SATURDAY JANUARY 5 TO FRIDAY JANUARY 11, 2008

ITALIANS REOPEN OPERACION PUERTO

Spanish cycling has tried to sweep Operacion Puerto under the carpet but the anti-doping investigators of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has announced that it will open a full investigation into Dr Fuentes, the medic at the centre of the organised doping scandal. All the riders involved will be called for questioning in Rome and those who refuse could be banned from racing in Italy. With the Tour de France visiting Italy for the first rest day and with the world championships in Italy in September, the investigations could have a huge effect on the 2008 season.
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THE RETURN OF SUPERMARIO

Is Mario Cipollini set to come out of retirement and make a comeback in the USA, riding for the controversial Rock Racing team? He has denied it but Cycling Weekly has been told by several sources in Tuscany that Cipollini will race again and even hopes to ride Milan-San Remo. Cipollini has been seen training like mad and is set to travel to the USA for a training camp in Malibu starting on January 16.
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HALFORDS BIKEHUT GB TEAM

Halfords Bikehut is the new sponsor of the British professional women’s team led by Nicole Cooke. British Cycling’s performance director Dave Brailsford has taken an innovative approach by combining the best aspects of a national team with the benefits of a major commercial sponsor with the aim of helping Britain win gold in the women’s road race at the 2008 Olympic Games. To bolster Halfords’ presence in the UK, Rob Hayles and Tom Southam will ride Premier Calendar events for the squad.
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Rob Hayles (l), Nicole Cooke and Chris Boardman were on hand at the launch of the new Halfords Bikehut team. Photo: Simon Richardson.

SIX-DAY TRACK RACING TO COME TO THE CAPITAL?

It might not have an indoor velodrome, but that hasn’t stopped talk of a Six-Day track event coming to London in September 2008. Organisers of the Rotterdam Six-Day in Holland have been in talks with various parties in the capital – and they’ll build a temporary track near the O2 arena in Greenwich to host the event. When/if the Olympic velodrome ever gets built, London will then have a ready-made event for the new venue. And, of course, Britain has got the world class riders to fill it too.
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TOUR DOWN UNDER SNUBBED

The 2008 UCI ProTour begins at the Tour Down Under in Australia on January 22 but most of the big names in the peloton have snubbed the race, preferring to train in Europe and follow a traditional early season build-up.
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BOONEN ON THE BOARDS?

Great Britain and Australia beware! Tom Boonen has a new objective for 2008: ride the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympic Games as part of a Quick Step and Belgian quartet.
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Kevin Dawson and Julia Shaw were awarded with some impressive silverware for being Britain’s Best All-Rounders at the annual Cycling Time Trials Champions’ Night on Saturday. Photo by Andy Jones. Full story>>

STANNARD GETS PRO CONTRACT

Ian Stannard, the 20-year-old British rider, has teamed up with Paul Manning and Ed Clancy at Belgian professional continental squad Landbouwkrediet. Stannard gained valuable international experience riding as a stagiaire for the T-Mobile squad in the final two months of the 2007 season before the team’s sponsor pulled the plug.
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VALVERDE IS THE MAN AT CAISSE D’EPARGNE

The Caisse D?Epargne team launched in Paris on Thursday as the Spanish squad circle their wagons around leader Alejandro Valverde. The Former ProTour winner had a lacklustre 2007 as his name was linked to Operacion Puerto on an almost daily basis. Valverde constantly came under fire last year, and from all sides, not least the sports governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale who are believed to have subjected Valverde to regular out of competition dope tests. At the presentation both his team mates and back-up staff went to great lengths to demonstrate that they at least are right behind their embattled leader.

SCHUMACHER POSITIVE FOR AMPHETAMINES

World?s bronze medallist Stefan Schumacher has confirmed that traces of amphetamines were discovered in his body thanks to a police drink-driving test on October 7 after he had crashed his car into a fence. In a story which felt like a bizarre re-run of the Jan Ullrich positive in 2002, Schumacher said he had no idea how the banned drug could have entered his organism. Like Ullrich, the night before he had been in a club.
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ZABEL TO END CAREER THIS YEAR

Schumacher?s compatriot Erik Zabel announced this week that he will almost certainly be retiring at the end of the year. Fifteen years a professional, Zabel?s brilliant career has been tainted last year by the confession of drugs use in 1996. The German is valued by fans for his record-breaking run of green jersies in the Tour, his four victories in Milan-San Remo – and his willingness to keep racing even though at 37 he has won almost everything a sprinter can win.
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SANCHEZ AT EUSKALTEL UNTIL 2010

Spaniard Samuel Sanchez has re-signed with Euskaltel-Euskadi until the end of 2010. The Classics specialist – who is expected to tackle his first Tour de France this summer, as well as being an outsider for the Olympics road-race in August – will now lead the orange-clad squad for the next three seasons.

Roger Hammond took his eighth National cyclo-cross title on Sunday – and the first win for Team High Road, the squad formerly known as T-Mobile. Photo by Andy Jones. Full story>>

LOCALS TAKE ON THE PROS IN THE HELL OF ASHDOWN SPORTIVE

The Hell of the Ashdown Cyclo-Sportive received a boast when GB pro team Rapha Condor Recycling entered four riders for the event taking place in late January. Dean Downing, Rob Partridge, Simon Holt and Kristian House (if he gets over his back injury) are all due to ride the 100km event, no doubt with twenty-or-so local heroes trying to sit on their wheels. The former reliability ride that re-branded itself as a cyclo-sportive to immediate success, starts and finishes at Knockholt Village hall in Kent on Sunday, January 27. The route heads out to the Ashdown Forest and back again through some of Kent?s finest countryside and over many of its short sharp hills. For more information go to www.catfordcc.co.uk.

CYCLESURGERY SET TO EXPAND

Britain may be on the brink of an economic crisis (TM Daily Mail), but cycle shops seem to be bucking the nationwide trend. London based retailer CycleSurgery announced details this week of an expansion beyond the confines of the M25. New CycleSurgery outlets will appear in existing Snow+Rock stores in Romford (February), Wirral, Birmingham, Didsbury, Port Solent, Bristol and Chertsey (all May). Each store will have a full workshop in addition to the retail area. More info at www.cyclesurgery.com.