First Edition Cycling News for December 14, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke
McQuaid: The ProTour is the best way forward
Friday, December 9, was a turbulent day for cycling. The rejection by ASO, RCS and Unipublic of the UCI's one year old ProTour project was a blow to the UCI, and a decision which has big implications for the sport. 12 months ago the talk was all about a new beginning, the ProTour set to increase sponsorship, media coverage and public interest in cycling, thus helping the sport to compete with others such as football and Formula One. Yet now this aim has unravelled, and as a result of Friday's big divorce, some of cycling's most historic events have now broken away from the new series.
Time will tell what effect this has on the sport. As of now, cycling is teetering on the edge of a civil war between some of the biggest players. It is, potentially, one of the most serious political crises in the sport's history, and it will not benefit the fans at all.
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to Pat McQuaid over the weekend to get his take on things. Despite what has happened in recent days, the UCI President says he still believes strongly in the ProTour concept and gives his reasons why he maintains it is the best direction to take for the overall development of the sport.
Cyclingnews: Having reflected on Friday's announcement, what is your reaction to the decision of the Grand Tour organisers?
Pat McQuaid: First off, 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.
Secondly, I think there are elements of it that are obscene. To explain that, I was in Cairo at the African championships on Friday. I was talking to young cyclists there from places like Eritrea and Ethiopia and Sudan and Kenya, as well as officials and presidents from those federations. My time there was spent discussing the problems they have in developing cycling in their country.
Proposed temporary velodrome may hit the road
Syndicate looking for partners to commercialise concept
By Gerard Knapp
Cycling's most expensive accessory or biggest luxury, you could say, is an indoor velodrome, preferably with a track made of Baltic pine. But it's also the best venue for watching the sport in its most pure form, and track cycling has been a proven sell-out at major sports jamborees like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
For that reason, the organisers of the 2006 Asian Games, to be held in Doha, Qatar, on the Persian Gulf, decided to reinstate track cycling into its program.
But a major problem for Doha is that it doesn't have a purpose-built 250 metre indoor velodrome that is homologated to UCI specifications.
And it's not just next year's Asian Games that will need a velodrome. In fact, there are several planned events to be held around the world that will each require a UCI-standard velodrome.
For this reason, the designer of the Dunc Gray velodrome used for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Ryder Associates, is forming a consortium to build a fully transportable velodrome.
"It soon became obvious to us that a down-the-line profitable business opportunity is there to make continued use of such a very large transportable facility for track cycling," said architect Paul Ryder, principal of the Sydney-based firm.
Kohut in coma after crash
Miche rider Slawomir Kohut is being kept in an induced coma after being hit by a car yesterday while training at home in Poland. The younger of the Kohut brothers, who both ride for Miche, suffered head injuries in the crash.
Phonak riders swap khaki for tracksuits
As is the case with many European nations, Switzerland requires young men to perform military service. If you're a professional bike rider, this can pose several problems. On Monday Phonak riders Gregory Rast, Aurelien Clerc, Martin Elmiger, Steve Morabito, Steve Zampieri and Sascha Urweider began their military service. Thanks to a pilot project they can report for duty in the elite sport recruit school in Magglingen while carrying out their season preparations in full.
In recent years over 500 top athletes have been able to profit from special, sport-friendly conditions in the Swiss Army. Now the army is going one step further, with all Swiss athletes aiming for the Olympic Games in 2008 being able to undertake their military service in Magglingen. In relation to cyclists, the course from December 12-23 is a pilot project. "After its conclusion, we will analyse the repetition course and discuss its future," said Franz Fischer, head of sport at the school.
Rast, Elmiger and co. reported for duty in military uniform on Monday in Magglingen. But they were quickly able to swap the khaki green for a track suit. Despite their military service, cycling is still the number one priority. The Phonak boys were able to join Michael Schär, who is attending the school in Magglingen, and be trained by Marcello Albasini, trainer for the U23 Swiss cycling team. Athletes must still observe military guidelines upon reporting for duty, during joint meals or on parade after the optional evening meal on Wednesday evening, however.
"It's a great advantage for us that the season's build-up training isn't interrupted by military service," said 25-year-old rider Sascha Urweider. The army also hopes to be able to profit from this project. "We are hoping for a positive response in the PR area. For example, that after a sporting success an athlete will mention the contribution made by the army," said Fischer. But it's not just professional cyclists that benefit from the project - the entire national handball team will be performing their military service in Magglingen while Phonak riders are training and doing their duty.
Germans head for the sun
It's December and a cycling pro's thoughts turn to training and the search for warm weather. For riders from some counties it's hardly an issue. Australian pros are currently all home enjoying the Southern hemisphere summer and - in many cases - picking up some handy pocket money on the criterium circuit. US riders can escape their country's chilly areas by hopping on a plane to southern California. But for the German pro contingent the options are to put up with it (and break out the resistance trainer), take up skiing or escape to warmer climes.
Gerolsteiner's riders are taking different paths to the common goal of finding a clement training spot. Robert Förster has opted to train at home, alternately on the bike and in the fitness studio. Team-mate Rene Haselbacher is in South Africa, preparing for his goals of the Tour de France and the 2006 Worlds in his Austrian homeland. Sven Kraus has gone another direction, heading to Mallorca with Christoph Meschenmoser (Team Shimano), where they are riding training blocks of 500 to 650 km in the sun and warmth. Paco Wrolich and FdJeux's Bernhard Eisel have opted for altitude training in Karnten, Austria, where they alternate cycling with skiing. And one former Gerolsteiner, who hopes to join the team again, Danilo Hondo, has joined a group of T-Mobilers in South Africa while he waits to hear the results of his appeal in his doping-related suspension.
Meanwhile, Rabobank's Grischa Niermann has also turned his back on the grey, wet and cold German weather and has flown to Mallorca this week. The T-Mobile troupe in South Africa had guests. Not only have they been joined by new directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage, they had a visit from the Swiss doping controllers on Saturday (Jan Ullrich, Matthias Kessler and Steffen Wesemann all live in Switzerland). Later they joined the mainly South African crew of the America's Cup yacht Shosholoza (sponsored by T-Systems, a sister firm of T-Mobile) for a sail on their rest day. Sunday the sailors joined the cyclists for a ride on two wheels.
Ardila to Rabobank
The Rabobank team has announced the signing of 26-year-old Colombian climbing specialist Mauricio Ardila to a two-year contract for 2006 and 2007. The 1.65m, 58kg Ardila impressed the team with his performances in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2005, and especially his ninth overall in the Vuelta.
Ardila's palmares includes stage wins in the 2002 Tour of Sweden and Tour de l'Avenir, two stages and the overall ranking in the 2004 Tour of Britain and a stage plus the King of the Mountains classification in the 2005 Niedersachsen Rundfahrt.
The signing of Ardila completes the Rabobank roster for 2006.
Cooke aims to recover for Commonwealth Games
British rider Nicole Cooke says the broken collarbone she sustained at the Manchester round of the track World Cup on Friday shouldn't prevent her from defending her Commonwealth Games title in Melbourne, Australia in March.
"I'm still very sore and tender around the collarbone, so that's going to take quite a while to heal," Cooke told the BBC. "But I'm sure I will be able to get to Melbourne - it's not ideal but if there is a right time to have an accident like this I suppose this was it."
Cooke fell in a points race heat on the first evening of competition at Manchester after a collision with Canada's Gina Grain. "I can't think there was anything I was doing wrong, to be brought down like that is horrible at any time," Cooke said. "But when the consequences mean taking several weeks off the bike it does have a much bigger impact later on.
"I am lucky that we are three months away from the Commonwealth Games, so providing I can get back on a bike on the indoor turbo-trainer in two weeks' time then I should be able to train my legs. With some gym work and some imagination, hopefully by the middle of January when I can ride normally back on the road I'll not have fallen too far behind."
Di Luca to sing in San Remo
Danilo Di Luca, the Pro Tour's leading rider in 2005, is set to hit the recording studio. The Italian rider will join countrymen Jarno Trulli and Alex Zanardi (racing car drivers), European volleyball champion Alberto Cisolla and rugby player Denis Dallan.
The quintet have recorded the song "Apri il cielo" - Open the Sky. Proceeds from the sale of the single will go to charity next year thanks to the generosity of Elisabetta Mondini, who has written the text of the song. "I was so lucky to co-operate with Marco Pantani," said Mondini. "I had written the song "E adesso pedala" - Get on the Bike - that Marco Pantani performed with great success. We decided to gather a group of athletes again in his memory as well. Why did we choose Di Luca? Because he raced a magic season; because he has an attractive character which makes him popular. And also because he is fond of music."
In fact, Di Luca has played the drums since he was a child. "I like music very much and spending a day in a recording studio was great. According to the technicians, our performance was good: now we are looking forward to singing "Apri il cielo" on stage," the Liquigas-Bianchi rider said. According to Mondini, they may sing during the next Festival of San Remo, even if they're not competing.
"That's great!" said Di Luca. "In 2006 I'm going to focus on the Giro d'Italia. So, I won't be able to be one of the favourite riders for winning Milan-San Remo, but I may be a star in the Città dei Fiori - the town of flowers - even without the bicycle."
U.S. Cross World Championships Squad
USA Cycling has announced five riders who are automatically selected for the U.S. squad that will travel to the cyclocross world championships in Zeddam, Netherlands, January 28-29, 2006.
Daniel Summerhill earned an automatic bid after capturing the junior men's national championship, while Troy Wells (TIAA-CREF) and Jesse Anthony (Clif Bar) each earned automatic selections to the team in the U23 category. Wells rode to a national title on Saturday to earn his selection while Anthony won the 2005 Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series to earn his.
Katie Compton (Redline) and Barbara Howe (Velo Bella) earned spots on the elite women's team. Compton rode to her second consecutive national title on Sunday while Howe was the highest-placed American in third at the conclusion of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross.
Automatic nominations for the elite men will be announced on January 10, while discretionary nominations for the elite women, junior and U23 men will be announced on December 15 and discretionary nominations for the elite men will be announced on January 13.
Targetraining to race Continental Tour in 2006
Targetraining announced today that it will join the US professional peloton as a UCI Continental Pro team for 2006. Targetraining will focus on the US National Racing Calendar circuit. Tom Schuler will be team manager, having previously run squads such as Saturn and more recently Advantage Benefits Endeavour.
The 2006 squad will be co-captained by Anthony Colby and Frank Pipp. Colby has shown strong climbing ability, winning the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont, finishing second to Tyler Hamilton in the Mount Washington Hill Climb, and placing well in a number of NRC events. Pipp led the Advantage Benefits Endeavour team in 2005, winning the 2005 Superweek sprinter's title - he'll bring big race experience to the programme.
Pro mountain biker Todd Wells will join the team for key events, and along with Alejandro Acton, Ryan Blickem, Josh Bezecny, Dustin MacBurnie, Eneas Freyre, Dan Greenfield, Wes Hartman and Matt Shriver will look to make a mark in the NRC.
Rick Spear, CEO of Targetraining, is excited about the team's step up. "The Targetraining Pro Cycling Team shows investment both in the sport as well as in athletes that we work with and develop," he said. "Tom Schuler and Rick Crawford bring patience, insight and the will to succeed. Together, Tom and Rick will give our racers the best chance to excel."
According to team manager Tom Schuler, "Targetraining's sponsorship is unique because it is focused on developing athletes and on fitness. I hope that my experience will help make Targetraining's programme a success in 2006." More information about the team can be found at www.targetraining.com
Bray Wheelers kicks off Irish festivities
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Bray Wheelers, the club that started the idea of organising Christmas events over 30 years ago is back at the helm this weekend with its Christmas two-up time trial. All over the country similar events are now run off on the run up to the festive period, but the Wheelers can lay claim to being first out of the starting block, courtesy of Paddy Martin who is President of the club today.
The club's annual Christmas fun event takes place on Sunday from the clubhouse on the Upper Dargle Road, Bray, starting at 11 o'clock. It is a non-competitive ten-mile team time trial. Teams consist of two competitors, who are obliged to estimate their time prior to the start. The team with their actual event time closest to the estimated time are the winners. Fancy dress is encouraged for the day with prizes for the best costumes to be decided by the catering crew.
It will be nostalgic event for the club as this will be the last time that the event will start from the old clubhouse. Early in the New Year the 130-member club is moving to state of the art premises. In the 60's Bray Wheelers was the first club in Ireland to have its own premises and over 40 years later it's still the only club in the country with its own building.
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