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This Week in Pro Cycling – December 7, 2007

Dear Readers,Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from your friends at VeloNews.com.

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Dear Readers,
Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from your friends at VeloNews.com.

It’s been a busy week, highlighted by the announcements of race routes for some of the big events on next year’s calendar. Victor Cordero, race director of the Vuelta a Espana, hosted the formal unveiling of the 2008 route in a showy event in Madrid on Wednesday. Like other grand tour promoters, Cordero is hoping that cycling fans in Spain and around the world begin to trust cycling again and return to what we all agree is one of the most beautiful sports in the world.

VeloNews editorial director John Wilcockson says Cordero and his fellow grand tour organizers may have a tough task ahead of them as they try to return the sport to a dope-free “promised land” that will keep fans’ interest. [More]

Of course one of the big disappointments Cordero and others have in mind was the positive blood doping test of 2006 Vuelta winner Alexander Vinokourov. Vino’ tested positive for homologous blood doping during the Tour de France this year and on Thursday, the Kazakh cycling federation suspended the one-time Astana star for a year, a decision that would have left open the possibility that he could ride in the Beijing Olympics. That decision, however, could face an appeal by the UCI, which correctly argues that the World Anti-Doping Code requires a minimum two-year suspension in such cases. Vinokourov, however, threw an interesting wrench into the process on Friday, when he announced that he is retiring from cycling. “I don’t want this sport anymore … I’m slamming the door and I’m leaving,” he said at a press conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Nonetheless, Vinokourov says he is considering an appeal in an effort to “restore my honor.” Stay tuned.

For those who enjoy the actual racing of bicycles now and then, this weekend offered up some phenomenal cyclocross as America’s top competitors hit a wet and muddy Portland, Oregon, for the finale of the U.S. Gran Prix series. Both Saturday and Sunday offered up ideal conditions (that is if you consider rain, snow and mud “ideal” ‘cross weather) for a down-to-the-wire battle for the series title in the men’s races, with Kona’s Ryan Trebon taking the crown. Georgia Gould, who has raced consistently all season, wrapped up the women’s title on Saturday and capped that off with a win on Sunday as well.

The USGP wasn’t the only event on the weekend ‘cross calendar in the U.S. and I would encourage you to check out our regular ‘Cross Examination feature to catch up on events around the country.

Over the past week, we also resurrected what was once a regular item on VeloNews.com, our Site of the Day feature, which we hope to use to highlight some of the more creative and interesting cycling-related websites from around the globe. If you have a favorite non-commercial cycling site that you would like to share with your fellow readers, send an e-mail to Rosters@InsideInc.com. We’ll be happy to review your submission and credit you if it’s posted on the VeloNews.com “Site of the Day.”

Of course, we also frequently receive great submissions from many of you for our VeloNews Photo Contest, the gallery of images made up of images sent in by you, the readers here at VeloNews.com. You might notice that we’ve added a new prize for our weekly winners, namely John Wilcockson’s latest book, “The 2007 Tour de France, A New Generation takes the Stage.” It’s the latest in a series of Tour books John has written every year since 1998. You might keep that one in mind as the holiday season approaches.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping that you have a good week and find time to get out and enjoy the weather wherever you live.

All the best,

Charles Pelkey
Editor, VeloNews.com
CPelkey@insideinc.com