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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 16, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Pereiro crowned Tour champion

By Greg Johnson

What the...? Caisse d'Epargne has released this photo of Oscar Pereiro
Photo ©: Caisse d'Epargne
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme proudly declared Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro the 2006 Tour de France victor in an official ceremony in Spain overnight. Some 14 months after the event's running and 1274 kilometres from the Champs-Elysees, where the five other Spanish Tour winners were crowned, at the Upper Counsel of Sports in Madrid, Spain, Pereiro was awarded the sport's most prestigious race win after being officially declared the event's winner by the UCI on September 21 following Floyd Landis' (Phonak) losing his appeal to the American Arbitration Association to overturn the sanction for his positive drug test on Stage 17 of the event.

"Finally, we have a winner and it's Oscar," declared Prudhomme to AP. "Oscar, you have won the Tour out on the road."

"I have the feeling of arriving at the end of a thriller, after having spent 14 months thinking about it and not being able to concentrate as I should have on my job," responded Pereiro. "It is essentially a kind of release."

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme hands Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

While the 'official' crowning of Pereiro as the 2006 winner should be the closing of a turbulent chapter in the Tour's history books, the story's final paragraphs are yet to be played out. Just 24 hours after Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation announced the official handing over of the yellow jersey last Wednesday, Landis announced he would exercise his right to take his case to the final stage of appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Despite Landis pressing ahead with his case, which could see the Tour victory handed back to the American depending on the CAS ruling, ASO decided to push ahead with plans to give Pereiro the jersey following the UCI recognizing him as the winner. CAS is expected to make its ruling on the case around mid-February 2008.

A clear trophy with a clear message: Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

"The international federation said two weeks ago the winner or the 2006 Tour is Oscar Pereiro, and the UCI is the federation that decides the classification," noted Prudhomme. "The moment the international federation said the winner was Oscar, it was clear.

"He's a late winner, but he's a real winner," Prudhomme added.

While Pereiro was delighted with what finality he could take away from the ceremony, he confessed to regretting what he has missed out on due to the events that have transpired. "These emotions, it is impossible to feel them in a ceremony like this one, which is organized so that everyone understands and sees that Oscar Pereiro is the winner of the Tour," Pereiro said. "The moment I received the profit of my work, I had mixed feelings, something between satisfaction and regret for what we were deprived of."

Born in Galicia, Spain on August 3 1977, Pereiro joins countryman Federico Bahamontes, Luis Ocana, Pedro Delgado, Miguel Indurain and 2007 victor Alberto Contador as the only Spaniards to conquer the French race in its 105 year history.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Caisse d'Epargne

Images by AFP Photo

Boogerd determined to start Lombardia

By Paul Verkuylen

Michael Boogerd
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
Click for larger image

The training accident on Friday which saw Rabobank's Michael Boogerd rushed to hospital could see the Dutchman miss his own farewell at this weekend's Giro di Lombardia, with doctors requiring Boogerd to stay under their care for at least one more day, but Boogerd is nonetheless determined to make the start. Boogerd remains in hospital unable to place any pressure on his left knee, from which doctors drained a fluid build up following a bacterial infection, which has put a question mark over his participation in this weekend's event and all but ended Boogerd's hopes of taking a final victory at one of his favourite races.

"I hope that it feels better soon when I walk on it," Boogerd told from his hospital bed in Amersfoort. "I am on morphine at the moment and that works great, but when I am no longer on that, it will be another story."

Interim team manager Henri van der Aat added that they will try and get Boogerd to the start line if possible, but any chance of a final victory has been dashed. "Tuesday we will see if the antibiotics are working," van der Aat told De Telegraaf after visiting the rider in the hospital. "If it is at all possible, he will start. But it is too bad - Michael wanted to ride to win. That is no longer certain. It seems to me impossible under the circumstances that he could master the course."

Throughout his career Boogerd has been one of the finest classics specialist of his generation. Although he was seldom able to claim the top podium spot, Boogerd's presence in the leading break of any classic was always feared. Since 1998, when he was beaten to the Giro di Lombardia's line by the newly crowned world champion Oscar Camenzind, he has finished in the top 10 of the 'race of the falling leaves' no less than six times, twice second and once third.

After a fine season this year, which has seen Boogerd finish in the top 10 at Ronde van Vlaanderen, Tirreno-Adriatico, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold Race and Stage 18 of the Tour de France, Boogerd has decided to end his career while still competitive. "I want to avoid the moment where I have to learn to deal with dissatisfying results," he said.

After a strong performance at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany last month, where he finished 11th, Boogerd decided that his final race would be Lombardia. Up until Friday's accident Boogerd would have been considered a threat for this weekend's race, but fate has dealt the popular Dutch rider another hand. Determine to be on the start this Saturday, Boogerd has told the press "even if I only ride three kilometres, I will see it as a present from God."

"I would really like to pin a number on my back one last time, and I want it to be in Lombardia," Boogerd said.

If Boogerd makes Saturday's farewell in Valkenberg, the site of one of his most memorable win in the 1999 Amstel Gold race, the Dutchman with the wide grin and super white teeth will surely be congratulated by each and every one of his fellow competitors on a stellar career.

Susan Westemeyer contributing.

Athens champions return to the track

The Aussie gold medal winning squad from Athens
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Australia's hopes in next month's opening round of the 2007-2008 UCI Track World Cup Classics series being staged at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome from November 30 to December 2 will be bolstered by the return of several 2004 Olympic Games champions. Dual Olympic Champion, Graeme Brown, who won gold in the Madison, will be joined by fellow teams pursuit champions and world record holders Brett Lancaster and Luke Roberts, with the trio racing on the track for 'The Cyclones' for the first time since 2004.

Brown, Lancaster and Roberts turned their attention to professional road careers after the 2004 Olympic Games, with Brown now racing with Rabobank, Lancaster with Milram and Roberts with Team CSC, but all have signalled they will bid for selection in the 2008 Olympic Games team.

Cycling Australia Endurance Coach, Ian McKenzie, says the return of our Athens stars will boost the depth of the endurance talent pool. "It is certainly significant for us that these riders want to gain selection for 2008," said McKenzie. "But it won't be a case of them just slipping back in because we have some keen young talent with their sights set on Beijing as well.

"Having more riders vying for selection creates a more competitive environment and makes everyone work harder," McKenzie added. "I've spoken to them about what is required and they all know there is no room for egos in our camp. They are all professionals and know that everyone has to earn their place no matter what they've achieved in the past."

Changes to the qualification criteria for Beijing have made performances at the four-round World Cup Series and the 2008 World Championships, being staged in Manchester, England in March, more important than in years gone by. "The UCI (International Cycling Union) has determined World Cup series Champions and World Champions in individual events will qualify a place in Beijing (pending NOC endorsement) which means there will be fierce competition in all the World Cup rounds," said McKenzie. "I expect the very best riders in the world will be in Sydney and, while there may possibly be a couple of individuals missing, across all the events teams will be at full strength."

The Cycling Australia selection policy for Beijing mandates endurance cyclists have to attend two training camps and race in two international competitions before the selection deadline. The Australians will go into camp in Adelaide in November ahead of the Sydney World Cup round.

Brown, Lancaster and Roberts attended a one week Australian endurance camp in the German town of Buttgen in August which gave McKenzie an opportunity to assess how they adapted to being back on the track. "We were pretty pleased with how it went," said McKenzie. "They were all keen and their track skills came back within a day."

Having a bigger talent pool at his disposal means McKenzie will have the luxury of trying different combinations for the teams pursuit and it adds to Australia's chances in the other endurance events including the Madison, which Australia has won at the past two Olympic Games.

The opening round of the UCI World Cup Classics series will be staged at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome from November 30 to December 2.

Downing to Pinarello

By Gerry McManus

Russell Downing
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Russell Downing has signed the UK based Pinarello RT for 2008. The former British road race champion joins Malcolm Elliott, Lee Davis and Andy Roche in the team run by cycle distributor Phil Griffiths. Downing was beset with visa problems this year and was stranded in the UK for most of the year, unable to re-join his Team HealthNet - Maxxis team.

Elliott is looking forward to being in a strong team for next year. "It's going to be an interesting year," he said. "We are already getting proposals and invitations from people and we are considering registering as UCI Continental team. If that happens then we will certainly have to expand the team but we are still looking at more riders at the moment anyway. It will raise the standard we need to achieve and it certainly motivate me."

Taccone passes away

Former Italian professional cyclist Vito Taccone passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack. The 67 year-old, who raced during the 60s, was best known for his climbing abilities, having won the climber's jersey at the Giro d'Italia twice during his career in 1961 and 1963. Taccone also finished in the top 10 in the general classification at the Giro four years in a row - fourth in 1963, sixth in '64 and '65 and 9th in '66.

In 1961, the first year he won the climbers jersey at the Giro, Taccone won the Giro di Lombardia classic in Italy, a prestigious win for any Italian. Other notable results on his palmares are stage wins in the Giro del Piemonte (1962), the Tour of Tuscany (1963), Milan-Turin (1965) as well as overall wins in Tour of Sardinia (1963), Tour of Romandie (1964) and the Tour of Switzerland (1966). Taccone's best result at a World Championships came in his home country in 1968, where he took fifth place at the event held at Imola.

Australian ride to work day

The inaugural Australian National Ride to Work Day takes place tomorrow October 17, all across the country. Event organisers are expecting over 60,000 people across all states and territories to take part in the event. Already 2800 work places have registered for the event, with many hosting a breakfast for participants at the completion of their ride.

National Ride to Work Day will stimulate over 10,600 tonnes of Greenhouse Gas savings in the first three years, more than 2650 hot air balloons or 212,000,000 "black balloons" full of CO2.

For local Sydney residents, Lend lease will be hosting a breakfast for all registered riders between 7.30 and 9.00am, with local businesses around the country following their lead and providing breakfast for the many expected riders.

For more information or to register for the event, click here

Van Bemmelen Sports-OdySis for 2008

Team Ton van Bemmelen Sports-OdySis has finalised its line up for the 2008 season with the inclusion of Judith Helmink adding to the signing Anne Eversdijk earlier in the week. The team, under the guidance of Odwin Bink and ex-national champion Sissy van Alebeek, will concentrate mainly on criterium racing through out the season.

24 year-old Helmink, a previous winner of the most aggressive rider competition in the Holland Ladies Tour, joins the team after two years with the At Work team and one with Therme Skincare Team. In 2007 the team amassed 39 victories with their riders.

Team Ton van Bemmelen Sports-OdySis 2008: Judith Helmink, Regina Bruins, Yvonne Baltus, Arenda Grimberg, Sissy Van Alebeek, Anne Eversdijk, Rob Disseldorp, Ton Slippens, Gerhard Klijnhout and Odwin Bink.

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