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First Edition Cycling News for November 4, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

An interview with Paul Griffin

Going full-time in the Far East

Paul Griffin wins
Photo ©: Giant Asia
Click for larger image

One of the UCI's aims is to make cycling a more global sport, and the new Continental Tours are one way to help this happen. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to Irish rider Paul Griffin, who has had a chance to experience the Asia Tour first-hand this year while competing as part of the Giant Asia team.

For most riders, the pro dream begins or ends in your late teens or early twenties. A rider's peak generally happens around 28 or 29; if you haven't made the break before then, the chances are pretty remote that you'll do so after that. Irish rider Paul Griffin is 32 years old yet, earlier this year, he got the chance to finally go full-time.

Racing in Asia is not the same as competing on the ultra-competitive European circuit but, as Griffin states, the standard is pretty respectable all the same. "I think there is a misconception out there that the standard over here isn't very high," he told Cyclingnews this month. "I think it is as high as the equivalent level in Europe, though... any of the 2.2 races we do in Asia are as hard as those over there."

Following a spell with the French ACBB club in 1997, Griffin competed for many years as part of the Irish national team, working full-time but still managing to put in some decent rides. These included a stage win in the FBD Milk Rás [now the 2.1 ranked FBD Insurance Rás] in Ireland, plus mountains classification wins in races such as the Tour de Hokkaido and the Tour of Hellas in Greece. Then, out of the blue came the chance to join fellow Irishman David McCann on the Giant Asia team for 2005; for the recently-married Griffin, it was a big move, a leap in the dark, but an adventure all the same.

Click here for the full interview

Contract news

Michael Rasmussen will stay with the Rabobank Cycling Team for the next two seasons. The Danish climber reached an agreement with general director Theo de Rooij over a contract extension. Rasmussen was the star performer of the team in this year's Tour de France, winning the stage to Mulhouse and the polka-dot mountains jersey. In 2003, he also won a stage in the Vuelta a España.

Italian Giuliano Figueras (Lampre-Caffita) will ride for Acqua e Sapone for the coming season. Figueras was recently cleared of doping charges relating to the raids in the 2001 Giro d'Italia.

Team LPR will sign its 18th rider for 2006 in Paolo Valoti. The Domina Vacanze rider won the Coppa Agostoni and Coppa Placci this year, and was another one of those affected by the fallout of Giancarlo Ferretti's vanishing team. Valoti reached a verbal agreement with LPR team manager Oscar Piscina, and could sign a contract by the end of the week.

Dutch rider Sebastian Langeveld has reached a verbal agreement with the Skil-Shimano team for the next two season. The 20 year-old is the reigning Dutch U23 road champion.

Verheyen cleared

Belgian rider Gert Verheyen (Landbouwkrediet) has been cleared of doping use by the Disciplinary Commission of the Belgian cycling federation. Jan Kuyckx (Davitamon-Lotto), also accused of doping with ephedrine and norpseudoephedrine, will have his appeal heard on November 23.

Dekker to Italy

Dutch rider Thomas Dekker will make his home in Lucca, Italy this winter, according to De Telegraaf. Dekker wants to take advantage of the warmer weather and work on his climbing there.

Totschnig named Austria's Male Athlete of the Year

Gerolsteiner's Georg Totschnig was named Austria's Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday. He was only the second cyclist to win the honour, after Richard Menapace won the very first award in 1949. Totschnig, who won the 14th stage of this year's Tour de France, finished with 28 points before skier Benjamin Raich, who took five medals at the Alpine skiing world championships.

"It was very surprising, but an enormous honour ," said Totschnig. "I was proud simply to have been nominated. It shows, that cycling in Austria is on the way up. It is a wonderful day."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Emma Davies-Jones back home

Emma Davies on the exercise bike
Photo ©: John Davies
Click for larger image

Just three weeks after being severely injured in a hit and run accident Britain's number 1 female track endurance rider Emma Davies-Jones is continuing her return to full fitness, and is now back home with her parents in North Wales.

"The severity of the injury was such that the possibility of being quadriplegic was quite distinct, but thanks to the superb initial treatment at Manchester Royal Infirmary - led by Simon Carley, that threat was removed," said Davies-Jones. "The biggest factor in my recovery has been a combination of my own mental strength and the incredible support I have received from both the world of cycling and the general public. I have received so many texts, e mails and greeting cards and my parents house resembles a branch of Inter Flora. I really want to thank everyone so much and I want to assure them all that I am leaving no stone unturned in my determination to be on the podium in Melbourne. "This injury has spurred me on even further in my quest for an Olympic medal, and you can be sure that Beijing is going to see me in the hunt for pursuit and points medals. Of course I am sad to be missing the Moscow and Manchester rounds of the Track World Cup, where I had very high hopes of winning (of all the world cups Emma has ridden, she has only once failed to medal). I will be back and even stronger than before.

"The support of the coaches at World Class has been fantastic and my Pro team Vlaanderen Capri-Sonne have been great too - they speak to me about every other day, but most of all I want to thank the physio I am working with near my parents home in Ruthin, who has been truly inspirational in keeping me focused on my exercise programme."

Once Emma has had one further scan it is likely that she will then come under the care of the physios at World Class. "The medical care and backup is superb, and I have so many doctors with varying specialities to thank for the rapid progress I am making. Ten days ago I had just begun to learn to walk, and now I am walking up to three kilometres a day as well as doing static bike work in a gym together with an exercise program every hour. I am really leading the life of a full time athlete, even though I am not yet out there on the bike - but don't worry it won't be long!"

Carrara on track in Moscow

Italian cyclist Vera Carrara will take part in the first track world cup event in Moscow, which will be held over this weekend. The 25 year-old from Bergamo, who won the world championships points race in March, will be back on her Bianchi again after a pause due to physical problems. "This year I suffered from a pain in my back like in 2001," she said. "That's why I preferred to skip some road races: I have started to train again since one month and I have put myself on a balanced diet."

The world champion has ambitions for the upcoming season: "I will try to perform well already in the track world cup events even if I'm not completely happy with my form yet. I'm sure I'll be in great condition at the world championships in April. As for the road calendar, I have a goal I don't want to miss: an excellent performance at the women's Giro d'Italia."

Bradley Wiggins does Revolution 10

British track star Bradley Wiggins is set to return to the boards on November 19 in Manchester for the 10th Revolution meeting. "After a solid year on the road I'm glad to be able to get back on the track," said Wiggins. "It's always a great night at Revolution, the crowds really support the home riders. I'm looking forward to it."

Wiggins will join forces with team pursuit world champion Chris Newton for the Madison event. With their combined power and aggressive style, Newton and Wiggins could be the riders to cause an upset and take the victory ahead of the other Madison specialists, such as Rob Hayles/Mark Cavendish (subject to injury status), Danny Stam/Robert Slippens, and Matt Gilmore/Iljo Keisse.

"Chris is an aggressive rider so we'll be looking to mix it up in the Madison and give the crowd something to cheer about. It will be a great race to watch," added Wiggins.

The endurance programme will also include a Team Elimination Race, 10km Points Race and the 1km Madison Time Trial.

More information: www.cyclingrevolution.com

Irish weekend preview

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

There is no lack of competition this weekend for the cyclo-cross competitors with events both north and south of the border in Ireland. Tomorrow in Ballymena, the local club is staging an event at the Showgrounds in the town with the start scheduled for midday. On Sunday the action switches to Kilcullen in Co. Kildare where Liam Walker is the master of ceremonies, with another midday start.

Liam was instrumental in kick-starting cyclo-cross on behalf of Cycling Ireland, and it is now a big success. "Originally when I started the revival of 'cross, the numbers were not great, to say the least," said Walker. "Thankfully, I stuck at the task and it is great to see the number of road cyclists who have become involved. Unfortunately from my perspective, we now have events on both Saturday and Sunday! Whereas a number of years ago, it was either day and promoters were always assured that the opposition would come from both sides of the border.

"It is great that 'cross is motoring, but at the moment, I have enquiries from clubs and venues who want to promote the sport, but there is no availability of dates. Anyhow, we can live with the problem for this season, but something will have to be addressed if the sport is to continue on its upward trend, in so far as dates are concerned next year."

Whilst the competitors involved in the action over the weekend will have to dabble in the mucky conditions that are part and parcel of the sport, spare a thought for Andrew McQuaid and Eugene Moriarty who go into action in the seven-day Tour of Southland in New Zealand. The field of 105 competitors will start the event with a team time trial, which is now becoming a welcome addition to stage racing, on Monday.

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