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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 11, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Milram's new identity

Erik Zabel hints at retirement at team's launch

The Milram team and Colnago
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

As Team Milram shifts its nationality from Italian to German, the team's leaders naturally had to answer plenty of questions about its anti-doping program from the audience in Bremen, Germany at its team presentation on Thursday. Also hot topics were the shift in its country affiliation and the condition of its top sprinters, Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer reports from the launch.

The Milram team, like most of the cycling world, suffered under the weight of doping allegations, confessions and suspicions in 2007, but with a change in team management, it hopes to assure its fans and sponsors that the team is "new" for 2008.

In May last year, it's team captain Erik Zabel confessed to having used EPO in the 1990s. Then its other sprinter Alessandro Petacchi came up 'non-negative' for a too-high level of asthma medications in his urine during the Giro d'Italia, and fought off attempts by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to sanction him.

More seriously, the team's general manager, Gianluigi Stanga had allegations leveled against him by German Jörg Jaksche, blaming Stanga for introducing him to doping on Team Polti in the 1990s. Stanga denied the charges, but the damage was done, and he had no choice but to step aside and be replaced by Dutch man Gerry Van Gerwen.

Martin Mischel, sales and marketing director of the team's title sponsor, Nordmilch AG, refused to blame Stanga, but indicated that the incident influenced the decision to move the team to Germany. "The things that were published last year concerning Stanga reflected on the team, which led to discussions. An agreement was reached between Gerry Van Gerwen and Stanga, to which we also agreed, to take over the team. The most important thing was to have the team based in Germany."

The team introduced the now practically obligatory anti-doping programme, which is based on five pillars: official rules; additional voluntary agreements; increased prevention; increased transparency; and clear consequences. "When a rider makes a mistake and is suspended for two years, that is not the end of it. Then comes the two-year ProTour ban, which makes a total of four years. He must pay back a year's salary. He has to answer to his wife and children - those are the consequences the riders must take into consideration," said General Manager Gerry Van Gerwen.

The practical consequences that the team can hand out are blunt: "An immediate suspension in case of a doping suspicion and an immediate dismissal in case of a confirmed doping case," Van Gerwen explained.

Read the full feature here.

Caisse d'Epargne: Don't mess with a winning formula

The 2008 Caisse d'Epargne team
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

The squirrel is a patient animal. It relentlessly accumulates food throughout the year, one nut after the other, to have its belly full during winter and come back in spring with enough energy left to be hungry for more... But what does a squirrel have to do with pro cycling? Well, the small rodent is Caisse d'Epargne's logo and mascot, and not without reason.

The French bank group is not a friend of short-term investments, at least not in its sports sponsorships. When the savings conglomerate started to back the Spanish team managed by Eusebio Unzué in 2005, it right away decided to do this for a full six years to complete the sponsorship programmes it already had in French athletics, skiing and soccer. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner attended the team's presentation on Wednesday, January 9 at the bank's headquarters in downtown Paris.

The pro cycling team Caisse d'Epargne reflects the mentality of a steadiness. This year's squad is set to repeat its successful 2007 formula and collect top race results throughout the whole season, similar to the above mentioned furry forest inhabitant.

"Our top goals this season are the Tour de France, stage races and the Olympics," announced the outfit's general manager Eusebio Unzué at the 2008 team presentation in the glass, marble and steel palace of the French banking giant right beside the Seine River.

2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Indeed, this philosophy fulfilled the squad's objectives last season, already. Thirty victories by nine different riders and many top placings from February until September helped the team finish third in the ProTour rankings and win the combined team classification for the second consecutive time.

Achievements confirmed the rightfulness of the sponsorship, according to Caisse d'Epargne president Charles Milhaud. "I'm convinced that, with the victory of Oscar Pereiro in the 2006 Tour de France and the solid performances obtained in 2007, our team will again hold its colours high this year," the faithful cycling enthusiast said in his speech.

So, true to the saying "Never change a winning team", the team managed by Echavarri's Abarca Sports company chose to only slightly modify its composition for the upcoming season. Eight new riders joined the squad, amongst which four Frenchmen: Anthony Charteau, Arnaud Coyot, Mathieu Drujon and Fabien Patanchon. Two Colombians joined the team - Marlon Perez and the young talent Rigoberto Uran - alongside Spanish rouleur Luis Pasamontes and Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano.

Read the full feature here.

Bouygues Telecom extends sponsorship

The 2008 Bouygues Telecom team
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Bouygues Telecom team had good news to announce during its team presentation in Paris on Thursday. The team's sponsor agreed to a two year extension of its sponsorship with the cycling team of Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, giving the team support through the end of the 2010 season.

"Two years is a suitable period for sponsorship and contractual relationships to recruit riders," said Bouygues Telecom deputy director Emmanuel Forest to AFP.

The telecommunications company has supported the ProTour team since it joined those ranks in 2004.

Bernaudeau looked forward to more gallant exploits such as Thomas Voeckler's victory in the GP Ouest-France at Plouay for 2008. "I want my team to be fighting, to have nerve," said Bernaudeau, emphasizing the integrity of his team. "The victory at Plouay is a reflection of what we have always believed. It is more a question of mentality than chemicals."

The team brought up four neo-pros to its ranks from the Vendée U team, Damien Gaudin, Perrig Quemeneur, Evegeny Sokolov, and Sébastien Turgot, as well as recruiting Russian Iouri Trofimov from the Moscow Stars.

Didier Rous, who retired, will act as team director along with Dominique Arnould, Christian Guiberteau, Ismael Mottier, Philippe Mauduit, and Benoît Genauzeau.

The full Bouygues Telecom roster can be found on the Cyclingnews teams database.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Sonja Csury/

Hondo makes comeback in Argentina

German Danilo Hondo will make his comeback to the sport after serving a suspension for doping, which ends on January 22, 2008. Hondo will ride the Tour de San Luis in Argentina with the Diquigiovanni Androni team.

Hondo tested positive for the banned substance carphedon during the 2005 Vuelta a Murcia, and was initially suspended for two years, with one year suspended and a five year probation by the Swiss Federation. The UCI appealed the sentence to CAS, who issued a two year ban on the rider. In March, 2006, a Swiss court overturned the CAS decision, allowing Hondo to return to racing, and he signed with the Tinkoff Credit Systems team. However, the Swiss supreme court reinstated the ban in January, 2007,

The German, who maintained his innocence throughout the protracted ordeal, now has a contract for one year with the UCI Professional Continental Diquigiovanni Androni along with Gilberto Simoni.

French minister wants peace between UCI and ASO

The conflict between cycling's governing body, the UCI, and the Tour de France organiser, ASO, has drawn the attention of the French government. According to AFP, French Secretary of State for Sports Bernard Laporte met with the current UCI president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen at the Sports Ministry, and will meet Friday with ASO president Patrice Clerc.

While the main focus of the meeting with Clerc will likely be the future of one of the ASO's other events, the Paris-Dakar rally, which was canceled due to a terrorist threat this week, it is reasonable to expect that the Tour de France will be on the table as well.

The ASO has long objected to the UCI's ProTour, fighting the requirement to invite all ProTour teams to the Tour de France. The UCI granted the ASO's wish to be removed from the ProTour for 2008, leaving it on the UCI European calendar, a move which the ASO viewed as an affront to the stature of the race.

"The secretary of state wanted an acceptable compromise to be reached by the two sides," said a Sports Ministry source to AFP. "Bernard Laporte did not take sides with the UCI or ASO, but he emphasized that he would defend the interests of French cycling and the Tour de France, which belongs to France, and the cycling world's heritage."

Serrano leaves Karpin-Galicia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spaniard Marcos Serrano will no longer be a part of the Karpin-Galicia team. The contract linking the veteran rider with the Professional Continental squad for the season 2008 has been mutually terminated. The 35-year-old had signed a two year contract at the end of the 2006 season, but carried around the baggage of the Operación Puerto affair by virtue of being part of the Liberty Seguros/Astana Würth team which was excluded from the 2006 Tour de France.

The 2005 Tour de France stage winner was thanked for his contribution to the team by the Funcación de Ciclismo Galego, but the end of this contract will most likely spell the end of Serrano's 13-year professional career.

Cyclingnews reader poll: Moment and Legend

Today we announce the results of the Best Moment of 2007 and Legend of Cycling categories. While neither winner will come as much of a surprise, bnut we think you'll findboth are quite deserving of the honours. Both categories elicited memories of some of the most exciting races of the past season.

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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