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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for November 25, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Team Cyclingnews.com merges with DFL

By Hedwig Kröner

The Cyclingnews boys at the Tour of Hungary 2005
Photo ©: Cam Jennings
Click for larger image

Continental Teams DFL and Cyclingnews.com have announced their merger to form a new team with both sponsors' names. DFL/Cyclingnews.com will become a British registered team in the next season, but based in Booischot, Belgium. The team's management will be headed by Nick Collins as Managing Director, with Gilbert de Weerdt as Performance Director and Rudi Dubois the Commercial Director. Its race calendar will include European, North American, Asian as well as Australian events.

"We were a British-based team this year, but really, the place for us to be riding is on the European continent, especially Belgium," Nick Collins, the managing director of Driving Force Logistics (DFL) explained. "DFL has the financial and commercial requirements, and Cyclingnews.com the operational and cycling experience. So it's an ideal situation for both of us."

Gilbert de Weerdt, team manager of Australian squad Cyclingnews.com and the new Performance Director of the merged team, confirmed. "They had the ambition to grow, and we had the same goal," De Weerdt said. "It works out perfectly."

Flèche Wallonne and Tour de France stages winner Danny Willems has been appointed Directeur Sportif of the new team. "We're very pleased to have him on board," Collins said. "Each member of the management team has his part to play, and as I come from the world of business I want the team structure to be as professional as possible, built from the top down. That's how we'll achieve results."

A twelve-man squad has been announced, with a 13th member due to sign at the beginning of December. Both Collins and De Weerdt are very happy with the composition of the new squad, and with the individual riders each team is contributing.

"The riders that stayed with us include Cameron Jennings, who's very reliable and a strong rider," said de Weerdt. "Then we have Jeremy Vennell from New Zealand, who's very talented - we hope that he can make the best of it next year as he's progressing enormously. Kane Oakley and Leigh Palmer are our two irreplaceable helpers, who do a huge amount of work for the team. Sven, my son, has a lot of experience in the Belgian races, which makes him a tactical asset. Tom Barras also stayed with us for his sixth year. Bernie Sulzberger was a guest rider in the Sun Tour, and now we took him over here.

"Initially, the idea was to have six British and six non-British riders," De Weerdt continued when asked about the nationality mix in the squad. "As Tom Barras was already in our team, we now have a majority of British riders."

Russell Downing, celebrating his National Championship
Photo ©: Henry Iddon
Click for larger image

The newly signed Downing brothers, as well as DFL rider Yanto Barker will lead the new team in 2006. "We've added a National champion, a National series circuit champion, the best British rider in the Tour of Britain..." Collins said. "It's a really well-balanced squad, and we have five or six riders in that team that are capable of winning a race, so we're not focusing on one leader only: We were looking for a versatile team."

As for its 2006 racing programme, DFL/Cyclingnews.com is able to plan ahead. "There are plenty of race invites on the table already: The Tour de Beauce in Canada, China, the Tour of Britain, and of course plenty of events allover Europe. We'll participate in 1.1 and 1.2 UCI category races, and definitely more stage races next year. Our goal is a top 20 placing in the European Tour rankings," Collins concluded.

The team roster lists as follows:

Russell Downing (British National Champion), Yanto Barker (GBr), Dean Downing (GBr), Tom Barras (GBr), Alex Coutts (GBr), Matt Brammeier (GBr), Leigh Palmer (GBr/Aus), Sven de Weerdt (Bel), Jeremy Vennell (Nzl), Cameron Jennings (Aus), Kane Oakley (Aus) and Bernie Sulzberger (Aus).

Oceania Road and Track Championships

The Oceania Road and Track Championships are coming up at the end of this month. The annual event will take place in Wanganui, New Zealand, from November 30-December 4, 2005, with the track events scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the Road Time Trials and Races on the weekend.

The 2005 edition is the largest Oceania Champs ever held in New Zealand: a total of six countries and 220 riders are participating, including Sarah Ulmer, 2005 U23 Time Trial bronze medalist Pete Latham and Gordon McCauley, who will be going for triple header of National Road Champ, Tour of Southland winner and now Oceania Road Champ. As the event is important for Commonwealth Games selection, most of NZ’s top cyclists will be there, as well as top Australian riders coming including Athens gold medalists. The NZ Track team will be riding in Wanganui before heading off on Friday to Manchester for Track World Cup.

Queensland's Cycling Grand Prix with McEwen and McGee

Australia’s best cyclists will come together in the first of two Cycling Grand Prix (CGP) events on Sunday, December 4 at South Bank and Sunday, December 11 at Surfers Paradise. Two of the world’s best sprinters, Robbie McEwen and Brad McGee will again meet in this series, fully preparing for their 2006 season, and of course the Australian Road Championships in January.

Queensland’s Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), who reclaimed the Australian Road Race crown in January previously owning it in 2002, is again keen to defend his title. "These ‘crit’ races are really tough and a great preparation looking toward January," said McEwen. "You’ve got some of the world’s best cyclists going round a small course at 50 kpm plus speed - it’s pretty spectacular and I look forward to them every year." McEwen, who is also back to competing on the track at the Sydney Thousand on November 27 at the Dunc Gray velodrome, accumulated eight Giro d'Italia and eight Tour de France stage wins this year, and will undertake in 2006 what he has never before attempted: riding all three Grand Tours in one season.

Nevertheless, McEwen's stranglehold on the Surfers Paradise Criterium was broken last year by the four time Olympic medallist Brad McGee (Française des Jeux). McGee has become the first Australian to wear the 'maillot oro', the leader's gold jersey of the Vuelta a España, and in the process the first Australian to have held the lead in all three Grand Tours.

Another contender of the CGP will be the Brisbane based Kiwi Jaaron Poad. A surprise winner at the Noosa Criterium, edging out Henk Vogels one of the five Australians on the Davitamon-Lotto team, Poad finished third overall in the CGP series last year. With McEwen’s faithful lieutenant Nick Gates sidelined with a broken foot, Vogels will be the workhorse.

Rounding out the top chances are Allan Davis, last year's overall CGP winner, Matt Wilson and Baden Cooke, who both ride with McGee in the French Française des Jeux Team.

The two races in the Queensland Grand Prix Series, featured as a national one hour television special on the Ten Network, will be held in Brisbane around the streets of Grey and Little Stanley at South Bank, and on the Gold Coast around the circuit of Orchid Avenue, The Esplanade and Cavill Avenue. The riders will complete 60 minutes of racing plus three laps.

Amy Gillett Foundation charity ride

On top of this, there will be a Corporate Challenge, B and C Grade race, a Women’s event, as well as the finish of the Amy Gillett Foundation charity ride, which will have begun on December 3 from Maitland and arrive ten days and almost 1000 kilometres later in Brisbane, on Monday, December 12.

The ride is being organised by 2005 Australian Road Champion, Lorian Graham, who was injured in the tragic accident that claimed the life of her team-mate, Amy Gillett in Germany in July this year. She is still undergoing intensive physiotherapy to recover from a serious injury to her right knee in her bid to return to competitive cycling.

Sporting heroes who have committed to support the ride at stages along the route include Robbie McEwen and team mate Henk Vogels, who returned to the European professional circuit this year in the wake of a near fatal crash in June 2003. Also lending support are Olympic swimming gold medallist Duncan Armstrong and triathlete Loretta Harrop.

"The ride aims to raise awareness among motorists and cyclists to promote road safety," said Graham. "We want to represent cyclists of all abilities whether they race, ride for fitness, ride for fun or commute to work on a bike." Preventing needless injuries and deaths on the roads can be done with patience and respect, said Graham. "It's not such a big ask for everyone to be more considerate," she explained. "Cyclists should obey the rules and drivers should be aware of cyclists and exercise caution. What's more important - a couple minutes of your time or someone's life?"

Graham's partner Pete Forbes and his colleague Nick Gallo, both with mining company Runge Limited, are the driving force for the ride and are covering all costs associated with the ride to ensure the maximum amount possible goes to the Foundation.

Lions and Rotary Clubs along the route have also come on board to assist with organisation and fundraising in the local communities. A pool of prizes has been donated for daily raffles and everyone who buys a ticket goes into the draw for a Cannondale Six13 bike, and for some signed sporting memorabilia.

To avoid traffic disruption only a limited number of cyclists will participate at any one time. There are two community rides on offer for others to participate in raising awareness for the Foundation. For information and details of how to donate to the Amy Gillett Foundation please visit the Cycling Australia website at www.cycling.org.au

German Supporters donate 25,000 Euro to Amy Gillett Foundation

Amy Gillett
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

The organisers of the Thüringen Rundfahrt women's race have presented a cheque for 25,000 Euro (AUD 40,000) to the Amy Gillett Foundation at the official launch of the 2006 event in Zeulenroda. The Foundation was established in the wake of the tragic accident in July this year when an out of control car ploughed into the Australian women's cycling team who were training the day before the start of the Thüringen event. Champion cyclist and rower Amy Gillett was killed in the crash and her five team mates were seriously injured.

Retired Australian cyclist, Margaret Hemsley, a three time competitor in the Thüringen stage race, attended the launch to accept the cheque presented by Uwe Jahn, Vice President of the Thüringer Cycling Association. Hemsley and her husband Greg Boorer live in Germany and both travelled to Zeulenroda to support the team in the wake of the accident. Hemsley also has a role as a team physiotherapist and Boorer is a mechanic with the national team.

"The 25,000 Euro includes the prize money of this year's event which the riders and sponsors generously donated," said Hemsley after the presentation. "It also includes public donations, a portion of the profits of the Bad Homburg criterium (one of the post Tour de France criteriums featuring the pro men riders) and money raised by the local football club.

"Thueringen-Rundfahrt Tour Manager, Christian Bergemann, also made a personal contribution of 1,200 Euros," added Hemsley, who also provided an update on the condition of the injured riders at the presentation. "We will never forget the kindness and care we received from people in the Thüringer region. From the first aid of the rescue workers and policemen and the excellent treatment by doctors and hospital staff to the support and best wishes that flooded in from the German people. It was overwhelming and on behalf of the Australian team and their families I thank you again."

Race organisers also confirmed the establishment of the Amy Gillett Memorial Prize to be awarded to the cyclist who best represents the values of fair play and teamwork during the Thüringen Rundfahrt. In 2006, this perpetual trophy will be presented for the first time by Amy's parents Denis and Mary Safe. More information on the race next scheduled for July 18-23 is available on the race website www.thueringenrundfahrt.com

Slovenian National MTB team announced

The Slovenian National MTB Team has reorganized its team structure. National MTB coach Luka Zele announced a new sponsorship deal with Merida as official bike supplier, as he is looking forward to a strong 2006 season and the accomplishment of the team's long-term bid to integrate at least two participants at the next Olympic Games in Beijing.

All riders of the team have committed to this goal by signing until 2008. Team members are: Nina Homovec (U23 women), Tanja Zakelj (3rd in junior women world's), Miha Solar (elite men), Luka Kodra (U23 men), Luka Homovec (junior men), Luka Mezgec (junior men) and Blaza Klemencic (European champion marathon elite women). The team manager is Primoz Strancar, who participated in the Sydney Olympics.

AfriCycle Tour 2006

A new seven-day cycling stage race in South Africa is set to hit the road next year. Running from October 1-7, 2006, AfriCycle Tour is a stage race accessible to all levels of amateur cycling enthusiasts, both local and international. Riders are invited to enter as two-rider teams or as a corporate four-rider team, with entries limited to 1000 riders. Categories include Men, Women, Mixed and Masters.

The route in the Mpumalanga province takes riders through the Blyde River Canyon, the Witrivier area, bordering the fertile Crocodile River valley and ends at the Kruger National Park. Stages range from 90-150 km per day and include relatively flat sections, rolling hills and climbs, totalling a race distance of approximately 700 km.

For more information on the race and online entries, go to www.africycle.co.za

R&A Cycles workshop

On Friday, December 9 at 7:30 pm, R&A Cycles in Brooklyn, New York, will be holding an exclusive workshop with Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervelo Cycles, the bike brand used by Danish ProTeam CSC. This workshop will cover all things Cervelo ranging from the importance of aerodynamics to the appropriate bike fit for triathletes and time trialists. Seating is limited.

On Saturday December 10, Vroomen will again attend R&A Cycles to answer questions. For clients purchasing a P3Carbon or P2SL bike from R&A Cycles between November 28-December 9, there is the opportunity to have Vroomen personally help to fit their new machines. Fitting slots are limited so RSVP for your bike purchase and fit early.

For more information, go to www.racycles.com

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