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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, June 17, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

High Road's Stapleton on Columbia future

American squad gets new sponsor starting from the Tour de France

By Procycling's Daniel Friebe and Cyclingnews staff

High Road owner Bob Stapleton
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Bob Stapleton's Team High Road has signed a new sponsorship deal that will see the squad compete as 'Team Columbia' from July's Tour de France. High Road, whose men's squad is currently competing in the Tour of Switzerland, has been competing under the generic term of its management company's name since T-Mobile brokered a deal to end its title sponsorship agreement early at the end of 2007.

The California-based ProTour team has signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Portland, Oregon-based sportswear brand Columbia, a global leader in outdoor apparel and footwear. According to a High Road and Columbia joint statement, the sponsorship contract, "includes both the men's and women's professional cycling teams, which are top-ranked worldwide and have won over 70 races combined in 2008 – the most wins of any competing team".

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"In addition, at least 15 riders from Team Columbia are expected to represent their countries in the upcoming Olympics."

High Road chief Stapleton on Monday spoke of his delight at securing a sponsorship deal which will keep his team alive at least until the end of the 2010 season. The team formerly known as High Road – plus its women's equivalent, also owned by Stapleton – will thus be known as Team Columbia. Stapleton called the deal a "very exciting step forward, not just for the team, but also for the sport itself".

Read the full news feature.

McEwen mouths off in Switzerland

By Susan Westemeyer

Robbie McEwen is not making many friends in Switzerland. According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, the Tour de Suisse stage three winner's ceremony had to wait for him on Monday. Immediately after the stage, the Silence-Lotto rider started giving interviews on his mobile phone. Former rider Kurt Betschart, who manages the ceremony, waited a while, but finally, he said, "I challenged him to get a move on."

The Australian sprinter then called Betschart a "f**king idiot" and called the race a "f**king organisation," Blick reported. It added that last year, after his Tour de Suisse stage five win in Giubiasco, McEwen also applied that same title to the country, calling it "f**king Switzerland."

The race organisers at first wanted to exclude McEwen from the race for his remarks, but gave him another chance. Race spokesman Kurt Henauer confirmed McEwen's comments, telling Cyclingnews that the organisers "would not impose sanctions – provisionally – because a fine of 200 Franc is a joke..."

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC told Blick that "McEwen is a very unpopular rider. I can't understand why the Tour de Suisse organisers didn't take any action." Expanding his comments, Cancellara told Cyclingnews, "It's all a question of respect for the race, for his colleagues, his sponsors and the organisation. If people don't know how to behave themselves, they're better off being sent home."

Team Silence-Lotto did not respond to Cyclingnews' request for a comment on the situation.

Contador confirms Olympic time trial and road race

Spain's Alberto Contador, 25, eyes Olympic events
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France and 2008 Giro d'Italia, confirmed that he will race both road events in the 2008 Olympics: The time trial (August 13) and road race (August 9).

"I will do the road race and the time trial. Certainly, the time trial is more to my liking, but the road race has a very difficult route and everyone will have a chance," said the 25 year-old Spaniard in an interview on Spanish public television.

Astana, the team of Contador, has not been invited to race the Tour de France in July and his last race leading to the Olympics in Beijing will be the Clásica San Sebastián, August 2.

Basso's Giro d'Italia

Italy's Ivan Basso, 30, in training
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

While the 2008 Giro d'Italia completed its course from Palermo to Milano, Ivan Basso – banned for through 24 October for his involvement in Operación Puerto – completed his own race. The 30 year-old Italian, winner of the 2006 Giro d'Italia, simulated the Italian three-week race through various training rides, including 5000 metres of climbing on the day of the Passo del Mortirolo.

"I did quite possibly the hardest training in my life the day of the Mortirolo. I have never before climbed Cuvignone five times. I did 240 kilometres solo, with 5000 metres of climbing and I spent more energy than riding Liège-Bastogne-Liège," recalled Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He was dropped from his team and banned from cycling last spring, on the eve of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, for his relations with Eufemiano Fuentes.

Instead of watching this year's Giro d'Italia on television Basso worked out specific routes to prepare himself for his re-entry with Team Liquigas (his first race will likely be the Japan Cup, October 26).

"We started with a flat stage the first day. Then a mixed stage, a mountain stage of about 200 kilometres, a 30-kilometre time trial, another mixed stage and a final tappone of 240 kilometres," Basso continued. During his five repeats of Cuvignone, a climb near his home of Varese, he set his personal best time of 29'15" – a few seconds faster than what he set going into the 2006 Tour de France. His desire to be in form when he returns was not put off by the inclement weather; his time trial test was run under heavy rain, the same day that the Giro d'Italia raced the stage to Varese.

Over the past weeks he has heard from his future team-mates. "[Franco] Pellizotti and [Vincenzo] Nibali I talk to on the telephone. [Andrea] Noè, [Charles] Wegelius and [Ivan] Santaromita train with me. I don't know [Roman] Kreuziger, but I have heard great things about him. They seem happy for my arrival and the experience I can bring along."

When Basso does return for his first full season back in 2009 he will find his rivals further developed. "[Alberto] Contador is first class – at the first Discovery Channel training camp, with a cold, he was able to wow everyone on the climbs. [Riccardo] Riccò has showed himself to be very strong at this year's Giro. And [Damiano] Cunego, you will see, will have a great Tour [de France]."

Doppmann ready to return to top

By Bjorn Haake in Gent

Swiss Priska Doppmann would like repeat
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Priska Doppmann won the Grande Boucle Féminine in 2005 and finished second to Nicole Cooke last year. Now, the Swiss rider is eager to get back on top of the podium. A day before the start of the 2008 race, she sent a clear message to Cooke that a third victory in a row will not be uncontested. "I always want to win!" she explained. She draws the confidence from her own strength, but also emphasised, "We have a strong team."

Indeed, she wouldn't put it past any of her Cervélo Lifeforce team-mates to be the one taking the overall in the end. "If I am not in a position to win myself, I hope somebody from my team will be there." She particularly thought that the long time trial on Friday, 40.1 kilometres from Domaine de Chalain to Clairvaux-les-Lacs, could be a good day to make a difference. "It's a long time trial and there can be large gaps. I think Karin [Thührig] has good chances there." In addition, if the lead is big enough Thührig may be able to hang on in the two mountain stages that follow.

The first few days are likely to be treacherous, with the cobbles in the Belgian and French stages, but Doppmann is not afraid. "No, I don't fear the cobbles," instead just eager to get going.

Nonetheless, the rest of the terrain will still be more to her liking. Naturally, the Swiss rider said she enjoys "the mountains and the lakes. France is really beautiful."

The final two stages, though, will offer a bit of suffering that is different from hanging out at a lake in over 2,000 metres of altitude. However, Doppmann is ready for the fight.

Vos to Olympic time trial

Marianne Vos will be riding the Olympic Time Trial after all. The national coach Johan Lammerts has changed his mind after consulting with the Dutch cycling federation and the Dutch Olympic committee. Last week, Vos had said she was considering legal action to force the coach to name her to the time trial.

Vos is now scheduled to ride the road race on August 10, the time trial on August 13 and the track points race on August 18. According to, Lammerts had worried that the three races within eight day would be too much for the 21 year-old.

The decision to include her in all three races was based on sporting grounds. She recently won four of five stages and the overall of the Emakumeen Bira race in Spain, which included a time trial win over World Champion Hanke Kupfernagel. (SW)

O'Neill receives ban

Australian Nathan O'Neill has been banned for 15 months for a positive anti-doping test for appetite suppressant Phentermine last fall. The 33 year-old will be able to race again November 12 according to AFP, due to the back-dating of the decision announced by Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) this morning.

O'Neill, multiple time trial national champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the same event, tested positive following USA's Tour of Elk Grove in August.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) announced the ban after it received the news from CAS. "In making the ruling, the CAS determined that Mr. O'Neill had been able to demonstrate a degree of no significant fault or negligence and thereby imposed a lesser penalty," ASADA stated in a press statement.

Van den Broeck renews with Lotto

Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence Lotto)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Silence-Lotto has secured Jurgen Van den Broeck for another two years, according to GVA. The 25 year-old has re-signed with the Belgian ProTour team and will ride as part of Marc Sergeant's squad until 2010.

The Belgian rider was one of the revelations of the recent Giro d'Italia, finishing seventh overall behind Alberto Contador (Astana).

Van den Broeck began his career riding for the Quick Step feeder team, before turning professional with US Postal in 2004. He made the switch to Predictor - Lotto in 2007.

Initially Van den Broeck was known for his time trialing ability, but has shown this year that he can hold his own in the hillier classics and stage races. In 2001 Van den Broeck won the time trial at the Junior World Championships. Since turning professional he has managed just one win, the derny criterium in Schriek, Belgium.

Van den Broeck is recovering from an injury at the moment, but should be back in action for the Belgian championships on June 29.

(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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