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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 17, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Discovery Channel's Bruyneel evaluates ProTour/Grand Tour split

By Tim Maloney, Cyclingnews European Editor

In an interview with Cyclingnews, and also in his weekly column on ThePaceline.com, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team sports director Johan Bruyneel discussed his take on the current situation of the split between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI's ProTour. A year ago, when Cyclingnews spoke with Bruyneel about his preparations to bring the new Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team together as one of the key elements of the nascent ProTour, Johan told us, "It's been a lot of work and cost us a lot of money for all the new riders we need and new staff we need to become a ProTour team. But it will be worth it."

Twelve months on, Bruyneel is still positive about the ProTour, but disappointed about the decision of the recent decision of RCS Sport (Giro), Amaury Sport Organization (TDF) and Unipublic (Vuelta) to pull out of the ProTour in 2006. Bruyneel explained to Cyclingnews from Madrid, Spain that, "For 2006, our race schedule will remain unchanged. We will keep focusing on the big races, and especially on the Giro d'Italia with Paolo Savoldelli, and on the Tour de France, because it's the most beautiful race in the world. However, I have to tell you that I absolutely don't agree with the point of view of the three Grand Tour organisers.

"The ProTour is a new project that is planned to change the face of cycling for the better, and new project has pro and cons. But for the ProTour to be successful, we have to give it some time, to be open for improvements and changes. And I believe the ProTour is ready to do this. I know that the teams and riders are ready to do this, because they see the ProTour can bring cycling to a new level."

Bruyneel analysed the business model of professional cycling with an astute observation, saying, "Do you realize that Pro Cycling is the ONLY top level professional sport where teams' revenues are generated only by sponsorship? All other major sports, above all football (soccer), have a huge amount of revenue from TV rights. In cycling, these rights are held by race organisers, and they don't want to share this revenue stream with anyone. But I believe they should, because the main actors on the stage of cycling, the stars and the other riders, are who are generating this TV money for the race organisers. It's the guys who are suffering, the guys who are on the road, trying to win a bike race who make the spectacle that people watch on TV, who generate the ratings so race organisers can have a revenue stream from TV advertising. It's just logical and fair that the cycling teams and riders get a slice of the TV money cake. And this revenue stream to the teams and riders would raise cycling to a higher and more professional level."

Looking forward, Bruyneel said, "For the future of the ProTour, it's high time that the teams and the riders realize who they are and what they mean in cycling. Yes, cycling is a beautiful and traditional sport. But to go to another level professionally, there is only one way. The era of the nice riders who just say 'yes yes yes' should be over. And I believe that as long as the teams don't understand this situation, where pro cycling is now and where it is headed, pro cycling will remain the traditional beautiful sport as it is, an almost archaic sport.

"For an example, we still have chaotic situations at the starts and finishes of ProTour races, where top level athletes have to fight their way through a massive crowd of spectators to get to the start or get back to their team after the finish. We have no fences on Alpe d'Huez; you have seen that cycling is a sport where the spectator can not only touch the athlete, but can also hit him. But, as some people say, that's the beauty of cycling...but it is also a challenge to bring cycling to the next level and that is fundamentally is what the ProTour is all about."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Vinokourov to skip the Spring Classics and P-N in 2006

Alexander Vinokourov will be focusing his attention on the Tour de France in 2006 with his new team, Liberty Seguros-Wurth. His preparations will be different, he says in an interview on the team's website:

"I will make my debut in the Vuelta a Murcia and then I will ride Milan-San Remo and the Setmana Catalana. This year, I will neither be in Paris-Nice nor the classics, which have always motivated me, but that also means an added stress. On the other hand, I will probably do the Tour of Georgia and, then the Dauphiné Libéré."

He is pleased with his chances at the Tour with Liberty, saying, "The team has a lot of experience in this race, it works very well for its leader and gives the maximum for him." In a swipe at his former T-Mobile Team, he adds, "Besides, there are no other aims here, you don't work for a sprinter, nor do you think about the green maillot either."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Totschnig: "It could have been the worst year of my career"

2005 "could just as easily have been the worst year of my career" instead of the best, said Gerolsteiner's Georg Totschnig in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. "During the Tour I was ready to drop out. I wasn't in top form. The stage victory was only possible because, in contrast to last year, I wasn't good enough for a top place in the rankings. I posed no danger to those who wanted to place in the top ten. That is why I had the chance on that day."

He hopes things will be different in the coming year. "I want to compete for top place in the Tour again. The chances for an outsider like me are better since Lance Armstrong's retirement, because it is questionable whether any team will be able to control the race like Armstrong's team could."

Totschnig said that his selection as Austrian athlete of the year "means a lot to me, because the selection was made by experts. But I'm realistic about it. It reflects more on cycling than on me." He is purposely not taking advantage of all the opportunities open to him outside of the sporting world, though. "I could be on the go every day attending some kind of event that is only marginally associated with sport. I choose very carefully what I do, because the time I spend with my family is the most important to me."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Kohut still out

Polish rider Slawomir Kohut, who was hit by a car while training last Tuesday, is still in a coma after suffering head injuries. Team Miche director Marco Tozzi reported that Slawomir's condition has slightly worsened, but at this stage there is no need for any neurosurgery. He is getting injections to absorb the hematoma, and doctors are monitoring his condition closely.

Di Luca does telethon

The first king of the ProTour, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) will take part in a charity marathon for a telethon on Saturday, December 17, in his home town of Pescara, Italy. The telethon will serve as a fund-raiser for medical research on genetic diseases.

"That will be exciting for sure," said Di Luca. "If I think that I can give my help to this charity performance involving a lot of people all over Italy, I feel as though we had just one big heart. I'm proud to take part in this marathon of generosity in my city; I'm sure my fellow citizens will distinguish themselves."

Bianchi will also contribute a team bike to the telethon.

Wanna be in the 'Lance movie'?

By Carlton Reid, BikeBiz.com

Sony and Columbia Pictures say their proposed movie about Lance Armstrong "would not be complete" without real-life stories from people inspired by Armstrong's "perseverance, courage and survival." Sign a binding online contract, and your experiences could cameo in the movie that's expected to place Matt Damon in the leading role.

The Sony Pictures 'Lance Armstrong Movie Project' website cuts to the quick, loading a "Life Story Submission Agreement, Personal Consent and Release" form.

"Please read this document carefully," suggests Sony Pictures. "If you have any questions about this Consent, you may also wish to print a copy and show it to your attorney for advice. The Consent is a binding agreement that will enable us to use your story in the Lance Armstrong movie."

In July 2004, BikeBiz.com reported that Frank Marshall, the producer of 'Seabiscuit', was at the Tour de France that year scoping background for a possible film about Lance Armstrong. It was reported that Matt Damon had been signed to play the part of the hero. Damon starred in another of Marshall's films, The Bourne Supremacy.

The Lance biopic will be based on Armstrong's autobiography, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

More information: www.sonypictures.com/movies/lancearmstrongproject

Spiuk-Extremadura takes shape

The Spanish Continental team Spiuk-Extremadura has been registered with the Spanish cycling federation, bringing together sponsors Spiuk Sport Line and the city of Llodio (Álava). The team will include, among others, Fernando Torres, Jesús Ramírez, Alfonso Rodríguez, Rafael Macarrón, Enrique Salgueiro, Ángel Rodríguez and Pedro Romero, all of whom rode for Spiuk this year, and new signings David Sojo, Josu Mondelo, Ignacio Sarabia and José Antonio Arroyo.

Escobar to lead Nicolásmateos.com

But wait, there's more. Olympic medalist Sergi Escobar will form part of a new Spanish continental team called Nicolásmateos.com, managed by former Spanish road selector José Luís de Santos. The team is youth-oriented with a mixture of pro's and neo-pro's.

Alongside Escobar, there will be a former Relax rider Javier Benítez, and neo-pro's Javier Moreno (ex-Avilas Rojas) and Víctor García (ex-Alfus Tedes), who are the Spanish national road champions in the U23 and Elite divisions, respectively.

The Nicolásmateos.com team will compete in both the national and international arenas, aiming for starts in the Vuelta a Sao Paulo, Vuelta a Portugal, Tour of Britain and Circuit de la Sarthe. Escobar himself will aim for the individual pursuit at the 2006 World Track Championships, hoping to better his silver medal of 2005 and repeat his gold medal winning performance in that discipline in the 2004 World's.

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Rennie's big jump on U.S. telly this weekend

Nathan Rennie's November 3rd world-record bicycle long jump attempt will be featured in a segment of the USA's NBC television program Jeep World of Adventure Sports. Along with segments on outrigger canoe, extreme skiing and the Red Bull Supermoto contests, viewers of the program will see footage of the 121-metre attempt.

Held in the remote Australian desert three hours outside the opal mining town of Cooper Pedy, 2003 downhill World Cup champion Rennie was filmed by a crew for a 30-minute television special ostensibly called the Red Bull Mountain Gap.

Hosted by Pat Parnell, the Jeep World of Adventure Sports airs on Saturday, December 17 at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Broadmark Capital/Hammer Nutrition 2006

The Seattle, USA-based Broadmark Capital/Hammer Nutrition Cycling Team has announced its roster and sponsor list for 2006. The team scored numerous successes in 2005, including Carl Decker's USA Elite Road Race Championship, Andrew Fischer's 3rd place finish in the same event, Justin Morgan's fifth place at the USA U23 Time Trial Championship, Canadian rider Dustin MacBurnie's overall win at the Tour De White Rock, and Tom Peterson's strong climbing performances at the Mt Hood Classic, Green Mountain Stage Race and Cascade Cycling Classic. Both Dustin MacBurnie and Tom Peterson will ride with professional teams for the 2006 season, bringing the team's amateur to pro graduation list up to 14.

Click here for the full roster.

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