What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Thursday!

The Six Day circuit is heading to Belgium but it’s Grand Tour riders past and present who are filling up the trash can today. Big Jan’s back in the news and Vino wants back in the peloton. DiLuca is planning his future and Lance’s U23 squad of the future is taking shape. It’s all here at PEZ, so let’s get going.

Local Stars To Gent
Fresh from his win in Munich Six, Belgian Iljo Keisse is looking forward to competing on home soil at the Ghent event, which starts next week. The Belgian and his German partner, Robert Bartko took out the win in Munich by just four points from Leif Lampater and the soon to be retired Erik Zabel.

“Munich is one of the top six day races and wasn’t yet on my palmares,” said Keisse after posting his 11th career victory, “From the fist day we took control of the race,” he told Sporza, “and I am really pleased with the win.”

Also smiling is Six Day legend Patrick Sercu, who is the race organiser of the Ghent event, as he confirmed the names of the top starters for next week. Joining Keisse on the start line will be Bruno Risi and Erik Zabel, with Sercu saying that “Keisse is the rider of the future” and that it is a blessing that people can see Zabel one last time on the Ghent track.

Keisse said last year that he hopes to take over from Risi at the top of the 6 Day circuit and Sercu told Sporza, that this is a possibility, as the young Belgian has all of the qualities necessary to be a top rider.

With Kenny De Ketele also building up his profile on the 6 Day scene, Sercu feels that there is a future for the Belgian pair at the London Olympics. Belgium’s last Olympic madison medal came back in 2000 when Etienne De Wilde and Matt Gilmore took silver in the inaugural event, behind host country Australia. Following DeWilde’s retirement, Gilmore was training Keisse up to be his regular six day and national partner, until he himself had to take an early retirement, thanks to a serious knee injury.

While a new Belgian super pairing is a possibility for the future, Sercu says that, “Bartko [Germany] is still very good for Iljo. Robert has a positive influence on the development of Iljo.”

The Ghent 6 Day starts on Tuesday and with ticket sales already strong, the riders can look forward to the motivation of a full house when the racing concludes on Sunday 23rd.

Ullrich Back In Court
Remember Team Coast? Well Jan Ullrich hasn’t forgotten them and thanks to the work of his legal team the former Olympic Champion and Tour winner now has a cash settlement from his former employer.

Team Coast, for whom Ullrich rode back in 2003, collapsed in the early part of the season with team director Gьnther Dahms still owing Ullrich money for wages. The money had been withheld in part, over allegations that Ullrich had breached his contract with the team either prior to arriving or while with the team, by taking performance enhancing drugs.

This week, Ullrich swore under oath, that he had done no such thing and after a bit of back and forth (including a discussion on whose blood it was in the clinic in Spain) the judge in Dьsseldorf found in Jan’s favour and awarded him 340,000euro plus interest.

Ullrich says that the money will go to charity if he ever sees it, which must mean he still has plenty of cash in his post racing career. He handed over a cool million back in April to settle an ongoing sporting fraud charge (doping in sport was not against German law at the time) that had been brought against him.

Di Luca’s Post Career Plans
Still with plenty of racing left in him, Danilo DiLuca is thinking ahead to his post racing career and is set to open a cycling complex in the area around Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. According to WVcycling.com DiLuca will open the doors on the complex in March next year and clients will be able to access training advice, physiotherapy and relaxation, as well as purchase a new race bike to put it all into practice. While the store will be run by a team of specialists once it opens, DiLuca plans on manning the floor himself from the end of 2011, which is when his current contratct with LPR expires.

Verbrugghe Moves On
Rik Verbrugghe was part of the Belgian exodus from Cofidis this year when he retired from cycing at the end of the season, but he is heading back to work in the two-wheeled game in 2009.

Verbrugghe will be returning to Quick Step (where he rode in 2005) to become the team’s fifth sports director. “We’ve been talking for quite some time about my working for the team in 2009,” he said of his return to Patrick Lefevres squad, “It’s a dream come true.”

While looking to pass on his experiences as a rider, Verbrugghe will also be hoping to learn the “directing” ropes quickly, as his initial contract with the team is just for one year.

Sella Sanction Slashed?
The Office of Italy’s Anti Doping Prosecutor, Ettore Torre, has recommended that Emanuele Sella receive a one year suspension for his use of blood boosting drug EPO.

Sella was caught in a surprise (for him, anyway) out of competition test on July 23rd this year after raising suspicions with his three stage wins in May’s Giro d’Italia.

Torre made the recommendation for the reduced sentence due to the fact that Sella co-operated fully when called before investigators on August 8 and apparently “named names” which may further assist with the fight against doping in sport.

The decision on his ban will be made on December 1, but so far there has been no mention as to whether his confession included what he may or may not have got up to in the Giro.

Good on him for fessing up in the end, but getting caught out and then confirming what the tests have already shown, is hardly a “confession” that warrants a 50% reduction in suspension (in my humble opinion, anyway). We will wait and see what the Italian authorities have to say next month. Someone remind me again why they aren’t re-testing the samples from this year’s Giro???

Kiwi’s To Join Lance
Because The Pez loves his Trek (just like I love mine) I thought this story was worthy of a mention.

New Zealand Olympics bronze medallists Sam Bewley and Jesse Sergent will be heading to the US to learn under the guidance of Axel Merckx, as part of Lance Armstrong’s under 23 development team in 2009.

“Armstrong’s team is sponsored by Trek and because I am the company’s distributor in New Zealand, I was able to put forward an application to try and get maybe one or two riders on this team,” said former NZ national coach Ron Cheatley in an interview with NZPA.

“I put in Sam’s name and followed it up with Jesse’s, and much to our delight, both riders have now been signed and they will join the Trek Armstrong team from January 1.”

One benefit of working in the development setting (other than being linked to Armstrong, the biggest name in cycling despite the fact he’s been retired for three years) is the fact that the two young track riders can continue with their team pursuit commitments with their national team.

The Votes Are In…
It’s that time of year again when various groups and organisations vote for their cyclist of the year. First cab off the rank is one of the more modest awards, that of Rider of The Year on Team CSC Saxo Bank, as voted by members of the squads fan club.

With 11 victories this year, including Olympic Time Trial Gold, a stage win in Tour de France, Milano-Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Monte Paschi Eroica, Fabian Cancellara polled the most votes despite being up against the winner of the Tour de France, in team mate Carlos Sastre.

Previous winner of the Fan Club’s award are: 2007: Cancellara, 2006, 05, 04: Jens Voigt, 2003, 02 and 01: Michael Sandstшd.

The ComeBack Kids
Roberto Heras (who has apparently clicked off 20,000km in training this year) is not the only Grand Tour big gun looking to return to racing in 2009. Alexandre Vinokourov is also looking at an April ’09 start date to resurrect his cycling career.

Vino was handed a rather light one year penalty by the Kazakhstan cycling federation after being found guilty of blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France. At the time, he announced his retirement, and as such, the UCI didn’t pursue a heavier penalty as it seemed the man around whom the original Astana team was built, was walking away from cycling for good.

Reports are now, that Vino’s management are seeking a contract for the coming season. Just what the UCI will have to say about that remains to be seen, but you can imagine that a further 12months out of the sport will be the minimum they are seeking. I wonder if they have missed the deadline for filing an appeal against the original decision of the rider’s home federation?

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