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First Edition Cycling News, March 5, 2008

Date published:
March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Rás Mumhan confirms route

    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    One of the biggest races on the Irish race calendar, Rás Mumhan (Tour of Munster), has confirmed its...

    One of the biggest races on the Irish race calendar, Rás Mumhan (Tour of Munster), has confirmed its route for 2008. The four day stage race takes place over the Easter weekend (March 21-24) and the route travels over some of Ireland's best scenic areas. Previous winners include top Irish riders Paul Healion and John Dempsey alongside British riders Kevin Dawson and former British road race champion Russell Downing.

    There may be even more British teams heading to Ireland hoping to take home over 1,000 Euro in primes on offer for the Saturday and Sunday stages. All the stages start at or near the town of Killorglin famous for the annual Puck Fair festival. Local man Paul Griffin (Giant Asia) from Tralee will know the route intimately and will be one of the pre-race favourites. Brian Keneally has also confirmed his return to defend the title he won last year which helped him gain Irish team selection for the Tour of Ireland later in the year.

    2008 Rás Mumhan route:
    Stage 1 - Killorglin to Killorglin: A 34-mile stage via Killarney and Tralee with a category one climb
    Stage 2 - Caherciveen to Caherciveen via Valentia Island: There is a special prime outside the home of former fifties Rás winner Mick Murphy in the 82-mile stage.
    Stage 3 - Waterville to Waterville: This is the hilly stage taking in three category one climbs of Coomakista, Ballaghbeama and Ballaghasheen. The riders will be following some of the route of the 1987 Nissan Classic won by Sean Yates during the 60-mile stage. There is 100 Euro prize on each of the three top category primes.
    Stage 4 - Killorglin to Killorglin: The traditional final stage of three large laps and 5 local laps each taking in the steep hill in Killorglin town. This 60-mile stage will be lung bursting and action packed.

  • Ronde van Vlaanderen gives wild-cards

    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    The Ronde van Vlaanderen has announced the seven teams to which it has issued wild-card invitations...

    The Ronde van Vlaanderen has announced the seven teams to which it has issued wild-card invitations to its April 6 race. The invitations have gone to Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Topsport Vlaanderen, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, Skil-Shimano, Team Barloworld, Slipstream-Chipotle, and Cycle-Collstrop. They will join the 18 ProTour teams to create a field of 200 riders.

    The invitation to Cycle-Collstrop is dependent on whether the Continental team gets UCI permission to ride in ProTour races, which is expected. However, if the UCI does not allow it, the invitation will go to team Tinkoff.

  • Track hopefuls skip Paris-Nice

    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    Team High Road's Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will skip Paris-Nice after the UCI threatened...

    Team High Road's Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will skip Paris-Nice after the UCI threatened suspensions for any rider who participates in Paris-Nice. The pair are scheduled to race the UCI World Track Championships in Manchester at the end of March, and need the opportunity to earn points toward qualification for the Olympic Games. Wiggins, the reigning pursuit Olympic and World Champion, could also face exclusion from the Olympic Games if the UCI's threats are borne out.

    Cavendish told the Guardian, "I'm a little bit disappointed, but it's not our fault. We are innocent people trying to do a job and are losing out because of a controversy that is going on," he said. The 22 year-old will now ride in Tirreno-Adriatico as preparation for the track worlds, while Wiggins will look for another major race. Brian Cookson, president of the British cycling federation, said he hoped the matter could be resolved, "otherwise our sport will break apart."

    Cavendish's team-mate Linus Gerdemann told the dpa that he wasn't directly affected by the UCI's threats of sanctions over
    participation in Paris-Nice. "I was planning to start in Italy anyway," meaning Tirreno-Adriatico. He regretted "that we riders are being dragged into this fight between the UCI and the ASO. To be punished for racing -- that's just impossible."

  • ASO accept AIGCP changes to Nice contract

    Racing to the sun
    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    ASO has accepted the changes to team's contracts to contest next weeks Paris-Nice, the Association...

    ASO has accepted the changes to team's contracts to contest next weeks Paris-Nice, the Association Internationale Des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP) has announced. Teams studied the contract after being offered contracts to contest the French race outside of the governance of the sport's world body, the UCI.

    The AIGCP asked for some changes to be made to the contract on behalf of some of the participating teams, which ASO has accepted. "My role was to present the 20 team principals (three are not ProTour outfits) with two questions," AIGCP chairman Eric Boyer told AFP.

    "First, do you intend to participate in the Paris-Nice? The reply was unanimously 'yes'. Then, do you accept the contractual conditions? There, it was a question of 'yes, but…'. So we asked for some amendments to the contract."

    Once such change accepted by ASO is that the French Olympic conciliation body (CNOSF) will step in as arbiter in the event of disagreements.

    "The decision of the teams to participate in the Paris-Nice is linked to their wish to guarantee the interests of their sponsors as well as their sporting interests and those of their riders," a AIGCP statement read.

    Despite the teams organisation supporting participation in the Paris-Nice, it stressed emphasis on the need for "structured dialogue" between the involved parties to avoid a repeat of the issue. Several team directors have labeled the events of the last fortnight as a demonstration of what could occur in the Tour de France lead up.

  • McQuaid refuses French federation, sports minister meeting

    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    UCI president Pat McQuaid is believed to have turned down a request to meet with French Cycling...

    UCI president Pat McQuaid is believed to have turned down a request to meet with French Cycling Federation president Jean Pitallier and French sports minister Bernard Laporte. The UCI released a statement stating it wouldn't meet with the parties unless the Paris-Nice race agrees to operate under its rules and regulations.

    "Under these circumstances, the UCI president is not going to say yes to the invitation by the FFC unless the Paris-Nice race agrees to come under the normal rules and regulations," it said in a statement. "It therefore believes that it is not an opportune time to meet the president of FFC, even in the presence of the Sports Minister Bernard Laporte."

    The UCI's announcement quashes hopes of a cease-fire between the world governing body and the Grand Tour organiser ASO in the lead up to next week's Paris-Nice.

    Pitallier had told AFP prior to the UCI's announcement that Laporte would meet with McQuaid this week and would likely ask the UCI to be more flexible. "He was going to study the proposition and going to make an approach to the president of the UCI," Pitallier said.

    Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

    October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
    September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
    August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
    August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
    August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
    August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
    August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

  • Teams: Our choice is either being quartered or hanged

    Gerolsteiner general manager Hans Michael Holczer
    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    With all the political wrangling going on between the ASO and the UCI, the teams and riders have...

    With all the political wrangling going on between the ASO and the UCI, the teams and riders have been forced into a 'catch-22' situation where they face unhappy sponsors, a missed opportunity to gain form and win races, and more importantly, risk angering the ASO and possibly losing their invitation to the Tour de France if they refuse to participate in Paris-Nice on one hand, and on the other risk suspension from racing by the UCI.

    Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer said that the team managers would meet in Paris on Thursday to discuss the situation, and he hoped they could come together to push for resolution to the conflict. "As a group we are stronger," he told sport1.de. "This isn't a few bullets around our ears, now they are throwing bombs," he said.

    Holczer refused to say whether or not his team would ride on Sunday, but noted, "If we don't start in Paris-Nice, then you can be sure that we can forget our start in the Tour de France. If we do start, then our riders are threatened by the UCI with a ban and non-participation in the world championships and Olympics. We have our choice of being either quartered or hanged." Gerolsteiner was supposed to send such riders as Davide Rebellin, Bernhard Kohl, Stefan Schumacher and Andrea Moletta to Paris-Nice.

    Patrick Lefevere was for many years the president of the council of the pro teams and in that role, spent much time trying to iron out differences between the various parties. The head of Team Quick Step told belga, "I stood for three years in the desert and shouted. It has produced nothing. Apparently the UCI now wants to suspend the 160 riders? It is not longer up to me to carry the load. The riders are in panic. Racing is their source of income."

    He still hoped that a solution could be reached, but knew it wouldn't be easy. "I think that the problem has become so large that it is difficult to reach a solution, because both parties feel they can no...

  • UCI threatens teams, riders with bans and fines

    UCI president Pat McQuaid warned teams
    Article published:
    March 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has directly threatened riders and teams with suspensions and fines if...

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has directly threatened riders and teams with suspensions and fines if they side with the Paris-Nice organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and participate in the upcoming race, which is to be sanctioned under the French national federation. In an e-mail sent Tuesday, McQuaid expressed his sympathy with the riders' situations, but said he was prepared to take action against them.

    According to the letter, riders who participate in Paris-Nice face up to six months suspension, a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs, the loss of UCI points and "exclusion from participation in UCI World Championships and other events". Teams were threatened with the suspension of their UCI registration, a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs and withdrawal of the UCI ProTour licence or Wild Card label.

    "Our riders received this letter by e-mail today [Tuesday]," Rabobank's sports director Eric Breukink told AFP. "Our riders are frightened."

    The move follows more than a week of silence from the ASO, who announced on February 26, 2008 that they would hold Paris-Nice outside the aegis of the UCI and had recruited the French Cycling Federation (FFC) to sanction the event. The ASO then appointed the French anti-doping agency, AFLD, to be in charge of the doping controls for the event.

    Since that time, the ASO has steered clear of making statements to the press, declining to be interviewed by Cyclingnews, and only chimed in today to declare that the threats of the UCI are "totally disproportionate". In a statement to AFP, the ASO spokesperson said, "The UCI launches totally disproportionate threats against riders and teams (such as fines, suspension, exclusion)," and reiterated the organisation's stance that sanctioning Paris-Nice under the FFC is in accordance with French law.

    The ASO statement said that it "has the support of the Ministry of Sports...