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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, February 19, 2008

Edited by Paul Verkuylen

Evans takes early season win

Cyclist of the year Cadel Evans
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Last year's Tour de France runner-up, Cadel Evans, has taken an early season victory after winning the second stage of the 54th Vuelta a Andalucía. His win in just his second day of competition this year, proves the 31 year-old Australian's training during the off-season was not hampered by the many commitments he had with various charities and other functions. It also indicates that his preparation is right on schedule as for his assault on the 2008 Tour de France where he is a noted favourite after Astana's non selection, which leaves last year's first and third placed riders, Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer out of the coming edition.

The 2007 ProTour Champion was part of an 18 strong break away that moved clear of the main field after just 30km into the 176-kilometre stage from Torrox Costa to the mountain top finish in La Zubia. Evans' Silence-Lotto team-mates Dario Cioni, Johan Van Summeren and Mario Aerts were also part of the break and were instrumental in setting him up for the final surge to the line where he overcame Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick Step) for the win after a tough stage in dangerous conditions as the usually sunny southern Spain is being lashed by winter storms.

Spaniard Astarloza Chaurreau, second on the stage was happy with his performance against an in form Evans. "The finish line was situated after two kilometres of climbing, I really felt very strong, but Evans was even stronger than me." he said.

"At 500 metres to go we [Evans] escaped and 100 metres before the finish line I still saw a chance to win. Evans was the one who already had worked a lot in the break away, so I believed that I would have a little advantage. But he showed that he is very strong and so he is the fair winner of this stage", he explained of their duel to the line.

"I am a bit disappointed, but I feel a bit consolation thinking that it was the number two of the Tour de France 2007 and the favourite for this year’s edition who defeated me."

Clément L'Hottelerie (Skil-Shimano), runner-up of stage one, managed to grab the leader's jersey when overnight leader José Antonio Lopez Gil (Andalucía - Cajasur) lost more than five minutes to the Frenchman.

IOC happy with Puerto re-opening

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have expressed that they are pleased with the announcement that the Operación Puerto case been re-opened, according to AFP. The case surrounding doping within professional cycling was shelved in March 2007 due to a lack of evidence. "This is good news," said IOC-vice president Thomas Bach of the news that the case was to be reopened.

"I hope that the case progresses quickly and that the dossiers are sent to the international federations. As soon as that happens, possible sanctions can be decided," he said.

The dossier outlining the wide spread use of doping within the professional cycling community was shelved in March 2007, after Spanish judge Antonio Serrano could not assemble enough proof to justify the accused of crimes against public health, the only penal sanction possible as the new Spanish anti-doping law - which foresees prison sentences for those encouraging the use of doping substances - came into effect only in February 2007, long after the happenings. This legal reform cannot be retroactive.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Zabel opens season in Portugal

Erik Zabel will open his 2008 road season by leading Team Milram in the Tour ao Algarve, a five-day race in Portugal starting Wednesday. 2008 marks the 16th season as a professional for the 37 year old, who much like in previous years has used some six day track racing as final preparation before heading out on the road.

"I am looking forward to my first race kilometres of the season," Zabel said. "The Algarve tour is a good test for me. As compared to last year, the stages are harder. Mountains, flat stages, and a 35 km long time trial - what more can you ask?"

Milram is sending an all-German team, consisting of Erik Zabel, Artur Gajek, Björn Schröder, Christian Kux, Enrico Poitschke, Markus Eichler, Martin Müller, and Ralf Grabsch. Last year's overall winner, Alessandro Petacchi, will not defend his title as he is presently at the Vuelta a Andalucía in Spain.

USA Cycling sees growth from California

By Laura Weislo

David Zabriskie (Slipstream)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling's chief operating officer Sean Petty is at the Tour of California watching with pride as one of the country's largest races has arguably the strongest field to hit US soil in decades. The popularity of the race has helped grow the sport of cycling in the US, according to Petty.

"The great thing is with the Tour de Georgia, Tour of California and now the Tour of Missouri, a tremendous amount of momentum has been generated by these races. With the teams who are here, and the level of racing, it's pushed the growth across the board," Petty explained. "We have new races in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia - we have more UCI races than ever before."

The ripple effect has made its way from the top level all the way through the USA Cycling ranks, according to Petty. "For our organisation, we've seen growth in membership - we're at 64,000 members, which is an all-time high, and we've sanctioned more than 2500 events last year. The number of events is way up as well, and our collegiate racing has grown a lot."

Petty credits the high profile races like Tour of California for getting more people excited about bike racing. "More people are interested in the sport. With these Tours more people are seeing races. They've seen the Tour de France, and now they're seeing the same guys who race the Tour de France right here, and that's huge. People get to see them in person, and you start to create these heroes [for the fans]."

Having an opportunity to race against the world's top riders is important for the domestic professionals, Petty continued. "For the American riders, it's a good opportunity to ride with these guys and test themselves. They may find they have some work to do, and it's a bit intimidating, but they will know they can get there."

USA Cycling fielded a national team at last year's event, with mainly young riders from the development program, but this year, Petty explained, his organisation had more mercy for the riders.

"We really appreciated the invitation from AEG and Medallist for the national team [last year]. But the quality and calibre of the racing, even this early in the season, is so much harder for our guys. Our guys are just starting their season, so it was a bit much to ask to have them racing at that level in February, when we normally wouldn't ask that."

"Part of it's their schedule and where it fits in their training, and the other part is that the ProTour teams that are here are not taking it easy. With that reality, and the competition for invitations - we appreciated the opportunity last year, but this year we didn't ask.

The growth hasn't exactly translated to women's racing, despite the fact that the Tour of California has included a women's criterium this year. The number of UCI races for women have declined over past years, and this is something Petty would like to see change. "We definitely would like to see more international races for the top women. Kristin [Armstrong], Amber [Neben] and the rest of the top riders spend a lot of time in Europe now, but the big races used to be here. You had the HP challenge, or Ore Ida if you go way back, and even the Coors Classic women's race, and Tour of Texas had a nice women's component."

"It's a question of finance, and being able to shut down roads for additional time. It's up to the organisers - they're all entrepreneurs, essentially. We would certainly like to see more international racing here for the women, especially since our women are so good. They're going to be one of our strongest components on the team [for the Olympics]."

Australian junior track team announced

Paul Fellows takes the Keirin title
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Cycling Australia has today announced the junior team which it will send to the 2008 junior World Track Championships being held in Capetown, South Africa from July 12-20.

The team was chosen after the National Championships held recently at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.

The full Australian team for the 2008 Track Worlds is: Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW), Annette Edmondson (SA), Luke Davison (NSW), Rohan Dennis (SA), Megan Dunn (NSW), Luke Durbridge (WA), Paul Fellows (NSW), Trevor Griffiths (VIC), Sarah Kent (WA), Peter Lewis (NSW), Scott Law (NSW), Tom Palmer (ACT), Ben Sanders (VIC)


Evans portrait entered for Archibald Prize

Simon Benz poses with his portrait of Evans
Photo ©: Simon Benz
(Click for larger image)

The image of Cadel Evans is set to live on forever. Australia based artist Simon Benz has just completed a massive 2 metre square portrait of the Australian cycling superstar, titled "The Persistence of Vision- Portrait of Cadel Evans", which he plans to submit for consideration in the Archibald Prize. Benz who has followed the 2007 Tour de France runner-up since his early days as a mountain biker and first met Evans on a local training ride in Ocean Grove, where he promptly asked the aspiring Tour de France champion to sit for the portrait.

Several sittings followed, and by the end of January two versions of the portrait were completed, one of which takes pride of place in Evans' Australian home.

Simon has previously been selected for the Archibald Sporting Portrait Prize in 2000 for his painting of then World Cup and national road cycling champion Anna Wilson.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Simon Benz

Archer GP cancelled

Thames Valley police superintendent brings 52-year old race to a halt

By Jeff Jones,

Simon Gaywood won last year's race.
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

The 53rd edition of the Archer Grand Prix, due to be run on April 20th in the Chilterns in south east England, will not take place this year.

Organiser Stuart Benstead blamed the Thames Valley Police for blocking the event in spite of its long history. According to Benstead, the new commander of the operations section, superintendent Graham Bell, said it was the "many year-old policy" of Thames Valley Police to not provide support for events on public roads - including cycle races, marathons and charity walks.

"To date, however, common sense has been applied and despite this policy they have provided paid-for support for the Archer GP most, and perhaps all, of its fifty two years, including the ones when the policy was in place," said Benstead. "We recognise that this decision by the operations section, controversial as it is, makes it impossible to run the event but we owe a duty to the many sports and community events such as parades, to question it with the chief constable in the first place and perhaps higher after that."

Although there is a provision in the Road and Traffic Act to hold events such as bike races on public roads, police forces around the country interpret the rules in different ways.

British Cycling, the governing body for cycling in the UK, expressed its disappointment at the cancellation of the event, which formed part of the important Premier Calendar series.

In a statement, BC said it was working with the organisers and the police to decide the best course of action to take. "We will be raising the cancellation of the Archer GP at the highest level within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of our portfolio of work related to securing the future of events on the public highway," said Peter King, BC's chief executive.

On a broader scale, British Cycling is working with Sport England and the DCMS to ensure that road racing in the country is allowed to grow in future. To that end, BC has been working with the police on a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, which gives race marshals the power to legally stop and control traffic. It has already been introduced in Essex and Gwent, and will be rolled out to the rest of Wales on March 1st, and then to other areas.

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