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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, March 24, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

First stop Manchester, next stop: Beijing

By Ben Atkins, UK Editor

The Australian team pursuiters
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The UCI Track Cycling World Championships return to Great Britain's National Cycling Centre for the first time since 2000. This year's championships should proved to be the most competitive for a long time, with just over four months – and no more major events – before August's Olympic Games in Beijing. Host nation Great Britain was the dominant country in Mallorca, Spain last year, and will be hoping to maintain that dominance with a bit of home-track advantage.

While many riders will wish to avoid peaking their form too early, at the expense of possible Olympic medals, the highly psychological game that track racing can be will mean that the favourites will still want to impose themselves over their rivals.

As well as riders from other countries, many riders will also face stiff competition from members of their own national squads, a poor performance here could leave the door open to others and cost them a place in the team come August. For this reason, we should be in for some fascinating competitions.

Sprinting: the kings and queens of speed

On of the most fiercely competitive events should be the Men's Team Sprint. Great Britain was pipped on the line by France at last year's championships by just two-thousandths of a second, and so will be out for revenge. The two finalists form Mallorca won't have it all their own way though as resurgent teams from Australia and Germany will be challenging, and the team from the Netherlands has finally managed to organise itself around the supreme talent of individual champion Theo Bos.

The women's race should be as hotly contested between hosts Great Britain and the Netherlands. The British are the defending champions – with Pendleton and Shanaze Reade – and may feel they have the upper hand after a very close (six-hundredths of a second) victory in the Copenhagen World Cup last month.

Despite bring voted the third most exciting event of the entire Athens games, the Kilometre and 500m time trials have been removed from the Beijing schedule to make way for the BMX events. The result of this is that Olympic and World Champion Chris Hoy (Great Britain) sill not be competing, preferring to concentrate on events that promise glory in August. Hoy won the competition by a country mile (more than eigth-tenths of a second) in Mallorca last year and his absence leaves the competition wide open.

Click here to read the full preview.

Australian team for Track Worlds

Cycling Australia has confirmed its final selection to contest the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester starting this Wednesday, March 26. Olympic 500m time trial champion Anna Meares has not been named in the squad, with local Queensland newspaper the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin reporting that doctors in Adelaide advised Meares against riding after final checkups revealed she was not sufficiently recovered from the broken neck sustained at the Los Angeles Track World Cup in January.

The full line-up for the Australian team is as follows.
Men's sprint: Ryan Bayley, Daniel Ellis, Mark French, Shane Kelly, Ben Kersten, Shane Perkins and Scott Sunderland.
Men's endurance: Jack Bobridge, Graeme Brown, Leigh Howard, Mark Jamieson, Bradley McGee, Cameron Meyer, Luke Roberts and Phillip Thuaux.
Women's sprint: Kaarle McCulloch.
Women's endurance: Katherine Bates, Belinda Goss and Katie Mactier.

Tammy Thomas perjury trial set for Monday

Tammy Thomas was banned for life in 2002
Photo ©: Tom Balks
(Click for larger image)

The trial of former US track sprinter Tammy Thomas, accused of lying to a grand jury in October 2003 over allegations of steroid abuse, is scheduled to begin Monday in a San Francisco federal courtroom. According to AFP, Thomas faces five charges of perjury after testifying before a jury in the BALCO steroid case that she did not knowingly take performance enhancing drugs during her career. Thomas was charged in December 2006 and entered a plea of not guilty in January 2007.

All previous cases related to the BALCO scandal have ended in plea deals, and therefore Thomas' trial is expected to be closely monitored by lawyers representing other athletes implicated in the same investigation. US baseball star Barry Bonds faces similar charges to Thomas and has also pleaded not guilty.

Now 37 years old, Thomas was first charged with a doping offence in 2000 when she was found to have an elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in her urine. That case was settled when Thomas agreed to a one-year suspension and also to not compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Thomas tested positive again in March 2002, when an out-of-competition control carried out by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) showed traces of the anabolic steroid norbolethone. USADA handed down a lifetime suspension, and despite an appeal by Thomas, the sanction was upheld by an arbitration panel in September 2002.

The San Francisco based Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) supplied performance enhancing drugs to its clients until 2003 when US athletics coach Trevor Graham sent a syringe containing traces of a previously unknown designer steroid to the USADA. A test was subsequently developed for the steroid, known to athletes as THG or 'the clear' due to its invisibility in doping tests.

According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 15 elite athletes have now been sanctioned by authorities in relation to the BALCO case. The most high-profile being that of US sprinter Marion Jones who was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators in the BALCO case.

Broken wrist for Wilson

Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) at the Tour de Langkawi
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Team Type 1's Matt Wilson has sustained a broken wrist after crashing during a training ride on the Pacific Coast Highway in California last Wednesday. The former Australian road champion was riding with Toyota United's Heath Blackgrove and Hilton Clarke when the slow-speed crash occurred. He is expected to be out for two weeks, but should return in time for the Tour de Georgia starting April 21.

"We were coming up to an intersection and I didn't see the guy in front of me stop and my bike went straight into him," Wilson explained. "It was a stupid nothing crash. I hit the ground at a bad angle and just broke it." The 29 year-old will undergo surgery on his right wrist this Tuesday. Once the swelling goes down, he hopes to get back on the bike, riding on a trainer.

"It was a huge disappointment for me," added Wilson, who had a promising start to the season with victory in round two of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Australia and 10th place overall at the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. "My training was going well and I was looking forward to San Dimas and Redlands and doing something straight off."

"We were pretty excited about the performance of the team in Malaysia and Taiwan and were looking forward to having some more good results," said Team Type 1 sport director Ed Beamon. "So not having Matt for San Dimas and Redlands is a bit of a stunner. But we're hoping to have him back for the Tour de Georgia. If he can at least manage the pain, he should be good and definitely be a factor for Georgia."

Petacchi out of Rund um Köln

Contrary to our report yesterday that Alessandro Petacchi would line-up in the Rund um Köln in Cologne, Germany, the Milram team have decided to withdraw their star sprinter from Monday's race. "Petacchi complained of a cold and a bad sore throat before Milano-Sanremo," said Milram team manager Gerry Van Gerwen. "So we decided not to let Alessandro start. Christian Kux will take his place on the team in this important start in Cologne."

Erik Zabel will now be the team's lone captain in Cologne, having twice won the race before in 1996 and 2004. The veteran sprinter can count on the local knowledge of four team-mates from the Rhine area, including 2006 winner Christian Knees. Milram's full line-up is: Artur Gajek, Christian Knees, Dominik Roels, Erik Zabel, Marco Velo, Markus Eichler, Ralf Grabsch, and Christian Kux.

Pereiro to skip Vuelta a Castilla y León

Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro has been forced to cancel his participation in the Vuelta a Castilla y León which starts this Tuesday in Valsain, north-west of the Spanish capital Madrid. The Spaniard had to abandon Paris-Nice last week after suffering from bronchitis and has not fully recovered according to a team press release.

In order to allow Pereiro sufficient recovery time, the team have decided to replace him in the five-day event with veteran rider Vicente García Acosta.

Interview: Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv

Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Danish Madison pair Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv have scored some of their best results this season, and look to be on track for a good result not only in the Manchester World Championships, but the Olympic Games in Beijing as well. Cyclingnews' Katharina Schulz caught up with the pair after their triumphant victory in the Madison at the Copenhagen World Cup.

When Danish cycling veteran Henrik "Rico" Elmgreen, organiser of the Copenhagen six day race, was asked to describe this year's pair number seven's qualities, he waxed lyrical. "Among Danes, they are hors categorie – in a class of their own," he described the top home town pair. "They simply are the answer to the kind of pair number seven that every Danish six day race is so desperately in need of."

The pair lived up to the honour, taking a closely fought second place overall to World Champions Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi at the Copenhagen six day. Both halves of the pair in question are enthusiastic about the combination, too. "It was my biggest childhood dream to be able to wear the legendary number seven jersey. I have been hooked ever since I saw Jens Veggerby and Jimmi Madsen race when I was ten years old," Mørkøv said.

To read the full feature, click here.

25 teams to Brabantse Pijl

Organisers of the Brabantse Pijl have announced the final three wild-card invitations to their race on March 30, bringing the total number of participating teams to 25 - 14 of those from the ProTour. The latest wild cards were issued to Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank and Belgian Continental teams Josan-Mercedes and Groupe

The following teams will take part in the race: CSC, Rabobank, Quick.Step, Liquigas, Saunier Duval, Silence-Lotto, Lampre, Astana, Gerolsteiner, Credit Agricole, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Milram, Francaise des Jeux, Barloworld, Tinkoff, Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, Cycle-Collstrop, Volksbank, P3 Transfer, Team Sean Kelly, Groupe and Josan-Mercedes.

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