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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, September 27, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Contador wants guarantees

By Hedwig Kröner in Varese

Alberto Contador is serious about his role as team leader.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador, who won three Grand Tours within 15 months, is contemplating leaving his Astana team if he is not given guarantees of his leadership role for the 2009 Tour de France. The return of Lance Armstrong into the team now managed by Johan Bruyneel has made the Spaniard think about whether both Grand Tour contenders can co-exist within the squad. At the Spanish team press conference outside Varese on Friday afternoon, Contador confirmed that he had other possibilities for next year, even if he would like to stay with Astana and be Armstrong's teammate.

"Right now, I am still a member of the team and I hope it can say this way," he said. "The sponsor has always been happy with me, and I was always happy within this team as well. But I have to be in the best possible situation for the next year, too."

Contador explained that his number one priority was to win the Tour de France again in 2009, after his squad was not invited to the race this season. He feared that the return of Armstrong, a man he highly respects and values, would interfere with his plans, and did not hide that the present situation was very annoying to him.

"Armstrong is a great champion; he was my idol when I started out cycling," he said. "Armstrong's career was incredible, I don't have to tell you that. He won the Tour seven times; he was the best rider in the Tour ever. But things right now did not happen in an adequate way. I think the situation lacks some communication. I simply think that a rider who has won three Grand Tours [speaking of himself - ed.] shouldn't be in this situation - he should be able to enjoy his time and take some vacation. So I think this situation is not normal."

Indeed, Contador has legitimated his captain's position three times in the last two years. Armstrong, on the other hand, is making a comeback after four years of absence from the racing circuit, and cannot be sure his bid will be crowned by success after such a long break.

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"Now, what we have to do is to see which objectives we have, if they are compatible," Contador said. "Maybe he can be team captain for certain races, and I for others. If his objectives are different to mine, then there will be no problem, then we can both stay in the same team and I will be delighted to do so. But changing teams remains a possibility, for sure. I have several offers on the table."

The Spaniard re-iterated he had to be assured about his role as a team captain for next year's Tour, and said it is now up to Bruyneel to act. "Johan [Bruyneel] has to manage the situation now," he said. "Armstrong is a rider, and I am a rider, so it's not for us to do. For sure, this situation is also complicated for Johan. He told me he placed all his confidence in me on a sporting level. But apart from what he can tell me, now that Lance is coming back, I still need to have some guarantees."

UCI lifts suspension of French federation under peace deal

By Shane Stokes

A peace deal between the International Cycling Union and the organisers of the Grand Tours brokered in Italy this week has resulted in the three-month old suspension of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) being lifted. The bans of FFC President Jean Pitallier, AIGCP President Eric Boyer and the International Commissaire Joël Ménard were also brought to an end, setting things up for a far more relaxed meeting between the UCI and all its federations on Friday.

Speaking in advance of the UCI's press conference on Saturday at the world championships in Varese, Pat McQuaid has expressed his satisfaction with the peace deal that has been forged between the governing body and the Grand Tour organisers.

As previously reported by Cyclingnews, Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA, owner of ASO and Société du Tour de France), RCS and Unipublic signed an agreement with the UCI on Thursday, ending the long disputes over the ProTour and other issues.

"Things have been worked out now," said McQuaid. "Any discussions remaining now are the discussions about us working together. The agreement has been signed, the finer details are all covered now, and the pathway for the future has been laid out.

"We agreed the large part of the agreement back in August, and since then we have been working on the last points. Jean Claude Killy and the other mediators were involved right until the very end, and we concluded things last night. I was extremely happy to be able to do that as it meant that we went to congress today and were able to reintegrate the French federation."

"The congress went extremely well today," McQuaid continued. "The UCI got a lot of messages of support from federations around the world and I did also. I have to be happy with how things went, and am confident that things are looking good for the future of the sport.

"It is now a question of working together with the organisers and rebuilding relationships. My desire is that relations with the Tour go back to the way they were a few years ago. I genuinely feel that the people we are dealing with in EPA are sincere, honest, and have the same desires as us." McQuaid added that he hadn't yet spoken directly with Tour director Christian Prudhomme, having dealt directly with his superiors in the EPA, but expects to do so at the launch of the Tour de France.

He also confirmed that the ProTour would continue as part of the UCI's new World Calendar. Cyclingnews will have more on these subjects following Saturday's press conference.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was also pleased to end the four-year conflict, but said he would push for tougher anti-doping rules. "This agreement allows us to look forward to working together in a positive fashion in the future, but there is still a lot of work to do," Prudhomme told AFP. "For the Tour, there's no question of letting our guard down."

Colombian makes history in U23 road race

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Fabio Andres Duarte (Colombia)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Although Team Italy positioned itself well for the win in the Under-23 World Championships it did not count on a pre-emptive strike from Colombia, but that is just what Fabio Duarte delivered in the final 500 metres in Varese on Friday. The 22-year-old from Bogota held off Italy's sprinter, Simone Ponzi, and claimed cycling's famed rainbow jersey.

With his victory, Duarte becomes the first Colombian to win a senior level world road race championship. The only other rider from his country to wear the rainbow bands was Santiago Botero, who won the elite time trial in 2002.

"I decided to save myself for the last 500 metres," said Duarte, whose last win came in 2007's Tour of Colombia. "I am not a great sprinter, so it was the only way could win. I decided to risk it and thanks to God I am now the World Champion."

Duarte achieved his victory first by making the key move that went at the start of the day. That breakaway was eventually whittled down to him, two Italians – Daniel Oss and Damiano Caruso – and two Germans – John Degenkolb and Dominik Nerz. The two Italians played possum while the team's sprinter, Simone Ponzi, bridged across on the final lap.

"Duarte anticipated the sprint on the last curve, and it left a bitter taste," reacted Ponzi.

Duarte's strike against the Italians almost did not come. He suffered from a crash earlier this year and he only resumed consistent preparations in the last three months. He finished top ten in two stages in France's Tour de l'Avenir and cleared the path for gold in Italy.

"I am very happy for the win here in Varese. ... It has been three months of concentration."

Duarte's triumph came after a hard 2007 that saw him leave Europe and Gianni Savio's Diquigiovanni Professional Continental team. He felt homesick and returned to his father, who runs a farm business, and brother, who also races bikes.

Hometown Girl aims for gold

Noemi Cantele
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Fourth at the last two World Championships, Noemi Cantele goes into the weekend's road race as one of the leading contenders. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins spoke to the Italian women's team captain as she made her last minute preparations.

For most riders, just to represent their country at the World Championships is a great honour, to do it when those World Championships are in their home country is something else. When those World Championships are in the town in which they were born and grew up is another thing entirely, especially if that rider happens to have a genuine chance for victory.

When we caught up with Noemi Cantele she had just returned home after racing in the Giro della Toscana, a race she won last year. Despite second place on the second stage behind Dutch superstar Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) she finished the race in 16th overall. This year however, she entered the race with intentions other than victory. "It was good for my goal," she said, "because I didn't want to be 100% there. I looked only at the first two stages and then I used it to be okay for Saturday."

Ah, yes, Saturday. The Worlds in Varese. Her hometown. Surely it must be a little bit exciting to have the World Championships in your hometown...

"A lot, not a little bit!" she laughed. "Really for me it's like a dream, and also today I went on the lap for training and really now I can understand the atmosphere: the feelings are really different from the other World Championships. Also the finish is really special, because inside the cycling stadium, the scenario is really special."

There are quite a few cyclists based in the area, a number of Australians for instance are there at the European base of the Australian Institute of Sport. No one though quite has the same claim as Cantele to be the real local girl. "Yes, I was born in Varese," she confirmed, "but I live 5km outside. I went to the university – to study there – so really it's my town. I train every day on these roads, so I know everything."

With that kind of local knowledge, surely nobody will know Saturday's course as well. "I think no!" she laughed again. "Also because, okay, it's not a big city so everybody knows me, so when you train it's... and now the city is really ready for the World Championships!"

Despite being the local girl, it seems that the expected pressure has not yet begun to be felt, but she expects it to at some point soon. "I don't know," she said, "I think I feel less pressure than last year, I don't know why... But okay, now I'm at home so I don't think that, but when I go to the hotel where I will stay with the national team... Then I think it will be a little bit different because we are in Italy, and the World Championships are in Italy, and everybody wants that we do really [well] and so I think the pressure will increase. But okay, it's normal; it's no problem."

Continue to the full interview.

CERA tests on Tour samples to commence Monday

The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) will begin analysing blood samples from the Tour de France on Monday, according to AFP. The agency will test the samples for the novel EPO, CERA, with a test refined by the Châtenay-Malabry, said AFLD chairman Pierre Bordry.

"Since L'Equipe revealed that the retrospective analysis would take place, we worked to surround the process with great scientific and legal security," said Bordry.

Italian Riccardo Riccò was found positive for the CERA during the Tour de France this year, but that test was performed on the riders' urine. The blood test is supposed to be more efficient in detecting the drug. The AFLD has requested blood samples from the Lausanne laboratory, which performed testing during the Tour, for several riders who showed 'suspicious' blood values in pre-competition screens.

Among them, reported AFP, is the Italian Leonardo Piepoli, who was sacked from his team after Riccò's positive, for "violations of the team's ethical code".

Strong Belgian squad hopes for rainbow glory

By Hedwig Kröner and Gregor Brown in Varese

Tom Boonen can win from a sprint
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Amongst the nations contending for the rainbow jersey of the World Championships road race on Sunday, Italy, Spain and Belgium stand out as the strongest teams on paper, with the Northern European nation rated third in line behind the two others. Belgium has nine riders on the start list for Sunday, of which five, according to the team, could be contenders for victory: Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet, Nick Nuyens and Stijn Devolder. As much as this may be an asset, it could also prove fatal for the squad if team tactics remain unclear.

Boonen, the designated leader of the Belgian squad, played down his role in the light of his teammates' fitness.

"I don't see myself as the big chief this year - I think we have a really strong team with a few riders who are able to do a really good result as well," he said to Cyclingnews. "The others worked hard for this race as well, not only me. These four, five riders are also here for a result, and we just have to keep our heads clear and try to get into the final with as many riders possible. Once we are at that point, we have to take the right decisions and not get in each other's way. But I think we are all experienced riders who know how to ride the finals of big races, so I don't expect any problems within the team - there are more problems with the other teams!"

The 2005 World Champion did not think that the Varese course - 15 laps for a total of 260 kilometres - would be too hilly for him as a sprinter. "The course is hard, but it's not as difficult as everybody says. I don't think there will be five guys at the finish line; I think it's going to be more. It all depends on the way the race is ridden," he commented.

Boonen thinks a sprint is not his only option to win. "I'm a sprinter, but the important thing is that I don't need a sprint to win," he continued. "I can also sprint in a small group. I'm not a rider that tries to mess up a race, I'm a rider that tries to follow and get into a good position in the final lap."

He knows the other teams will mark him, making his task more difficult in the final laps.

Continue to the full feature.

Caisse d'Epargne recruits Jeannesson

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

While Eusebio Unzue, the manager of Caisse d'Epargne team, has expressed his interest in Alberto Contador, they have signed a new rider in the person of Arnold Jeannesson, a Frenchman from Continental team Auber 93. The 22-year-old showed his climbing abilities as he won the hardest stage of the recent Tour de l'Avenir in Guzet-Neige in the Pyrénées.

His solo action has caught the eyes of many observers, among which the staff of Bouygues Telecom who are Jeannesson's neighbours in Vendée in the west of France.

Jeannesson also finished third overall in the Tour de l'Avenir won by Jan Bakelants from Belgium. With a mountain-bike background as a teenager, he switched to road racing with the amateur club of CM Aubervilliers near Paris and he has now completed his first pro season with Auber 93. At Caisse d'Epargne for the next two years, he’ll replace another Frenchman, Fabien Patanchon.

The Mont Ventoux to be 2009 Tour penultimate stage

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

Mont Ventoux:
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Before the announcement of the whole route of the 2009 Tour de France on October 22 in Paris, it became known that the Mont Ventoux will be back on the course after seven years of absence. The information was broken by Claude Haut, the president of the Vaucluse province.

The big news is about the day that the riders will have to climb the "Giant of Provence" – it will be on the second last day of the race, in July 25, prior to transferring to Paris for the traditional parade on the Champs-Élysées. Contrary to previous rumours, it will not be an uphill time trial but a normal stage starting in Montélimar. It means the course will go via Bédoin for the 21.6km grueling climb.

This is a typical choice by race director Christian Prudhomme who wants the suspense to be carried until the very end, but it was made before Lance Armstrong’s come back announcement. During his years racing the Tour de France and the Dauphiné, the Texan never liked the Mont Ventoux and never won up there. Together with Joux-Plane, he rated this climb as the one that made him suffer the most.

Swift holds out despite cramp

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Britain's Ben Swift held on for fourth in the Under-23 World Championships Friday in Varese despite cramps in the race's finale. Colombia's Fabio Duarte won the 173.5-kilometre race with a solo move and Swift, 20, battled hard to take third in the sprint behind.

"He had a big gap," Swift said of Duarte to Cyclingnews. "Simone Ponzi tried to close it and I wanted to use him as a launch pad. When I went my legs just did not have it."

Swift rode an aggressive worlds. Although he did not make the main escape of five, he bridged with France's Cyril Gautier at 34 kilometres remaining. The effort took its toll and Swift, winner of Coppa della Pace and a stage in the Valle d'Aosta this year, played defensive until the finale.

"I was starting to cramp with three laps to go. I was trying to hold on for the climbs and go for the sprint. One guy, the Colombian, just clipped off the front. I knew who the fast guys were and I was just trying to mark them."

Swift races often in Italy with the British Under-23 Academy Team and he knows the country's riders well. The team's tactics in the final circuit baffled him.

"I knew it was like one minute and it was closing," he said of the chasing group. "I don't know what they [the Italians - ed.] were doing. There was no way they should have... They must up really badly."

He finished 75th last year in Stuttgart, Germany, and he remains "happy" with his effort and his fourth place.

Martin risks it all in Varese

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Ireland's Dan Martin did what he had to do with the Under-23 World Championship title in contention ahead – he risked it. He shot out of the chase group to bridge to the seven-strong lead with around 25 kilometres remaining of the 173.5-kilometre race in Varese, Italy.

"It is about taking risks; to win the race you have to risk losing it. I lost it and the next time I hope it pays off," said Martin to Cyclingnews. "That was my only chance to get over to the group and I had to do it then."

Martin, racing in his fifth World Championships, cut the minute-lead down to ten seconds by the foot of the final climb of Ronchi. The surge took its toll and he was caught by a chasing group before reaching the finish line in Mapei Cycling Stadium – he finished 58th.

"I just knew that the group was ahead, it was a really strong group and they had a minute," he clarified. "It was the last chance to get across. I asked around and tried to get people to come with me but they were not interested; they all thought it was too early and the group would come back.

"I almost got down to the back of them and my legs just went 'boom.' It went south, and it might have been psychological because I saw that the win had gone. I just could not go hard and my legs were empty all the way, it is the end of season."

Martin turned professional this year with Jonathan Vaughters' Team Garmin-Chipotle. He gained experienced alongside the team's seasoned riders and through a varied racing schedule, and tallied up several successes such as a win in the Route du Sud and the Irish Championship road race.

The skills proved valuable in Friday's race. "It is always a hard race to read anyway. I did it all perfect – I ate perfect, I drank perfect – maybe it was a tactical error on my part." He questioned his form heading into the race that is at the tail end of a season that stared in February. "I tried to play it down before the start and I came here to at least try to get a medal."

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 2, 2008.

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