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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 26, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

An interview with Peter Knudsen

Introducing the Parish Foundation Pro Cycling Team

By Rob Karman

The Parish Foundation team will feature a number of ex-Schroeder Iron riders
Photo: © Rob Karman
Click for larger image

The Parish Foundation Pro Cycling Team is a new UCI Division 3 team based in the U.S. that has a unique and innovative sponsorship structure. Cyclingnews Senior Correspondent Rob Karman sat down for an exclusive interview with team manager and rider Peter Knudsen to get the inside scoop on how the team came to be, what they stand for and what their plans are for 2004.

Cyclingnews: The Parish Foundation Team has a unique sponsorship structure, can you tell us more about that? I hear that the title sponsor does not in fact give any money to the team.

Peter Knudsen: Right, our team is organized in a slightly different manner from most pro teams in that, as you said, our title sponsor is actually a cancer charity which is not directly contributing to the funding of our team. Our funding is coming from sponsors who are supporting the team with a sort of dual marketing/charitable purpose. Our logo space is still going to be filled by corporate sponsors, but the name of the foundation acts as a unifying title to bring the relatively large number of sponsors together under one name.

I am not sure about the exact structure of these teams, but I think that Amore e Vita in Italy and the former L.A. Sheriffs team utilized a relatively similar idea for sponsorship.

CN: How did the idea of this type of sponsorship come about and how did you get involved with the Parish Foundation?

PK: I think our friend and new Team Manager Greg Bourque deserves full credit for both the team's sponsorship concept and the connection with the foundation. Greg has experience in the past organizing large-scale fundraising rides for charitable purposes and also has been involved in the racing side of cycling for the better part of two decades. Greg arranged a meeting between a few of us and the CEO of The Parish Foundation, Lori Sorbo, earlier this fall when it was time to start thinking about our options for next season. Lori is a cyclist and cancer survivor herself who loved the idea of a professional team affiliated with the foundation and has since done everything that she could to make things happen for the team.

Click here for the full interview

West Virginia Cycling Team disbands

As new professional teams emerge in the United States, news comes that the West Virginia Cycling Team will not continue in 2004, following the state tourism commission's rejection of the request for renewal of the grant that funded the team this season. Team director Craig Slaughter made the announcement Tuesday, expressing his disappointment that the team would not see its second year in the professional ranks.

"I am disappointed for West Virginia tourism, our other sponsors and for the people that worked so hard and so selflessly to see this project succeed," Slaughter commented.

"As for the rejection of the grant, it had nothing to do with the performance of the team," he added. "The problem has to do with the difficulty meeting the grant guidelines with this type of marketing project. Yes, it is about politics, but not in the base meaning that most people associate with the term. I don't plan to give up on this project, because I love West Virginia and believe cycling is a great way to generate the positive image for the state. I hope to revive it for 2005, but it will not happen in 2004."

In its first season as a professional team, the West Virginia Cycling Team ranked 13th with 29 wins. The team won two NRC races, including the Four Bridges of Elgin and the Maritime Bay Classic at Superweek.

"We did not reach all the goals we had set for ourselves but when all was said and done, we were satisfied with what we had accomplished," Slaughter said. "We won some NRC races and placed in the top ten in a number of the bigger NRC stage races. Moreover, we were in the hunt in some of the biggest races, like [the T-Mobile International in] San Francisco."

The team's end also means the end of an amateur program that started in 1991 with the acquisition of GoMart, Inc. as a sponsor of the Vandalia Velo Club team. With GoMart at the helm the amateur team won six national championships, including the unprecedented feat of winning both the criterium and road race championship in one year. That year, 2002, lead to the professional team debut.

Slaughter had plenty of praise for his riders, including team mainstays Scottie Weiss, Paul Martin and Patrick O'Donnell. "Paul told me in September that this was his last hurrah," Slaughter noted. "There isn't a better guy in this sport, but he has too much to gain by retiring. Scottie is a class act. Patrick is one of the most powerful sprinters I have ever seen. He just has never had enough opportunities to prove it on the big stage."

First Mexican pro team

On October 29 in Mexico City the official birth of the Mexico's first professional cycling team was announced. The team is a project of Mexican Cycling Federation president Roberto Sanchez, Francisco Rodriguez, and Italian team director Daniele Zammicheli, among others. The team will benefit from the guidance of several Italian staff members, and will be largely based in Italy. The formal presentation will take place at the Caduti di Soprasoco competition in February, 2004.

The team initiative grows out of an effort to develop and select Mexico's best U23 amateur riders with varied talents, including sprinters, climbers, and rouleurs. Among the long term objectives is a strong presence for Mexico at the 2008 Olympics in China. The team will train in Parma, Italy, alongside both Mexican and Italian coaching and technical staff, and will compete in many of Italy's big U23 events.

Carrying on with the bond between Italy and Mexico, the team will profit from the mentoring of Italian veteran Luigi Casola. Casola was a teammate of Fausto Coppi on the old Bianchi team, and appropriately, the new Mexican squad will be outfitted with Bianchi bikes this season.

The team's initial roster includes the following riders:

Juan José de la Rosa
Javier Paniagua
José Sánchez
Omar Cervantes
Carlos López
Ricardo Tapia Rodríguez
Luis Olivares
Frausto Elio Isacc
Marco Antonio Ortega
Fernando Macías

Baal looking beyond cycling

With a sense of disappointment evident, Amaury Sport Organisation's (ASO) Daniel Baal indicated he would be looking outside of professional cycling for his next career move, following his decision to resign from the post of Director of Cycling with the organisers of the Tour de France. As the number two man in charge at the Tour, Baal was considered by many to be the heir apparent after current Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc retired.

Leblanc had initially announced that he would step down after the 2004 Tour, but plans changed when just prior to this year's centenary Tour ASO president Patrice Clerc urged him to continue as director for an unspecified length of time. While Baal has opted for discretion in explaining his decision to leave, Leblanc's continuation seems to have precipitated the change.

"I don't have any commentary to offer," Baal told sports paper l'Equipe, which is also owned by ASO. "I did my job with loyalty, and in leaving I intend to remain loyal, fair, and correct. That's my choice."

Baal, who prior to joining the Tour served as president of the French Cycling Federation, was also appointed recently to the UCI's Mountain Bike and BMX commission. He plans to continue that involvement, but will otherwise look to other avenues other than cycling. The corporate sector is a likely destination, given Baal's pre-cycling career in banking.

Tour director Leblanc made no great effort to downplay the likely cause of Baal's decision to move on.

"I have the feeling that I've involuntarily and indirectly blocked Daniel's path by accepting Patrice Clerc's proposition [to remain with the Tour]," Leblanc said in Tuesday's l'Equipe. "He of course hoped to become director of the Tour as quickly as possible, and I understand that. At his age (46), and with his experience in management in cycling, he had legitimate hopes of running the Tour. So, I respect his decision, and I believe I can say that in two years there was no rift in our working relationship."

Pradera to Illes Baleares

Mikel Pradera will join the new Illes Baleares team for 2004, having signed a two year contract this week. Pradera, one of Joseba Beloki's key teammates at ONCE, was unable to reach an agreement with Brioches La Boulangère to follow his leader to France, but found a suitable offer with the team that replaces for the coming seasons.

Norwegian reinforcement to Bianchi Nordic

Martin Vestby
Photo: © Bianchi Nordic
Click for larger image

Swedish Team Bianchi Scandinavia will meet the future under the name Team Bianchi Nordic while adding several foreign riders to the line up. The first to be presented is Norwegian Martin Vestby, who has been racing in Belgium this season with the amateur team Bioagrico Cureghem Sportif. Vestby, 27, won the Norwegian Criterium Championships title this season. Vestby will probably be the only Norwegian on the team but at least two other riders will be added soon.

Current riders continuing with the team next season include Jonas Holmkvist, Jesper Ingevaldsson, Tobias Lergård, Petter Renäng and Mikael Segersäll. The team will be registered in Division III with the aim to rise in the ranks in coming years, according to team manager Tommy Prim.

Sébastien Talabardon to VC Roubaix

Top French amateur team VC Roubaix continues to bolster its roster for 2004, adding to the list of arrivals BigMat-Auber pro Sébastien Talabardon. Along with experienced director Cyrille Guimard, the team has enlisted other talented riders such as Jussi Veikkanen (Team Malarenergi), Jean Zen (Vendée U), and Ile de France champion David Tandard, among others. Talabardon's younger brother Yannick, who also rode this season for BigMat, could drop down from the professional ranks to join Roubaix as well.

Courtesy: Velomania

USADA Research grants

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) awarded two grants in the fourth quarter 2003 in the fight against doping. One grant was awarded to the "Science and Industry against Blood-doping" consortium. The grant is named "Characterization of gene expression profile associated with the use of erythropoietic stimulants." The objective of this research is to identify gene expression profiles associated with the use of erythropoietic stimulant that could be used to detect their use, and thereby deter athletes from using this potentially hazardous means of increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood. The grant total is $250,000.

In addition, the Institute of Haematology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, Australia received a grant for its application titled "Development of a Test or Tests to Deter the Abuse of Autologous Blood Transfusion in Sport." The principle objective of the grant is to develop a test to detect autologous blood transfusion in athletes competing in endurance events. The institute will receive about $50,000 for the study.

In 2002, USADA funded another grant for the Institute of Haematology entitled "Development of a Test or tests to Deter the Abuse of Blood Transfusion in Sport. That grant focused on the development of confirmation methods to detect homologous (from another person) blood transfusions using labeled antibodies and flow cytometry. The testing approach was described in a publication in the November 2003 issue of the Journal Haematologica. USADA is actively pursuing commercial partners to further develop and implement the testing approach worldwide.

"We are starting to see results from grants that we have previously awarded, and we feel that the results of these grants have set a strong foundation for the fight against doping on the world scene," said USADA Senior Managing Director Larry Bowers. "USADA is receiving increased interest from the research community in the United States as well as on a global basis, and we anticipate additional grants to be awarded for years to come."

Top Dutch riders for derny

The Amsterdam Velodrome will host a new derny event on December 27. The 'Derny Kerstprijs', or Christmas Prize, is a competition organisers hope will become an annual tradition around Christmas. Among those scheduled to attend the inaugural event are road stars Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Servais Knaven, and Max Van Heeswijk, alongside top six day riders Robert Slippens and Danny Stam.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)