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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for February 23, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Les Clarke

Boonen and Quick.Step ready for Het Volk

By Jeff Jones in Gent

Tom Boonen
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

As the snow began to fall outside Gent's Holiday Inn, Tom Boonen, the heir apparent to the cycling throne of Belgium, made a fashionably late appearance for his press conference. Earlier in the day, Boonen, together with the other members of the Quick.Step team had been out scouting the parcours of this Saturday's Omloop Het Volk, the opening race of the Belgian season. Braving freezing temperatures and the occasional snow storm, Boonen and the boys rode for five hours and covered 180 km of the most important parts of the route.

"It was cold and very windy," was Boonen's assessment. "But no other surprises. The parcours has been changed a little bit in the finale and looks to be a bit tougher than in other years. Especially in the Paddestraat zone, if there is a lot of wind that could be an important factor. As for the rest, the race has to be ridden first before we can talk about it."

Unlike other teams and riders who fear sickness from riding in the cold, Boonen was not afraid of braving the elements today. "You can also fall down the stairs if you're at home," he noted.

Boonen's plans for the next three days involve a lot of rest. "[Wednesday] is mainly rest and I will probably visit the chiropractor. I don't feel that I'm 100 percent right on the bike after my crash last week in Spain. It's not painful though. On Thursday I'll do one more training session, then on Friday, as much rest as possible."

Being the opening race of the Belgian season, the Omloop carries a lot of significance for local riders, but Boonen tries to deflect as much of this as possible. "I'm not really nervous for the weekend, but there is of course pressure from the Belgian side for a Belgian rider. People come out to look at the Belgian riders, so it's normal to be a bit nervous at the start. As a Belgian, the Omloop Het Volk remains the Omloop Het Volk."

The Quick.Step team is one never lacking in depth for these sorts of races, and Boonen believes that any one of four of five riders. "It's not just Tom Boonen," he said. "Nuyens is in the condition to win; Bettini, I don't know. Knaven and Hulsmans are good."

As for his rivals, Boonen has but one name. "Devolder [Discovery Channel] has been very good. He's the only one that stands out. I don't know about the rest, as I haven't seen them racing much."

Manager Patrick Lefevere was more expansive, naming Davitamon-Lotto, T-Mobile, CSC and Discovery Channel as the top teams to watch. "I hope the team does well," said Lefevere. "This is a really important race and I want the team to live up to its reputation. There was no competition last year but we dominated the race two years ago. Once again it will be important to be in on the action in the most crucial moments of the race."

Team for Het Volk: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Marc Lotz, Nick Nuyens, Stefano Zanini.

Team for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Dimitry De Fauw, Sebastian Rosseler, Bram Tankink, Kevin De Weert, Stefano Zanini.

Wesemann turns Swiss

T-Mobile's Steffen Wesemann has applied for Swiss citizenship. In an interview on www.t-mobile-team.com, he explained that he has lived in Küttigen, Switzerland, for many years, his wife and children are Swiss citizens, and that he has optimal training conditions there. He also said that he likes the Swiss mentality: "Friendship and trust are important in Switzerland, the people are interested in each other and are very easy going. I miss all of that in Germany." He denied turning his back on Germany, citing his many friends there and the good memories of having lived in Germany.

The interview is a lot milder in comparison than one which appeared earlier this week in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. In that interview, he indicated that his decision was more to leave Germany, as it was no longer his land or his home, and that he then searched for a new home. He particularly lamented changes in German society since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Five ProTour teams for Tour de Georgia

The organisers of the Dodge Tour de Georgia have announced that at least five teams from the UCI's ProTour will be among the total of 15 squads competing in the race, which will be held from April 19-24. With the confirmation that Lance Armstrong will be riding to defend his title at the TdG, his Discovery Channel team will be among the strongest squads. Also confirmed are Swiss team Phonak, Danish squad Team CSC, France's Credit Agricole and Spain's Saunier Duval/Prodir.

Phonak will be led by American Floyd Landis, who hails from Pennsylvania. Landis competed in the first ever Dodge Tour de Georgia in 2003 after recovering from a pelvic fracture sustained in a training ride. Team CSC, ranked second in the 2004 UCI team classification, will bring 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and Nevada resident Bobby Julich, who competed in the 2004 edition of the race. Credit Agricole will feature Dalton, Ga. native Saul Raisin, who laid claim to the Best Young Rider jersey in the 2003 TdG.

"When Credit Agricole told me that we were doing the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia I was so excited," said Raisin. "It's rare for me to make trips back home during the racing season, so to come back to race against the world's best in a stage race of this calibre in my home state means a lot. The Dodge Tour de Georgia is the ultimate test of endurance and might in the U.S., and the ProTour teams know it. In 2003 I was the best young rider, and this year I want to be one of the best riders."

California's Chris Horner, the 2003 Dodge Tour de Georgia champion, returns for his third consecutive year and is racing for Saunier Duval/Prodir. "I've been looking forward to coming back to the Dodge Tour de Georgia since it ended last year," said Horner. "The course just gets better and better, and I can tell that this year is no exception. I'm coming with a great team that is expecting me to lead them against the ProTour teams as well as the best domestic teams in the U.S."

An additional ProTeam may still be added to the roster of 15 teams that will battle across the America's Peach State during the six stage, 1050 km event this April.

@Work Women's Cycling Team gets to work

Judith Helmink lookin' good
Photo ©: DCP/Bert Geerts
Click for larger image

The industrious @Work Cycling Team was presented on Tuesday in Groningen, Holland. A cousin of the @Home team (@Work is part of the same company), this UCI Women's team has gone for a youthful squad, with seven of the eleven riders born after 1980, and two neo pros amongst the four new riders joining the ranks. Directeur Sportif Wim Kruis is confident the young team can gain plenty of experience during 2005 and establish itself in the top competition of Europe. Plenty of hard work then for the @Work Cycling Team, their presentaiton coming just before the first event on the Women's World Cup calendar in Geelong, Victoria.

Click here for the full team roster

 

New Zealand track team for World's

New Zealand's selectors have announced the NZ team for the 2005 World Track Cycling Championships in Los Angeles, from March 24-28. In accordance with the guidelines, the 10 athletes chosen have all represented New Zealand during the 2005 Track World Cup series, and their performances indicated that they would be capable of a top 6 finish at the World's.

The riders will miss the Lion Foundation National Track Cycling Championships being held in Mosgiel March 7-12 as they will be at a World Championships training camp in Mexico. Despite this, BikeNZ's High Performance Director Michael Flynn is viewing the National's as crucial to the future of New Zealand track cycling as the country's top junior cyclists are all participating, as well as New Zealand's top sprinters. Following the track championships, BikeNZ is holding a two day endurance camp for the top juniors to help them prepare for international events in the future.

World Championship Riders

Jason Allen
Richard Bowker
Hayden Godfrey
Tim Gudsell
Matthew Haydock (current Oceania Champion Individual Pursuit)
Greg Henderson (current World Champion in Scratch)
Joanne Kiesanowski
Peter Latham
Marc Ryan
Catherine Sell

Cycling Australia Athletes Commission nominations wanted

The Cycling Australia Athletes' Commission is looking for nominations for three men's representatives. The three positions represent men's road, MTB and track, and current members can also renominate for the two year appointments. There is also a vacancy for a women's MTB rep for those interested.

The CA Athletes' Commission is the representative body for all Australian cyclists, providing input to the administration of cycling in Australia on issues of concern to all members. Current CA members who wish to nominate should send a written or electronic letter marked 'confidential' and include a brief resume of relevant background (in the case of new nominees) to the following address:

The CEO, Cycling Australia, (post) PO Box 7183, Bass Hill NSW 2197 (fax) 02 9644 3006 (e-mail) acf.info@cycling.org.au

Nominations close Monday 28 February 2005. Further information on the role can be found at www.cycling.org.au under 'about us'/'athletes commission', or mail athletes.info@cycling.org.au.

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