BETTINI STILL IN TALKS TO BUY FUJI-SERVETTO

Paolo Bettini has admitted he is still in talks to buy Mauro Gianetti?s troubled ProTour team but has made it clear he would not be directly involved in running the team.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Bettini said: ?I?m trying to understand if it?s possible. In theory it is but it?s not a done deal.?

?Even if I buy the team I won?t be involved directly in the management. A deal might only happen in January. I?m still coming to terms with having retired and I feel like some one on the bank of a river who?s waiting to see what happens.?

Bettini has admitted he is interested in owning a professional team, but is worried Fuji-Servetto could struggle to compete in major races in 2009.

The team has a ProTour licence but the current rider line-up is very weak and several race organisers are against inviting the team to races because of Gianetti?s links to the Saunier Duval team and Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli’s positive tests for CERA during this year?s Tour de France.


OLYMPICS CERA TEST TO BEGIN IN JANUARY

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the urine and blood samples collected during the Beijing Olympics will undergo follow up testing in January, with the extra tests looking for the third-generation blood booster CERA and insulin.

According to the IOC, the 4770 samples collected during the Games have now arrived in Lausanne, Switzerland where most of the testing will be carried out. The follow-up testing on approximately 980 samples will target endurance events in cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics. The first results are expected to be announced in the spring.

The Beijing games were heralded as one of the cleanest ever Olympics with only six positive dope tests. However it is widely suspected that new forms of un-detectable drugs were being used and the IOC has hinted that several more positives may arise during the follow-up testing.


KATUSHA TEAM GET TOGETHER IN TUSCANY

New Russian ProTour team Katusha gather in Tuscany today for their first training camp of the winter.

The riders will gather in the coastal resort of Marina di Bibbona for ten days of training, medical check ups and 2009 race planning.

Britain?s Ben Swift will join up with his new team mates Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans and Vladimir Karpets, as he gets ready for his full professional debut with the team.

Following the camp the team will travel to Moscow for the official team presentation.


FLORENCE HOPES FOR 2013 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Tuscan city of Florence is set to make a strong bid to host the 2013 world road race championships.

Following the successful 2008 world championships in Varese, the same Italian organisers have produced a detailed candidature for Florence which will soon be presented to the UCI.

Despite having produced several world champions, including Mario Cipollini and Paolo Bettini, Tuscany has never hosted the world championships.

The latest bid apparently includes a road race course which will pass through the centre of the Renaissance city and include a climb to the hill town of Fiesole overlooking Florence.


SPRINTERS SQUARE UP FOR AUSSIE REVOLUTION

Australian road sprinters will dominate the fourth round of the Australian Revolution series and the war of words has already began.

Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke and Graeme Brown will all hit the track on Wednesday December 17, with the racing expected to be fierce.

Brown is notorious for his sprinting and Cooke gave his rival a warning in a report by the Australian Associated Press news agency.

“Hopefully Graeme’s not too erratic – if he can ride a reasonably straight line that would be a positive,” Cooke said, happy to fire their rivalry before the event.

“We all know how to throw a hook but there’s no need to put people’s lives in danger.”

Cooke will ride with Robbie McEwen, in the Madison event at Revolution while Brown will ride Cameron Meyer. Brown?s response to Cooke?s provocation will probably come on the Melbourne track with some aggressive sprinting.