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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, August 5, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Garmin-Chipotle, Liquigas headline Missouri field

Garmin - Chipotle will ride in Missouri
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

North American Professional Continental squad Garmin-Chipotle and Italian ProTour outfit Liquigas lead the list of squads invited to contest the Tour of Missouri by race organizer Medalist Sports. The two outfits join previously announced Team Columbia among the 15 squads that will contest this year's race from September 8-14.

"This is not an end-of-the-season fun race for us," said Garmin-Chipotle director Jonathan Vaughters. "This is a serious objective for our team. It's a major event."

Among the local race teams invited to the event is HealthNet-Maxxis, BMC, Rock Racing. In addition top Mexican outfit Tecos and Canadian team Symmetrics will also contest the event.

"Without doubt, this is a deeper field than last year," said Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of event organizers Medalist Sports. "We have three teams that played major roles at the Tour de France this year. We have all the top clubs in North America, and two top European continental teams that will surely be hungry. It is an interesting and talented mix."

The seven-day race starts in St. Joseph and travels to Missouri's largest town Kansas City before finishing with a criterium in the urban landscape of St. Louis.

"We have a unique blend of teams," said race director Jim Birrell. "The way the course is designed, it will take a very high-caliber athlete to win. We could see a few more lead changes than last year. With three top teams from the Tour de France and all the top teams in North America, there will be a lot of good wheels to follow."

European squads Sparkasse and Rabobank's Continental squad will also contest the 2008 edition. This year's Tour of Missouri will be the event's second running after making its debut last year.

"This event proved, in only its first year, to be hugely successful for all involved, most importantly the great host communities of the Tour," Lieutenant Governor Kinder, chair of the Tourism Commission of Missouri. "It was very successful for the state as a tourism vehicle as people from 73 countries caught part of the event via live webcasts and people from 21 states came into Missouri to see the event."

Last year's event drew a police-estimated 365,000 spectators over six days and provided $26.2 million of direct and indirect economic benefit for the state and its host cities.

Teams for 2008 Tour of Missouri: Liquigas, Team Columbia, Garmin-Chipotle, HealthNet-Maxxis, BMC, Rock Racing, Tecos, Symmetrics, Bissell, Colavita Sutter Home, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefits Strategies-Medifast, Rabobank (Continental), Sparkasse and Toyota United.

Exodus begins at Crédit Agricole

The exodus from Crédit Agricole has begun, after Roger Legeay released his riders on August 1. The first two riders to leave the squad Rémi Pauriol and William Bonnet will join rival French squads, Cofidis and Bouygues Telecom respectively.

"This will be a new experience for me," Bonnet said of his new team. "They [Cofidis] don't have many sprinters or classics riders, so I will have more chances to make the racing."

Crédit Agricole team manager Legeay released his riders to on August 1, giving them the green light to find new teams for 2009. Legeay has so far been unsuccessful in finding a replacement sponsor for Crédit Agricole.

The French squad won two stages at the Tour de France, one with sprinter Thor Hushovd and another with Simon Gerrans. Hushovd and Gerrans have so far given no indication that they have found new teams for 2009.

Horner to skip Vuelta

Chris Horner (Astana)
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

America's Chris Horner will not contest next month's Vuelta a España after breaking his collarbone at the weekend's Tour of Elk Grove. The Astana rider broke the collarbone on Stage 2, however it wasn't clear at first if the injury would put him out of September's Spanish Grand Tour.

The team has now confirmed Horner won't recover in time for the event, where Astana is aiming to take its second Grand Tour victory of 2008. The squad, run by former Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel, won May's Giro d'Italia with 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

Horner was competing at Elk Grove as a part of his preparation for the Vuelta. The rider was planning to return to Europe this week to participate in the Tour de l'Ain and the Tour de Limousin prior to starting in his third Spanish Grand Tour.

Contador is expected to enter the Vuelta as one of the favourites to win the event. The Spaniard would have benefited from having a rider like Horner, who has been in strong form of late, to ride for him.

Rabobank to fight Rasmussen pay

Michael Rasmussen fronts the media with
Photo ©: Makoto Ayano
(Click for larger image)

The Rabobank cycling team has no plans to pay Michael Rasmussen the 700,000 Euros that the court has ordered it to pay, the team said. Rabobank plans to appeal the decision by a Utrecht court in July which ordered Rabobank to pay Rasmussen an amount of 700,000 Euros in damages, according to Sporza.

Rabobank believes that Rasmussen, who was thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France, is receiving too much. Rasmussen was suspended after it was revealed the rider lied about his whereabouts to avoid out of competition tests by anti-doping officials.

"We are in opposition of the high amount," Rabobank confirmed. "We feel that the previous director Theo de Rooij and team manager Erik Breukink should also be heard in the court."

In a unique twist the Danish rider, who was fired by the team the evening of his second stage win in the 2007 Tour, is also planning on fighting the decision. He believes that the amount awarded by the court last month is too little.

LPR Brakes-Ballan to Tour of Britain

By Ben Atkins

The Organisers of the Tour of Britain have announced that the 16th team to ride this year's race will be the LPR Brakes-Ballan squad of Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Di Luca. It is expected that both of the Italian stars will be at the start in London on September 7.

"I'm pleased to be able to welcome LPR to The Tour of Britain," said event technical director Mick Bennett. "I'm sure that their inclusion will benefit the race, as both Petacchi and Di Luca are more than capable of winning stages and possibly the overall too."

As well as Di Luca – the winner of the 2007 Giro d'Italia – starting the race as one of the outstanding, Bennett is looking forward to the prospect of a battle between two of the best sprinters in the world. "Like everyone else I'm also excited by the prospect of seeing Alessandro Petacchi going head-to-head with Mark Cavendish in the sprints," said Bennett. "[That] should make each day's stage finish unmissable.

"Having LPR ride The Tour of Britain adds to what was already a great line-up of teams and riders, which I'm sure will make this year's race the best yet," he added.

The LPR Brakes-Ballan team's provisional line-up for the Tour of Britain is: Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Di Luca, Claudio Cucinotta, Roberto Ferrari, Alessandro Maserati and Alessandro Spezialetti.

Meier gets Garmin-Chipotle gig

Canada's Christian Meier will get the chance to prove himself to North American Professional Continental squad Garmin-Chipotle after signing as a stagiare. The Symmetrics rider's deal with Jonathan Vaughters' squad will allow him to prove his worth to the squad, which was granted Tour de France and Giro d'Italia wildcards this year, ahead of a possible contract for 2009.

"We couldn't be more proud and happy for Christian," wrote Symmetrics team manager Kevin Field on "It has always been our goal to develop Canadian Cycling and our own talent. Ideally that means our team grows at the same rate as our athletes, but if we can't do that we are proud to see them move on."

Last month Meier proved his strength at the Canadian national championships, where he won the men's road race. The 23 year-old was also the Espoir Canadian National Champion in 2007, the same year he finished seventh in the Espoir Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Beijing Olympics – will poor air quality mean poor performance?

By Paul Verkuylen

Cyclists without a clear view of Beijing's Laoshan Velodrome
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Ever since the International Olympic Committee granted Beijing the 2008 Olympic Games, speculation has been rife as to whether the city's smog levels would drop below a suitable standard in time for the Games. Now, just a week before the games and the first endurance test of the Games, the road race, the pollution levels have been fluctuating in and out of the levels of PM10 (set at 50 micrograms/cubic metre) that the World Health Organization deem to be acceptable.

But what effect will the smog have on the athletes? One medical expert told Sky News Online that unless smog in the Olympic capital clears, athletes may find their times considerably reduced, and that we should not "expect any world records to be broken."

"Athletes breathe in ten times as much air into their lungs as spectators," Professor Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at Kings College, London, told Sky News.

"The pollution will cause their lungs to decrease in diameter, so they will not be able to take as much air into their lungs, which will affect their performance. Some of the athletes will suffer severe reactions and all will see impacts on their health.

"They are pushing their bodies to their limits so pollution will have serious consequences," he added. It has been reported, because of this fact alone, many athletes have applied to be allowed to use asthma medication during the Games.

Smog combat

Germany's Bert Grabsch
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

China spent almost 18 million pounds in an attempt to clean up its capital and lower the pollution levels to that below The World Health Organisation standard. Since July 20, Beijing has halved the total number of cars on the road and has been closing factories and building sites around the city, some of which are dozens of kilometres away from the city.

To combat the smog, many countries have opted to skip the opening ceremony and fly in as late as possible.

"There is no way to acclimatise to dirty air," Heiko Salzwedel, Denmark's head coach told Cyclingnews. "The best thing to do is avoid it all together for as long as possible."

Many teams are also issuing their athletes with protective masks, which are to be worn right up until their events, in an attempt to limit the exposure to the harmful chemicals in the air.

To read the full feature, click here.

Pic takes women's NRC lead

Tina Pic
Photo ©: Emory Ball
(Click for larger image)

A pair of North Carolina races marked the 28th and 29th events on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar at the weekend, with the latest NRC races seeing a change in the women's overall standings. With 24 men's races and 25 women's events on the 2008 NRC now complete, Rory Sutherland continues to hold a commanding lead in the overall individual standings on the men's side while Tina Pic takes over as the current women's leader.

The teams currently atop the standings include the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis in the men's rankings and the Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team in the women's.

Alejandro Borrajo and Katharine Carroll came away with the weekend's Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium victories in Charlotte. Edward King and Brooke Miller claimed the wins at the Hanes Park Classic in Winston-Salem on Sunday.

Men's Individual Standings

1 Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis)     1396 pts
2 Ted King (Bissell)                       808
3 Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)             643
4 Anthony Colby (Colavita-Sutter Home)     589
5 Kyle Wamsley                             544

Men's Team Standings

1 Health Net - Maxxis                     2690 pts
2 Colavita/Sutter Home                    2488
3 Bissell Pro Cycling Team                2208
4 Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team          1858
5 - Parkpre          1397 

Women's Individual Standings

1 Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home)         1019 pts
2 Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine)            1012
3 Kristin Armstrong                        870
4 Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine)           852
5 Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine)              852

Women's Team Standings

1 Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team     4022 pts
2 Aaron's Cycling Team                    2831
3 Colavita/Sutter Home                    2498
4 Team Tibco                              2212
5 Valuact Capitol Cycling Team            1260

Review the Tour de France with Cyclingnews' videos

The biggest bike race in the world may now be done and dusted, but that does not stop you from re-living the magical three-week Tour de France. Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you post-race video highlights.

Video highlights - 1 is the first of three post-race videos that will be presented by Cyclingnews. If you still need more you can review past videos and the podcasts page in our Tour de France section.

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