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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 30, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

Serrano re-signs with Tinkoff

By Monika Prell

Ricardo Serrano (Tinkoff)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Ricardo Serrano has re-signed with the Russian-owned Italian Professional Continental squad Tinkoff Credit Systems. The Spaniard has confirmed to Todociclismo that he renewed his contract for one more season. The 29 year-old has finished his 2007 season as soon as possible after enduring a difficult second half. "The balance I draw is regular, because the second half of the season was not good at all," explained Serrano.

Serrano had a good lead in to the Giro d'Italia, but suffered problems with allergies during the Italian race and also suffered from tendinitis in the Achilles tendon. "This did not allow me to get a good competition form after the Giro, so that I was not able to show a good performance like in other years," added Serrano.

Things didn't get much better for Serrano, with the rider explaining he suffered from fatigue after the Vuelta a Burgos. "I had one good day and seven bad ones, as the body did not answer and as I accumulated a lot of fatigue," explained Serrano.

The rider from Valladolid, who is currently on holidays, is happy that Tinkoff renewed his contract despite his poor season. "They knew what happened to me and they trusted in me, even if they expected something more," he said. "I hope that I can be again the rider I was in the last years."

Serrano believes that he will easily outperform the results of this season neat year. He began to train in the middle of October to get a perfect form for next year, where he's "almost sure" to ride the Giro d'Italia and perhaps the Vuelta a España.

Wiggins to kick off track season in Manchester

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Olympic Pursuit Champion Bradley Wiggins will make his return to track racing at the Manchester Velodrome on November 17 for the Revolution event. The British track star has always been a firm favourite at the event and is always guaranteed to provide plenty of action.

Revolution 18 will provide plenty of opportunity for Wiggins to test his form with a programme focussed on some serious endurance racing against some of the world top six day specialists. The event also comes a few days before the start of the Ghent Six, which Wiggins will ride with T-Mobile team-mate Mark Cavendish, allowing riders a final chance to hone their track skills and be ready to challenge each other ahead of the action in Belgium.

One of the international riders already lined up to challenge Wiggins is recent Amsterdam six day winner Iljo Keisse. Keisse first made an appearance at Revolution back in 2004 riding with Matt Gilmore. Following his victory in Amsterdam last weekend Keisse is now firmly established as one of the top six day specialists and will be one of the favourites for the racing at Revolution.

New colours for Astana in 2008

Astana won't be feeling blue in 2008
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana will be starting from scratch in the coming season, with the announcement the squad would add new jerseys to a list of changes which includes new riders and management. After a disastrous 2007, which saw the Kazakh-backed squad ejected from the Tour de France after Alexandre Vinokourov's non-negative doping test, the squad has hired former Discovery Channel director Johan Bruyneel and star rider Alberto Contator to front a revived Astana in 2008.

"Even the team colours will change," Bruyneel told Sporza. "There will still have to be a bit of blue, but we will try to minimize it."

The Belgian said that they are very busy with the UCI license. "We have until November 20 to get everything in order, but it is all coming along," he said.

Bruyneel had originally intended to retire from cycling this year after Discovery Channel announced it would close its doors. "With Armstrong the last two years there was still the kick of winning the Tour, but the rest did not matter much," he explained. "This year was that way, too. Then, at a certain moment, you have to decide that it is enough."

"Now I have to build a team," added Bruyneel, excited by the prospect of the task ahead. "The construction of the team depends on me and on decisions which I did not take in former days."

Looking back, he added that signing Ivan Basso to Discovery Channel this year "was probably a mistake".

AG2R signs Efimkin

Russia's Vladimir Efimkin has decided to leave the French-sponsored, Spanish squad Caisse d'Epargne in 2008, opting instead to sign with French ProTour team AG2r Prévoyance, according to the Gazet van Antwerpen.

The 25 year-old Efimkin has been labeled as one of his generation's greatest talents. This year Efimkin won a stage of the Vuelta a España and spent some time in the leader's jersey before going on to finish sixth overall. Vladimir's twin brother Alexander signed a contract last month to rider for Belgian squad Quick Step-Innergetic in 2008.

Aussies ready for Revolution debut, with Beijing in sights

Ryan Bayley and Shane Perkins
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
Click for larger image

A full compliment of Aussie track sprinters is set to light up the boards at Revolution 1 on Saturday, November 24 at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena. While there'll be a healthy representation of competitive internationals - here for the following week's Track World Cup event in Sydney - the Aussies toughest test may well be between themselves as they strive for first blood in the selection battle for the limited Sprint and Keirin positions for Beijing.

At the launch of Revolution in Melbourne last week, reigning Sprint and Keirin Gold medallist, Ryan Bayley said he was "feeling stronger, feeling faster and was improving all the time". Joining Bayley at Revolution in the battle for a place on the Australian team will be Ben Kersten, Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, Mark French and Jason Niblett; with acceptances still likely from Shane Kelly and emerging star Daniel Ellis.

On a recent four-event team trip to the US, Bayley showed strong form, winning twice and finishing runner up twice. There were also outstanding performances from French, Niblett, Ellis and even Kelly got in on the action. The Aussies completely dominated the Sprint and Keirin racing with only Italian flier Roberto Chiappa offering any real resistance.

Shane Perkins is one rider reported to be flying and keen to throw his name back into the ring of potential candidates for selection. "I'm pretty happy with the way I'm going," said Perkins. "I'm looking forward to racing at the Revolution Series. It promises to be great racing with many of the Australian team there. With the Olympics looming there is going to be a lot of competitiveness in whatever events we ride together and whoever performs well at Revolution will come away with a lot of confidence."

Australian Head Track Coach Martin Barras explained that Australia will most likely qualify two riders for each of the Sprint and Keirin events for Beijing, assuming the team rides up to its ranking in the World Cups and World Championships.

"Once the line-up for Revolution is completed, people will realise it's not only a very competitive Australian line-up, it will be a very competitive international line-up and that adds not only to the prestige, but to the importance of the event," said Barras. "In that sense Revolution will be a very important confidence builder should any rider come out of it with a good result."

But in a sport often decided by hundredths-of-a-second, it's not all about times. "Times are one thing and times are important," added Barras. "Times essentially give you a look into selection, but ultimately results under pressure is where it's at, because the Olympics is all about pressure. And the World Championships will be about pressure because the athletes will know they're riding for a place on the Olympic team."

Talking about handling pressure, Perkins admits that you need experience at big events and the atmosphere that comes with them in order to learn how to control emotions. "Experience is the biggest thing, but having good people around you that make you relaxed and confident that you can do what you've gone there to do is also vital," explained Perkins.

Barras isn't playing favourites, with selection to be based on form and results in the lead-up to Beijing. After Revolution 1 there is the Sydney World Cup event, closely followed by the Beijing World Cup; then Revolution 2 back in Australia just before Christmas. There are another two World Cups in early 2008, then the World Championships in March.

"Selection will be heavily based on the results of the World Championships in March 2008 in Manchester," noted Barras. "And will be based solely on performance with the goal of fielding the very best team for Australia."

Sinkewitz: No doping in T-Mobile

Disgraced professional cyclist Patrik Sinkewitz has said there was no talk within his former squad T-Mobile of doping during the past season, despite his use of prohibited substances that lead to a non-negative test and his dumping from the German outfit. Sinkewitz made the remarks at a German cycling federation (BDR) hearing.

There was still talk of blood doping within the German team in 2006 according to German anti-doping expert Werner Franke, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper has reported. "Sinkewitz confirmed that doping use within T-Mobile belongs to the past," said Peter Barth, the chairman of the discipline committee from BDR. "It is strange that Werner Franke speaks out about this, because he wasn't at the hearing."

Flanders to choose between Koppenberg and Kortekeer

Tour of Flanders organisers are yet to choose whether the Kortekeer or Koppenberg climb will be used in the 2008 edition, despite the 2008 route having been announced without the latter. As in the 2007 edition, organisers have chosen the Kortekeer climb, but this may change in the future as its use is yet to be confirmed.

There is still a chance that the organisers of Vlaanderens Mooiste, Flander most beautiful, will chose to include the Bult van Melden in the race route.

"We have until January 5 next year to tie the knot definitely," said Tour of Flanders' press officer and route planner Harry Van Den Bremt. "The Koppenberg is, after the road works that have taken place, a lot better than in the past. Only the descent is of concern to us. It needs to again be maintained and here and there needs to be fixed."

Keisse and Barko claim Amsterdam six

Belgian Iljo Keisse along with German Robert Bartko won the Amsterdam six day event which concluded over the weekend. The race came down to the wire, with the last sprint of the night deciding the overall winners.

Keisse and Bartko were pushed all the way by the Dutch duo Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, who were riding a six day together again after a long break. Slippens, who has been recovering from injuries sustained in a road accident last year, lead out the final sprint but was unable to match Keisse's speed.

Keisse and Bartko finished the event, which lasted until after midnight on the final night, with 352 points. Slippens and Stam finished on the same lap as the pair with 348 points, just four behind the winners. Third place in the event went to the Dutch/German pairing of Peter Schep and perennial cyclist Erik Zabel. The pair also finished on the same lap as the winners but with 256 points.

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