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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 2, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

An interview with Fränk Schleck: Flying high close to home

Fränk Schleck in the 2005 Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Franklin Tello
Click for larger image

CSC rider Fränk Schleck has enjoyed an impressive 2005, taking strong results in the last few races of the season, where only the likes of Paolo Bettini and Gilberto Simoni could stop him from finishing first. The 25-year-old Luxemburger took the national jersey from teammate Kim Kirchen this year and almost made it to the podium in the Tour de Suisse, with five seconds separating himself and German superstar Jan Ullrich. This cycling revelation comes from a family with deep roots in the sport, and has found a perfect base to continue dreaming about higher goals with Danish team CSC, as he revealed to Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner.

Cyclingnews: Tell me about your season - 2005 has been a breakthrough year for you, with plenty of great results...

Fränk Schleck: Yes. Now that I'm back to training, having trouble starting over again, I realise how great the season really was! Although I'm only riding 2-3 hours a day, still taking it easy. It's true that I've continuously improved every year since I became a pro three years ago. This season, it started out really well with the Tour Méditerranéen, where I placed second, then I became seventh in Paris-Nice. After that I raced Milano-Sanremo, and then Bjarne sent me to take a break and do some downhill skiing...

CN: You went skiing in the middle of the season?

FS: Yes! That was surprising but I must say that Bjarne really knows what he's doing and what a rider needs at any given time. Just before Milano-San Remo, Bjarne told me that I was participating in too many races before the Giro; that he needed me there in good form. 'You can't stop all together,' he said, 'you'd lose too much muscle. But your heart needs a rest.' So he asked me if I could ski. He said, 'don't break anything, but go ski, it's good for the muscles.'

It was funny because my girlfriend happened to go for a skiing vacation one day before Milano-San Remo, so I raced there, even finished in the lead group, and then joined her. We skied together, but I also went walking up the mountain at 7 o'clock in the morning, three times a week. And I must say that it was great training! As I returned home, I was in top shape, even better than before. I'd like to do that again in 2006, if I can, as it was also great for my mind and motivation. Plus, I'm lucky I don't gain any weight that fast, so it's perfect for me.

Click here for the full interview.

ProTour team time trial a flop

The organisers of the Eindhoven ProTour team time trial have held a meeting on Thursday last week, concluding that the event created and first carried out in 2005 was a defeat on financial, organisational as well as sporting levels. The Dutch municipalities of Helmond, Best and Eindhoven, who hosted the race this season, complained about the lack of sponsorship deals to finance the event, which is also the subject of a responsibility dispute between the city of Eindhoven and the foundation Citydynamiek, which was first appointed as organiser but them backed out.

Furthermore, the race did not attract the expected media coverage, nor the great cyclist's names it was hoping for. The scheduling within the season's calendar, the fact that it no ProTour-points were awarded to individual riders and the unusual size of the teams - six riders vs. eight or nine in other races - were the reasons for the failure of the new team time trial, according to project manager Jack van den Eijnden. "The ratio between cost and quality must be optimised," Van den Eijnden told the Telegraaf.

Nevertheless, the city of Eindhoven holds a four-year license with the UCI ProTour, and is hopeful that the team time trial will raise more sponsorship funds next year, before it will again take place on June 18. on the last day of the Tour de Suisse.

New leadership at Team Barloworld

By Shane Stokes

John Robertson and DS Christian Andersen in the background
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Long-existing tensions within Team Barloworld finally came to a head this week with the news that directeur sportif John Robertson and his Euro Cycling Promotions setup have lost the managerial position within the Continental Pro team.

Robertson was involved with the squad for several years, securing the Barloworld sponsorship in 2002 with a view to pursuing the long-term goal of taking a South African team to the Tour de France. Since then the squad has showcased some of the best talent from the country, with one of the big highlights being Ryan Cox’s victory in this year’s Tour de Langkawi. However, despite this win, some solid victories in Europe and the signing of former world road race champion Igor Astarloa to the 2005 lineup, the team were unable to secure their medium-term ambition of riding this year’s Giro d’Italia or that of moving closer to ProTour status.

Tensions are known to have existed within the team for some time, due in part to the different management styles of the South African and Italian elements of Team Barloworld. A clear language barrier was also in evidence when Cyclingnews visited the team training camp in Pescara in January. Now, it appears that the Italian wing of the squad has won the internal power struggle, with former world amateur champion Claudio Corti being appointed to head up a new management team which replaces Robertson’s Euro Cycling Promotions.

Robertson was due to speak to Cyclingnews about the matter this week but has been unable to be contacted for comment. However, in an earlier email he stated that he was "really angry with the situation, and the way middle management at Barloworld have handled the team and staff."

Robertson told the South African press this week that he had signed an agreement with the sponsors in August, but that they failed to provide guarantees on October 31. This is contradicted by the official team release, which stated that "the change in management has come about after Barloworld and Euro Cycling Promotions (ECP), the current management team, could not reach agreement on the new 2006 sponsorship contract. Barloworld, who are committed to support cycling have therefore decided to create their own team and management company with Mr Claudio Corti as team manager who will select the riders and support staff for 2006."

Corti competed as a professional in the 70s and 80s. He was a former world amateur title holder and twice Italian champion. Since his retirement from competition, he has been involved in the running of a number of big teams, including Lampre-Caffita, Team Saeco, Polti and Chateau d'Ax.

According to Chris Fisher, head of corporate marketing at Barloworld, the sponsors are fully behind the new structure. "Barloworld is totally committed to the new team and will ensure that the team has the best possible management structure and infrastructure to support it as it goes forward into another exciting year of cycling."

It is as yet unclear as to how this change in management will affect the future composition of the team. When the professional squad was founded, it was seen as a vehicle to ensure the development of South African cycling at the highest level, with Tour de France participation the ultimate goal. And while riders such as Cox will be part of the 2006 lineup, it seems that over time the team is becoming a more multinational one than was initially envisaged, with riders from many different countries likely to be part of the as-yet unfinalised roster for next season.

An angry Robertson suggests that more changes are in store, with some of the "team’s most loyal riders" likely to be dropped. He also claims that he is owed money by the team after personally covering a shortfall in budget.

It is not yet known if he is considering further action on the matter, or indeed what his plans are for next year. Meanwhile, Team Barloworld have stated that they will shortly be announcing the 2006 lineup and race programme.

Italian champion down with mononucleosis

Italian squad Liquigas-Bianchi has announced two riders out of pre-season training. Current Italian champion Enrico Gasparotto is knocked out by mononucleosis, and missed the first team meeting of Liquigas 2006 in Salsomaggiore Terme. More importantly, the 23 year-old will not be able to ride for two months. "Better now than in the middle of the race season," was Gasparotto's resigned reaction. "I’m aware that this break will partially affect my plans for 2006: Unfortunately, at the beginning of the season I won’t be able to take part in every race."

Franco Pellizotti was unlucky too, but contrary to his team mate he managed to be in Salsomaggiore even with his right arm in plaster. "I crashed during the last training ride before the team meeting started," Pellizotti said, whose right wrist is broken. The Italian will start to train again within ten days.

Colorado cycling events limited to 2,500

By Mark Zalewski

A new policy enacted in November by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) could have some negative effects on the region's most popular cycling events. As of November 14, 2005 all events that use the CSP for safety and traffic control cannot have more than 2,500 participants. While most racing events can only dream of having 2,500 entries, charity and touring rides consistently draw a larger crowd - and two of Colorado's most popular events, the Elephant Rock and Triple Bypass, stand to lose out.

However, the rationale behind this new policy is not without reason, according to the CSP Sergeant Jeff Goodwin. "The state patrol has worked with bicycling events for decades, and we have always worked very closely with our partners. But we have come into situations where our resources are stretched to the max. So we had a committee come up with a number that is reasonable for people to come to an event and yet keep it manageable [for us.]"

Many in the Colorado cycling community are upset because they do not know how the CSP arrived at the 2,500 cap. "What we did is we looked at resources like motorcycles and officers. In most cases it is eight to sixteen, and that makes a ratio of one for every 300 riders," said Sergeant Goodwin.

What this comes down to is the perception of what safety is. The event organizers believe that a well-run event will render the number of participants as an independent variable. According to Bicycle Colorado's web site, a group organizing a petition of the cap, "A well-run event can be safe for 10,000 bicyclists and a poorly-run event can be unsafe for 100 riders."

However, the CSP's position is different. "What's happening that nobody is talking about, is the behaviour of the cyclist and behaviour of the motorist is coming into contact often. We are seeing more violent acts. There was a man who threw out a box of nails in the Elephant Rock race last year which was dangerous and affected a dozen riders, and another that involved a drunk driver trying to run over cyclists, as well as other safety issues that are growing in number - and the event organizers do not want to talk about that."

Leslie Caimi, organizer of the annual Triple Bypass ride over Squaw, Loveland and Vail passes, told the Rocky Mountain News that she will still hold the ride in 2006, but with 1,000 fewer riders which will mean less money donated to the community. "The biggest thing is the amount of charitable giving we do," she said. "This year we donated $90,000 back to the community. Next year, that will probably be cut back."

The paper also reported that local legislator Representative Terrence Carroll of Denver will work to find a solution. He said in a written statement, "an arbitrary and subjective cap on the number of riders allowed to participate hurts the bicycling community more than it helps it." When asked if there would be a way to accommodate both sides, Sergeant Goodwin replied, "They could get away from dealing with us by setting up a new venue - get their permits to use city or county roads from the other [local] departments. Some of the cities have incorporated parts of state highways which are in their jurisdiction and not ours. The event organizers could have a second event or multiple events. As long as they come in under 2500, we have no problem."

Cycling Central returns to the screen

'Cycling Central', nominated as a finalist in the 2005 Australian Sports Commission Media Awards for ‘Best Commitment to the Coverage of Sport’, returns to TV channel SBS as of Sunday, December 4, at 5.30pm. SBS Television has long been viewed as 'Australia’s cycling network', with its strong commitment both in terms of event broadcasts and assisting in grass roots promotion, which has played a significant role in encouraging the growth of the sport in the country.

'Cycling Central' not only provides a showcase for Australian cycling talent, but also acts as a forum to educate and entertain viewers across all different forms of the sport. From recreational to road racing, mountain biking to track cycling, elite riders to weekend warriors - there’s something for every cyclist each week. Hosted once again by SBS’s Mike Tomalaris, the 2005/06 15-week series will feature news and reviews from all cycling disciplines.

Danish Crown Princess Mary patroness of Women's World Cup

The first Danish World Cup ever will be decorated with royal splendour, as her royal highness, Crown Princess Mary will be patroness when the international bike race is held in Aarhus on July 30, 2006.

In a letter from the Chief of the Court, it says that "Her Royal Highness, the Crown Princess, will be happy to patronage the UCI Women's World Cup."

Race organizer, Jesper Tikiøb, is very enthusiastic about Crown Princess Mary having accepted to be patroness. "We are very happy and proud about it. To us it's a signal that the Crown Princess wants to support a large and international sporting event. The World Cup for women is the beginning of what we hope, will become a great co-operation with the International Cycling Union, UCI - so altogether we're very pleased that Mary has chosen to patronage exactly this event."

The race is one out of 13 World Cup races being held during the 2006 season, in twelve different countries all over the world. In Aarhus, a 45 km team time trial challenging six riders at a time will take place, with approximately 25 teams expected.

Race for Hope to benefit cancer patients

World Cycling Adventures have announced the organisation of "Race for Hope", scheduled for February 4-5, 2006, at the Clark Field, Pampanga, a benefit race to support pediatric cancer patients in the Philippines. The chosen beneficiary is the KYTHE Child Life Program, a non-stock, non-profit organization certified by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC). It caters to the psycho-social needs of pediatric patients suffering from cancer in government hospitals around the country.

"Race for Hope" will feature a men’s age group and a women’s open age group in a circuit race of approximately 20 kilometres, including two short hills and a two-kilometre false flat to the finish. Interested amateurs may contact Tim GoBio at worldcyclingadventures@yahoo.com.

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