Latest Cycling News for November 26, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan
ProTour can go it alone, says McQuaid
Following an interview conducted in La Provence earlier this week, UCI president Pat McQuaid clarified on Friday the governing body's position regarding the future of the ProTour series. Speaking to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes, McQuaid corrected suggestions that two rival circuits could be in place in 2007.
"There is a bit of confusion in one or two articles [since the La Provence interview] as they mention a separate circuit will be put in place," he stated. "To clarify, there is not going to be a separate circuit, there is going to be a separate world calendar. There will only be one circuit, so to speak, which will be the ProTour."
McQuaid had made the headlines in recent days when he suggested that the ongoing standoff between cycling's world governing body and the organisers of the three Grand Tours could result in the ProTour continuing without their events in 2007. When the Irishman took office two months ago he was hopeful that the fresh start would enable the difficulties surrounding the new series to be resolved, but after some initially positive discussions, the UCI was known to have been deeply frustrated by ASO's stance during the launch of the 2006 Tour de France route.
ASO and the other Grand Tour organisers have expressed their dissatisfaction with several aspects of the ProTour as it currently stands. Two of the issues thought to be concerned are the lack of a system of promotion and relegation which would enable teams to move up from cycling's first division, and also the small number of wildcard places available.
McQuaid said that the UCI is still willing to sit down and discuss the ProTour with the Grand Tour organisers, but that greater flexibility would need to be shown on their part. "They are going to have to get off the fence. At the moment they are not prepared to budge an inch," he stated, pointing out that ASO president Patrice Clerc had said at the Tour presentation that they would refuse to be part of the ProTour as it currently stands.
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USA Cycling increasing collegiate focus
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
It is not difficult to see that there are many differences between cycling in the U.S. and across the pond - not least of which is how young riders develop into professionals. While chances for racing as a junior or espoir abound in Europe, the opportunities in the U.S. have been historically much slimmer. However, there are some differences that could actually be beneficial for developing new talent in the U.S. - namely the higher education system. USA Cycling (USAC) just announced that a new position has been created to significantly develop collegiate cycling opportunities in the U.S. for both men and women.
The National Collegiate Cycling Association (NCCA) is the arm of USAC that governs collegiate cycling. Since it is not a NCAA varsity sport, the millions of dollars that flow through big-time college athletic departments are not available to college cycling teams. To date, the NCCA has been more of a secondary focus for USAC, only partially led by people in the organization in their spare time. "We've always taken it seriously," said Andy Lee, USAC's communication director.
"It's just a matter of putting someone in charge of growing that aspect of the sport. We finally have the resources to increase that market. One of USAC's initiatives is to grow the collegiate side in terms of membership and development. One of the challenges the sport has is keeping the development flowing."
"I've been trying for the last couple of years to put more into collegiate cycling," explained USA Cycling's CEO Gerard Bisceglia. "We've had some nice growth, but it's been people doing it on the side or as volunteers. I really believe it's going to take someone thinking every day on how to make collegiate cycling more relevant."
The growth refers to is about 250 teams nationwide. And while that is an increase, taking into account the high rate of turnover that comes with college programs means the sustainability is less. "The other thing we have to look at is creating perpetuity," said Bisceglia. "When riders graduate teams often fall by the wayside."
That is where this new role will focus a lot of attention. "It will never be a 'mainstream' sport because it's not a NCAA sport," said Lee. "But at the collegiate level, it can be a big club sport. Right now, a lot of teams were started by one or two people. And we want more support from the university level. This person is going to have a hand in all sorts of things, helping with events, recruiting athletes. This year we had just over 800 start at the three national championships."
One of the by-products of moving from high school to college in America is the exponential decrease in athletic opportunities, which Bisceglia says is an opportunity to bring new athletes into cycling. "The competition level gets much more narrow from the jump high school to college. And there are a lot of talented athletes out there not playing varsity sports."
The hope for Bisceglia and USAC is that a richer collegiate system will produce a larger crop of elite athletes - allowing junior riders that also want to pursue their education a chance to keep developing and to bring new athletes into cycling as well. "I think it is a great for development of elite athletes," he said.
In addition, collegiate cycling is a key component in producing elite female cyclists. "I think it is the most fundamental proving ground for women, especially for elite identification," Bisceglia said. "A lot of the current women did not pick up the sport until really late. I love that it's men and women competing on the same team.
If all goes as planned, college cycling could do what no trade team can - derive sustainability using what other big-time college sports use - school spirit. "I love that [the team-mates] are all rooting for each other," said Bisceglia. "They bring their own crowds - the entire team shows up at the beginning of the day and stay for everyone's race. And from an American sports standpoint, you are rooting for your school or town instead of a trade team."
Click here for more information about the position with USAC.
Illiano stays with Selle Italia
Team manager of Colombia - Selle Italia, Gianni Savio, has confirmed that Italian rider Raffaele Illiano has renewed his contract with the team for the 2006 season. The 28 year-old is best known for winning the Intergiro competition at the 2004 Giro d'Italia.
Darren Shea down for Christchurch cycling festival
Close to 800 riders, both elite and recreational, have signed up for next weekend's Armstrong Prestige Festival of Cycling. The two-day event features a 75k ride on Saturday, December 3 and an inner-city criterium on Sunday, December 4.
This inaugural event has recently attracted interest from Christchurch's world junior team pursuit champion Darren Shea, the third world champion to enter along with New Zealand's Greg Henderson and Australian Katie Mactier. 18 year-old Shea, earmarked as one of New Zealand's rising stars, is said to be riding the Armstrong Prestige Festival of Cycling as preparation for the summer season, which he hopes might include selection for the next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
The 75k Armstrong Prestige Harbour Ride starts at Centennial Park and heads out through Halswell and Taitapu Road to Motukarara before heading over Gebbies Pass. The course then undulates through Lyttleton Harbour's northern bays, climbing over Evans Pass for a final stretch through Sumner and back around the foothills to the Centennial Park finish line.
The following morning, the Armstrong Prestige City Criterium will bring a taste of European cycling to Christchurch with an exciting morning of multi-lap racing around the inner-city Oxford Terrace café strip. The event will feature world class racing, but also grades for riders of any ability, including a celebrity tandem fundraising race for Cure Kids NZ.
More details: www.festivalofcycling.co.nz.
AfriCycle Tour to debut October 2006
A seven day amateur stage race held in the Mpumalanga Province of Africa will make its debut in October next year, named the AfriCycle Tour. Held from October 1-7, 2006, riders are invited to enter as two-rider teams or as a corporate four-rider team (entries are limited to 1000 riders). Categories include men, women, mixed, and masters.
The route has been designed to embrace the fascinating landscape of the Mpumalanga province and 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 to 150km per day and include relatively flat sections, rolling hills and climbs, totalling a race distance of approximately 700 kilometres.
Entry is R4,500 per rider and accommodation R600 per rider for a 7-day basic package. For upgrades and all-inclusive travel packages contact email@example.com.
More information: www.africycle.co.za or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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