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Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for September 14, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Piepoli pulls out of Vuelta

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) wins stage 9
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli was forced to withdraw from the Vuelta a España before the start of stage 12 due to a family emergency. Piepoli, who was leading the mountains classification and won stage nine, was called home to be with his wife, Sonia, who fell seriously ill after giving birth to the couple's first child, Yannis. Piepoli's son is healthy, but Sonia developed internal bleeding following childbirth, and Piepoli felt compelled to be with her.

"I feel so sorry about this," Piepoli said in a statement. "I didn't want to quit the Vuelta, but I have to be by my wife's side. There are moments in life when you just have to be there. It's my duty as a husband and father." While the decision to leave was painful, the 35 year-old said that he would have been too worried to race. "I wouldn't have been able to stay focused during the race, with my head in the hospital. I think the situation is under control now. Her doctor said everything was fine, that I could stay in the Vuelta, but I wanted to be by her side, giving her the support she needs.

"Looking at it from the racing point of view, it was a hard decision. Although my initial goal of scoring one stage win had been achieved, I was wearing the mountains jersey, and it would have been nice, both for me and for the team, to take it home."

Lelangue to lead BMC in 2008

By Kirsten Robbins in Springfield, Missouri

Team manager John Lelangue
Click for larger image

Team BMC announced Thursday that it will be taking on John Lelangue as a second director sportif for the 2008 season. The team, currently under the direction of Gavin Chilcott, has applied for UCI Professional Continental status heading into it's second season, and will likely be forming a stronger presence on the European circuit. As the former team manager of the now defunct Phonak ProTour squad, Lelangue will be extending his European cycling experience to the team.

Lelangue joined the BMC squad for the first time at the inaugural Tour of Missouri and commented on his new position as a chance to share his experiences with the young team in helping them develop into team that will survive for years to come. "I hope to bring a lot of experience to the team and a good structure," said Lelangue. "I had seen the BMC team working together in May over in Europe which is where we came in contact. It seems like a good project with a good vision for the future and that is what important to me."

"The fact that we will know step-by-step which races we will be doing as a UCI Pro Continental team, we are going to discover a lot about European racing even if some of the events are on the American calendar," added Lelangue. "If I can bring my experience to the team about European racing, strategy and training than it will be great experience for me also."

BMC grows with new signings

Nathan O'Neil
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Director Gavin Chilcott confirmed five new riders to the team including Nathan O'Neil and Jeff Louder from Health Net, Tony Cruz from Discovery Channel along with younger riders Brent Brookwalter from VMG Racing and Talyor Tolleson from Slipstream-Chipotle. Returning riders include Alexander Moos, Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Scott Nydam, Jonathan Garcia and Ian McKissick. Chilcott has confirmed a roster of twelve and is currently in negotiations with four additional riders.

With a strong mix of both European and American riders Lelangue is hopeful that the team will develop in parallel with the growing crossover between European and American cycling. "One of our vision is to grow up step-by-step along with the relationship between European and American racing," said Lelangue.

The team will head into the 2008 season with a well-balanced schedule between Europe and the US, using the Tour of Qatar as preparation to come on strong at the Tour of California. They will then return overseas to compete several blocks of European racing. "We are currently seeking invitations for many of the European races," said Chilcott. "The focus of our events will be the Swiss races, because we have a Swiss sponsor and we have Swiss riders that will be focusing on these events. So that is the cornerstone of our mid-season platform."

Chilcott described his vision of BMC as a carefully developed creation that is being designed to continue its involvement in the sport for many years. "We want to take a rational approach to advancing the team, to progressively be able to do well at a higher and higher level," Chilcott said. "That is not so different from other teams, but I think we are really focusing on good planning, preparation and good support."

Helping in the development of the squad are Dr. Max Testa and USA Cycling trainer Eric Heiden who will help the team progress by making proper choices with regards to training. "I believe we are in a good position to take advantage of the new culture happening in cycling, as things turn over in response to the mistakes that have been made in the last decade," said Chilcott.

"I am very optimistic that we are recruiting people involved in the program like Max and Eric that will allow us to make good educated choices based on input from those people with a lot of the right kind of experience and philosophy aimed at a sustainable program for years. That is our goal, to make decisions that will good decisions for many years down the road."

"We are trying to build riders from within, trying to find riders that are good leaders or have good talent, and create rather than just acquire," added Chilcott. "We can create a culture, a philosophy of riding honourably as well as clean, and really provide a good product for race organisers and sponsors - and provide something for the riders where there is continuity to get better performances and a better preparation. People understand that we are thinking in the long term and I believe that is the winning strategy."

UCI not afraid of Valverde

The UCI stood firm today in its assertion that Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is not eligible for the World Championships in Stuttgart, confident that any legal action which might be attempted by the rider will not impact cycling's governing body. Valverde's spokesman indicated earlier this week that the rider would send a letter giving the UCI an ultimatum - allow him to ride at Worlds or face a lawsuit.

"We are extremely serene - our lawyers work with the greatest care," the UCI spokesman, Enrico Carpani told AFP. Carpani declined to go into further detail. "He wrote to us but it does not rest with to us to reveal the contents of the letter," Carpani declared, and reiterated that Valverde is not eligible to ride the World Championships.

The UCI claims to have new evidence linking Valverde to the Operación Puerto doping scandal which they culled from the 6,000 page dossier on the case, and opened an investigation into the matter in late August. With the open investigation, the rider becomes ineligible to race the UCI championships. Valverde has repeatedly denied any involvement in the scandal, and has the support of the Spanish federation, which declined to open its own investigation despite being asked to do so by the UCI.

Moreau to Agritubel

Christophe Moreau (Ag2r)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

French champion Christophe Moreau will move from his current Ag2r Prévoyance squad to the Professional Continental Agritubel team for the twilight of his career, according to AFP. The 36 year-old winner of the 2007 Dauphiné Libéré rode for his current squad for two seasons after leaving the Credit Agricole team, where he raced from 2002-2005.

The Ag2r squad will lose a rider who was having a resurgence this season, and who was poised for his best Tour de France finish until an unfortunate crash caused him to lose time. Team manager Vincent Lavenu said that the team was unable to come to an agreement with the French champion. "The financial ambitions [of Moreau] did not correspond to our reality. We remain on good terms."

Moreau's one year contract will add much needed reinforcement to the Agritubel squad after a number of riders have left the team including the team's climbers, Tour stage winner Juan Miguel Mercado and Moisés Dueñas as well as Lithuanians Linas Balciunas and Aivaras Baranauskas, Spaniards José Alberto Martinez and Manuel Calvente, Hans Dekkers and Frenchmen Samuel Plouhinec and Denis Robin.

Moreau will join other new signings at Agritubel, including Cofidis' Geoffroy Lequatre and Belgians Steven Caethoven (Chocolade Jacques) and neo-pro Kevin Ista, as well as two as yet unsigned riders. General manager David Fornes indicated that the budget for the team would be increased to bring on more riders, up 200,000 Euros to a total of nearly €3.6 million.

Broken collarbone for Brochard

Riders tumble behind Napolitano on stage four
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Bouygues Telecom's veteran rider Laurent Brochard was the victim of the massive crash which blighted the Tour of Poland on Wednesday. The fall caused a broken clavicle which will end the 39 year-old's season, according to his team.

The crash happened in the final metres of stage four when T-Mobile's Gerald Ciolek reportedly ran into a spectators outstretched arm as he tried to pass Lampre's Danilo Napolitano in the sprint for the line. Ciolek crashed heavily into the barriers while the peloton was charging at full speed, sending dozens of riders to the ground.

Brochard's contract with Bouygues Telecom ends this year, and there is no word on whether the rider, whose career has spanned 15 years, will continue racing in 2008. Brochard, the last French World Champion, won his title in 1997 in San Sebastian, and has tallied up 41 victories as a professional.

Long Poland stage ends in another massive pileup

The Tour of Poland's marathon stage five journey from Wrzesnia - Swidnica surprisingly ended in another bunch sprint which, for the second day in a row, was disrupted by a large crash in the final kilometre on Thursday. After Wednesday's crash which sent the sprinters spilling across the line, this wreck happened in a turn near the two kilometre to go point. According to the Rabobank website, the Milram team was leading the peloton when two riders crashed on a bend and dozens of riders piled up behind them.

The Milram website confirmed that Mirco Lorenzetto and Sebastian Siedler crashed on that bend, while Rabobank confirmed that its rider, Mathew Hayman fell but escaped serious injury. The team's sprinter, Graeme Brown was not involved in the crash, but was unable to contest the sprint won by Brazilian Murilo Fischer (Liquigas).

Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen was sure Hayman would start on Friday, as Brown did today. "Graeme did sustain some damage on Wednesday but I did not hear any complaints from him. He was also determined to participate in the sprint but that did not happen because of that crash. Mathew is such a tough guy; I fully expect him to get on his bike on Thursday like usual."

Maassen was also happy that his leader, Robert Gesink, made it through the crash unscathed, but criticised the length of the stage. "Stages this long are outdated," Maassen said. "I do not understand why they put a stage like this in the tour. There is no fun whatsoever. Shorter stages are much more spectacular," Maassen complained, but hoped that the remaining stages would provide more fireworks. "We are ready for it. Gesink is in good shape. It will not yet happen on Friday because the final climb, which is 800 meters high, is on twenty kilometres from the finish. We finish uphill on Saturday."

Records said to show Ullrich payments to Fuentes

Prosecutors in Bonn, Germany, have reviewed Jan Ullrich's bank records and announced Thursday that the records show that the cyclist transferred 25,000 Euros from his bank in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, to an account of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in early 2004. In addition, there was another "significantly higher" sum transferred at the beginning of 2006, about which no further details were yet available, according to prosecutor Jörg Schindler.

Ullrich was forced to turn his bank records over to the investigators earlier this summer, as part of an investigation into whether he deceived his former employer, T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom. Ullrich has consistently denied knowing Dr. Fuentes or ever having doped. In April it was announced that blood taken into custody in Operación Puerto was matched to Ullrich's DNA sample.

Ullrich's attorney, Johan Schwenn, called the announcement "not serious." He said that he was surprised "at how the prosecutor is trying to feed its meagre findings to a hungry press." He refused to comment on the facts of the case.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Klöden to skip Worlds

Andreas Klöden has given up his final ambition of the season and withdrawn as a candidate for the German World Championship team, the Astana rider announced Thursday.

The German injured his hand the end of August in a training accident, and returned to training "as soon as the injury on my hand allowed it". However, despite training hard, he wrote on his website,, "I must now see that there is not enough time before the end of September in order for me to start at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 100 percent form."

He praised his colleagues who will be there, saying, "The national team has a lot of strong riders, such as Stefan Schumacher and Bert Grabsch, who are surely in position to get medals. For that reason, it wouldn't be fair for me to block one of the valuable starting places."

"I would very much have liked to start for the national team - especially in Germany. At any rate I will wish the guys all the best in the Worlds!"

Women's teams for Nürnberg World Cup

The women's World Cup season wraps up this weekend in Germany at the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt with a course favouring the top sprinters, and the teams are pulling out the big guns to contest this series finale. Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung is sending last year's winner Regina Schleicher to the team's hometown World Cup race this Sunday, while T-Mobile will be priming its fast finisher, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, to improve on her second-place finish of last year.

The city of Nürnberg is looking forward to greeting the riders, especially its own team, said Oliver Strathmann, Director of Sponsoring for Nürnberger Versicherung. "The Finale in Nürnberg always has a special attraction. On this day, Nürnberg is the capital of international women's cycling and many fans look to the metropolitan region."

Defending champion Schleicher will be accompanied by world's runner-up Trixi Worrack, German road champion runner-up Claudia Häusler, German time trial champion runner-up Charlotte Becker, Giro d'Italia winner Edita Pucinskaite, and Eva Lutz.

Teutenberg will look to win the race and get revenge for her second-place finish of last year. "Ina is our number one, when it comes down to a sprint," said Anna Wilson, Sports Director for T-Mobile on the team's website, She will be supported by Judith Arndt, Oenone Wood, Linda Villumsen, Kate Bates and Anke Wichmann.

Wiesenhof for Nürnberg

Ciolek wins in 2006
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

The upcoming Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt women's world cup will have the unique situation of the men's race featuring as a side attraction. The UCI 1.1 race is still important to the men's teams, but with the Vuelta a España and Tour of Poland ProTour races occurring simultaneously, it will be up to the Professional Continental Teams to put on the big show. Team Wiesenhof-Felt will counting on sprinter Olaf Pollack to maintain the tradition of a Wiesenhof win in "Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt" race this coming Sunday.

"The race in the Nürnberger Altstadt (Old Town) has developed into a sprinter's race and Olaf Pollack has already won here once in 2001," said Markus Schleicher, the team's Directeur Sportif. Four riders associated with the team have won the race in the last seven years: Team manager Raphael Schweda won the race in 2000, Pollack in 2002, Sebastian Siedler in 2004 and Gerald Ciolek in 2006. Both Siedler and Ciolek rode for Wiesenhof when they won.

Wiesenhof for Nürnberg: Olaf Pollack, Robert Retschke, Christian Leben, Daniel Musiol, Felix Odebrecht, and Jörg Ludewig.

Pearson aims for success

Joel Pearson, one of the most successful of the Anglophones racing on the French amateur scene this year. The collected his sixth win in a period of two and half months. He's currently leading the Trophée Aven-Moros series in Brittany where cycling is supposed to be the most competitive in France. He also won a stage in the international Tour de Dordogne.

The Victorian native said, "I've got one stage race and two one-day races left next week before returning home." He's still unsure whether or not he'll turn pro next year but he's looking forward to racing back at home and aims at a participation at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour (October 14-21), following in the footsteps of his fellow Aussie Simon Gerrans.

Quick.Step, Liquigas and Barloworld for upcoming races

With no shortage of stage races occurring, the preview of the autumn classics season will kick off with two one day races this weekend: Paris-Brussels and the GP de Fourmies. Quick.Step-Innergetic will send Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Sebastien Rosseler, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Gert Steegmans, Bram Tankink, Maarten Wynants and stagiaire Detlef Moerman under the direction of Rik Van Slycke. A similar squad will contest the GP de Fourmies, with Kevin Seeldrayers stepping in for De Jongh.

The Liquigas Team will field a strong squad with Luca Paolini and Francesco Chicchi being supported by Dario Mariuzzo, Michael Albasini, Francesco Failli, Matej Mugerli, Roberto Petito, Manuel Quinziato and Frederik Willems.

Barloworld will sent Kastantsin Siutsou to bid for victory alongside Alex Efimkin, Hugo Sabido, Fabrizio Guidi, Gianpaolo Cheula, Paolo Longo Borghini, James Perry and Colombian stagiaire Ramiro Rincon.

Belgian dies in Illinois training race

A Tuesday night training race turned tragic this week when a rider collided with a pole, crashed and died in Chicago. Pieter Ombregt, 27, of Chicago's north side, crashed into a metal fence during a race organised by the South Chicago Wheelmen and later died of his injuries after undergoing surgery at an area hospital. According to the Daily Southtown, Ombregt was an experienced racer on the regional XXX Racing AthletiCo team, and the race was being held on a closed, private road that has seen no serious incidents in its 15 year history. His death was ruled an accident by the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The death is the second tragic loss for the area racing team, after Beth Kobeszka died as a result of a crash in June. The team's spokesman Shane Winn told the newspaper, "It's an awful difficult thing for a team to deal with one tragedy, let alone two in such a short period. We're all in shock at the moment."

Ombregt, who lived in Chicago with his fiancée, was an accomplished photographer. The team is planning a service on Monday. Cyclingnews extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ombregt.

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