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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for December 20, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Boonen tops Belgian sports polls

Belgian cyclist Tom Boonen has been elected Male Athlete of the Year in Belgium.

Boonen also received most votes in the category of Sport Personality of the Year. This last award is a once-in-a-lifetime recognition and was presented to Boonen in the Casino Kursaal of Oostende, with the creme de la creme of the Belgian sports scene in the audience.

With two fantastic victories in Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders in the spring of this year, two stages in the Tour de France and a super season topped of with a world championships title Boonen was a shoe-in for Male Athlete of the Year. He left Stefan Everts and Sven Nys far behind in the sprint.

But Boonen modestly admitted that he had been quite nervous about the outcome of the public vote for the Sports Personality of the Year. Sven Nys finished a closer second in this race. But the "Victor" had Boonen's name on it for many reasons. In Europe, Tom Boonen has become the Belgian version of English soccer star David Beckham: sexy but cuddly, modest but assertive and interested in fashion. Besides being an extraordinary athlete, Boonen has remained the typical rascal with a cheeky sense of humour which Belgians are so fond of; Boonen comes across as genuine and appears to have managed to hold on to his natural innocence. His girlfriend Lore has captured the public's heart as well and she definitely adds a great touch to Boonen's profile.

"I got really nervous, sitting there in my seat waiting for the verdict," Boonen told the press afterwards. "I haven't had it that bad since April. You know, I expected that it wouldn't be me to get the prize this time."

After receiving so many awards earlier this winter (Vélo d'or, Kristallen fiets, Mendrisio d'Ore, Flandrien, etc.) Boonen seemed particularly happy with the trophy for Sports Personality.

"It was okay for me to expect the awards in cycling, but this one, Sports Personality... it's not up to me to give reasons why I should get it; it's about what you give out, how you present yourself and how people perceive your attitude, what they think about you. It's about so much more than just performing well. This was one of the evenings I really had been nervously anticipating."

Boonen's winter has been very busy; running from one presentation to the other, with many media responsibilities to be fulfilled. "It's over and done with now," he said. "I could have used my time better this winter. My schedule brought things to the limit a few times, real stress man! I have a personal and professional life I can cope with, but all the extra obligations made it extremely hectic. But, I think I did what I had to do."

Sean Kelly starts Continental team

By Shane Stokes

Former world number one cyclist Sean Kelly is continuing his efforts to boost the prospects for young Irish riders competing abroad through the establishment of the Sean Kelly Racing Team. The Continental squad will begin competing in 2006, working out of the cycling academy which Kelly previously helped set up in Merchtem, Belgium.

Riders on the team will have the opportunity to race against big professional squads, helping their development and increasing the chances that they too can land pro deals. A total of seven Irish riders have signed up for the 2006 season, this number including the promising young Dubliner Tim Cassidy who took a number of strong results this year including third place in the 1.2 ranked La Roue Tourangelle.

Cassidy will be joined by FBD Insurance Rás stage winner Roger Aiken and Irish under 23 champion Paídi O'Brien, both of whom who were based at the Sean Kelly Academy in 2005. Also returning is Ciarán Kelly, who won a number of high-level junior races this season in Belgium.

The Irish contingent is completed by Eoin and Miceal Concannon plus Andrew McQuaid, son of UCI President Pat McQuaid.

Although the team will be registered in Ireland and is designed to nurture talent from there, the first season will also see a number of Belgian riders compete in its colours. This line-up will include former Vlaanderen pro Jehudi Schoonacker, who finished third on a stage of the 2004 Peace Race and twelfth overall in the 2003 Tour of Denmark.

Another of those Belgians, Kurt Bogaerts, has run the Sean Kelly Cycling Academy and will act as general manager to the new team. He feels that the squad will have an important part to play in the future of Irish cycling.

"This is a big step forward, and should help build upon the success of the Academy," he said. "The aim for year one is to have 10 Irish riders on the team. I have a choice of a lot of people to fill in the last three places but I don't think I am going to do that yet. I am going to stick with these seven riders at first and then fill these last three places in May or June."

Besides Shoonacker and Bogaerts, the Belgian wing includes Rieno Stofferis, Peter Schoonjans, Stijn Minne, Dwight Desaever, Bart Cosyn and Harm Vandekerckhove. Kelly will fill the role of managing director, overseeing the development of the team and giving his advice to the riders.

Bogaerts is aiming for a strong race programme in 2006, with events such as the Tour de Langkawi and the Tour of California on his early wish-list.

The team has built up a solid list of backers, with equipment deals with bike companies such as Merlin, Mavic, Continental Tires, Time and Ovalt Concepts. Other sponsors include ACLVB - Liberale Vakbond and XP Power.

The Sean Kelly Racing Team is due to be launched in mid January. More information on the team will follow then.

Cycling BC 2006 MTB calendar and ranking system

Cycling BC has announced the 2006 BC mountain bike race calendar and ranking system. A departure from the BC Cup series held in previous years, the BC mountain bike ranking system is intended to promote growth of participation in mountain bike competition by providing incentives for cycling clubs to organise races and recruit new racing members. In addition to BC Cup events, provincial ranking points are awarded for most races on the provincial calendar. The scale and depth of points awarded at each race corresponds to its level of sanction.

By making it possible to accumulate points at most races, Cycling BC hopes to encourage strong club-level racing in all regions of the province, making it possible for Cycling BC members to maintain a ranking by supporting local races, as well as some of the higher-level events. As such, Cycling BC affiliated clubs are encouraged to register their events on the provincial calendar so that riders in each region of the province can earn more points.

All points accumulated by each rider between January 1 and October 15 are used to determine the provincial ranking in each eligible category for 2006. There is no minimum or maximum number of races, nor is attendance at any particular event mandatory in order to maintain a ranking. For all beginner and sport ability categories, as well as the senior expert categories, ranking points will be maintained for upgrade purposes.

Complete details of the Ranking System and 2006 Mountain Bike Calendar can be found on the Cycling BC web site (http://www.cycling.bc.ca). Cycling BC still expects to add more events to the Calendar as the winter progresses; new versions of the Calendar will be posted periodically.

Verge MAC Series banquet to celebrate 2005 season

The Verge Mid Atlantic Cyclocross Series will hold their season-ending banquet at 6:00pm, January 14 at the world-famous Cadence Performance Cycling Centre in Philadelphia's Manyunk section. The venue is just around the corner from the infamous Manyunk Wall, the most famous hill in American road racing, and will celebrate a season highlighted by eight excellent races and the emergence of Georgia Gould as a star to watch. There's also a host of other highlights from the 2005 Verge MAC season to celebrate.

Doors will open at 5:30pm with light appetisers starting at 6:00pm and awards beginning promptly at 6:30pm. Directions to Cadence, including a map, can be found at www.cadencecycling.com/aboutus/locator/. To RSVP just log onto www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?EventID=2910.

Cycling NSW seeks sponsors for masters nationals

Cycling NSW is seeking sponsors for the upcoming Australian Masters Road & Track Championships from 30 April to 7 May, 2006. Track events will be conducted over 4 days at the Dunc Gray Velodrome, road time trials at Penrith Lakes Olympic Rowing venue, criteriums at Dunc Gray, with road races on a new challenging 13.2k course at Somersby near Gosford.

Kevin Young, CEO Cycling NSW, said, "This is an exciting sponsorship opportunity with in excess of 600 Masters cyclists taking part over the week's racing. Sponsorship opportunities include overall naming rights opportunities, as well as secondary level sponsorship opportunities ideal for cycle shops or other cycling related activities."

For further details contact Mike O'Reilly (Cycling NSW Masters organizing committee) via email at bicisportcycling@westnet.com.au.

Technocycle BRC/Dynaflo Racing 2006

Technocycle BRC/Dynaflo Racing, a USCF amateur team based out of Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania has finalized its 2006 roster. 2005 was an extremely successful year and 2006 is looking even better says team captain Nick Price. In addition to our category 3-4 riders, we have formed a 6 man elite squad that will compete in various NRC events as well as the Tour de Toona in late July. We are happy to say that all of our sponsors from 2005 are back on board says Technocycle Bike shop owner and director Brad Purfeerst.

For the full details and team roster click here.

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