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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for September 20, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

McQuaid challenges Spanish to do DNA analysis

A question mark still hangs over Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

One group believes there may be questions to be answered, others insist that the rider is innocent and being victimised. However there is a chance for Alejandro Valverde to clear his name and to perhaps ride the Worlds in Stuttgart. Will he take it? Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes reports.

As the world road race championships draw ever closer, the UCI and the Spanish cycling federation continue to be at loggerheads over the participation of Alejandro Valverde in Stuttgart. On Wednesday UCI President Pat McQuaid pointed out that there is an easy way to remove a major question mark hanging over Valverde, if he is indeed innocent of doping.

In an 'all cards on the table' move, the Irishman has called for DNA analysis of one of the blood bags seized under the Operación Puerto investigation, saying that if the Spaniard is in the clear, this would serve to show that bag number 18 - corresponding to the codename 'Valv. Piti' - has no connection to the Caisse d'Epargne rider.

Both the Spanish cycling federation and the country's President of Spain's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) Jaime Lissavetzky have recently backed Valverde, saying that they consider that there is no new evidence to suggest guilt.

However, after reviewing the full 6,000 page dossier on the Operación Puerto case, the UCI sees things otherwise and feels there are enough grounds for further investigation. Valverde previously admitted working with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes while with Kelme but insisted that he has never doped. There have however been persistent rumours that the Spaniard was indeed involved and that the blood bag may be his. In January the newspaper ABC printed details of the alleged link and in May, La Gazzetta dello Sport went further.

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As reported earlier on Cyclingnews, UCI president Pat McQuaid recently sent a letter to Lissavetzky expressing his concern at the turn of affairs. It is known that he is frustrated that the rider has been publicly supported by such a high-profile figure, plus the Spanish federation, rather than being subjected to the requested investigation.

To read the full details on this latest development in the Valverde case, click here.

Ciolek's 21st birthday present

Ciolek (left) and Sieberg
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile Team turned 21 in style yesterday, winning the first stage of the 3-Länder Tour and taking the leader's, climber's and young rider's jerseys. "Gerald has earned a glass of champagne this evening," said his Directeur Sportif, Tristan Hoffman, on "But just one. After all, we want to keep on going for stage wins in the next few days."

Ciolek, the reigning U23 World road champion, won the mass sprint of a 32-man group. It was close, though. He raised his arms in triumph when he crossed the finish line, but could only be sure of the win after the race jury examined the finish line photo. He beat out his former team-mate, Marcel Sieberg. The two rode together on Team Wiesenhof last year.

Sieberg, who now rides for Team Milram but is rumoured to transfer to T-Mobile for next season, came up strong at the end and nearly took the sprint. "I'm glad that Gerald won," he grinned. Ciolek returned the favour, saying "I would have been happy for Marcel to win."

Breschel warned twice

Matti Breschel of Team CSC will ride for Denmark in the World Championships next week, even though he has received two warnings from the Danish anti-doping agency for failing to provide notice of his whereabouts last year.

"That is correct, that I have two warnings," the 23-year-old told He says that while he may have missed the deadlines to send in his notification, he did send it in and was always where he said would be. Both warnings are from 2006, but would still count towards a potential violation. After three violations, a rider can be banned for two years.

Earlier this summer, the Danish Federation kicked off the Rasmussen scandal when it announced that it had removed him from the national team because he had failed to inform them of his whereabouts. Rasmussen was eventually removed from the Tour de France and fired by his Rabobank team.

Flecha "a little sick"

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank finished eighth in the first stage of the 3-Länder Tour yesterday, but it wasn't easy. For one thing, it is a tricky race, with multiple climbs every day. For another, the Spaniard isn't feeling well, which isn't good news for the Spanish national team, as he is scheduled to ride the Worlds road race next week in Stuttgart.

Flecha was feeling "a little sick," team manager Erik Dekker said on the team's website, "He performed great, if you take that into account, because he finished with the first group." He added, "He was not really hopeless, but he did feel a little sick. But he did ride very strong." To be on the safe side, he was given a private hotel room.

Bert de Waele gets a home victory

Bert De Waele wins with anger
Photo ©: Erik Van Breugel
(Click for larger image)

Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) has won the GP de Wallonie in Belgium. He won a close-call sprint against Cédric Vasseur (Quick.Step - Innergetic), with Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) two seconds back in third. The race, 203 kilometres in length, was held between Chaudfontaine (near Liège) and Namur, in the eastern part of the country.

Dutchman Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) was the first attacker of the day, soloing over the first three hellingen of the day. The stagiaire gained a maximum of around ten minutes, before the favourites turned on the steam.

Maarten Wynants of Quick.Step-Innergetic was the last one to gain a bit of advantage at the next to last climb, but in the end things were more or less together, with a 13-rider group slightly ahead of the rest when they reached the final at the citadel in Namur. Belgian De Waele just barely held off Vasseur.

"It may have been a millimetre sprint, but that doesn't take away from my triumph," the Belgian said after the race, still raging from the fact that he wasn't included in the Worlds selection. "I can't give a better answer to the [Belgian] cycling federation. They are making a big mistake by not taking me to Stuttgart," the winner said after the race.

His manager, Gérard Bulens, told Sporza he had similar thoughts. "That is a good revenge for the Worlds selection." The fact that noone of his team was selected added to the anger of Beulens. "I will not talk to the federation anymore."

More teams finalize Worlds selection

Luxembourg announced its team. Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) and the reigning champion of Luxembourg, Benoît Joachim of Astana, will join the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, of CSC. Christian Poos (CCT Differdange), who got second in the national championships behind Joachim, will also be there, along with Laurent Didier (Regiostrom-Senges).

Colombia may not be able to bank on an event held in high altitude, but at least there should be enough hills to make them competitive. The team is also not particularly a no-name team, headed by Victor-Hugo Peña ( and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), who won a stage in the Vuelta a España just a couple of days ago. The duo will be accompanied by Mauricio Ardila (Rabobank), Alex Cano (Unidelta), Luis-Felipe Laverde (Panaria-Navigare) and José Serpa (Diquigiovanni).

Austria can send only three riders to the men's road race, and it has chosen Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Gerrit Glomser (Team Volksbank), and Christian Pfannberger (Elk Haus-Simplon". Their modest goal is a top ten finish. "That will be difficult, because as a small team we can only react," Kohl said. "But nothing is impossible. Glomser was called on the phone by national coach Franz Hartl yesterday. It is the fifth time he is racing for Austria in the Worlds. He won the bronze medal in 1997, in the U23 category.

Echavárri is angry with the UCI

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Team manager
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
(Click for larger image) Team manager Jose Miguel Echavarri

Jose Miguel Echavárri, the Caisse d'Epargne manager, showed his discomfort with the behaviour of the UCI in regards to the Valverde case. He accused them of acting with "malicious intent" and at the same time indicated that cycling finds itself "in an important schism and with some incompetent leaders".

"The Valverde affair continues. And the rider continues to prepare for the World Championships. The Spanish federation as much as the CSD [Superior Council of Sports] is acting seriously and respecting the laws. Not like the UCI, which acts with bad intentions and to initiate damage with their own interpretations [of facts]," Echavarri told the press media.

About the participation of Valverde at the Worlds, Echavarri assured that, "until a court doesn't rule, we cannot say anything. But it [the court] will have to speak up before the Worlds."

"Our sport is directed by people who do not deserve it. The riders have the punishment of being left to the whim of the people [responsible officials of cycling]. For example, I cannot understand why Oscar Sevilla can ride in Portugal and not in Spain. Both races are under the sanction of the UCI. But the UCI is only thinking of the ProTour events, that is its business," Echavarri added. The Caisse d'Epargne manager concluded saying that "I have already paid the license for the coming years, and we do not know if there will be ProTour."

Will the Grupo Nicolás Mateos be around for two more seasons?

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Grupo Nicolás Mateos may be around for two more seasons. It would be under a new management, led by Ginés García (formerly with 3 Molinos Resort). Luis Nicolás Mateos, owner of the real estate company that has sponsored the continental squad directed by José Luis de Santos during its two seasons of existence, "is determined to continue two more seasons, but as a Pro-continental squad," García assured today to Cyclingnews. The sponsor announced in June that the contract for the current continental team will not be renewed.

At the moment, the interest of collaboration of the local government (Murcia) has been received, "which is an essential endorsement, so that is a reality," García added. He is interested in having a maximum number of local cyclists, such as Jesús Buendia (Barbot). He would also like to keep Eloy Teruel and José Antonio Baños from the current continental squad, "although this project is born with a future mission [in mind], and for that reason, the addition of anyone of our ProTour riders, such as Luis León Sánchez or Fran Pérez, among others, is contemplated," García concluded.

Ullrich hops back on a bike amid controversy

Ullrich announces retirement
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Jan Ullrich will ride "his bike with friends for the first time in more than a year," as the German put it on his website, He will participate in a charity event in Weil der Stadt, near Stuttgart. The event is held on October 3rd, the German national holiday. It marks the reunification of East and West Germany and has helped develop the German cycling program, culminating in the first ever Tour win by a German.

The event that day is organised by Heinz Betz. Ullrich decided to participate "because the fun is combined with the necessary." The money raised in the event will go to disabled kids in Böblingen "who don't have it as good as we have it."

He also criticized the organizers of the World Championships in Stuttgart, saying that "I find it objectionable if someone sees that as something bad and uses my participation as a reason to deny the accreditation to someone else. In what kind of world do we live?"

The background is that Heinz Betz is also the manager of Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner). Schumacher wants to participate in the October 3 event along with other celebrities. The announcement of Ullrich, who is still being investigated in connection with Operación Puerto, being at the event as well, did not go down well with the organizers of the Worlds in Stuttgart. They decided to hold the accreditation for Schumacher's managers (Betz and Gregor Braun, former German professional).

The whole ordeal has also led to Braun stepping down from his post as the ambassador to the Worlds. The organizers on their part deny the charges and say that there hadn't been an official request to get accreditation by anybody from the Schumacher management.

Hunter's final prep for Worlds

Hunter is the first South African
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Barloworld's team captain, Robert Hunter, is looking for a winning sprint in Misano Sitsou in has last test for the Worlds. The squad will use the last weekend of racing before the World Road Race Championships in Germany and head to Italy for some intense racing. Hunter has had a good year, being the first South African to ever win a stage in the Tour de France.

On Saturday September 22 a team will ride the Memorial Viviana Manservisi (formerly known as the Misano-Adriatico race), then on Sunday September 23 a different team will ride the GP Industria e Commercio di Prato in Tuscany.

Team director Alberto Volpi will have a strong team of sprinters in the "Memorial Viviana Manservisi" race with Giosuè Bonomi, Diego Caccia, Gianpaolo Cheula, Enrico Degano, Fabrizio Guidi, Paolo Longo Borghini, James Perry and Robert Hunter wearing the red and white Team Barloworld colours. Hunter is hoping for a win before heading to Germany for the World Championships where he will ride for South Africa.

On Sunday Valerio Tebaldi will direct a young team containing this year's stagiaires Ben Swift of Britain and Ramiro Rincon of Colombia. Swift is clearly on form after winning the climber's jersey at the recent Tour of Britain and will join Diego Caccia, Gianpaolo Cheula, Alex Efimkin, Paolo Longo Borghini, James Perry and Kastantsin Siutsou in the Team Barloworld line-up. Siutsou will be the leader of the Belarus team at the World Championships in Stuttgart.

Milram and Lampre for Italian races

A select number of Milram riders will race two events in Italy this weekend. On Saturday, they head to the Memorial Viviana Malservisi, which is a 1.1 race in the UCI calendar. The race leads through the Emilia region.

On Sunday, the same team will start in the 62nd edition of the GP Industria e Commercio di Prato, also a 1.1. This time the roads will wind through northern Tuscany.

The selection is entirely made up of Italian racers with experienced Mirco Celestino and Fabio Sacchi heading the eight-man team. They will be joined by Sergio Ghisalberti, Mirco Lorenzetto and Carlo Scognamiglio. The team will be completed by three stagiaires, Luca Barla, Efrem Salvi and Luca Orlandi. Antonio Bevilacqua is the directeur sportif.

Lampre-Fondital nominated eight riders for the Memorial Manservisi, which runs from Sant'Agostino to Comacchio, under the guidance of DS Martinelli. They are Fabio Baldato, Alessandro Ballan, Paolo Bossoni, Marzio Bruseghin, Francesco Gavazzi, Roberto Longo, Danilo Napolitano and Gorazd Stangelj.

The following day, in the GP in Prato, the lineup will be Matteo Bono, Paolo Bossoni, Paolo Fornaciari, Francesco Gavazzi, Roberto Longo, Daniele Righi and stagiaires Maurizio Girardini and Leonardo Pinizzotto. The staff that will support riders there will be doctor Andreazzoli, masseurs Della Torre, Romagnoli and Rubino and mechanics Andreola, Biron and Fezzardi.

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