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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, February 2, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Cunego responds disqualification threat

Strict application of rules could endanger Classics and Giro d'Italia participation

By Gregor Brown

Cunego winning his second Giro di Lombardia
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Damiano Cunego was not exactly where he was supposed to be Monday evening when anti-doping controllers visited Team Lampre's camp and the 2007 Giro di Lombardia winner could face a three-month suspension if the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules are followed to the letter. The 26 year-old Italian noted that he has abided by the rules but believes strict adhesion to the rules in this case would be absurd.

The Italian ProTour team was subject to surprise controls Monday evening from 23:00 to 3:00 when four controllers sent by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) visited its camp in San Vincenzo (Toscana), Italy. Contrary to our early report, the riders were not in their rooms when the controllers arrive, instead they were on their way back from dinner. Cunego, his team-mates, the staff and two fans (who won a contest through Cunego's fan club) were having dinner at Gualdo del Re in Suvereto – 10 kilometres from San Vincenzo.

Cunego noted to Cyclingnews the differences in his earlier statements when he said, "It is not normal to be woken in the night during a camp."Talking about being awakened during the night for testing, he said "I simply said that it is not right to carry out controls so late when we are available all afternoon," he clarified Friday afternoon following training.

"The commissioners [CONI sanctioned controllers - ed.] arrived there at 23:15 and we returned to the hotel at 23:30, so I made the control within the anticipated time. The whole team went to dinner together, but I repeat, we were present on time for the controls and according to the rules."

The International Cycling Union (UCI) and WADA use the new Anti-Doping Administrative Management System (ADAMS) to track the riders' whereabouts. However, the system not yet acceptable in Italy due to privacy laws, and it should be in use by January 2009 once modifications are made; CONI instead uses a form of the Registered Testing Pool (RTP).

"I am absolutely in favour of surprise controls, but I don't believe it is right that controls that last up to 3:30 am at night, because the following day – like every day of the year – we have to train," Cunego insisted to Cyclingnews.

A disqualification from three to 12 months can be handed out to first time offenders of WADA's article 24, which could put Cunego out of the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. "With regards to the disqualification, I believe it is absolutely absurd in this case because I correctly communicated to the UCI and WADA my whereabouts, in fact the CONI commissioners found me and made their controls on January 28, just like the UCI did on January 31.

"A disqualification has only been talked about in the media," the 2004 Giro champion noted. "Why should I be disqualified if I respected the rules of the UCI and CONI?"

The reason could come from CONI prosecutor, Ettore Torri. He has seen to the suspension of Ivan Basso and lately indicated the disciplinarily hearings could be opened for foreigners involved in Operación Puerto. In fact, La Gazzetta dello Sport noted that the tests have to do with CONI gathering more information on doctors that may have been listed in Puerto documents and operating in the zone of San Vincenzo, Pisa and Lucca.

Tinkoff manager gives thumbs up to news

By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar

Tinkoff General manager Stefano Feltrin
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

One of the teams which was relieved and encouraged to see the Giro d'Italia list of invited teams was Tinkoff Credit Systems. The Russian squad took part in the race for the first time last year and will head back determined to improve on that display. "It is terrific that our team is in there," said General Manager Stefano Feltrin in Doha, seconds after seeing confirmation that they had got a wildcard place.

"I am quite surprised to see some teams I was not expecting to see and also some ProTour teams that are not in there…I know that Crédit Agricole, High Road, Bouygues Telecom and Astana are not in there. So too Acqua e Sapone, which is very surprising for me.

"My first reaction is that we are very happy that it has been confirmed. We had some talks with the organiser but of course seeing this list is the only way it is official. We are very, very happy."

The team was one of the most attacking squads last year and Feltrin expects to see more of the same. "We will still be very aggressive. Of course we would like to get a little more results from this way of racing. I think we grew as a team as a result of riding the race and we can achieve better results. The team is going to be a major player in the Giro.

"Mikhail Ignatiev will be there, of course. We will also put a lot of hopes on Evgeni Petrov, who was seventh last year, and with this time to prepare for the Giro, it will be important. Alberto Loddo too – we saw what he has done here [in Qatar] with two second places and one victory. It is great to have a full-fledged sprinter in our ranks and Alberto is really eager to be there.

"All in all, it is going to be very interesting."

Some teams happy, some not so happy

By Gregor Brown

The 2008 Team Astana at the recent presentation
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

After wrapping up its team training camp and presentation in New Mexico, Team Astana learned the news that it had been omitted from the list of teams invited to the Giro d'Italia in May.

"We are extremely surprised," said Astana Press Officer Philippe Maertens was boarding a flight with many of the team members – including 2007 Tour de France winner Contador – in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Our team management is currently trying to contact Zomegnan ..."

Astana did compete in the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Its highest place rider was Eddy Mazzoleni, in third. His team-mate, two time former winner Paolo Savoldelli was the squad's next best rider to finish in 12th.

On the other hand, Professional Continental team CSF Group-Navigare director Bruno Reverberi was pleased, but unsurprised with the news that his team was selected.

"It's pleasant news, but in fact I didn't consider our presence something uncertain. 2008 will be my 27th consecutive year in the Giro, my teams have always been very active and combative," said Reverberi. "We've been winning stages for the last eight years and we've always had good performances as a team and in the special classifications. The Giro d'Italia for us is like the harvesting for a farmer: a very crucial point."

CSF Inox Group, which recent became the lead sponsor, was happy and Managing Director of the group Dr. Andrea Ferrari said, "It's a first important step for our season."

Euskaltel - Euskadi getting ready to participate in the Giro

By Monika Prell

The Euskaltel - Euskadi team was among those picked by RCS Sport for the Giro d'Italia starting in Palermo. During the Basque team's presentation in January, Iván Velasco, Dionisio Galparsoro and Aitor Galdos said to Cyclingnews that they thought they should ride the Giro d'Italia.

The team's next step will be to prepare in a training camp from February 3 to 9. Team director Miguel Madariaga and technical secretary Igor González de Galdeano will assemble the riders in Calpe in the east coast of Spain, before the squad races in the Challenge of Mallorca from February 10 to 14. The team will learn how to work and training together and will plan in detail its season.

Named participants for the Challenge of Mallorca are Josu Agirre, Beñat Albizuri, Javier Francisco Aramendia, Aitor Galdos, Aitor Hernández, Amets Txurruka, Rubén Pérez, Jon Bru, Markel Irizar, Iñigo Landaluze, Andoni Lafuente, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo and Haimar Zubeldia.

Later in February, Euskaltel - Euskadi will head to the Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta Ciclista del Sol from February 17 to 21, and then to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana from February 26 to March 1.

Monte Paschi Eroica moves to spring date

The second Monte Paschi Eroica moved to a new spring spot on the calendar for 2008 according to Held last in early October, just before the Giro di Lombardia, the inaugural edition travelled over dusty roads in Siena, Italy. It will take the place of Milano-Torino on the calendar for March 8 and become the first RCS-organized event of the year, also serving as the lead-up to the Tirreno-Adriatico. Team CSC's Alexandr Kolobnev won the first edition in 2007.

The Milano Torrino may move to the fall, becoming a lead-up to the Giro di Lombardia.

La Française des Jeux presents team

By Ben Atkins in Pavillon d'Armenonville in Paris' Bois de Boulogne

The curtain is raised on the 2008 Française des Jeux team.
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

La Française des Jeux is France's national lottery, and has been sponsoring a top-level cycling team since 1997, and has been supporting sport in France for over thirty years. Because of this link to the lottery, the team is in essence financed by public money, and because of this la Française des Jeux sees itself as the people's team.

The theme for 2008 is "Passion de...," whether it's for winning, supporting or taking part. As well as the cycling team, la Française des Jeux is also heavily involved in its own fan club, which gives rise to its claim to be France's most popular team, in fact many of the club's members had been invited to today's presentation. On top of this engagement with fans of professional cycling, the sponsor is also becoming more and more involved in encouraging the public's participation in cycling: organising Cht'i Ventoux, a ride from Valenciennes in the north to the climb of the great Provençal giant, Mont Ventoux. From 2008, la Française des Jeux will also become one of the main sponsors of France's biggest cyclosportif event, l'Ardechoise, an event that attracts tens of thousands of participants each year.

Marc Madiot
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Proceedings were opened by Christophe Blanchard-Dignac, President-Directeur Général of la Française des Jeux. He spoke at length about the history of the team, the beautiful successes of 2007 – especially the fact that Sandy Casar finally managed a victory at the Tour de France, despite being brought down by a dog wandering on to the course midway through the stage.

La Française des Jeux has the youngest average age of all the ProTour teams, something that makes Blanchard-Dignac very proud. The investment in young riders and their futures means that the average la Française des Jeux rider is just 25 years old. As well as this he is also proud that – as the sponsor is effectively the French public – the 27-strong team roster contains 20 Frenchmen. Important for the French team as 2008 is an Olympic year.

Blanchard-Dignac also spoke at length on the subject of doping, but in a very favourable way: that La Française des Jeux was one of the founding teams of the Movement for a Creditable Cycling (MPCC), five of the team's riders are members of Athletes For Transparency (AFT) and that Sandy Casar was the first person to sign the UCI's anti-doping charter last year. He also emphasised that cycling was by no means the only sport with doping issues. Doping is, he said, endemic in all sports, but cycling is the only one that carries the stigma.

Read the complete feature.

London Olympic organizers told to seek another mountain bike course

The UCI asked organizers of the 2012 Olympics in London to come up with more difficult course than the one originally proposed at Weald County Park in Essex according to the Associated Press. The original course is reportedly not tough enough for the ever changing sport of mountain biking.

"The UCI has asked us to find a course that meets new and challenging requirements that test the best mountain bikers in the world in 2012," Brock-Doyle said.

IF backs road and MTB teams

At the Independent Fabrication factory,
Photo ©: Jon Bruno
(Click for larger image)

The newly formed IF Racing officially opened its season this past weekend in Somerville, Massachusetts, at the Independent Fabrication factory. Team Director Jonathan Bruno called together the newly expanded U25 Development program and Pro Mountain Bike Team for a weekend of team building followed by a team presentation on Sunday to their sponsors, family, friends and the media at Lionette's the Garden of Eden Market.

The team spent Saturday on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor performing many teambuilding exercises led by Outward Bound staff. The climax was when every rider, including those scared of heights, climbed a 30-foot pole and launching themselves off.

In addition to its efforts to promote environmental sustainability and healthy choices in conjunction with similarly minded sponsors, the team will participate in an after school cycling program for Boston Public Schools, where Bruno teaches high school and helped launch cycling the program, and support a scholarship for public school students.

Ready to climb.
Photo ©: Jon Bruno
(Click for larger image)

11 time US national champion and ex-pro Todd Yezefski (formerly of Nerac and TIAA-CREF) will lead the development team of young, talented riders from across the New England states on their new SSR road bike made from the Reynold's latest 953 stainless steel.

On the mountain bike side, Trish Stevenson will join Harlan Price to bolster the team's endurance racing efforts off road. Asheville's Stevenson is returning to full time racing after suffering a broken back in late 2006. Both cross country riders, who will be riding Ti Deluxe 29ers, are dominant figures in the National Ultra Endurance series as well as 12 hour and multi-day stage races across the North and Central America. This season, Price will venture overseas to contest a World Cup Marathon in France in October.

Independent Fabrication for 2008
Adam Branfman (U25) (road)
Jonathan Bruno (road)
David Berryman (road)
John Hanson (U25) (ex-pro) (road)
Tom Gosselin (U25) (road)
Stan Jurga (road)
Luke Krisch (U25) (road)
Thomas Lebosquet (road)
Greg Montello (road)
Harlan Price (mountain)
Sam Silver (U25) (road)
Trish Stevenson (mountain)
Jerome Townsend (U25) (road)
Andrew Walters (U25) (road)
Kevin Wolfson (U25) (road)
Todd Yezefski (ex-pro) (road)


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jon Bruno / Independent Fabrication

Tour of California adds women's criterium

To increase the stage one excitement of the Tour of California on February 18, organizers are adding a women's criterium which will use portions of the men's stage one finishing circuit in Santa Rosa.

125 women on teams of no more than eight are expected to compete for US$10,000 in prizes before the finish of the men's race. The race is the latest addition to the NRC calendar and in fact will open the women's NRC season. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine Women's Professional Cycling Team) will be on hand to begin the defense of her overall 2007 NRC title.

"The Tour of California Women's Criterium, a race within a race, is the ideal way to launch and showcase this exciting new edition to our schedule of events, while presenting these great women cyclists to the tens of thousands who will see them along the route in downtown Santa Rosa," said race director and former pro Laura Charameda.

"The 2008 NRC calendar has done a great job of stepping up and meeting the rise in popularity and talent in the women's peloton, and the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium is the perfect headliner event," said Anna Lang, professional cyclist, Aaron's Pro Women's Cycling Team. "The promoters have done a great job of course selection and ensuring a good turnout of the top teams. This event will be a good preview of the season."

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