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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, June 12, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Lefevere and Boonen react to Tour exclusion

Patrick Lefevere, the Quickstep boss, would still like to include Tom Boonen in his Tour line-up
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Patrick Lefevere of Team Quick Step has acknowledged, but not necessarily accepted, ASO's decision to ban Tom Boonen from the Tour de France. "Of course, we regret this decision, especially since Tom didn't test positive in a sporting case. But we take note of it," he told HLN.

"I do not think that we will go with the team to the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport - ed.] but we should discuss that with our sponsors," he noted, in an indication that the team may try to force the Tour de France organiser to accept Boonen's participation. "I think it is especially up to the athlete and his representatives to take any possible steps."

Boonen's attorney, Luc Deleu told Radio 2 Antwerp that he did not think his client would take that step. "It doesn't seem suitable to me to go over the head of the race organisers to go to the CAS or other agencies.

"It is not a question of being frightened of not being invited to other competitions," he explained, but simply that "Tom has decided to accept the consequences of his actions."

Silence-Lotto appoints Tour line-up

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Cadel Evans will lead Team Silence-Lotto in the Tour de France as one of the hot favourites for the overall victory. The July roster, announced by sports manager Marc Sargeant, also features Australian Robbie McEwen, who will aim for the sprinters' green jersey.

At the start in Brest on July 5 will be Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt, Dario Cioni, Cadel Evans, Leif Hoste, Robbie McEwen, Yaroslav Popovych, Wim Vansevenant and Johan Vansummeren. The three reserves are Bart Dockx, Maarten Tjallingii and Roy Sentjens.

2008 Giro Donne route announced

By Ben Atkins

The Giro Donne gets pink balloons, just like the men's event
Photo ©: Tricarico Davide
(Click for larger image)

With the men's Giro d'Italia finished just over a week ago, the route of the 19th Giro d'Italia Femminile, the Giro Donne, was presented in Desio, north of Milan yesterday. The race will consist of a prologue and eight stages, adding up to a total of 809.6km between the 5th and 13th of July.

After a short prologue, the race heads north and east for three stages in the Veneto region. The course then heads south and west to Toscana before turning north for the final four stages in Lombardia.

The event will begin with a 1.2km evening prologue in the city of Mantova, followed by the longest stage of the race – a flat 131.5km to Lendinara in the province of Rovigo in southern Veneto. Stage two will be similarly flat, finishing in the coastal town of Rosolina Mare to the south of Venice. Stage three also lacks hills but heads inland and south, through the city of Ferrara to Altedo in the province of Bologna. The climbing begins in earnest on stage four as the women transfer to the Pisa province of Toscana and the first hilly stage. The first category Prato a Ceragiola comes after 71km and is followed by an ascent to the finish at the top of the second category Monte Serra.

The course will once again transfer north, to the Lombardia region for the remaining stages, beginning with a short, flat individual time trial in Novara. The next stage returns to the hills and climbs two first category climbs – the Passo Sette Termini and the Passo del Cuvignone – before descending to the finish at Laveno Mombello, on the banks of Lago Maggiore.

Stage seven will be the real Queen stage of the race, taking in two first category and two second category climbs in just 83.8km. The course will ascend the Colle Brianza, the Giovenzana – known as the Piccolo Stelvio and features sections of up to 20 percent – and the Sirtori before climbing to the finish at Montevecchia. Stage nine should prove to be a traditional final stage as it features seven laps of a 13km circuit before the finish in Desio.

2006 and 2007 winner Edita Pucinskaite (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) will be out to get a hat-trick of victories, but will likely face some stiff competition from the runner-up in both of those years: Nicole Brändli (Team Bigla) who has herself won the race three times (2001, 2003 and 2005). Both riders will be challenged strongly by Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini-Selle Italia). The two-time World champion, whose recent wins include the Tour de Berne World Cup and the Tour de l'Aude, has earmarked the Giro as her big target for the summer.

The stages list as follows:

Prologue- July 5: Mantova 1.2km
Stage 1 - July 6: Asola - Lendinara, 131.5km
Stage 2 - July 7: Ca' Tiepolo - Porto Tolle - Rosolina Mare, 122.7km
Stage 3 - July 8: S. M. Maddalena/Occhiobello - Altedo/Malalbergo, 122.8km
Stage 4 - July 9: Calcinaia - Prato A Calci/Monte Serra, 106.4km
Stage 5 - July 10: Novara ITT, 9.3km
Stage 6 - July 11: Cardano Al Campo - Laveno Mombello, 113.4km
Stage 7 - July 12: Macherio - Montevecchia, 83.8km
Stage 8 - July 13: Desio - Desio, 118.5km

Petacchi to turn to human rights court?

Alessandro Petacchi would like to come back with his head held high
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi, currently suspended and without a team, longs to make his come-back in the Vuelta a España this summer. The former Milram star sprinter is banned from racing until August 31 for the excessive use of asthma drug Salbutamol, but wants his suspension lifted one day earlier in order to take the start in the Spanish Grand Tour, beginning August 30.

The Italian cycling federation (FCI) is willing to give him a 48-hour discount, saying that his infringement does not count as premeditated doping as the rider 'only' used his inhaler excessively on that fatal day of the Giro d'Italia 2007, May 23. This point of view was also adopted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last August, even though they upheld the suspension.

But the International Cycling Union (UCI) is blocking the procedure. President Pat McQuaid has made known that he would not consent to any form of shortening of Petacchi's suspension, which is why the rider is now reported to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, France. This court was established to monitor compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

Should Petacchi's bid be successful, the rider would still need a new team to race for. At the moment, It has been suggested that the Italian may ride for Tinkoff, Barloworld or the possible new teams of Gianluigi Stanga or Emanuele Bombini.

The details of the Petacchi case can be found here.

WADA Gene Doping Symposium calls for greater awareness

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Vice President Prof. Arne Ljungqvist of Sweden
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The third Gene Doping Symposium organised by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, from June 10-11, has come to an end. Participants concluded by calling for greater interactions among the sports community, professional scientific organisations, licensing agencies and clinical research oversight bodies to stimulate awareness of the potential illicit use of gene transfer techniques for athletic and other enhancement purposes, and to develop appropriate sanction mechanisms for illegal or unethical application of gene transfer in sport.

The meeting was the third such meeting sponsored by WADA following on those held in 2002 in New York, USA, and in 2005 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Saint Petersburg symposium gathered more than 60 participants from 16 countries and included experts in gene transfer, scientists from the field of anti-doping and representatives from sports and public authorities.

Participants discussed advances in gene transfer therapies and in the development of detection methods for the potential misuse of gene transfer in sport, boundaries between therapy and enhancement from both technical and ethical perspectives, as well as legal frameworks and law enforcement issues relating to gene doping.

"Most experts do not think that gene transfer is being misused by athletes yet, but we know that there is a growing level of interest in the sports world in the potential for gene doping, and that scientists working on potential genetic cures for muscle diseases or blood disorders are being approached by sports figures to inquire about the use of genes to enhance performance in sport," said WADA Vice President Prof. Arne Ljungqvist. "We need to make sure that athletes know the dangers associated with these technologies, and, for those who may choose to ignore them and cheat, that they will be caught."

One example of gene doping possibly already being carried out in pro cycling are hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) stabilizers. HIF activates the gene producing natural Erythropoietin (EPO) during hypoxic conditions – when the blood is low of oxygen. "Once the body has reached normal oxygen levels again, HIF is decomposed. But HIF stabilizers make the factor continue its job: stimulate the production of natural EPO even when there is no need for it anymore," explained Patrick Diel, gene doping expert at the Centre for Preventive Doping Research in Cologne, Germany, to

HIF stabilizers would be easier to use than artificial EPO injections, as they come as a pill. "With this pill, hematocrit increases – without the use of artificial EPO. As the EPO is produced naturally, it cannot be detected using the current tests," he continued, adding that a 'treatment' would be dangerous. "Clinical studies carried out last year had to be abandoned prematurely, as the patients showed unacceptable side-effects. Still, other pharmaceutical companies are working on similar concepts. Now that the drug has already been tested on humans, we don't know if it is already circulating in the sports world."

Still, Prof. Theodore Friedmann, Head of WADA Gene Doping Panel, remained optimistic about tracking down possible gene dopers. "While detection methods are early in their development, I have no doubt that the ongoing work will catalyse public discussion and awareness in this field," he said. "WADA will continue to be the leading agency in the application of modern molecular genetics and DNA technology to the development of improved methods for detection."

Kohl slides out

Gerolsteiner's mountain climber Bernhard Kohl came a cropper in yesterday's Dauphiné Libéré time trial. "I was going very well and was just about to pass the rider who started two places in front of me, when my front wheel slid out at about 70 km/h on a descent. You can imagine what it was like when I slid over the asphalt."

The Austrian didn't come away uninjured. "I've gone down before, but never anything like this. My whole right side, from the ankle to the shoulder is scraped open, rather deeply in some places. And it hurts as much as you would think." It was enough to convince him to take the doctor's advice and not start in today's fourth stage.

His directeur sportif, Christian Henn, praised Kohl for "forcing himself through." The Austrian didn't do too badly in spite of the crash, finishing 33rd at 3'04" down.

Riding with her head: Irina Kalentieva

Kalentieva won the Worlds last year, saying that she really wanted it.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Irina Kalentieva came originally from the little-known Russian province of Chuvash to conquer the world – the world of mountain biking She won the World Championship title in cross country last year in Fort William, and will look to defend that title next week in Val di Sole, Italy. She has lived in Germany for the past five years, and that is where Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer caught up with her.

Talking with the 30 year-old, one is struck by how often she mentions her motivation, leading to the question, does she ride with her head as much as with her legs? "My head – the motivation – is the most important. All the riders have good legs, good training, we are all equal physically. Five or six of us, all the same," she said. "But the one who will win in the end is the one who is strongest in the head, who thinks positively. For me, I use my head a lot in racing, for example in tactics." She continued, "In the World Championships, all are strong and it is very difficult, but I tell myself that I can do it. That is my strength."

That was also how the Topeak Ergon racer won the World title last year. "It was something very special, all the strongest riders in the world were there, even (Gunn-Rita) Dahle Flesjå (Multivan Merida). It was very special. I thought I could finish in the top three. The course was very good for me, the downhill, everything worked out 100 percent.

"I had the strongest motivation to win and to become World Champion, that helped. Perhaps I was no stronger than the others, but with this motivation ... that I one day wanted to become World Champion, that helped" to bring her the title.

To read the full interview, click here.

BT Blade bikes for Australian track riders

Australia's track endurance cyclists will be riding the BT Blade bike from Bike Technologies Australia, the company announced today. It joins the BT Stealth bike used by the sprint cyclists.

"An incredible amount of research, design, testing, experience and cost goes into the development of each BT bicycle," said former Olympian and BT Australia Director, Sal Sansonetti. "We looked at each element of the frame and modeled the stresses and loads applied to it.

"We then chose the best combination of carbon fibre grades and fibre orientation for each individual element," said Sansonetti. "It's the same basic approach used in the aerospace industry."

Martin Barras, Cycling Australia's senior track coach, praised the new bikes. "There is no doubt the final result comes down to the performances of each individual cyclist but in events where the result can be decided by a thousandth of a second, our team goes into every race confident they are riding the very best bike which gives then a psychological edge over their rivals," he said. "BT Bikes consider every variable in the design of these machines which are custom built to suit each cyclist."

The Australian team has used BT bikes for over ten years, with the company providing "the most advanced carbon fibre bicycles available in the world today". It uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling to simulate wind tunnel conditions, thus enabling it to develop optimal aerodynamic frame shapes.

All BT carbon frames are created using the company's 'Monocoque Method' – the major factor contributing to a frame's performance, the press release noted. "This is a process in which the frame is fused together into a seamless monocoque (one-piece) structure," according to Sansonetti. "Based on feedback from the Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian cycling team the 'BT Blade' continued to be refined until this final version which weighs just 6.8kg complete. The result is a frame free of compromise and full of performance providing the Australian team with the ultimate advantage."

The new bikes will also feature new wheels and new tires. "Vittoria has worked closely with Cycling Australia carrying out extensive research and testing to create race tyres that have decreased weight and enhanced grip, responsiveness and overall speed," the press release noted, "while Mavic has produced a state of the art wheel used by the leading track cycling teams around the world."

(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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