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This Week in Pro Cycling – September 7, 2007

Dear Readers, Welcome to this week's edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from the world of professional cycling by your friends at VeloNews.com.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

Dear Readers,

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from the world of professional cycling by your friends at VeloNews.com.

It’s a big week in cycling as the Vuelta a Espana is now in full swing, with a decisive time trial looming on Saturday. Russian Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d’Epargne) continues to lead the third grand tour of the season, after his decisive win on the slopes of the Covadonga on Tuesday. Many wonder if Efimkin will be able to conserve his leader’s jersey against some of the top GC favorites in Saturday’s TT. 2005 Vuelta winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis), Stijn Devolder (Discovery) and Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) are all poised at 1:06 back. A strong time trialist, Predictor-Lotto’s Cadel Evans is an even more dangerous threat at 1:28 back.

Efimkin, meanwhile, is oozing optimism. “I hope to keep the jersey as long as possible. The team is supporting me and I will give everything until the end.” Check in with VeloNews.com on Saturday to see what the time trial does to GC.

While the big mountains and time trials are the playgrounds of the GC contenders, the flat stages may serve as predictor of things to come later this month when the world championships come to Germany. Rabobank’s Oscar Freire may be poised to win his fourth rainbow jersey in Stuttgart if his Vuelta form carries through to the September 30th road race. On Thursday, the Spanish sprinter won his third stage of this year’s Vuelta. [More]

Meanwhile, the fat-tire crowd is gathered in Fort William in Scotland to fight out the world mountain-bike championships. Like Freire on the road, France’s Julian Absalon is poised to win his fourth rainbow jersey, which would set a new mark in that discipline. One rider who apparently is not poised to win another world title is Spain’s Margarita Fullana – champion in 1999 and 2000. Fullana was ejected from the event on Friday for having a higher-than-acceptable hematocrit level and is on her way home. The hematocrit standard was established in 1997 by the UCI as a crude measure to indicate possible manipulation of a rider’s blood. While it is not proof of such manipulation – either through the use of EPO or the reinjection of stored or donated red blood cells – the UCI deems riders with higher than acceptable red blood cell counts to be unfit for competition. It’s the same test that began Marco Pantani’s downward spiral after he showed signs of an elevated hematocrit at the 1999 Giro.

Meanwhile, those of you who have been anxiously awaiting a ruling in the Floyd Landis case may hear something within the next few weeks. An internal memo drafted by the head of the three-member panel hearing the case suggests that a ruling may be issued within 10 days of a closed hearing slated for September 12. Stay tuned. [More]

On the tech side, VeloNews technical editor Matt Pacocha just got back from Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Take some time to look at some of the eye-candy he spotted in the very crowded aisles of Europe’s biggest bicycle trade show:

  • Before the flood: Eurobike readies for the public
  • EuroBike: News from the (crowded) aisles
  • Eurobike kicks off its 2007 edition in a big way
  • Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha – SRAM’s Red group: Worth the wait, but is it worth the price?
  • Have a good weekend and be sure to check in with www.VeloNews.com on Saturday to see who emerges at the top of the heap after Saturday’s decisive time trial at the Vuelta a Espana.

    All the best,

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