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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 30, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson & Jeff Jones

Route announced for Tour de Langkawi

By Shane Stokes

The route
Click for larger image

With five weeks remaining to the start of the 2.HC ranked event, the organisers of the Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi have released details of the route for the 2006 race.

There are changes to the orientation of the Malaysian tour, with both the start and finish of the ten-stage event to be based in the vicinity of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur. The 2006 event will also visit the west and south of the country, regions which missed out twelve months ago.

The pattern of racing has been modified compared to previous years, with the traditional battleground of Genting Highlands coming much earlier than before. This will presumably lead to a more aggressive tour, given that teams in the past tended to wait until Genting to settle the overall classification. The Hors Category climb will now take place midway through the ten-day event, leaving a full five stages for the yellow jersey's team to defend.

The race begins on Friday February 3rd with a short 81.1km stage from KL Tower to Rawang. The following day's flattish stage to Sitiawan looks tailor made for a bunch sprint, but the general classification will be upended just 24 hours later when the peloton tackles the first mountain stage to the Cameron Highlands. This includes a 45 kilometre category 1 climb and is followed soon afterwards by a Hors Category ascent.

A flat 144.5km stage to Kuala Selangor provides some sort of respite before the short, but savage, 90-kilometre leg from Menara TM to the Genting Highlands resort. Days 6 and 7 [to Tampin and Kola Tinggi, respectively] are long, undulating stages which could result in bunch sprints or, equally, play into the hands of the breakaway specialists.

Stage 8 certainly seems to favour a mass gallop, given that the 78.7 kilometres along the West coast to Batu Pahat are flat and fast. This is followed by what is likely to be the final GC decider, a 16.2 kilometre time trial in Melaka.

The race ends with the customary 60-kilometre criterium in Kuala Lumpur. However, in order to ensure a more exciting spectacle for the passionate Malaysian spectators, the previous 6.5 kilometre loop has been shortened to 20 laps of a 3kilometre circuit.

"We've tried to make the route this year a bit more interesting by moving Genting to mid-way through the race and introducing a tough new climb up Cameron Highlands on stage 3," said organiser Imran Abdullah. "With sprinters taking all but two of the stages in 2005, we've tried to balance things more for 2006."

Full details of the teams for the 2006 Tour de Langkawi are expected to be released over the next few weeks. It remains to be seen if the issues relating to the 2005 event will impact on the quality of the line-up this time round; however, the organisers say that they are confident that the 2006 edition will be a successful one.

2006 Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi, Malaysia

Stage 1 - Friday, February 3: KL Tower - Rawang, 81.8 km
Stage 2 - Saturday, February 4: Tanjung Malim - Sitiawan, 164.7 km
Stage 3 - Sunday, February 5: Lumut - Cameron Highlands, 150.3 km
Stage 4 - Monday, February 6: Tapah - Kuala Selangor, 144.5 km
Stage 5 - Tuesday, February 7: Menara TM - Genting Highlands, 90 km
Stage 6 - Wednesday, February 8: Shah Alam - Tampin, 187.7 km
Stage 7 - Thursday, February 9: Muar - Kola Tinggi, 188.2 km
Stage 8 - Friday, February 10: Pontian - Batu Pahat, 78.7 km
Stage 9 - Saturday, February 11: Melaka ITT, 16.2 km
Stage 10 - Sunday, February 12: Kuala Lumpur criterium, 60 km

Trainer says Boonen can get better

Tom Boonen's trainer Peter Hespel believes that we haven't seen the best of "Tornado Tom", as he is nicknamed in Belgium. The sports physiologist from the Catholic University in Leuven sets up Boonen's training programs, and knows him like no-one else. "Tom has a big heart," said Hespel to, before giving a detailed run-down of Boonen's physiological stats.

Boonen's maximum heart rate is 195 bpm. "That doesn't mean much," said Hespel. "That could also be the case with you and I. But the heart of a top athlete like Boonen can pump much more blood per beat, so-called a sports heart. The average resting heartrate of a typical person is 60 to 80 beats per minute. Tom Boonen's is just above 40. That's also normal. The average rider has a resting heartrate of around 45 beats per minute.

Hespel explained further that Boonen wasn't born with his heart, but the potential was always there to train it. "Tom Boonen's father was never a top rider, but if he trained in the same way, he maybe could have been as big a champion. Maybe, because for the same money that's not the case. He may have had the heart of his mother."

Boonen's lung capacity of 6.5 to 7 litres is also typical for a top athlete, according to Hespel. But it's not the capacity itself that's important. "What's exceptional is that Tom can breathe 200 litres per minute at maximum effort. That's one of the highest values that we've ever measured. Most athletes can breathe a maximum of 170 or 180 litres per minute."

Power output is all-important for cyclists, and Boonen is impressive in this department. "We give all our riders the same test," said Hespel. "They start to pedal at 100 Watts, which is easy for them. Every eight minutes, it increases by 40 Watts. Tom can do it up to 460 Watts after an hour and a half. That means that he has ridden for eight minutes at 420 Watts before that, and eight minutes at 380 Watts before that. You should try that one time on your home trainer. We've never seen that here. Museeuw was a fantastic athlete, but on a pure physical level, Tom is a bigger talent."

When Boonen gives it full gas in a sprint, he can put out 1600 Watts at 110 rpm. That's typical of a top road sprinter, of which there are very few in the world. "That's huge. Because of that, he has broken several frames. Remember the stage in the Tour de France where his chain came off his cog? That's not magic."

Last, but not least, is Boonen's mental aspect. Imbued with self-confidence without too much arrogance, Boonen has the ideal mentality for a champion. "He puts realistic objectives before him but also says to all the press that he can be World Champion. To say that is one thing, but he still does it, because he is so realistic.

"He has a huge amount of race knowledge. He knew in the Ronde van Vlaanderen that he had to attack at the right moment. He'll need that more and more, because if he is there in a break, there will always be coalitions formed against him. On the other hand, he is well supported. If you have guys like Nick Nuyens and Paolo Bettini riding for you in the finale, you can't complain."

Boonen has already shown he can win bunch sprints and the most prestigious one day races. But the question on many people's lips is: can he win the Tour de France, however bizarre it might sound for a rider of his mass? Hespel believes it's possible. "If he concentrated on climbing in place of explosiveness, like Lance Armstrong, then there's a chance that he could win the Tour de France in three or four years. With his body, that is possible, but you never know for sure. The only thing we have to ask is whether that's the right choice."

Josep Jufre to Davitamon-Lotto

30 year-old Spanish rider Josep Jufre Pou has signed a two years contract with the Davitamon-Lotto team. Jufre comes from Relax-Fuenlabrada, where he raced this year, but in 2004 he raced under Herman Frison for Bodysol-Brustor. Davitamon-Lotto is considering him as the "right man to replace Colombia's Mauricio Ardila", who left for Rabobank.

Jufre's best results this season were two third places in Stage 2 of Setmana Catalana (stage 2) and Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España. He finished the Vuelta in 15th position.

Team Milram to debut in Australia

The newly formed ProTour Team Milram will make its official racing debut at the 2006 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in January. The predominantly Italian line up will also include Sydney Olympic Games champion Daniel Becke of Germany.

Becke, 27, was a member of the German quartet that claimed gold in the team pursuit at the 2000 Olympic Games, and in the process became the first team to crack the magic four minute barrier for the four kilometre distance. Joining Becke is Italian Simone Cadamuro, who won stage two and was third on stage six of the Eneco Tour this season, and young rider Giovanni Visconti who finished fourth overall in the UNIQA classic in 2005.

Full roster

Daniel Becke (Ger)
Giovanni Visconti (Ita)
Fabio Sabatini (Ita)
Dennis Haueisen (Ger)
Simone Cadamuro (Ita)
Elia Rigotto (Ita)
Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita)
Michele Gobbi (Ita)

Team Manager: Vittorio Algeri (Ita)

The confirmation of Milram completes the roster of the twelve teams that will contest the 2006 event. The team list includes seven ProTour teams: Liberty Seguros-Wurth, Davitamon Lotto, AG2R Prevoyance, Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, Liquigas and Milram, with Belgian registered Chocolade Jacques and American based Navigators making up the international list. The newly formed continental team of South will headline the Australian entries which also include the UniSA-Australia team and the United Water U23 line up.

The 2006 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and surrounding regions of South Australia from 17 to 22 January 2006.

More information:

Hincapie on TV

George Hincapie is to feature in FitTV (part of Discovery Channel Networks) show, The Art of the Athlete in January. The program promises a unique behind the scenes look at one of the US' most popular and talented bike racers.

The show will air on FitTV at the following times (all EST)

Premiere: January 12 - 8:00 PM EST
January 12 - 11:00 PM EST
January 15 - 8:00 PM EST
January 15 - 11:00 PM EST
January 16 - 2:00 PM EST

Armstrong sets another record

By Shane Stokes

Lance Armstrong has been named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for the fourth consecutive time, becoming the first athlete to do so since the award was introduced in 1931.

Armstrong's record-extending seventh straight Tour de France win saw him take 30 of the 83 votes cast. Second place went to Reggie Bush, the Heisman Trophy-winning running back landing 23 votes, while the Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning scored eight votes for third. Roger Federer (tennis) and Tiger Woods (golf) were equal fourth with seven votes each.

Testicular cancer survivor Armstrong retired immediately after winning the Tour last July, having gone two victories better than the previous record of five, shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

He also had the rare distinction of retiring as an undefeated Tour de France champion.

Rockhampton riders to State Championships

The Rockhampton Cycling Club will send down a thirteen strong squad to contest the 2006 Queensland State Track Cycling Championships at Chandler Velodrome in Brisbane, Australia next week.

The championships commence on Monday, January 2 with the women's 500m time trial and men's 4000m team pursuit and standing 1 lap time trial. They will run through every night until Saturday, January 8.

In the elite women, the opening night of competition will see Queensland's female speed demons Anna and Kerrie Meares contesting the elite women's 500m Time Trial. Alex Bright will round up the Rockhampton contingent in the time trial and will be out in hot pursuit of the leading female sprinter for the week, Mackay's Chloe McPherson, the current World Junior Keirin Champion. McPherson will be the one to beat in the sprint series, the standing 1 lap time trial and the keirin.

A small but competitive field of women will take part in the endurance events, with Anouska Edwards representing Rockhampton in the 3000m individual pursuit and will be joined by Bright to contest the 10km scratch race and 25km points score. Edwards will have strong competition from Brisbane's Liz Young.

In the men, the championships will see the return of 2003 World Junior 1000m Time Trial Champion Wade Cosgrove, who has returned to the velodrome after time out of competitive cycling. Cosgrove will contest the sprints, standing lap and keirin. Joining Cosgrove in the elite men's field will be Grant Irwin, Miles Olman, Lindsay McMaster and Jay Callaghan. In the sprints, Broncos Ben Simonelli will be one to watch while Olman will be the favourite in the elite men's 4000m individual pursuit and Irwin a serious medal contender in the elite men's 1000m time trial.

The U19 men will also be a hotly contested field at this year's championships, with plenty of up and coming talent filling this field. Rockhampton will be represented by Joshua Edwards (endurance), Lachlan Plane (sprints), Jeremy Hogg (sprints) and Tyler Wright (sprints).

Edwards will be focusing on the endurance events for the State Championships, namely the 3000m individual pursuit, scratch race and points score. In the sprint events, Hogg, Plane and Wright will have stiff competition from the in-form Byron Davis (Kangaroo Point CC) and Maryborough talent Malcolm Rudolph.

The Championships commence at 4pm on Monday, January 2 and will be excellent race preparation as the riders look towards the CQU Rockhampton Cup on Wheels on 20-21 January at the Kenrick Tucker Velodrome, Rockhampton.

More information:

CQU Rockhampton Cup on Wheels Website:

Cycling Tasmania Rider of the Season

A Robinson is still leading Cycling Tasmania's Rider-of-the-Season award for 2005-06 - but it's not Will, its his younger brother Tom. Will Robinson, a previous winner of CT's junior award, has led for most of the series to date, but was leap-frogged by Tom at the opening night of the Devonport Athletic Club Carnival.

Tom enjoyed an excellent night on the track, winning the C Grade Scratch and finishing second in the Kym Smoker Memorial Mersey Wheelrace, to add 8 points to his previous tally of 15. Tom Robinson has now won three races for the summer and has placed in four others and clings to a 3-point lead over Steve Martini, who scored a second placing in the E Grade Scratch at Devonport.

The CT award is based on all handicap finals and all graded scratch races at every track carnival throughout the summer. There are still carnivals at Devonport, Burnie, Hobart, Mersey Valley and St Helens remaining, meaning the award is still wide open.

Karissa Ling is the new leader of the women's category after picking up points in both the 1000 m Lightning Handicap and B Grade Scratch at Devonport. However her lead is by countback only from Sarah Cure.

In the juniors, Ulverstone's Luke Ockerby extended his 8-point lead to nine after winning his eighth race of the season. Ben Grenda and Andrew Smith are his nearest challengers.

For the full rankings click here.

California Giant Strawberries/Village Peddler for 2006

Coming off a successful cyclocross season that saw Justin Robinson defend his national title and Andy Jacques-Maynes finish in the top 10 at three of the U.S. Grand Prix races, White Jersey Sports, Inc. has announced announce its roster for the 2006 California Giant Strawberries/Village Peddler elite cycling team.

Full team details & roster.

Cyclingnews reader awards 2005

Two races stand out as your favourites for 2005. The winning margin for best stage race was not as great as it's been in the past, but the best one-day race undoubtedly deserves the term 'Classic'.

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