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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, February 5, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

High Road now USA-based

By Susan Westemeyer

Team High Road has changed its headquarters from Germany to the USA, it was announced yesterday evening. The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) met in Geneva and said that "it approved the change of nationality of the High Road team. This team will now be domiciled in the United States rather than Germany."

The team confirmed the change in a press release, calling itself, however, an "international" team. It noted that it had moved its headquarters from Bonn, Germany, to San Luis Obispo, California, as approved by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

"We are an International team and proud of it," said team owner Bob Stapleton, from the USA. "We are open to committed athletes from wherever they come from. One of the simple pleasures of this team is the international diversity and personal character each athlete brings to the team."

In emphasizing the international nature of the team, he noted that the 42 athletes making up the men's and women's team come from 16 countries, including seven national champions from Australia, Germany, Norway, Italy and the USA, 11 former national champions and three current or former world champions.

The team will continue to maintain its logistical base in Bonn. "We remain committed to our European operations centre in Germany and our excellent staff located there," Stapleton noted.

The team lost its former sponsor, T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom in November. Speculation had abounded since then that the team would apply for a license in the USA, and increased when the team announced that it would hold its training camp and team presentation in California this year instead of on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Corti denies Basso dealings

Ivan Basso plans on confirming a team by March
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In Italy and abroad there have been hints that Claudio Corti is interested in having 2006 Giro di Italia winner, Ivan Basso, as part of his Barloworld team. The 30 year-old Italian from Varese was suspended on June 15 for his association with Operación Puerto; he will be able to return to racing October 24 – in time for the Japan Cup, October 28. However, the Team Manager of Barloworld noted that he is not focused on Basso, but on the 2008 racing season and the 2009 sponsorship negotiations.

"According to reports around the world, people seem to think I am keen to sign Ivan Basso," noted Corti yesterday afternoon from South Africa, where his team won race three of the Super Challenge Series.

"It's true that I had some contact with Basso approximately a year and half ago when he was initially cleared but I want to clarify that Team Barloworld and Ivan Basso are not holding negotiations. We are still defining our plans for 2009 and beyond with the main sponsor and so it's unthinkable that we could be holding talks at this moment with any rider."

Danilo Di Luca will once again be looking for a team in 2009
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

2007 Giro winner, Danilo Di Luca, commented on the idea of having Basso at his side during the team presentation of LPR Brakes over the last weekend. "It would be a stimulating balance," he noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The two rode together in December as part of a charity ride.

"Racing in the same team would be a great way to gage the force of your team-mate." Di Luca has a one-year contract with LPR Brakes, so it is probable that the two could race together for 2009.

"By March I will probably decide," stated Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding his future team. "I already have an idea of the riders I would like to have at my side. It would be an Italian team and well organised."

As for the suggestion of a discounted suspension, Basso stated that he does not want this. "They disqualified me for a reason. It is right that I have to hang my head low and that I pay. However, after, I will return with my head held high."

Read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Corti.

Ballan requests CONI hearing

Alessandro Ballan wants to talk with CONI's Torri
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
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Alessandro Ballan has requested to be heard by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in relation to the doping controls last Monday night at the Team Lampre camp in San Vincenzo, Italy. The 28 year-old Italian – winner of the 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen – wants to clarify his position and remove any questionable doubts that may exist. Ballan confirmed to Cyclingnews that he and his lawyer, Federico Cecconi, will be heard tomorrow by head CONI prosecutor Ettore Torri in Rome.

Riders and staff complained of the timing of the visit, which started at 23:00 and lasted until 3:30 Tuesday morning. Torri called for the night controls and sent four testers to the Italian ProTour team's camp, however, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, tests should be carried out between the hours of 7:00 and 22:00.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) has asked a CONI representative to speak during its meeting this coming Friday in San Vincenzo.

Parra back home with Colombia es Pasión

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Ivan Parra with Colombia es Pasión for 2008
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Colombia es Pasión will be led in 2008 by Ivan Parra, Fabio Duarte and Sergio Henao, and will be composed of 22 riders led by a technical staff of eight people.

Undoubtedly, the head of the Colombian Continental team will be 32 year-old Ivan Parra, who last year raced for French ProTour team Cofidis and in 2005 won two stages of the Giro d'Italia. "The Vuelta a Colombia and the Clásico RCN are my biggest goals in 2008, as well as to compete in some races in Europe," Parra said to the local newspaper El Tiempo during the team's presentation.

Colombia es Pasión is carrying out a training camp in Paipa (Boyacá), Colombia, in order to be ready to confront the local and international calendar of this season.

Please see Cyclingnews' team database for full team details.

Swiss cycling in financial troubles

By Susan Westemeyer

Swiss cycling in trouble?
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

European cycling is falling on hard times: teams are looking for sponsors and races are being cancelled due to lack of money, and now even the Swiss national federation has fallen into financial difficulties. According to the website of the German cycling federation,, Swiss Cycling is looking for 100,000 to 300,000 Swiss franc (62,000 to 185,000 euro). Two Swiss Cycling officials have sent a mailing to members, asking them to look for private sponsors who would be willing to donate a minimum of 600 franc (370 euro).

The financial problems are apparently not new. Five of the group's eight directors have resigned in the last few months, including the finance director.

The situation is serious, according to Rene Walker, of the board of directors. "There are dark clouds over our national team. The financial situation is so that we need money immediately."

Riders still waiting for Tour prize money

By Susan Westemeyer

Not all the prize money from the Tour de France has been paid out, and the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) wants the money paid as soon as possible. "According to the UCI rules, the riders must have received their prize money no later than 90 days after the end of the Tour, at the very latest October 28, 2007," the group said in a communiqué.

The money is allegedly being held up by the race organisers because of the many doping cases stemming from the last Tour. "The Tour is still waiting for the sentences for [Alexander] Vinokourov, [Cristian] Moreni, [Iban] Mayo, [Michael] Rasmussen and [Patrik] Sinkewitz," the CPA said. "We have asked the UCI to step in and clear up this situation."

Haselbacher not happy with Giro non-participation

By Susan Westemeyer

René Haselbacher of Team Astana was looking forward to the Giro d'Italia as his season highlight, but the announcement by race organiser RCS Sport that Team Astana would not be invited put an end to that plan – and possibly more. RCS Sport Events Director Angelo Zomegnan "should explain to me personally why I can't take part. Right now, I am seriously considering whether it would be better to think about changing my profession at the end of the season," the Austrian stated to

"The Giro was my main goal this season. But it's over. I can forget it now. Why I can't start? I still don't know," the 30 year-old continued. "Honestly, I don't really care any more. I'm taking a break of training."

He is sorry to see "what goes on behind the scenes." Haselbacher said that he would rather return to his training in South Africa, "where I can train in sunshine and temperatures of 30°. There I don't ask what is happening. I get on my bike at 8:30 and enjoy my life as an athlete. I don't care about the rest." By "the rest," he meant, "The whole doping s**t, discussions with organisers, will we ride or won't we? That's too much for me. I want to stay away from it. I can't personally change the sport of cycling, so I try not to get involved. René Haselbacher doesn't have to change the world."

He doesn't know now how the rest of his season will unfold. Even if his team is invited to the Tour de France, he wouldn't ride it. "The Tour is not a theme for me personally. I have given it up. With our strong team, I don't have a chance and am therefore so angry that the Giro isn't there for me."

Looking beyond the Grand Tours, he added, "I don't even want to think about what will happen if all the [race] organisers, even the smaller ones, go crazy. What shall I do then? I may as well stay with my girlfriend in South Africa and train just for the fun of it. You can't plan anything except for such minor races as the Mallorca or Portugal tours.

"Cycling is being destroyed," he continued. "I'm lucky to be with Astana, because our sponsor doesn't care about the squabbling. Astana won't leave. The situation is more critical for other teams."

Vannoppen convicted of drunk driving

By Susan Westemeyer

Belgian rider Tom Vannoppen doesn't seem to be able to get away from making negative headlines. Last month it was announced that he had tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control which cost him his job with Team AVB-USspa. This month has started out with the loss of his driver's license due to drunk driving.

The charges stem from October 2006, when he was clocked by Belgian police doing 180 kilometres an hour, and was found to have 0.18 percent blood alcohol. The alcohol limit in Belgium is 0.05 percent, and the maximum speed on allowed is 120 k/hr. A police court in Sint-Niklaas, Belgian, has now given him a two-month driving ban and ordered him to pay a fine of 1,100 euro.

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