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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 1, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Valverde prepares for 2006 season

Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) wins stage 10 of the 2005 Tour de France
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

One of Spain's most successful riders, Illes Balears' Alejandro Valverde, is gearing up for the next season. Team director Eusebio Unzué revealed to Spanish media that the 2006 goals of the 25 year-old will be the Spring classics, as well as for the Tour de France. Meanwhile, he will probably not ride the Vuelta a España.

"Alejandro's preparation is scheduled to bring on these two peaks of form," Unzué said. "For the Vuelta, we'd need a third one, so he would be taking part only if he doesn't finish the Tour."

Valverde's start into the season will therefore be at a lesser speed. "This year, he spent a lot of energy very early and wasn't fresh anymore at the classics. Next season, we don't want him mingling in front at any of the races until Milano-Sanremo (at the end of March), which will be his first objective." From then on, until the end of April, Valverde will race six other classics. "It would be great if he could one of them," Unzué continued.

The Illes Balears rider is one of the greatest Grand Tour hopes of his nation, but the climber has participated in the Tour de France only once, winning the tenth stage to Courchevel in front of Lance Armstrong this year. "It would be easy to go on and on about Valverde winning the Tour - and it's not like I doubt the kid: I think he can achieve anything. But Alejandro has raced only half a Tour [he abandoned on stage 13 due to a knee problem - ed.], and there are riders like Basso, Vinokourov and Ullrich who have the advantage of experience. I can't put too much pressure on him," Unzué argued.

Ag2r signs two more

French team Ag2r, whose application for the UCI ProTour was granted this week, have announced the signing of two additional riders to their roster. Hubert Dupont and Renaud Dion will be joining the Chambéry-based outfit, which will then amount to 27 riders for the upcoming season. Both professionals were part of Continental team RAGT Sémences this year, whose sponsor has decided to stop its support of cycling, and will each sign a one-year deal in the coming days.

Sprinting showcase at Manchester World Cup

With important World Championship qualifying points up for grabs, the Manchester UCI World Cup held from December 9-11 will attract some of the World's best track sprinters across the men’s and women’s sprint events.

In the men’s competition the rider to beat will be Olympic Sprint and Keirin Champion Ryan Bayley who will be making the trip to the Manchester Velodrome with Australian sprint legend Shane Kelly. With Jamie Staff, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar and Matt Crampton racing in either the Keirin or Sprint, the competition between the Aussies and Brits will make for interesting viewing especially in advance of the Commonwealth Games next year.

"The World Cup will be an important part of my training as I will be tapering in a similar way to my preparation for the Commonwealth Games", commented MacLean. "I’ll be riding the Keirin which I haven’t raced very much so it will be interesting to see how I go. It’s always good to race against the Australians particularly in the UK so it should be exciting to watch."

Other star contenders include the World Keirin Champion Tuen Mulder and World Kilo Champion Theo Bos, Junior Sprint World Champion and rising German star Maximilian Levy, Polish Damian Zielinski and experienced Italian sprinter Roberto Chiappa, who will be racing in Manchester for the first time since being disqualified at the World Championships in 2000. With French showman Arnaud Tournant and team mate Mickaël Bourgain also in the line, as well as riders from more than 15 other countries, the competition will be fierce.

In the women’s events, World Sprint Champion Victoria Pendleton will be flying the flag for Great Britain and is keen not to disappoint in front of the home crowd. "I hope I don't disappoint too many people because I know my form is not as good as it will be for the Commonwealth Games and World's. I'll do my best obviously and I hope its good enough. Being on my home track always gives me added confidence," she said.

Pendleton will need to perform for qualifying points in the Keirin and 500m Time Trial, which she acknowledges will test her abilities. "When you spend a whole day focused on the sprint on day one, and then on day two do the 500 followed by another day in the Keirin, it is actually a hard program," Pendleton explained. However, she hopes to be up to the challenge and follow up the strong results from the Moscow World Cup to qualify for the World's in both events. "Manchester being my final World Cup before the Commonwealth Games would be the ideal situation for me," Pendleton concluded.

Opposition in these races will come from French sprinter and current Keirin World Champion Clara Sanchez, 500m TT World Champion Natallia Tsylinskaya from Belarus and the Junior Sprint and 500m TT World Champion Lizandra Guerra. The presence of Australian riders Anna Meares and Kristine Bayley will also spice up the competition ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The men’s Keirin final and women’s sprint final will take place on Friday, December 9, with the men’s sprint and women’s 500m TT finals on Saturday. The women’s Keirin and the JKA Japanese Keirin will be held on Sunday. Tickets and full details of the race programme from each day at the Manchester UCI World Cup are available at

Jelly Belly announces 2006 roster

The Jelly Belly Professional Cycling Team, whose title sponsor supports the team for a seventh year, has announced its 2006 season roster. Team director Danny Van Haute has added three riders to complete the squad: Andrew Bajadali, winner of the Tour of Utah and Boulder Stage Races, Brian Jensen, winner at the Holy Hill Stage of "Superweek" and third overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and Nick Reistad, winner of the Whitefish Bay Stage of "Superweek" in 2004 and member of the US National U23 Team.

"Andrew Bajadali will anchor the team's overall strategy in stage races and we expect Caleb Manion to take a leadership role in those races as well," Van Haute commented. "New riders Brian Jensen and Nick Reistad will find success as opportunists, while the Alex Candelario, David McCook, and Brice Jones will round out the team with their strengths as fast finishers. All the guys on the team are solid, I am confident that we can now hit every race on our schedule with a full-strength team."

Corey Steinbrecher returns to the team after a strong season racing in Europe, while stalwarts from last year, Matty Rice and Jeremy Powers, both look forward to making their mark in the coming year.

Jelly Belly's full 2006 roster includes the following 10 riders: Kirk Albers, Andrew Bajadali, Alex Candelario, Brian Jensen, Brice Jones, David McCook, Jeremy Powers, Nick Reistad, Matty Rice and Corey Steinbrecher.

German track champions at Melbourne Cup on Wheels

Rene Wolff
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image) Rene Wolff  explains match sprinting for TV.

World Sprint cycling champion Rene Wolff of Germany, who has arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday, will meet Australian dual Olympic Gold Medallist Ryan Bayley in the best of three heats of the Match Race of the Century at Vodafone Arena for Melbourne's Cup on Wheels on Saturday, December 3. Coming back from stage one of the sprinter's competition in Sydney on Sunday, Wolff was happy to be back and even happier to see the sun shining, even if Bayley claimed top honours with a narrow third heat win over the German, who found Sydney's big wet a disruption to his training schedule.

"I thought I was in England, before coming to Melbourne and seeing bright sunlight," Wolff said incredulously at a training session yesterday. "Bayley rode really well, I grant him that, but I could have beaten him by using other tactics. I won't say how, but I will show up Saturday night at Vodafone Arena more determined and harder to beat," he added. In a bonus second sprint match, Wolff’s compatriot Matthias John will be tested by Australian Champion, Joel Leonard.

Leigh Howard snatched the win at the Sydney Thousand against Ben Kersten
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

The main wheel race on Saturday is the Melbourne Cup on Wheels, an eight lap handicap, and all the talk is whether 16 year-old super kid Leigh Howard can continue on his winning way. The student stunned the cycling world in Sydney last Sunday by ending the grand slam hopes of Olympian Ben Kersten in the Sydney Thousand. In one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of the race, scratch marker Kersten got his tyre in front on the home stretch but the Victorian youngster outmuscled the Sydneysider at the line to win by just 0.008 seconds.

With the physical development of a 20 year-old, Howard is favourite for the Melbourne Cup on Wheels from a mark of 50 metres and is hoping to emulate the feat of Sid Patterson, who burst on the scene at a similar age and bagged a load of major wheel races to announce his arrival.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by CJ Farquharson/

  • Rene Wolff explains match sprinting for TV.
  • Rene Wolff and Matthius John lock horns... ahem!
  • Matthius John takes the sprint.
  • Joel Leonard listens to Jason Niblett discussing their chances - "it depends on how nice the handicapper's been," says Niblett.
  • Rene Wolff gets the VIS riders worried as he discusses tactics for Saturday's Melbourne Cup on Wheels.
  • Rene Wolff and Joel Leonard prepare for a "pitch invasion" as Mathias John and Jason Niblett sprint past.

Weening Dutch cyclist of the year

The Netherlands have decided on their cyclist of the year 2005. Rabobank's Pieter Weening was given the honours of the "Golden spoke" by a jury of Dutch former professional riders as well as the readers of cycling magazine Wieler Revue. The 24 year-old was up against Michael Boogerd, Joost Posthuma and Thomas Dekker, as well as track riders Theo Bos and Teun Mulder for the title.

Weening, who has only been part of the professional peloton for two years, won stage eight to Gérardmer in this season's Tour de France in a stunning two-man sprint against T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden. Weening also won a stage of the Tour of Poland, where he finished overall second.

Westside Cycling Classic for 2006

The Wedgewood Cycling Team has announced plans for a 2006 edition of the Westside Cycling Classic, which will again be set against a beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the Coastal Mountains and Point Grey Village. In 2005, racers of all over the Pacific Northwest and Canada competed in the event taking place in British Columbia, Canada.

"The support of the Community, City of Vancouver, Point Grey Village and racers in 2005 made us determined to build on our success," explained event director Jonathan Wornell. "We knew this race would become special and this year seeing the crowds come out, people picnicking on their lawns and the tremendous feedback has inspired us to put on a really special show for 2006."

The race, one of the Wedgewood Cycling Team main fund raising initiatives for 2006 in support of the BC Cancer Foundation, is scheduled for Sunday, June 18, 2006, as part of the Point Grey Fiesta Weekend.

More information will become available at

Caroline Yang Tour de France photography show

American cycling photographer Caroline Yang is exhibiting some of her pictures taken at the 2005 Tour de France at the One on One Bicycle Studio gallery/shop in Minneapolis. Minnesota, from December 3-February 18. The opening reception will take place this Saturday from 7-11 pm.

Cyclingnews regularly published Yang's work, including the 2005 Nature Valley Grand Prix as well as the 2004 Tour de France.

More information about the exhibition can be found at


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