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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 7, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Cyclo-cross titles awarded across Europe

This weekend saw the majority of the European countries host their cyclo-cross national championships. For a full listing of all the races with links to results, click here.

Nys wins a thriller for fifth Belgian title

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hofstade

Nys was uncharacteristically joyous
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Billed as an unpredictable race where the form guide can be thrown out the window, this year's Belgian championship produced another thrilling spectacle, but in the end Sven Nys was simply too strong and captured his fifth national title. Unleashing an explosive attack in the final kilometre, Nys blasted away from defending champion Bart Wellens, youngster Niels Albert and a surprising Erwin Vervecken, who just missed out on the podium today.

"It was a thrilling race," Nys admitted, needing some time to catch his breath after digging deep to distance Wellens. "My start was disastrous as Klaas Vantornout left before I heard the start gun. I thought they would call back those who started but then it turned out that I was the fool who was still standing there," he said, lamenting the decision of the UCI officials.

Ten days ago Nys won the World Cup race on the same course, but felt today was a different race altogether. "The sand section was frozen last week and that was to my advantage," he explained. "This time we had to run more as it was not possible to ride there; that was a disadvantage for me."

Nevertheless the UCI-leader managed to drop everybody on the last lap, as if playing a game of cat and mouse with the opposition. "I played poker and rode away where I wanted," he agreed. "In the last lap I felt that I still had an attack in my legs. Vervecken was leading the group to bring down the tempo. There was a battle for good position in the first sand section, but then I knew I had to jump away in the next section, that was the tactic."

See the full report and results here.

Hammond takes High Road's first win

Roger Hammond took Team High Road's first ever victory when he won the British 'cross championship Sunday. He also debuted the team's new black kit when he beat mountain biker Liam Killeen. Hammond also beat Killeen in the championships on the same course in 2006.

Paul Oldham took the early lead, but Hammond moved up to the front by the middle of the second lap. Killeen stayed with him and by the fourth lap, the two were on their own. The mountain biker was counting on his expertise in the technical sections, and in fact took over the lead, threatening to drop Hammond. However, Hammond was never in serious danger of being dropped.

On the last lap, Hammond took over the lead again and was able to with the sprint for his record-breaking fourth title. Killen was second, and Oldham finished third, less than 20 seconds down.

Lucky seven for Kupfernagel

Hanka Kupfernagel continued to build up her collection of titles on Sunday, winning the title of German women's 'cross champion for the seventh time in her career. The World Time Trial champion has now won the German title every year since 2001, with the exception of 2003.

Hours of rain left the course in Herford deep in mud. "The conditions today were very questionable," the 33-year old told the dpa. "I was a little nervous in the first few laps and had to work my way up from fifth place. But then it went optimally. That was a good technical training today. I have seldom ridden such a muddy course."

Shortly after the start of the race, Kupfernagel, Birgit Hollman, Stephanie Pohl and Susanne Juranek were able to break away from the field. The defending champion was able to come from fifth place to the lead and escape from the others, a lead she held until the end. Second place went to the 20 year-old Pohl, 1'50 down, with Hollmann third, at 2'10.

Keisse and Bartko take over lead in Rotterdam

Keisse & Bartko won in Gent
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko took over the lead after the fourth day of the Rotterdam Six Day race. They won the day's Madison to take a one-lap lead over former leaders, World Champions Bruno Risi/Franco Marvulli, as well as Peter Schep/Erik Zabel and Danny Stam/Leif Lampater.

It was a chaotic race, with teams breaking away and others cooperating to pull them back. Alliances formed and dissolved as the lead changed, and various teams took turns stealing laps. Stam/Lampater and Keisse/ Bartko came into the finale as the only two teams on the lead lap.

Danny Stam took the lead with three laps to go, but Keisse and Bartko stayed after him and his partner Lampater. Keisse and Stam went shoulder to shoulder in the last curve of the final round, and Keisse turned on the speed to win by half a wheel length.

The victory pushed Keisse/Bartko over the 200 point mark, earning them a bonus lap and pushing them to a one-lap lead over Risi/Marvulli and the lead on points with 241.

In the women's four-day, former World Champion Marianne Vos and her teammate Adrie Visser took over the lead, winning both of the night's events. The pair now stand eight points ahead of the second placed team, Kirsten Wild and Marllijn Binnendijk.

Rasmus Damsgaard: The man with the plan

Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

At a time when the sport of cycling was teetering on the brink of imploding under the weight of doping controversy, one team had the foresight to take action, and one man had the vision to make it happen. Born from the 2006 Operación Puerto case, Team CSC's anti-doping program is now becoming the standard for ensuring athletes are racing clean. Cyclingnews' Sabine Sunderland spoke with the author of the program, Danish anti-doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard.

It was just before the 2006 Tour de France that Operación Puerto erupted, and Team CSC's star rider, Ivan Basso, was named in the investigation on the dawn of the race in which he was a favourite to win. Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis was left with the difficult decision to remove Basso from the team's Tour roster and later from the team entirely.

Basso's case was still being tossed around in the courts when CSC announced its ambitious new plan to monitor its riders throughout the season for evidence of doping. Even though the case against Basso was shelved, Riis let Basso go and then focused on protecting the team's sponsorship and reputation by working to institute a radical new plan: a team-funded effort to test its own riders for evidence of doping.

Enter Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard

A team taking an active role in deterring doping, rather than waiting for a rider to get caught and create negative publicity for the sponsors and the sport, was not a new concept. Several French teams had instituted measures to combat doping after the 1998 Tour de France, and the French federation put in place a program (suivi médical longitudinal) which involved quarterly tests which went beyond the UCI's standards.

But with the state of the sport in 2006, the Team CSC program had to go further to convince critics that its riders were clean, and it did so at a huge cost to the team.

The logic of a team spending a large fraction of its budget on anti-doping screens was quite unusual, but after a year in which Basso was quickly snapped up by Discovery Channel, only to have the scandal flare up again and see Basso subsequently admit to his involvement in Puerto, and in which the Tour de France was plagued by multiple doping scandals, the importance of a program like Team CSC's increased. Now, the name Rasmus Damsgaard is at the forefront of cycling's anti-doping efforts.

A physician since 1994, Damsgaard actually began his anti-doping work as punishment for refusing to serve in the military. "After working a couple of years as a practitioner, I was called to perform my military duty. I refused and was punished by the authorities," Damsgaard explained. "I was sentenced to community service. As I could choose the type of work myself, I chose a job as assistant in a semi-governmental sport testing centre for the Danish elite athletes."

What began as penance quickly became a passion. "It turned out to be the best time of my (working) life!" The 41 year-old received encouragement to pursue a PhD studying growth and maturation in elite sports children. "The growth and development of children depends on hormones - the same hormones as body builders and some athletes choose to apply to boost performance," he described.

Read the full feature here.

Former East German track rider killed

Former East German track star Ralf Kuschy died on New Year's Day in Berlin, when his bike was hit by an auto. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after arriving at a hospital. He was 49 years old.

Kuschy led to the popularity of track cycling in the former East Germany in the 1980s. He was third in the World Championships in both 1985 and 1986. He retired from competition in 1990.

Bubnenkova fights for results

When Svetlana Bubnenkova celebrated her birthday this week, the 35-year-old wasn't thinking about celebrating, rather, she was concerned about keeping her results from the second half of the 2007 season. The day before her birthday, the UCI contacted the Russian's Fenixs Team to announce it had nullified her results from June 2007, which included a fourth place at the World Championships in Stuttgart, without specifying of the reasons, according to

The UCI's web site showed all of Bubnenkova's results as 'DQ' from June through September 2007, which was not indicative of a doping claim, which carries a different abbreviation. Instead, the disqualification could be the result of licensing issues, which were brought to the attention of the UCI.

Bubnenkova's director Andrea Carlesi is confident the issue will be ironed out, and 'Buba's' results returned. “We are calm," said Carlesi, "we have already alerted the Russian Federation that it must show the UCI the necessary documentation, in which it is evident that Svetlana is in regular position as far as her license registration. We say that in about one month all will be arranged for this incident, but I repeat we are all calm with respect to the incident, and that her victories and placings obtained in the course of the last season will be returned as a part of Buba's resume ".

Borrajo to lead Colavita/Sutter Home

Borrajo is well suited to the US racing style.
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
(Click for larger image)

The Colavita/Sutter Home Men's Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light announced its squad for 2008 this week, just in time for the team to head to Argentina in preparation for its first race of the season, the Tour de San Luis, beginning January 20. Leading the team will be Director Sportif Sebastian "Seba" Alexandre, a native of Argentina and third-generation pro cyclist who raced with the Colavita teams from their inception in 2002 through 2006.

Argentinean powerhouse Alejandro Borrajo signed with Colavita/Sutter Home from the Rite Aid team, joining his childhood friends Alexandre and Gustavo Artacho. Borrajo, in turn, recruited his younger brother Anibal to join him on the squad. Riding with the Borrajos will be yet another childhood friend Sebastian Haedo, brother of Juan Jose Haedo of CSC, who made his North American debut in Colavita colors back in 2002.

Alexandre is also excited about GC prospects for new recruit, Luis Amaran, a former member of the Cuban National Road Team, who joins the Colavita/Sutter Home Cycling Team after racing in Spain for two years. Returning in Colavita/Sutter Home colors for the Tour de San Luis will be sprinter Kyle Wamsley, winner of the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium, who rejoins the squad after a year with Navigator's. He will join climbing sensation Anthony Colby at the starting line, along with Davide Frattini of Italy, now in his third season with Colavita/Sutter Home.

Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light 2008: Luis Amaran (Cub), Gustavo Artacho (Arg), Alejandro Borrajo (Arg), Anibal Borrajo (Arg), Tucker Brown (USA), Anthony Colby (USA), Luca Damiani (Ita), Davide Frattini (Ita), Andrew Guptill (USA), Sebastian Haedo (Arg), Rodney Santiago (USA), Kyle Wamsley (USA), Tyler Wren (USA)

Arlington gets a new race

Long the site of the infamous criterium, the Clarendon Cup, the town of Arlington, Virginia be getting a different type of race in 2008. Arlington Sports, Inc., together with the US Air Force will be launching the US Air Force Cycling Classic, to take place May 4, 2008.

The day will begin with a "people's ride" along the 12.5 kilometer circuit in Arlington, Virginia, where riders will be awarded medals for the number of laps they can complete in a 3.5 hour window. Following this amateur ride, the men's professional race will conquer 13 laps of the course, while professional women and amateurs will race on a shorter course in Crystal City.

More information will be available at:

Nothstein, Hartwell launch talk radio

Valley Preferred Cycling Center President and CEO Erin Hartwell and Executive Vice President Marty Nothstein, will be hosting a sports talk radio program scheduled to begin on January 9, 2008 titled "The Manny and Eric Show Starring Marty and Erin".

Hartwell and Nothstein are two of the most successful American track cyclists, winning a combined fifteen Olympic and world cycling championship medals, however, the show will not focus solely on this sport. The two plan to cover a broad spectrum of sports, athletic events, and current events, both national and local in the one-hour radio show, to be broadcast on WXLV radio out of Lehigh Carbon Community College. Beginning on Wednesday, January 9, the show will run from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. on 90.3 FM.

Cyclingnews reader poll - Best 'cross racers

The results have been tallied up, and with more than 10,000 votes cast, this year's poll is one of the biggest ever! Today we announce the Best Male and Female Cyclo-crossers of the year.

Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the Zipp carbon fibre goodies: the 570g VumaQuad crankset, the SLC2 handlebars and Zipp's 145 stem, to be announced at the week's end.

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