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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 19, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Wellens hits spectator

At the Druivencross, one of the biggest cyclo-cross races in Belgium, eventual winner Bart Wellens (Fidea) hit out at a spectator who had been repeatedly insulting him. Although the jury was appalled and threatened to disqualify the rider, it was finally decided that he should keep the victory.

"For four laps, I had mud and beer thrown at me," Wellens told Belgian "The fifth time it was just too much for me. I didn't really intend to hit him, and I regret what I've done, but I think that as a rider I don't have to put up with everything."

70th Tour de Suisse

Next year's Tour de Suisse will mark the 70th time that the Swiss national tour has been held, and between June 10 and 18, it will run over nine stages and 1438 km. The Tour de Suisse will visit all four regions of Switzerland, but will not venture outside the country next year.

The race starts in the north of the country in Baden on Saturday, June 10, with a 154 km stage that also finishes in Baden. The next three stages remain in the north, visiting Bremgarten, Einsiedeln, Arlesheim, Niederbipp, and La Chaux-de-Fonds, and all should be suited to the sprinters or rouleur-style breakaways.

Then things get tough. As is typical of the Tour de France, the general classification will be decided in the second half of the race. Stage 5 between La Chaux-de-Fonds and Leukerbad is 210 km, and is followed by another 210 km stage between Fiesch and La Punt. That includes the Furka, Oberalp and Albula passes, and will cause the first real selection of the Tour de Suisse. The seventh stage between St. Moritz and Ascona is even longer at 233 km, and features the Julier and Lukmanier passes.

The mountains don't stop though, as the eighth stage starting and finishing in Ambri will test the riders with the Lukmanier, Oberalp, Gotthard passes, but over a shorter distance of 155 km. The last day of the TdS is a 30 km time trial between Kerzers and Bern.

The Tour de Suisse isn't part of the Grand Tours versus UCI battle that is currently raging, and therefore is likely to be the top tour on the ProTour calendar.

The stages

Stage 1 - June 10: Baden - Baden, 154 km
Stage 2 - June 11: Bremgarten - Einsiedeln, 165 km
Stage 3 - June 12: Einsiedeln - Arlesheim, 160 km
Stage 4 - June 13: Niederbipp - La Chaux-de-Fonds, 151 km
Stage 5 - June 14: La Chaux-de-Fonds - Leukerbad, 210 km
Stage 6 - June 15: Fiesch - La Punt, 210 km
Stage 7 - June 16: St. Moritz - Ascona, 233 km
Stage 8 - June 17: Ambri - Ambri, 155 km
Stage 9 - June 18: Kerzers - Bern, 30 km

An interview with Bradley McGee

Cycling's Harry Kewell

Bradley McGee got a taste of V8 Supercar racing

Photo ©: Anthony Tan

(Click for larger image) Bradley McGee got a taste of V8 Supercar racing  with his three brothers last month, but won't be switching career paths anytime soon.

Born in Sydney's western suburbs. Precociously talented. A hit with the ladies. Gets picked up by big-time pro team. Enjoys early success, but later on, an injury sends them to the sidelines.

In many ways, the careers of English Premier League football star Harry Kewell and Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee have followed similar trajectories. However, in the recent nail-biting World Cup qualifier against Uruguay, Kewell, after 32 minutes on the bench, rose to the challenge of playing for his country, the midfielder/striker for Liverpool instrumental in ensuring Australia's berth in next year's FIFA World Cup in Germany. Many believe this to be a turning point to greater things for Kewell.

If granted permission, Bradley McGee also has the opportunity to play for his country once again at next year's Commonwealth Games, create history, and hopefully, rejuvenate himself. Anthony Tan asks: can he do it?

Flying the sole Australian flag at Française des Jeux is something Bradley McGee hasn't done for three years, but in 2006, that's exactly what he'll be doing.

In the space of a few months, the 29 year-old has seen sprinter Baden Cooke, Cooke's domestique Matt Wilson and talented youngster Mark Renshaw - all riders who McGee brought onto the team - leave for different pastures. "I can't say I'm happy about it, but it's just the way it is," he says to Cyclingnews.

Probably the biggest surprise is seeing 27 year-old Cooke, a former Tour de France green jersey winner, opt for a non-ProTour team after four years with FdJ, he and Wilson signing with (formerly earlier in October. His last two years have been leaner than the incredible season he enjoyed in 2003, but Cooke still managed 11 victories, as well as winning the points classifications at the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour Méditerranéen in 2004.

"I mean, Cookie, I think it's a good move," answers McGee, dispelling any notion of a fall-out between the two. "He basically lost the respect he deserves at FDJ and a team's picking him up that's backing him one hundred percent. Sure, it's a non-ProTour team at this stage, but everything else suits him to a T; the races the team wants him to achieve results in are Cookie-style races, and again, they've backed him one hundred percent.

"When you've got a sprinter, more than most, they run on confidence. FDJ were basically killing his confidence, not working with him at all - and you can't be asking for results at the same time, not working with him." McGee adds that he spoke with Cooke just a few days before, and could already tell by the sound of his voice that he was "on another level".

"Matt Wilson was basically Cookie's right hand man and domestique, so it was a natural move as well. Mark Renshaw was a different case altogether; he was basically offered a better team at Credit Agricole - FDJ didn't want to match it - so again, you go where the confidence is. It's not only a question of money, the money is a show of confidence, really. And good luck to him; I've supported him fully in the move."

Click here for the full interview

Rogers in discussion with T-Mobile over the Commonwealth Games

World time-trial champion Michael Rogers is doing his best to get back to Australia in March to compete in the Commonwealth Games, but is having trouble convincing his new T-Mobile Team to let him go. "I certainly want to go but it comes, however, at a hard time for me, in the middle of two world cups - both in Italy," he said in an interview in The Canberra Times. "I'm still having problems getting a release from the team, but I'm still trying. I can understand it from their point of view. I mean, they're paying my wages and what not, but it's still something I want very much to do."

Rogers also said that the Tour de France was his ultimate goal, even if he knows that this year he will be riding in support of captain Jan Ullrich. "This year I was pretty much the leader, but going to the new team next year, we've got one of the favourites in our team to win," said Rogers, 26. "My job probably will be to look after him in the final parts of every stage, but winning is always an option for me. The Tour is the No. 1 goal, now and in the future, and I know that if I can keep working toward that, the rewards will come."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Holczer: ProTour gives teams security

"All parties involved have more security since the introduction of the ProTour," said Hans-Michael Holczer, manager of German Team Gerolsteiner in an interview with newspaper Wiesbadener Tagblatt. "Because the contracts run for four years, race organizers and teams both can make long-term plans and don't have to worry about coming up against something unexpected in the middle of the season. The professional business has won a new seriousness and we can approach our sponsors differently. For example, doping. If a team doesn't address this problem seriously enough, it will lose its Pro Tour licence quickly. And that is good." Furthermore, Holczer doesn't foresee problems with the Grand Tours in the coming year, even though their respective organisers have announced that they would would not be part of the series. "You have to know that the three Grand Tours were never formally a part of the ProTour," he noted. "After the most recent discussions in Brussels, I am very confident that a solution for 2006 will be found."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

SRAM neutral race support starts in 2006

As SRAM has introduced two new componentry groups and will soon announce the sponsorship of two professional teams, the company has also committed to a SRAM Neutral Race Support (NRS) program through 2007. The agreement puts five SRAM decaled 2006 Volvo XC70's on the road, providing neutral mechanical support, at more than 80 events nationwide.

SRAM's Global Marketing Manager, David Zimberoff, said that the program was "simply furthering our commitment to the road segment." Program Manager Butch Balzano expects to travel nearly 250,000 miles in the coming year and oversee as many as 15 technicians. "SRAM is excited about the road and is demonstrating that through their strong support of this program."

The SRAM NRS appearance calendar will include the Sea Otter Classic, the Pan Mass Challenge, the International Cycling Classic and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. "We enjoy working with every type of road event and, no matter where we are, it's really just about supporting riders," Balzano added.

Other sponsors of the program include Volvo cars of North America, Colnago frames, Thule rack systems, and Michelin tires. SRAM's NRS will work together with other neutral support programs and when asked, Mavic's Director of Sales and Marketing Chris Zigmont said, "This program is complementary to what we do, and we're excited to see another road program supporting cycling at core events."

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