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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 25, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

All for the Tour: T-Mobile takes up its cause

By Hedwig Kröner in Bonn

When the biggest German mobile telephony company invites the press to a marketing event, one can be sure what to expect: A headquarters reception inside a huge exhibition hall, where a specially designed grandstand provides enough seats for the assembled media to get a good view of what is about to be spotlighted. This is what happened in Bonn at the presentation of the 2005 T-Mobile cycling team today, and the show was well staged, as always.

Managers Walter Godefroot and Olaf Ludwig introduced a team with many qualities, but the top priority for this year's season is once again the overall victory of the Tour de France. "Bigger, better and faster" is the motto for starting the ProTour, which requires even more means than were deployed already - so T-Mobile chose to withdraw sponsorship for its mountain bike team at the end of 2004, sign more riders for its road team, take on additional employees and decided to have up younger talents program. "With 27 riders, we have enough to schedule three racing programmes for this season," explained Ludwig, who will take full responsibilities for the team management in 2006, when Godefroot retires.

With 27 riders of such class, T-Mobile's numerous directeurs sportifs Mario Kummer, Frans Van Looy, Valerio Piva, Brian Holm and Giovanni Fidanza will have a versatile squad at their disposal to play a major role in all kinds of races on the upcoming calendar. To begin with, the spring classics, where Steffen Wesemann will try to defend his Tour of Flanders victory of last year, and maybe make his dream of Paris-Roubaix come true.

Click here for the full report

RAGT Semences presentation

The RAGT Semances team for 2005
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
Click for larger image

The 2005 line-up of the RAGT Semences cycling team was presented to the media at the Maison du Sport in Paris. Officially registered as a Professional Continental team, RAGT (a biotech farming company) has a youthful new spirit, as Alain Fabre, Chairman of RAGT's surveillance council stated:

"The values dear to cycling are very close to those in the world of farming. How is it possible not to feel emotionally involved when you consider how much importance we attach to effort, tenacity and courage, topped with a great sense of sacrifice. We're very positive both RAGT Semences road potential and for our agricultural clients in the field. I'm persuaded that 2005 will be every bit as fulfilling as 2004."

Seven new young riders, including four Belgians, all from the Elites 2 category will join the team in 2005: Emilien-Benoit Bergès, Hubert Dupont, Sébastien Minard for the new French riders and Xavier Hérinne, Kevin Ista, Olivier Kaisen, Guillaume Lernould for the new Belgians. Apart from that, Benjamin Levecot (MBK-Oktos) and Nicolas Dulac, who started with RAGT last August, will also be part of the team. Experienced riders such as Eddy Seigneur, Christophe Rinero and Guillaume Auger will help assist the young riders.

Manager Serge Barle commented, "We have every reason to be very hopeful indeed given how close-knitted the group is. With this sort of potential at our fingertips, we've got a fine challenge on our hands."

RAGT Semences will race a very similar program to 2004, although it will have to rely on wild card entries for ProTour races. The team will hit the road on Tuesday, February 1 at the start of the Grand Prix d'Ouverture "La Marseillaise" before continuing with traditional events in the shape of the Etoile de Bessèges, Tour Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut Var, Critérium des Espoirs and Classic Haribo.

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Daniel Schamps

Full team roster

2005 Giro evokes positive comments

By Tim Maloney, European Editor In Milano

After the gala presentation of the 2005 Giro d'Italia, Cyclingnews had time to round-up an antipasti of comments from a wide range of racers, former racers and expert observers. Avv. Carmine Castellano, who will pass the reins of the Giro to Angelo Zomegnan, has put together his final Giro and proudly said that, "I like this's a Giro for a complete rider and even on easier days like Stage 3 to Giffoni, there are difficulties.

2004 winner Damiano Cunego gushed, "The Giro is a beautiful course; it's good for climbers and I think it's good for me on paper but now I have to check it out close up." As for the ongoing friction with his teammate Gibo Simoni, who was at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia, Cunego explained that for now, a truce was in place."Our relationship is good and we should ride as allies. We have a strong team and the same objective."

For his part, CSC's Ivan Basso was positive as well about the 2005 Giro course. "I hope to do even better than last time I rode the Giro 5 years ago; I've have done three Tours (de France) challenge will be to find the same level of fitness as the Tour more than beat Cunego." 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli will lead the Liquigas squad in the Giro and the likeable rider from Varese wants another Giro win. "I hope to win the Giro; because it's my main objective of the 2005 season."

Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli braved potential back slappers at the Giro presentation and despite his recently broken collarbone, was upbeat and realistic about his Giro chances. "Yes, now I've had three crashes in the last year and I really hope they're over! So I'll start riding rollers in a few days and hope to get back on the road in a few weeks. My favourite is Ivan Basso and as for my chances, I hope to be in top shape in May."

RAI-TV colour commentator Silvio Martinello observed that, "The Giro looks easier at beginning this year, with more climbing at the end. But watch out for the stage finish in l'Aquilia." Maurizio Fondriest explained that "This Giro is a top level race and people will be are looking for a big battle between Cunego and Basso, but don't forget the old men like Simoni, foreign riders." 1990 Giro winner Gianni Bugno thought that "this Giro is very difficult, with plenty of hard will be good for our Italian climbers."

1955 Giro d'Italia winner Fiorenzo Magni explained that, "This is an interesting Giro that goes all through the peninsula and looks to me to be a classic race." Another veteran observer, Felice Gimondi evaluated the Giro course by saying, "The first week is going to be harder and more nervous than it looks. I like the my first Giro, I was third when we raced the Stelvio and there was a little landslide near the top so we had to stop. Plus there could be snow up there!"

Bart Wellens going for a hat-trick

Although his 2004-2005 season hasn't been one of his better ones, Belgian Bart Wellens wants to pull off a hat-trick and win the elite men's World Cyclo-cross Championship for the third time in a row. Wellens has an impressive palmares at the World Championships, winning rainbow jerseys in the U23 division in 1999 and 2000 before winning in the elite championships in Monopoli, Italy and Pont-Château, France in 2003 and 2004. He described the parcours in St.Wendel, Germany as "a great course, lots of hills make it very demanding but also very quick. That suits me. Because it's so close to Belgium, it'll be almost like riding at home for me."

"I love cyclo-cross because it's so varied," admitted Wellens, who lives in Vorselaar near Antwerp. The days of cyclo-cross being confined to a winter outlet for 'pro' road racers are long gone. "Someone like Tom Boonen couldn't achieve anything in cross," Wellens points out, who trains with his fellow Belgian from time to time. "The amount of time and effort needed to be at the very top in cyclo-cross is enormous. You can't be successful on the roads as well."

At the start of the winter Wellens had to contend with various problems. Firstly there were disagreements with the sponsor and he switched teams, and rides now for Fidea. Then an infection affected his immune system and Wellens had to take a long break. He only came back to racing at the end of November and has been steadily improving since then. "I'm confident I can be in absolute top form by the time of the World Championships in St.Wendel," he said.

Could Wellens be the one to finally stop the onslaught of Sven Nys - who has never won the World Championships - this season?

Strong Australian contingent for Trust House Cycle Classic

The largest number of Australian cyclists ever to take part in the Trust House Cycle Classic (Tour of Wellington) was announced by the organisers today. After an Australian national development team was confirmed at the last minute, a total of 21 Australians will line up on Wednesday, January 26 for Stage 1 of the 18th edition of the Classic.

The Australian national team is made up of five upcoming riders: Matthew Lloyd, a climber who claimed victory in the toughest stage of the 2004 Herald Sun Tour; Simon Clarke, 2004 Jr World Team Pursuit Champion; Matthew Rex, 2004 Sun Tour stage winner; Jonathan Clarke, 2004 U23 Australian Road Champion; and Patrick Shaw.

"This changes totally this week's race," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "Until last night we had two New Zealanders, Gordon McCauley and Robin Reid and Australian Peter McDonald as favourites for the race, now with 21 Australians in the event, including their national team, the whole race is wide open.

"To make things even more difficult for New Zealand riders, Jonathan Clarke and Matthew Rex took part in last week's Tour Down Under in South Australia racing against a top international field made up mostly of Tour de France riders. This time could be the first time since 1998 that our tour has an Australian winner.

"This is the best thing that could happen to the Trust House Cycle Classic. This year's race will be an ANZAC affair and keeping up with the tradition, the Australians would love to come here and win this year's event. The Australian riders are race fit after a number of international races in Australia since the 2nd of January and keen to do well".

Another Australian team that has been confirmed is the MG Xpower presented by BigPond squad, in search of more Continental UCI points. The team will include Australian National (Club) Road and Criterium Champion Tony Mann and New Zealand climber Aaron Strong, as well as Stuart Shaw (ACT), Shaun Higgerson (NSW) and Troy Glennan (NSW).

More information:

Ferrio to Spiuk

28 year-old Spanish cyclist Jorge Ferrío Luque (Costa de Almeria-Paternina) has become the latest rider to sign for the Professional Continental team Spiuk, inking a one year deal on Monday. An accomplished climber, Ferrio finished 17th in last year's Vuelta a España as well as winning the Clásica De Los Puertos. He will join his new teammates at a training camp in Zafra on Tuesday, with the team presentation to be held this Sunday, January 30.

Lefebvre sanctioned

The UCI has announced the sanctioning of French cyclo-crosser Maxime Lefebvre, who tested positive for heptaminol at the Porte du Hainaut cyclo-cross in 2004. He has been given a 1 year suspension from April 9, 2004 to April 9, 2005 and disqualified from the race.

26th Vuelta Independencia Nacional República Dominicana

The Dominican Republic Cycling Federation has announced the race route for the 26th edition of the Vuelta Independencia Nacional República Dominicana, which will take place between February 18-27. The race will feature teams from the USA, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Guadeloupe and Martinique, along with local teams.

The stages

Prologue - February 18: Velódromo Centro Olímpico ITT 1 km
Stage 1 - February 19: Santo Domingo-La Romana 114 km
Stage 2 - February 20: San Pedro de Macorís-Santo Domingo 135 km
Stage 3 - February 21: San Cristóbal-Barahona 163 km
Stage 4 - February 22: Barahona-Bani 127 km
Stage 5a - February 23: Santo Domingo-Bonao 80 km
Stage 5b - February 23: Bonao-San Francisco de Macorís 90 km
Stage 6 - February 24: Moca-Mao 132 km
Stage 7a - February 25: Mao-Piedra Gorda ITT 22 km
Stage 7b - February 25: Santiago de los Caballeros-Jarabacoa 85 km
Stage 8 - February 26: La Vega-Santo Domingo 115 km
Stage 9 - February 27: Santo Domingo circuito 122 km

Total: 1187 km

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