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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, October 27, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tinkov to step down

By Gregor Brown

Russian Oleg Tinkov at the Team Katusha presentation this July in Pau, France
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Oleg Tinkov will likely step down from his role as Team Katusha president before the start of the new year. The Russian businessman who started Team Tinkoff three years ago is focusing his energy on his other businesses.

"I am passing it over to the right people at the right time. Especially now with the market, the financial situation requires me to be in the office full time," said Tinkov to Cyclingnews.

Tinkov turned his Continental Team into a well-established Professional Continental Team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, at the end of 2006. Through the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the Italian-based team gained numerous victories, including two stages in the Giro d'Italia. The team announced mid-way through this season that it would expand under new name Team Katusha.

"I am proud I have done it for three years. I ran Tinkoff Restaurants and Tinkoff Credit Systems. ... I have built a very solid team and I am glad my structure will be used as one of the best structures in the world – the Katusha team – which will basically be a Russian team. I still believe Russia deserves a serious and solid team."

The money and time are too much for Tinkov, who works in Moscow. He needs to devote more time to his companies due to a hard financial market.

"I was not able to build it all by myself because it was too expensive. ... Partly I am tired and partly it is business dictated. It is a big team, so I don't really want to be involved there.

"I am still the president of the team, legally, but I am not in an operation role right now. ... It is just a title – I don't care about titles."

Team Katusha has the backing of the Russian Global Cycling Project, funded by its main sponsors Gazprom, Itera and Rostechnologii. The team has a budget of 15 to 20 million euro. Its 2009 signings include Australian Robbie McEwen, Belgian Gert Steegmans, Italian Filippo Pozzato, Russians Vladimir Karpets and Alexandre Botcharov.

Cunego puts brakes on Basso's comeback

Damiano Cunego, r, takes the sprint in the Japan Cup. Ivan Basso, l, finished third.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso successfully returned to racing with third place in the Japan Cup yesterday. His team helped him launch an attack and battle for victory, but the Italian was not able to match the power of eventual winner Damiano Cunego.

"To return after two years of suspension and to go so strong right away was a big result. ... I could not ask for more," Basso said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian cycling federation (FCI) banned Basso on June 15, 2007 for his links with Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, centre 2006's Operación Puerto doping investigation. He admitted to investigating prosecutor Ettore Torri during hearings that he gave blood to Fuentes. His suspension ended October 24.

Team Liquigas forced the pace in the last circuits of the 11-lap course that was used for the 1990 World Championships. Basso attacked on the penultimate lap and Team Lampre's Cunego and Team Quick Step's Giovanni Visconti joined him.

"It was as if time had stood still for me. To make the move that decided the race and to climb at the front with Cunego, it brought to mind the Giro d'Italia rivalry. The climb was too short to make the difference and the sprint was difficult for me. The 2004 Lombardia ended in the same way, in fact."

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Hitoshi Omae (Jpn) / PhotoSport International
(Click for larger image)

Basso anticipated the sprint, but Cunego responded with Visconti in tow. Basso finished a slight distance back though the trio are recorded with the same finishign time of 4:04:57.

"I saw that I am still a protagonist. I am able to pass the winter calm and with faith for the upcoming season."

Cunego topped his final race of the season and headlined Basso's comeback race. It was one week after his dominating performance in the Giro di Lombardia and it was his fifth win of the year.

"Everyone expected it and we gave a show," said Cunego of the duel. "I imagined that the rivalry would heat up here. It was an extra motivation.

"He found Cunego and Visconti at the end of their seasons ... 2009 will be a true measurement of strengths."

"Cunego went there to race all the same," said Directeur Sportif Maurizio Piovani to Cyclingnews of the Basso and Cunego rivalry. "He went there not only to win, but because he wanted to go and because he is a past winner.

"He was content with his day. Even if his head was not 100 percent, his Lombardia condition carried him through."

Both riders will take a break and then start training for the 2009 season and the expected battles.

Grivko bringing the world to attention

A late-season win for Andriy Grivko
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The historical time trial between Firenze and Pistoia in Tuscany was the platform Ukrainian champion Andriy Grivko needed to begin building the new cycling project in his home nation. His move from Milram to ISD-Danieli Team will be interesting to follow next year, as Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet became aware of after catching up with the stylish rider from Crimea.

As he resides in Quarrata, Tuscany, the village of future directeur sportif Luca Scinto, Andriy Grivko secured a coup on home soil when he finished ahead of Italian champion Marco Pinotti at the end of the Firenze-Pistoia time trial last Saturday. "It was very emotional, very nice, there were so many people," said the-25-year old Ukrainian, a week after finishing ninth in the prestigious Chrono des Nations in France. It he crowned a 2008 season full of highs and lows.

"At the end of the day I'm pretty happy with what I've done this year although I still feel extremely disappointed to have been left behind for the Tour de France," Grivko explained. During his first three seasons as a professional – with Domina Vacanze in 2005 and Milram in 2006 and 2007 – he was selected for the Tour de France and always put his name in the race's daily communiqués as an aggressive rider eager to be amongst the breakaways.

The most famous of his attacks occurred during stage 13 of the 2006 Tour. He rode so well that he played an important role in Oscar Pereiro's eventual overall win, although the race was mostly remembered for Jens Voigt's win, Sylvain Chavanel's loss and the bunch finishing half an hour behind.

"Two years ago I was still lacking the experience to win but I'm a more mature rider now," continued Grivko. "I'm getting to know how to save energy in breakaways and finding out the right moment to go." In 2008 he could be seen on the attack at Flèche Wallonne and later at the Vuelta a España, where he rode with the world championships in mind. In Varese he was the second non-Italian in the top-five, finishing in fifth behind Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego, Denmark's Matti Breschel and Davide Rebellin.

Read the full Grivko interview.

Rabobank and recreational riders tackle the Cauberg

Team Rabobank
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Rabobank held its traditional "Cauberg Clinic" last weekend in the Netherlands and allowed 400 Rabobank customers to ride the Limburg climbs alongside professionals. The rides finished atop the Cauberg, where the recreational riders were "the real winners," according to the team's website,

It was the eighth year that the team had hosted the event, which took place on Friday and Saturday. Almost all the riders from both the ProTour and Continental teams showed up for the event, which covered the traditional Limburg roads and climbs.

Overnight rain and muddy roads greeted the participants, but there were few falls, with one participant requiring medical assistance. "The sun came out quickly and it was possible for the cyclists, both the pros and recreational riders, to optimally enjoy the beautiful surroundings and each others companionship," the team reported.

It was the last official appearance for most of the riders before they take off on their holidays. It was one of the few opportunities during the year for all of the team's riders to get together. (SW)

Lisbon to host Volta a Portugal stage

Lisbon will welcome a stage of the Volta a Portugal in 2009. City spokesman Manuel Brito told that the capital "is lacking great events, and the Volta a Portugal will be a reality in 2009."

The Volta last visited Lisbon in 2006. Unlike the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Volta does not end in the nation's capital, but usually somewhere in the north of the country, where there is more interest in cycling. (SW)

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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