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First Edition Cycling News for June 30, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Riders reiterate their innocence

The Tour de France big favourites have again been named by Spanish media in relation with the doping products and blood transfusion network around Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, which was uncovered by Spanish police during the final week of the Giro d'Italia. Only 36 hours before the start of the Tour in Strasbourg, the international cycling community is still waiting for official information of the investigation which began with the arrest of former Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz just over one month ago, and which has slowly but steadily grown to be a nightmare.

Jan Ullrich, who affirmed in the past that he has never cheated throughout his career, has reportedly been linked to the affair by code name tags found on blood bags and training plans seized by police. "I have nothing to do with the speculations of a Spanish newspaper," Ullrich said again today. "I have asked my lawyer to take care of it." As of now, Ullrich continued, he wouldn't comment on the case anymore "to concentrate fully on my season highlight, the Tour de France. I owe that to my team and my fans."

Also Ivan Basso, Giro d'Italia winner, was mentioned to have a relation to the doping ring. "It's the same story than one month ago," was Basso's comment, taking the same approach as his biggest rival. "I won't respond to those calls."

Several sources indicate that the official information on the 58 (or 56) riders implicated in the scandal will be available by Friday, June 30, at 9.30am European time, when the Spanish judge will release the investigation documents, already believed to have been handed out to the Spanish minister for Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky. Of those named, a total of 22 cyclists are rumoured to be on the Tour de France start list. "Those riders named in the dossier will not be allowed to start," said Patrick Lefévère, president of the professional team's association AIGCP and manager of team Quick.Step.

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Tour picks and effective training

An interview with Chris Carmichael

Chris Carmichael
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image)

Chris Carmichael is best known for serving as Lance Armstrong's personal coach and trainer during his seven wins at the Tour de France. However, Carmichael was also a professional cyclist, racing with the 7-Eleven team and the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. Since hanging up the bike as a pro, Carmichael went on to develop revolutionary coaching techniques and in 1999 founded Carmichael Training Systems. Now that Carmichael is not all-consumed by preparing Lance for Le Tour, Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski got his personal predictions for this year's race and to hear about how you can do the Tour.

Cyclingnews: Let's get right to it, who is going to win this year's Tour de France?

Chris Carmichael: It's pretty hard to tell! The Americans have been doing great. Floyd Landis has had a great season so far. His challenge will be that none of the stuff really matters right now. When you look back at Tour of California and Tour de Georgia and then come to the Tour de France, it's like none of that matters. But he has been riding really well.

Basso was so impressive at the Giro and he kind of played with everybody. If he still has that form and can capitalise upon it on the key mountain stages in the Alps, then you have to say he is the guy. But Ullrich has been getting stronger. If I had to pick I would say Ullrich first, then Basso and then a mix of the Americans in there - a Landis, a Leipheimer...

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

I think with experience [Ullrich] is hitting his form just right. I think these long time trials play in his favour. And something always happens that first week of the race, you always lose a favourite. I think some new guys will come to the forefront that haven't been there before, and Ullrich will be able to be the guy that will be consistent throughout, gain time in the time trial and limit any potential loses during that last week.

Click here to read the full interview.

Lampre lads looking forward to Tour test

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Strasbourg

Damiano Cunego will start his rookie Tour De France on Saturday in Strasbourg and the young Lampre-Fondital rider is positive and focused about his first Tour experience. "I just came back from a training camp at altitude with my teammate Paolo Tiralongo", explained Cunego. "Then I refined my preparation at home last week and I feel fit and rested after that. I want to ride my first Tour without any pressure and just learn from the entire experience."

After a bad training crash, where he dislocated his shoulder, the Tour De France of Cunego's Lampre-Fondital teammate Salvatore "Toto" Commesso was in doubt, but the cannonballesque Neapolitan rider got his doctor's green light earlier this week to ride his sixth Tour. "I rode the rollers a few times, then went out for a ride last weekend in the really hot weather, and did five good hours. I felt good and my shoulder didn't hurt that much," he said.

Already the winner of two previous Tour stages, Commesso has his sights set on another in 2006, especially stages 13 or 14. "I'm just dreaming of another stage win at the Tour", sighed Toto.

Menchov and De Groot with Rabobank until 2008

The Rabobank Cycling team has announced on Thursday that both Denis Menchov and Bram De Groot have extended their contracts through 2008. The Dutch rider has been with the orange squad for eight years already, while the Russian joined the outfit last season and won the first Grand Tour for Rabobank, the Vuelta a Espańa.

"Keeping Denis aboard is a tremendous piece of good luck," said manager Theo de Rooij. "There are not too many guys out there who can win one of the three major tours. For our team it was very important to have and to keep a rider with such qualities on the team. We are not the kind of team to pay the highest prices. So, when Denis makes the choice for Rabobank, it says a lot about the way we closely work together."

Later during the day, as media reports suggested that Menchov was one of the riders implicated in the Spanish doping network revealed by Operación Puerto, De Rooij added that "There is a clause in his contract which addresses an implication in this affair. But Denis guaranteed to us that he has nothing to do with it."

De Rooij was also happy to secure the services of Bram De Groot for another two seasons. "Next year’s team is already getting shape," he continued. "A guy like Bram de Groot fits like a glove in our team. You have to love him, once you see him out there: always attacking, always in the break-away. That’s how we like it! Beside that, Bram is a great teammate, who will do whatever he is asked to do. I’m happy that we have been able to keep another top class Dutch rider aboard for a longer period of time."

While Menchov has already two victories of the Vuelta on his palmarčs, De Groot is one of the very few riders to have won national championships in cyclo-cross (1995), ATB (1995) and road racing (1998).

Klöden looking around

Is T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden looking to cut the cord and go off on his own, away from good friend and team captain Jan Ullrich? His contract with T-Mobile expires at the end of this season. "I have offers from three Pro Tour teams with promising sporting perspectives and the captain's role," he told the German dpa press agency. However, "none from my own team, which surprises me a little."

One of the team with which he is contact is Team Gerolsteiner, although team manager Hans-Michael Holczer denies that an offer has been made. "I have spoken with Klöden's manager Toni Rominger about several riders, including Andreas Klöden. All discussions are in a very, very preliminary stage right now," Holczer commented.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Raisin: "It's a miracle"

Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole) at the 2005 Tour de Georgia.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

American cyclist Saul Raisin is getting back into shape after a terrible crash almost put an end to his life on April 4, 2006, at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. The Crédit Agricole rider crashed heavily and fell into a coma afterwards, suffering severe injuries to his head and brain. Now, the 23 year-old is preparing his come-back to cycling.

Interviewed by French Cyclismag.com, Raisin said that he remembered nothing of his accident, but that the support he received during the long days subsequently spent in hospital helped him enormously in his recovery. "All of my friends and family came to see me, members of the team and other cyclists, too," he said. "The amount of support I received was unbelievable, I got more than 1000 letters!"

Cancer-survivor Lance Armstrong also called Raisin, able to relate to his near-death experience. "Lance called my parents while I was in the coma and I talked to him once since then," Raisin continued. "He told me to stay confident and motivated, and that I could overcome this and be a better person." About the current doping allegations still being published about Armstrong, Raisin commented, "I believe in Lance. He fought for his life and this can explain why he was so strong on the bike afterwards, like I will be."

But for now, the young talent will shape up his body slowly, with a possible come-back to racing only expected for spring 2007 at the soonest. "It would be dangerous to take up racing again before one year has elapsed, because another fall on my head would be very dangerous for me," Raisin continued. "For now I can already swim, run and do home trainer. I would like to resume training on the road in two months. I'm very impatient."

Looking back on his recovery from the coma, Raisin said, "For two weeks at the hospital, I couldn't even move an arm. During that time, I thought that I could never ride again, that I might be paralysed for the rest of my life. I thought it was over. Now, imagine my feelings when I swim , when I ride, when I run! It's impressive. The doctors couldn't believe what they saw. For me, it's a miracle, which has two reasons: the support coming from everywhere in the world, and the prayers. I believe in God."

The young rider is eager to return to competition, once his recovery is complete. He hopes that he will renew his contract with Crédit Agricole after 2007. "Now, I will watch the Tour on TV, but it will be hard, as I want to win it one day, more than ever now. I'm young, I still have my career in front of me. Me need and desire to take up competition again are immense," Raisin concluded.

Courtesy of Clément Guillou

Giro d’Italia Donne starting

The 17th edition of the Giro d'Italia Donne, reserved to the women elite category, will start on Friday, June 30 from Formello near Rome. There will be 17 teams, eight from Italy and nine from other countries, at the start of the race that will lead the riders over 894 kilometres to the final arrival set in Magreglio, home of the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

All the main national teams and the most important UCI international sporting groups will take part in the race. Among the 134 athletes coming from 23 countries stands out the name of Italian Fabiana Luperini (Fassa Bortolo), recently winner of the nth Italian title of her career. Luperini has also scored record of Giro victories with her four overall wins of the race.

A rich field of foreign riders will be up against her: Some of the other favourites include Swiss Nicole Brändli (Bigla Cycling Team), Lithuanian Edita Pucinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie) and German World champion Regina Schleicher (Nürnberger Versicherung). Russian Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago-Felix) is uncertain to race as she fell hard during the road race of the national championships in her country. While she was flown back to Italy on Wednesday to undergo further medical examination, her condition at the moment is not known.

Independence Day Grand Prix in Colorado Springs

The second annual Independence Day Grand Prix of Cycling will take place at the Memorial Park Velodrome in Colorado Springs on July 3 and 4. This event is a pivotal stop on the road to the 2007 World Cycling championships. The Independence Day Grand Prix is one of only six events in the United States to be listed on not only the USA Cycling Elite Track Calendar, but also the UCI World Calendar.

Riders are expected from the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Mexico, Canada, and Hungary. Top American sprinters include 2004 Olympians Giddeon Massie (Team SPIKE), Adam Duvendeck (Team Echelon) and Jennie Reed (Team SPIKE). Brad Huff and Mike Freidman (both of TIAA-Cref) have just returned from road racing in many of the top events in Europe and are hoping to bring that experience and success to the endurance events.

Racing starts July 3 at 7pm and continues July 4 at 5pm. Tickets are available at the gate; prices being $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 and seniors. Spectators are invited to stay at the velodrome for the July 4 fireworks display.

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