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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, October 11, 2008

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Contador faces uncertainty about Armstrong's return

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alberto Contador en route to his 2008 Giro win
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador wants to win the Tour de France for a second time in 2009 and is committed to Team Astana but says he hopes the return to racing by seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong will not be a barrier to his goals.

Contador won the last three Grand Tours he participated in (the 2007 Tour de France, and 2008 Giro and Vuelta) but in 2009 he may be obligated to other tasks and there is a chance he will have to share leadership of Astana with Lance Armstrong. "If Lance says he returns it is because he will be at a very competitive level and especially if he is in the Tour de France. I am very calm in that regard.

There is also the possibility that former Team Astana leader Alexander Vinokourov will return to racing in 2009. "For me it is not a problem that Vinokourov returns," Contador says. "Honestly, his return has surprised me."

Despite the returning-rider news stories, Contador will only have one big event in his 2009 calendar – the Tour de France. "At my age, I can't continue to do great efforts like this season, with the Giro and the Vuelta, even though I had great results. I don't want to think about not starting the 2009 Tour de France. Astana is the strongest team in the peloton and it has to be at the best race. I will prepare the best I can for it."

Despite some of the uncertainties, Contador is set to stay with Astana and fulfil his current contract. His friend Jesús Hernández has now joined the team, which was good news for Contador. "I was together with him, not only at Liberty [Seguros], but also almost all the seasons before that. Without a doubt he is a good signing for me. He is in good form and a man I can really trust, although I don't want to complain about the great teammates that I count on and had counted on with Astana. They have worked very well for me."

The Spaniard also clarified recent remarks in the Spanish press about his teammate Levi Leipheimer. "There may have been some declarations about Leipheimer that were interpreted wrongly," he says. "Leipheimer deserves respect and admiration for his great courage. I hope and I want that everything will work out fine in 2009."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback


2009 plans

Contador wins the Vuelta too
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Even though he still has to discuss his 2009 racing calendar with manager Johan Bruyneel, he has already a rough plan. "I will start with the Challenge de Mallorca [February], which is a race that suits me well [that early in the season]. Afterwards, I will do the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana, Paris-Nice and the Vuelta a Castilla y León. I really like the French race and I don't want to miss it."

Contador admitted that other teams were interested in signing him. "That really surprised me, as much with regards from a sporting level as from the economy. For me the most important is to count on a convincing project. There is a clause for a contract cancellation with Astana, but it wouldn't be advisable. There are many teams interested in me, but for now, I will stay with Astana. I think it is the best option."

CSC internal doping controls now includes CERA tests

By Susan Westemeyer

Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC-Saxo Bank is expanding its anti-doping programme to include testing for CERA, the new EPO. Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, who runs the programme, told Cyclingnews that he has already started gathering the team's frozen blood (serum) to send to the anti-doping lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, for CERA analysis.

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Although CERA shows up in traditional EPO urine tests, Damsgaard says blood testing is another safeguard against the drug's use on the team. "Since March 1st, I have received the screening results from the EPO urine tests and CERA has not been present," he said. "However, in addition to the EPO urine samples we have serum samples collected at the same time, as well as at times when no urine was collected."

Damsgaard continued, "By having the serum samples analysed I get two more important pieces of information: 1. Confirming that the EPO urine samples gave me the correct impression of being a valid CERA screening analyses (if the serum samples are positive, that is); and 2. Adding more results to the program at times when urine was not collected."

The French anti-doping agency has recently begun testing samples from the Tour de France for CERA. Leonardo Piepoli of then-Team Saunier Duval and Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner have tested positive, and one or more CSC-Saxo Bank riders are rumoured to be on the list of those whose samples are being tested.

Read The man with the plan for more information.

Schumacher denies receiving AFLD notification

Stefan Schumacher winning Stage 20 of the 2009 Tour
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Did Stefan Schumacher get a letter from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) during the Tour de France, saying that there were problems with his blood values? The rider and his Team Gerolsteiner say no, but the AFLD says yes.

Whether or not he got the letter is not so important, said AFLD director Pierre Bordry. "This question ignores the central problem – Schumacher had two positives for CERA in tests made 10 days apart. That is all that matters."

Schumacher, 27, tested positive for CERA, a new form of EPO, on July 4 and July 15 at the Tour de France.

Bordry told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" that after doing blood tests on all 180 riders before the Tour, his agency handed out letters to 22 riders whose blood values showed irregularities. The letters were hand-delivered to the riders.

Schumacher did not receive such a letter, his attorney Michael Lehner claimed, and all of his blood values were normal. Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, who has said he will sue Schumacher for damages relating to the doping problem, confirmed that the rider's blood values were "always in the normal range" and that he knew nothing about an AFLD letter. (SW)

Another German sponsor leaves cycling

The Rothauas Brauerei (Brewery), the name sponsor of the Rothaus Regio Tour and other races in southwestern Germany, will stop sponsoring professional-level cycling. "Professional cycling is worthless to sponsors right now," Rothaus director Thomas Schäuble told the dpa press agency.

Rothaus also supported the GP Triberg-Schwarzwald and the Sparkassen-Cup in Schwenningen.

"There is just no improvement in sight," Schauble said. "The will to clean things up just isn't there."

The brewery will continue to sponsor amateur cycling.(SW)

Ralf Grabsch retires

Ralf Grabsch of Team Milram announced Friday night that he has retired as a rider, effective immediately, although he still has a year to go on his contract. At a meeting of his fan club in Hürth, Germany, the 35 year-old said that he would continue with Milram as a Directeur Sportif.

Ralf Grabsch is the older brother of time trial World Champion Bert Grabsch, 33, who rides for Team Columbia.(SW)

Skil-Shimano signs two

Team Skil-Shimano has signed Simon Geschke and Mitchell Decker for the coming season, the Dutch Professional Continental team announced Friday.

Geschke, a 21-year-old German, has signed for one year with an option for another year. He rode as a stagiaire for Team Milram this fall. Geschke is a climber, and a number of high finishes this season earned him a spot on the national U-23 team at the World Championships in Varese, where he finished 31st.

Docker, 21, is an Australian all-rounder who excels in the classics and sprints. He signed a two-year contract. He has ridden for the national track team at both the junior and senior levels. This year Docker rode for Drapac-Porsche and won a stage in the Tour of Java and had a number of other top finishers. He too represented his country in the Worlds U-23 race.(SW)

Columbia gunning for breaks in Paris-Tours

Bernand Eisel (Columbia)!
Photo ©: Christine Grein
Click for larger image

Team Columbia says they are aiming to make their mark in Paris-Tours in France this Sunday by getting their riders in the breakaways. "That tactic worked out for us well on Thursday when Bernhard [Eisel] won Paris-Bourges so I don't see why it can't work on Sunday too." said team sports director Tristan Hoffman. "Getting that win on Thursday has certainly upped the team's motivation and proved that we've got a good chance of success. On top of that, we won't have any of our top fast-men there. Gerald Ciolek, who was due to be taking part, is sick and we'll only start with seven riders. So it makes sense for us to try and get somebody into one of those early moves rather than gamble it all on a bunch sprint."

Hoffman says that the weather will play a key role whether breaks get away in the 252-kilometre race. "If there's a headwind, the race lasts an hour longer and the bunch tends to stay together. A cross-wind makes everybody suffer and it's difficult for moves but not impossible. But if it's a tailwind or calm, then the breaks will go for sure."

The race profile is largely flat, but a succession of tiny climbs close to the the finish make a bunch sprint only one of several possible outcomes. "It's one of the hardest races to predict on the calendar." Hoffman said. "Those last climbs near the finish can either kill off a break, see one go clear, or split the peloton. The climbs aren't hard and the descents from each one aren't difficult, but coming so late in the race they can change everything around at the last minute."

Team Columbia for Paris-Tours will be Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Roger Hammond (GBr), Andreas Klier (Ger), Servais Knaven (Ned), Tony Martin (Ger), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Gert Dockx (Bel).

Bennati and Pozzato lead Liquigas for Paris-Tours

Photo ©: Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Liquigas says they feel prepared to add this weekend's end-of-season classic Paris-Tour to its palmarès with an ambitious line-up: the power of Daniele Bennati in case of a bunch sprint and the shrewdness of Filippo Pozzato to try and steal away from a leading group.

Besides the big two, the team is also fielding and on-form Manuel Quinziato, fresh from a solid time trial performance in Varese, and Francesco Chicchi, who has six sprint wins to his name in 2008 already.

The team is rounded out with Polish national Maciej Bodnar, Italians Claudio Corioni and Mauro Da Dalto, and Belarus rider Aleksandr Kuschynski. Dario Mariuzzo will direct the team.

Baden Cooke leads Team Barloworld in Australia

While one Team Barloworld squad targets the end of season races in Italy, another has headed down under to Australia to ride the 57th edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour , the seven-day stage race held in Melbourne between Sunday October 12 and 18.

Local hero Baden Cooke will lead Team Barloworld on his return to Australia for the winter. The racing begins with a circuit race on a 2.1km city centre course around Traralgon that will be covered 21 times. The short stage is not valid for the overall classification but will give the race a fast start and suits Cooke's aggressive racing style and fast finish.

To help Cooke, Team Barloworld have selected South Africa's Daryl Impey, who has recently shown he can also do well in fast finishes. Directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi will also be able to count on the support of young Italians Marco Corti and Carlo Scognamiglio.

The fourth stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be the decisive moment of the race because of the 16km climb up to the finish at the summit of Mt Buller. This stage will suit South African climber Chris Froome and also Portugal's Hugo Sabido. The fifth stage is a 16.2km time trial, with Froome again expected to impress.

The seven days of racing end on Saturday October 18 in the centre of Melbourne with a spectacular circuit race that will give Baden Cooke a great chance to end his season on a high.

French Federation claims 100 cycling medals for 2008

By Jean-François Quénet

Two of three medals Olympic BMX highlight France's record 100-medal season
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

France's cycling Federation, FFC, issued a statement regarding the record achievement of its member's earning 100 medals across all disciplines of cycling in 2008. The count includes medals on the road, MTB, BMX and track but excludes the masters' category. The total count is comprised of 6 medals at the Olympics, 44 at world championships and 50 at European championships.

"The number of medals shows a constant improvement," read an FFC statement referring to the past four years of French cycling (66 medals in 2004, 65 in 2005, 56 in 2006 and 74 in 2007). The flag-bearer of French cycling remains Julien Absalon who became the Olympic champion for mountain-biking for the second time in a row after claiming four world titles between Athens and Beijing.

With 6 Olympic medals (silver in the track team sprint with Grégory Baugé, Kevin Sireau and Arnaud Tournant, and bronze in the individual sprint with Mickaël Bourgain; BMX 1st and 2nd by Anne-Caroline Chausson and Laëtitia Le Corguillé finishing and two in mountain biking with Jean-Christophe Péraud taking the silver behind Absalon), cycling is ranked as the number one sport in the French Olympic movement.

USA Cycling launches Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship fund

USA Cycling introduced Friday the Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund, a new collegiate program which will annually award two scholarships to student-athletes who excel in the areas of cycling safety, advocacy and education. Funded by the USA Cycling Development Foundation, the Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in memory of the collegiate cyclist whose name the program now bears.

Joshua Kuck moved to Florida in 2005 to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa where he was passionate in his endeavors to establish a collegiate cycling team. Throughout the process of organizing and leading the USF Cycling Team, Josh made many friends. On the bike, he proved himself a true domestique, often sacrificing his own results in order for his teammates to succeed. When touting his accomplishments, it was always those of the team instead of his individual success.

On October 21, 2007, while riding in a century event with his USF teammates near Tampa, Josh was hit by a truck and taken from his family and friends. His life ended long before he realized his full potential. USA Cycling, along with Josh's family, friends and teammates, decided to honor his memory with a scholarship fund which supports the efforts of those dedicated to bicycle safety, advocacy and education projects to keep similar tragedies from taking any more of our cycling friends.

The Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund is the second collegiate scholarship program to be offered by the USA Cycling Development Foundation, joining the John Stenner Memorial Scholarship Fund. The programs are funded by directed donations to the USA Cycling Development Foundation. Interested student-athletes should visit

Cyclingnews online production editor required - Australia

Work on the world's leading cycling web site

Cyclingnews, the world's leading cycling web site, is expanding and is looking for a full time online production editor based in Sydney, Australia.

The position requires applicants to have a keen interest and thorough knowledge of competitive cycling, as well as editorial or writing experience with excellent English skills. The position will involve producing reports, results, photos and features from the world of cycling, so fluency in a second language is also an advantage, as is a familiarity with online production techniques, experience in journalism and attention to detail.

The applicants will need to be self-starters as the position involves regular liaison with production editors in all Cyclingnews offices. As Cyclingnews is a 24/7 daily news operation, the position will require regular weekend work. The weekend duties are handled on a rotating shift basis with other production editors, so the applicant must be flexible in their work schedule. However, the majority of work will be done during normal business hours on week-days.

The online editors will be required to have familiarity with online production applications (a good working knowledge of HTML and Photoshop are important skills) and could also be required to attend major cycling events in each region. However, the primary responsibility is the production of content for publication on the web site. Training in online production techniques can be provided to the right applicant, ability to handle the technical processes involved and an ability to communicate are required.

Please send your CV with a covering letter via e-mail to with "Cyclingnews online editing position - " in the subject line. Deadline for applications is October 15, 2008.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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