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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, June 13, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

UCI suspends French Federation

UCI President Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Following last week's announcement that the Tour de France would be held under the auspices of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), rather than under the control of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's governing body has decided to suspend the FFC through the end of 2008 with immediate effect.

According to a press release, the UCI Management Committee made the decision during its meeting in Snekkersten, Denmark, after a request from UCI president Pat McQuaid. It also imposed a 10,000 Swiss franc fine.

The UCI President criticized the FFC for "a lack of loyalty to the UCI and its members, and for having breached UCI Statutes and Regulations by actively and openly supporting the organisation, outside the UCI framework, of the last edition of the Paris-Nice," according to the statement. McQuaid called the committee's act, "a strong decision that demonstrates that the UCI will not tolerate one of its members flouting international cycling regulations."

The sanction will not affect French riders or events, nor will it exclude the French riders from Worlds or the Olympic Games, however, it does shut the French representatives who are part of the UCI out of the next UCI Congress, and makes them ineligible as candidates for elections. The French representatives will not be allowed to partake in committees and commissions, or the organisation of the World Championships.

The FFC responded harshly to the news, calling the decision "a new escalation in intimidation". It called the suspension a "threat to impose silence all those who do not approve [of the UCI's plans for the sport] without reservation".

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The statement from the French federation continued, saying, "This penalty will change absolutely nothing in the serious crisis that currently present in international cycling."

FFC president Jean Pitallier condemned the action, which he called "undemocratic" in that it affected people who were elected by the European Cycling Union.

"This does not mean that I will throw in the towel," Pitallier told AFP. "We must review the ProTour. I ask once again to hold a round table discussion, and one which really listens to the different parties," he added.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Health, Youth, Sports and Associations and Bernard Laporte, Secretary of State for Sports, Youth and Associations reacted in a press release by giving their firm support to the FFC.

"The French government supports the French Cycling Federation completely in these difficult times," the statement read. "The sanction imposed by the UCI did nothing to solve the current crisis in international cycling. Only dialogue and consultation will do so."

"The FFC was merely applying the law which gives the authority to allow organizers to promote private events on French soil as long as safeguards, including security, are sufficiently provided". It continued, stating that the FFC "has been the only one to defend the interests of riders, too often overlooked in this conflict. It should not be punished for this."

Rolland doesn't ride to come in second

By Jean-François Quénet in Annemasse

French cyclists are generally known for their humble ambitions. They are often happy with a small result as long as it keeps them alive in the pro peloton, but Pierre Rolland of Crédit Agricole seems to be made of a different wood. He was seen on the attack several times during Paris-Nice. He was the most aggressive rider of Liège-Bastogne-Liège but still he wasn't happy with himself as he went into the Dauphiné with no win under his belt. He claimed two wins last year as a rookie with a stage in the Tour of Gabon and another one in the Tour du Limousin.

At the Dauphiné, Rolland was designated to do the work of a domestique by his directeur sportif Serge Beucherie. It was he who was alongside Christophe Le Mével doing the enormous amount of riding in the front of the peloton during the first two stages in order to take their team captain Thor Hushovd home in yellow. Then on stage four, it was Le Mével and Rolland who were among the 16 members of the decisive breakaway on the way to Annemasse.

Le Mével is looking for a Tour de France start, while Rolland already knows that at the age of 21, he'll have to wait for at least another year before taking part in the world's biggest race. Rolland came second on the stage, and expressed his feelings as he crossed the lines. He showed his wrist and hammered his handlebar. He could have been happy with his ride and proud of what he did, but he wasn't. "It's a big disappointment for me," he commented. "When Cyril Dessel caught me, it was an uphill false flat with head wind, there was 200 meters of climbing too much for me today. I ride my bike to win races. Finishing second isn't what I look for." Rolland might well be France's next big thing in cycling.

Meares storms her way to Beijing

Thuaux fails to make the cut

By Malcolm Sawford in Melbourne

Meares was in good spirits after her performance
Photo ©: Fiona Carnibella
(Click for larger image)

Billed as the "Farewell to Beijing", an opportunity for local fans to get up close and personal with the Australian track team for the Beijing Olympics, Revolution 3 saw all five riders pre-nominated for the sprint squad take to the boards at Melbourne's Vodafone arena before a near capacity crowd.

The highlight of the night came in only the second event, a specially arranged flying 200 metre time trial for Anna Meares to confirm her pre-nomination with a target time of 11.77 seconds or better. Australian head coach Martin Barras and Meares were both confident that despite Meares' severely limited preparation since her terrible crash in the Los Angeles world cup, which resulted in a fractured C2 vertebra and extensive shoulder injuries, her recent training form would see her on track for a time around 11.5 seconds.

Meares demolished their predictions, storming around the track to stop the clock in a sizzling 11.189 seconds, a track record, and less than two hundredths of a second outside her personal best "which was at Manchester which is the fastest track in the world!"

While her initial reaction to the time is unprintable, Meares acknowledged it was good to end any doubts in her mind. "I've had lots of ups and downs, whether I was going to qualify, whether I was fit enough. Hopefully now the selectors will write my name down in ink on that ticket to Beijing! It's a kind of 'thank God!' feeling, it's really been uncertain the whole last five months.

I'm really pleased with that and I know that all the pain and the discomfort I've been through in the last couple of months and all the hard work that I've put in has started to pay off."

When asked if she now considered herself a realistic chance of a medal in the sprint at Beijing, she responded cautiously "it gives me a lot more confidence that I'm going to be in good enough condition to compete, and I've always had the mentality that I've got to go believing that I can win and now I really have the extra backing behind me having done that time. While I've given my rivals a head start, I think I've caught up a fair way, which is a good feeling. They'll all see this time and know I'm coming!"

Thuaux falls short

Meares' success came in stark contrast to an attempt by Phil Thuaux to claim a place in the endurance squad at the games. Faced with a 4000 metre individual pursuit qualifying time of 4 minutes 20, over two seconds under his personal best, Thuaux started strongly and appeared to be riding to coach Gary Sutton's schedule up to the halfway point, before falling behind in the final laps to record a time of 4:24.522.

A disappointed Thuaux was candid in his review of his ride. "Whether it is was a technical thing or whether it was a horsepower thing I don't know. Whether I just wasn't good enough or I didn't deliver it properly, four seconds is a bit of time. I suspect it's probably a bit of both."

Read the full report from Revolution 3.

Kelly heads to fifth Olympics

In a separate showdown at the Vodafone Arena on Wednesday, only officials, family and friends were allowed into the velodrome to watch the head-to-head match between sprinters Shane Kelly and Ben Kersten for the final remaining slot on the men's Beijing sprint squad. Kelly took a convincing victory in the 625 metre time trial, smashing Kersten's 39.934 with a 39.198 second time.

The ride-off was designed to select the final, third-lap spot on the men's team sprint, but Kelly may also ride the keirin at the Games. Kelly, who took silver in 1992 and bronze in 2000 in the kilometre time trial, and bronze in 2004 in the keirin, is hoping to he has regained his medal-winning form. "I did say 12 months ago when I set myself to make a bit of a comeback … I'm certainly not going for the tracksuit and everything else that goes with it. It's (for a) gold medal, and that's eluded me so far, so I'm 100% pumped and ready for it," he said.

The event marked the third time Kersten has missed out on selection for the Games, and his disappointment was palpable, however, he graciously congratulated Kelly. "He just said, 'All the best, the better guy won on the day'," Kelly told The Age afterwards. "It's a big relief. I'm glad it's done."

If the Australian Olympic Committee approves the selection, Kelly will join Anna Meares, Mark French, Ryan Bayley and Daniel Ellis on the sprint team in Beijing.

Rogers impressive in the mountains

By Jean-François Quénet in Annemasse

Michael Rogers isn't quite in form
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

A 38th at the time trial of the Dauphiné for a triple world champion of that specialty wasn't exactly what people expected from Michael Rogers but the Australian wasn't bitter the day after. "I must be aware that this was only my first time trial for one year," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage four. However, he was smiling and obviously in a good mood with more intentions to try his luck in the Alpine event. His initial plan was to test himself in one of the mountain stages, however he did it in the first real climb of the Dauphiné, the Mont Salève – a climb that is no walk in the park.

As the front group was splitting from the back, Rogers asked his team-mate George Hincapie if he wanted him to wait to attack, but the USA rider said, "Go!" Rogers was one of the 25 men who climbed the best alongside Alejandro Valverde and Robert Gesink and he attacked to go clear. On the finishing line in Annemasse, he preceded the yellow jersey group by two seconds and almost caught the reminder of the breakaway group sprinting for fifth place.

"Michael has had a good progression," his Team High Road directeur sportif Allan Peiper said. "His first race back after so many different problems was the Tour of Catalunya last month. His weight is down. He looks good, that's the main thing. He came to a training camp in the Pyrénées for three days and he was riding his time trial bike in between the mountain sessions. Now we have to see his resistance and his recovery."

His participation to the Tour de France will be decided after the Dauphiné. "It'll be important to know what he wants to do," Peiper added. Rogers also aims at riding the Olympics after the Tour.

Gesink targets La Toussuire

By Jean-François Quénet in Annemasse

Robert Gesink pulls up the climb
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

At the end of the mountain stage of the Dauphiné, race leader Alejandro Valverde has designated Robert Gesink as his most impressive rival on the climbs. The young Dutchman who already impressed everybody during Paris-Nice when he took the yellow jersey at the top of the Mont Ventoux was a little bit frustrated at the stage finish in Annemasse. "There wasn't a high tempo on the climb," he noted. "A few times I could hear Levi Leipheimer saying that the landscape was beautiful. It means a few of us weren't racing flat out."

A stage win was out of question since a few riders from the 16 men breakaway were more than two minutes ahead of the group of the favorites when the race hit the grueling Mont Salève. It was interested to note that Rabobank gave a hand to Caisse d'Epargne earlier on. The Dutch team was committed to a good result by Gesink although the 22 year-old took a low profile before the start. "I'm not really sure of what I can do at the Dauphiné," he told Cyclingnews in Vienne. "I have to see how my form is. I took a break after Liège-Bastogne-Liège and started again with the Tour of Belgium. But here, my prologue was good, my time trial also."

This is Gesink's first racing experience in the French Alps. "I don't know most of these climbs, or only I rode them during training camps," he said. "GC at this Dauphiné is out of the picture already. We've all seen that three guys are the strongest [Valverde, Leipheimer and Cadel Evans - ed.]. I'm too far behind." He's now eighth with a 2'28" deficit, but his ambitions are far from over, and will peak on Saturday. "The stage to La Toussuire is important for me." He knows that his future is in the Alps.

Gesink is aware of the passion his compatriots have for l'Alpe d'Huez, although he will not go for it this year at the Tour de France. "My goals for now are the Olympics and the Vuelta," he announced. "The Vuelta will be my first Grand Tour. For the future, we have a strong couple of guys for the mountains of the Tour de France. I hope to be one of the Dutch riders to revive our legend at l'Alpe d'Huez in some time." Watch out for Gesink on this coming Saturday first.

Storms wash out Nature Valley opener

Everyone please stop
Photo ©: Matthew Moses
(Click for larger image)

The heavy rains which have flooded a large portion of the American midwest continued on Wednesday, washing out the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix in St. Paul, Minnesota. The men's race began, but was called to a halt after a official motorcycle slid out and caused at least one rider to crash. The field was then polled to decide if they wished to keep racing in the conditions.

More than half the field voted to halt the proceedings, much to the chagrin of Health Net's Kirk O'Bee, who was solo off the front when the race was stopped.

"It's disappointing because I made a big effort to be out there and everyone had to deal with the rain," said O'Bee who gained the first intermediate time bonus after initiating a breakaway.

"I don't think the course was that unsafe. What made it unsafe was that there were too many motos on course that were trying to get through the field. The officials also didn't do a good job in pulling lapped riders quick enough as we were coming up on them – so the motos were trying to wave them off. Personally I had no problem with the course."

The women's race also began under pouring rain, which led to a large crash in the opening laps. Hoping to stay out of harms way, former world time trial champion and defending NVGP winner Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Lifeforce) attacked with Brooke Miller (Tibco). The pair went on to lap the large majority of the field before Miller could no longer hold on to Armstrong's pace.

Miller's team-mate Joanne Kiesanowski bridged up along with Lauren Franges, also Tibco, and took second on the stage – the trio unable to pull Armstrong back.

Kristin Armstrong (Cerevelo-Lifeforce)
Photo ©: Matthew Moses
(Click for larger image)

However, despite all the hard work the officials decided not to count the results toward the overall classification due to the harsh conditions. The decision irked Armstrong, who put a great deal of effort into the solo move, as well as the Tibco riders, who would not have expended so much energy had they known it would not help them in the standings.

"I would understand if the officials had to neutralize the race in the beginning or before the start due to unsafe conditions," said Armstrong, who was disappointed that in the end her effort to lap the field provided no advantage in the overall classification.

"When you start the race and finish it in its entirety and then they decide the condition were unsafe, I think it needs to be counted for GC. There are a lot of teams that put a lot of effort into this race including Tibco," continued Armstrong, who fought off three chasing Tibco riders.

"I feel like we should go into tomorrow with the GC in place. Yes, a lot of girls got dropped or went down. Unfortunately that's bike racing and that same sort of bad luck could happen to me out there tomorrow."

"Of course we are furious because we had three sprinters out front," said Miller. "As sprinters its not our role to be out front like that burning matches, but we really want to go after the GC here. Also, for Kristin who just had an amazing ride, its not right to neutralize the results."

Barloworld to Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain today announced that Barloworld is the latest squad to sign up to participate in the 2008 race. The British registered team will join Team High Road, which announced its participation earlier. The Barloworld team plans to bring sprinter Robbie Hunter as well as Welshman Geraint Thomas and Stephen Cummings, as well as Australian Baden Cooke.

Coming hot on the heels of the Beijing Olympic games, the British riders will have to quickly switch back from national loyalties to those of their employers for the September event. Thomas and Cummings will return to their day jobs of ensuring riders like Cooke and Hunter are delivered to the finish line in the best possible position to win, bringing them into direct competition with British team-mates Wiggins and Cavendish who will fulfil similar roles for Team High Road on the race.

Further announcements will be made about the line-up for the 2008 Tour of Britain in future weeks, but to date, the teams confirmed to participate in the race are: Pinarello RT (Great Britain) Plowman Craven (Great Britain) Rapha Condor (Great Britain) South (Australia) Topsport Vlaanderen (Belgium) Team High Road (USA) AN Post – M.Donnelly – Grant Thornton – Sean Kelly Team (Ireland) Palmeiras Resort/ Tavira (Portugal) Team MTN (South Africa) Barloword (Great Britain)

Race Across America Underway For Team Type 1

Team Type 1 got off to a strong start as the eight-person team division of the Race Across America got underway Wednesday afternoon in Oceanside, California. The team of Monique Hanley, Matt Brooks, Andy Mead and Mark Suprenant led off the 3,015-mile race and rode to the team's first exchange at Brawley, California, the second of 54 time stations along the route that ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

At the first time station 54.7 miles into the race, Team Type 1 trailed the Norwegian team Byggkjop presented by BMC Cycling Team by seven minutes. Team ViaSat was the third team to the time station, one minute behind Team Type 1. Byggkjop averaged 17.55 miles an hour to 16.92 mph for Team Type 1.

Team members who began riding at Brawley were RAAM Team Director Bob Schrank, in addition to Alex Bowden, Tim Powell and Timothy Hargrave.

All eight members of Team Type 1 have Type 1 diabetes. Team Type 1 has won the eight-person corporate team division of RAAM in 2006 and 2007 and set the team transcontinental record crossing of five days, 15 hours and 43 minutes (3,046 miles) last year.

Updates on Team Type 1 are being posted on the team's website and blog,

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