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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, February 26, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Greipel comments on Tour Down Under

André Greipel (Team High Road) celebrates his first, but not last, victory in Australia in 2008
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

André Greipel answered fans' questions in a live chat on the Team High Road fan web site. The German sprinter, currently leading the ProTour, had a great start to the season, winning four stages of the Tour Down Under and taking the overall victory.

He is seeing his success in Australia a bit undervalued, stating that there was quite a competitive field at the start. "I think it's a pity that the race is made so small. There was a strong field and we clearly were the best." Greipel explained his good results in sunny Australia with staying injury-free over the winter.

He also emphasized that from the wattage numbers, he is the fastest High Road sprinter. After a little break following the race Down Under, he will go back to action in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. A start at Het Volk on Saturday is still being discussed, but he will be working for the team in the classics races. His next shot to show off his sprinting capabilities will be in Paris-Nice, which runs from March 9 through 16. After that, he races Rund um Köln on home turf.

For him, it would be "a dream" to go to the Tour de France this year. He acknowledged that at the moment "it isn't easy for riders and fans. In Germany there are fewer and fewer stage races and that's not easy for the smaller teams," Greipel was aware of the far-reaching implications that the doping discussion has had in Germany.

As for the future in the team, he is hoping to sign a new contract soon. "I am very happy at High Road. Let's see what the management says. Three or four sprinters are almost too many."

Cycling Australia announces roster for track Worlds

McGee, Lancaster, Brown and Roberts celebrating Olympic gold
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Cycling Australia has announced the 'Cyclones' Australian Team to contest the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships being staged in Manchester, England, from March 26 to 30.

The men's sprint team will feature 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ben Kersten, recently crowned national champion Mark French and troubled rider Shane Perkins. Ryan Bayley, Daniel Ellis Olympic Keirin silver medalist Shane Kelly and Scott Sunderland complete the team.

The women have two starters in the sprint, national champion Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares, the sister of Kerrie. Kerrie came in second at the nationals, losing to McCulloch.

The women's endurance team is comprised of Katherine Bates, who has good memories on Manchester, road ace Belinda Goss and allrounder Katie Mactier.

The men's endurance team hasn't made the final cut just yet. A pre-Worlds training camp in Bordeaux, France, from March 10 - 22 will help in sorting out the final team selection for Manchester.

For now, the 'long' team is comprised of Jack Bobridge, Graeme Brown, Tour of Britain stage winner Matthew Goss, Leigh Howard, Mark Jamieson, Brett Lancaster, Tour de France prologue winner Bradley McGee, Cameron Meyer, Luke Roberts and Phillip Thuaux.

The quartet of Brown, McGee, Lancaster and Roberts clinched the Olympic title at the 2004 Games in Athens.

Förster and his important early wins

Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) is on good form already, having won two stages in Portugal
Photo ©: Joăo Dias
(Click for larger image)

Robert Förster is in a hurry. In February, he has already stormed to two wins, both in the Volta ao Algarve. In addition, he received the green jersey for the best sprinter in the event in southern Portugal that was marred by rain and wind.

Förster told that this year the team had the goal to win early, "to avoid any build-up of pressure on the team." He added that for him personally, as a sprinter, the wins helped him to judge his form. "They prove that, see, it is going fine. And nice that Rebellin was able to add one on on Sunday," the German made clear that the successes of the riders are as important for the team and do not go unnoticed by the team-mates.

Förster couldn't say in percentage of where his form is ("it would be nice if I would be able to read that somewhere in numbers," he laughed) but declared that "if I am winning, I must be somewhere in the upper range."

While the race was rainy and windy at times, especially during the time trial, the advantage of racing in southern areas became clear, as at least "the rain was warm," according to Förster, who had not much trouble with the elements.

The German, who is not used to winning that early in the season, will continue to rely on Sven Krauss as his lead-out man for the sprints. His next races are the Volta ao Distrito de Santarém, again in Portugal, from March 13 to 16 and the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale in Italy. His goal? "To get as many bouquets of flowers from pretty women as possible..."

Landis losing hope?

By Susan Westemeyer

Floyd Landis has put on ten kilograms, or about 22 pounds, and is not training. "Why should I?", he told "But I still put in some time each week on my bike. And I advise the youngsters at Rock Racing."

In the meantime, Landis is waiting for his March 19 hearing before the Court of Appeal for Sports. "My lawyers told me that Lausanne has set five days to hear all the parties. I hope that I won't have to wait an additional five months to hear the results, as I did last year after my hearing in California. It is all hopeless."

However, Landis confirmed with race organizers that he is planning to contest the 100 miler mountain bike series in 2008 regardless of the outcome of his March CAS hearing.

Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but later tested positive for testosterone. After hearings before the US Anti-Doping Agency in May, at which he continued to claim his innocence, he was given a two-year suspension, which he is now appealing.

No Olympics or Worlds for Eisel

By Susan Westemeyer

Bernhard Eisel (High Road) won the final stage at the Volta ao Algarve, but won't win the Worlds or Olympics this year
Photo ©: Joăo Dias
(Click for larger image)

Bernhard Eisel of Team High Road knows what he won't do this year: he won't be Olympic champion or World champion, because he has already decided that he won't participate in either event. Neither course suits him, he said, so why should he take the place of another rider, who would have a better chance?

In an interview with, he said that he has already notified the Austrian federation of his decision. "Beijing is simply not my race, I don't need to force my way in. If I drop out after two laps of a course that I know doesn't suit me in the first place, then I'm not going to make any friends." He feels the same about the Worlds in Varese. "This course also is not made for me."

Instead, the Austrian is concentrating on the Tour de France, despite the presence of many high-powered sprint rivals on the team, such as ProTour leader André Greipel, Gerald Ciolek and Mark Cavendish. "After France it would be impossible to motivate myself again for the Olympics," he noted. "So I'd rather take it easy and then have a good autumn with the Vuelta [a Espańa] or Tour of Poland."

The 26 year-old rode in the Olympic road race in Athens in 2004, but did not finish. Austria sent four riders that year, but this year can only nominate two. He said that he would pick two from Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Christian Pfannberger (Barloworld) and Gerrit Glomser (Volksbank). "In top form, any of them can ride with the best in Beijing."

Eisel recently won the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, after attacking out of an escape group.

Fertonani stopped for two years

By Gregor Brown

Francesco Plotino of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) issued the confirmation of the two-year ban of Marco Fertonani given by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) in December. The 31 year-old Italian from Genova tested positive for testosterone during the 2007 Tour Méditerranéen, and was suspended by his team, Caisse d'Epargne, when the results were made public in July.

Jesús Manzano questioned by CONI

By Gregor Brown

Spaniard Jesús Manzano was questioned by anti-doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Saturday in Rome, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport . Head prosecutor Ettore Torri opened Operación Puerto investigations in mid-January on riders and team staff, even if they are not Italian.

The 29 year-old ex-professional, Manzano, admitted early-on to being a client of the doctor at the centre of Operación Puerto, Eufemiano Fuentes. He has made accusations against his former Kelme team-mate Alejandro Valverde in the past and also claimed to have knowledge that it was not only cyclists who were working with the Spanish doctor.

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

Rund um Köln looking to local riders

By Susan Westemeyer

Teams Gerolsteiner, Milram and High Road will all ride in Rund um Köln on Easter Monday, March 24, the race organizers have announced. The race is the traditional first German race of the season.

"Even if cycling suffered a lot last year because of the doping problems, Rund um Köln lives and will continue to be an important part of the racing calendar in the future," said organiser Artur Tabat. "Hard times are coming for our sport, but we are all fighting for this traditional race."

Tabat, who has been leading the race for 36 years, is hoping for local riders to appear. "Meantime, so many good riders from first class teams live in our area," he noted. One rider has literally grown up with the race: Milram's neo-pro Dominik Roels rode the race as a student and a junior. "Of course I hope that Dominik and other Kölner pros will start."

Milram could offer, in addition to Roels, local riders Christian Knees (who won the race in 2006 ), Artur Gajek, and Ralf Grabsch. Gerolsteiner has no one in the immediate area, but Tabat would be happy to have Thomas and Markus Fothen from the Düsseldorf area, or Johannes Fröhlinger, who was born in Gerolstein. Team High Road, the former T-Mobile Team, has two high-ranked riders from Köln, the 2006 U-23 World Champion, sprinter Gerald Ciolek, and the current ProTour leader, sprinter André Greipel. Bert Grabsch and Linus Gerdemann are Köln natives, who have moved away now.

Women's Swift Racing Team presented

By Ben Atkins

The Swift team for 2008
Photo ©: Team Swift
(Click for larger image)

Formerly known as Global, the Swift Racing Team was presented during the National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show at the UK's National Exhibition Centre this weekend. Now sponsored by the Swift Group – one of the UK's leading motorhome and caravan manufacturers – the team boasts an increased roster of riders as well as a bigger budget for 2008.

Existing team captain is Great Britain's cyclo-cross champion Helen Wyman and she will be joined by a number of new signings, the most high profile name being that of Emma Davies Jones. Davies Jones is a former national pursuit champion and has spent a number of years racing in Europe, most recently with the Topsport-Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne team.

"I think it would be a mistake to underestimate this team," said team manager Stefan Wyman, "We have a really strong squad of riders including National Champions, former Olympians and Commonwealth medalists as well as some extremely exciting young riders.”

As well as a new name and new distinctive pink and white racing strip, the team also have a new bike sponsor. Swift Racing recently signed a three-year deal with Flemish classics legend Johan Museeuw and will be riding the flax/carbon Museeuw MF1 frame in a distinctive pink, blue and white colour scheme for 2008.

The team will now spend ten days getting used to their new machines at the squad's training camp in southern France before returning to their base in Belgium to prepare for the spring classics.

Leontien's Ladies Ride expanding

Former professional Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel from the Netherlands started the Leontien's Ladies Ride in Den Bosch, 2005. It quickly became a huge success. The limit of 7500 riders was reached in 2006, so a parallel ride was organised in Zwolle for 2007. Even that event had 4500 participants in its first year. Now, in 2008, a third ride will be put together in Rotterdam, on July 13.

The ride for women from eight to 88 years of age will be part of the city's 'La City' festivities. The quadruple Olympic champion, who retired right after the Games in Athens, will hold a press conference on March 3, together with husband Michael Zijlaard. Then, they will present more details, such as the route for the Rotterdam ride.

The ride in Zwolle takes place on June 8, 2008 and the ride in s'Hertogenbosch on September 21, 2008. More info at

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