The Week That Was...

News & Results

01/30/2006| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin
David Millar and Gilberto Simoni in their new outfits. Photo copyright
David Millar and Gilberto Simoni in their new outfits. Photo copyright

The Week That Was...

Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.

It was last week confirmed, after months of speculation that the 2007 Tour de France will begin in the British capital, London.  The race, starting on July 6th, is expected to include a prologue time trial passing many of the city?s major sights before a road stage heading south towards the coast of Kent.

The specific race details will be announced in a joint press conference due to be held in London on February 9th.  The event is expected to cost London ?1.5 million to host the two days of racing.

"I am proud to announce that London has successfully bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2007," said Ken Livingstone, Lord Mayor of London. "Hosting the first stage of the legendary French cycle race will raise the profile of cycling in the capital, attract visitors and promote the capital as a venue for international sporting events.

"Cycling in the capital is growing faster than anywhere else in Europe. I want London to become a world-class cycling city and Transport for London has increased investment in cycling from ?5.5 million in 2000, to ?24 million this year.

The race last visited England in 1994.

At the Saunier Duval ? Prodir team launch last week, British cyclist David Millar made his return to the sport although he is unable to compete until July, later this year, when he two-year ban expires.

In an interview with Spanish daily, AS, he said "For some, my name will never be clean. But for those who can understand it, in this second stage of my career, I want to show with results that I can be a clean athlete...Competing without external help, to become an icon of clean cycling and use my case as an example for the young. There are many idiots who believe that you can't win without drugs, and we must convince the new generations that this isn't the case."

His return will be at the 2006 Tour de France, an event he hopes to again leave his mark on by winning the opening prologue time trial.  "I'm going to train hard for that day. I'm even preparing a special bike. I know that it's going to be very difficult, but it's a short distance and I have a chance to win."

In a separate interview with The Independent, Millar discussed the importance of the news of London hosting the start of the 2007 Tour.  "Although I'll be going for that [the 2006 Tour prologue in Strasbourg] 100 per cent as well, London will be the chance of a lifetime."

"It's going to be huge, absolutely massive - the level of interest, everything," said Millar. "It can only be great news for British cycling and compared with 10 years ago, when the race last came to England, our federation has the resources now and the schemes all in place to exploit the opportunity a lot better."

In the past, riders have come back from shorter doping bans and have gone on to become icons of the sport and celebrated geniuses.  With Millar?s ban almost over and his return to the sport now immanent, how do you think he will be received?  Should he or other riders caught doping be allowed to return to the sport?  Send your thoughts to me at and post them at

In an early show of strength, Team CSC narrowly missed out on the opportunity to open their 2006 account at the GP Doha.

"The whole team was up front during the final lap and Stuart (O?Grady) was in a perfect position, right on Tom Boonen's wheel, when the sprint started," said CSC sports director Alain Gallopin on their official website.  "So it could have been a really good result, but then his chain broke. On the other hand, Stuart was lucky not to crash, and today's effort from the team makes me very optimistic for the Tour of Qatar."

World Champion Tom Boonen went on to win the stage although Gallopin remained positive.  "We've come directly from a hard training camp, but we've noticed that some of the riders are already in great shape," he said. "We obviously need a bit of luck to repeat last year's huge success in the Tour of Qatar, but I wouldn't be surprised if we got one or two big results down here again this year."

At the race, Boonen?s team-mate and experienced lead-out man, Guido Trenti, explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport that this is just a sign of things to come in the future.  "Tom just has two more speeds than the competition. In the sprint, there were four Phonak riders there but they couldn't even hold his wheel! We could see how strong Tom was in our team training camp and this is the right way to start the season."

For his part, Team Milram sprinter, Erik Zabel, added that "against a Boonen like that, there's nothing you can do!"

Until next week,


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