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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 19, 2009

Date published:
June 19, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Astana says its money problems are over

    Lance Armstrong rides with Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 14:10 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Big sigh of relief for Bruyneel

    The Astana Cycling Team announced that it has resolved its finance issues, stating in a press release Thursday that the squad now has a guaranteed budget for the remainder of the season.

    Team manager Johan Bruyneel was able to reach an agreement with the ProTour license holder, the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF), which paid off its debt to the team's managing company Olympus SARL.

    "[The agreement] gives riders and staff of the Team sufficient guarantees for the operation and functioning of the Team for the remainder of the season," the press release said.

    With just over two weeks to go before the Tour de France, the team's existence is now no longer in question. The UCI had threatened to yank the squad's ProTour license if it could not replenish the bank guarantee which is required under its rules.

    Bruyneel expressed his relief. “I appreciate everyone’s patience and professionalism during this difficult time and support of the program. With only 16 days left to the Tour de France, the riders need rest in their minds.

    "For us it will be a new start, but it will look familiar. This is the best solution. The Kazakh government showed that – despite the economical crisis – they really want to invest in cycling. They succeeded to find funds. We will not disappoint them. We look forward to representing our sponsor family with pride.”

    The KCF said last week that  the government had found nine million dollars to fund the team, and that all debts had been paid. However  the UCI had not yet received the bank guarantee by its deadline of 5PM on Tuesday.

    The UCI has not yet confirmed that it has received this bank guarantee or that the team's ProTour license is still valid.

  • ASO rejects Boonen for Tour

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) took the lead in the sprint competition.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 17:39 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Organizer says Quick Step sprinter's image is incompatible with the Tour

    The Tour de France organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have issued a decree: Tom Boonen is not welcome at the Tour this year. If the ASO has its way, the Belgian sprinter will sit out the race for the second consecutive year after testing positive out of competition for cocaine.

    The ASO said it "can only note that the image and the behavior of Tom Boonen are incompatible with the image of the Tour de France and that which an exceptional champion like him has to convey."

    In order to "preserve its reputation", the Tour bosses have refused to allow the Quick Step rider into the race, despite assurances from his team that they will take legal action to force the race to accept him.

    Boonen's positive tests are not considered doping offenses since cocaine use is not banned out of competition by the World Anti-doping Agency's code.

    Boonen can appeal the ASO's decision to the Chamber of Arbitration for Sport (CNOSF).

  • Dominguez returns home to Rock

    Ivan Dominguez (Fuji-Servetto) ponders if he'll have the chance to unleash his sprint later today.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 18:22 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Cuban sprinter abandons ProTour life with Fuji-Servetto

    Ivan Dominguez is back with Rock Racing after being released from ProTour team Fuji-Servetto, six months into a full year contract. According to the Cuban sprinter, he returned to domestic racing for personal reasons and a desire to be close to his family.

    Dominguez, 33, began negotiations with Rock Racing at the end of the 2008 season when his long-time Toyota-United team folded. He had not reached an agreement with the squad when he received an offer from Fuji-Servetto’s manager Mauro Gianetti. Dominguez jumped on board with the Spanish-based ProTour team for a shot at competing on the world-class platform.

    "Racing in Europe was a great opportunity, but this is where I want to be," said Dominguez who is noted as one of the top domestic sprinters. "Michael Ball left the door open for me and I'm grateful for the chance to be a part of this team again."

    Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball supported Dominguez' decision to leave his squad for a shot at competing in the top level of the sport. "We knew it was a dream of Ivan's to race in Europe," said Ball. "I told Ivan he would always have a place on this team and I meant it. We are glad he's back and look forward to his contributions throughout the rest of the season."

    Dominguez is known for being a top domestic sprinter for his stage wins in the Tour of California, Tour of Georgia and the Tour of Missouri. However, his stint with Fuji-Servetto proved to be less fruitful, and he was unable to achieve any podium finishes in Europe.

  • North America to get three ProTour events?

    Dark clouds
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 21:05 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Two dates reserved for Canada in 2010

    The UCI announced on Thursday that it has reserved two dates for ProTour races on the 2010 calendar.  The ProTour Council set aside September 10th and 12th, 2010 for two new UCI ProTour races, both in Canada.

    The only details released so far is that the first race will be held in Montreal and the second in Quebec City. The organisers of both events have requested four-year licences. The UCI clarified that the race applications must now follow the usual licence award procedures.

    The news comes on the heels of the announcement that the Tour of California has applied for ProTour status from 2011. The race organisers moved the event to May starting in 2010 in order to accomodate its higher profile.

    The race, set to take place from May 16-23, 2010, would have conflicted with the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (Tour of Catalonia). That race has now been moved to March  22-28, 2010 - a slot which is normally the domain of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

    The expansion of the ProTour calendar to North America is part of the UCI's plan to globalise the series. In 2008 it made its first foray outside of Europe when the Tour Down Under was added to the calendar.

    "The likely addition of three American races to the UCI ProTour represents exactly the kind of global expansion this calendar was intended to promote," said the UCI.

    The addition of a one-day ProTour event for Montreal would be a great boost to the Canadian city, which already hosts the women's World Cup round at the end of May and the Grand Tour du Montreal women's stage race.

    Quebec City is also home to a stage of the Tour de Beauce.

  • Dominguez departure from Fuji-Servetto amicable

    Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United)
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 22:10 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    New Rock Racing recruit discusses the change with Cyclingnews

    Ivan Dominguez decided that ProTour racing was not for him after giving it a six month shot with the Spanish-based Fuji-Servetto team. Manager Mauro Gianetti released the domestic sprinter on amicable terms, freeing him to compete for the American- Continental team Rock Racing.

    "I kind of liked it over there but I was always 50-50 on whether it would be the right place for me," Dominguez said. "They said I should try it out and I did, to see what would happen. After the first part of the year I told Gianetti it was not for me. He said, ‘don't worry about it because we don't want to keep you here if you don't want to stay,' and then he let me go."

    Dominguez was released in June within the International Cycling Union's (UCI) official window of opportunity to make roster changes - June 1 to June 25. "They released me with in the cut off date," said Dominguez. "Michael has been chasing me for three years now. He always told me I could come back and that was good to know. I had a few other options but Rock was always my first choice. I took a week to think about it and went with them. I know all the spanish guys. I like racing with them and it will be a lot of fun."

    Dominguez sited personal reasons and a desire to be close to his family as the reason for returning. However, the Los Angeles resident also mentioned that life on a ProTour team meant time away from home and a different style of racing to contend with. "The races were a lot longer, harder and I had to spend a lot of time on the road," he said. "I was there for two months then home for two weeks and then back over again for three months. It was too far from family and friends. I missed the racing here. I just wasn't interested in living over there either."

    The Rock Racing outfit has had a few bumps to smooth out since Dominguez's early negotiations with team owner Michael Ball. Dominguez admits that he was aware of the upset over riders being demoted from the...

  • Two Tour stages to be run without radios

    Jens Voigt feels like being part of a video game, with the DS giving constant instructions through the radio.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 22:22 BST
    Laura Weislo

    UCI approves race radio ban for stage 10, 13

    The UCI announced Thursday that its Management Committee granted an approval for earpieces to be banned on two stages of the Tour de France. Stage 10, a 193km stage from Limoges to Issoudun, held on Bastille Day, and Stage 13, 200km from Vittel to Colmar may be run without allowing riders to receive communications from their team cars over earpieces.

    The debate over whether race radios take the life out of races by allowing riders to receive detailed information about the composition and time gaps of breakaways has been argued for years.

    The French federation disallowed radio communications at its championships earlier this year, and the Tour de France organisation has considered banning the devices throughout the race.

    Teams and riders have protested against any such ban, arguing that they make races safer by allowing directors to warn them of upcoming obstacles.

    Yet years of formulaic stages in Grand Tours where breakaways go clear only to be reeled back inside the last few kilometres by teams setting up bunch sprints have given impetus to the radio ban lately.

    Should the Tour organizers go forward with the two-stage radio bans, the stages may be used as evidence for or against a permanent change.

  • 'No fear' as Fignon faces toughest test

    Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet... beating cancer
    Article published:
    June 19, 2009, 2:36 BST
    Cyclingnews staff

    Alleges possible link between cancer and doping

    Having been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet - overcoming his illness. The Frenchman is adopting his famous philosophic approach to the hurdle, saying that he has no fear of dying.

    "You either fight or you die," Fignon told Journal du Dimanche. "I have no desire to die, but I'm not afraid. I'm not particularly brave nor fearful," he explained. He has begun chemotherapy to treat the illness and will learn more through further testing following the Tour next month.

    Fignon's forthcoming book, We were young and carefree, documents his career and explains the mentality towards taking performance-enhancing drugs, which he believes could be attributed in part to his life-threatening illness.

    "I don't know whether or not that played a role," said Fignon recently on French television program 7 a 8. "I don't know at all. It's impossible to say, yes or no. According to the doctors, apparently not." The 48-year-old added, "My cancer has already spread. I don't know how long I have left,"

    The 1983 and '84 Tour champion twice tested positive for using illegal susbstances in the late 1980s and his book openly discusses the culture of professional cycling at the time. "In those days everyone was doing it," he explains within its pages. "But it is impossible to know to what extent doping harms you.

    "Whether those who lived through 1998, when a lot of extreme things happened, will get cancer after 10 or 20 years, I really can't say."