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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Date published:
November 16, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Philippe Gilbert's younger brother finally turns pro

    Coupe, Fezouine and Jerome Gilbert with the team bike and jersey
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 14:03 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    Jérôme Gilbert dreams of racing as Philippe's teammate

    This is not exactly a family business like the others, one of those pairs of siblings that cycling so likes to promote. Philippe and Jérôme Gilbert are not the same as Andy and Fränk Schleck, who both aim to win the Tour de France. Jérôme, the younger brother of the World's number one cyclist, is a beginner in the peloton and doesn't dream of challenging last year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège's winner.

    He has just signed his first pro contract for 2012. “Better a semi-pro contract,” he tells Cyclingnews, as he is moving to the continental squad, Geofco-Ville d'Alger. The new team, with a Belgian base and an Algerian license, will be managed by former pro Geoffrey Coupé and has hired Nico Mattan as directeur sportif.

    So far, Gilbert has been a modest amateur rider in Belgium. His famous name in the peloton didn't help him – even if he “was proud of his brother” - but didn't harm him either – even if his rivals watched him more than the others and stuck more on his wheel.

    But now that the media has started to follow “the other Gilbert” he can play with the situation a bit. “To be pro with Geofco-Ville d'Alger is a great deal for both sides”, he says. “I bring the team some advertising, they give me an opportunity to be a semi-professional.”

    Gilbert knows time is running out: he will be 28 next season, almost two years younger than Philippe.  However, a few months ago, the prospect of a pro career seemed an impossibility. He worked as delivery man and storekeeper in a hi-fi shop and only rode “for fun” twice a week.

    Everything changed with a gruesome crash at the Tour of Faso, in October 2010. On stage two of the popular...

  • Video: Team Sky "will be the best in the world", says Cavendish

    Mark Cavendish (r) at the Action Medical Research charity dinner in November 2011.
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 15:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cyclingnews spoke to British star as he celebrated 2011 success

    Mark Cavendish told Cyclingnews that Team Sky is "going to be the best team in the world" as he reflected on his success in 2011 at a charity dinner for Action Medical Research in London last week.

    The British superstar, who is moving to Team Sky for 2012 after securing a memorable Tour de France Green Jersey/Road World Championship double in 2011, looks ahead to taking on both the London Olympic Games and the Tour de France in 2012.  Cavendish also spoke to Mark Robinson about his pride at the prospect of becoming a father for the first time in April.

  • Merckx: Andy Schleck should race Giro d'Italia

    Eddy Merckx was on hand to congratulate Andy Schleck.
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 16:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    "Cannibal" has faith in Bruyneel not to commit tactical errors

    Eddy Merckx has advised Andy Schleck to race the Giro d'Italia, where a victory would be more important than a second place at the Tour de France. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the greatest cyclist of all time also criticised Schleck's tactics in this year's Tour and said he believed that with the new super team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek and its boss Johan Bruyneel, no errors of strategy will happen next year.

    Asked whether a first place in the Giro mattered more than a second place at the Tour, Merckx said, "First in the Giro. But he has to race it, too, and win it, which you can't take for granted."

    Schleck has not participated in the Italian Grand Tour since 2007, when he got second and won the race best young rider jersey. Instead, he turned to the Tour de France, finishing in second place three times since 2009.

    The 26-year-old and his new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team have not established a race programme for 2012 yet, and with the Tour de France route including almost 100 kilometres of time trialling, the Giro d'Italia may also be an option. Merckx also said that Schleck's chances were slim should Alberto Contador appear at next year's Tour - but that there was also hope.

    "Contador is more complete, Schleck always misses something," he said. "But Andy also has to race the Tour not aiming at second place. With Johan Bruyneel, he won't commit the tactical errors that cost him the Tour this year. Like when he went to chase Contador on the Galibier instead of putting all his chances on Alpe d'Huez."

    In any case, even this would not have prevented Cadel Evans of winning the 2011 Tour. The Australian is an excellent time triallist and will be...

  • Breakaway cycling league backed by Rothschild

    Pat McQuaid faced a barrage of questions.
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 16:25 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    UCI says proposal was "unworkable"

    Cyclingnews has learned that the financial group Rothschild put together a proposal for a cycling breakaway league in the early stages of 2011. The proposal is said to have minimised the influence of the UCI but lacked the cooperation of the sport's biggest race organiser, ASO.

    The proposal was subsequently leaked to the UCI and President Pat McQuaid, who confirmed its existence to Cyclingnews. He also added that a second, less professional proposal also landed on his desk.

    "One was put together by Rothschild but I don't know who put the other one together. It's not really for me to say where it came from. I don't want to say who gave it to me. It was given to me by someone it was presented to," McQuaid told Cyclingnews.

    Cyclingnews reported in March that 11 teams were considering breaking away from the UCI over issues with the governing body's management of the sport, including its institution of rules banning race radios. The cooperation of the ASO was key to the idea as they run the sport's biggest race, the Tour de France.

    It was clear by April that McQuaid was aware of the efforts, and in May, McQuaid threatened to charge teams for the cost of the biological passport programme should they conspire against the UCI to form a breakaway league, but at the time he was not worried that the concept - now known to be presented in the Rothschild proposal - would become a reality.

    "It was unworkable because of the way it was presented and the financials. The whole project was unrealistic. I'd heard a bit about it before I saw it. We did write to Rothschild but we never got an answer from...

  • 2012 Tour of Borneo announced

    The race route for the 2012 Tour of Borneo
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 21:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    New race joins UCI Asian Tour calendar

    2012 will bring the first-ever Tour of Borneo, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) has announced. The five-day tour will run from April 27 to May 1 next year and will cover a total distance of 674km over its five stages and will feature dramatic scenery. The UCI has also confirmed that the event will be officially added to its Asian Tour calendar. Race organiser Sabah State Cycling Association (SCA) is expecting 20 professional teams from five continents to feature on the inaugural edition's start line.

    “The five-stage race beginning on April 27 will start from my beloved hometown Semporna, an idyllic district renowned for its best diving spots like Sipadan, Mabul and Sitangkai,” said race patron YB Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie bin Haji Apdal.

    "From there, the riders will proceed to Tawau, Lahad Datu, and Sandakan before they face the grueling mountain highlands leading to Kundasang, the base of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia. The race will end in the West Coast of Sabah, on May 1, 2012, covering the district of Kota Kinabalu, Papar and Penampang. I believe the combination of these routes has been selected to bring excitement and challenge for the riders."

  • Downing to Endura Racing in 2012

    Russell Downing (Sky)
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 22:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Briton takes Team Sky experience to Continental team

    Russell Downing will take his “wealth of racing experience” to Endura Racing for 2012.  The Scottish Continental team announced Tuesday that it had signed the British rider who most recently spent two years at Team Sky.

    “The former British road race champion joins us from Team Sky where he picked up a stage victory at the Criterium International and a stage and overall win at the Tour de Wallonie,” according to the team press release. “Much of Russell’s 2011 season was spent in support of his team leaders and he put in a gutsy performance at the Giro d’Italia in May where he rode with several broken ribs to finish his first Grand Tour.”

    The 33-year-old turned pro in 1999 with Linda McCartney, and since then has ridden with,, Driving Force Logistics, Health Net, Pinarello Racing Team and CandiTVs/Marshalls Pasta, before joining Sky in 2010.  His two years with Sky were his only time at a top-ranked team.

    “I'm really excited about joining Endura Racing for 2012 after a couple of great years with Sky,” Downing said. “I've been speaking to Brian Smith [Endura Racing's General Manager] for several months now about the team and it's great to finally put pen to paper.

    "Endura Racing has an impressive looking race schedule for 2012 and I'm looking to get back to winning ways, to help build on what the team achieved in 2011. I've enjoyed riding at UCI World Tour level and have gained a lot of experience at some of the biggest races in cycling. I'm looking forward to passing that experience on to the younger riders on the squad.”

  • Le Monde fined over Operación Puerto report

    Dr Eufemiano Fuentes
    Article published:
    November 15, 2011, 23:41 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    French newspaper defamed FC Barcelona in 2006, court rules

    The French newspaper Le Monde was fined €15,000 after the Spanish supreme court decided its 2006 report linking FC Barcelona to the doping investigation Operación Puerto amounted to defamation.

    In 2009, a Spanish court had fined Le Monde €300,000 for naming FC Barcelona in relation to the case. At that time, the author of the feature, Stéphane Mandard, said, "I hope Spanish justice will have courage to see the truth come out".

    In this week's appeal case, the Supreme Court decided to cut drastically the fine but confirmed the legal fault of the newspaper.

    In December 2006, Le Monde published a report that linked Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor who ran a Madrid clinic at which police found large quantities of banked blood and doping products, to Spanish football teams FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, FC Valence and Seville's Real Betis.

    Dr Fuentes himself confirmed in the media that he had worked with athletes from several sports, including tennis, athletics, boxing, football as well as cyclists. Officially closed in September 2008, Operación Puerto has been said to involve more than 200 athletes, but only cyclists have been named as clients. To date only Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde and Michele Scarponi have been officially sanctioned by the UCI in relation to the case.

    While Fuentes did not name football players or teams, Mandard said he had obtained from unnamed sources several documents allegedly showing doping programs for players on the 2005-2006 FC Barcelona team. That year was the most successful for the "Barça", which captured the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.

  • Interview: Sean Muir talks about the future of the NRS

    Riders snake their way along the Great Ocean Road during the 139 kilometre fourth stage from Anglesea to Barwon Heads.
    Article published:
    November 16, 2011, 0:15 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    The tough road ahead for Australia's domestic racing series

    Sean Muir is the road program coordinator for Cycling Australia, and among other things is charged with the difficult task of improving the standing of the domestic racing scene in Australia. Muir's biggest project to this end is the National Road Series, which both he and Cycling Australia hope will grow into a concrete development pathway for the next generations of cyclists, in extension to the existing, though limited AIS high performance program.

    In 2011 we've seen a number of riders graduate successfully from the NRS which is no doubt a positive sign, but the series is still young, and by Muir's own admission is far from perfect. Muir talked to Cyclingnews about the NRS's current state, the transformation that has taken place already, and its future.

    AH: What would you describe to be the mission statement of the NRS, and do you believe it is fulfilling it at the moment?

    SM: The goal of the NRS is to create a breeding ground for cyclists to step through from the domestic scene to forging professional careers overseas. We are finding there are a lot of riders who are reaching a point in time where they they fell they need to go overseas, perhaps prematurely. We want to help them get overseas, but we also think we can provide a stronger platform here to allow riders to stay in Australia longer.

    We're working with promoters, teams and the riders to create an atmosphere which they are keen to compete in. We're looking to build the series in every aspect to draw the riders and the teams and of course the sponsors along with it.

    AH: If you contrasted the structure of the national calendar today, to that of say a decade ago, what have been the major changes in that period?

    SM: I think that ten years ago there were a lot of one-off promoters out there. Now Cycling Australia has taken a little bit more of a directive approach. We sat down...