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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 8, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Astana confusion continues

No pay for riders?

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden was one of Astana's top riders throughout 2007
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

What's going on at Team Astana? Who is in charge and who is making decisions, and what decisions are being made? Those questions seem to be unanswerable at the moment. The Kazakh sponsors are publicly supporting a new team manager, but the old one is still in office. Riders are saying they will sign with the team, while the team spokeswoman denies contact with them. Yet, it's the riders currently under contract who are suffering most of all.

Some of the riders have said they will not talk to the press until they know what the future of the team will be. Others are willing to go public with their difficulties – such as not getting paid. According to the Neue Züricher Zeitung, the team has not paid any September salaries, because it has not received the money from its Kazakh sponsors. Swiss rider Gregory Rast told the NZZ, "That's true, I haven't yet received my paycheck."

Rast calls the whole thing "an uncomfortable situation." He does not know what the future holds, but there is nothing he can do about it. "We all have valid contracts for next season and can't look for a new team – although we don't know what will happen." He said that Directeur Sportif Alexander Shefer told him that the team will continue to exist in 2008. "But can I rely on that?"

The Kazakh sponsors have made it fairly clear that Johan Bruyneel will take over as team manager, but Marc Biver is still the manager and still has a contract. He is another one who is not speaking to the press, but, according to the NZZ, has let it be known that he feels betrayed by the Kazakh cycling federation, which holds the team's license. He flew to Kazakhstan this week, but returned without a signed agreement.

If Bruyneel takes over as general manager, he is expected to bring a number of former Discovery Channel riders with him. Tour de France winner Alberto Contador announced last week that he expects to sign with Astana "shortly".

Team spokeswoman Corinne Druey has denied that the Spaniard will join the team, and his agent, Tony Rominger told the NZZ, "We are holding discussions with many teams – but we have not spoken with Astana." Rominger added, "Many unusual things are happening. But nothing surprises me any more."

Others may avoid the press, but Druey cannot. She has said, "I will never work in cycling again." She previously worked for the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie, but her year with Astana has soured her on the sport. She called Alexander Vinokourov's positive doping control during the Tour de France, "an enormous disappointment, which made me sick." She is employed by Biver and the controlling company, Zeus, and said, "For Biver and Zeus it is clear, that Astana 2008 will not exist in this form."

Sprinters do battle in Circuit Franco-Belge final stage

Gert Steegmans (Quick-Step) after his first of two stage wins
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Sprinters Gert Steegmans (Quick.Step - Innergetic) and Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile Team) did battle again on Sunday at the end of the 162.1km stage 4 from Cuesmes to Tournai in the Circuit Franco-Belge race. This time, Steegmans came out on top, but both defeated Robbie McEwen (Predictor - Lotto) who ended up third at the end of the slightly uphill finishing stretch on cobblestones.

Steegmans (Quick.Step - Innergetic) proved himself the top star of the stage race with his win. In fact, it was his second win; he also won stage 2 from Maubeuge to Templeuve in France. Cavendish initially evened their tally when he won stage 3 from Bray-Dunes, France to Poperinge, Belgium, but the British rider fell slightly short in the final stage.

27 year-old Steegmans also claimed the overall individual and points classifications.

The ambitions of the sprinters were almost thwarted by some late race attacks. Among them was a bold move by Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) who attacked with five kilometers to go and was caught with just 400 meters to go. Cancellara escaped with Stephen De Jongh (Quick.Step - Innergetic).

"But De Jongh was unwilling to take any leads, because his team had been trying to get Gert Steegmans in position all day. So that was understandable – especially since Steegmans ended up winning the stage as well as the overall victory," said Team CSC Sports Director Scott Sunderland after the race according to

"This morning we'd thought about letting a breakaway go to then control the race with me arriving at the sprint with the idea of looking for a victory over Cavendish who had my same time," said a victorious Steegmans after the race.

"This is a final part of the season for me and I really owe a lot to my team-mates who were at my complete disposal," finished Steegmans. "My next objective now is next Sunday's Paris Tours. Winning that race would just finish off my season perfectly."

T-Mobile ends 2007 season

By Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile Team announced Sunday that it has ended its 2007 season with the last stage of the Circuit Franco Belge, after 300 days of racing. "With this decision we follow the spirit of the team ethical code that was discussed in Salzburg in September 2006 and to reinforce our commitment to clean and fair sport," team manager Bob Stapleton said on the team's website,

The ethical code calls for a one week break for a team after a second positive doping test, beginning with the next ProTour race. Patrik Sinkewitz' positive test during the Tour de France was the first, and Lorenzo Bernucci's positive test which was announced during the Vuelta a España was the second. The next ProTour race after the Vuelta is Paris-Tours, October 14, starting the team's one-week break. The team was originally scheduled to end its season with the Giro di Lombardia on October 20.

The combined men's and women's T-Mobile Teams brought in a total of 66 wins in UCI-ranked races this season. The women ended their season after the World Championships, with a total of 30 wins. Judith Arndt had the most wins of any T-Mobile rider, with 15. Two young sprinters dominated the men's team, with Mark Cavendish winning 11 races and Gerald Ciolek winning eight.

Season over for Bennati due to microfracture

By Gregor Brown

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Fondital is cutting his season short after doctors discovered Saturday a microfracture of his right wrist. 27 year-old Italian's last race was the final stage of the Vuelta a España in Madrid – he won the stage and marked the end of a three-year tenure with his current team – in 2008 he will ride for Liquigas.

"Benna" had his most successful season to date that included two wins in the Tour de France (stages to Castelsarrasin and Paris) and three in the Vuelta (Vigo, Talavera de la Reina and Madrid). Doctors suspect the fracture was a result of a crash in the early stages of the Spanish Grand Tour.

The rider from Arezzo was due to take part in his home race Monte Paschi Eroica on Tuesday and Paris-Tours on Sunday. Had he competed, he would have been a heavy favourite for the Sprinters' Classic Paris-Tours, where he finished second in 2005.

Women try out team pursuit at US Track Nationals

Sarah Hammer (OUCH Sports Medical),
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Only six weeks before making its debut on the UCI World Cup program in Sydney, Australia, the women's three kilometer team pursuit event was introduced to the US national track championships.

Two-time world individual pursuit champion Sarah Hammer, newly crowned national pursuit champion Dotsie Bausch, and national sprint champion Jennie Reed are not part of any long-standing pursuit team. Bausch is still in her first year on the track and Reed, although she started as a pursuit rider, has made her mark more as a sprinter.

That is why they called their team "2 Queens & a Fred" for the race Saturday, the last day of nationals competition in Carson, California. And in the final two laps, the lack of specific pursuit laps together showed, but it did not matter, as the three easily beat the best time for the win with a time of 3 minutes, 34.783 seconds.

"We are all training partners, not really for pursuit, but it's great to race with your friends," said Hammer. The final few laps saw Bausch leaving a bit of a gap when she swung off her pulls, and in the final two Reed filled the gap by taking extra pulls along with Hammer. "It just happened to be a good gap for a bike so it went really smoothly," said Reed. There was a bit of confusion among team members, but they pulled it off.

"It was the first time so there are going to be bumps in the road," said Hammer. Reed also chimed in on this sentiment. "That was our first standing start together!"

Second place went to South Bay Wheelman (Becky Quinn, Christen King, and Neva Day) in 3 minutes and 43.841 seconds. Five teams contested the inaugural event.

Reed ready to leverage experience at 2008 Olympics

Jennie Reed (Momentum Cycling)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

With US Track Nationals over not long enough for dust to settle on her three gold medals in the keirin, sprint and team pursuit, Jennie Reed's attention is already focused on Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Reed, who rides now for Momentum Cycling, missed out on the Olympic team in 2000 and suffered a disappointing showing in 2004 with a 10th place finish in the sprint. She attributed her 2004 performance in part due to not knowing how to take care of herself in the midst of the often overwhelming atmosphere that surrounds the Olympics.

"I think the whole experience of having so much stimulus [sic], there's nothing that could have prepared me for that," Reed said to the Associated Press. "Trying to rest when you have that much stimulus, my body never felt rested when I was there. So when I go again, I'll know how to prepare for that."

"There's nothing like actually going through it," Reed said. "So hopefully next time it'll be a little easier."

Reed finds herself in a better situation this time around; she belongs to a solid team, is on a new training plan, is travelling less, and is surrounded by fast male team-mates to train with her at the Carson, California, velodrome, just a few miles from where she now resides.

Looking forward, Reed said to the AP, "Hopefully, I can bring my level up over the next year. Last time around, to be realistic, I was really happy to qualify. Looking back, I was a real far shot for a medal. But now, I'd like to put myself in that top four and have a real chance again."

New York City becoming more bicycle friendly

New York city is getting more bicycling-friendly. The League of American Bicyclists awarded the Big Apple a bronze medal for "bike friendliness" according to the Associated Press.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been promoting cycling as a way toward a cleaner environment and healthier citizens. One project has the city installing hundreds of bike racks each year and 400 miles of bike lanes and paths by 2009.

But more outdoor parking does not address riders' concerns about theft, so Bloomberg is also supporting legislation to require commercial buildings to provide bike parking. In addition, the city is backing road safety initiatives to educate motorists and cyclists.

From a recent study, Transportation Alternatives estimated 130,000 riders daily throughout the city's five boroughs. Given the gridlock of Manhattan traffic, that number is only likely to increase.

"It's the fastest mode of transportation," said Sarinya Srisakul, vice president of the New York Bike Messenger Association to the Associated Press. Srisakul gave an example of how a bike can cover 10 midtown blocks in five minutes while a car might take half an hour.

Petacchi to lead Milram at Monte Paschi Eroica

Alessandro Petacchi will lead Team Milram at the Italian classic Monte Paschi Eroica (1.1) on Tuesday, October 9. The 180km race will start in Gaiole in Chianti and traverse a hilly course through Tuscany to Siena.

Milram for Monte Paschi Eroica: Alessandro Petacchi, Björn Schröder, Fabio Sabatini, Fabio Sacchi, Niki Terpstra, Marco Velo, Matej Jurco, Carlo Scognamiglio.

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