturesque landscape of California provide the perfect combination of elements for a world-class cycling event," said Bachochin.

The course design, particularly the changes to the prologue, seems to try to maximize view-ability for potential spectators. AEG said that last year's race garnered 1.6 million on-site spectators, even though that would have required around 1,500 people lining every kilometre of the 1031 km course. Regardless, four stages with finishing circuits and a more open prologue location will make it easy for anyone to see the action.

Follow the links for more information on the stage details and the overall route map.

Belgian federation not chasing European league

Belgian Cycling Federation chairman Laurent De Backer has quashed claims by Tour of Flanders chairman and KBWB treasurer Louis de Laet that the Belgian federation wants changes to the ProTour structure or the UCI will risk the threat of a rival European league. De Laet made the remarks in the lead up to yesterday's 125th anniversary celebrations for the Belgian body, claiming the Belgian federation wants a tear away European league in conjunction with the three Grand Tours and its French, Italian, Spanish and Austrian counterparts.

"What De Laet said in the media is his own personal view point and is certainly not the official view of the Belgian federation," De Backer told "We want to remain loyal to the UCI, where we are with the KBWB one of the founders. There is certainly no talk of a tear away. On the contrary, we want to have a good talk with the guys from the UCI and work towards a common consensus."

De Backer did however support the notion of sitting down with the UCI to work on evolving the ProTour into something that better accommodates all party's needs. "The KBWB has nothing against the ProTour, but can't see how this concept is going to work," De Backer explained. "We could all benefit by sitting around a table and finding a correct solution."

Sinkewitz settles a suit

Patrik Sinkewitz has one less legal problem after the Bonn, Germany, public prosecutor announced that it has closed its investigation of the cyclist in exchange for the payment of a five-figure sum of money to be paid to various charities. A court in Bonn has approved the deal.

Sinkewitz was being investigated for defrauding his sponsors and commercial partners. The case was settled because he was cooperative and he confessed, chief public prosecutor Fred Apostel told the dpa press agency. His testimony was important in bringing to light much valuable knowledge about doping in professional cycling, Apostel said.

Sinkewitz has also announced that he was not doped when he won the Rund um den Henninger Turm race this spring. "I was clean there," he said on German television Monday night. He admitted that he received a cortisone shot the beginning of April at the Freiburg University Clinic, but that was treatment for a tendon problem, and not doping.

The 27 year-old hopes to ride again, but doesn't know when that might be or with which team. "Before I know when I can ride again, it is hard to make contact with teams," he admitted.

Rasmussen meets UCI today

Michael Rasmussen will meet with the UCI to discuss his case in Aigle, Switzerland today. The Dane's lawyer yesterday received Rabobank's report on the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from the squad and ejection from the tour, which outlined that in its eyes the rider should never have been allowed to start the Grand Tour.

"This meeting has been delayed a number of times already, I would have preferred to meet with them sooner," Rasmussen told

UCI's anti-doping director Anne Gripper, said in August that Rasmussen's story had changed completely and it looked like he had lied. "Then he will receive a new warning for his lie as to his whereabouts on top of the two that he already has. Then we can proceed to punish him according to the ruled," she said.

Rasmussen, who was spectacularly dumped from his team while leading the Tour de France, is due to respond to the Vogelzang report tomorrow. The Vogelzang committee was employed by Dutch bank Rabobank to investigate the Rasmussen affair, and was headed by Peter Vogelzang, a former chief of the Utrecht Police and head of the 2004 Dutch Olympic team.

Bissell praise Vennell signing

Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)
Photo ©: Barry Harcourt
(Click for larger image)

The Bissell Pro Cycling Team has praised the efforts of its new signing from New Zealand, Jeremy Vennell. The former DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed rider was released early from the Belgian-based squad to join his new American outfit at the Tour of Southland in his home nation, where Vennell claimed an impressive two stage wins.

"We signed Jeremy months ago based on Team Director Glen Mitchell's recommendation and we could not be happier to see him deliver on his potential already," said team manager Mark Olson. "I think Jeremy will be a force to reckon with here in the United States and will lend a great hand in helping Ben Jacques-Maynes to more success in 2008."

The Bissell squad enjoyed a successful venture down in the Southern Hemisphere, adding five stage victories at Southland to their two podium positions in Australia's Jayco Herald Sun Tour last month.

The two races were the squad's first races under the Bissell tag, with the company moving into the title sponsor position after former title sponsor Priority Health announced it wouldn't be renewing its agreement with the squad for 2008. Its recent success will likely give the riders a boost in confidence heading into the 2008 season.

Pros ready for Darren Smith Cycle Classic

Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), Matt White (Discovery Channel) and Henk Vogels (Toyota-United) are just some of the professional riders will contest the Darren Smith Cycle Classic on November 25. The race has been an annual event since 1993 in honour of promising CATS Cycle Club member Darren Smith, who was tragically killed in a road accident in 1992 just months after he competed at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

"The line-up for this year’s race is world class and it's also a great opportunity for selected amateurs from clubs across the country to race the same circuit as our elite athletes," said Gold Coast CATS Cycling Club president Luke Lucas.

The race, run by the Gold Coast CATS, will be supported by title sponsor Salt Village for the second consecutive year and will again be held in the Salt Village prescient on the Tweed Coast. "The beach side track at Salt Village provides an excellent environment for sprint racing, with technical and high speed cornering sections for the riders to negotiate and lots of great vantage points for the crowd," said Lucas. "We are looking for a lot of support from locals and travelling guests to the area to come and watch the race."

This year’s event will feature two races including a one hour criterium style event with sprint bonuses for competitors from the international racing circuit and a 45 minute competition for regional cycling club members. The event will get underway at 9 AM New South Wales daylight saving time, 8 AM Queensland time, at Salt Central Park.

"The field is much deeper this year with the addition of the amateur race, and it’s great to see a lot of the elite riders returning to compete in the event," Lucas said. "Prize money for the day will be well over $10,000 and this should attract a very high calibre of riders to come and watch and even compete against some of their cycling heroes."

For further information visit CATS Cycling Club's website

Hindmarsh joins Tour Down Under

The Hindmarsh property and construction company will sponsor the Tour Down Under's Most Aggressive Rider's jersey at the 2008 event, race organisers have announced. Next year the Adelaide, South Australia race will become the first ProTour event outside of European borders.

"Hindmarsh’s sponsorship of the first-ever ProTour race to be held outside of Europe adds another business industry sector to the event’s sponsorship portfolio," Tourism Minister Dr Jane Lomax-Smith said. "The major sponsorship brings direct investment and a new national and international relationship to our Australia’s premier cycling race."

Hindmarsh was established in South Australia in 1985 and has been responsible for constructing a number of the city’s landmark buildings, including Flinders Link, the major office buildings of both Santos and IAG. The company has offices around Australia in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Darwin as well as in Beijing and Shanghai.

"Sponsoring the Most Aggressive Rider’s Jersey reflects the company’s commitment to support the local community coupled with a desire to participate in such an exciting, international event," said Hindmarsh's local general manager George Ochota. "The Tour Down Under gives us a chance to promote the Hindmarsh brand to the general public. We consider this partnership a strategic opportunity for our business to create further business associations."

The 2008 Tour Down Under will open the 2008 ProTour calendar on January 22 - 27, with the Down Under Classic being held on Sunday 20 January 2008 at Glenelg. Visit for more information.

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