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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for October 2, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson

Zabel preparing to leave Milram

By Susan Westemeyer

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

German Erik Zabel believes he will leave Team Milram at the end of the season, despite having another year to go on his three-year contract. "In a team-internal meeting, it was agreed with the team and the sponsor that this would be shortened to two years," he told "And that makes it legitimate that another team, which is interested, has made me an offer." Zabel expects to have everything cleared up in the next two to three weeks.

After Zabel's doping confession in May, it was rumoured that Milram wanted offload him and also that T-Mobile was interested in re-signing the rider. When T-Mobile last week announced its line-up for the coming season, it noted that it still had three places to fill. "[If Zabel] could clear up his contract situation, then we would be glad to have him," T-Mobile team manager Bob Stapleton said. "He would fit in our team."

The sprinter indicated that he did not think reaching an agreement to terminate his contract with Milram would be too difficult. "We are all adults and don't need a lawyer to clear up our future," he said.

The 37 year-old is definitely planning a future in cycling. "I am optimistic that I will still be active next year," Zabel outlined. "Wherever that will be."

Looking back at the World Championships, Zabel criticised everyone from the race organisers to winner Paolo Bettini. "It turned into a situation which was sad and caused damage, not only to cycling and the federations, but also for the city of Stuttgart," he said. "I don't understand why all the problems only cropped up in the last three or four days before the Worlds. Everything could have been worked out in the last few months."

"Of course it would have been good if Paolo had signed the declaration," Zabel noted. "[But Bettini] had some arguments which deserve to be heard."

Zabel will ride Paris-Tours and the Six Day Races in Munich and Dortmund to end his season.

Schumacher's "irregular" blood values due to diarrhoea

Stefan Schumacher (Germany) was
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The German cycling federation (BDR) announced Monday that an intestinal infection was responsible for irregular blood values which were found in UCI World Road Championships bronze medal winner Stefan Schumacher before the event. The UCI and BDR emphasized that the problem was not due to any manipulation or doping.

The Gerolsteiner rider underwent an unannounced out-of-competition doping control by the German National Anti-Doping Agency on September 25 and an unannounced control by the UCI three days later. The results showed "irregularities in various parameters". Schumacher requested that further tests be made and the investigating doctors concluded that the problem was due to the diarrhoea from which the German rider was suffering.

All of the blood values were within the UCI's limits. "A removal from competition came at no time into consideration," BDR said.

Bibbona goes wild over Bettini win

Paolo Bettini and his people:
Photo ©: OMNIA Photo
(Click for larger image)

While Quick.Step-Innergetic's Paolo Bettini was busy riding his heart out to successfully defend his World Championship in Stuttgart on Sunday, at home in Italy a massive party was underway. Members of the Paolo Bettini Club in Marina di Bibbona had gathered with the Italian's friends and parents, Giuliana and Giuliano Bettini, to watch the race live on a wide screen television at Hotel Marinetta.

If the atmosphere wasn't festive enough during the race, it erupted into a suburb-wide party as Bettini won the race. The hotel put on a buffet meal for everyone present after Bettini's win, while outside a continual procession of cars circled the area blowing their horns.

The party didn't stop there, however, with the Mayor of Bibbona throwing a party on Monday afternoon in the main square of La California, where Bettini was born, in the rider's honour.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by OMNIA Photo

Kolobnev: Proud and happy

Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev has told of his pride in taking second place at the weekend's UCI World Road Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The 26 year-old dubbed his second place to dual World Champion Paolo Bettini the greatest accomplishment of his career, which includes a Paris-Nice stage win earlier this season.

"I'd told the team in advance that I was on absolute top-form after the Vuelta and out on the route I could feel my legs were good," explained Kolobnev, who finished second on the Vuelta's Stage 16. "So the plan was to get me in position and I owe my team-mates a big thank you for all the hard work they delivered throughout the day. Our tactics were to try and make the race as tough as possible in order to split the peloton, which is exactly what happened."

While Kolobnev admitted he wished to win the world title, he added that there's no shame in finishing second to a rider like Bettini. "Of course it would've been fantastic to win the world championship, but there is only one Bettini after all," Kolobnev told "I have every reason to be proud and happy with the outcome. It's my best result so far for sure."

The Team CSC rider said that having one of his trade team-mates, Luxembourg's Fränk Schleck, in the break with him made little difference on the day as were riding for different nations. "First of all we were each fighting for separate teams on the day and secondly there was no time to talk tactics at all, because the pursuers were breathing down our necks. So it was every man for himself really," explains Kolobnev.

The Russian now hopes to carry his silver medal winning form through the final races of his 2007 program. "I've got four races in Italy in October finishing with Giro di Lombardia and I'd really like to make a couple of good results there if I can," concluded Kolobnev.

Wiggins wants big 2008

Bradley Wiggins wants to move to a whole new level in 2008, with the Briton hoping his move from French ProTour team Cofidis to German outfit T-Mobile will be the catalyst for a successful season. The Olympic champion was announced on the magenta squad's roster last Friday, where he will join American George Hincapie under the guidance of doping crusader Bob Stapleton. "It will be a big change, the first time I've gone to a multicultural, English-speaking team," Wiggins said in his Sunday's Observer column. "I'll be joining two other British guys, Mark Cavendish and Roger Hammond, which is something to look forward to."

While Wiggins described 2007 as one of his best seasons on the road, he's hoping that success at the Beijing Olympics Games as well as the Tour de France. "I'll be back at the Tour in 2009 for sure," said Wiggins. "Next year, however, I have to think about the Olympic Games."

"Next year could be my biggest ever," he added. "It could make the difference between having been a good cyclist and being a great one. If I retire today I would remain a good cyclist who has won an Olympic gold medal but if I do what I'm capable of next year it could put me into another level as an athlete and a sportsman."

Wiggins said that T-Mobile's attitude towards his Olympic preparation and its stance on doping attracted him to the squad. The 27 year-old has been vocal in his position against doping, speaking out angrily about former team-mate Christian Moreni's non-negative test which saw the ProTour squad ejected from the Grand Tour. "What attracted me to T-Mobile is that they are fully behind my Olympic planning," he explained. "For example, I won't have to do the Tour de France, which is on the backburner for now. I also appreciate the thinking of their manager, Bob Stapleton, who is trying to develop a strong team structure and to work in a new way."

Cédric Vasseur: Time to say good-bye

Cédric Vasseur (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

After 14 professional seasons, Frenchman Cédric Vasseur will bring his career to a close. The two-time Tour de France stage winner became a national hero overnight when he spent five days in the yellow jersey in 1997. At the Kampioenschap Van Vlaanderen he reflected on his career and he was very happy with what he had accomplished, as Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake found out.

Cédric Vasseur's decision to retire wasn't precipitated by any key moment, rather, it was something that had slowly unfolded over time. "I am 37 years old and have been a professional for 14 years," Vasseur observed, and he wasn't sure how much more he could get out of the sport.

"I can't win the Tour de France and I can't win Paris-Roubaix. I am not a great champion like Museeuw, Bettini or Boonen. But with the means I had, I did win the races I could," said the Frenchman modestly, having just returned from a brilliant second place at the GP Wallonie.

Despite the lack of great wins, Vasseur's entire career changed when, in 1997, he held the maillot jaune in the Tour de France for five days. It was only Vasseur's third full year as a professional, having turned pro in August of 1994, and the days in yellow changed him both mentally and physically. Riding for the French team GAN, Vasseur soloed to victory on stage five in La Chatre, and then held on to the lead for five days. And in a performance that would be repeated by his younger compatriot Thomas Voeckler years later, Vasseur fought his way through a decisive day in the Pyrenees behind an attacking Jan Ullrich on stage nine, just barely holding on for one more day by 13 seconds.

"The yellow jersey helped me a lot. You go over your limits when you have yellow. You can't do some of those things when you don't wear the maillot jaune," he reflected on those days where he battled hard against the top riders in the world, carried by a wave of enthusiasm that rolled through the entire country.

"It puts you in a different mindset," he reminisced on that year when he raced for the French team GAN. Not only did he stretch the limits of his abilities on the bike, his time in yellow also changed his ambitions. "I think it changed my career a bit," Vasseur said and added that "it increased my athletic appetite."

Since the days of Bernard Hinault there haven't been many Frenchmen in the leader's jersey of La Grande Boucle, and the nation celebrated his time in the lead of the race. "The maillot jaune is the greatest. I could show myself to the public. When you have yellow and you are French, then everybody follows you and encourages you."

To read the full interview with Cédric Vasseur, click here.

Tuft holds on for America win

Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Cycling) has claimed the UCI America Tour's overall victory, with the series' standings finalised following the weekend's UCI World Road Championships in Stuttgart, Germany at the weekend. The 30 year-old Canadian claimed victory over 40 year-old runner up Hernan Buenahora Gutierrez, finishing with 234.66 points to the Colombian's 194.66.

"It's been a long, hard season for me," Tuft said. "But it's been one of the best. Having the goal of the America Tour has made me train harder, race harder and stay focused all year. It's been a 10-month stage race, in a way. But I'm just so happy we did this, both for the team and for Canada."

Tuft started his season on a high note with victory in the two-week long Tour of Cuba. He consolidated his position in the America Tour standings with victory at the US Open Championships.

The rider's success, and that of his Canadian trade team, has also helped lift Canada's standing in countries rankings. Having finished 2006 ranked in eighth from 19 nations, it has moved up five places to third in 2007.

Milram for Muensterland

Team Milram has announced its lineup for the 2nd Sparkassen Muensterland Giro, which commences on Sunday in Germany. The ProTour squad will send a troop of riders featuring last year's podium finisher Marcel Sieberg.

The roster for the 210 kilometre event also includes 33 year-old sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.

Milram for Sperkassen Muensterland Giro: Ralf Grabsch, Marco Velo, Alberto Ongarato, Alessandro Petacchi, Christian Knees, Martin Mueller, Björn Schroeder and Marcel Sieberg.

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