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Latest Cycling News, July 14, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Bjorn Haake

ProTour heading East

Russian cycling federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

With the Tour de France and other three week races no longer part of the ProTour, some are questioning the future of the series. However there are strong indications of interest from other areas, with Russia being very heavily involved. That country's cycling federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes recently about the plans for a new ProTour team and also the Tour of Sochi, which will begin in May 2009.

It's an exciting time for Russian cycling. Rumours of one, possibly two ProTour teams in 2009 plus an already-confirmed ProTour race in the country means that the sport will be moving forward and expanding there.

On Tuesday's Tour de France rest day in Pau the team currently known as Tinkoff Credit Systems will hold a press conference to announce details of its plans for 2009. Riders such as Gert Steegmans and Filippo Pozzato have been tipped in the media as having already signed, while the team is known to be chasing other big-name riders. A large increase in budget is expected, as well as a change in the title sponsor and the taking-out of a ProTour license.

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In addition to this, the running of a new ProTour event was confirmed in April and will take place in the Sochi region, most likely from May 20th to 24th 2009. Both of these developments are part of a major push to develop cycling there.

Cyclingnews met with the Russian Cycling Federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov in recent weeks, getting the inside view on these and other developments. He spoke at the headquarters of the Russian Olympic Committee in Moscow's Luzhnetskaya Naberezhnaya area, where the national cycling federation is now based.

To read the full feature, click here.

Evans ready for stage to Hautacam

Evans needed treatment after his spill
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France favourite Cadel Evans got a "reasonably good" night's sleep and will start stage 10 hoping the effects of Sunday's crash do not harm his chances at today's mountain-top finish of Hautacam in the Pyrenees. Evans crashed around 105 kilometres into Sunday's 224-kilometre stage after hitting an Euskaltel rider and going over the handlebars.

He finished the stage in Bagnères-de-Bigorre with blood dripping from his left side and did not speak to journalists, but was heard shouting, "Don't touch me on my left side," as the media swarmed around him. Evans then handed his badly damaged helmet to Australian journalist Rupert Guiness and said, "This is your interview."

At the start in Pau this morning, Silence-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant gave an update on Evans' condition. "This morning at breakfast Cadel complained of a stiff neck," Sergeant told De Telegraaf. "He also had cuts to his shoulder and back. But under the circumstances Cadel still had a reasonably good night."

Immediately after his arrival at the finish, Evans was examined by Silence-Lotto team doctor Jan Mathieu, but further medical checks were not needed. "Cadel got an extra-long treatment from the chiropractor," added Sergeant. "We must now wait and see how our team leader will perform in today's stage."

Leipheimer hoping history repeats itself

By Kirsten Robbins in Bend, Oregon

Race leader Levi Leipheimer (Astana) was testing
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

After claiming overall victory at the Cascade Cycling Classic on Sunday, Astana's Levi Leipheimer pointed to a little bit of history that he hopes may repeat itself next season. Leipheimer was referring to the 1998 Cascade Classic, won by Lance Armstrong during his comeback season from cancer, the year before Armstrong went on to take his first Tour de France title in 1999.

"I believe the year after Lance won Cascade, he won the Tour de France so maybe the same thing will happen to me," said Leipheimer, whose Astana team are likely to be invited back to the Tour in 2009.

Despite having to sit out this year's Tour, Leipheimer was delighted to take the final yellow jersey at Cascade. "To win this race is definitely something to be proud of," he said. "When I first started out as a professional this race was the thing to do and I'm proud to be on the list of people who have won it, like Lance Armstrong."

Leipheimer blazed into the lead on the stage three time trial and defended his advantage after strong support from team-mate Chris Horner on stage five. With just the two Astana riders present, Horner was forced to ride tempo for over half of the 83-mile stage in order to bring back a dangerous breakaway.

"I didn't have to worry about anything because Chris Horner is a master at this," said Leipheimer, who attributed his over all victory to his solitary team-mate. "It's a team sport and we were at the mercy of everyone once we moved into the lead. Chris and I have been doing this a long time and we know how to form alliances - it paid off."

The runner up spot was taken by BMC Racing's Jeff Louder, 2'30 behind Leipheimer and a further two seconds ahead of team-mate Darren Lill, while Successful Living's Ricardo Escuela claimed the final stage.

Nuyens to sign with Rabobank

Nick Nuyens (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Belgian rider Nick Nuyens will leave Cofidis at the end of this season and join Rabobank, according to the Gazet van Antwerpen. Nuyens, who joined Cofidis in 2007 after four seasons at Quick Step, will sign a four-year contract with Rabobank as the team aims to bolster its squad for the Spring Classics.

"Nuyens will join us, but it is not yet confirmed on paper," said Rabobank manager Harold Knebel. "With him we want to build a strong team for the spring. He proved at Quick Step that he can win races."

Nuyens' two most notable victories have both come in on the opening weekend of the Belgian season. He won the Omloop Het Volk in 2005 and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in 2006. Nuyens also took the 2005 Tour of Britain, including two stages, and stage three of the 2006 Tour de Suisse.

Nuyens' friend Kevin De Weert, who also moved from Quick Step to Cofidis in 2007, will not join Rabobank, Knebel said. Cofidis is not expected to comment on the transfer until after the Tour de France.

Jongewaard secures Olympic nomination

Australian mountain biker Chris Jongewaard looks set to ride the Beijing Olympics after Cycling Australia accepted the findings of an Appeals Tribunal and nominated him for its Olympic team. Jongewaard, Australia's highest ranked mountain biker, was not originally nominated for the Olympic Games due to involvement in a pending court case, but successfully appealed the decision last week.

The ruling was passed to the Cycling Australia High Performance Management Committee (HPMC), which met Monday via tele-conference and decided to nominate Jongewaard to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) in place of previously selected Daniel McConnell.

In making its decision, the HPMC acknowledged an item from the Appeals Tribunal which stated: "HPMC did not have enough material to rely upon to exercise its decision as to whether it honestly believed Jongewaard had met all the requirements of the Selection Criteria and thereby, had failed to properly implement the criteria."

A further legal issue stated that Cycling Australia could only reach a decision on the conduct of an athlete after the AOC President has exercised his discretion. In response to this Cycling Australia noted that "a successful defence in any subsequent hearing could not be assured".

Jongewaard is due to answer charges later this year regarding a hit-and-run incident, in which he allegedly stuck training partner Matthew Rex, leaving Rex with head injuries and in a medically-induced coma for 12 days.

While the incident took place in February 2007, and Rex has since recovered, court proceedings over the charges have been delayed on numerous occasions. The trial is scheduled to take place in December of this year.

Gómez wants to return for Vuelta a España

Ángel Gómez is recuperating well from the injuries he sustained in a crash in the third stage of the Tour de France, but still isn't sure about his recovery process. "It's too early to say if I can return to cycling [this year], but if I can I will make sure that this is not the end of my season."

Gómez isn't giving up and hopes to return to racing as soon as possible. "I will do anything possible to return for the Vuelta a España," he said of the Spanish national Tour which starts on August 30. Gómez was hopeful he would recover quicker than from his last crash in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. "Even though it appears bad, I think it may only take half the time to recover than compared to the Flanders crash," he said.

Despite the accident being his second heavy crash of the season, Gómez hasn't lost his humour. "I have a great advantage towards the end of the season, and that is that I will be fresh. Usually in August I have done 70 days of racing. This year, it won't be more than 45."

The Spaniard from Saunier Duval-Scott is helped during his recovery by personal friend and doctor José Ángel Martínez Agüeros. "He has already treated me on other occasions. Last time in April, after my crash in Flanders. He examined the X-rays to see where the fracture was located, then examined me directly to help localise exactly the affected areas and to rule out other peripheral injuries."

For the moment Gómez exercises in the swimming pool in Cabezón. "I was advised to do exercises in the water, as the pain will be less when floating. It allows me to move all my muscles and avoid getting numb [muscles]."

Horner headlines USA Crits series in Vancouver

Chris Horner (Astana) spent the whole day
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Astana's Chris Horner will be the star attraction in Vancouver on Wednesday as the USA Crits series heads north for the BC Cancer Foundation's Tour de Gastown. Horner has just come from a solid week of racing at the Cascade Cycling Classic and says he's eager to display the form that helped team-mate Levi Leipheimer claim the overall victory (see separate story).

"I hope to put on a show; I'm going for the win," said Horner, who hails from San Diego, California, but now calls Bend, Oregon his home. "That's why I'm going up there. Crit racing is very fast, intense, and demands a lot of speed in the legs and a different kind of fitness. It's a good opportunity to keep racing and keep my legs in good condition."

Horner, a former winner of the Athens Twilight, is also attracted to the huge crowds that make the Tour de Gastown such a popular event. At least 30,000 cycling fans are expected and without his posse of impressive Astana teammates, Horner's going to need all the encouragement he can get.

When asked how he's going to fend off teams like Toshiba-Santo, Toyota United, Jittery Joe's and HealthNet, the man who only moments before had joked that he would be "a one-man wrecking crew" laughed. "I'm gonna have to get lucky, I guess."

The race will be the centrepiece of BC Superweek, British Columbia's most prestigious week of bike racing, with a total of $15,000 in prize money on the line. Some of Canada's 2008 Olympic team will also be there, including recently crowned national champion Christian Meier, Zach Bell, Svein Tuft and Cam Evans (Symmetrics).

In the pro-women's lineup from Canada will be 2008 Olympians Erinne Willock (Webcor), who is also the Tour de Gastown's defending champion; and Gina Grain (Webcor), a former women's Tour de Gastown champion. Jennifer Wilson (Vanderkitten Racing) holds the overall lead in the USA CRITS Series followed by Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine).

"These are two fantastic fields for both the men's and women's contests," said USA Crits managing director Ravi Rajcoomar. "There's no telling who will emerge the victors in what's shaping up to be two of the most closely contested races in the USA Crits Series to date."

For more information, visit

Stuart O'Grady's Tour diary - Riccò a danger man?

Well the 'real' racing has begun. Today's stage was very long and pretty hard, but it's only a teaser for what lies ahead.

The aim for the general classification contenders was not to lose time and save as much energy for the coming stages. The 25 kilometre downhill after the last category one climb made it pointless for the big guns to unleash any fury today.

Ricardo Riccò is certainly flying uphill, but because he lost over three minutes in the time trial no-one was too concerned about reeling him in. They better be careful, though, because he's obviously got unreal form and if you let a guy like that get a sniff of the win he's not going to hesitate.

It was a scary day for Cadel, who had a nasty crash. He showed his real Aussie grit and determination by not only pushing through the pain but also not losing any time.

Our boys did well with Andy Schleck taking the white jersey and our three general classification guys staying right up there amongst it.

To read the full entry, click here.

Stage video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of and Procycling magazine.

Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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