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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 21, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

An interview with Chris Horner: No slowing down now

Horner at San Fran...
Photo ©: Joe Gross
Click for larger image

After a slow start, Chris Horner rose to the next level in 2005. With his first win in Europe and a breakthrough debut at the Tour de France, the man with the sunny San Diego disposition showed that he's capable of big performances at the big moments. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke got the word on '05 from Davitamon-Lotto's latest American import.

Last time Cyclingnews spoke with Chris Horner, he was preparing for his first Tour de France. Given another crack at the pro European peloton, Horner was determined to make the most of his chance on cycling's biggest stage and did just that, taking two top ten stage finishes and a solid 33rd overall. His 10th place finish on stage 13 was particularly notable as the American displayed strength, maturity and poise to almost take a stage win in his debut Tour.

Horner's racing season began with a solid third place in the USPRO Championship race in Philadelphia, coming back from a broken leg to be beaten by Chris Wherry and Danny Pate over 250 kilometres. Although confident going into the final three-man sprint, Horner also knew his usual kick in such situations was lacking and hence missed out on wearing the stars and stripes jersey for the next year. "The problem I had was that [the USPRO race] was my first weekend back racing after the broken leg, and was basically the start of my racing season. It was early June and I'd had two or three days of racing during the week - then it was the USPRO championship race, which is like 250 kilometres. I knew I was very strong there, but I was missing a really good acceleration that I normally have."

Click here for the full interview

Freire postpones return to training

After recovering from injury for most of 2005, Oscar Freire has postponed a planned return to training. Rabobank's sprinter missed the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and world championships and although he is recovering, the Spanish former world champion still experiences quite a lot of pain. Freire was due to start training again six weeks ago, but the wound from an operation around the saddle area hasn't yet healed and he's been forced to put a comeback on the backburner.

If all goes to his new plan, Freire will begin the season at the Mallorca Challenge, and continue with the Vuelta a Andalucía, Trofeo Luis Puig and Tirreno-Adriático. "The classics, among them Milan-San Remo, will be the first objective; later I want to ride a good Tour and, finally, the world championships," said Freire.

Top track sprinters prepare for Melbourne, but day jobs interfere with roadies' participation

Rogers okay with T-Mobile's call on Comm Games

By Gerard Knapp

Michael Rogers
Photo ©: Stephen Hodge
(Click for larger image) Michael Rogers (2nd from left) helps out with marshaling at a Canberra Wednesday night criterium. Said retired pro and Canberra resident, Stephen Hodge: “Mick came out to have a look at one of our weekly Wednesday night criteriums in Canberra, and as is always the case, the corner marshalling duties get shared around on the night. So he volunteered to man one of the corners for a while, doing his bit again while he's at home. It was the 7th December. He was able to watch his two brothers in the B grade race at the same time (Peter & Deane).” The female rider in the background is former AIS rider Alison Wright.

Given the domination of 'Commonwealth' nations on the velodrome in Athens last year, next year's Comm Games in Melbourne (March 15-26, 2006) should be extremely competitive, with world-class times expected to be the norm for any medals.

From Scotland's Chris Hoy through to Australia's Anna Meares, reigning world record holders and Olympic gold medalists will be featured in many events.

But the somewhat lower international profile of the Commonwealth Games - compared to the Olympics - means that Australia's 'A team' will not line up for the teams pursuit, and other stars of the road with track pedigrees, like Stuart O'Grady, will be 'working' their day jobs.

Click here for the full story & pics

South African teams for 2006

By Jean-François Quénet

Former German pro Ronny Lauke
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image) Former German pro Ronny Lauke is now the coach of Team Exel in South Africa.

The South African cycling community is concerned about team sponsors pulling out one year after the demise of the HSBC team but there will still be a strong line up in the local races in 2006. The coming season will begin with the Belgotex Carpets Hill Climb on January 21, 2006 and will culminate with the Giro del Capo (March 8-12) and its legendary last stage of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour that remains the world's biggest race in terms of participation with almost 40,000 cyclists.

South African sponsor Barloworld had a major change with Claudio Corti taking over from John Robertson as the manager of the Italian-based team. Five South African riders - Ryan Cox, Tiaan Kannemeyer, Jock Green, Jeremy Maartens and James Perry - will be part of the 16-man roster alongside Colombian Felix Cardeñas, Englishman Tom Southam, Spaniards Igor Astarloa and Pedro Arreitnandia, Italians Enrico Degano and Gianpaolo Cheula who were in the team in 2005. They'll be reinforced by Dane Mads Christensen (ex Quick Step), Portuguese Hugo Sabido (Paredes), Giosuè Bonomi (Lampre-Caffita) and Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), both from Italy, as well as Russian neo-pro Alexander Efimkin following the path of his twin brother Vladimir who won the 2005 Tour of Portugal.

Up and coming riders Darren Lill, who won the 94.7 in November, and David George don't have pro contracts anymore but they'll defend the colours of the national team for Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia with Cox, Maartens and Green who will form the core of the South African delegation in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. South African UCI ProTeam members Robert Hunter (Phonak) and Ian McLeod (Française des Jeux) have also been named but they may not be available in March.

Click here for the full story & pics.

Pevenage happy with Ullrich's progress

"Jan Ullrich is unbelievably motivated and incredibly diligent," in his training, says incoming T-Mobile directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage. For the last ten days Pevenage has supervised an unofficial training camp in South Africa which included Ullrich, Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler. "The guys completed a great program, with 800 to 850 training kilometres per week," he said. Ullrich will have his "ideal weight" when he returns to Europe on Friday, according to the Belgian.

"Naturally it's still a long time until the Tour, but we want to duplicate his preparations of 2003 as much as possible," said Pevenage. That was the year when Pevenage was Ullrich's director at Team Coast, and Ullrich came closest to beating Lance Armstrong, finishing just 1.01 behind the American.

No rest for weary T-Mobilers in South Africa

By Susan Westemeyer

What do pro cyclists want to do on their rest day? Sleep as long as possible, of course. At least, that's what the T-Mobile riders wanted to do at their unofficial training camp in Capetown, South Africa.

Unfortunately, for the second time within six days they were woken at 7 a.m. on a rest day, by the Swiss Olympic doping controllers. "Sure, these guys were sent here from Europe and are only doing their job. I'm not blaming them at all," writes T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler on the team's website. "But do they really need to come even twice in a week in the middle of the winter and of all days, on a rest day? At any rate: I'm prepared for the next days and will set my alarm clock, just to be on the safe side."

Schmitz on the trainer again

In other T-Mobile news, Bram Schmitz, who broke his ankle at the T-Mobile team meeting in Vienna last month, is on his trainer again for up to an hour a day. The 28-year-old Netherlander was operated on after the accident and remained in the hospital for a week. Since then he has been back at his home in Aalst-Waalre, Netherlands, but the T-Mobile medical staff at the University of Freiburg, as well as his local doctors, are keeping an eye on him. "I'm aware that I'm a bit behind now in my preparations due to my injury. However, I'm optimistic to be back a hundred percent by the T-Mobile training camp on Majorca," Schmitz said.

Wellens disqualified after hitting spectator

After an altercation with a spectator at Sunday's Vlaamse Druivenveldrit in Overijse, Belgium, Bart Wellens has been disqualified following a meeting of the UCI and the three race commissaires. Wellens won the race, and although it appeared he may have been disqualified on the day, was allowed to keep the win.

But after examination of the case it was decided that Wellens' actions, although prompted by the insults of a spectator constituted an offence strong enough to lead to his disqualification. He may also be fined after a meeting of the Disciplinary Commission decides whether the incident warrants a financial penalty.

Bessy breaks collarbone

French rider Frédéric Bessy broke his collarbone during Cofidis' training camp in Montpellier. According to team manager Eric Boyer, the 33-year-old is making a swift recovery and "will be in a position to participate in our next training, from January 9-19, in Saint-Aygulf." Boyer insisted that Bessy take his time before resuming riding on a home trainer as he can be "enthusiastic like a junior."

New US team snags Abercrombie & Fitch, Masi

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

An elite team in the midwest, with designs on making the jump to UCI Continental team status either this season or next, has landed two key sponsorships that will help make their plans possible. Major clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to be the title sponsor of the Abercrombie & Fitch presented by Inferno Racing team. This agreement will span next season with possibilities for renewal beyond.

Inferno director Chad Thompson says this will be the start of a new level for the elite team as it transitions into a pro squad. "This year's team is brand new but is spawned off of the elite team. We became a 501 (c) 3 and incorporated in Ohio." The Ohio connection is key to the sponsor, as Abercrombie & Fitch is headquartered outside Columbus.

"We knocked on everybody's door, and Abercrombie & Fitch's Leslee Herro who is a cyclist, was interested in hearing what we had to say. We had all this sponsorship and commitments but no money. And within two days we had an answer. They are also really into our charity aspects with the Peloton Project. So they are sponsoring us through their philanthropy department."

Another major sponsor of the team is Masi, who is returning to major team sponsorship after a short stint with the Diet Rite women's team a few years ago. Masi Brand Manager Tim Jackson says that restarting his sponsorship program with a new team as a benefit for both. "For Masi, it's an excellent opportunity to get back in the door for sponsorships. We are just now developing a TT frame, so we can't physically support a Pro Tour team yet. They've got a couple of guys who are good TT riders on the team, so I'll get some valuable feedback from that."

When asked about the risk of sponsoring a new team, when many do not get off the ground in their first year, Jackson responded saying, "I don't see it as a risk. With Abercrombie & Fitch signing on, they have the money. Chad is hoping to grow the program and keep it rolling. He sees this as a pedestal to launch an even bigger program. With AF on the team, they'll generate press no matter what. If they end up at Georgia, they are going to be like the other small teams like Jittery Joe's and act as the giant killer. "

Regardless of the level the team competes at this coming season, Thompson knows that the performance of the team, both on and off the bike, will be key in flourishing the partnership. "Bringing a cool, mainstream sponsor means we have to prove ourselves. Not just through winning, because we are going to win, but also through our charities and through our communication."

2006 Abercrombie & Fitch p/b Inferno roster

David "Shawn" Adams - OH
Andrew "Andy" Applegate ­ NC (Multiple National Championship Titles)
Jim Baldesare (2002 US men's National Elite Criterium Champion) - OH
Ryan Gamm - OH
Jeremy Grimm (20005 Ohio state Criterium Champion) - OH
Jered Gruber - GA
Rich Harper (2005 Georgia Cup Champion) - NC
Mark Hekman (Ranked 5th in 2005 USCF/NRC Criterium standings overall) - NC
Abe McNutt - OH
Malachi "Reid" Peacock - GA
Ryan Rish - OH
Todd Shaker - OH
Tim Swain - OH
Chad Thompson (Team Director/ rider) - OH

Sienna Development - Goble Knee Clinic team for 2006

The Logan Race Club's all-star team is back with a new name. The team has dominated Utah Cycling during the past four years, winning the Utah Cycling Association (UCA) overall team title each year, and 10 of 12 possible state titles in that time as the Healthy Choice - Goble Knee Clinic Cycling Team. The team, now known as Sienna Development - Goble Knee Clinic, has several goals for 2006, including the UCA individual and team titles, several NRC/UCI races, the Tour of Utah, and masters and elite nationals. Sienna Development - Goble Knee Clinic is proud to be riding Cannondale bikes for the 2006 season.

The team will ride in honour of their fallen team-mate Allan Butler, who was killed while attending Interbike in Las Vegas in the fall of 2005.

For the full details and team roster click here.

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