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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, August 25, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Regio Tour ends in tight battle

By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg

Markus Fothen won the stage with an attack on a rise two kilometres from the line
Photo ©: Florian und Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

In a dramatic finale Markus Fothen of Gerolsteiner took out the stage win with a late attack, but came up short in his quest to overall victory. General classification leader Björn Schröder had to dig deep to reach the finish line two seconds behind in third place. That gave him a four-second bonus – the same margin with which he won the overall classification. Luca Paolini (Acqua e Sapone) managed another second place, after having been relegated to that position in stage 3.

Fothen trailed by 12 seconds going into the stage. His late surged secured him the day's win along with a 10-second time bonus. The move almost worked, as Schröder was dropped. But the Milram rider fought hard to squeeze into third place, receiving the final time bonus of four seconds.

Fothen was upbeat after the stage, despite coming up short of taking out the general classification. "I tried on the Texaspass [the main climb], but I couldn't get away. So my last chance was a little rise two kilometres from the line. It was enough to get a small gap, but nothing more. One rider was better than me, I have to accept that."

For Milram it was the second stage race victory of the season, after Christian Knees' victory in the Bayern Rundfahrt. "That was an unbelievable fight up to the last metre today," said Milram's Directeur Sportif, Jochen Hahn. "The guys went totally to their limit, sometimes even over it. A big compliment on Björn, who thanks to his strong performance rewarded us with this enormous success." Schröder himself was impressed. "The team worked really hard. We have a really good group of guys."

Continue to the full report, results and photos.

Boonen ready to take on La Vuelta

By Susan Westemeyer

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) counts his wins
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen of Team Quick Step showed his form is coming good ahead of the Vuelta a España on Sunday by winning the sprint of the fourth stage of the Eneco Tour in Ardooie, Belgium. The former world champion handily out-sprinted Kenny Van Hummel of Skil-Shimano and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Columbia to take his second bunch sprint win of the event.

"I am very motivated for the Vuelta," Boonen said. He missed out on the Tour de France after testing positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control. "This is unlike the previous years when I had to scrape together all of my ambition just to go. With the condition that I have now shown, I am certainly able to win at least one stage."

"I feel a bit like in 2005 when I was world champion. That was when I took a break after my knee injury from a crash at the Tour, and then went on to do the Vuelta."

It was Boonen's second stage win of the tour after he won the first stage. It will also be his last stage win, as he will not take to the start on Monday. He will leave the race to concentrate on his preparations for the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 30.

"After this, I can go home with a good feeling," Boonen continued. "My brother is celebrating his birthday so I will eat a piece of cake, have two days to rest and then pack my suitcase for the Vuelta."

Boonen's main competition in the sprints, Daniele Bennati, was in the leader's jersey at the start of the stage. However, during the 213 kilometre journey from Terneuzen to Ardooie, Columbia's André Greipel, who had gone into the stage only one second behind Bennati, got in a long escape during the stage and gathered nine bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints to take over the 'virtual lead'. The Liquigas rider did not contest the final sprint, and finished 22 seconds down.

Continue to the full report, results and photos.

Astana revs its engines in Spain

Levi Leipheimer took bronze in Beijing
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Showing that the squad is rested and ready to take on the Vuelta a España, the Astana squad took first and second in the Spanish 1.1 race, the Clásica Internacional a los Puertos in Guadarrama, outside Madrid. Levi Leipheimer soloed to the win after attacking 20 kilometers from the finish, and came in 41 seconds ahead of Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador.

"This is a very special victory for me," said Leipheimer. "Today I raced for the last time in my USA national champion kit. It's been a honor to wear the stars and stripes and win a medal for my home country, but this year I've decided to focus on the Tour of Spain, which has been a major team goal since early in the season."

Leipheimer will miss out on the US Professional national championships which take place next weekend in Greenville, South Carolina, in favour of the Spanish Grand Tour, which begins the same day.

Leipheimer was part of the early breakaway of the race. On the Puerto de Navacerrada, a first category climb, Contador escaped from the chasing peloton to join the leaders; five of whom went to the finish in Guadarrama. Contador tried to escape, and when his effort was unsuccessful, Leipheimer used the same power which took him to a bronze medal in the Olympic time trial to solo to his sixth victory of the season.

Contador finished behind Leipheimer in second place ahead of the Burgos Monumental duo Diego Gallego Arnaiz and Sergio Pardilla Bellon and Iñigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Euskaltel - Euskadi). Contador felt his performance bode well for the upcoming Vuelta, which has been a major target after the team was excluded from defending his Tour de France title this year. "It was nice for me to race on my training circuit in the madrilene sierra. I'm feeling good and am very happy to see that my team-mates are in good condition as well. We are excited to start the last Grand Tour of the season on Saturday."

Sponsor Bissell takes over team ownership

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Bissell team raced aggressively all season
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The Bissell Pro Cycling team will continue to exist in 2009 in a new combination of ownership and sponsorship. The team's sponsor, Mark Bissell, Chariman and CEO of the company that bares his name, will take over ownership and management of the team from the existing management company.

"Bissell assumes ownership of the team, and the team will now come under the direction and management of Glen Mitchell," a statement said. "Continuing sponsors for 2009 include Advantage Benefits, Wynalda Litho, and Employment Group. The team will focus on the major UCI and NRC level events for 2009."

"The company that I own with my partner Cheryl Olson, Athletic Mentors, is not going to be involved with managing the team next year," said current manager Mark Olson. "Mark Bissell is going to move forward with the team – owning and sponsoring his own team – and Glen Mitchell is going to stay on and be a combination of manager and director. Most of the guys are going to stay as well, but they are still working on that."

Olson said that the decision to split was amicable. "No hard feelings and we wish the best for the team."

Mitchell is looking forward to building on the squad's success this season. "The team has had a fantastic year and has surpassed the goals that we had at the beginning of the year. I am very excited about becoming more involved with the team, and I look forward to the challenges ahead in building this team to the next level. We have a solid platform of riders to build on from this year and we will be fine tuning the roster to strengthen the squad at our targeted races for '09", said Mitchell.

Mark and Cheryl Olson, which began the team as a developmental program, said they will stay in cycling starting over in much the same manner. "We run the Priority Health development team now and are going to try to bring that up a notch. Next year we will stay focused regionally around Michigan and start over with a grassroots program like Bissell was for us. In 2010 who knows – I've got a few things in the works."

Regio Tour has support from the racers

By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg

The podium (l-r) with
Photo ©: Florian und Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Several German races already have vanished this year, and the Regio is the next event which is likely to go back to its original amateur status. However, organiser Rudi Renz hasn't given up hope yet and is still looking for a different sponsor to take over the patronage.

With the 2009 edition still a year away he still has some time to salvage the well organised race which the professionals hope to see remain. They value the fact that it is a high profile stage race where all days take place in the same general area, and all the teams stay in the same hotel for the week. Without the transfers there is a lot less stress for everybody.

Many of the German riders have already raced here in the past. Gerolsteiner's Markus Fothen, who won the final stage, held his hopes up high. "I don't think this is the end yet. I have ridden it with Gerolsteiner and also with the U23 National Team. It is a great event. The reasons are of course well known. There are many problems right now [continuing races], but I am hopeful that it will continue. It really is fun to race here."

Overall winner Björn Schröder (Milram) also enjoyed the race over the years. "I have raced here eight times. It would be a pity if it would have to stop. It is a highlight where we like to race."

The organiser for the French side of the race, Gaby Klem, is trying to bring back a border crossing stage. "I would like to have a stage from France to Germany and one from Germany to France." To keep the race at a professional level, he looks for help in the highest places. Klem will try to bring Bernard Thévenet and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme on his side. "Prudhomme told me a couple of years ago how important the Regio Tour is."

Third-placed Manuel Vázquez, who told Cyclingnews that it was first visit to Germany, was also impressed with the race. "The Regio Tour is a great event. That would be a real pity if my first appearance here would also be my last. Let's hope that it will continue."

Mountain jersey winner Mauricio Ardila Cano of Rabobank confirmed the sentiments of the other riders. "This is a very well organised race. It'd be a pity if it had to stop. Cycling is doing much more than other sports against doping. I think that cycling is cleaner than it used to be. Hopefully we can change even more," Ardila Cano said in hopes that the sponsors will reconsider their mass exodus.

Martens hoping for Worlds

By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg

German Paul Martens of the Dutch Rabobank team has had a good start to his pro career. Last year he narrowly missed out on his first pro win when he finished second in the Ster Elektrotoer. He was riding for Skil-Shimano then and beaten by Rabobank's Sebastian Langeveld. Rabobank saw the potential of Martens and signed him for 2008.

He confirmed his talents with a second place in this year's Ster Elektrotoer stage to Valkenburg, ending on the famous Cauberg.

Martens knows the Dutch and Belgian roads very well. After all, he lives in Lanaken, Belgium, which is only a few kilometres from Maastricht, Netherlands. He enjoys training in the terrain in that area. "It is ideal. I can go to Germany and ride in the Eifel. It is not like the Black Forest, but if you ride for five to six hours constantly up and down, then you get some good vertical metres. I can also go to the Ardennes or the Limburger area, which is where the Amstel Gold race takes place."

Martens raced this week's Regio Tour as preparation for the Deutschland Tour and wasn't sure yet what the latter would bring. "I don't have much experience with the high mountains and there is always one such stage." This year it is right at the beginning. After a short prologue, stage 1 goes from Kitzbühel to Hochfügen, ending at 1436 metres of altitude.

Martens left the Regio Tour on a high note. "I felt really good during the race. I will now take some rest, then there is always another boost." He did the race with the Deutschland Tour in mind, but emphasised that he wanted a good result. "At the smaller races I am always highly motivated, as I can race for myself."

A race where he would have to work for the team would be the World Championships in Varese in September. He is really hoping to be selected this time around. "I would be really disappointed if I wouldn't be selected again."

John Doe v. USADA lawsuit dismissed

The lawsuit filed earlier this year by an anonymous U.S. rider against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which sought to stop the agency from performing further testing on samples which had been declared negative, was dismissed, according to a report by the NY Daily News.

"John Doe v. USADA" was widely reported to have been filed by Rock Racing's Kayle Leogrande. Attorneys Howard Jacobs and Maurice Suh, who represented 'Doe', told the newspaper that the case was dismissed. "That case was resolved and as part of the resolution was dismissed," Jacobs said. "That's as much as I'll say."

The samples in question were reported to have been from the 2007 Superweek races, and had been initially declared negative. Earlier this year, Leogrande was named by a former team soigneur in a telephone conversation which was made public on the internet as having admitted to doping. The soigneur, Susanne Sonye, was the subject of a slander lawsuit by Leogrande, also filed by Jacobs, which was struck down by a California judge this week. The judge ruled that the case was meant to intimidate Sonye from testifying at Leogrande's USADA arbitration.

CPA calls for unpaid wage action

The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) requested this week that riders inform the organisation as soon as possible if they are not paid by their teams at the end of each month, or do not receive prizes, bonuses or other compensation owed to them. The statement urged riders not to wait for the season's end. "In the event a breach is noted in the regularity of payments, it is imperative that the rider who was not paid quickly contact the director of his team and require the situation to be normalised."

The letter continued, "In the absence of an answer within 8 days, the CPA suggests the riders contact its secretary. According to the provided elements, a file will be transmitted to the legal department of the UCI in order to call up the bank guarantee."

The UCI requires teams to provide a bank guarantee at the time of licensing as a provision to protect riders from non-payments.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)