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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 27, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong's 'F-One' group plots the hour

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

More details have leaked out about the supposed preparations underway for Lance Armstrong to have a crack at the world hour record at some stage this year.

While it is yet to be confirmed, in our report from the Discovery Channel cycling team training camp (see report), Armstrong discussed 'the hour' and appeared to serious about making an attempt.

A recent story in the New York Times outlined the "F-One" group, an assembly of experts and equipment companies formed in 2003 who may collaborate on the attempts. The paper said the group includes Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), Nike, helmet-maker Giro, wheelmaker Hed, Advanced Micro Devices and aerodynamicist Len Brownlie. Bicycle manufacturer Trek and wheelmaker Bontrager are also mainstays of the F-One group.

At the Silver Springs team presentation, Armstrong said to Cyclingnews, "(The Hour Record) has become a serious consideration and I actually have in my possession the very first version of the track that I've been trying to do some testing on. (The Hour) is something that fascinates me; Johan and I have not really sat down and talked a lot about it, you know, what it takes to do it, where it fits in in the year, which I think is one of the trickiest things. I spent a lot of time talking to Chris Carmichael and his team (at CTS) about it and the proper approach."

Altitude or not?

"I think the trick with the Hour Record is where you do it," Armstrong explained. "Obviously we can do it in Manchester where it's been done several times. Ideally we would look for a high-altitude location and as we all know, there are not that many covered velodromes at altitude, so then you're at the mercy of the winds and the elements outside, or the temperature if it's not exactly in the summertime.

"We want to do it at altitude and it's just a question of where we go, what we find and if we build a velodrome to do it, and then take the velodrome down. And I think that's probably the most likely scenario as of today: Do we want to cover Colorado Springs and resurface it, or do go to Salt Lake City or somewhere like that and build a new velodrome?"

A presentation at the meeting of the F-One group, according to the NYT, was made by Jay Kearney, from CTS, who discussed the variables of making the attempt at altitude or sea level. While riding at altitude has lower air resistance, there is also less oxygen for the athlete. Meanwhile, even factors such as a crowded velodrome - and it's understood that Armstrong would make the attempt in the USA - can increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, again, reducing performance.

Morris Denton, a marketing executive from AMD, the microelectronics giant and one of the Discovery team's supporting sponsors, told the NYT: "I think it would be an amazing spectacle. If you look at the crowds Lance draws in the United States and you think about what would happen if you put some kind of marketing effort behind this event, it would be immenses."

At the same presentation, the president of Capital Sports and Entertainment, the sports management company that looks after Armstrong, said to the paper, "right now it's an idea. It's a four-minute mile kind of thing, but we don't have it on the calendar yet."

Click for larger image
Chris Boardman in 2000
Photo: © AFP

The current "absolute" hour record stands at 49.441km set by Chris Boardman on October 27, 2000, at a special session of the 2000 Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, UK (see report). This "Absolute" record, as defined by the UCI, was set at near-sea level in the British city. The UCI has strict requirements on the technology that can be used, designed to resemble the type of bicycle that Eddy Merckx used when he set the 'hour' at 49.43915 km in Mexico City (at over 2400m altitude) on October 25, 1972.

While Boardman only marginally bettered Merckx's record by 10 metres, it was set at a much lower altitude and while difficult to quantify in terms of distance covered, the reduced air resistance of riding at altitude is considered a significant factor. (For example, all track cycling records now take altitude into account, with separate times for records above and below 1000m.)

Merckx's record stood for 12 years until Francesco Moser used more aerodynamic equipment in 1984 (also at Mexico City's velodrome) to record a 50.80842km distance.

But Boardman also holds the record for what the UCI now calls the "best hour performance", where he used the latest in bicycle technology and aerodynamics to cover a staggering 56.375km in an hour in 1996. Boardman's then record was the latest in a staggering demolition of this record in the period from 1993-96, where Scotsman Graeme Obree, Moser, Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger all smashed the record, until Boardman's remaining record was set in 1996.

The formation of the F-One group would indicate that Armstrong may be looking seriously at both records, as much of the technology for the "Absolute" record is quite standard, as it's intended to reflect pure athletic performance.

Tour de Langkawi: Tussle in the tropics

By Anthony Tan

2004 LTdL winner Freddy Gonzalez
Photo ©: Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews
Click for larger image

2005 marks the 10th anniversary of the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi, which boasts its best line-up of teams and riders since the race's inception in 1996. Although not part of the newly restructured professional cycling calendar we now know as the UCI ProTour, events such as the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia and Le Tour de Langkawi have clearly benefited from a revised race format not unlike US baseball's Major League, where the top 19 ProTour teams have all expanded their rosters to accommodate the participation requirements set by the UCI.

With no less than four ProTour teams including the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Liberty Seguros, Domina Vacanze and Credit Agricole, this year's LTdL is set to field a star-studded cast of teams and riders in this Hors Categorie-classified stage race.

Click here for the full preview, Stages & results and Start List

Cyclo-cross World's: Kupfernagel top favourite

Hanka Kupfernagel is the big favourite for the women's Cyclo-cross World Championship this Sunday, January 30 in St. Wendel, Germany. The 30 year-old wants her third World Championship title after winning in 2000 and 2001. With that in mind, the rider from Thüringen has been training hard in recent months and is looking forward to the challenge with a lot of confidence.

"I've been refining my technique day after day and improved my running above all after specific training," said Kupfernagel, who believes she's in the best possible shape for the World Championships. "My big goal is the world title, of course."

There are three riders in particular who might stop her: the current world champion Laurence Leboucher from France, who has been keeping something back in international races so far, her teammate and national champion Maryline Salvetat or her Dutch colleague Daphny van den Brand, whom Hanka Kupfernagel describes as very ambitious. After her World Cup wins in Pijnacker and Milan, Van den Brand should be the German's biggest challenger.

Hanka Kupfernagel is hoping for a "home town advantage" in St.Wendel and the support of the many German spectators. Apart from Kupfernagel the German team for the World Championships is Sabine Spitz (Murg-Niederhof/Fusion), Birgit Hollman (Zugvogel Berlin), Nicole Kampeter (Endspurt Herford) and Susanne Juranek (RSC Oldenburg).

An interview with Katherine Bates

Earning her rainbow stripes

Kate Bates leads the scratch race in Manchester 2004.
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal/
Click for larger image

At only 22, Katherine Bates is already well-known in international women's road and track cycling. Along with her sister, Natalie, 24, they have raced competitively for over a decade. Recently, Kate realised one of her dreams when she represented Australia at the Athens Olympics, placing fourth in the women's individual pursuit. But just placing out of the medals left her hungry for the podium, as Cyclingnews' Kristy Scrymgeour found when she caught up with Bates after the recent UCI Track World Cup round in Manchester, where Bates claimed three gold medals and was the leading female endurance rider.

Along with her record on the velodrome, Bates has also proven to be a talent on the road, placing in World Cups and international tours, winning many races in her European base of Holland. This year, Bates has again signed with a Dutch team and is joined for the first time together on a pro squad by her sister Natalie.

They will both race for Ton van Bemmelen-AA Drink, under the guidance of Holland's queen of cycling, Leontien Van Moorsel, who retired in 2004. Strengthening the squad will be the current Olympic champion, Australian Sara Carrigan.

Bates feels that that after ten years in the sport, there is still a lot more to come. "Now I'm staring down the barrel of a four year block and then another four year block," she said. "If nothing changes and I'm getting the same opportunities as I'm getting now and still enjoying it, this is definitely what I want to do. At the moment it's easy. All I do is train hard and the results seem to flow in. I've been really lucky over the years. I've had a few minor setbacks but I've always had something in between that keeps me going, so really I've had a pretty smooth run," she in one of brief visits home to Sydney

Click here for the full interview

16 year-old positive for EPO

A 16 year-old South African cyclist has tested positive for EPO, becoming the youngest rider ever to test positive for the banned blood boosting substance. The rider in question was Michael van Staden (ACIZ CPPA), who was tested during the South African U16 tour in Ermelo in September 2004, where he finished fifth. Both his A and B samples were positive.

Van Staden's case was heard last December by the national governing body, Cycling South Africa, which banned him for a year. However, his sentence was suspended for two years as CSA accepted Van Staden's defence that he did not take EPO intentionally. Rather, he believed that a doctor or a team manager could have injected him with the substance without him knowing what it was.

There is a possibility that the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI will appeal CSA's decision in order to determine who was actually responsible.

Laidoun out until March

French rider Julen Laidoun (MrBookmaker-Sportstech) will not be able to race until March after breaking the big toe in his right foot on January 4. Another MrBookmaker rider with an injured foot, Frank Vandenbroucke, is back in training again together with his teammates in Calpé, Spain, where he will remain until February 5.

Engels to Quick.Step

27 year-old Dutch rider Addy Engels has become the 27th member of the Quick.Step team for this season. Engels, who has ridden for Rabobank for four years and BankGiroLoterij last year signed a one year deal with Patrick Lefevere's team. "I am extremely pleased with this contract. The Quick Step Team is one of the main reference point teams in cycling," he said.

Engels' first race in Quick.Step colours will be on in G. P. Costa degli Etruschi in Italy on February 6.

Quick.Step has also named its team for the Doha International Grand Prix on January 29 and the Tour of Qatar (January 31-February 4): Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Guido Trenti and Stefano Zanini.

Skil-Moser presented

Dutch Continental team Skil-Moser was presented in Kaatsheuvel on Wednesday. The team is managed by Bert van der Tuuk and directed by Gerry Takens, and has Bart Voskamp, Bert Hiemstra and Jan van Velzen as its top riders in the 13 man squad. The team had applied for Professional Continental status, but this was rejected by the UCI.

Wiggins at Revolution 7

Bradley Wiggins will join the Revolution once again on January 29 in Manchester despite having hung up his track bike to focus on road racing for the next couple of seasons. Wiggins has just finished riding the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia but will return to the track at the Manchester Velodrome to ride in front of special guests Sir Matthew Pinsent and five-times swimming World Champion James Hickman. "I wasn't planning on riding the track again for a while but Matthew was keen to come to Manchester Velodrome and see some action so I have decided to ride at Revolution as it is always a good evening," said Wiggins.

A keen cycling fan, Pinsent watched the action at the Olympic velodrome in Athens last year was impressed by Wiggins' talent. In order to experience more cycling action in the UK Pinsent and Hickman will attend the Revolution to support Wiggins and other Olympians Chris Hoy, Jason Queally and Craig MacLean. During the night Wiggins will also be presenting Sir Matthew with an exclusive Terry Dolan road bike to help him keep in shape now that he has retired from Olympic rowing.

"I am really looking forward to attending the Revolution event at Manchester Velodrome and to see fellow Olympic Champions Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy in action once again," said Pinsent. "The Revolution series is very exciting and great for British Cycling. I always rode a bike as part of my training regime and I am looking forward to doing so more now that I have retired from competitive rowing."

Olympic Pursuit Champion Wiggins will be up against World Pursuit Champion, Sergei Escobar Roure. Escobar has been a thorn in the side for Wiggins' compatriot Rob Hayles over the last year beating him to the bronze in the Olympics Individual Pursuit and the gold in the same event at the World Championships. With Hayles riding the Tour of Langkawi this week it will be down to his madison partner Wiggins to gain some revenge over the Spaniard.

These riders will race across a series of endurance events including a devil and scratch combination race, a points race and the crowd pleasing 1km madison time trial. In the madison time trial GB riders Mark Cavendish and Ed Clancy will be defending their record time of 57.457 against Wiggins, Roure and other top endurance riders such as Russell Downing, Keiran Page and Geraint Thomas.

More information:

FBD Milk Ras rules for county teams

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The organisers of the Irish FBD Insurance RÁS (May 22-29) have announced the rules for county teams intending on taking part in the race. Teams must be comprised of five riders, as individual entries and incomplete teams will not be accepted. UCI Regulations will apply in relation to final date for team changes, as well as team sponsorship and advertising on classifications jerseys. All team officials, including managers, mechanics, masseurs and drivers must be holders of a current UCI affiliated federation licence and present it at team registration. The entry fee is €250 per team and entries close on February 15.

Cycleways will again this year sponsor the county rider classification and Cuchulainn Crystal the Daily County Rider Award. A special gold finish medal will be presented to all finishers on the Race Platform in the Phoenix Park after the final stage.

More information:

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