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By Andrew Hood
German tour holds steady
Despite the shock of the departure of T-Mobile as Germany’s top cycling sponsor, officials from the Deutschland Tour say the nation’s leading stage race will go ahead as planned.
T-Mobile’s abrupt departure from cycling is continuing to ripple through Germany and the cycling community at large, but so far the damage seems to be limited to its role as team sponsor.
T-Mobile also is a major sponsor of the 10-day German tour, but so far there hasn’t been any decisions made on whether it will continue to support the race.
“The Tour of Germany will take place no matter what happens,” race organizer Kai Rapp told AFP. “The most important thing for us is that television does not take cycling off the air. The rest is secondary.”
Rapp’s concerns over TV coverage comes following a tumultuous 2007 campaign that saw German television broadcaster ARD leave the Tour de France following the Patrik Sinkewitz doping scandal. German television also only broadcast small portions of the elite men’s world road cycling championships this fall in Stuttgart.
So far, ARD is sticking with plans to broadcast both the Tour de France and the Deutschland Tour in 2008.
Hondo finds a ride
Danilo Hondo – the German rider who tested positive for a stimulant in 2005 – has found a ride for the 2008 season.
Hondo will join the Italian-based Diquigiovanni team that’s also signed Gilberto Simoni to lead for the Giro d’Italia.
Hondo’s doping case gained attention after he challenged a two-year ban to a Swiss civil court (where he holds a racing license) rather than appeal through the Court of Arbitration for Sport. After initially siding with Hondo, the court later decided that CAS held jurisdiction on the matter.
Hondo, 33, managed to race for a few weeks before losing the court case and being forced to sit out the remainder of his ban. The German sprinter finished second in the 2005 Milan-San Remo, but was later fired by his Gerolsteiner team following his positive test.
Hondo is hoping to race in the big Italian events, such as Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Giro, where he won a stage in 2001.
Milram forges ahead without Stanga
Milram rolls into the 2008 season with a refitted management team that no longer includes Italian sport director Gianluigi Stanga.
According to team manager Gerry Van Gerwen, the squad will ride with a German license next season instead of one from Italy while Stanga will be replaced by German director Jochen Hahn.
Stanga came under fire following allegations from Jörg Jaksche that he began doping while riding at Stanga’s Polti team in the late 1990s. Stanga denied the charges, but team owner Normilch decided to make changes in team management to avoid any further hint of scandal.
Team leaders Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel will both be back for the 2008 season despite each being involved with their own respective doping scandals this season. Petacchi tested for high levels of Salbutamol at this year’s Giro d’Italia but was later cleared while Zabel was part of a wave of German riders who admitted to using the banned blood-booster EPO during the 1990s.
The team will announce its complete 2008 lineup on January 10.
London wants more Tour
London loved the Tour de France so much it wants to bring the race back again.
Officials from London met recently with Tour director Christian Prudhomme about routing the 2012 Tour through London, which will also be hosting the Summer Olympic Games that same year.
London hosted the 2007 grand depart with smashing success this year, drawing an estimated 3 million spectators for the opening prologue in one of the most dramatic settings ever for a Tour start.
City officials are hoping to route at least one stage through London to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Games to London in 2012.