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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 16, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Laura Weislo

Gerolsteiner: Quality over quantity

By Susan Westemeyer

The 2008 Gerolsteiner team
Photo ©: Patrick Reed
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer took the opportunity of the squad's presentation to express his faith in cycling's steps to save the sport from doping's destructive forces, reflecting on the 2007 season with a rather massive understatement, saying it "was not a good year for cycling". He made it clear that cycling itself was responsible for its own problems, and indicated that he is confident that the sport is making its own bold steps to solve the problem.

"What gives me courage not to quit is that changes are coming, they are happening," Holczer admitted. "Steps are being taken with an extraordinary control programme." This extraordinary programme in Holczer's mind is the UCI's programme and he sees no need to invest in an internal anti-doping programme to protect the team's image. "We have no internal anti-doping programme. We will follow the UCI anti-doping programme, the biological passport. "

Holczer was subtly critical of the internal programs of Team High Road, Team CSC, Astana, and Slipstream, which take large amounts of money from the team's budgets to fund tests which the UCI has based the biological passport upon. The internal program, he said, is "unnecessary and is the wrong step. As I see it, all the money that is put into this area should all go into a common program," Holczer continued.

He went on to say that he doesn't expect it all to be smooth sailing with the biological passports. "There will be problems, there will be positive tests, but that only goes to show that the programme works," he said, concluding, "No sport will ever be free of doping."

To read the full Gerolsteiner launch feature, click here.

Valverde not worried about CONI

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Luis Jaimerena and Alejandro Valverde talk
Photo ©: Foto Abarca Sports
(Click for larger image)

Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde isn't concerned about the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) re-opening its enquiries into the Operación Puerto doping scandal, outlining that he has nothing to do with the Italian body's investigations. Last week CONI announced it would hear riders, doctors and team directors that could shed some further light the case after its anti-doping prosecutor received further elements which could be used to open disciplinary proceedings against implicated riders, even if they were not Italian.

"I do not anything about it," said Valverde. "That is something that concerns my lawyers; they have to take a position on the matter. I do not understand anything; No judge has accused me anything. The only thing that worries me is to train."

Instead of worrying about what could possibly come of CONI's further investigations, the 29 year-old is focused on a strong ride at July's Tour de France. "This Tour is better for me that the last one; so that will be my main goal for 2008," said the Caisse d'Epargne rider. "I have gained experience and that is very important for me. I know that there are many other candidates, such as [Alberto] Contador or [Cadel] Evans, the same as in 2007. The Vuelta is also good for me. I will have a very intensive calendar in the middle half of the season, so I will be calm at the beginning."

Valverde is believed to be happy with his new team-mates at the Spanish squad and also with the new Pinarellos the outfit will use in 2008. "We have gained in quality," he said. "I had been testing the new bike since the last year and I can assure that it is a great one."

Another important element of the Spaniard's life has been his wife and two children. Valverde says his family is what helps him through the difficult times of his career. "That has been wonderful for us," he said. "My family is the most important thing for me. Now, more than ever, I have to be closed to them. They gave me support in the bad moments".

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

Scottish time trial champion killed while training

Scottish time trial ace Jason MacIntyre.
Photo ©: Sarah Brooke
(Click for larger image)

Scotland is mourning the tragic death of Jason MacIntyre, arguably the nation's finest road time trialist who was on track to represent the UK at the Beijing Olympics.

MacIntyre was struck down by a Highland Council Transit van while out on a training ride on the A82 at approximately 13:34 GMT, on Tuesday, January 15. He was taken to Belford Hospital, where he later passed away.

"There's no doubt Jason was one of the most talented riders to come out of Scotland in the last decade, if not longer," former national coach Graeme Herd, who managed MacIntyre at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, told "He achieved an incredible amount of success, and enjoyed a very good career, in challenging circumstances. It is a tragic waste that he has lost his life at such a young age."

The Scotsman's tragic passing comes just one day after the 34 year-old was informed that he'd been granted funding by the Braveheart Cycling Fund to train for the 2010 Commonwealth Games as a potential medalist. MacIntyre was also being considered for the British Olympic squad.

MacIntyre won the Road Time Trials Council (RTTC) national 25-mile championship in 2006 and 2007, the British time trial championship in 2006, and was supposedly up on David Millar in the 2007 British time trial championships until he punctured. "He was the best road cyclist in Scotland and as good as anyone in Britain," Bryan Smith, a former Scotland manager and Olympic rider, told "He was in the prime of his career.

"Jason was good when he was young, but achieved a serious breakthrough in later life – a bit like Obree," he added. "He was certainly on a par with David Millar in last year's time trial until he had a puncture."

Last year MacIntyre broke Graeme Obree's Scottish 10-mile time trial record in, clocking 18:47, and came close to beating Bradley Wiggins' national 10 mile record of 17'58 last August, clocking 18'12 in an event held at Levens.

"It's tragic," said Scottish World and Commonwealth cycling champion Craig MacLean. "I think Jason was being considered for the Olympic squad in Beijing later this year and that would have been the pinnacle of his career."

In addition to his battles on the bike, MacIntyre was forced to overcome personal hurdles in order to achieve success. The rider temporarily retired from cycling in 2003 to care for one of his twin daughters, Morgan, who was placed on life support after experiencing difficulties during an operation on her kidneys. Morgan, who was eight years old at the time, later received a kidney transplant by Jason's father David.

"We are very sad for Caroline and the two girls and our thoughts are with them," said director of operations at Scottish Cycling Jackie Davidson. "Jason was a rider with so much talent and potential."

Our condolences go out to his family, friends and fans. Anyone wishing to write a tribute to MacIntyre should direct it to

Big names at Vienna blood bank?

Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

A blood bank in Vienna, Austria, is the newest source of a blood-doping scandal, and its customers are said to include Georg Totschnig, Dennis Menchov, Michael Boogerd and Michael Rasmussen, according to German ARD television. The broadcaster also said that two-thirds of the blood bank's 30 athletic customers come from Germany and include cross-country skiers and biathletes.

"As we have not been informed formally about this matter, I cannot therefore say a lot," said acting Rabobank sporting director Henri van der Aat. "There are always a lot of rumours floating about and cycling foremost among them. We are always watchful of our riders' blood and everything was always in order."

Totschnig rode for the German teams Telekom and Gerolsteiner before retiring in 2006. He won a stage in the 2005 Tour de France. "This hits me really hard," Gerolsteiner Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer told "It is the first time that someone who has ridden for us has been so strongly incriminated. I hope that Georg actively cooperates to clear this matter up."

"I don't know any details," Totschnig told, denied the allegations. "I was never there and I also don't know where these charges come from. I don't know where the information comes from and what their source is."

Lothar Baumgartner, the medical director of the firm 'Humanplasma', also denied the charges, saying: "I don't know anything about this."

Former Vuelta champion jailed

Aitor González (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
Click for larger image

Former Vuelta a España champion Aitor González has been arrested by the National Police Corps (NPC) in Elche, Spain, for allegedly participating in an assault on two workers of a real estate agent. Police sources reported that the arrest took place on Monday morning, shortly after the 2002 Vuelta winner and several other people allegedly assaulted the employee and the real estate manager, who received minor injuries.

Shortly thereafter the incident, González was found in the vicinity by officers and was placed in the NPC's custody. Spanish sources have not revealed the motive behind the alleged incident.

González turned professional in 1998 and won the Vuelta a Murcia in 2001 while riding for Kelme-Costa Blanca. After moving to Fassa Bortolo the Spaniard won Stage 14 of the Tour de France in 2004 and then spent his final season with Basque outfit Euskaltel-Euskadi, where he won the Tour de Suisse in 2005.

The 32 year-old was fined 1,080 euro last August and had his driving licence suspended for 12 months after driving under the influence alcohol.

Tinkoff trains for Qatar

The Tinkoff Credit Systems professional cycling team is in the midst of its pre-season training camp in San-Vincenzo on Costa degli Etruschi, Tuscany. Nineteen riders are in attendance at the camp, which will conclude on January 21, being directed by Maini, Konychev.

The team's season begins with the Tour of Qatar on January 27 - February 1, where Alberto Loddo, Alexander Khatuntsev, Sergey Klimov, Alexander Serov, Nikolai Trusov, Nikita Eskov, Alexander Gottfried, and Bernardo Riccio are scheduled to race. The team will be directed by Orlando Maini along with General Manager Stefano Feltrin.

On Monday, January 21, all riders and staff will arrive in Milan for the official team presentation which is scheduled for the following day. At the January 22 presentation the team will present its new kit for 2008 as well as its new website.

Korff signs with Volksbank

Another former T-Mobile rider has found a home for the 2008 season, with sprinter Andre Korff joining former team-mate Olaf Pollack at Team Volksbank. The 34-year old signed a one-year contract, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced Tuesday.

"Korff is an experienced top pro, who can and will take on a lot of responsibility at big races," said Volksbank manager Thomas Kofler. "[Pollack and Korff] know each other and will harmonize together. Korff has often proved that he is fast. But the day's form will decide who the number one on Team Volksbank is. We are flexible."

Volksbank now has 16 riders under contract, the minimum number for a Professional Continental team. "The door is not closed, even if we don't want to push our budget too far," Kofler said. "If another interesting option appears, we will take it."

British plan for women's team pursuit

Wendy Houvenaghel (GBr)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

British Cycling Performance Director David Brailsford is aiming to have a women's team pursuit squad ready for the final Track World Cup round in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month. The plans come as the women's team pursuit world championship debut at this year's UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, England nears.

"There are more events to go for in the World Championships than there are in the Olympics," said Brailsford. "One of the new events is the women's team pursuit and that's really exciting. The British team are not only getting strength in depth but also strength in breadth across more disciplines than we have before."

British world class individual pursuiters Wendy Houvenaghel and Rebecca Romero are favourites for two of the three team pursuit places, while the remaining spots are still being decided. "We are doing some work on that at the moment," explained Brailsford: "We have got Lizzie Armistead, Rachel Heal and Jo Rowsell and we are doing some testing and training. We will decide the final team closer to the date.

"We are only taking five riders over to the Los Angeles World Cup," continued Brailsford about this weekend's World Cup round. "The journey back from L.A. takes the riders 5-10 days to get over and our plan was to look at the women's team pursuit in Copenhagen in preparation for the World's in Manchester in March. All being well we will debut in the women's team pursuit in Copenhagen."

The Russian team won the first ever World Cup women's team pursuit in Sydney last November with a time of 3.29.072, beating home team Australia into second spot. The Ukraine team, which included former double junior world champion Shulika Lyubov, won the second event in Beijing in December. The Dutch team has yet to enter the competition, but like Great Britain may be leaving it late with a good contingent of endurance riders to choose from – including former world road and cyclo-cross champion Marianne Vos, who won the scratch race in Beijing.

Momentum gathers speed for LA

The Momentum Cycling team has announced it will field a full team for the UCI Track World Cup Classic at Los Angeles' ADT Velodrome this weekend. The team will consist of six elite men and women riders focused on a variety of races over the weekend.

The team will be led by American sprinters Jennie Reed, who took silver in the keirin at last year's World Cup round in Sydney, Australia, and 2004 Olympian Adam Duvendeck. Joining Reed and Duvendeck are sprinters Josiah Ng, a former World Cup Keirin Champion, and Travis Smith, a Canadian National Champion and Commonwealth Games medalist who is making a comeback from a hip injury suffered in a keirin crash.

The outfit will also feature two endurance riders – Bobby Lea and Roger Rilling, focusing on Madison, Pursuit and Points races.

"The UCI Track World Cup Classic is an exciting event – nobody should miss this one," said team owner Dr. Howard Marans. "This is a combination of powerful cyclists, extraordinary speed and thrilling racing. I'm just very proud of our team who is up with the best of the world."

Duvendeck is placing emphasis on the event to help the 2004 Athens Olympian qualify for this year's Beijing Olympic Games in August. "The qualification process for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is based on the accumulation of points that are awarded through competing in international competition, so it is imperative that we rack up points while racing at our home track," he said.

Momentum Cycling Team Roster: Jennie Reed (Women's sprint and Keirin), Adam Duvendeck (Men's Sprint), Travis Smith (Men's sprint and Keirin), Roger Rilling (Men's Individual pursuit).

Flexpoint extends sponsorship

The 2008 Team Flexpoint roster
Photo ©: Team Flexpoint
(Click for larger image)

The international women's team Flexpoint will remain for a least another year in the professional peloton, after the sponsor extended its agreement with the outfit. The Dutch team's sponsor announced on Tuesday the extension of its agreement with team owner Jean-Paul Van Poppel, which will see the outfit, now in its fourth year, continue through to the end of 2009.
"We had in principle an agreement up until and including this season, but I am glad that in this Olympic year we can focus on the sports-loving targets and not on finding a new sponsor," said Van Poppel.

Flexpoint roster for 2008: Mirjam Melchers- van Poppel (Ned), Elisabeth Braam (Ned), Loes Gunnewijk (Ned), Britt Jochems (Ned), Jacobien Kanis (Ned), Bianca Knöpfle (Ger), Loes Markerink (Ned), Amber Neben (USA), Iris Slappendel (Ned), Adriëne Snijder (Ned), Anita Valen (Nor), Elise van Hage (Ned) and Suzanne van Veen (Ned).

Former Comunidad Valenciana members seek compensation

Comunidad Valenciana sports director Vicente Belda and six professional cyclists Valencia will go to trial in Valencia, seeking compensation from Generalitat Valenciana, the squad's main sponsor that disappeared at the end of 2006. The company stopped its sponsorship of the team at the end of 2006, a decision that was taken despite the riders having contracts in place for 2007, according to documents filed with the court.

Vicente Belda, Ruben Plaza, Vicente Ballester, Oleg Chuzhda Javier Cherro, David Munoz and Juan Gomis reached an agreement with the team's principals to collect part of their wages throughout 2007. However, according to the rider's version of events, the money has failed to reach any of their bank accounts by the pre-determined dates set out in their agreements.

As a result the matter will return to the court where the riders are hoping the management will honour their respective agreements.

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