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Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for January 13, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Rabobank aims high

The Rabobank team
Photo ©: DCP/Bert Geerts
Click for larger image

On Tuesday in Hilversum, The Netherlands, Rabobank presented its lineup for 2005, with its main focuses being the Tour de France, the classics and developing young riders. The Tour has always been a focal point for Rabobank, as team director Erik Breukink explained. "Do well in the Tour the France is one of the main objectives. Both Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen have marked the Tour in their agendas. Oscar Freire wants to show his rainbow jersey in the Tour. And Michael Boogerd's program in the months of May and June will be concentrated on the Tour de France."

One of the team's new signings, Russian Denis Menchov stated simply, "My ambition is a spot within the top five of the overall in the Tour de France." Danish rider Michael Rasmussen has different ambitions: "I still haven't won a big stage, that's something I'm definitely aiming for," he said. Like Oscar Freire, the Dutch team captains Michael Boogerd and Erik Dekker have marked the classics. Dekker will try to play a leading role in the spring classics in March and April, while Boogerd will concentrate on 'his' classics: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold Race. World champion Oscar Freire will be Rabobank's third card to play in the spring classics.

Team director Erik Breukink
Photo ©: DCP/Bert Geerts
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Breukink further explained that the team's younger riders will be given a chance to develop in the ProTour races. "It is one of the goals of our team to lift talented riders to the next level," he said. "Whenever possible, we will bring the young riders into action in the ProTour races." That means that Pieter Weening, Joost Posthuma, Thomas Dekker, Theo Eltink, Niels Scheuneman, Roy Sentjens, Ronald Mutsaars, Jukka Vastaranta, Alexandr Kolobnev and Rory Sutherland will ride at least one of the major tours.

New to the team this year are Gerben Löwik and Niels Scheuneman (Ned), Denis Menchov and Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) and Pedro Horrillo (Spa). Five young riders made the switch from the Division III team to the pro team: Joost Posthuma (who already made the switch halfway the 2004 season), Thomas Dekker, Theo Eltink, Jukka Vastaranta and Rory Sutherland.

Keep supporting Asia

Oscar Freire
Photo ©: DCP/Bert Geerts
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The team also intends to assist in the tsunami disaster through its "Keep supporting Asia" program. For every racing kilometre ridden by Rabobank riders, starting with Milan-San Remo, the team will donate money to the "Rabobank Medewerkersfonds", a Rabobank employees fund that will be used for development and rebuilding programs in areas affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

During victory celebrations, Rabobank riders will wear a special cap to focus the attention on their "Keep supporting Asia" program. The same appeal will appear on the frames of the bikes and the team cars. In addition, the riders will take more initiatives to raise more money, including auctions of special jerseys as worn by certain members of the Rabobank team (Freire, E. & T. Dekker, Kolobnev, Vastaranta, Boom, Groenendaal and Nys all have champion's jerseys).

Full team roster


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by DCP/Bert Geerts

Berden admits EPO use

At an extremely short press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Belgian cyclo-crosser Ben Berden (John Saey-Deschacht) admitted that he had taken EPO last December, owing to the fact that he felt "tired". Berden, who has been one of Belgium's best cyclo-crossers in recent years, confirmed what his sponsors had previously said. "At that moment [mid-December, 2004], I had a hematocrit of 38. With a tough period coming up, I did not want to disappoint the sponsors and fans. I regret my actions and will not be asking for a counter-analysis."

Berden, 29, didn't say whether or not he would retire, but his admission means the end of the John Saey-Deschacht team.

Teammate Camiel van den Bergh described himself as shocked by Berden's admission. "This is really very shocking," he was quoted by ANP as saying. "I knew that he was depressed because we wasn't going well enough. Apparently he was looking for a way out, but I did not expect this. He also never spoke about it with me."

Van den Bergh realised that Berden's admission would cast a shadow on the rest of the team. "I can only say that it is not the case. They can do all the tests on me that they like and have done over the years. There has never been anything."

Guatemalan coach suspended for life

Guatemalan coach Augusto Bony Pérez has been given a life suspension by the disciplinary commission of the Guatemalan cycling federation after two of his riders, Nery Velásquez and Abel Jocholá, tested positive for EPO in last year's Vuelta a Guatemala. Another coach, Fernando Pineda, was given a one year ban after his role in coaching Lisandro Ajcú and David Calanche, who also tested positive.

The riders themselves were given comparatively light suspensions. Ajcú and Velásquez were suspended for six months, Jocholá a year, and Calanche for two months for their transgressions. All riders were disqualified from their final GC placings in the Tour.

Arenberg ditched from Paris-Roubaix

The most famous cobbled section of road in cycling, the Arenberg trench, has been removed from Paris-Roubaix by the organisers A.S.O. for the 2005 edition, which will take place on April 10. Citing safety reasons, A.S.O. decided to remove the 2,400m section that typically causes a decisive selection, because it had deteriorated so much in recent years. "There is a dangerous 200 metre passage, corresponding to a mining subsidence, that created the "Mare à Goriaux"," A.S.O. said in a statement. "Due to the constant humidity, a greasy film deposits itself on the pavé, transforming this part into a veritable trap for the riders."

The race will be re-routed this year and will still feature 26 cobbled sections totaling 53.2 km of pavé, including a new one at Avesnes-le-Sec (2,700m). The Arenberg sector should be reintroduced in future editions, once the safety concerns are met.

Lampre-Caffita for JCTDU

The eight man Lampre-Caffita team, directed by Guido Bontempi, has flown out from Rome to Kuala Lumpur, bound for Adelaide, Australia where it will prepare for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under (January 18-23). It will be Bontempi's fourth visit to the race after spending the past three years directing the Saeco team there. "For us at Lampre-Caffita, as of the rest for all the teams, the Tour Down Under is the start of a long season for us, and we do not want to purely go for favourable results," he said. "We will be looking at results from the sprinters and riders who are looking to do well in the early season races.

"We have two interesting young riders who will be looking at showing some talent, namely Bonomi and Marzoli, then we have Gilberto Simoni who will be starting his 11th season as a pro rider, and wants to start the season with a good direction for the rest of the season."

Bontempi added that the penultimate stage in Willunga on January 22 will be the critical one. "It is the most difficult of the stages and will be the decisive stage for overall victory, with difficult climbs," he said.

The Lampre - Caffita team is: Gilberto Simoni (Ita), Daniele Righi (Ita), Giosue Bonomi (Ita), Paolo Fornaciari (Ita), Juan Fuentes (Spa), David Loosli (Swi), Samuele Marzoli (Ita) and Dario Pieri (Ita).

More information:

Euskaltel gets ready for the big three

The Euskaltel-Euskadi team has already started selecting its riders for the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Samuel Sanchez and Haimar Zubeldia will ride the Giro, although the latter may do it as preparation for the Tour. Young riders Markel Irizar, Gorka Verdugo, Joseba Zubeldia and Joseba Albizu will also race the Giro.

Iban Mayo will again be the team captain for the Tour de France, hoping to improve on his disastrous performance in 2004. Zubeldia, Aitor González, Egoi Martínez, Iker Flores, Mikel Artetxe, Unai Etxebarria and Iñigo Landaluze will all be at his side in France.

Finally in the Vuelta, Euskaltel will focus on having Roberto Laiseka and Aitor González as its team leaders, and possibly Iban Mayo.

Düsseldorf to bid for Tour start in 2008

The German city of Düsseldorf has declared its bid to A.S.O. to host the start of the Tour de France in 2008. Düsseldorf will therefore rival Rotterdam and Utrecht (Ned), Florence (Ita), Lugano (Swi) and Herning (Den). Germany has hosted the start of the Tour three times in the past (Cologne 1965, Frankfurt 1980 and Berlin 1987).

United Texas Tour postponed

The United Texas Tour, which was to take place for the first time in September 2005, has been postponed indefinitely, the organisers announced today. "In light of growing worldwide humanitarian needs such as the South Asian tragedy, we are reluctant to solicit the level of sponsorship funding needed to ensure the success of this event," said Eddie Owens, executive director of the United Texas Tour. "We are simply uncomfortable asking companies to fund the race when those dollars could be used for more immediate social concerns.

"The reception we have received from Texas communities to date has been nothing short of overwhelming. We are deeply grateful to all the sponsors who have pledged their support for the event, most especially our title sponsor, United Supermarkets and Market Street, and to the local and international cycling communities for embracing our vision for a world-class professional cycling race."

Three more for U.S. 'Cross World's team

USA Cycling has announced its elite men's discretionary selections for the 2005 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, which will be held on January 29-30 in St. Wendel, Germany. Barry Wicks (Corvalis, Ore.), Ben Turner (Williamsburg, Va.) and Erik Tonkin (Portland, Ore.) have been selected to join the team, joining the list of previously announced riders.

Wicks put up consistent results throughout the season, posting top-ten finishes in all six rounds of the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross. Finishing seventh overall in the series, Wicks' top finish was a third place effort at the final leg in Highland Park, N.J. He also finished on the podium at the USCF National Cyclo-cross Championships, placing fourth.

Two top-ten finishes in the Gran Prix for Erik Tonkin saw him finish 10th overall, as well as scoring a 12th place finish at the National's. Finally, Turner spent the season close to finishing in the top ten in a GP event before finally breaking through with a 10th place finish at the series finale in Highland Park, N.J.

Konica Minolta 2005

The South African Konica Minolta continental cycling team will hold its first training camp starting January 143 in Clarens, SA. The team's first race will be the Belgotex National Classic to be held in Pietermatizburg next week. Konica Minolta is directed by Barry Austin, who has developed many young riders on the Minolta Sure Youth travel junior team. Konica Minolta contains a mixture of South African and international talent and includes the following riders:

Jacques Fullard (RSA)
Leon Nel (RSA)
Eckard Berg (RSA)
John Lee Augustyn (RSA)
James Perry (RSA)
Fredrik Johansson (Swe)
Martin Velits (Svk)
Peter Velits (Svk)
Thomas Rabou (Ned)
Ian Arjendebaat (Ned)
George Schoonraad (RSA)
Bert Van der Linde (RSA)

ABD Cycling

The ABD Cycle Club is based out of Chicago, Illinois, USA, and is one of the more active clubs in the USA in terms of event promotion and support of elite riders. The club promotes 14 sanctioned races throughout the year and has seen National Champions Kirk O'Bee and Frank Pipp, 2004 Junior World's Team Member Natalie Klemko, and rising young amateur Frank Dierking pass through its ranks.

Click here for the full team roster

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