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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, November 9, 2009

Date published:
November 9, 2009, 18:00
  • The reunification of German cycling

    Germany's Jan Ullrich in 2006
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 09:42
    Susan Westemeyer

    Twenty years after the Berlin Wall fell, East and West German riders are united

    Twenty years ago, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall opened, and for the first time in decades, citizens of East Germany were able to enter West Berlin legally and easily. Cycling was not unaffected by political matters, with East Germans Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel among those making the move to the west and going on to stardom.

    Jan Ullrich, future Tour de France winner and a native of Rostock, (East) Germany, was a 15-year-old student at the Kinder und Jugendsportschule in East Berlin. Looking back, he says he is amazed how little he understood of what was happening. In his book, Ganz oder Gar Nicht, published in 2004, he described his first visit over the border – getting 'guest' money from a West German bank and heading to the nearest sports shoe store. He was astounded at the selection of shoes, and spent virtually all of his Western Deutschmarks on a pair of Adidas shoes.

    Ullrich continued on at the school until January 1992, when he moved to Hamburg.

    Zabel is a native (East) Berliner, and was older than Ullrich when the Wall fell. At 19, he was already a member of the national team. He wasn't even aware of the events in his hometown as they happened. The sprinter was in Tunisia for a national team training camp, and only heard the news the next day. He stayed in Berlin to finish his schooling before moving to the Dortmund, Germany, area, where he still lives.

    Jens Voigt also attended the Sports School in Berlin, where he met and became friends with Zabel. He was still at the school in November 1989,  and 'crossed over' on the night of November 9. Voigt admitted to being stunned by the availability of consumer goods. Voigt stayed in Berlin, and lives there to this day.

    There are a number of younger riders in the peloton, who had the advantage of being able to stay home and not having to move to West Germany. Marcus Burghardt, for example, was only six years old when the Wall fell, and didn't join his first cycling club until 1993, when he was 10.

    The most interesting case, though, may be Tony Martin. He was born in Cottbus, East Germany, but came to the West at the tender age of four. His parents and he were among those who were able to slip across the border from Hungary to Austria, and then to West Germany, in the summer of 1989.

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  • Astana offer Contador up to €8 million per year

    Alberto Contador (Astana) celebrates his Amstel Curaçao Race victory.
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 09:44
    Richard Tyler

    Kazakh team reportedly offer Spaniard mammoth salary in new four-year deal

    Alberto Contador has reportedly been offered a new contract by Astana worth up to eight million Euros per season, on the condition that the two-time Tour de France winner remain with the team for a further four years.

    Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports that the Kazakh team made the offer to Contador's brother and agent, Fran Contador, over the weekend. It comes as the Spanish rider seeks to renegotiate the terms of his current contract with the team, which has one year to run.

    The massive salary boost would far exceed the four million Euro that Contador is believed to have asked for as part of the renegotiation. The asked-for sum is based upon offers made by rival teams Garmin-Slipstream, Caisse d'Epargne and Quick Step. However, Astana has made the new offer on the basis that Contador will extend his tenure with the team for a further four years, through 2013.

    In July, Contador was offered four million Euros per season with Astana on a four year contract; a deal that the Spaniard turned down. The latest proposal demonstrates the clear intent that Astana have to retain the services of Contador for the long term, despite the rider's recent efforts to exit his contract and leave the team.

    While the new offer would exceed the financial conditions Contador has set forth, he has also asked for two further conditions aimed to ensure his participation in the Tour de France if he remains with the team. The 26-year-old has asked for an exit clause for the new contract in the case of a doping case within the team, and a written confirmation that Alexandre Vinokourov will not participate in the Tour.

    The exclusion of Vinokourov from the Tour de France team would likely be a major sticking point in Contador's contract renegotiation, as the team's Kazakh-backers will expect Vinokourov to start the French Grand Tour.

    Vinokourov was ejected from the 2007 Tour de France after a he tested positive for blood doping. His Astana team was subsequently excluded from the Tour de France in 2008, a decision that left Contador unable to defend his 2007 Tour title.

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  • Contador and Schleck play Tour favourite tag

    Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck look cool and collected on the Côte d'Araches.
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 11:52
    Richard Tyler

    Winner and runner-up at this year's Tour de France mark one another as favourite for 2010

    Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck have signalled each other as the favourite for the overall title at the 2010 Tour de France. The winner and runner-up in this year's edition of the Tour paid due respect to one another as they outlined their impressions of the route for next year's Tour in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, published on Saturday.

    Contador finished 4:11 ahead of Schleck at this year's Tour de France. Two-thirds of the Spaniard's overall advantage was taken in the race's three time-trial stages: the prologue, stage four team time trial and stage 18 individual time trial. Contador said that the 2010 Tour route, which includes 59 kilometres of individual time trials, will significantly reduce his advantage over Schleck.

    "Next year's Tour de France is definitely to Andy's advantage," Contador told the newspaper. "The focus will be on the mountain stages and there are only two time trials. The long time trial is on the penultimate day, where condition will make the difference. For a specialist time trialist like me it will be harder to make a [decisive] difference.

    "If I want to stay ahead of Andy, than I will have to work harder than I ever have before."

    Schleck echoed Contador's sentiment and said despite the reduction in time trials for next year's Tour, he would need to improve in the discipline if he is to topple the defending champion.

    "The main thing is that I lost the Tour this year in the time trials. I have to work hard at improving this," he said. "Alberto is an example in this regard. He is so terribly professional."

    With the team time trial once again removed from the Tour route, Schleck predicted a far more individual contest in next year's race

    "Next year the Tour will be a man-to-man fight and the strongest rider will win," said Schleck. "There is no team time trial and mountain stages look as though they can be kept under control. The strength of the team in 2010 will not be as decisive as it was this season."

    Both riders are likely to face stiff opposition from riders such as Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans at next year's Tour, but at the respective ages of 26 and 24, Contador and Schleck appear the riders most likely to confront one another in the years to come. The Luxembourger acknowledged that while he will challenge Contador next year, he believes it will be several seasons before he can regularly match his rival.

    "There is certainly a chance to beat Alberto, but it will be two to three years before I can get to the same level as him."

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  • Savio confirms Androni Giocattoli as sponsor

    Michele Scarponi (Serramenti Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli)
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 13:18
    Peter Cossins

    Team manager Savio gets new title sponsor for team, Wilson and Margutti join squad

    Flamboyant team manager and Procycling columnist Gianni Savio has announced a new primary sponsor for his Italo-Venezuelan team. Replacing Diquigiovanni PVC Serramenti as his main backer in 2010 will be current secondary sponsor Androni Giocattoli.

    “We are very proud to present the leading toy manufacturer as the primary sponsor of our team,” Savio told Tuttobiciweb, adding in typically effusive fashion: “Our friend, Mario Androni, is a great cycling enthusiast and a real gentleman. In the two years we have worked together we’ve obtained some prestigious victories. With the team that I’m now building with Marco Bellini, we believe that we can offer further cause for excitement.”

    Savio’s team won three stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia as well as the Tirreno-Adriatico title claimed by Michele Scarponi, who remains as one of the team’s key riders for next season. Alongside Scarponi, Savio will have Francesco Ginanni, Colombian climber José Serpa and Swiss time trial champion Rubens Bertogliati.

    There are set to be at least two new arrivals on the squad in the shape of new pro Damiano Margutti and former Française des Jeux rider Matthew Wilson, who rode two Tours and two Giros for the French team. Wilson moved on to and has spent the past two seasons with US continental squad Team Type 1.

    Savio expects to name a new secondary sponsor of his squad and further rider reinforcements as he puts together a team he hopes will be 18-strong as it heads into the new season.

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  • Hondo returns to ProTour with Lampre

    Danilo Hondo (PSK Whirlpool)
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 14:22
    Susan Westemeyer

    German to cooperate with Petacchi in 2010, but also has own ambitions

    Danilo Hondo has confirmed that he will move to Lampre for the 2010 season and will work in cooperation with fellow sprinter Alessandro Petacchi as both make their return to the ProTour. The German rode in 2009 for the Czech Professional Continental team PSK Whirlpool-Author.

    The 35-year-old told Cyclingnews that he will work to set-up sprints with fellow Lampre-newcomer Petacchi, but will also have his own chances. “Naturally the idea to build up a strong train for the sprint finishes together with Petacchi,” he said.

    “I want to help Petacchi and the team to many successes, but the team has also clearly agreed to my own ambitions,” he continued. “It will be important to remain flexible and to find the optimum use of all our abilities.”

    He has his eye not only on sprints, but also on “Classics like Milano-Sanremo; Belgium's Three Days of De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, and Flanders; also Hamburg [Vattenfall Cyclassics] and Paris-Tours are major goals.”

    Hondo rode for Team Telekom/T-Mobile from 1999 to 2003, before joining Gerolsteiner in 2004. In the spring of 2005 he tested positive for Carphedon, and was subsequently suspended until April 2007. Since then he has ridden for Team Lamonta, Tinkoff Credit Systems, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni and PSK. He is also active in six-day races.

    He was German national road champion in 2002, and has eight Friedensfahrt stages to his credit, as well as two Giro d'Italia stage wins in 2001. Hondo had three victories this season, including the 263 kilometre Prague-Karlsbad-Prague race

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  • East German icon Ludwig recalls fall of Berlin Wall

    Olaf Ludwig  Photo: © KlaDi
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 14:51
    Peter Cossins

    End of the Wall led to turning pro, racing the Tour

    It is 20 years to the day since border points between East and West Berlin were opened, an event that set Germany on the road towards reunification. Among those East Germans stunned by the speed of events that led to the opening of the countries borders was Olaf Ludwig, one of the country's sporting icons having taken the Olympic road title in Seoul in 1988 and won no fewer than 36 stages in the Peace Race.

    Interviewed in this morning's edition of L'Equipe, Ludwig recalls events from two decades ago that led to him going from star status in East Germany to a Tour de France debut and the points title just months later. In the interview Ludwig reveals that he had spoken about turning professional following his Olympic success, but had been persuaded to continue in the amateur ranks for another two seasons by high-ranking members of the East German government.

    Having missed out on the 1989 Worlds due to injury, Ludwig's season ended in Australia. Back home, meanwhile, protests against the East German regime were building. "We saw pictures of demonstrations in Leipzig on Australian TV, but we didn't understand what was going on," Ludwig recalls. "Some Polish riders translated it all for us."

    On his return to East Germany in late October 1989, Ludwig and several other leading riders tried to persuade authorities to let them turn pro. Their request was denied.

    Back home in Gera, Ludwig and his wife went out to a birthday party on November 9. "It was late. We'd drunk quite a bit and when we were walking in front of the town hall, a guy ran by shouting" 'The Wall has come down!' Obviously, we didn't believe him, but little by little everyone came out into the streets."

    As East Germany started to disintegrate, pro team managers and agents attempted to sign up the many talents that had been brought through the country's sporting system. Ludwig was initially linked to the Stuttgart team that was the forerunner to Team Telekom. However, poor communication links meant the deal was never finalised and a representative from Peter Post's Panasonic team managed to fax a contract to Ludwig.

    "Post was on holiday and they asked me to sign a contract that he was sending by fax. I was astounded, I had no idea what a fax was," Ludwig said.

    In January 1990, Ludwig put his bike in the back of his Lada and drove to Holland to meet up with his new teammates. Within a few days he was making his pro debut at the Ruta del Sol. Led out by the powerhouse Panasonic team, Ludwig was a first-day winner and quickly racked up the victories.

    Five months later, Post was rewarded for his canny move for Ludwig when the big East German wore the Tour's green jersey into Paris, just two months before East and West Germany were reunified.

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  • O'Grady admitted to Spanish hospital

    Saxo Bank teammates Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara push on up the final climb of stage nine
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 15:49
    Richard Tyler

    Saxo Bank rider in Spanish hospital after collapse at Valencia MotoGP

    Saxo Bank's Stuart O'Grady has been admitted to hospital in Spain after he collapsed during a corporate event at the MotoGP circuit in Valencia on Sunday.

    Australian news website reports that the 36-year-old passed out after taking a hot-lap around the race circuit on a motorcycle piloted by Australian MotoGP rider Casey Stoner prior to the Valencia Grand Prix.

    According to Cycling South Australia executive manager Max Stevens O'Grady bit his tongue and collapsed while being introduced to other MotoGP riders on the race grid by Stoner.

    "Casey Stoner started to interview Stuart and introducing him to these people," said Stevens. "Stuart couldn't answer the questions and then he collapsed. They called the medical team and luckily he had the doctors on standby for the race."

    Stevens said that O'Grady had been admitted to hospital by doctors and was currently undergoing tests to determine the cause of the incident.

    "We'll know more in the next couple of days," continued Stevens. "Ann-Marie, his wife, is at home in Monaco and we're getting all this information through third parties."

    The winner of two Tour de France stages (1998, 2004) and Paris-Roubaix (2007), O'Grady has had to deal with health related issues during his 14 year career. In 2002, he underwent successful surgery to remove a blockage in his iliac artery which had caused a power imbalance in his legs.

    O'Grady had passed a compulsory medical by MotoGP doctors prior to the lap with Stoner.

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  • Horrillo back in training

    Pedro Horillo (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    November 9, 2009, 16:30
    Shane Stokes

    Rabobank rider to make decision about comeback in December

    Given his spectacular 60 metre plummet into a ravine during this year’s Giro d’Italia, few expected to see Pedro Horrillo ever throw his leg across a bike again. However the Spanish rider has made a much quicker recovery than doctors anticipated and is now doing training rides of up to 100 kilometres in length. He is still to decide whether a return to the professional peloton is possible; a decision that will be made at the end of December, after which – if he opts to continue – he will return with his Rabobank team.

    “I’m feeling pretty good,” he told Biciciclismo. “Ten days ago I had surgery on my knee to remove two pieces of metal, eight inches on each side of the patella and held together with wire. In principle, they were going to remove that after a year, but my rehabilitation has gone pretty fast and it was bothering me...limiting my rehabilitation.”

    A past stage winner in races such as the Euskal Bizikleta, Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, Horrillo moved to Rabobank prior to the start of the 2005 season and has been racing there ever since. His near-fatal crash occurred on stage eight of this year’s Giro, when he flipped over a guardrail during the descent of the Culmine di San Pietro.

    Fortunately, his bike remained on the road and those on the race quickly realised that he had gone over the edge. Had his bike also fallen into the ravine, it could have taken days to find him. He suffered fractures to his upper leg, knee and vertebrae, and several broken ribs punctured his lungs.

    Many wondered if he would be able to return to cycling, but he’s managed to do so, less than six months after the crash. “I’ve trained up to 100 kilometres, but usually I do 60-70,” he said. “That’s mostly because of a lack of time after leaving rehabilitation, and because I did these as extra work [in addition to the rehabilitation exercises]

    “I’m feeling generally well, although it could be better. The rides are done at a slow rhythm, that of a cyclo-tourist, rather than a professional. I’m enjoying it. In addition, I’ve got to take my lack of fitness and the discomfort in my femur into account.”

    Horrillo plans to continue to work in the gym and with a physiotherapist. The bike remains on his mind and so he will also log kilometres in the saddle. Attendance at the ACP [Spanish Professional Cyclists’ Assocation] criterium last weekend helped to whet his appetite a little, even if it was far too soon to think about pinning on a number once more.

    “I would have liked to have participated, but I can’t as I’m not fit and this week they have to evaluate me after removing the staples [in his leg]. It’s the third time the same scar has been opened and it’s harder to regenerate the skin tissue.”

    Rabobank has been supportive of Horrillo since the crash and he recently had his photographs taken as part of the team line-up for next year. He played down the significance of this, saying that he wanted to have a visual record in case he doesn’t return to the peloton. But regardless of that caution, getting back to the professional ranks is nevertheless a possibility.

    That decision will be taken in several week’s time. “I don’t want to obsess about it [returning as a pro],” he explained. “I do not want to make a decision now and be wrong. I have given it until the end of the year and will make a decision in December. The team are waiting, but it’s too soon for me to know.”

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