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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, May 2, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Volksbank on probation in MPCC

By Björn Haake in Frankfurt

Volksbank team manager Thomas Kofler
Photo ©: GEPA
(Click for larger image)

Thomas Kofler, the general manager of the Austrian Volksbank team, wanted his squad to participate in the German races, like Henninger Turm and the Deutschland Tour. With the teams at the mercy of the race organisers, Volksbank did not want to jeopardise its chances and joined the MPCC, which stands for Movement pour un Cyclisme Crédible or movement for a credible cycling. This agreement is not binding, but a Pro Continental team like Volksbank is risking not being invited to races like Henninger if it doesn't adhere, as the race organiser is fighting hard against doping in cycling.

Kofler's squad finally got approved in April, but it was not easy. The Austrian stated that "It was not a cakewalk to be able to join the group. But especially for us as a second-string team it is important to fight for a credible and clean sport." It actually gave him motivation to stay involved in a troubled sport. "I think the MPCC should be a defining step into the future," he emphasised his commitment to fight for a clean bill of health.

There were two aspects that made joining the movement difficult. One problem was the language. "I am not too fluent in French," Kofler smiled and thanked his colleague, Gerolsteiner's manager Hans-Michael Holczer, who was able to function as a translator.

The other problem was that unlike the Code of Ethics, which is only a signature, the MPCC is very careful in who they approve. Volksbank was the 12th team to join, but they aren't even a full member yet. Kofler explained that "We were able to join on a probationary term. We will try everything ... so we can become a full member [in the future]."

The probation period is not an unknown concept to the Austrian. He compared it other sectors in the work life, "where employers hire people on probation." Kofler used to be involved in skiing, so he has a different background and didn't grow up running a cycling team. But he is not completely unknown to cycling, having tried his feet as a sprinter.

Kofler got involved in the sport back in 1999, which shows continuity. From a small team to the Pro Continental Volksbank, the next step seems logical. "We want to go to the Tour [de France]. We want to go where the ProTour teams are."

For that to happen, he will need the help of sponsors and that is not easy. "In Austria, the problems are similar to Germany, but the budgets are ten times smaller. We have competition from skiing and from the European Football Championships [held in June in Switzerland and Austria - ed.]," Kofler detailed the problems with securing sponsorship. But he is drawing hope from the fact that cycling is bigger than skiing in terms of recreational activity in Austria.

Overall, his outlook is rather positive. "If we [as a team] continue our way, we should be able to secure sponsorships in the future." And joining the MPCC will help that quest along, as long as they will survive the probation period without a scandal.

Team CSC's Giro line-up ready

Team CSC has chosen the line-up for this year's edition of Giro d'Italia. "It's kind of a mixed team we've chosen," commented team manager Bjarne Riis. "There's both guys who are going for the overall result as well as several who are able to go for the individual stages and we're also hoping to do well in the team time trial."

The line-up for Team CSC is as follows: Gustav Larsson, Chris Anker Sørensen, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Bradley McGee, Anders Lund, Michael Blaudzun, Jason McCartney and Nicki Sørensen.

"Gustav and Chris will be trying for the overall result and we're quite excited about that of course," added Riis. "At the same time, Chris will have the chance to go for the white Youth Jersey, which Andy Schleck won last year. We also have a Grand Tour debutant with us in Anders Lund, who's done well and it'll also be interesting to see how he does under pressure.

"Jens and Stuart are there to build up their form towards Tour de France after they've both taken a break recently, but we know both of them well enough to know that they're able to win a stage or two at any given time. But that goes for everyone in the line-up - we'll be going for stage wins as soon as the opportunity comes along," he concluded.

Caisse d'Epargne sends climbers to Italy

Jose Rujano won stage 19 to Sestriere in the Giro 2005
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne is looking to its climbers to bring back the honours from the upcoming Giro d'Italia, starting May 10 in Palermo, Sicily. Venezuelan rider José Rujano as well as Russian Vladimir Karpets, who finished third and seventh in the 2005 Giro respectively, have been announced to race. Spaniards David Arroyo (10th in 2007) and Joaquim Rodriguez will be additional assets for Caisse d'Epargne, as well as Joan Horrach and Pablo Lastras, who both won stages in the Giro in the past.

The full line-up will be: David Arroyo, Joan Horrach, Vladimir Karpets, Pablo Lastras, Luis Pasamontes, Fran Pérez, Marlon Perez, Joaquim Rodriguez and José Rujano.

Rabobank hopeful for Romandie time trial

Thursday's second stage of the Tour of Romandie, won by Robbie McEwen, was for Team Rabobank one to get through without expectations. "The only thing that counted was making sure that we did not lose any time," said team director Erik Dekker. The team had its eye set on Friday's time trial, where Thomas Dekker will have the chance to move into the lead. The defending champion is currently in fifth place, nine seconds down.

Although Rabobank went to Switzerland without a sprinter, Erik Dekker was glad to see youngster Bauke Mollema finish 14th in Thursday's stage. "He does that more often," he said approvingly. His prediction for the time trial were his riders Thomas Dekker and Denis Menchov. "I think that they, together with Andreas Klöden, will be the best."

Friday's 18.8 km time trial with start and finish in Sion will feature Jan Boven's debut as a team director. The 36 year-old retired last month after the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, after 13 years as a pro racer.

Sinkewitz still looking for team

Patrik Sinkewitz would like to come back to racing soon
Photo ©: Sabine & Rolf Jost
(Click for larger image)

Former Quickstep and T-Mobile rider Patrick Sinkewitz is still in search of a team with which he could make a come-back to pro cycling in three months time. The German, who admitted to doping last year and received a shortened one-year suspension for collaborating with anti-doping authorities, appeared at the Henninger Turm race in Frankfurt on Thursday - a race he won in 2007 - and stated he was hoping to return to racing with a pro team soon.

"My win here last year was achieved without forbidden substances," insisted Sinkewitz, whose positive control came five weeks after the race, to German ARD TV. "I am currently contacting teams. My ban ends in three months, so I hope that I will race again soon."

The 27 year-old was positive about the current state of cycling as he thought there was less cheating than in the past. Asked whether he thought his doping confession helped to clean up the sport, he replied, "It's difficult to say for me, but I think it did. All the revelations that came to light last year have contributed to a cleaner sport. There are a lot of efforts being put in the anti-doping fight, so I think it must be bearing fruit."

Austrian one-two in U23 Henninger

The Austrian youngsters dominated the Rund um den Henninger Turm U23 race Thursday in Frankfurt, Germany. Stefan Denifl of Team Elk Haus and Christoph Sokoll of Team Volksbank finished one-two out of the remains of an escape group after 143 kilometres.

The 20 year-old Denifl and Sokoll, 21, were appearing for the Austrian national team. The two joined an early seven-man strong breakaway, which was unsuccessful. "About 20 km before the finale, Christoph Sokoll and I made the deciding attack," Denifl said. They were joined by Jean Schlüter of Continental Team Milram and Ralf Matzka of Team Ista. The two Austrians were able to outsprint Schlüter who finished one second back, while Matzka fell back and won the sprint of the field.

"Last year I was ninth in the pro race," Denifl said. "That's why I expected to do well today in the U23 race. Of course I would have been glad to start with the pros again today, but I am very happy with this win."

Sokoll added, "As a team we harmonized perfectly and had the race under control at all times. Everything worked out perfectly. A perfect race."

Doping control back-ups in Frankfurt

The Rund um den Henninger Turm race in Frankfurt, Germany, had a large anti-doping programme, which in addition to testing the usual number of riders also included after-race testing of one randomly selected rider per team for a total of about 30 riders. Each rider had his own chaperon to watch over him during the wait, but there were only three doctors present to conduct the tests, so it came to delays and back-ups, which weren't always easy for the riders.

"We had no problems with the controls themselves," said José De Cauwer, Silence-Lotto team director, to Sportwereld. "But they could have been better organised, especially on an administrative level. Glenn d'Hollander, for example, could have immediately gone to the bathroom, but wasn't allowed to, because he had to wait for his turn. With his chaperon in tow, he returned to the hotel to take a shower and to use the toilet, which he urgently needed to do. That meant another three-quarter hour wait until he had enough 'production' to go again. All in all it took an hour and a half for his control. And he was not the last one."

Ullrich wins a step in Coast trial

Jan Ullrich may have some good news from German courts, which may order the former owner of the defunct Team Coast, Günther Dahms, to pay the retired rider up to 500,000 Euro in unpaid salary. A court in Düsseldorf indicated that it had doubts about arguments from Dahms that he did not have to pay Ullrich because he doped at the time, and ordered the hearing continued on May 28.

Dahms owed Ullrich about 340,000 Euro in unpaid salary, plus interest. It is unclear whether he would be able to actually make the payments, according to the dpa press agency. A court in Duisburg, Germany, already ordered Dahms to pay Ullrich the moneys owed in 2004, calling the charges that Ullrich doped while on Team coast speculation and without legal proof. Dahms has requested access to the files allegedly linking Ullrich to the Operación Puerto.

Ray-Glow seeks riders for Commerce Bank Series

Ray-Glow Cycling is looking for two additional Cat 1. riders to participate in the upcoming Commerce Bank Elite Series on June 3 and 5 in Pennsylvania, USA. Team director Steve Blakely is looking for "hard-core crit riders that want to win. We are not going there for second place."

The team has enjoyed an early season success with sprinter Chad Bain taking top honours at the Cultan Grand Prix, narrowly out-sprinting top regional professionals. Juan Reig Conergero, the team’s GC rider, recently scored big in the Tour de Cultan in South Carolina, taking third overall and the mountains jersey.

Ray-Glow will be offering the use of a team bike, entry fee along with a $50 per race salary for the riders in the Commerce Series. Interested riders should forward a resume to:

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