Latest Cycling News for February 25, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
60th Omloop Het Volk news
Devolder downplays his favourite's status
After Tom Boonen pointed to Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder as one of the favourites for Omloop Het Volk, Devolder was quick to try to remove some of that status. "No, please don't call me a favourite because Van Petegem and Boonen have already proven much more than me," Devolder told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I already felt really, really strong in Andalucia. But to win, I'm still lacking something."
Steels definitely out, but McEwen in
The Davitamon-Lotto team has announced that Tom Steels will miss the Belgian opening weekend due to illness. A past winner of Het Volk, Steels said that he didn't want to race unless he was 100 percent. "I want to ride the finale, not be pack filler," said the Belgian champion. "I feel too weak for the Omloop. It's better not to start and completely recover. I don't want to put my spring in doubt. My next race is Tirreno-Adriatico."
Johan Vansummeren is another one who will not start due to illness, meaning that Jan Kuyckx and Wim De Vocht will fill their places. On the other hand, Robbie McEwen will definitely start, despite feeling a little under the weather. "I'll definitely start," McEwen was quoted in Het Laatste Nieuws. "I don't want to miss the Omloop. Everywhere I go, the fans want to know whether I am ready or not."
McEwen further explained to Cyclingnews, "Het Volk is a race at the limit of my capabilities. It's a matter of just able to be in the front or just missing it depending on my form of the day. It is a very difficult course this year with a pretty spicy first half which should open up the second half to the strongest riders. The combo of Kwaremont and Kruisstraat early on will soften up a few. Also the change to smaller roads after the Paddestraat instead of the main road to Wetteren will make it better for an escape group."
With the sun shining over Belgium on Friday, hopes are high that there will be no problems with the weather in Saturday's Omloop Het Volk. "Only heavy snowfall can stop us," said organiser Wim Van Herreweghe to Het Nieuwsblad. The latest forecast is for an overnight minimum of -4 with some light snow, then freezing fog on Saturday morning, before becoming overcast later with light snow, and a maximum of 2 degrees celsius.
Both Discovery Channel and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago chose not to recon the parcours, due to the weather this week.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 60th Omloop Het Volk live, starting 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).
An interview with Pat McQuaid
Looking ahead, thinking big
As a former professional rider, successful race promoter and, more recently, member of the board of the UCI, Pat McQuaid is a well-known figure within the cycling world. The Irishman was part of the successful campaign to bring the start of the 1998 Tour de France to his home country and, since then, has worked as race director on events such as the Tour de Langkawi and Tour of Britain. This year's edition of the Malaysian tour marked an official end to such a role, with UCI matters now his main focus.
McQuaid has been President of the UCI's Road Commission for the past few years and as such, oversaw the introduction of the new continental calendars. Together with the new ProTour, cycling is going through a time of big reforms which he and the other UCI members hope will help the sport expand and increase its popularity on a global level.
In this two-part interview, McQuaid sat down with Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes to give his opinion on a number of matters, including these reforms, the UCI's efforts to get the Grand Tour organisers on board, Phonak's successful appeal to CAS regarding their ProTour licence, and his hopes of becoming the next UCI President when Hein Verbruggen retires this autumn.
T-Mobile for Almeria
T-Mobile Team is suffering from early season illnesses and injuries, and will thus be sending only five riders to Sunday's Clasica Almeria. Veteran Giuseppe Guerini will be joined by Sergey Yakovlev and the three youngsters Marcus Burghardt, Bernhard Kohl and Bas Giling. Team spokesman Luuc Eisenga said, "Actually we had planned for Tobias Steinhauser and Paco Lara. But Tobias is still not recovered from his bad cold and Pack crashed in the Valencia Tour. His injuries aren't severe, but he's not ready to start in Almeria."
TMO's Jan Ullrich lost a week of training to a bad cold, which apparently he shared with teammates Guerini and Steinhauser, with Steinhauser having to sit out two weeks of training.
Contracts running out
T-Mobile apparently has only seven riders under contract for the 2006 season, dpa reports. Those seven include Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden, Steffen Wesemann and Oscar Sevilla. Two big names are missing there: Erik Zabel and Alexandre Vinokourov. "We will negotiate with Erik after the spring classics," said new team co-manager Olaf Ludwig. At the team's presentation last month, T-Mobile announced it would extend its sponsorship through 2008.
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Dutch team for LA Track World's
The Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) has announced the squad that will represent The Netherlands at the upcoming Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles, between March 24-27. After their performance in winning the overall nations classification in the World Cup, the Dutch have been granted virtually the maximum number of starting places, and will be one of the teams with the most starters at the World's.
Adrie Visser (Points, Scratch, Pursuit)
Danny Stam (Madison)
Willy Kanis (500 meter, Sprint, Keirin)
Theo Bos (1 kilometre, Sprint, Keirin, Team Sprint)
Coach: Peter Pieters
Ulmer takes New Zealand's top sporting honour
Athens Olympic gold medallist, Sarah Ulmer, was last night awarded her country's biggest sporting honour, the Halberg Award, in recognition of her brilliant 2004 on the velodrome.
The highlight was when Ulmer took the gold for New Zealand in the women's individual pursuit at the Athens Olympics with a time of 3.24.537, smashing the world record by almost six seconds. It was a performance the New Zealand Herald believes is "hailed as one of the greatest performances by any athlete at the Olympics", a statement indicative of the esteem the cyclist is held in her country.
Earlier in the year, she had also won the country's first gold medal on the track at the world championships in Melbourne, when she gave a sign of things to come in Athens she broke the world record for the first time. Ulmer told the NZ Herald the highlight for her at the Olympics "wasn't when I was handed a medal by a Greek guy I didn't know, it was the New Zealand team that came to watch me at the velodrome and right before I went to accept my medal, the team members there gave me a haka (the Maori war dance used by NZ teams prior to competition, designed to intimidate their opponents).
"Being saluted in a Kiwi way like that when you're a squillion miles away from home...is the most powerful feeling in the world."
Ulmer admitted the haka by the men's hockey team brought her to tears in Athens, and once again, they performed it for her at the awards ceremony. In addition to the overall Halberg Award, Ulmer was also presented with the Sportswomen of the Year award. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her sponsors and boyfriend and coach, Brendan Cameron.
While Ulmer has been missing in action since Athens - prompting rumours (since quashed) that she was planning to retire - the cyclist has been maximising the impact of her gold medal to promote the sport in her country. This was recognised earlier this year by fellow Kiwi cyclist Liz Williams, who told Cyclingnews, "Sarah has been amazing, she's putting so much in and helping boost the sport's profile," said Williams. "After Sarah won just about every schoolgirl is getting on a bike and Sarah has been really generous in going to schools and encouraging kids to get into it. It's huge."
Unlike elite cyclists across the Tasman in Australia, who face a largely apathetic or even hostile media in their country despite six gold medals in Athens, Ulmer is undoubtedly New Zealand's golden girl and cycling is in favour.
Australia's media adores swimmer Ian Thorpe, with his metrosexual image and fashion label. In New Zealand, it's Ulmer's down-to-earth approach that endears her to the public. For her big night at the Halberg Award, Ulmer admitted to not knowing who designed her black dress, because she'd only just borrowed it from a friend.
Ulmer is also widely respected by her fellow competitors, so much so that Australian Katie Mactier, who'd picked up two silver medals behind Ulmer at both the worlds and the Olympics, made a flying visit across the Tasman to be present at the award ceremony. "I wouldn't have missed this for the world," Mactier told the New Zealand Herald.
Overall, athletes who compete on two wheels - or indeed with two oars - cleaned up at the sports awards night. Athens triathlon gold medallist Hamish Carter was presented with the Sportsman of the Year award, while twin sisters Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, who took the gold medal in Athens in the double scull (rowing), were awarded Team of the year. Further, the organisers also recognised the achievements of Health Net professional cyclist Greg Henderson, who won the scratch race at the 2004 track world championships, while world champion downhill cyclist Vanessa Quinn was nominated in the Sportswomen of the Year category.
Sydney cyclist seriously injured
Sydney cyclist Bryan Martin has been involved in a serious accident with truck. He was dead at the scene but revived and has been on life support, although his chances of survival are not great.
Martin was a highly talented rider who made the Australian national team as a junior but then had a serious accident on the track which left his left arm permanently damaged. He has always used his bike for racing, transport and recreation, and was well known and respected in both the racing and touring communities. He has lived for the last few years in Queensland, riding with the Samford Velos. The local cycling community's thoughts are with Bryan and his partner Sue.
Juli Furtado and Women's Wilderness Institute team up for MTB weekend
This coming April, the Women's Wilderness Institute of Boulder, Colorado, USA has a unique opportunity for ten women to spend the weekend mountain biking with off-road legend Juli Furtado. Women's Wilderness Institute, a non-profit organization, will organize this one of a kind opportunity in Fruita, Colorado, between April 22-24.
WWI spokesperson Mary Monroe told Cyclingnews ,that "Although Juli has been mountain biking since 1985, this weekend course in April is the first that Juli Furtado has ever hosted. She is the winningest mountain biker of all time and was a 1996 Olympian. Juli has a wealth of knowledge to impart to any mountain biker."
Monroe explained that, "Even though Juli was a top racer, the weekend course was developed and designed by the Women's Wilderness Institute for riders of all levels. This WWI weekend in April with Furtado offers the chance to ride beautiful, fantastic trails in the Kokopelli and 18-Mile Road trail systems, ranging from beginner level to technical, all in the attractive mountain community of Fruita, Colorado."
In addition to hanging out with Furtado, who is now retired and has her own line of bikes designed specifically for women (Julianna) made by Santa Cruz Bicycles, course participants will also learn mountain biking skills from Heather Szabo, a professional racer with the Tokyo Joe's/GoLite team. The course will also be supported by Jen Zeuner and the folks at Over the Edge Bike Shop.
Course tuition is $435 and includes all gear, food, instruction, and necessities. Tents, sleeping bags and other outdoor gear is available on loan if needed. Bike rentals will also be available through Over the Edge Sports. As an incentive for early-birds, women who sign up for the Juli Furtado weekend course by March 15 will also receive a GoLite cycling jersey.
For more information on The Women's Wilderness Institute weekend course with Juli Furtado, visit www.womenswilderness.org
The Women's Wilderness Institute is a non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. Formed in 1997, the organization has led over 1000 women and girls into the outdoors in order to encourage courage, confidence and self-esteem. The organization puts on over 40 outdoor courses annually from backpacking to fly-fishing in the Rocky Mountain region and Southwest Desert and is recognized for its excellence in the outdoors.
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