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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, November 7, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video correspondent Bruce Hildenbrand videoed Armstrong while he was in the wind tunnel
Photo ©: Gary Boulanger
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong spent time in the wind tunnel in San Diego last week to refine his time trial position. Cyclingnews has the video of the session, detailing how Armstrong is trying to find the perfect position on the bike.

Armstrong is not necessarily looking for the position that will make the bike the fastest. "It has to be a perfect mix between position and power. If I am five percent slower due to the position, but have 25 percent more power, than that will be better."

But positioning is still important, and Armstrong received instructions from the crew at the computer, who had a close eye on the drag created. "Slide forward on the saddle," they told Armstrong until he could do no better. "We look at all the details, like how high the body is, how high the torso is, the elbows." But everybody has some physical limitations. "I have sort of this hump in my back. I guess I had a bad pasture my whole life..."

Armstrong described his position as longer and narrower as before. To figure it all out, he is relying on the expertise of Steve Hed, someone he had known for almost his entire racing career. "Steve gave my first disk wheel when I was 15 – 22 years ago!"

Hed and others will still be busy this winter. Armstrong revealed that a new bike is currently being developed. "It will be significantly faster." Armstrong has been known to work closely together with Trek to improve his racing machines.

A possible documentary

Armstrong's comeback has been closely followed by a film crew and the result will likely be seen as a documentary, although the timing is still undecided. "It is evolving," Armstrong said at the press conference. He admitted that the initial 2009 release date may change due to his comeback.

He described the details of the filming project, which had been carefully planned long before the Texan announced his return ton the sport. "The public knew in September, but those guys were filming even before then. They were in Leadville."

The project itself is sort of strange for Armstrong, who said he never watches movies. "I tried not to pay attention. It was too overwhelming, too big."

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

2009 Giro and Tour for Sastre

Sastre is ready to defend his July crown next year
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

This year's Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre from Team CSC Saxo Bank, has publicly announced his will to defend his victory in the 2009 edition of the event. Speaking at a Safety and Health at Work Congress in Burgos, Spain, which he inaugurated, Sastre confirmed his intention to return to the Tour de France, and said he was going to race the Giro d'Italia as well.

"It is very likely that my goals for the next season will be centred around the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia," Sastre said. "But it will be in December, at the first meeting and training camp of the team, that the race programme will be defined. Then, we will decide in which races I am going to participate."

Sastre, who has signed for the new Cervélo TestTeam, reiterated that he was very happy with his choice for next year. "It's a beautiful and important challenge," he said. "I am tremendously motivated."

Speaking of rivaling with Lance Armstrong – at the Giro and possibly at the Tour – the Spaniard did not worry about the American's fitness at this point in time. "He's won seven Tours and nobody in the world has ever done that," Sastre said. "But it's nothing that takes up any of my energy at the moment. I mean, I don't ask myself if he will be stronger than the rest of us, or how his form is going to be, or any of that. For sure, his comeback has been highly exposed in the media – and this for a reason – but until I see him on a bike, it's nothing that I really think about."

Sastre nevertheless looked forward to competing against Armstrong in a Grand Tour as a team leader and GC contender. "It would be my first chance to beat him and that of course motivates me," he said, adding that he doubted the American would race the Tour de France as well as the Giro. "When he was at the top, he only ever entered one of the three Grand Tours, so I can't imagine him doing two next year. I've never seen him do it and I really doubt he will."

As for himself, the 2008 Tour de France winner will most likely not race the Vuelta a España in his homeland, which has been a regular goal for him since 2003. "I don't see myself racing three Grand Tours the same season," he concluded, even though he did so in 2006.

New anti-doping rules in Germany

The German National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has released a new set of rules for anti-doping tests in all sports disciplines, taking effect as of January 1, 2009. German athletes will be divided into three groups for testing, depending on their degree of risk, with about 700 top athletes in the highest category with the most restrictive whereabouts reporting requirements.

"If there is a concrete suspicion or someone is trying to play games with the whereabouts reporting, then we can show the athlete the 'red card'," said NADA legal advisor Anja Berninger according to the dpa press agency. Suspicious athletes can therefore be lifted into the highest category testing pool.

This top level, called the International Registered Testing Pool (RTP), will require athletes not only to send in their whereabouts for every quarter year, but also to follow the "one-hour rule". The athletes have to name one hour every day in which they will be available for a doping control.

"During this hour they must wait at the named place for the controller," Berninger said. "This regulation affects only the very top athletes."

Further changes to the rule books include an increased ban of four instead of two years for first-time dopers, the obligatory suspension of an athlete after a positive A sample and the prohibition for convicted athletes to take part in organised training during the duration of their ban.

Hamburg Cyclassics survives for 2009

The one-day race Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, is bucking the current trend in Germany. The organisers announced that the race will take place in 2009, as well as most likely being broadcast by German television.

The race is produced by the Upsolut Agency, which admitted it had considered cancelling the event, according to German news magazine Welt. In the end however, the organisers decided to apply again for ProTour status for the race in 2009, and requested that it be held the weekend of August 15-16.

The NDR, the local public German broadcaster, has already indicated its willingness to carry the race again, and the major German broadcasters ARD and ZDF also have an option on the race.

The event also has no sponsorship problems, according to Upsolut director Frank Bertling. "In Cyclassics and Skoda we have held on to our two major sponsors," he said.

Upsolut also organised the Deutschland Tour, which has been cancelled for 2009, but Bertling doesn't compare the two races. "The Deutschland Tour had a couple of good years, but could never really establish itself."

Moreau wants to end career in style

Christophe Moreau (Agritubel)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Frenchman Christophe Moreau did not have a good 2008 season. After his team not being invited to the Dauphiné Libéré, which he had won in 2007, the Agritubel rider failed to perform at the Tour de France, which he abandoned during stage seven. Now, the 37 year-old has decided to go for one more season in order to finish his career showing better performances.

Moreau, who has signed another one-year deal with Agritubel, explained to that he had wanted to confirm his excellent 2007 season this year but failed because of the pressure he put on himself. "2007 had been so fabulous for me that it was difficult to level up to it," he said. "Maybe I put too much pressure on myself. By wanting to do as well – or even better – I missed out on my objectives."

The Frenchman explained that because his team was not invited to the Dauphiné Libéré in June, he needed to make up for missing race kilometres at the Route du Sud and dearly paid for it at the Tour. "My body just deserted me," he said about the way he abandoned the Tour. It was a hurtful experience for Moreau, as well as for the Agritubel team, which had to continue the race without its designated captain.

But the 2007 French champion did not want to end his career this way and chose to accept a lesser salary in order to try and restore his honour next year. "Finally, it made me want to come back even more in 2009, because this will most certainly be my last year, my last Tour de France," he explained. "I want to add some nobility to my career before leaving. I'd like to show myself at the Tour once again – maybe with a stage win, maybe with the polka dot jersey – to be able to leave without regrets after 15 years of racing. If 2008 would have been a good year, I might have chosen to retire this year. But I know I'm still capable of racing at the highest level one more season."

Moreau added that he thought the psychological circumstances would play in his favour. "I will have nothing to lose next year, I won't have any pressure," he said. "A champion has to finish on a good year. I hope it will be the case next year."

Kolobnev extends through 2010

Russian pro Alexandr Kolobnev has signed a two-year deal with Team Saxo Bank-IT Factory, the squad managed by Bjarne Riis announced.

Kolobnev has been with the team for two years already and has during this time achieved several great results in the one-day races. In 2008, he finished second in Clasica San Sebastian, third in Giro dell-Emilia and fourth at the Olympics. The year before, he won Monte Paschi Eroica as well as a stage in Paris-Nice and a silver medal at the World Championships.

"I didn't have any doubts about extending my contract with the team," said Kolobnev. "The last two years have been good and it's definitely the right place for me to take it to the next level. First half of this season didn't go quite as I'd hoped but during the second half I managed to prove to myself that I am making progress. My plan is to take it even further next year and get some good results throughout the season," added the Russian, who wants to be on form for Spring Classics Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège especially.

Sports director Kim Andersen was happy to have secured Kolobnev for the future. "Alex has turned out to be a good, stable rider and he's settled into the team well," commented the Dane. "He's got a winner's instincts and manages to get results in the races he's picked out long beforehand. With his routine and skills I believe we'll be seeing a lot more great results from him in the future."

Neben breaks elbow in training crash

Amber Neben (USA)
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

World time trial champion Amber Neben got her preparation for the 2009 season off to a bad start when she crashed and broke her elbow on her very first training ride for the new season. Neben's new team, Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, announced Friday morning that the 33 year-old will only be able to do limited training in the next four weeks.

Neben crashed when she slid out on oil-smeared asphalt near her home in Irvine, California, USA. New Equipe sports director Jochen Dornbusch said that he had spoken with her and that "if everything goes well, she can start to train again properly in a few weeks. That will be enough for a good preparation for the coming season."

This season Neben won the Tour Cycliste Feminin International Ardèche and was second overall in the Giro d'Italia Femminile, before winning the world time trial title in Varese. The American turned pro in 2002 with Cannondale, and rode with T-Mobile Team from 2003 to 2004 before joining Team Flexpoint for four years.

Charges against cycling coach dropped

Several charges including child rape against Australian cycling coach Rick Lee were dropped on Friday in Northampton County Prison, US state of Pennsylvania. Lee had been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl at her home, but the investigation revealed that the teenager had pretended to be 18 years old and consented to having sex with him.

Lee had met the girl on a dating website, where she posed as working as a nurse and attending university. State police recently found e-mails from the girl where she told Lee she was 18. "The fact of the matter is we'd have to prove he knew she was 15. She looks like a mature girl," District Attorney John Morganelli told the Express-Times. "We have no case."

Lee has been released from Northampton County Prison, Pennsylvania, Friday morning. He was there for four months, after the bail had been set to 125,000 dollars.

Lee coached the Australian Youth Olympic team in 2005 and was the assistant manager of the Australian Youth Olympic team in 2003. When he was arrested, he was in the USA to coach an Australian junior cycling team, including two members from Western Australia.

Cyclismo Bendigo with the pros

The 2008 Cyclismo Bendigo weekend will take place from November 22-23. Australian Tour de France rider Baden Cooke and 2007 Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Matt Wilson will headline a quality field of all the Aussie pro teams in the John McLean memorial criterium on Saturday night, before riding with the public in the Gran Fondo on Sunday.

Further highlights of the weekend include the Parks Victoria MTB challenge on the cobbled Bendigo Creek on Saturday afternoon, as well as the Total Rush straight line sprint on Saturday night.

Sunday is every rider's chance to get involved and ride with the stars as Cooke, Wilson and other pros from teams such as Budget Forklifts, Panasonic and Savings and Loans join the recreation ride in the Excelior Gran Fondo.

Full details of the weekend are available at .

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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