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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, March 26, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

WADA slams UCI legal action

Former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency Dick Pound
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has hit back at the International Cycling Union (UCI) after cycling's governing body announced in a press release that it and former president Hein Verbruggen had filed a law suit against WADA's former president Dick Pound. WADA pledged to defend its former president "robustly" on the allegations stacked against Pound.

"This action by UCI in suing WADA's former president is in fact an action against WADA," read a statement from the agency. "WADA will be taking all steps necessary to ensure that the court is fully informed of issues and facts relating to doping in cycling. WADA will instruct legal counsel to represent WADA and its former president in this regard, and to robustly defend and reject the unfounded allegations made by the UCI."

The UCI announced the action late last week, stating that it would sue Pound for "what they perceive as being continual injurious and biased comments by Mr. Pound against UCI and Mr. Verbruggen in the context of the efforts made by them to eradicate doping".

WADA took the opportunity to hit back at the UCI for taking legal action, just days after WADA was forced to step in and pay the bill for the United States Anti-Doping Agency's case against cyclist Floyd Landis. The national body had appealed to the UCI to assist with funding, however despite the case being in the organisation's hands due to UCI rules, the governing body refused to offer any financial assistance.

"It is especially disappointing that the UCI takes these steps and commits its finances to legal action against WADA, rather than assisting in the funding of the Landis appeal. UCI specifically declined to contribute to the Landis case on the grounds that it had "no budget" to do so," read WADA's release. "Yet the appeal was specifically conducted under UCI rules, involved a breach of the sport's anti-doping policy, and is a major case for the sport. (NB: USADA conducted the hearings under delegated authority from USA Cycling, the UCI's national member in the U.S.)"

Verbruggen and Pound waged a long, bitter war of words during their tenures with their respective organisations. Pound, who stepped down as head of WADA last November, was vocal about cycling's need to address its doping issue throughout his time with WADA.

CPA, UCI to increase communication

The Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) and Union Cycliste International will seek to increase the communications between their bodies, after representatives from each met with a selection of riders in Geneva yesterday. The professional cyclists body met with the sport's international governing body to discuss the disciplinary action that will be taken against teams and riders that contested this month's Paris-Nice.

"A delegation of riders expressed their grave concerns regarding the state of professional cycling," read a joint press release following the meeting. "The CPA also explained how the riders find themselves in very weak position in this context."

Riders are expected to be punished by the UCI's Disciplinary Commission after defying the governing body's instructions.

The ongoing UCI Vs. Grand Tour organisers dispute flared again in late February, when ASO announced on February 26, 2008 that it would hold Paris-Nice outside the aegis of the UCI and had recruited the French Cycling Federation (FFC) to sanction the event. ASO then appointed the French anti-doping agency, AFLD, to be in charge of the doping controls for the event. The UCI warned that any rider that contested the event would face disciplinary action, however it did little to deter the UCI-registered teams and riders to contest an event outside of the body's sanction.

"The UCI explained it was sympathetic to the points of view expressed by the CPA and the riders and reminded the participants of the various stages that had led to the current situation," added the release. "The UCI also made it clear that it is the role of its Disciplinary Commission to decide on the appropriate sanctions for riders who participate in an event which has not been registered on the UCI's calendar by the French Cycling Federation."

The release from the CPA and UCI announced that the two would endeavour to work closely in order to ensure the stability of the sport's international structure. The relationships are however expected to be strained yet again in the future, with the underlying problem of the UCI and Grand Tour organisers' dispute no closer to a resolution.

"The CPA and UCI decided to step up their exchanges of communication with a view to defending the federal structure which is currently under threat and yet so essential for the protection of the interests of all parties, particularly the riders," it concluded.

Earlier this month French Federation of Cycling (FFC) president Jean Pitallier called on the international governing body's board to resign. Pitallier lashed out at the body, under the guidance of which his organisation operates, saying its only interest was creating a monopoly within the sport. "At this stage, they'd better resign," Pitallier stated. "His ambition is to be the Bernie Ecclestone of cycling. He wants to make cycling a private company."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

World champion to focus on Ardennes week

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Dual UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini will skip a number of races previously on the Italian's schedule to focus on the Ardennes week. The Quick Step rider is currently training in Tuscany with team-mates Dmytro Grabovskyy, Leonardo Scarselli, Andrea Tonti and Davide Vigano.

"I won't race in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen race," said Bettini. "It's a difficult decision, and everyone knows how much these classic races mean to me. I talked with team manager Patrick Lefevere and he supports my decision.

Bettini explained his reasoning for the change in program, the reining World Champion explained that he'd rather give his spot to a team-mate in better form.

"To be competitive on these types of very demanding races, you need to be at 100 percent," said Bettini. "At this time I cannot give this kind of guarantee to my team, and for this reason I'm ceding my place to somebody else who can be more effective for the team."

While Bettini may well be giving up his participation in the Tour of Flanders, amongst other races, the Italian is focused on a strong campaign in the so called Ardennes week. There Bettini will contest the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, races better suited to the rider.

"I'm giving up Flanders with the aim of being more competitive in the Ardennes classics," he reiterated. "My plan of approach with pass through Brabantse Pijl next Sunday and the race in the Vuelta al País Vasco scheduled from the April 7-12.

"This last race should give me the right condition up to the Ardennes," he added, "like in 2002 when I won my second Liège-Bastogne-Liège".

Silence - Lotto ready for Dwars door Vlaanderen

Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Belgian pair Bert Roesems and Glenn D'Hollander have both had to forfeit their places on the Silence-Lotto team for the upcoming Dwars door Vlaanderen. They will be replaced by Nick Gates and Wim Vansevenant, according to

Sports director Hendrik Redant is counting on Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen and Jurgen Roelandts to fill the void left by the two Belgians. "We are hoping to play a role in the race on Wednesday," said Redant. "I think that with Roelandts and McEwen we have a chance of it coming to a sprint.

"It could become a strange race," he added. "The weather conditions will definitely play a major role."

For Roesems, his non-selection effectively ends his Spring Classics season before it started. "We have given him several opportunities as the past few days in Nokere and in the Ronde van het Groene Hart, but we can't look past the fact that Bert has struggled with his form since he fractured his pelvis in the Tour of Spain last year," team manager Marc Sergeant explained.

"It does not make any sense to think that we still will be able to count on him for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he added. "Two races where, last year, he proved invaluable for the team. We must therefore look to other goals for him this season."

36 year-old Roesems has been with the Lotto squad since 2005, and has recorded 20 victories during a professional career that dates back to 1996. In 2007 he won the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque's mountains classification and is a former Belgian Individual Time Trial champion.

"Through races such as Wasmuel and Schoten we will try and prepare him for the Four Days of Dunkirk, Tour of Belgium and other races," added Sergeant. "It is a shame, but there is not much else which we can do."

Quick Step hits key Giro stages

Belgian cycling squad Quick Step will head to the key Giro d'Italia stages today, in order to complete a reconnaissance ahead of this May's Grand Tour. The outfit is hoping the weather stays clear as it heads to the Dolomites.

"[We're] hoping that the weather will be on our side," said Sports Director Luca Guercilena. "We'll explore the most important mountain stages. Tomorrow and Thursday we'll be on the Dolomites.

Heading to the reconnaissance with Guercilena is Spaniard Juan Manuel Garate, who wore the white young rider's jersey twice during last year's Giro, young Belgian climber Kevin Seeldrayers and Russian Alexander Efimkin, who finished in the top ten in the recent Paris - Nice.

"First we'll try the course of the 14th stage, which foresees the Manghen Pass and the arrival at Alpe di Pampeago," said Guercilena. "Then it will be time for the big stage from Arabba to Pordoi Pass with the inedited arrival at the Fedaia Pass. On Friday then we'll move on to Val Seriana on the Bergamascan Alps to test the course of the 19th stage with arrival at Monte Pora."

Cofidis opt out of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde again

Cofidis have declined an invitation to the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde for the second year running. The French ProTour team noted that the race's tendency to have serious crashes is what has prevented it from competing in the event.

"There are always serious falls and we prefer to keep our riders out of harms way," said sport director Alain Deloeil. "We booked a nice hotel for the team in Ellezelles, where we will have a four day training camp, beginning Monday evening. This will become our preparation for the Tour of Flanders."

Although they opted out of De Panne due to what they believe are dangerous conditions, Cofidis will send a team to the mid-week Belgian classic the Dwars door Vlaanderen. Vlaanderen race organisers have been busy preparing an alternative route due to the recent snow storms in Northern and central Europe.

From their original line up, only Kevin De Weert has been swapped for Alexandre Blain. "It has become apparent in the last few days that De Weert would have to stand down from the race," Deloeil explained.

Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone for Dwars door Vlaanderen: Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Alexandre Blan (Fra), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra), Mathieu Heijboer (Ned), Frank Hoj (Den), Nick Nuyens (Bel), Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) and Tristan Valentin (Fra).

Liquigas delighted with Coppi e Bartali success

With two wins in one day,
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The entire Liquigas ProTour squad is delighted after a successful day in Italy's 8th Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. The day started on a positive note for the Italian outfit, with Francesco Chicchi winning the 92.5 kilometre opening stage in Riccione.

The team then went on to win the second stage, a 11.8 kilometre Team Time Trial in Misano. Dario Cataldo, in his first race of the season, will wear the best young rider's jersey on today's third stage, while team-mate Dario Cataldo will wear the points jersey in addition to Chicchi's yellow leader's jersey.

"Everything was going very well," said Liquigas' Mario Chiesa. "Athletes have been faultless with an excellent start and a race without hesitations. I feel very sorry for the sponsor but tomorrow our green-blue jersey will not be so visible. We'll start with the leader jerseys."

The Italian event continues today with a 175.6 km stage from Castel San Pietro Terme to Faenza. The six stage event finishes on Saturday in Sassuolo.

Petacchi sick in bed

Alessandro Petacchi has been confined to bed and is taking antibiotics after falling ill. The Team Milram rider complained of a cold and sore throat before Milano-Sanremo, but rode that race anyway. The Italian captain had to pass on Rund um Köln, which itself was cancelled due to bad weather. The sprinter doesn't plan on doing any training this week, the team said on its website,

Reade to ride BMX in Beijing

Young British cyclist Shanaze Reade will only ride the BMX category at this year's Beijing Olympic Games in August. Reade won the women's team sprint world title at last year's Track World Championships in Spain, after pairing with Victoria Pendleton for a sensational track debut. At the time there was speculation the youngster could switch from BMX to track in time for Beijing, however the Briton is determined to star at BMX's Olympic debut.

"I will just be competing as a BMX rider at the Olympics," she confirmed.

Reade is readying to defend her track world title with Pendleton on home soil. The pair will lineup at this week's Track World Championships in Manchester, England.

"I can't wait, especially as it is on home soil [Manchester]," said Reade. "Last year I got a gold medal in the women's team sprint with Victoria Pendleton after six weeks' intensive crossover training from BMX to track cycling. I feel just like a boxer getting ready for a fight."

Reade has won three world, two junior, one senior, eight European and five British BMX championships during her career to date. While Reade will be one of the strongest hopes for the first Olympic BMX medal this August, the youngster will be a likely gold medal contender on the track in time for the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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