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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 12, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

McQuaid: No Trophy of the Grand Tours in 2006

"What they are doing is completely hypocritical"

By Shane Stokes

Speaking to Cyclingnews from the World Cup track meet in Manchester over the weekend, UCI President Pat McQuaid has suggested that the UCI will block the proposed introduction of the Trophy of the Grand Tours in 2006.

News of the three race series came in Friday's press release from ASO, RCS and Unipublic, the organisers of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, who said that they would withdraw their 11 races from the ProTour with immediate effect. They announced that the return of their races to the international calendar would coincide with the introduction of the Trophy of the Grand Tours, a €2 million contest designed to encourage teams' participation in each of cycling's three week stage races.

Following on from suggestions in the UCI's own communiqué on Friday that the series would not be considered until 2007, Cyclingnews sought to clarify the governing body's position. When asked if he envisaged it coming in next year as planned, McQuaid was direct in his response. "Absolutely not, absolutely not," he replied, stating that the UCI has the power to stop the series. "According to our rules and regulations we can [block it], yes."

McQuaid said that Friday's announcement was a regrettable one for the sport. "I think the decision is something which could be very bad for cycling and runs the risk of causing some very deep divisions within the sport," he stated. "It is also a very hypocritical one. They [the Grand Tour organisers] claimed that they couldn't enter the ProTour because they said it was run like an American-style system. Yet is there anything more American than what they have just done, putting a load of dollars on the table to buy the teams' participation?

"They said that because of ethics, they couldn't accept the licensing situation as we had proposed. That's to say, a system whereby the licensing commission would look into the four or five different parameters which we gave them to gauge whether a team should get into the ProTour or not. Those parameters include the strength of their administration, their sporting strength and their financial background, such as having a sponsor with a four-year contract signed up. But they wouldn't accept that. They said that it was against the ethics of sporting rules, that it should be based on sporting merit and there should be a system of promotion and relegation.

"So they don't accept those things on the basis of their ethics, yet they throw all of that out the window and, purely for the sake of money, they want to buy the teams in. That is what it is all about, nothing else - buying the teams in by giving them money. I think what they are doing is completely hypocritical and so, from that point of view, I can't accept it. We [the UCI] will have to reflect on it."

McQuaid said that the ProTour Council was originally due to meet next on March 17th, but that this will now be moved to a date early in the new year in order to determine the next step forward.

"The UCI will reflect on this decision, as will the teams. We haven't talked directly to them yet, but the AIGCP put out something [on Saturday] which basically states that they have studied the situation, they note that there is no change for 2006, and for beyond 2006, they will have to call a meeting of their members to decide."

A longer interview with Pat McQuaid will follow on Cyclingnews this week.

Also see: UCI versus Grand Tour organisers: The gloves are off

Another year for Konyshev

Dmitri Konyshev is often asked when he will finally put an end to his professional cycling career, but the 40 year-old is determined to do the job as long as he physically and mentally can. "As long as I win and I have fun, I won't leave the bike," Konyshev said. In his second season with Professional Continental team LPR, the Russian won a stage in the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias on June 17, which proves him right.

Furthermore, the man who will celebrate his 41st birthday on February 18 next year, is confident he can still be an asset to his Swiss team which he rates as being stronger next season. "I continue for myself, but also for my team, which means a lot to me," he said. "After one experimental season within the pro peloton, we made a giant leap in terms of quality this year by winning 18 races and getting several prestigious placings. And in 2006, the team will be even stronger as we have all the premises to grow further."

Unfortunately, the team will miss Pavel Tonkov next season, as the close friend of Konyshev has decided to hang up the bike for good. "Pavel is a very honest person," Konyshev said. "When he felt that his power began to fade, he favoured his dignity above the money and, out of respect for himself and the team, took the only logical decision. I think that even when he said goodbye, Tonkov showed that he is a authentic champion."

Thinking about his own future, Konyshev of course admitted that this step loomed near for him too. "I would like to stay within the world of cycling," he answered when asked what his post-career plans were. "In the role of a manager or directeur sportif, I could offer a great amount of experience - it would be a sin not to do so."

Ludwig responds to Godefroot's criticism

By Susan Westemeyer

Olaf Ludwig, incoming T-Mobile Team manager, has responded to criticism from outgoing Team Manager Walter Godefroot, who said that he was not comfortable with the fact that "everything is focused on Jan Ullrich and will be even more so next season."

"I don't know exactly what Godefroot means with his criticism," Ludwig told German press agency dpa. "At the Tour, naturally everything turns around Ullrich. But of course we also have other goals for the season, which are overshadowed for the public by the overwhelming importance of the Tour."

McEwen takes third Surfers GP

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: John Flynn
Click for larger image

It took a Herculean effort from sprint champion Robbie McEwen to regain his title at the Surfers Paradise Grand Prix in front of a very vocal crowd against fellow sprinting super star Baden Cooke. In 2004, four time Olympic medallist Brad McGee put an end to Robbie McEwen’s strangle hold on this event, but the hometown hero still claimed his third title yesterday by the narrowest of margins.

On the start line was a full field of 60 riders, including McEwen, Baden Cooke, Brad McGee, Scott McGrory and Jaaron Poad. Half way through the race, the peloton had nevertheless been reduced to just 26 riders with a couple of nasty falls contributing to the decimated field.

After finishing out of the top ten in last weeks event at South Bank, McEwen made sure he didn't miss the break this week, and set up the race perfectly to end in a sprint. With fifteen minutes to go in the 60mins plus three laps race, it was clear the six riders in the lead group - McEwen, Cooke, Poad, Phillips, Ohlman and Mann - worked very effectively together to establish an unrecoverable break. In the final sprint, Cooke and McEwen gave it everything they had, and it was McEwen who just tipped out Cooke on the line with Poad again finishing third.

"It’s great to win here in front of my family and home crowd, it’s the only big race I get to ride and I always look forward to it," said McEwen. He also paid tribute to Phillips, who put in a phenomenal effort today. "I train with Jason nearly everyday and have known him since we were juniors, it was great to share the race with another local," added McEwen,who will now get in some hard training before the Nationals in mid-January, then the Tour Down Under before heading back overseas.

Poad was not too disappointed with third, as it secured him the overall series win. "I've been racing in these events for the past four years and finally I've done it, I'm just so happy I'm lost for words," said Poad.

A one hour television program will be screened on the Ten Network nationally on January 1, 2006, which will include coverage of both the Surfers Paradise and South Bank events as well as a short documentary on three of the rider’s families - Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels and Scott McGrory.

For full results, report & photos of the Surfers Paradise GP, click here.

Andy Schleck eyes 2006 Tour de l'Avenir

By Jesper Johannesen,

Andy Schleck turned pro this year, after having being a stagiaire at Team CSC the year before, and the strong rider from Luxembourg was very satisfied with his season when spoke with him about his first season as a professional.

"I think that this year has been a very good year for me," Schleck said. "I had 84 race days, which is quite a lot. Naturally I've been racing to earn get some experience, but I also finished many of the races I participated in. Personally, I think that this season has been a success for me."

Andy Schleck was also one of the riders who helped the Dane Lars Bak to the overall victory in the French Espoir stage race, the Tour de l'Avenir. But next year, it doesn't look like Schleck will just work as a helper. "Next year I'll try to perform good in Tour of Georgia and Tour of Luxembourg. Furthermore, I'd like to win Tour de l'Avenir," he said.

Andy, who is a younger brother of Fränk Schleck, sees Team CSC as a considerably strengthened team for the 2006 season, even though it was one of the world's strongest teams in 2005.

"We've been reinforced with some new riders for the 2006 season - Cancellara, O'Grady and Cuesta, among others, so I definitely reckon that we're now a lot stronger than last year. I believe that we'll win a lot of races next season. The ProTour Team Competition will most likely also be a goal for us to win in 2006. We want to be able to do great in all ProTour races next year."

Clark to coach Aussie U23 riders in Six Days

Australia's most prolific Six Day rider Danny Clark, will coach up and coming U23 riders Christopher Young and Phillip Stokes in the final five rounds of the U.I.V. Cup (Amateur Six Day race events) which are run in conjunction with the lucrative European Six Day race circuit. Finishing a creditable seventh in the series last year with only three starts, Young and Stokes are out to win one of the final five Six Days to earn them a start in one of the Professional Six Day events in 2007. They start their campaign in Rotterdam, in early January, moving on to Bremen, Stuttgart, Berlin and Copenhagen.

Clark has high hopes for the boys, as he feels that they combine well and compliment each other with their skills. "I will be spending time coaching the lads to better read their races and maintain optimum position within the fields particularly when they move to the shorter 160m and 200m tracks in Europe," Clark said. "The lads showed good form last year in Berlin and Copenhagen finishing fourth in the latter event against two of the teams that have earned professional contracts this year. I am confident they will ride well."

Following the Six Day circuit, Young will take up duties with the Crédit Agricole DN1 Espoir team in France, whilst Stokes will return to Australia hopeful of gaining a start in the Bendigo and Australian Madison Championships. Cycling New South Wales announced that it is hopeful of securing Clark's services at training camps to be held at the recently opened road and track facilities at Coffs Harbour, Northern NSW, in 2006.

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