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By Andrew Hood
T-Mobile phenom’ Mark Cavendish confirmed his arrival to the big leagues over the weekend by reaching his pre-season target of 11 victories on the year.
The 22-year-old Brit surged to victory in Saturday’s stage at the Circuit Franco-Belge to put an exclamation point on what’s been a dazzling rookie season.
“I’ve reached my target and I’m about delighted about that,” Cavendish said on T-Mobile’s web page. “We miscalculated things a bit in the sprint yesterday and that cost me, but things ran so smoothly today.”
Cavendish opened the year with an eye-catching second at the Etoile des Besseges in February and snagged his first pro win in an exciting victory at Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen in April ahead of none other than Robbie McEwen. He then opened his ProTour account with a pair of wins at the Volta a Catalunya in Spain.
Crashes took the wind out of his sails at his Tour de France debut in his native England but he bounced back to snag wins at the Tour of Denmark and the Tour of Britain.
T-Mobile manager Bob Stapleton is bullish on Cavendish and expects even bigger things from him in 2008.
WADA appeals Petacchi
The World Anti-Doping Agency will appeal a recent ruling to absolve Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi for high levels of Salbutamol.
According to reports in the Italian media, officials from WADA and Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) will combine forces to make the formal appeal for the July 24 decision by the Italian cycling federation to clear Petacchi without sanctions despite testing for level of the asthma spray above allowed levels.
Petacchi tested non-negative for his levels of Salbutamol during the Giro d’Italia and missed the Tour de France as the Italian federation weighed the evidence. He returned to competition in August and won two stages at the Vuelta a España.
Salbutamol is a banned substance but riders suffering from asthma are allowed restricted use of the drug if they have a medical certificate.
Petacchi has such a certificate having suffered from asthma for many years.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list notes, however, that riders whose urine samples show a concentration of Salbutamol greater than 1000 nanograms per milliliter must prove that the elevated level is a result of normal therapeutic use.
If a rider with a Therapeutic Use Exemption produces a level lower than 1000 ng/mL the burden of proof falls to anti-doping authorities, if they wish to show a violation.
Petacchi produced a level higher than the upper limit and was required to show that he did not take the drug orally or inject it and that his use of the inhaler was in keeping with its normal therapeutic use. In July, the FCI ruled that Petacchi and his attorneys had met that standard of proof.
Fog holds up Schleck brothers
Cycling’s most successful racing brothers couldn’t race in Tuesday’s Monte Paschi Eroica after fog prevented their plane from taking off at Luxembourg’s airport.
The Schleck brothers, along with Dane Lars Bak, never made it off the ground, so Team CSC stuck Anders Lund into the amateur event turned pro race.
It didn’t matter anyway, Russian strongman Alexandr Kolobnev powered away from a break to take the win just days after snagging the silver medal in the Stuttgart world championship.
Transfer news: Cooke, Vandenbergh, Nozal
Two Unibet.com riders – Baden Cooke and Stijn Vandenbergh – have found rides for the 2008 season.
With the team shuttering its doors this year after a controversial season that saw it excluded from most of Europe’s biggest races despite holding a ProTour license, riders are still scrambling to secure contracts.
Cooke, winner of the 2003 green jersey at the Tour de France, has penned a deal to join Barloworld next year.
The British team made the most of its 2007 Tour wildcard bid, winning stages with Mauricio Soler and Rob Hunter as well as the best climber’s jersey with Soler. Others heading to Barloworld for ’08 are: Francesco Bellotti (Crédit Agricole), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas) and Moises Duenas (Agritubel).
Vandenbergh, winner of the inaugural Tour of Ireland in August, will join Ag2r.
“It’s too bad that Unibet.com is stopping. It was really a great ambiance,” Vanderbergh told La Derniere Heure. “I hope to keep progressing. We haven’t spoken about my schedule, but I hope to ride some of the classics early in the coming season.”
Isidro Nozal, second overall at the 2003 Vuelta a España, will be leaving Karpin-Galicia at the end of the season. Nozal was dogged by alleged links to the Operación Puerto scandal and never raced in the major events. Other riders leaving the Spanish continental team are Luis Fernández Oliveira, Enrique Salgueiro, Santos González and Gaizka Lasa.
Paris-Bourges concludes French Cup
The season-long French Cup series concludes Thursday with the 57th edition of Paris-Bourges.
Some of the bigger names listed to start include defending champ Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), Fabian Cancellara (CSC), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile).
Some 136 riders from 16 teams will start the 194km race in Gien on a rolling course that features some punchy climbs in the final 60km that can spring a surprise on the sprinters.
A nice warm-up for Sunday’s Paris-Tours, the race will also crown the winner of the French Cup series. Sébastien Chavanel (FDJeux) holds a solid 26-point lead to Rémi Pauriol (Credit Agricole).
French Cup standings with one event to go:
1. Sébastien Chavanel (FDJeux), 128pts
2. Rémi Pauriol (Credit Agricole), 102
3. Yann Huguet (Cofidis), 95
4. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJeux), 93
5. Simon Gerrans (Ag2r), 85