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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, November 6, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Tour of Portugal samples re-tested

The Portuguese National Anti-Doping Council (CNAD) has decided to have samples collected at the last Tour of Portugal re-tested for EPO-CERA in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to Sapo, 18 blood samples taken at the national tour last August have been sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory, who is one of the few that has the expertise to detect the latest version of blood-booster EPO.

"The samples were already tested for homologous blood transfusion, growth hormone and synthetic haemoglobin," said national Doping Analysis Laboratory (LAD) director Luís Horta, who thought the re-testing would contribute greatly to prevent doping in the future. "Even if the results come back negative, the athletes will know that there is always the possibility to proceed to new tests."

The Portuguese cycling federation is thereby reacting to the country's bad image within the cycling community. Several riders formerly linked to Operación Puerto have found a new home in Portuguese teams, and scandal erupted in May this year around Continental squad LA-MSS.

Read more on pro cycling in Portugal and its bid to clean up the sport.

Bettini continues Milan Six Day

Italy's Paolo Bettini comes back to racing in Milan
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini, 34, will continue in the Milano Six Day today despite a nasty crash on Tuesday. It is the final race in a 12-year career for the two-time World Champion from La California, Italy.

"The idea is to get back on the track and try again," explained Bettini yesterday to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The promise was to say good bye to the fans in Milano and Tuesday was not the best way of doing so."

Ukraine's Yaroslav Popovych went down on the banking at the temporary velodrome at Milano's bicycle trade show, EICMA. Bettini and Australian Luke Roberts crashed as they tried to avoid Popovych, with the former breaking his helmet after colliding with the tracks inner wall. Doctors preformed a check, including a CAT scan of his head, and they released him from the hospital at 19:00.

"I have to admit I don't want to take risks and I am not in shape to race the Madison at the moment. ... It is too bad because in the last three days of Amsterdam I was feeling strong and I wanted to win this Six Day."

Bettini announced his retirement on the eve of the road world championships in Varese. The race was his last official race on the road. (GB)

Clarke in search of '09 home

By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia

Hilton Clarke (Toyota-United) wants to continue his winning ways in 2008
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Despite enjoying one of his most successful seasons to date in 2008, Australia's Hilton Clarke has been left without a squad for the 2009 cycling season. The rider is one of many professionals finding it difficult to secure a contract for next season, as the sport feels the impact of the ongoing global recession.

"I feel a little bit at of a loss of direction," said Clarke, who is currently in his homeland. "I've been racing in and out of America for the last seven years; I felt I was on one of the best teams in America with Toyota United. I came to the team with them looking for a criterium specialist."

Clarke's criterium skills proved valuable in 2008. His extensive list of victories in the criterium-dominated United States racing scene included success at Capital Hill Criterium, USA Crits Finals, Redlands Criterium, Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium and Beaufort Memorial Cycling classic to name but a few. The rider also took victory at the Tour of Elk Grove's stage two and Mt. Hood Cycling Classic's stage one.

Despite the former USPro Criterium Champion's successful season, Clarke has been left without a ride for 2009 following the disbandment of the Toyota-United outfit. It is just one of several teams from North America that have felt the financial pinch, with Canadian squad Symmetrics also shutting its doors while Jittery Joe's has been forced to reduce its programme.

But yet another factor weighed in his team search according to Clarke. "The big thing that riders are facing at the moment is the division in age between continental teams due to the UCI requirements," he said.

The 29 year-old believes rules requiring the majority of Continental teams' riders to be under 28 years of age is hurting the better established riders in the United States from securing an increasingly smaller number of spots. Continental squads are allowed no more than 16 riders on their roster under Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) regulations.

"I used to think when I was younger, and I certainly think it now, it's probably discriminatory to older guys," he said. "I can understand it for Europe but with America there's so many good riders who don't have a spot because of it."

While time to find a squad for the new year is ticking down, Clarke is still hopeful of continuing his career in America. The Australian says he's grown to love the fast-paced criterium environment that makes up much of the US racing scene.

"I feel like I've built my career there," he said. "I don't want to feel like I'm one dimensional but I've been really successful in the criteriums and it's something I really enjoy doing."

Teams interested in Clarke can contact him directly at

The last half: A review of the ProTour teams' seasons

What was the last half of the 2008 season like for the 18 ProTour teams, and how did the whole year turn out? As the Cyclingnews staff asked, "What went right and what went wrong?"

Here is the third and final part of a team-by-team analysis, with the teams listed in no particular order.

CSC Saxo Bank

By Ben Atkins

Carlos Sastre achieved his dream by winning the Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

What went right: The biggest target of any team was finally hit by CSC Saxo Bank with Carlos Sastre's victory in the Tour de France. For a while it was uncertain which team member would take yellow to Paris as Fränk Schleck held the jersey at the foot of Alpe d'Huez; but Sastre had it by the top and saw off the challenge from Silenco-Lotto's Cadel Evans all the way to the finish.

Not to be outdone, the team's hero from the spring, Fabian Cancellara, took the time trial at the Beijing Olympics, albeit in the national strip of Switzerland rather than CSC Saxo Bank.

Similar to the mid-term report, the team has secured a new co-sponsor in the shape of a Danish software company for 2009 when it will be know as Saxo Bank - IT Factory.

What went wrong: Besides the Tour de France - and Cancellara's Olympic gold - it's been pretty quiet for the Danish super-team; other major prizes have been pretty few and far between. The team rode a pretty anonymous Vuelta, Sastre's third place could be seen as a success, but you hardly knew he was there most of the time.

The big bad news story though was the linking of Luxembourg champion Fränk Schleck to Operación Puerto's Eufemiano Fuentes, and that he paid over 7,000 euro to the disgraced doctor's Swiss bank account. Currently it's not known whether Schleck will face any long-term sanction over this, but it's certainly not a good situation.

Read the last part of our team's season reviews.

Bouyer back to racing

Frenchman Franck Bouyer is back with his Bouygues Telecom team in 2009 after spending three years caught in a judicial and administrative battle. The former pro rider is suffering from narcolepsy (uncontrollable sleep attacks) and was prohibited to race in 2004 , after his condition was revealed. Bouyer was not allowed to compete since he needed to take a forbidden substance, modafinil, in order to treat his illness. He was left without a team at the end of 2006.

But the 34 year-old found a new treatment in June, which is not performance-enhancing, and has therefore been offered a contract again with his former team last month. Although he is immensely happy to be able to come back to racing, Bouyer felt that he "lost out on the three best years of my career. When I was first prohibited to race, I had all of my capacities. I was really enjoying myself on the bike," he said to L'Equipe.

Now, the target is to come back to form over the winter. The riders of Bouygues Telecom have just come together for a first training camp. "I was wary of the training camp and the reaction of my team-mates. But they welcomed me very well. Now, I need to learn how to ride in a group once again and adapt the new training methods," he said.

Germany: Another one bites the dust

Another German race is disappearing from the calendar, as it was announced Thursday morning that the SparkassenCup in Villingen-Schwenningen will no longer be held.

Race organiser Sauser Sport & Event Management GmbH said, "We are very sorry that our very first event, with which we founded our company ten years ago, can no longer be held."

It was announced last month that sponsor Rothaus Brauerei was withdrawing its support from the GP Triberg and the SparkassenCup. The Sparkasse, a bank chain, reviewed its sponsorship and decided to cancel as well.

After considering various options, the organiser decided that "there was no sense in a smaller version" of the race. In addition, "We have been aware for a long time that this could happen because of the ongoing doping problems."

The last edition of the race, held this year, was won by Team Columbia's Gerald Ciolek.

Xacobeo Galicia team roster taking shape

By Monika Prell

Fifteen of the eighteen cyclists who formed part of Spanish Professional Continental team Xacobeo Galicia in 2008 have prolonged their contract, shaping up the squad's roster for the coming season. The team announced that their most important and most successful riders will stay on, namely Ezequiel Mosquera, David García, Gustavo César Veloso, David Herrero and Carlos Castaño who are expected to reach good results also next season.

Herrero seems to have completely recovered from the crash he suffered in the penultimate stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and the fast rider should be able to win some races in 2009. Mosquera, who finished fifth in the Vuelta a España and won the Clasica a Alcobendas, has become a very complete rider and should be, beside Castaño, one of the team leaders.

The only addition to the team at the moment is be Marcos García, an U23 rider who rode for the amateur team Supermercados Froiz in 2008. He already competed with Xacobeo Galicia in the Vuelta a Burgos, the Clásica de los Puertos and in the Tour de Poitou Charentes this year. In addition, the team is negotiating with two other riders, so that the squad will consist of eighteen. If Xacobeo can reach an invitation for the Giro d’Italia, they could sign two more riders to have a total roster of twenty men.

Three riders were not able to extend their contracts: David Abal, Jesús Cobelo and Ramón Troncoso.

At the moment, the 2009 team roster is the following: Ezequiel Mosquera, David García, Gustavo César Veloso, David Herrero, Carlos Castaño Gustavo Domínguez, Gonzalo Rabuñal, Juan Francisco Mourón, Serafín Martínez, Delio Fernández, Alejandro Paleo, Eduard Vorganov, Vladimir Isaychev, Iban Mayoz and Alberto Fernández.

Vorarlberg signs two young Swiss riders

Team Vorarlberg-Corratec has announced the signing of two young Swiss riders for the coming season, Silvere Ackermann and Reto Hollenstein. The Austrian Professional Continental team will have a total of five Swiss riders in 2009.

"Both are aggressive-riding allrounders, who will be moving to the top in the future," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "In the coming season they will gather valuable experience in international races."

Ackermann, 23, turned pro in 2008 with the Swiss Professional Continental team NGC Medical-OTC. This season he finished fifth in the Tour de Jura and the Swiss national road championships, and eighth in the national time trial race.

Hollenstein, 23, was a first year pro at the Swiss Continental Team Atlas - Romer's Hausbäckerei this season.

Team Vorarlberg-Corratec was known as Team Volksbank-Corratec in 2008.

Gerdemann position clarification

Cyclingnews apologises to Linus Gerdemann for misrepresenting his views on Lance Armstrong's return to the peloton in a feature article on Armstrong yesterday.

Gerdemann said in a statement to Cyclingnews: "At the Team Milram press conference, I was asked whether I found Lance Armstrong's comeback good. I said that on the one hand it would surely draw more attention to cycling. On the other hand, in connection with the German media coverage, Lance Armstrong is virtually always connected to doping. I did not say anything about the riders of Lance's generation and certainly did not draw any conclusions about them."

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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