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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for January 11, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Discovering Discovery

Armstrong launches new ProTour team

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Silver Spring, Maryland

The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

As Washington DC prepares with ruffles and flourishes for President George Bush's second inauguration in a few weeks time, his fellow Texan Lance Armstrong was in town to inaugurate his new team for the final phase of his cycling career, the $15 million Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. Armstrong and his alter-ego, team sports director Johan Bruyneel, have partnered with title sponsor Discovery Communications to assemble a ProTour squad that should be one of the most competitive teams around. On the morning of Monday, January 10, Armstrong and 26 others were presented at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland just a stone's throw from Discovery Communications HQ.

Discovery CEO Judy McHale explained that, "2005 is the twentieth anniversary of the Discovery Channel so this is a great way to kick off the year for us. We're very happy to be associated with Lance Armstrong...he's an inspiration to many with his spirit and a role model for people around the world."

McHale's remarks were followed by Bill Stapleton of Capital Sports & Entertainment, the team's co-owner, who said that, "We've done a lot in the last eight months since we first met with Judy and Billy Campbell (Discovery President). Right away, we both realized that Discovery and our team were both committed to quality. So it all fits together and we have a real partner in Discovery and what we think is the greatest franchise in pro sports."

Team sports manager Johan Bruyneel, introduced as the team mastermind, emphasised the global nature of the new Discovery Channel Pro Cycling squad, saying that, "With riders from 14 countries, this team is the most internationally diverse in the sport," a theme that six-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong echoed in his comments during the team presentation. "We have a new approach with the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team. It's a global team with many diverse riders. But we have a special camaraderie."

2002 Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli
Photo ©: CN
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When commenting on the new Discovery team jersey, Armstrong explained that a lot of thought went into the design, joking that, "My computer got loaded down with these huge (graphics) files...but I think my son Luke will like the design," referring to the sharkskin motif on the new team strip. "When Discovery agreed that we could put the yellow (Livestrong) band on the (left) sleeve, we were humbled. We're up to 28 or 30 million bands now." Team spokesman Dan Osipow explained that $1 from the sale of every Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team jersey will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

After the presentation in Silver Spring, the Discovery team riders headed down to Capital Hill for a meet and greet with congressmen at the 2005 Discovery Healthy Living Congressional Fair, with the Lance Armstrong Foundation featured, along with the Discovery Health Channel's National Body Challenge. Once the formalities were over, the team riders jumped on a flight to Los Angeles, heading to Solvang, CA. for a 10 day training camp. While strong winter storms have recently been battering the American West Coast, the weather forecast is good, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 20's. Talking about the upcoming training camp, Armstrong said that "You know, some guys go fishin', but we go to training camp. I love to get together with the guys and suffer."

No new news on Armstrong's Tour decision

Armstrong
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

Amid the hoopla of the presentation of his new Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team, Lance Armstrong is still reserving judgment on his participation in this year's Tour De France. The six-time Tour winner explained that Monday that he will ride the World Cup races Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold as well as the Flèche Wallonne, then look to decide about his program for the rest of 2005 at the end of April.

"That would be a good time to adjust," he said a press conference after the team presentation. "At the moment I can't say if I'll ride the Tour...we are not ruling anything out, but we will see at the time." Armstrong also confirmed that he was seriously considering an attempt at the World Hour Record later this year.

Discovery Channel team roster

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews.com

Quick.Step launched in Belgium

The Quick.Step team
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The Quick.Step Cycling Team had its presentation on Monday in Tielt, Belgium. The squad, which is managed by Patrick Lefevere, is coming off a big 2004 where it won 48 UCI races (the most of any team) and finished seventh in the UCI teams rankings. Despite the retirements of Richard Virenque and Johan Museeuw last season, the team has plenty of firepower for 2005, particularly in the one day classics and the short stage races.

Olympic and World Cup Champion Paolo Bettini, winner of nine races last year, will once again be at the top of the list for the one day classics, being joined by the young superstar Tom Boonen, who won 20 races in 2004 including Gent-Wevelgem and two stages in the Tour. 25 year old dual World Time Trial Champion Michael Rogers will be looking to show the rainbow stripes in a few races in 2005, while Nick Nuyens, who won Paris-Brussels, and Patrik Sinkewitz, who took out the Deutschland Tour, are both young talents who are very much on the rise.

As the 26 man team faces the ProTour for the first time, there have been nine new riders added. Belgians Rik Verbrugghe, Sebastien Rosseler, Kevin De and Wouter Weylandt will be joined by Italian champion Cristian Moreni, Petacchi's leadout man Guido Trenti, the talented Filippo Pozzato, Dutchman Marc Lotz and neo-pro and Danish cyclist of the year Mads Christensen.

The team will kick off in Australia on January 18 with the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, riding a typical early season program that focuses on the classics as well as Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. Quick.Step will then race the Giro d'Italia, Tours of Romandy and Switzerland, Volta a Catalunya, Dauphiné Libéré and of course the Tour de France.

Bettini will start his season on February 6 with the Mallorca Challenge, and race Het Volk, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro d'Italia, Tour de Suisse and the Italian championships, although he will not do the Tour de France.

Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Tom Boonen will start on January 29 with the Doha International GP, before riding the Tour of Qatar, Het Volk, Paris-Nice, Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix and the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, before taking a break and coming back in the Tour de Picardie in May and building up towards the Tour de France.

Michael Rogers will start in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under and follow an Italian program of short stage races, taking a six week break at the end of March before resuming with the Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Suisse and Tour de France.

Nick Nuyens will race a similar program to Tom Boonen, although he will also do some of the hillier classics in April, including Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He is down for the Giro d'Italia but not the Tour de France.

Patrik Sinkewitz will start in Mallorca with Bettini, then follow an Italian program but include three classics: Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He will do the Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Suisse before the Tour de France.

Filippo Pozzato will be in Australia for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, then return home to ride the G.P. Costa degli Etruschi, Tour Méditerranéen, Het Volk, Tirreno-Adriatico, most of the spring classics, then the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.

Team data

Team members
Photo ©: Quick Step
Click for larger image

Quick.Step 2005 includes 26 riders from seven different nations. The average age of the athletes is 26.8 years. The youngest team member is Wouter Weylandt (who will be 21 on September 27), the oldest team member is Davide Bramati (who will be 37 on the June 27). The team has six directeur sportifs, three doctors, one PR person, one press officer, five mechanics, seven masseuses and one bus driver, and employs a total of 52 people.

The team's transport system is made up of 15 vehicles: one bus, one camper, two lorries, five MPV's, five cars and one berlina.

What it takes to run a team for a season: 110 bikes, 125 pairs of wheels, 1,300 inner tubes, 7,000 helmets, 400 gloves, 400 pairs of socks, 300 racing shorts, 450 jerseys, 20,000 water bottles, 5,000 feed bags, 500 litres of olive oil, 129 kg parmesan cheese, 1,000 kg of pasta.

Quick.Step team roster

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luc Claessen/actiefotos.be

Images by Quick Step Cycling Team

  • From left to right: Patrick Lefevere (Team manager), Luc Maes (owner Latexco), Frans De Cock (owner Unilin Flooring), Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini, Michael Rogers, Nick Nuyens, Dimitri De Fauw,
  • From left to right: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Michael Rogers, Rik Verbrugghe, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato

Simoni ready for Australia

Gilberto Simoni is gearing up to start his season in the sunny climes of Adelaide, Australia, as he will form part of Lampre-Cafitta's roster in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. "During the Tour de France 2004 the Tour Down Under was proposed to me, which I accepted immediately," said Simoni, who has been keeping himself fit during winter with cyclo-cross. "It's an opportunity that will give me the upper hand on my rivals. It's a great way to start my preparation, the weather is good and the racing will be good for my form."

Like many other Europeans who come to Australia at the start of the season, only to greet a peloton of local riders at the peak of their fitness, Simoni has no illusions about being competitive. "Obviously I cannot think of being in top condition, also because unlike the sprinters who aim at being in form for this time of the season such as Milan-San Remo, my objectives remain those of the Giro d'Italia and onwards, my main objective being that of winning the Giro for my third time, Lampre 2001, Saeco 2003 and Lampre-Caffita 2005.

"Australia is a country unknown to me and I look forward to travelling there and racing there, although it will be no holiday for me as the racing will be difficult for me especially with the form I currently have. It's a race more for the sprinters, there will be a lot of riders looking at winning and making a top race out of the tour as many riders will arrive at the race with many kilometres of training in their legs."

Simoni celebrated New Year's Eve with his wife Arianna and baby Sofia. He will spend his last few days of training on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy, doing four hour rides of about 120 km in the company of Bertolini, Piccoli and Francesco Moser's grandson.

P.M.B. Fenix professional women's team

The Italian based professional women's team P.M.B Fenix will enter its second year of existence in 2005. The squad is led by experienced Russian Svetlana Boubnenkova and features 14 riders on its roster. Boubnenkova has her sights set on the Giro Donne, which she won in 2002 and wants to do so again in 2005. "I'm very attached to the Giro, because by now I consider Italy y second home," she said. "Therefore in 2005 I will focus on being in good condition for the race around the Italian boot."

The women's Tour de France (Grand Boucle Féminin) is also due to restart in 2005 after a year's hiatus, and Boubnenkova has this as one of her goals as well. She will be ably assisted by 1994 Tour Féminin winner Valentina Polkhanova, as well as a strong team of domestiques.

The team's first training camp will be between January 31 and February 6 in Riva Ligure. Then between February 13-20 in Arma di Taggia it will complete its preparation for 2005.

Team roster

Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus)
Valentina Polkhanova (Rus)
Tatiana Shiskova (Mda)
Julia Martisova (Rus)
Elena Eifler (Ger)
Elena Shalaeva (Rus)
Sonia Rocca (Ita)
Vanessa Saccomani (Ita)
Alexandra Nohles (Ger)
Marta Evangelisti (Ita)
Annamaria Bresci (Ita)
Lisa Ardissone (Ita)
Marzia Lavorini (Ita)
Giovanna Silvestro (Ita)

Directeur sportif: Daniele Gadenz
Assistant directeur sportif: Michail Drozdov
Team manager: Andrea Carlesi

Sponsors

Daccordi (bikes), Sidi, Elite, Ozone, ITM, Campagnolo, LAS, Gemig, Ellegi, Ursus

MG Xpower - Bigpond names eight

Australia's new Continental cycling team MG XPower presented by BigPond has announced the names of its starting line up of eight riders. Leading the team will be former Olympian and 2004 National Road Series Champion Rob McLachlan. 33 year-old McLachlan has taken the domestic racing scene by storm since returning two years ago from a decade long absence from the sport. McLachlan will now have the opportunity to race against some of the world's top teams and riders in races on the new UCI Continental Tours.

Joining McLachlan and two other ACT cyclists are riders from NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand. Amongst these is a mix of experienced campaigners such as 2004 National Club Championship criterium winner Tony Mann (26) and 2004 Australian Open Criterium Champion Nic Brown (24), and talented young riders such as Marc Williams and Shaun Higgerson. Former World Triathlon Championship representative Stuart Shaw has been drafted after a strong showing in last week's Bay Series Criteriums.

Two Victorians are expected to be added soon to take the squad to 10. The riders named today are:

Rob McLachlan (ACT)
Marc Williams (ACT)
Stuart Shaw (ACT)
Shaun Higgerson (NSW)
Troy Glennan (NSW)
Tony Mann (Qld)
Aaron Strong (NZl)
Nic Brown (WA)

MG XPower presented by BigPond will debut in this Saturday's Australian Open Road Championships in South Australia.

Two Spanish neo-pro's

Spaniards José Luis Carrasco Gámiz and Fernando Serrano Sánchez, both of whom rode for the Avila Rojas tea in 2004, will turn professional with separate teams this season. After a very impressive season which saw him top the Spanish U23 rankings, Carrasco has been signed by Illes Balears. His current teammate Fernando Serrano Sánchez, who finished second in the national U23 rankings, will ride for Kaiku.

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