First Edition Cycling News for December 11, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
UCI: Grand Tours back in ProTour
With surprisingly little fanfare, the UCI has once again claimed that the races organized by the owners of the three Grand Tours or France, Italy and Spain, will be included in the ProTour.
According to the UCI's latest statement, "The organisers of the three Grands Tours (RCS for the Giro d'Italia, ASO for the Tour de France and Unipublic for the Vuelta a España) registered their 11 events, among others the Milan-Sanremo, the Paris-Roubaix and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège races too, in the UCI 2005 ProTour calendar on 11 December, which now comprises 27 competitions. The agreement reached between the different partners is a promising one."
The UCI has been in dispute for several months with RCS, ASO and Unipublic over the inclusion of their races in the ProTour. Among other issues, the race organizers were unhappy with the lack of consultation in the development of the ProTour and the UCI's imposition of all 19 ProTour teams on their races, reducing the possibility to include domestic wildcard teams.
On behalf of the organizers, ASO wrote to the ProTour teams and the UCI on November 29, offering a compromise of a global calendar including the ProTour and their races which, "would agree to accept the participation of the 19 UCI preselected [ProTour] teams in 2005". UCI president Hein Verbruggen rejected the approach, accusing ASO of "leading a serious attempt to make the ProTour fail".
While the UCI announcement gives no details of the final negotiations between it and the organizers, clearly it believes some sort of agreement has been reached that brings the Grand Tours into the ProTour fold.
Bizarrely, the announcement came late Friday afternoon in the latest edition of the UCI's irregular email newsletter, a publication that's more usually dedicated to news of visits to UCI HQ by dignitaries and heads of national federations. The news that several months of wrangling between the UCI and the organizers, which had looked very likely to completely derail the ProTour, was apparently not worth a separate press release.
Phonak DS in blackmail attempt
In the midst of the team's troubles with Tyler Hamilton's and Santi Perez' doping positives and its eventual exclusion from the ProTour, the beleaguered Phonak team had another headache: a blackmail attempt against directeur sportif Urs Freuler.
According to Europa Press, the alleged blackmailer - who has not been named - attempted to extort 25,000 Swiss francs from Freuler, threatening to reveal another doping case if the money was not paid.
The man was arrested in November by Swiss police who accompanied Freuler to meeting where the money was to be handed over. He was subsequently held for 23 days before being released.
According to reports, the alleged blackmailer told police he had just been "playing a joke" on Freuler when he began sending anonymous threats via text message at the beginning of November.
Rebellin stays Italian
Gerolsteiner rider Davide Rebellin has decided to remain Italian after all. Rebellin sought Argentinean citizenship earlier this year in the run-up to the world championships in Verona, Italy, after he was not selected for the Italian Worlds team. But when his papers failed to come through in time, Rebellin found himself on the sidelines at Verona.
With Italian team manager Franco Ballerina looking likely to leave the post, Rebellin hopes he will have a better chance of representing his country in future, and so "I am no longer going to change my citizenship," he told Italian sport newspaper Tuttosport.
Nevertheless, Rebellin said he was still bitter about missing the world's and the Olympic road race. "I missed two magnificent opportunities to represent my country," he said.
Rebellin will return to racing in February 2005 at the Ruta del Sol and intends to ride next year's Giro d'Italia.
Vuelta stage details
Details have been revealed of two stages of the 2005 Vuelta a Espana, Spain's national tour.
The second-last stage of the sixtieth Vuelta, on September 17, 2005, will be an individual time trial in Alcalá de Henares, the city's mayor Bartolomé González revealed yesterday.
Twelve days earlier on September 5, the race will finish at the top of the Coma de Arcalís in Andorra, Andorran government spokesman Enric Pujal announced. Andorra is also negotiating for the 2005 Volta a Cataluña to visit the tiny Pyrenean nation.
McEwen wants Surfers trifecta
Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen is the hot favourite to take out Sunday's final race in the Queensland Grand Prix series at Surfers Paradise. McEwen is unbeaten on this course and looks set for a showdown with Allan Davis, winner of the first event at South Bank last weekend when he beat McEwen at his own game.
McEwen will be looking to claim a trifecta of wins but admits it will be very tough. "I love racing in front of a hometown crowd and they've played a big part in getting me to the finish line first for the past two years, but it will be a huge task against such a talented field," said McEwen.
Touted as the next big thing in Australian cycling, 24-year-old Davis could be the one to rain on Robbie's parade. He took out the 2003 series and was second to McEwen at Surfers Paradise last year when McEwen out-sprinted him to the line in a thrilling finish.
McEwen will be hoping that his new team-mate Henk Vogels, who McEwen last rode with in the national team in 1994 along with his lead-out man Nick Gates can work with him to give him the best shot at a third win in Surfers.
Sporting a new name the Belgian based Davitamon-Lotto team (formerly Lotto-Domo) will boast four Australian' in 2005. Former mountain bike World Cup champion, Cadel Evans has joined the team but his contract doesn't commence until after Christmas. This is the first time the revamped team have been together.
Trying to shut them down will be the Françaises des Jeux team of Athens Olympic gold medalist Brad McGee, 2003 green jersey winner Baden Cooke and current Australian Champion Matt Wilson. Cofidis rider Matt White will also be keen for a good result.
Joining these international cyclists 50 top riders from across Queensland and interstate to make up a full field around the tight Surfers Paradise course along The Esplanade, Elkhorn, Orchid and Cavil Avenues.
Prior to the main event on Sunday, a South Bank to Surfers Paradise Ride gets underway from Little Stanley Street at 6:30am where about 80 riders will make the journey to Cavil Avenue. Some of our top cyclists including McEwen, McGee, Cooke, White and Vogels will ride out to escort the group in from the BP at Yatala before joining them for breakfast at the Coffee Club. The first riders are expected to arrive from 9:30am.
British Olympians get cross
Three of Britain's Olympic road and mountain bike riders will line up in the Welsh mud early next year for the 2004/5 British Cyclocross Championships at Abergavenny Leisure Centre on January 8-9, 2005. Nicole Cooke, Julian Winn and Liam Killeen have all entered this season's event, whose men's race looks to be the most open in years thanks to the absence of reigning champion Roger Hammond who is unable to attend because of commitments with his new squad, Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team .
Nicole Cooke adds the spice to the women's race with few of the other entrants likely to be too happy to see her name on the start sheet. While Cooke and Winn are best known as road racers, both have been successful in the dirt too. Cooke was 2001 world junior mountain bike champion, while Winn was a successful mountain bike racer before moving to the road in the late 90s.
Racing kicks off on the Saturday morning with the veteran over 50 race at 10:30am. Following this the youth, veteran over 40 and under 23 classes will get their chance to earn their medals before the main focus shifts to the Sunday events and the opportunity to see what the Olympians are made of.
First up will be Nicole in the senior women's race at 11:00am. The juniors follow shortly after at 12:30, then it's on to the men at 14:15 where the battle is expected to be electric.
Horgan-Kobelski to Subaru-Gary Fisher
Double US national MTB champion and 2004 Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski has signed up with the ubaru-Gary Fisher Professional MTB Team for the 2005 season.
Universally known as JHK, the 26-year-old from Boulder Colorado has been arguably the most successful US male mountain bike racer of the last several years. In 2004 he was an Olympian, won the US National Championships in both cross-country and short-track, won the Pan-American Championships, and finished the season with the highest UCI ranking of any American man in the last 10 years. I his four-year pro career JHK has won six US National Championships, earned 5 NORBA national victories, and stood on 30 NORBA national podiums.
"I'm very excited," said JHK in a statement announcing his signing with Subaru-Gary Fisher. "I've always looked up to this program as very well run and professional. They've always had good equipment and a good presence. I've got a lot of motivation after ending the season on such a high note this year. I want to carry the momentum into the new year and changing teams is really going to help. I'm really looking to make my mark this year."
Groenendaal extends with Rabobank
Dutch cyclocross champion Richard Groenendaal has extended his contract with the Rabobank family of cycling teams until March 31 2007, the team announced yesterday evening.
Groenendaal is one of four riders who have been with Rabobank since its inception, along with Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker and Jan Boven. Since 1996 Groenendaal has won no less than thirteen national titles in cyclocross plus one red, white and blue national jersey in MTB and was cyclocross world champion in 2000, winning the rainbow jersey in front of his home town fans in Sint Michielsgestel.
According to Rabobank team CEO Theo de Rooij, reaching an agreement with Groenendaal over a contract extension was a piece of cake. In the announcement of the contract extension, De Rooij said, "It was very simple: Richard wanted to stay and we wanted Richard to stay as well. We like having Richard on the team for two more years."
Team DFL adds staff
New British Continental professional team DFL has announced two additions to its staff. Becky Stevenson and Dr Louis Passfield will assist the team with nutrition and coaching advice respectively.
Becky Stevenson is a sports nutritionist who will work closely with the team, including teaching the riders how to cook healthy and nutritionally sound meals.
Dr Louis Passfield is a principal lecturer and course leader in sports science at the University of Glamorgan who has previously worked as British Cycling's sports scientist and has coached Olympic, World and Commonwealth Gold medal riders.
Team Veloworx Racing accepting resumes for 2005 team
Team Veloworx Racing is accepting resumes from Category 1 & 2 racers based in southern California, with a special interest in U23 riders. The team is managed by Cyclingnews fitness panelist Eddie Monnier, who said that Veloworx Racing's, "team-oriented approach across all category teams helped us win more than 50 races and 10 Championship titles in 2004."
To be considered, please send your 2004 race results and a brief bio to Eddie Monnier at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information see www.veloworxracing.com
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