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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 14, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

150 participants at upcoming anti-doping summit

By Hedwig Kröner

Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Newly-elected French Health and Sports minister Roselyne Bachelot is determined to end the stalemate between the International Cycling Union and the organisers of the three Grand Tours, which has culminated this summer at the Tour de France. After urging the UCI and ASO to work together at the beginning of August, it was the initiative of Bachelot to set up an anti-doping summit which will be held in October.

Bachelot wants to bring together all parties concerned with professional cycling. "Over 400 anti-doping controls were carried out at the Tour de France this year, and there were only three positives," she told L'Equipe on Thursday, September 13, explaining her faith in the sport. "We have changed our culture, changed an era. We have to go even further but we are confronted with certain obstacles. WADA, UCI and the organisers of cycling races haven't spoken to each other for months, which is why I'm organising an international anti-doping summit for cycling in Paris on October 22 and 23. It will be held at the CNOSF (National Olympic and Sporting Committee), and WADA chairman Richard Pound, UCI president Pat McQuaid as well as the organisers of the Grand Tours have already accepted to attend. There will be about 150 participants."

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Bachelot also intends to broaden the results of the meetings onto other sports. "It is about making cycling a laboratory of experiences to be able to export solutions to other disciplines afterwards. I don't want to organise any intellectual small talk - I want very concrete actions," she added.

Moreover, the minister plans to make even the possession - not only the use - of doping products illegal in France. She has created a group of experts "to examine the legislative modifications to penalize the detention of doping products," and hopes to have the law passed as soon as 2008.

Meanwhile, ASO president Patrice Clerc was reluctant about the cooperation between the Tour de France organising company and the UCI, as the relationship between the two has reached a new low recently. In July, Clerc and race director Christian Prudhomme accused UCI president Pat McQuaid of wanting to hurt the Tour de France by omitting to reveal that Michael Rasmussen had missed two out-of-competition anti-doping tests prior to the event.

"The UCI should have applied its regulation, which it didn't," he told Cyclingnews on Thursday, September 13, from his office at the outskirts of Paris. "Also, before the race, the teams, the UCI and ourselves had sealed a pact to make the race as clean as possible. But neither the team [Rabobank] nor the UCI told us that this particular rider - of which we all knew that he would be an important actor in the race - was doubtful. Only to reveal in the middle of the race that Rasmussen, who was wearing the maillot jaune, was suspended from the Worlds by his own federation! I felt a very big frustration, because this should never have happened: he should never have participated in the first place!"

Nevertheless, Clerc was open to take up discussions with the UCI again at the summit, even if the disagreements between the two parties concerning the ProTour are far from resolved. "Over and above our political problems regarding the organisational principles of the sport, we will contribute to the meetings to obtain a consensus - for the sake of cycling, and notably the Tour de France. But our contacts with the UCI are scarce at the moment," he added.

Watch out for the full interview with Patrice Clerc on Cyclingnews in the coming days.

Roche back racing

By Shane Stokes

Nicholas Roche (Credit Agricole) started the race
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

Now recovered from the infected saddle sore which ruled him out of the Tour of Ireland, Nicolas Roche will make a return to racing in Saturday's Paris-Brussels.

The Crédit Agricole pro had targeted the Irish race as one of his big goals for the season but had to withdraw on the first day.

"The problem happened on the Friday coming back from the Tour de l'Ain," he told Cyclingnews. "I didn't feel it at the time - now I know what happened that day, but at the time I just thought it was like a cut or something like that. Then ganglions [small cysts] swelled up, so I knew that something was wrong then."

Roche received treatment for the problem and was able to finally return to training over a week ago. "I had an infection in that area but it is gone now. The problem [saddle sore] is still there a little bit but the blood test is clear now, so that is good.

"I started back on Monday of last week and have been training a full week now. I'm doing things as normal, getting in some long distance rides and went out behind the motorbike on Wednesday."

As expected, he's lost some condition due to the enforced break. "I don't feel great. I was behind the motorbike and I was in the red for the whole day! I felt like I had someone pulling a strap around my chest."

The third year pro has been in solid form this year and hopes that a good block of racing will help him sharpen up and get a result or two before the end of the season. After Paris-Brussels, he will ride the Grand Prix Fourmies on Sunday, GP Wallonie on Wednesday, the Tour de la Somme next Friday and GP d'Isbergues on Sunday week. The rest of his programme will be decided then.

Local government supports Valverde

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Freddy Guérin
(Click for larger image)

What better international showcase than the arrival of the Vuelta a España to the region where Alejandro Valverde lives, Murcia, so that its local government, through the Culture and Sport Council, can publicly show its unconditional support to Alejandro Valverde? The Caisse d'Epargne rider is still the centre of attention in the case with the UCI, which accuses him of being involved in Operación Puerto.

Pedro Alberto Cruz, member of the Culture and Sport Council, will read a statement during a press conference after stage 13, which concludes in Torre Pacheco. From the regional government's point of view, Valverde is an "innocent victim of an abuse by the UCI against his human and athletic dignity".

Sources assured Cyclingnews that from the beginning of this affair they maintained a close collaboration with the Sport Superior Council of Spain and with the Spanish Federation to be able to act jointly in the case of necessary legal actions.

On the other hand, Sanchez Sabater, Valverde's manager, continues to work in Madrid with the said sports organisations in order to evaluate new strategies in response to the UCI, should the cycling federation follow through with the threat of not letting Valverde participate at the Worlds.

The Spanish federation had alos threatened to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne unless the International Cycling Federation (UCI) allows Alejandro Valverde to compete at the Worlds in Stuttgart.

UCI puts antidoping fight online

The International Cycling Federation, UCI, has started a new section on its web site that outlines its fight against doping. Details about the program '100% against doping' are readily available bilingual (French and English) as well as news on the doping front.

A list of all the banned substances and the location forms that riders will have to submit in order to reveal their whereabouts in the upcoming months are also online.

One of the more interesting sections will no doubt be the list of riders in the "Registered Testing Pool." It is a list of all those riders that will be subjected to out-of-competition testing. The names in the list are based on rider's rankings and results, but also if they are considered "at risk of doping activities."

Boonen to leave Vuelta, doubtful for Worlds

Slim chance to get another rainbow
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

This is expected to be Tom Boonen's last day in the Vuelta a España, as the Belgian sprinter will fly home for further medical examinations. "I don't feel well," he told "I have trouble breathing. I'm afraid that a left rib is broken."

"It hurts when I cough," the Quick-Step.Innergetic rider continued. "I want to go home and have some X-rays taken."

He said that he had not yet decided whether to ride the World Championships. "I would like to go to the Worlds and if I can help the team, I will go. Otherwise it doesn't make any sense. After today's stage I will go home and rest for some days, and then I will decide whether I will go to the Worlds or not. The crash in Zaragoza has hurt me a lot."

Crashes in Vuelta, too

Poland has been making the headlines with all the crashes and misdirected riders or a team time trial on a one-kilometre circuit, but the Vuelta offered some pavement action, too. Yesterday it was Frenchman Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), who went down for the second time during the race. Still confident before the start to stage 12 he told that "My back hurts and I have injured my leg. I also developed a stomach ache, but I want to make it to Madrid." But the second time he went down, in stage 12, proved to be the end of his Vuelta.

Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital) also sustained injuries that forced him to abandon the race. The damage to his left arm was worse than initially thought, and an examination back home revealed that he fractured a bone in his left elbow. Tiralongo will likely be out for a month.

Lampre signs Tre Valli Varesine winner

The winner of the Tre Valli Varesine, Christian Murro (Tenax-Salmilano), will be riding for Lampre-Fondital next season. The 29 year-old, a professional since 2004, signed a two-year contract. He has gathered three victories so far in the pro ranks.

General manager Giuseppe Saronni was happy with the signing, stating that "Murro is a rider with persistence and good qualities. We're happy he will be with us in the next years".

Murro himself was equally delighted. "For sure I'm happy. I will do my best in order to support the team with qualities."

Paris-Bruxelles coming up

The 87th edition of Paris-Bruxelles will be disputed this Saturday between those two major European cities. Australian Robbie McEwen has won the last two editions, which ended in bunch sprints. But a sprint is not inevitable, as in previous editions last-minute attacks have often succeeded. However, the sprinters will draw from the advantage that the race was significantly shortened over the years.

Not that going down from 266 kilometres in 2002, when McEwen won his first of three Paris-Bruxelles, to 226 kilometres in 2003 was that insignificant, but it does pale in comparison to the earlier editions in the late 1800's, when the race was contested by amateurs only, over distances exceeding 400 kilometres.

The first winner in 1893 was Belgian André Henry.

New Zealand names Worlds selection for Stuttgart

New Zealand champion
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Bike New Zealand has announced the names of the riders who will participate in the upcoming World Championships in Stuttgart, from September 25-30. Some of the major players in New Zealand cycling will not be able to compete, mostly due to injury.

Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole), Gregory Henderson (T-Mobile) and Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux) will not be able to make the trip to Germany. Dean, the current champion of his country, is still suffering from the aftermath of a knee surgery, while Henderson and Gudsell are recovering from crashes. Henderson went down in race in Germany while Gudsell hit Italian pavement in the Giro.

Due to those injuries, the cycling careers of Commonwealth Games medalists Hayden Roulston and Rosara Joseph have come full circle when they were named in the New Zealand team for this month's UCI World Road Championships in Germany.

Roulston was named one year after he "retired" from the sport on medical grounds with a potential heart complaint. Now with the medical issue under control, the Ashburton rider has been included in the three-strong elite men's team to contest the road race. Roulston will be joined by European-based professionals Glen Chadwick and Jeremy Vennell. Chadwick, formerly from Opunake but now based in Australia, has been in strong form for his Navigators team with several stage wins this year while Vennell impressed in the recent Tour of Ireland for his DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team. Chadwick, the national time trial champion, will also compete in that event in Stuttgart with former national champion Gordon McCauley.

Joseph, who won a Commonwealth Games silver medal in mountain biking in Melbourne, will make her world championship debut in road cycling in Germany. Josep will head the five-strong women's team together with in-form Jo Kiesanowski and Joseph, who comes in on the back of a brilliant fifth placing in the mountain bike world championships last week. The remainder of the women's team – Toni Bradshaw, Michelle Hyland and Carissa Wilkes – has been training at Bike NZ's European Training Centre in Limoux, France under national road cycling coach Jacques Landry. There is space for one more rider, should Bike New Zealand chose to fill up all the assigned spaces.

The Under 23 team will participate in the road race with Clinton Avery, Sam Bewley, Alex Meenhorst and Michael Torckler.

The selection was based with the courses of the next two major international events in mind. "The Stuttgart course is very tough with a substantial amount of climbing on each lap," said Bike NZ High Performance Director Mark Elliott. "It is going to be a strong indicator of who on the world stage will step up in Beijing next year where the course is equally challenging, in addition to the heat factor."

Defending Champ in Jayco Tassie Tour

The Tour of Tasmania will be held from October 2 - 7 and, as Tour director John Craven put it, "The rivalry will be fierce, but the competition healthy."

Englishman Kristian House, decisive winner of the 2006 Jacyo Tour of Tasmania road cycling classic, will defend his title next month in pressure-cooker circumstances. House, 28, a member of Britain's Olympic track endurance squad, will captain the Devonport team in the 600-kilometre race. He usually rides for the Navigators team and has won four races recently. House's team-mates in the Devonport contingent will be Queensland sprint star Jonathan Cantwell, the talented Latrobe rider Nathan Clarke and fellow Tasmanians Daniel Cutting and Tim Elmer. The team will be managed by Latrobe's Rick Martin, who has previously mentored champion Australians Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels and Peter Besanko in Herald Sun Tour squads.

The Burnie team will be led by New Zealander Miles Watson, outstanding winner of the sprint championship in the recent eight-day Tour of the Murray River. The multi-sponsored Burnie team, put together by the City of Burnie Cycling Club, will have four local riders to partner Watson. Prolific state titleholder Aaron Jones, and promising Matthew McDonagh, Tom Robinson and Will Clarke are likely to ride in the Burnie colours.

City of Burnie Cycling Club committeeman Allan Johnson said the contest between the Devonport-Burnie teams would be good for the tour. "Naturally, I'd like to see Burnie win, but the competition will be hot," he said.

Both teams will get an indication of their standing when the tour kicks off with a closed circuit lunch-time criterium in Devonport on Tuesday, October 2. But the following stage – a 90 kilometre gut-buster from Devonport to Sheffield – will provide the top-class field with an early sample of the tour's tough terrain. The stage will take in Don, Forth, Paloona Dam, Lower Barrington, Barrington, Sheffield, Railton, before returning to Sheffield for a main street ending. It will be the third straight year that Kentish Council has hosted a tour stage finish. The tour's grand finale criterium will be in Launceston's Brickfields Reserve on Sunday, October 7.

Backed by Events Tasmania and first held in 2005 in its current format, the tour will be the final round of the 2007 Timbercorp Cup series. The four-part Timbercorp Cup began with the Tour of Gippsland in early August, followed by the Australian Cycling Grand Prix in Ballarat and the Tour of the Murray River. Tenacious Sydneysider Peter McDonald leads the series by 11 points from Queenslander Grant Irwin, with Victorian Patrick Shaw in third place.

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