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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, October 5, 2009

Date published:
October 5, 16:00
  • Chihuahua, Mexico seeks 2014 road Worlds

    Chihuahua, Mexico hopes to host the UCI Road World Championships in five year's time.
    Article published:
    October 4, 23:42
    Cycling News

    La Vuelta a Chihuahua a showcase for UCI

    The city of Chihuahua, Mexico wants to organize the UCI Road World Championships in 2014, according to Ricardo Creel, the Commissioner for Cycling in Chihuahua. On Friday Creel met with the vice president of the UCI, Artur Lopes - invited by La Vuelta a Chihuahua - in the presence of general coordinator of the race, Antonio Vaquerizas.

    Creel thinks that "hosting the World Championship now seems a dream, but it was also believed that La Vuelta a Chihuahua was a utopia and right now, just four years later, we have the best race in all of Latin America. We believe that Chihuahua is ready to host the World Championships, but if that's not the case, do not discount that it can occur elsewhere in Mexico."

    The UCI Road World Championships have never been hosted by Mexico before. The last time the World Championships took place in North America was in 2003 at Hamilton, Canada.

    At the same meeting, Creel also discussed with Lopes the desire to organize an event of UCI Juniors Nations' Cup.

    The Vuelta a Chihuahua is a seven-day, 851.2-kilometre stage race taking place October 4-10. This year's event received an upgrade to a 2.1 classification from the UCI and two European ProTour teams and four European Professional Continental teams are among the 17 squads contesting this year's race.

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  • Rasmussen wins prologue in Chihuahua

    Michael Rasmussen was in yellow when he was yanked from the 2007 Tour de France by his team following contradictions about his reported whereabouts...
    Article published:
    October 5, 10:10
    Susan Westemeyer

    Dane Michael Rasmussen looks to add Mexican citizenship

    Dane Michael Rasmussen continued his successful return to cycling, winning the prologue of the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Mexico and taking over the leader's jersey. He now rides for the Mexican Continental Tecos Trek team, and has said that he wants to take out Mexican citizenship.

    Rasmussen, 35, won the 4.2-kilometre prologue in a time of 8:44, which was 26 hundredths of a second faster than Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne). Two Rock Racing riders took third and fourth, respectively Oscar Sevilla and defending champion Francisco Mancebo.

    Rasmussen won the Puebla La Vuelta Ciclista San Marcos in Mexico last month.

    He returned to racing after serving a two-year suspension on doping-related charges. The International Cycling Union (UCI) reported he misrepresented his whereabouts for doping controls in the period leading up to the Tour de France 2007.

    "I'm happy for myself, but mostly for the team," Rasmussen said. "I was ready to race the Vuelta a España but since I could not, I arrived in good condition for the Vuelta a Pueblo, which I won, and Chihuahua. Although the GC is tight, I hope to hold on to this lead until the end.

    "I feel young, and hope to remain active and reach the level I was at before."

    Tecos team manager Juan Manual Navarro Flores told, that the race "is a good test for him. We will now know how far he is after two years without competition."

    Rasmussen lacks a contract with Tecos. "We have reached an oral agreement with Rasmussen, but there is still noting on paper," said Navarro Flores. "We will sit down together and set his programme. We don't know whether he will race in Europe."

    Rasmussen, whose wife is Mexican, is also looking to take on Mexican citizenship. "Rasmussen has started the procedure to become Mexican, but also wants to keep his Danish nationality," Navarro Flores continued.

  • Kohl recalls the hard life of a pro

    Bernhard Kohl was caught with CERA
    Article published:
    October 5, 11:48
    Susan Westemeyer

    Weather, team initiations and weight problems

    The life of a professional cyclist may sound glamorous, but it is not, according to Bernhad Kohl. The retired Austrian, who is serving a doping suspension, gave a glimpse into his racing experiences - ranging from team initiations to racing in atrocious weather and battling his weight.

    Kohl rode for the Rabobank Continental team before joining T-Mobile Team in 2005. However his first meeting with the German team was in Amsterdam in November 2004. Every new rider had to drink a quarter-litre of vodka, given to them by Alexander Vinokourov. "Vinokourov was a hero to us, a role model. You didn't say no," Kohl told the Austrian paper Kurier. After the initiation Kohl threw up over the railing of a ship as the team took a canal cruise. But it was worth it – "After this initiation I was accepted as a full member" of the team.

    In his first year with T-Mobile, Kohl rode the Vuelta a Espana, with temperatures of up to 51° Celsius. "I was responsible for getting bottles." At one point the young Austrian had to gather the empties and take them back to the team car to be refilled, then bring the filled bottles back up to the filed.

    "One thing is clear: without water carriers, even a Lance Armstrong would never have won one single Tour."

    If the Vuelta was hot, then the other races were cold. One episode which stood out in particular for him, was a one-day race in Belgium, with snow, rain and temperatures plummeting to 3° Celsius. "You ask yourself, why are you doing this shit? Later, when you have finished and are lying in the bathtub, you forget it all. Fortunately you remember the good parts rather than the bad ones; otherwise there wouldn't be any cyclists."

    Another difficultly Kohl faced was weight control. During the short vacation time in the fall, he would eat everything he wasn't allowed during the season. Kohl, who is only 1 73 cm tall, regularly saw his weight skyrocket from 58 kilos to 70. "Always when I hit 70 kilos, I knew it was time to switch things and go back to a serious nutrition plan."

    Kohl, 27, changed to Team Gerolsteiner in 2007. AT the Tour de France 2008, he won the King of the Mountains jersey and finished third overall. In October of that year it was announced that he had tested positive for the EPO derivative CERA, and he was suspended for two years. Since then, he has announced his retirement from the sport and co-operated with authorities.

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  • Milram confident for future, sponsor search

    The Milram team pours on the pace
    Article published:
    October 5, 11:55
    Susan Westemeyer

    Milram's Van Gerwen falls short of 2009 goals, ready for 2010 and sponsor search

    Team Milram never thought that its ProTour licence for the coming year was in doubt, although team manager Gerry Van Gerwen admitted that the team didn't bring in enough victories this year.

    "I was never worried that we would not get the ProTour licence renewed," van Gerwen told

    The only German ProTour team got good marks for its financing and ethics, but did poorly on the sporting aspects. "In this area they are surely behind expectations," said the UCI's ProTour manager Alain Rumpf.

    At the start of the season, van Gerwen called for 25 victories for his team this year, but it has so far brought in only eight. "We didn't reach our goal, although we have the talent for it in our team," he said.

    The UCI renewed Milram's ProTour licence for only one year, because the team has only one year left on its sponsoring contract with Nordmilch AG. Van Gerwen is already looking for a new sponsor.

    "Germany is our top priority in our search," he said. The Dutchman knows, however, that it won't be easy, as he saw by the search for a new sponsor for team Gerolsteiner last year.

    Milram started as an Italian team in 2006 under general manager Gianluigi Stanga, with van Gerwen as business manager. However, van Gerwen took over the ProTour licence from Stanga for the 2008 season, moving the team's headquarters to Germany and making it a German team. His daughter Marlies van Gerwen-Liebregts is now business manager and son-in-law Raoul Liebregts is personnel director and directeur sportif.

    "We didn't make this enormous investment and put in our family capital, in order to shut down two years later," van Gerwen said.

    Should the team have to fold, it would leave Germany without a ProTour team, or even a Professional Continental team.

    "It would be very dramatic, if the team ends," said former Gerolsteiner rider and current Milram rider Fabian Wegmann. "We have built up a good structure in the last years in Germany and have a lot of good young riders. It would be too bad if they had to go to another country to ride."

  • Valverde loses out to huskies in Valencia

    Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
    Article published:
    October 5, 12:41
    Peter Cossins

    Valverde, Basso, Garzelli racing with dogs in Spain

    With all due respect to the riders at the Franco-Belge and the cyclo-cross stars taking part in the first round of the World Cup in Treviso, the big match-up of the weekend pitted Vuelta champion Alejandro Valverde against a six-dog sled team under the direction of champion "musher' Ismael Piñol. The result? A convincing victory for the canine sextet, who reached a speed of 60kph along the main straight on the course laid out for the traditional October criterium in Valencia.

    Valverde had been heavily backed to edge the contest given that the 30-degree heat didn't exactly suit dogs more used to below-freezing temperatures and snow. Piñol had them kitted out in fabric booties to protect their paws against the sizzling black tarmac, and that seemed to do the trick as the dogs left Valverde trailing from the start.

    Italians Ivan Basso and Stefano Garzelli then asked if they could be given the chance of revenge in a two-up challenge against Piñol's dog team. Despite having to water his dogs down to keep them cool, Piñol took up the challenge. Sadly, this became a non-contest when the dogs ran out of juice at the halfway point and opted for a lie-down.

    Thousands turned out to watch the event, which also saw the streets of the Spanish city closed to motor traffic and given over to cyclists. Basso clinched victory in the two-part criterium thanks to success in the points event and second place to Valverde in an elimination race.

  • UCI Approves Selected Retesting

    Anne Gripper
    Article published:
    October 5, 13:36
    Shane Stokes and Daniel Benson

    UCI and AFLD to collaborate at 2010 Tour de France

    UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper has said that the UCI is not involved in the retesting of the 2008 Tour de France samples, but that the governing body agrees in theory with the principle of re-examining suspect controls.

    "It depends on the basis for the retests," she told Cyclingnews, when asked this morning about the practice. "We have retested some samples so the concept is something we think is appropriate under certain conditions. We store samples on the basis that if a new test can be done in the future, if there’s good reason to do them and if the circumstances are right, we’ll use them."

    As reported yesterday on Cyclingnews, the French National Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) has started testing samples taken from a group of riders during the 2008 Tour. Up to 40 competitors are suspected of doping, and several big names are rumoured to be on the list.

    Gripper outlined that the 2008 event was run under a different system than usual. "We worked in collaboration with the AFLD in 2009 and in previous years, but the 2008 Tour was different. It was national race last year," she said, referring to the temporary split between the UCI and ASO over the ProTour. "So we have no jurisdiction over the 2008 Tour samples.

    "The decision to re-analyse samples from the 2008 was taken of their own volition. The UCI was not involved in any way with that choice. We haven’t been involved yet and I suspect that it will be something the AFLD manages themselves. As yet I don’t know what samples they’re looking at…I presume they will be urine."

    Last year’s Tour de France was marked by several high-profile positive tests, with stage winner Riccardo Ricco testing positive for CERA, a third-generation form of EPO. Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas failed tests for regular EPO, while Dmitry Fofonov was found to have heptaminol in his system. All were thrown off the race.

    The AFLD did a limited number of retests after the conclusion of the event, and as a result stage ten winner Leonardo Piepoli, double time trial victor Stefan Schumacher plus third-place finisher and King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl were all disqualified for CERA.

    The new round of analysis uses more sensitive tests. A number of riders were told before this year’s Tour de France that their samples were likely to be re-examined, and the results of this work will be known within a fortnight.

    While the prospect of more positives from the race will undoubtedly be a blow to cycling, the AFLD is staying true to its word to fully investigate any suspicious values from 2008. It has also said that it will apply retrospective tests to the 2009 samples when more advanced tests are finalised.

    Gripper envisages that the UCI will be involved again with the AFLD in 2010. "There’s a very good chance we’ll work together, regardless of the results from this set of testing,” she said. "The management would be the same as the process in 2009,"

  • UCI denies preferential treatment on testing towards Astana

    Team Astana collects the accolades for winning stage 4's TTT.
    Article published:
    October 5, 13:52
    Peter Cossins

    Governing body defends testing procedures from AFLD attack

    The UCI has said that it is "confident that there was no preferential treatment given to any team during the Tour." The denial comes on the back of a story in Monday’s editions of French dailies Le Monde and Le Figaro alleging that the Astana team had benefited from preferential treatment on drug testing during this year’s Tour de France.

    According to the French newspapers, the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) has concluded in a 10-page report that Astana "were always the last to be tested in the morning, that there were delays in presenting themselves to the tester" and that details of the team’s location prior to the Tour was not given to the AFLD doctors along with those of every other team.

    The AFLD report was sent this morning to the UCI, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the French ministers of health and of sport, and to Tour organisers ASO. It had been put together based on the evidence provided by two AFLD-appointed doctors tasked with the job of carrying out blood and urine tests during the Tour under the aegis of the UCI, which regained control of testing from the AFLD at this year’s race.

    The report talked specifically about testing that took place on the morning of July 11. According to Le Monde and Le Figaro, the report said that testing was delayed by 45 minutes as a result of an intervention by UCI inspectors. In addition, it alleges that AFLD escorts were not permitted to attend the process to ensure that riders were not able to manipulate blood levels in between receiving notification of testing and the testing actually taking place.

    "Such tolerance, granted without proper justification, in the absence of escorts, does not follow the faultless regularity of the procedure, particularly ensuring that no manipulation took place," the report said.

    The report also said that the UCI incorrectly marked samples taken during the race as being done ‘out of competition’. “This error has serious consequences," says the report because the list of products banned ‘out of competition’ is shorter than the list of those banned during competition.

    The report also claimed that UCI inspectors were not discreet when discussing details of the timetable of testing. It said: “It is not very professional to discuss these matters in loud voices in a restaurant where riders are present, especially the day before a control as was the case in Barcelona on the evening of July 7.”

    Concerns were also raised about the excessive amount of time given for notification of some post-stage controls. One rider is described as being told by his directeur sportif that he will tested even before he has ridden in that day’s team time trial. Complaints were also made about the lack of proper storage facilities made available to the AFLD testers. In some cases, said the report, samples were stored in a car boot for several hours and not in container that would guarantee the integrity of the samples at a temperature of 4°C.

    However, the UCI’s head of anti-doping services, Anne Gripper, insisted any problems over testing procedures had been dealt with during the Tour. “The UCI is confident that there was no preferential treatment given to any team during the Tour,” she told Cyclingnews. “It was an issue raised and dealt with while the Tour was happening. There's nothing further than we can say on this matter. We had discussions with the AFLD on what they think happened and we've told them what actually happened.”

  • Sella's starting point: Empordà win

    Emanuele Sella (CarmioOro - A-Style) wins ahead of teammate Francisco José Ventoso
    Article published:
    October 5, 15:47
    Gregor Brown

    Italian hopes Empordà win will kick-start return and aid Giro d'Italia participation

    Italian Emanuele Sella (CarmioOro - A-Style) hopes his Cinturó de l'Empordà win will be the starting point for something bigger, as well as a return to the Giro d'Italia in 2010.

    "It is a starting point and from here I will try to do even better. It is a small win, but you need small things in order to build something bigger," Sella told Cyclingnews.

    He won the third and final stage of the Cinturó de l'Empordà yesterday in Figueras, Spain. Teammate Francisco José Ventoso helped dominate the race, winning stages one and two, and the overall. He finished second to Sella yesterday.

    Sella's win came two months after his one-year doping suspension ended. The International Cycling Union (UCI) found Sella positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA after an out-of-competition test July 23, 2008.

    His last win was May 31, 2008, in the Giro d'Italia's stage to Tirano. He won three stages in last year's Giro – Alpe di Pampeago, Passo Fedaia and Tirano – and the climber's jersey.

    Sella won his first professional race at the Giro d'Italia in 2004 after a solo escape on the stage Cesena. His dream is to return to the Giro next year.

    Team CarmioOro is a Continental team and would need to be Professional Continental, second division, if Sella would have a chance to race.

    He races Coppa Sabatini, Giro dell'Emilia e GP Beghelli in the coming month. He hopes to have his next win in Emilia, at the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca in Bologna, Italy.

    "Emilia is a high-level race and important for a rider to win," he continued. "It suits my style, but it will be difficult against the top cyclists."