First Edition Cycling News for February 8, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
UCI Pro Tour may put an end to Le Tour de Langkawi
By Jean-François Quénet in Tanah Rata
Since UCI vice-president Pat McQuaid announced on Thursday that the UCI Pro Tour will include 30 races, all of which are to be held in Europe, it has become uncertain whether Le Tour de Langkawi, now ranked 2.2 and currently in its 9th edition, will carry on in the future.
"We are at a crossroads," race organiser Datuk Wan Lokman Dato' Paduka Wan Ibrahim explained. "When this Tour was created, it was for the promotion of the country and the development of cycling in Asia. If we entered the UCI Pro Tour, we would fail one of these objectives because Asian riders wouldn't be able to compete anymore. And if we're left out, with only division three trade teams or national teams from Asia, who in Europe is going to watch it? For the tourism, we need an international interest.
"Generally in Malaysia people do not understand what cycling has to offer with TT2s or TT3s, they obviously understand the Formula 1 better, but Malaysians aren't happy when they see the best cyclists not coming to Le Tour de Langkawi. Our sponsors, like Telekom Malaysia, Petronas, MAS and Proton, have a worldwide interest and I don't think they want to be associated with an event that would be local only. After the announcement of the 30 races selected for the UCI Pro Tour in March, I'll consider the feeling of our sponsors."
Even though Le Tour de Langkawi will probably become the best event on the Asian calendar, McQuaid pointed out that the biggest teams will still need preparation races for the UCI Pro Tour, which is scheduled from March to October, but they would not score points when taking part in these races. However, Malaysian people clearly have high ambitions for their country and many of them will be very disappointed if Le Tour de Langkawi isn't a part of the highest circuit in the world as it is the case with Formula 1.
The promotion of this year's race is based around these words: "It still gets better." What will the feeling be if the event is left out from the UCI's plans whereas the governing body of cycling has spoken about the internationalisation for many years now?
"My pride is to have an organising team of people from various countries that includes England, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Holland, Italy and France," Wan Lokman added. "It's a very successful team and I would like to keep this event running. But I'm not a cycling person and I could organise something else instead. I love rugby and volleyball as well."
Le Tour de Langkawi has a budget of 18 million ringgits (4.7 million USD), which is one of the 30 largest for a bike race in the world, but it looks like money isn't the only concern for the UCI in that matter.
Race fatality stuns Tasmanian cycling community
By Gerard Knapp
The tight-knit cycling community in Tasmania, Australia, is in shock after the death of one of its most promising young riders. Samantha Hellyer, a 15 year old rider with the City of Launceston Cycling Club, died due to injuries sustained from a collision with a motor vehicle in the Devon 80, a road race held on Saturday, February 7, just outside the city of Devonport.
Hellyer was competing in the Under 17 category and was following the main field as it made a sharp left turn on its way to the finish. Eyewitness reports say a semi-trailer was traveling in the opposite direction on the narrow road and collided with another vehicle which in turn struck the rider. It's understood that police are investigating the fatality, but no charges have been laid.
"Everyone here is in shock, we're absolutely devastated," said Rod Morris, one of the State's leading cycling officials and correspondents. Morris said the race was held on quiet roads away from major highways near the town of Thirlstane, about 10 kilometres from Devonport. All other races in the Devon 80, a B-class open road race organised by the Mersey Valley Devonport Cycling Club, were abandoned immediately after the accident.
Hellyer was relatively new to the sport and had been selected through the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS) talent identification program and under the guidance of her coach, Ron 'Tubby' Bryan, she had progressed quickly to become one of the State's leading junior riders. Hellyer won three state titles in the Tasmanian track championships in 2003, as well as medals at the national level and was considered to be a rider of the future. Indeed, at the 2003 Launceston Christmas Carnival, the teenager also won the women's wheelrace.
"There's no question she was a very good talent," said Kevin Tabotta, the TIS head cycling coach. "Ron had done an awesome job of bringing her along in a very short time. I believe she certainly had the talent to have gone on in the sport," he said.
Contrasting with her success on the bike, Hellyer had also been a 'ward of the state', spending part of her life in an orphanage after being abandoned as a small child. However, she had joined a foster family and had developed a positive attitude towards her schooling and cycling.
The staff of Cyclingnews.com extends its deepest sympathies to Sam's friends, foster family and the Tasmanian cycling community.
SpaarSelect gets three World Champions
In addition to having Elite Men's World Champion Bart Wellens in its ranks for next season, the SpaarSelect team has also signed the respective Junior and U23 World Champions Niels Albert and Kevin Pauwels.
Both riders will be competing in the U23 ranks next season, and the team will have a total of three reigning World Champions.
Vandenbroucke starts well
As he begins another fresh start with a new team, Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) has emerged a happy man after his season opener at the Tour of Qatar. Vandenbroucke finished 6th overall in the five stage tour, among the first of the non-sprinters, along with Team CSC's Frank Høj in 5th.
"I'm quite satisfied with my week here," Vandenbroucke told La Dernière Heure. "I'm reassured about my condition. I spent a lot of time at the front of the peloton and I was always able to stay up front when there were breakaways."
Vandenbroucke, who is to be one of Fassa Bortolo's key men for the northern classics, will continue his early season build up either in Turkey in just over a week's time at the International Turkish Riviera Tour or at the Giro della Liguria which begins February 12.
Meanwhile, Vandenbroucke and his lawyer have filed an appeal in a Belgian court, where his charge of possession of prohibited substances stemming from a police search of his home in February 2002 is set to go to trial.
Teams for Vuelta a Murcia
Organisers of the Vuelta a Murcia have announced the teams for the March 3-7 stage race. Notably absent from the list is Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team, which will miss an early season meeting with US Postal Service and Lance Armstrong, as well as Jan Ullrich and his new-look T-Mobile team. Joseba Beloki will also count himself among the Tour de France contenders building condition in the early spring as he leads Brioches La Boulangère in the Spanish tour.
Brioches La Boulangère
Ullrich tells his story
Back in the T-Mobile (ex-Telekom) fold and poised for another bid for Tour de France glory this season, Jan Ullrich is set to tell his story on and off the bike. The team's website announces that Ullrich has finished writing an autobiography, scheduled for publication on June 15. The timing ahead of the Tour de France in July is no accident, and the title "Everything Or Nothing At All" underlines the German's desire to break his string of second places behind Lance Armstrong in cycling's biggest event and reclaim the Tour title he won in 1997.
The autobiography is co-written with Hagen Bossdorf, who has already written about Ullrich, the only German to win the Tour de France. The 280 page book will be produced by German publishing company Econ and will sell for €19.90.
Fiordifrutta for 2004
The Fiordifrutta amateur team has announced its roster for 2004. The team earned 23 victories in 2003 and has spent the last four years near the top of the National Racing Calendar (NRC) points classification in the United States, consisting entirely of riders from New England. The 2004 team is the largest to date with thirteen riders, consisting of eight returning veterans and five new additions.
The veterans include team leaders Jon Hamblen and Mike Dietrich. Hamblen was the rider of the 2003 squad with the most victories. Dietrich finished 2003 as the fourth ranked amateur in the country according to the National Racing Calendar points classification, and finished in the top 10 of both the Elite and Under 23 National Road Race Championships. Oliver Stiler Cote and Josh Gewirtz both return for 2004, and will spend time racing with the US National Team in Europe. At only nineteen years of age, Stiler Cote was on the podium at the Under 23 National Road Race Championships in Texas in 2003.
Sponsors include: Biemme, Briko, Cannondale, Clif Bar, Dr. Dan O'Neill NH Knee Center, Headsweat, Kool Stop, Michelin, Northwave, Pedros, Selle Italia, Spinergy, Time, Yoozed.com
Lehigh Valley sponsors 2004 Collegiate Track Championships
Penn State Lehigh Valley has recently signed a deal to become the title sponsor of the 2004 US Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships. The Penn State Lehigh Valley Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships are to include National Champions and Penn State Lehigh Valley students Bobby Lea and Andy Lakatosh.
"The Penn State Cycling team has always been strong but with the Collegiate National Championships being at our home track and with top riders like Bobby Lea, Andy Lakatosh and Mike Friedman on board we are looking forward to bringing home many more National Championships to the program," said Jim Young Penn State Cycling Head Coach.
The Penn State Collegiate National Track Cycling Championship event is to draw Penn State, Stanford, Marian College, University of Florida, Dartmouth, Indiana University, Lehigh University and a host of other top cycling schools from around the United States. Each school will attempt to take home the coveted overall title of team champion, an honour won by Marian College of Indianapolis, Indiana in 2003. Events to be held include individual events such as the sprint, pursuit, points race, and kilometre time trial along with exciting team events including the team pursuit, team sprint, and Italian pursuit.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)