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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, August 7, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Scott-American Beef excluded from Vuelta

Race director Victor Cordero does not want the former Saunier Duval team in the 2008 Vuelta
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Scott-American Beef will not line up at the start of the 2008 Vuelta a España in Granada. Race organiser Unipublic has announced that the team formerly sponsored by Saunier Duval is not welcome. The squad, which collectively abandoned the Tour de France mid-race after the doping cases of Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli, now suffers from a reputation.

Therefore, 19 teams will finally participate in the Spanish Grand Tour starting August 30: the 16 ProTour outfits, the two Spanish Pro Continental teams Karpin Galicia and Andalucía-Cajasur, as well as Italian-Russian squad Tinkoff.

Nevertheless, Scott-American Beef team director Joxean Fernández Matxin did not understand the reasons for the exclusion. "Riccardo Riccò said before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) that his positive test during the Tour had nothing to do with the team. Piepoli even denied doping himself. In my opinion, and in that of other qualified teams, we showed an exemplary behaviour in the Tour by our abandon and expelled Riccò and Piepoli in accordance with the code of ethics. Moreover, we have started legal action against Riccò for the damages he caused.

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"Therefore, we do not understand on what basis we have been excluded from the Vuelta. We do not know the reason. We would like to know this from Unipublic," Matxin told Cyclingnews on Wednesday.

The race organiser also decided not to invite any more teams even though the maximum participation number of teams is 22. Neither Contentpolis-Murcia, nor Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario, which had some hopes left to join the 2008 event, have been called to the start line.

On the other hand, Unipublic has left Liquigas and Crédit Agricole in the line-up, even though these two teams also had positive doping cases during the Tour de France with Manuel Beltrán and Dmitriy Fofonov respectively.

Additional reporting provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.

Judith Arndt: Turning silver to gold

Germany's Judith Arndt is a favourite for gold
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

As the silver medallist from Athens in 2004 - and after a dominant first half season - Judith Arndt of Germany and Team Columbia goes into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games race as one of the overwhelming favourites. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins caught up with the 2004 World champion as she finishes her preparation for the biggest race of the year.

We last spoke at length to Judith Arndt back in April, after her victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Since that time the she has added a stage and second place overall in the Tour de l'Aude, La Coupe du Monde Cycliste Féminine de Montréal - further extending her lead in the World Cup - three stages and the overall of Le Tour du Grand Montréal, and most recently the overall at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt.

This year has so far been a highly successful season, even by Arndt's standards, but she knows that the target that the whole women's peloton has been aiming at all year is the one that she will measure it against. "I'm happy for the season so far," she said. "But this year I think I would be disappointed if I wouldn't do good at the Olympics. This is the main focus and so this is something to achieve."

As well as success on the road, the off-road victory of managing to secure a title sponsor to replace T-Mobile, and one that is happy to put its resources behind both the men's and women's teams, has brought a further morale boost - and an unexpected source of humour for the German. "Of course, it's perfect; we're really happy with Columbia because everybody thinks we all come from Colombia now," she laughed. "I have met people and they asked me if I come from Colombia, it's funny."

After a stellar start to the summer campaign, Arndt rode an uncharacteristically quiet Giro d'Italia where she barely featured in any stage finishes, choosing instead to work for team-mates Kim Anderson and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. Nevertheless without seeming to make too much effort she finished the race in 10th position overall. The important Team Columbia statistic to come out though was Teutenberg's total domination of the sprint stages, laying down the gauntlet to Team Columbia's men's squad rider Mark Cavendish by taking four stage wins.

To read the full feature, click here.

German impressions from Beijing

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann is at his first Olympic Games, and he is quite impressed. "You go into the cafeteria to eat and suddenly [basketball player] Dirk Nowitzki or Rafael Nadal stands in front of you."

Writing on his personal website,, the Team Germany rider said, "We haven't seen a lot, but what we have seen is very imposing. Yesterday I looked at a couple of the sports sites with Jens Voigt, and what struck us, of course, were the enormous security measures. That is really crazy. Even on our training rides, there is a security officer every fifty metres to keep things 'in order'."

The weather was impressive, too, but not in a good way. "The temperature and the very high humidity are not very comfortable. You always feel as if you had just come out of the shower. Actually you don't need to do much of anything and you are already soaked in sweat from top to bottom."

Looking to his competition, the road race on Saturday, the 28 year-old said, "The course is very difficult, and then there is also the problem with the air, whether it is pollution or humidity." He added, "A lot of people think that this is the most difficult Olympic course ever. I can't say anything about that, of course, but at any rate I find it good and am highly motivated."

His German team-mate Bert Grabsch, who rides for Columbia, had similar observations. "We could train directly out of the Olympic Village. The traffic is very heavy, but you can get used to that. I noticed that you have to think for the car drivers and pay attention, because they are not used to such fast cyclists."

On his website,, he further noted that "It is very hot and humid and you sweat and sweat. But my first Olympic Games are an enormous experience and it is a lot of fun to be here with my colleagues."

Dekker and Rabobank negotiate to part ways

Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) at this year's Tour de Suisse, still in Rabobank colours
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Thomas Dekker and team Rabobank may terminate the contract binding the rider to the team soon. The managements of both parties are currently in negotiations over Dekker's involvement with the Dutch squad, Rabobank team spokesman Luuc Eisenga confirmed to Cyclingnews.

But neither Eisenga not Dekker's spokesman Martijn Berkhout wanted to comment on the ongoing press reports according to which the winner of the 2006 Tirenno-Adriatico had showed irregular blood values and therefore had an 'inactive' status within the team.

The UCI, meanwhile, confirmed to the rider that he had the right to race, even though it appears that Dekker did show unusual results in his testing profile. Just after the Tour de France, team manager Harold Knebel commented on this, saying on Dutch radio, "We received a signal before the Tour de Suisse, but couldn't draw any conclusions from it."

On Thursday, Knebel is quoted on Rabobank's website as saying, "Both parties strive for a quick solution of the current situation, but it is not known yet when we can release the outcome of the talks."

Armstrong returns to racing in Leadville

Since his retirement, Armstrong has turned his attention to marathon running
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Three years after the end of his career, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong hopes to finish a cycling race again. On Saturday, August 9, Armstrong will line up in the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The Texan has been keeping fit in running marathon races since he retired from racing in 2005. Still, he pointed at last year's winner Dave Wiens for the likely Leadville victory. Wiens won his fifth straight title at the mountain bike race in 2007, beating Floyd Landis by two minutes.

"A race like this takes a lot of experience and endurance. He has that. So, I guess he's the odds-on favourite," Armstrong said to AP on Wednesday. "I would reiterate that I'll be happy if I'm Top 5. I don't think I'm in it to win it, as they say."

The 36 year-old hasn't finished a competitive bike race since winning his seventh straight Tour de France title. In spring, he dropped out of the "Miles of DisComfort" mountain bike race in Texas with nine miles to go before the finish.

The Leadville Trail 100 begins at the old mining town of Leadville with 1,000 participants setting out at 10,500 feet and climbing to a maximum elevation of 12,600 feet. En route, racers tackle 14,000 feet of climbing in total. "I fully expect to get beat up," Armstrong said.

Armstrong's longtime personal coach, Chris Carmichael, is also signed up for Saturday's race and hopes to beat his personal best time of just over nine hours. "I don't know if I can beat Wiens, but I'm 100 percent sure I can beat Carmichael," Armstrong said. "I will be home, showered and probably three beers in by the time Carmichael gets back."

Volksbank with wildcard to Hamburg

Team Volksbank has received a wildcard invitation to the Vattenfall Cyclassics race in Hamburg. The ProTour race will be held on September 7, and will issue up to three wildcards.

"I am happy for the team and the riders," said Thomas Kofler, manager of the Austrian Professional Continental team. "The Cyclassics is a further chance after the Deutschland Tour to present ourselves on the large stage in our neighbouring country and to publicize our vision" of dope-free cycling.

Japanese scores stage in France

A Japanese rider, Miyataka Shimizu (Meitan Hompo Asada) made for a surprise in the first stage of the France race Paris-Corrèze. Shimizu was the fastest in the first of the two stages from Saint-Amand Montrond to Ambazac, beating Frenchmen Brice Feillu (Agritubel) and Noan Lelarge (Bretagne Armor Lux) by a few seconds out of a breakaway.

After 80 kilometres of a total of 196, the first breakaway of the day was reeled in by the pack on the only climb of the stage, the Côte du Bois des Echelles. Immediately, eight riders countered, including Shimizu, Feillu (the brother of Romain), Lelarge and Maxime Médéral (Crédit Agricole). The latter tried a solo move with a few kilometres to go, but was caught again. The slightly uphill finishing straight then saw the 26 year-old Japanese rider take a three-second advantage over Feillu.

Shimizu started out his career in 2004 within the Japanese outfit of Bridgestone-Anchor. In 2005, he finished third overall in the Tour of Hokkaido. This season, he won the 2.2-rated Tour de Kumano stage race in Japan.

Eisel re-ups with Columbia

Bernhard Eisel has extended his contract with Team Columbia for two years, through 2010. The Austrian sprinter talked to other teams but said that the deciding factor was "that I can ride the Classics Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, my main goals for the next two years.

"The second point is that we have a really good team, where everyone helps everyone and everyone understands each other," Eisel said on his website, "And our success shows that we are doing something right: together with the women's team we already have over 100 victories."

The 27 year-old has been participating in the post-Tour criteriums, with the last one Friday evening. After that he will take a two week break "which I desperately need. My back pain from my crashes in the Tour de France has not yet gone away. Next week I will hopefully be able to cure it entirely."

Le Mevel signs with Française des Jeux

Crédit Agricole rider Christophe Le Mevel has signed a two-year contract with Française des Jeux. Roger Legeay, the French team's manager, has not been able to find a sponsor for next season and thus let his riders negotiate their future careers freely. Le Mevel, 27 years old, is happy about his move to the side of Gianni Meersman, who extended his contract with FDJ. "I am going to the team in which I think I can realise my potential to a 100 percent," the 2005 Giro d'Italia stage winner said.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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