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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 10, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

UCI says biological passport taking shape

Despite initial fears over its readiness in time for the 2008 season, the UCI has said its biological passport system is underway with samples now being taken to establish riders' haematological and steroid profiles. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the UCI said it plans to conduct 7000 out-of-competition tests in 2008 - 6000 more than were taken last year, and therefore placing an increased burden on its whereabouts system.

"This represents an increase in terms of volume, but not of innovation: the necessary whereabouts system already exists," said the UCI's press release. "It has proven to be effective and has been further improved for the commencement of the passport program."

Gathering riders' whereabouts information will be facilitated through the introduction of the ADAMS computer system (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System), developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Teams are currently being trained on how to use the new system, which the UCI says will be fully operational by March, and gradually replace the old system whereby riders sent their whereabouts information by fax.

With such an increase in the number out-of-competition tests - the most expensive type to carry out - the cost of the biological passport will be shared between ProTour teams, Professional Continental Teams with Wild Card status, organisers, riders, WADA and the French Ministry of Health, Youth Affairs and Sport.

Responsibility for analysing riders' biological passport results will lie with a panel of "independent experts", which will communicate its results to the UCI and WADA. The UCI will then decide whether to open proceedings against a rider and, if appropriate, pass the case on to the rider's national federation.

For more on the current anti-doping initiatives read this interview with Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard.

Cofidis team launch 2008

Riders pose for the 2008 Cofidis Team presentation in Paris
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 Cofidis Team was presented to the – predominantly French – media yesterday, in a low-key affair in the rather grand setting of the Mini Palais, a stone's throw away from Paris' Avenue des Champs Elysees where the Tour de France finishes each July. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins travelled to the French capital to get the scoop on one of the country's top teams.

Presentations were given by Cofidis' Director General Benoit Coqueval; President of Cofidis Competition Thierry Vittu, and the Cofidis team's General Manager Eric Boyer. Before Boyer himself introduced various members of the team and support staff.

Just eight of the team's roster of thirty riders were present, but represented a cross-section of the team's aims and philosophy. Established French riders: rouleur supreme Stéphane Augé and team captain Sylvain Chavanel were presented alongside Belgians Maxime Monfort and classics leader Nick Nuyens. Adding their experience will be new signings: multiple French road and time trial champion Florent Brard and baroudeur Samuel Dumoulin, acquired from Caisse d'Epargne and Ag2r-Prévoyance respectively.

To emphasise Cofidis' commitment to the future of French cycling, Alexandre Blain and Julien El Farès – two of the six neo-pros signed this year – were also present.

Cofidis was both shocked and embarrassed by Christian Moreni's positive dope test, forcing the team's withdrawal from the Tour de France last year. Consequently, Eric Boyer's speech – as well as laying out the team's sporting aims – emphasised that all of the results obtained by Cofidis riders this year will be entirely down to hard work in training in strict respect of the rules of good conduct, ethics and morals. To back up its intentions to race clean, Cofidis – like many other teams – has an internal system of blood and urine tests.

To read the full story on Cofidis' team launch, click here.

Six Day racing to London?

The International Six Day Organisation has confirmed it plans to hold a Six Day track event in London next September, to be staged in a temporary velodrome in Greenwich, according to The Guardian. The velodrome would sit inside a giant tent near the O2 Arena - previously the Millennium Dome.

"We have been presenting to organisations in London," said director Frank Boelé, whose organisation also runs the Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Maastricht Six Days. "There isn't a suitable venue so we proposed a semi-permanent one next to the O2 Arena. It would hold 4,000 spectators and it would be in place for a month, allowing for community and youth cycling events as well as the main six-day race."

Final authorisation for the event depends on agreement from Greenwich council, but Boelé was confident of receiving the council's backing. "With the countdown to the London Olympics starting after Beijing, every district in London is very keen to have Olympic sports," he said.

"Greenwich is keen, [the tourist board] Visit London is keen, now we are just waiting on these parties to give the formal go-ahead. Once we have that, and know the infrastructure can be in place, we can secure sponsorship. We are already talking to some serious sponsors about it."

Six Day racing is believed to have begun in London in 1878 and would surely be popular again given Great Britain's position as a dominant force in track cycling. "In 1996 when England hosted the European Championship, they said football was coming home. I say that if we can stage a London Six it will mean that six-day cycling is coming home," said Boelé.

Olympic kilometre champion Chris Hoy, who recently finished riding a sprint series at the Rotterdam Six, was excited about the prospect. "I've always said it's a pity that we don't have a six-day event in Britain," Hoy told The Guardian. "I think it would be fantastic. In Rotterdam we've been getting 10,000 spectators a night and the atmosphere is incredible. I see no reason why people wouldn't come out to support a London Six, especially when you consider that Britain now has arguably the world's strongest track cycling team."

Sánchez re-signs with Euskaltel-Euskadi until 2010

By Monika Prell

Sánchez has resolved contractual disagreements with Euskaltel-Euskadi
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After several hours of negotiations, Samuel Sánchez and his Euskaltel-Euskadi team have reached a common accord. Sánchez will continue to ride for the Basque team until 2010, it was announced on Wednesday, just one day before the official team presentation. The rider explained that the differences between himself and management had centred around monetary issues, but he had agreed to stay on the team for "sporting and personal reasons".

"This is the team of my life and I want to be serious, I never saw myself in another jersey," he said at a press conference prior to the team's training camp. "For me it's an immense joy that I will continue here. I feel valued, I feel the confidence and the respect of [directeurs sportif] Miguel [Madariaga] and Igor [González de Galdeano], and for me those are basic things."

Madariaga and González de Galdeano were also present at the press conference, with Madariaga saying that Sánchez is one of the figureheads of "a cycling project that is unique at the international level".

"That 'Samu' stays with us until 2010 is very important, because he is one of the world's best riders," stated Madariaga. "We both made an effort, but when you really want an agreement, you can reach it. The engagement of both sides gave the extension of his contract until 2010."

No Professional Continental licence for Pedaltech-Cyclingnews

The future of Steffen Wesemann on the team is in doubt.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Pedaltech-Cyclingnews got the bad news from the UCI this week: the British team will have to run the 2008 season as a Continental team, since it was denied a Professional Continental licence. "I'm sorry that the UCI decided this way," team manager Eric Vanderaerden told "Now we must reorganise everything in a hurry. I had not expected this. The finances were in order and all the contracts had already been signed.

"The UCI didn't give an exact reason why we didn't get the licence," he continued. "Our sponsors will remain but we must still wait and see if they give us enough money to carry us over."

It was not clear what would become of the riders, such as Steffen Wesemann, who finished third in Paris-Roubaix in 2007. "It is not yet certain that we will lose Steffen," Vanderaerden said. "That depends on what the sponsors want to give. With Wesemann we had hoped to take part in some larger races."

One thing is clear for the riders: they are most likely out of a paid job. "Since we are not a Professional Continental team, the riders' contracts are not longer valid," he concluded. "A few riders have already looked for a new team, but without success. The coming days will be crucial."

Ludewig gets a surprise visit

Just because a cyclist announces his retirement doesn't mean the anti-doping agency has forgotten him. Two recent retirees have had visits from the doping controllers, and one of them has had his wrist slapped for not being at home.

Jörg Ludewig announced in August that he would hang up his bike at the end of the season, and rode his last race for Team Wiesenhof-Felt in September. However, he remained in the national testing pool and on November 20 controllers called at his home for an unannounced, out-of-competition test - but he was not at home.

Noting that "members of the national testing pool are required to give exact and up-to-date information about their whereabouts," the German cycling federation said that it was officially giving Ludewig a public warning.

Michael Boogerd, who retired from riding for Rabobank at the end of last season, was visited by Dutch doping controllers on Christmas Eve.

Volksbank signs two more

Team Volksbank has signed two young riders to bring its roster up to 15, but "the shopping trip is not yet over," read a team press release, and negotiations are continuing to sign more riders. The two newest additions to the Austrian Professional Continental team are German Daniel Musiol and Italian Alexander Gufler, both 25 years old.

Musiol rode for Team Wiesenhof in 2005 and 2007, with a year at Milram in 2006. Gufler turned pro in 2006 with the Swiss Team Hadimec. Both signed a one-year contract with Volksbank.

"Musiol rode on the highest level for the past three years, and collected important experience as a helper," said Volksbank team manager Thomas Kofler. "Just like Gufler, who did well in Switzerland. Both of them live for cycling and have the potential to establish themselves as top one-day race riders. They will get their chances this year."

GB Team signs new BMX coach

Australian Grant White will join the Great Britain Cycling Team to provide coaching for its BMX riders in the run up to the Beijing Olympic Games. The 35 year-old will begin his new post at the end of January, working with riders Shanaze Reade, Joey Gough, Kelvin Batey, Marcus Bloomfield and Liam Phillips.

Grant has previously worked with both the Australian and New Zealand BMX teams, besides having a career as a rider on the US circuit. He is qualified under the Australian Institute of Sport system as a Level 3 BMX coach and Level 1 strength and conditioning coach.

"We have been looking for somebody with the skills and experience to pull together and co-ordinate all the available resources and expertise within British Cycling and the English Institute of Sport to not only further our BMX performances at elite level, but also to push forward further development of our broader BMX programme," said GB Performance Director Dave Brailsford.

"I have watched Grant White's work closely over a period of time and have been very impressed with his ability and his willingness to take on an innovative coaching approach which fits closely with the coaching ethos in the GB Team."

Cyclingnews reader poll - Best stage race and one-day race

The winner of this year's Best Stage Race may not be entirely surprising, but the podium positions certainly will be. Let's just say that while the Grand Tours will always be the backbone of international cycling, look out for some non-European stage races coming to the fore in years to come.

Taking out the Best One-day Race, was perhaps the most memorable event of the entire cycling year. An event which takes riders through more than six hours of torturous terrain, a true classic in every sense.

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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