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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, January 23, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo

Landis ready for comeback at Tour of California

Landis is done with suits and court appearances and ready to race
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis received his chance to make his comeback to the sport in the USA's biggest race when organisers of the Amgen Tour of California announced that they had included Landis' OUCH Pro Cycling team on the list of invited teams on Thursday. Landis will toe the line alongside fellow returnees Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso at the race's start in Sacramento on February 14.

Landis, who was stripped of his victory in the 2006 Tour de France for doping, will emerge from his two-year suspension next week, and is looking forward to racing again.

Landis told The Associated Press he "feels like a kid again", and has put the past behind him. He fought the charges that he used synthetic testosterone during the Tour vigorously and lost, and now intends to follow the career that was chugging along nicely until it was derailed by the case.

"This isn't some kind of statement to shut down the critics or any kind of changing-the-world project of mine," Landis said. "This is me doing what I've trained myself to do for the last 15 years, and I hope that the people that follow bike racing get a better show than what they've had the last couple years."

The show will be impressive, indeed, as Tour of California organiser AEG also announced that the Professional Continental Cervélo team of 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre will be in attendance. Sastre has put the race on his list of early season goals, as have Basso and Armstrong, making it three Grand Tour champions who will tackle the extended parcours of the 2009 edition.

The ever-aggressive BMC Racing was also added to the powerful list of squads for the event's fourth year along with seven Continental teams: Bissell, FlyV Australia, Colavita/Sutter Home, Jelly Belly, OUCH Pro Cycling, Rock Racing and Team Type 1.

Eight ProTour teams, including the Astana squad of defending champion Levi Leipheimer, and those of World Champions Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) will take to the California roads alongside seven domestic teams.

"These 17 teams represent the strongest field we have had at the Amgen Tour of California. We are delighted to have some of the world's best and most established teams and we welcome the new teams who will be racing with us for the first time," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "The level of competition and talent for the fourth-annual Amgen Tour of California rivals the top races in the world and demonstrates the importance of the United States to professional cycling."

Team Type 1 General Manager Tom Schuler said it will be an honor for the team to be part of a top-notch field that includes some of the top cycling teams in the world. "We will certainly do our best to live up to the competitive expectations of what promises to be one of the most competitive bicycle races in the history of professional cycling in the United States," Schuler said.

Teams for the 2009 Amgen Tour of California:

AG2R-La Mondiale
Bissell Pro Cycling Team
BMC Racing Team
Cervelo Test Team
Colavita/Sutter Home Presented by Cooking Light
Fly V Australia presented by Successful Living Foundation Team
Jelly Belly Cycling Team
Ouch Presented by Maxxis
Quick Step
Rock Racing
Saxo Bank
Team Columbia
Team Type 1

Rasmussen appeal denied

Rasmussen before the storm
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal of a two-year suspension by Michael Rasmussen on Thursday. Rasmussen was fighting the sanction which is due to expire July of this year. The unusual case was decided in July of last year by the Monaco federation, which gave Rasmussen his racing license, but the sanction was back-dated to the day he left the Tour de France on July 25, 2007.

Rasmussen was removed from the 2007 Tour de France while leading the race when his team at the time, Rabobank, learned that he had lied about his whereabouts during the period leading up to the Tour. He reported to the UCI that he was in Mexico, but reports surfaced during the Tour that an Italian commentator had seen Rasmussen training in Italy at the same time. Rasmussen later admitted to lying, but insisted that his team was fully aware of where he was training.

The CAS ruled that Rasmussen had indeed broken the anti-doping rules of the International Cycling Federation (UCI) because: "He did not announce his new location to the UCI which prevented the Danish Anti- Doping Agency (ADD) from making a doping control at his domicile on 6 April 2007; He was too late in transmitting information relating to his new whereabouts in June 2007; He voluntarily transmitted erroneous whereabouts information which prevented the ADD from making a doping control on 21 June 2007".

Rasmussen told Cyclingnews last week that he was training to make his comeback this summer, but has not yet found a team.

O'Neill out until 2010

Suspension reinstated to two years

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) announced Wednesday that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Appeals Board in Switzerland overturned the original decision to lessen the suspension of Australian cyclist Nathan O'Neill from 24 months to 15 months, returning the ban to the maximum of two years and keeping O'Neill out of racing until June of 2010. This change is a result of an appeal filed by ASADA along with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI to push for the maximum ban.

O'Neill, an 8-time Australian national time trial champion, tested positive for the appetite suppressant Phentermine at the 2007 Tour of Elk Grove in which O'Neill won the prologue time trial and overall title. He quickly admitted to taking the drug for its intended use out of competition only, and apologized for it, stating that he did not do so for any performance enhancement purposes.

Under the WADA code athletes are permitted to use Phentermine when not in competition. The positive test came about from trace amounts of the drug left in his system during competition. Subsequently, his team released him and his race result was redacted.

ASADA had originally pushed for O'Neill to serve the maximum two-year ban for the positive test, though O'Neill had immediately stopped racing upon learning of the test in September of 2007 and cooperated with authorities. O'Neill appealed to the CAS which agreed with him that he was "able to demonstrate a degree of no significant fault or negligence," and thereby reduced the ban to 15 months. This would have put him back to racing at the start of 2009.

As of November of 2008, ASADA was still arguing the details of the ban, claiming that it should start from the date of notification and not from the voluntary stoppage in racing. Regardless, either start date of the 15 month ban would have still put O'Neill eligible to take out a racing license in January of 2009.

However, it appears that at this hearing ASADA also restated its case for the maximum two year ban and the CAS Appeals Board agreed. "In upholding the appeal of ASADA, WADA and the UCI, the CAS Appeals Panel found significant fault and negligence on the part of Mr. O'Neill in ingesting Phentermine before competition and then competing whilst the substance was in his system," the ASADA statement said. "In determining the matter, the CAS wrote, 'Also of importance is the evidence from Mr O'Neill that he took the risk because he was of the view that without Phentermine he was not going to be competitive. Mr O'Neill therefore self-medicated with a view of gaining a competitive advantage.'"

Cyclingnews reached O'Neill at his home in the American state of Georgia on Thursday. "I only found out about this 48 hours ago from my lawyer," he said. "I haven't even talked to him yet. So I don't want to make an official comment until I do."

O'Neill's surprise with the decision was also evident in a recent news story in which he spoke about his team for 2009. He had planned to race in 2009 with the newly combined V Australia/Successful Living team. However, the reinstatement of the original 24 month ban also means it takes effect on the original decision date, June 13, 2008 – resulting in a reinstatement date of June 13, 2010

Basso commends top time trialists in San Luis

by Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina

Basso took ninth place
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian Ivan Basso was the race favourite to win the stage time trial at the Tour of San Luis on Wednesday. The fans waited for hours in the scorching heat to catch a glimpse of the 2006 Giro d'Italia winner in action. While his ninth place performance might have disappointed some, Basso was more than pleased to have the first time trial of the year under his belt.

"I think I did a great time trial," said Basso who clocked in at 24'22. "I did the first half with the second fastest time of the day. I think in the final five kilometres there was a strong head wind and my condition was not one hundred percent ready. I know on paper it is nothing special, but it is still January and a test of my performance. I paid a little today but I am still really happy."

Basso congratulated the top three for their impressive performances. The Tour of San Luis was considered the most important race of the season for South American riders. "I think the two Argentineans who were on the podium are in top form for this race," Basso said, and also noted how difficult the first three stages were. "They were very strong. You can't compare my performance to theirs because I just arrived from a lot of snow in my city."

The race heads back into the mountains during stage four's 160 kilometre road race from San Luis to La Carolina. It includes a 20 kilometre ascent of category 2 ranking. The ascent marks the second of three significant climbs where Basso hopes for a good performance.

"Before the fast part of the climb I was OK but in the last kilometre where the riders started to do a lot of attacking full gas and I was dropped," said Basso regarding stage two's five kilometre ascent to the finish on Tuesday. "It is OK because it is fantastic training and I am happy."

Bouygues Telecom Bbox launched

The 2009 Bouygues Telecom Bbox team was presented on Thursday in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, the headquarters of the telecommunications sponsor. Team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau laid out ambitious goals for the team this season. "The message is clear: at the end of the season, I do not want my team to have regrets. ... We can not meet the same frustrations this year as we did in the Tour de France last year."

Bernaudeau hopes to get more victories by more riders this year, and wants the team to take home the French National Championship and ride that jersey to two stages in the Tour de France.

To that end, he recruited some new talent like William Bonnet and Pierre Rolland, the winner of the mountains classification in the Dauphiné Libéré, both of the now dead Credit Agricole team.

Bouygues Telecom Bbox 2009: Yukiya Arashiro, Julien Belgy, Giovanni Bernaudeau, Olivier Bonnaire, William Bonnet, Franck Bouyer, Steve Chainel, Mathieu Claude, Pierrick Fedrigo, Damien Gaudin, Cyril Gautier, Yohann Gène, Said Haddou, Vincent Jerome, Arnaud Labbe, Laurent Lefèvre , Guillaume Le Floc'h, Rony Martias, Alexandre Pichot, Perrig Quemeneur, Pierre Rolland, Matthieu Sprick, Sébastien Turgot and Thomas Voeckler, Evgeny Sokolov and Yuriy Trofimov, Johann Tschopp.

Zabel waves goodbye in 100th anniversary of Berlin

Risi and Marvulli reunite

Erik Zabel savors the victory in Dortmund
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Berlin Six Days, taking place from January 22 to January 29 in Berlin, Germany, celebrates several milestone events including the event's 100th anniversary, the final race of Erik Zabel and the reunion of defending champions Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, estranged since the Zurich Six Days.

The 38-year-old Erik Zabel, six-time green jersey winner at the Tour de France, comes full circle in Berlin with the conclusion of his storied career.

"I was born just two kilometers from the velodrome at the Lichtenberg clinic and this is where I started my career in cycling," said Zabel, according to the AFP. Zabel will be joined in his final laps of the track Tuesday evening by his son Rick, himself a competitor in the Junior event.

Zabel, four-time winner of Milan-Sanremo, will team up with his German compatriot Robert Bartko. "It is an honor to be with Erik for his last race, but also an enormous responsibility, I want to offer him a final victory," said Bartko, a two-time Olympic pursuit gold medalist.

The Swiss duo of Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, defending champions of the Berlin Six Days, had a falling out in December, but were convinced by the organizers and sponsors to defend their title in Berlin. "We have met and discussed our problems. For me, this is snow from yesterday, a forgotten issue," said Risi, according to "I am pleased with the reunion, in any case. As last year's winners we want to defend the title."

Race Director Dieter Stein had to overcome the loss of two German riders, Olaf Pollack and Andreas Beikirch, due to crashes in the Bremen Six Days, but communication with Belgian race director and manager Patrick Sercu resulted in the fielding of 18 teams in Berlin, a mix of veteran track riders and up-and-coming talent.

History plays a significant part of the Berlin Six Days pageantry with notable stars from the past attending including Klaus Bugdahl, Wolfgang Schulze, Olaf Ludwig and Silvio Martinello.

View the start list.

Caruso acquitted of Puerto involvement

Italian Giampaolo Caruso was acquitted of involvement in the Operación Puerto doping case by the Court for Arbitration for Sport on Thursday. According to Tuttobiciweb, Caruso received notice that the court had rejected a two-year suspension which the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had recommended in December, 2007.

Caruso said, "I want to start where I left off and return to success as soon as possible, in order to repay my team and sponsors for their support." Caruso now rides for the Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce team, but rode for Liberty Seguros and Astana in 2006 when he was linked with Operación Puerto and forced to stop riding. The Spanish federation dropped its case against Caruso, allowing him to sign with Lampre for 2007.

But the Italians took up the case, keeping Caruso from competition for most of the season. He was highly critical of the process.

Cyclo-cross as Olympic sport?

Could cyclo-cross become an Olympic sport? The Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported Thursday that a group of supporters of the idea have been busy working to make it happen. Members of the Italian cycling are reportedly working together with the International Olympic Committee and the UCI to make it happen.

Diego Vollaro of the Italian federation told the paper that cyclo-cross could start as a demonstration sport as early as the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February of next year. The sport had previously lost out on becoming part of the Games because the athletes involved were mainly from Europe and the Games, and the event requires more international participation. But that has changed in recent years with Canada, the USA, Japan and even Zimbabwe fielding riders in elite competitions.

Another rule could prove more of a stumbling block. The winter Games require a sport take place on ice or snow, but according to the report, that rule is under consideration.

"Next week the board and I will discuss it," said UCI executive board member Joop Atsma. "If there is only a small chance of success, it would be wonderful."

Adding cyclo-cross to the Games would help fuel the Olympic dreams of riders who make the sport their primary goal of the year. Riders like Sven Nys, who devoted extra time to mountain biking in order to be eligible to compete in the Games, or American Katie Compton, who does not pursue track, road or mountain bike racing at the Olympic level.

"I think that would be great," Compton told Cyclingnews. "They have BMX in there now so why not 'cross too?"

Win an autographed Team Columbia jersey

Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win a unique piece of cycling history – a 2008 team-issue Team Columbia jersey signed by the entire 2009 men's team, gathered in Mallorca, Spain for its December 2008 training camp.

The Team Columbia jersey appeared on the top step of the podium 85 times in the 2008 season, more than any other professional team, with stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour of Germany and Tour of Ireland plus victories in one-day events such as Flèche Wallonne and Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen.

Twenty five riders signed the jersey, including

- Mark Cavendish, four-time 2008 Tour de France stage winner, three-time 2008 Giro d'Italia stage winner
- Bert Grabsch, 2008 World TT Champion
- Marcus Burghardt, 2008 Tour de France stage winner
- Edvald Boasson Hagen, 2008 Critérium International stage winner, three-time 2008 Tour of Britain stage winner
- George Hincapie, 2008 Tour of California stage winner, two-time US national champion
- Kim Kirchen, 2008 Tour de France yellow jersey and green jersey wearer, 2008 Flèche Wallonne champion
- Marco Pinotti, 2008 Giro d'Italia stage winner, 2008 Tour of Ireland champion

The contest's winner will be selected at random from all correct answers to a Team Columbia trivia question.

Hurry now and enter to be in the draw. Good luck!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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