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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, March 12, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Hitting the road in Paris-Nice

Björn Schröder (Milram) on the left is still joking with Robert Wagner, before making painful contact with the pavement in a large crash later in the race
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The rain, wind and cold combined with narrow, twisting roads to make it a crash-bang-boom day in the second stage of Paris-Nice on Tuesday.

Worst off was Team CSC, when seven of its eight riders went down in a mass crash, some 60 kilometres before the finish. "Only Karsten Kroon managed to escape and was able to continue with the remainder of the peloton. We had two smashed up bikes and some of the riders were beaten pretty badly," according to Directeur Sportif Kim Anderson.

Team Milram had six riders go down, including Andrey Grivko, who lost his best young rider's jersey as a result. Both Björn Schröder and Markus Eichler had to be taken to the hospital, but there were no serious injuries and all the riders will start today. "That was a terribly unlucky day for us," said DS Raoul Liebregts. "After a stage like that it is up to us directeurs sportifs to build the riders up again."

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"On a descent, suddenly half the peloton lay on the ground," said Gerolsteiner's DS Christian Wegmann. Davide Rebellin, Andrea Moletta, Carlo Westphal and Bernhard Kohl were among the victims, but none suffered more than scrapes. It was Moletta's second crash of the race and Kohl's second in two days. After tumbling into a ditch during stage one, he was more acrobatic on Tuesday. "I made a real somersault and at 60 km/h slid a good way on my back over the road." Apart from a few bruises and scrapes, the Austrian was fine, but the same couldn't be said of his bike, which was totaled.

For other teams, High Road's Marcel Sieberg landed on his already injured elbow and was taken to the hospital for further examinations after finishing the stage. Silence-Lotto's Dario Cioni had to leave the race after suffering a deep cut on his face.

Another prominent victim was Slipstream's David Millar, who said, "I had my fastest crash ever, hitting the deck at 60+km/h on a straight descent. People in front of me went down and slid for what seemed like an infinite amount of time." Adding, "I did not have much fun today. The only consolation was that the whole peloton had a horrible day, and most [other riders' were] worse than mine," he cheerfully concluded. "Snow is going to be added to the equation tomorrow in the final which will make it epic. Man, this is a mental race!"

Danielson with herniated disk

Slipstream-Chipotle's Tom Danielson will have to sit out in March, to take care of his herniated disk
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
(Click for larger image)

A crash in the first stage of the 2007 Vuelta a España is continuing to cause problems for Slipstream's Tom Danielson. He started suffering from some severe back pains in the Tour of California, and has since been diagnosed with "a herniated disk in the L5 S1 vertebrae".

"So now I am recovering and doing therapy to heal and build strong muscle to support the problem," he wrote on his website, "The doctors are positive that if I avoid racing in March and continue building, I will be okay for the Tour of Georgia. So this only affects me by missing Paris-Nice, but should set me up well for the rest of the season!"

Simoni out of Tirreno-Adriatico

Gilberto Simoni of Team Diquigiovanni-Androni will not be at the start of the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico today. He was struck down by an attack of influenza Monday night, the team reported, and will skip this race in order not to endanger his participation in the Giro d'Italia.

Cycle Collstrop receives UCI wild card

Steffen Wesemann (Cycle Collstrop) will try to do well in the classics
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
(Click for larger image)

Cycle-Collstrop received a UCI wild card yesterday, opening the door for the remnants of the team of 2007 to enter ProTour events as long as the organisers do not slam the door shut. The Sweden-registered team is hoping to participate in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 6, and they have a good argument for it: former winner Steffen Wesemann.

The Swiss rider gets along well with the rough cobbles and has also shone in Paris-Roubaix in the past. Last year he finished third in northern France. His best result in L'Enfer du Nord ("the Hell of the North") was a second place in 2002, ahead of Tom Boonen.

CAS sets hearing dates for Di Luca, Petacchi

Danilo Di Luca's case will be heard by the international court of arbitration (CAS) in Lausanne on March 20, Sportwereld reports. This is in-between Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo. Di Luca will also be heard by CONI, the Italian national Olympic committee, on April 1, although the Italian rider for the LPR Brakes team had asked to move the date for this meeting up.

In the meantime, Alessandro Petacchi's CAS case has been rescheduled to April 2. It was initially to take place today, March 12. However, Petacchi is currently racing in Tirreno-Adriatico.

German track team for Manchester Worlds announced

Robert Bartko is the hope for the pursuit events for the German track team
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
Click for larger image

The Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR, German Cycling Federation) has announced its team for the Track World Championships in Manchester, Great Britain, from March 25-30. The team consists of 14 men and 7 women.

Robert Bartko will do the team and individual pursuit, and will be an alternate for the Madison and Omnium. Daniel Becke and Hennign Bomel will also be part of the team pursuit, with Robert Bengsch as an alternate. The fourth rider in the team pursuit will be Patrick Gretsch, who will also be an alternate for the individual pursuit

Olaf Pollack will be in the Madison together with Roger Kluge. Kluge will also do the Scratch race and the Omnium, while Pollack is an alternate in that letter event. Young rider Marcel Kalz will be an alternate for both the Scratch race and the Madison.

The sprinters will be Carsten Bergemann – sprint, keirin, team sprint, Rene Enders – team sprint, keirin (alternate), Robert Förstemann – 1-kilometre time trial, team sprint, Maximilian Levy – sprint, team sprint, keirin (alternate), Stefan Nimke – sprint, keirin, team sprint, Michael Seidenbecher – 1-kilometre time trial, sprint (alternate)

For the women it is Charlotte Becker – points race, scratch, team pursuit, Elke Gebhardt – team pursuit, scratch race, points race, Alexandra Sontheimer – team pursuit, Verena Jooß – individual pursuit, team pursuit in the endurance events.

For the sprinters there are Dana Glöß – sprint, keirin, team sprint, Christin Muche – sprint, keirin, team sprint (alternate), Miriam Welte – sprint, 500m time trial, keirin, team sprint

French federation required to pay for accident

The French cycling federation (FFC) has lost its appeal in the case versus Patrice Sulpice, who crashed while training in preparation for the Worlds in Colombia, in 1995. The FFC has already paid over 600,000 euro and appealed to have to pay the rest. While the court of appeals in Chambéry sided with Sulpice, it reduced the initial amount required to pay, 1.35 million euro, to just over a million, according to AFP.

In 2001 a court in Chambéry had ruled that the FFC and the UCI (International Cycling Federation) were responsible for this accident by not coordinating the training sessions properly. In 2004 the court did rule that it was an unintentional accident, but faulted the federation for not informing the rider of additional insurance that would have covered the accident.

Sulpice declared that "I am relieved that after a battle of 12 and a half years, there is finally a nice victory. I have not won the lottery. It's a reparation of a damage." He is working today part-time at a bike store in Chambéry.

Sulpice had initially tried to get the responsible national and international cycling organisations to pay for damages. After his effort was fruitless he went after the FFC. The French cycling federation was innocent in the accident, but was found to be at fault for not providing enough information about the sufficient insurance.

The lawyer of Sulpice, El-Hem Selini, said to the press that in 1995 Sulpice was "practicing a dangerous sport like many others and benefited from a ridiculously low base insurance." The appeals court estimated that Sulpice could have recovered 75% of the largest insurance amount offered by an insurance company, had he gotten better advise from the FFC.

The lawyer for the FFC stated that "the federations need to have the possibility of informing the athletes and have assurance that they are sufficiently informed," pointing out the practical difficulty of such a procedure. It is not expected that the FFC will appeal the decision at a higher court.

Sulpice said that "Twelve years earlier, my life was shattered. I had to think differently, live differently, it took time to escape this psychological slump." He added that "now I have to reconstruct my life, live like everybody else, but in an armchair."

Toyota-United wins in Mexico

Dominique Rollin got a string of podium spots in California. The picture shows him winning stage four of the Tour of California, in February
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

American outfit Toyota-United gathered a few podium spots in California and Colorado last weekend, but the big highlight was further south, where Mexican Jose Manuel "Chepe" Garcia won the Mexican National Time Trial Championship in his home country. The victory will go a long way to assist "Chepe" in making the Mexican Olympic team that will be racing in Beijing this summer.

The rest of the team collected several podium places in races in Northern California and Colorado. Justin England came in second in the Frostbite time trial in Fort Collins, Colorado, where it was sunny, despite the wintry name of the event. England declared that "I got second place in a flat, technical course ... five seconds behind Stefano Barberi. I finished in 19:02 in the first race of the season for me. I felt good for a first race effort and I'm looking forward to the upcoming team's races in Southern California."

Johnny Clark went on to finish third in the Denver City Park criterium, behind Tyler Hamilton and Pete Lopinto. The race was a 60-minute, fast, flat course with very tight turns. Henk Vogels, Jonny Clarke and Chris Baldwin joined Justin England for a strong showing. England said, "We initiated a break early on, which swelled to about ten riders with Jonny, Henk, me, Tyler Hamilton, Stefano Barberi, Pete Lopinto, and three others. We were all very active in the break. Baldwin bridged across with two others with four laps to go. Henk put in a big solo attack at two laps to go but was caught with 500m to go. Jonny Clarke finished third in the sprint, behind Lopinto and Hamilton."

At the same time in California, Heath Blackgrove finished third in the Central Valley Classic in Fresno. Blackgrove and Hilton Clarke were the only ones for Toyota-United to take on the fully equipped teams of Symmetrics, Colavita and the likes. With all the teams marking fast man Clarke, it was up to Blackgrove to come through. And he did, joining a five-man break and getting onto the last podium spot as well as taking home the sprinter's jersey for his efforts during the race.

In the Tour de Murrieta, also in California, Dominique Rollin came in second in the criterium, third in the circuit race and finished the overall classification in second place. Rollin had taken time off to train since his good showing at the Tour of California. For team-mate Caleb Manion it was also the first race since the Tour of California. But he couldn't train much, instead was recovering from the virus that hit the peloton in February.

Rollin said, "I am still feeling the afterglow of the Amgen Tour, and I had good legs, good rhythm and good feelings in general, as we prepare for the remaining California schedule and the Tour de Georgia." Caleb attacked on the last lap and took some heat off Rollin in the Sunday's circuit race. Saturday's final was marred by a big crash with five laps to go, but Rollin was able to avoid goung down. It did leave him having to chase after the leaders, yet he still managed to get second place.

In a non-race event, team owner Sean Tucker kicked off the Solvang Century ride (165km) on Saturday. He was joined by Heath Blackgrove and Hilton Clarke. Some riders remembered that last year Ivan Dominguez and Sean Sullivan rode with fans to reach out to cyclists. At the third rest stop, Blackgrove was asked by a fan "where are Dominguez and Sullivan this year?" Amidst much laughter the Toyota-United rider replied "they didn't make the cut this year."

Next stop for the team is the Tour of Redlands in Southern California, April 3-6.

Prudhomme reacts to open letter

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) president Christian Prudhomme reacted to an open letter to his organisation which originated in Germany. The Tour de France director complimented the initiative and agreed with the letter that cycling is "in great danger."

Prudhomme, whose organisation has come into sharp conflict with the UCI after placing the currently running Paris-Nice under the sanctioning of the French Cycling Federation listed many reasons why a reconciliation with the UCI seems impossible, especially denying the accusations that "ASO wants to take over cycling and is only in it for the money." UCI president Pat McQuaid has not reacted to the letter at this point.

The initiator of the letter, Henry Fecherolle, told Cyclingnews that he wanted to invite Prudhomme to the race Rund um Köln (March 24). "I already talked to race organiser Artur Tabat. He also would be happy to have the Tour director at the 100th edition of the German classic."

The letter stated that cycling is "on the ground." Citing the fact that doping has already caused enough havoc in the last couple of years, the letter conceded that "nobody expects that two parties always share the same opinion," but added that the current behaviour "is more like a dirty war than a civilised argument." It pointed out that teams, riders, race organisers, media and sponsors are already feeling the effect. The letter concluded that "it is not feasible you take out your dispute on the back of others," and asked that both parties sit on one table and reach an greement, for the benefit of cycling.

Fecherolle was happy with the reaction to his initiative, which will still run for a few days. "There is a lot of support and the message has been received by the addressees. I didn't expect both men [Prudhomme and McQuaid - ed.] to hug me, but I will be adamantly stay at it."

More info about the letter can be found at

Trek founder Richard Burke passes away

The founder of the Trek Bicycle corporation, Richard Burke, died Monday night in Milwaukee, aged 73. As AP reported, Burke died of complications of a heart surgery.

Trek has for the longest time built all their bikes in the United States and continues to do so for the high-end bicycles. Burke founded the company, which also produces Gary Fisher, Klein and LeMond bicycles, in 1976. The company is based near Madison, Wisconsin.

Trek does all kinds of types of bicycles, including mountain bikes, touring bikes and race bikes. The latter were made famous by Lance Armstong, who won seven Tours de France on them.

Burke is survived by his wife Camille, five children and nine grandchildren.

Cyclingnews would like to extend its condolences to Burke's family and friends as well as the rest of the Trek Bicycle Corporation.

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