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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, January 29, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Police set up strike force to investigate 'suspicious' death of Gary Wiggins

By Gerard Knapp in Sydney

Gary Wiggins as he raced in Europe.
Photo ©: Guy Dedieu
(Click for larger image)

The New South Wales (NSW) Police Department has appointed a select team of detectives, being assisted by the NSW Homicide Squad, to investigate the death of the retired Australian track cyclist, Gary Wiggins – the father of the leading British pro rider and multiple Athens 2004 medallist, Bradley.

Wiggins Snr was found on the morning of Friday, January 25, on Segenhoe Street, Aberdeen, a town near the Australian centre of Newcastle, NSW.

A NSW Police spokesperson told Cyclingnews that 'Strike Force Durbin' had been set up to investigate his death, which detectives are treating suspiciously. The police spokesperson said the results of the post-mortem had not been released, though it is understood that Wiggins died from head injuries.

The formation of a special strike force is indicative of a highly serious crime conducted in NSW.

After he was found unconscious, Wiggins Snr, 55, was taken to Muswellbrook Hospital and then later airlifted to John Hunter Hospital where he died. The spokesperson said, "The circumstances leading up to Mr Wiggins' death are still to be confirmed and his death is being treated as suspicious at this stage."

He said that Strike Force Durbin, formed to investigate Wiggins' death, will comprise detectives from Hunter Valley, Lower Hunter and Newcastle Local Area Commands, with assistance from the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad.

Police are appealing for anyone who might have seen Mr Wiggins walking from McQueen Street, Aberdeen, towards Segenhoe Street about 21:00 on Thursday, January 24 to contact Crime Stoppers on (AUS) 1800 333 000.

Talented rider who succeeded in Europe

Wiggins Snr was born in 1952 in Yallourn, Victoria, and became a leading Australian cyclist, representing the country several times at the World Track Championships level, where he won gold in the kilo and teams pursuit in 1977, as well as silver in the 15km event. Wiggins first moved to the United Kingdom in 1976 and began racing as an amateur with the Archer Road Club, and after a successful stint he then based himself in Gent, Belgium.

While at the Archer Road Club he met British track star Tony Doyle, and the pair teamed up to ride the Six Day circuit in Europe, including victory at the immensely popular Bremen Six Day in 1985, an event that regularly attracted a crowd of 100,000. Wiggins Snr also won the European Madison Championship that same year with Doyle, and won a total of five European Championships.

In addition, he successful on the extremely competitive kermesse circuit, held during the warmer months in Europe. In the Belgian town of Eeklo, he won a major kermesse ahead of Belgian Lucian Van Impe, the 1976 winner of the Tour de France.

Back in Australia in 1985, Wiggins Snr also took out the Melbourne Cup on Wheels and a 1000-kilometre road race in Western Australia.

Wiggins met and married an English woman, Linda, and they had a son, Bradley, who was born in Gent in 1980. Bradley and his mother went to live in London after Gary returned to Australia in the late 1980s. It's understood that Wiggins Snr, while in irregular contact with Bradley, was enormously proud of his son's achievements on the track and road.

Bradley declined to comment to Cyclingnews on the matter due to the circumstances surrounding the death.

"A very, very good bike rider"

John Trevorrow, a former Australian road champion (and correspondent for Cyclingnews), was a childhood friend of Wiggins Snr. In fact, they both came from the same small Victorian town of Morwell, which had a population of less than 10,000 in the 1950s.

"He [Gary] was a very, very good bike rider," Trevorrow said. "I can remember we were both in this kermesse in Belgium, and we'd got into a break and were away for most of the race. We did get caught, and then the race split again, and Gary went in that break and then he went again and he won; that was pretty impressive.

"I kept thinking how it was funny that two of us from this small country town were racing together in Belgium and riding away from the field."

Trevorrow started riding with Wiggins as juniors. "I saw him as youngster who had talent, but then he went to England with [Victorian cycling coach, and UniSA team manager] Dave Sanders and that's when he took it seriously and after that he really turned into a superstar.

"I can remember I went to see him race at the Gent Six, and he didn't know I was there, and watching him he was easily the best bike rider there."

Trevorrow said Wiggins was one of the finest cyclists of his generation to come from Australia, although he was not that well-known or recognised in his country for his achievements on the bike.

Meares: "I'm lucky, but disappointed"

Meares in Los Angeles before the crash that has put here Olympic participation in doubt.
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Australian track super star Anna Meares' met with press in Adelaide, Australia, today to discuss the accident at January's Los Angeles Track World Cup that nearly cost the Queenslander her life. Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson reports.

Three and a half years after her 500-metre time trial Gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games, a wheelchair-bound Anna Meares addressed the media at Adelaide's Hilton Hotel as her next Olympic assault hangs in jeopardy. Yet the 24 year-old cyclist is lucky to be alive after a heavy fall at this month's Track World Cup round in Los Angeles, threatened to take more than her Olympic dreams away.

In addition to the heavy skin grazing, torn tendons and muscle tissue sustained from the accident, Meares dislocated the AC joint in her right shoulder and sustained a hairline fracture to her C2 vertebra. Talking to the media at the press conference, Meares recalled the night of the accident.

"I don't recall a lot after the crash, but I was in the keirin and American Jennie Reed came under me with about two laps to go, which forced me to be at the back of the keirin," she started. "I had discussed this with Martin [Barras] earlier – if I had found myself at the back and what I should do – all of the races had looked as though a lot of the girls were getting stuck in each other's way and was quiet close contact.

"The advice that I was given, if that was the case, was just to lay off and give myself some room so I didn't get caught up in any of that and make one fast charge as late as possible to get around as quickly as possible, which is what I did," explained Meares. "I remember accelerating into the bell and making my move in the turns of one, two, and then I don't recall exactly how I fell. I remember hitting my head and being in a lot of pain straight away and then the next thing I remember is being on the bottom of the track and being attended to.

Read the full feature with Meares.

Knaven: High Road from black to white

By Susan Westemeyer

Bernard Eisel in Team High Road's black kit
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Servais Knaven broke the biggest news out of the Team High Road training camp on Mallorca, which ended last week – the black jerseys are only temporary and will be replaced by new ones in the Tour of California. They will be white, "and therefore completely different. I find it a very beautiful design." A photo was not yet available.

The 36 year-old said that the team spent a lot of time with International Cycling Union (UCI) representatives concerning the "whereabouts" requirements. Writing on his website,, he noted that there is a new internet site which each rider must fill out himself, giving up-to-the-minute information as to his location at any given time.

"But I think that for someone like me with four children it is very cumbersome to always indicate exactly where I am. One moment I am swimming with Senne (age 5), then skating with Britt (age 7) and Senne, then doing gymnastics with Britt, and so on. I hope that the controllers will show some flexibility so that there will be no unnecessarily missed tests. But all in all it will be a serious change in my life."

The Dutch rider flew to his home in Belgium after the Mallorca training camp for a week before leaving for the next training camp and team presentation in California. While he was happy to be with his wife and four daughters again, he was not happy with how it all turned out. The other five had all been sick while he was gone, and upon his return home, they promptly gave him the sickness. After a few days in bed he was able to get back on his bike again on Monday.

Tour Down Under to make a tougher course

By Susan Westemeyer

Sprinters have dominated the Tour Down Under over its ten-year history, with all six stages this year coming down to a mass sprint. Race Director Mike Turtur admitted that it was finally time to make some changes and make the race more demanding.

He had hoped that the Old Wallunga Hill climb in the fifth stage would break things up a bit, which it did to a certain extent, but there was still a roughly 40-man strong mass sprint.

"The race held together more so than we've ever experienced before," he said. "Certainly, we'll be looking at a more demanding course for next year. In the old days, we might have had blowouts of 15 or 20 minutes from the main group, but we didn't see any of that this year. Now our challenge is to introduce changes to the course that are going to reflect the quality and provide the challenge for all the riders – sprinters and climbers – and have a bit of everything for everyone."

Two former winners had suggestions as to how to make things harder. Stuart O'Grady, calling the premiere ProTour version of the race a "bit of a sprinter fest," wanted the stages to be longer, but not harder. Patrick Jonker called for a mountain-top finish.

Karpin Galicia for Langkawi, Mallorca and Andalucia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alvaro Pino named the riders who will race the Tour de Langkawi during Karpin Galicia's training camp. David Garcia, Ramon Troncoso, Gustavo César Veloso, Juan Francisco Mourón Doldan, Vladimir Isaichev and Alejandro Paleo will travel to Malaysia for the stage race, running from February 9 to 17.

"We will have to see the competitive level of our rivals, but we are taking a good team with riders who have already demonstrated themselves to have a good condition and who are eager," commented Pino. "The team climbing on the podium in the first race and in its debut outside Europe is an important stimulus. We are going to go there with plenty of motivation – as much as possible."

The Karpin Galicia expedition leaves February 4 from the Porto airport and returns 16 days later.

The rest of the team members will race at the Challenge de Mallorca, under the direction of José Angel Vidal and with Ezequiel Mosquera as team leader. The rider born in Teo (La Coruńa) aspires to repeat the outstanding performance of last season, when he finished third after two days as race leader. On the other hand, Jesus Blanco Villar will lead the Karpin Galicia in the Vuelta a Andalucia, February 17 and 21.

ACE announces anti-doping programme for smaller teams

By Susan Westemeyer

The Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE), which is running the anti-doping programmes for Team High Road and Team Slipstream, has introduced a second programme "for small teams with correspondingly smaller budgets." It also announced its first client for the programme, BMC Racing Team, an American Professional Continental team.

"We are excited that the BMC Racing Team has joined in the fight against doping and that we can provide a programme to help them have confidence that their team is racing clean," said Jim Winett, chief executive officer of The Agency for Sports Ethics.

In 2006, ACE introduced the "Pure Sport Program," which High Road and Slipstream use. It is "a unique and comprehensive programme to monitor cyclists' biological markers (biomarkers) over time in the fight against doping, incorporating an average of over 30 collections per rider per year, and testing of both blood and urine."

The new programme announced Tuesday is called the "Blood Passport Program" and offers "slightly more blood testing at a small cost," according to the company's press release. "ACE's Blood Passport Program includes an average of 15 random collections per rider per year, both in and out of competition, and provides longitudinal analysis of biological markers, including testing for haemoglobin, hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, reticulocyte count, and off score (stimulation index). As a result, this programme provides for blood testing and analysis equal to or greater in frequency than the UCI's 2008 program."

According to ACE Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Paul Strauss, "We recognize that not every team can afford the exceptional level of security that the Pure Sport Program provides. Our Blood Passport Program was designed to allow teams who cannot afford our Pure Sport Program the ability to still participate in a monitoring program."

Klöden training again, no longer working with former trainer

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden has recovered from the fever that laid him low the first few days of the Team Astana training camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is back full in training. Writing on his website,, the 32 year-old said that he had the opportunity to get to know his new team-mates, but also to discuss season planning with the new team management.

The slender German also announced that he would no longer be working with trainer Thomas Schediwie. "We reached a mutual agreement, since he wants to concentrate on the mountain bike scene and that could lead to difficulties for appointments to determine my training," he said. "He also has a number of young pro riders, who could profit more from his experience." Schediwie's others clients include High Road's Marcus Burghardt and Under 23 World Champion Peter Velits (Milram).

"I have learned a lot from Thomas in the last years and think that I know enough about my body and training methods, to be able to work alone," Klöden noted, adding, "Thomas will always be there for me with advice if I need him."

Pooley takes three of four in Australian Crit Series

By Susan Westemeyer

Emma Pooley of Team Specialized Designs for Women has won the overall title of the Perth Criterium Series, winning three of the four races.

The British rider won the first race in Joondalup solo, taking over the leader's jersey. She had to give it up promptly though, as she lost the spring to Australian Sharon Suckling in the second race in Perth. She came right back in the third race, though, and won in a solo breakaway in Victoria Park. She sealed the series by winning the fourth race in Leederville.

Australians Suckling and Sarah Fraser finished second and third behind her.

The 26 year-old won the Amy Gillett award at the 2007 Thüringen Rundfahrt. She finished 10th in the World Championships road race and eighth in the Worlds time trial.

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