Latest Edition Cycling News for October 4, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Les Clarke
ProTour: too many races?
By Hedwig Kröner
With the end of the 2005 season drawing near, a new president of the UCI selected and the three Grand Tours' participation in the ProTour being a provisional settlement, many details of the latter race calendar are still subject to criticism and will be discussed in the near future. With the proclaimed goal of the series being 'All the top teams and top riders to the top races', many questions have been raised over this inaugural season of the ProTour, one of them concerning the number of events the calendar includes.
Gregorio Moreno, the director of the Vuelta a Burgos, who was also a candidate to the UCI presidency, told Spanish newspaper AS that his vision of a top pro cycling calendar is different to the current situation. "You have to oblige the elite to participate in a series of races, but not in the 27 of the ProTour," he said. "For example, I would create specialty classifications: the best of the Grand Tours, the best of the classics... That would be better than to mix them all, because the result is that Di Luca, the first winner [of the ProTour] hasn't raced the Tour."
Moreno also talked about the difficulties the Continental Circuit races are experiencing in the reform. "The second division races have to assume their category, but in order for them to be able to survive, the conditions of participation of the first category teams have to regularised," Moreno continued. "One possibility would be that the so-called ProTeams wouldn't have to race the whole of the ProTour calendar, but only 70 percent," adding, "We have to try and get the best riders in the best races, not the best teams."
The 2005 season has showed that not all of the top races attracted the team's top riders, with many pros still focussing on their specialty events. While some might argue that the days where the likes of Eddy Merckx raced during the whole season are certainly over and would be impossible to realise nowadays, others say that many races overlap time-wise, and that the smaller races get sidelined in the process.
French ProTeam Crédit Agricole's manager Roger Legeay, for example, recently complained in L'Equipe that his team was forced to drop the 1.HC-rated French event GP des Fourmies on September 11 because his team was busy in ProTour races. "At the time, we didn't have enough riders to create a team because we had one in the Vuelta, the Tour de l'Avenir just finished and the Tour of Poland about to begin," Legeay said. "Mathematically, it was impossible." With most ProTeams having 25-28 riders available, a minimum of 25 being imposed by the UCI, three simultaneous events represent their maximum capacities, with all the consequences this has on the smaller races.
And the riders in all of this? German pro Jens Voigt (Team CSC), who has just been appointed as the CPA representative on the ProTour Council and the UCI Road Commission, told French Vélo Magazine that the high number of ProTour races resulted in the peloton's exhaustion. "There are too many races," Voigt said. "How can we change that now? Which organiser would accept not being included next year? We'll have to go with it, but we already see what's happening: everybody wins [with the ProTour], except the riders.
"In the Tour of Poland, 160 riders started in Gdansk and 70 finished in Karpacz," the tall German underlined his statements. "Everybody was exhausted. Before the ProTour, the peloton could ease up a little after the Tour de France and come back for the end of the season. This year, there was the Tour of Benelux right after it, the Tour of Germany, then the Vuelta, the classics... Really, it's much, much harder."
Voigt, who believes that the ProTour makes the riders specialise on certain races even more, added that the reform took place too fast and that everybody in the teams - including the assistants - suffered from it. "It's hard also on the teams' staff: since the Tour de France, how many have taken a holiday? With the ProTour, [...] the teams are more serious but there's also much more stress, more pressure and more nervousness."
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Salon du Cycle celebrates the Tour and more
The 2005 edition of the Salon International du Cycle got underway on October 1, but with press allowed in the previous day, Cyclingnews took a little walk around the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles to see what takes the fancy of the French this year. This two-wheel extravaganza is repeating its "two shows, one event" theme, and will once again feature two specialised "two-wheeler" sections - the bicycle show from October 1-4, run simultaneously with the motorcycle show, which stretches the festival of two wheels until October 9.
Zipp, SRAM, Kuota and Lapierre make an appearance at the show, with lots of Tour de France 'specials' featured, including Michael Rasmussen's polka dot jersey, Thor Hushovd's green jersey and bike (complete with Ksyrium ES wheelset) and Bastille Day stage winner David Moncoutie. Moncoutie became the darling of French cycling as a Frenchman winning on the national day, and with changes at his Cofidis team, he's sure to take on a greater leadership role next season.
Fresh off his MTB world championship win, Olympic champion Julien Absalon was smiling for the cameras in Paris - another show favourite as France's most exciting cycling prospect, particularly in the MTB world. Tom Boonen's world championship-winning Time machine made an appearance, complete with race number and very comfy-looking white Regal saddle. Campagnolo unleashed the latest update of their premium Bora wheelset - the Bora Ultra set weighs just 1285 grams, which shaves a few grams off this year's version.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Régis Garnier/www.velofotopro.fr.st
Phonak signs top Swiss U23 rider
Team Phonak has announced the signing of the best Swiss U23 rider at the 2005 World Championships. The young rider from Ticino, Steve Morabito (VC Mendrisio), 8th-place finisher in Madrid, was given a two-year contract by ARcycling AG, the company managing the ProTeam. "It's great that in spite of offers from other top teams Steve has decided in favour of us," manager John Lelangue said.
With the addition of Morabito, there are now 26 riders under contract for the new season: Aurélien Clerc (Sui), Martin Elmiger (Sui), Gregory Rast (Sui), Johann Tschopp (Sui), Alexandre Moos (Sui), Sascha Urweider (Sui), David Vitoria (Sui), Steve Zampieri (Sui), Florian Stalder (Sui), Steve Morabito (Sui), Axel Merckx (Bel), Koos Moerenhout (Hol), Luis Fernandez Oliveira (Spa), José Enrique Gutierrez (Spa), Ignacio Gutierrez (Spa), Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa), Santiago Botero (Col), Victor Hugo Peña (Col), Floyd Landis (USA), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Bert Grabsch (Ger), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Uros Murn (Slo), Robert Hunter (RSA) and Fabrizio Guidi (Ita).
Oriol ends career
Ag2r's Christophe Oriol will end his career as a professional bike rider. The 32 year-old's last official race is scheduled to be the Herald Sun Tour in Australia from October 9-15. Oriol started his career seven years ago and won a stage of the 1999 Dauphiné Libéré.
Ag2r for next races
French team Ag2r has announced its roster for the next-up events. At Paris-Bourges on October 6 and Paris-Tour on October 9, the squad directed by Vincent Lavenu will line up the following riders: Samuel Dumoulin, Yuriy Krivtsov, Lloyd Mondory, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Christophe Riblon, Mark Scanlon, Aliaksandr Usau and Tomas Vaitkus.
In Italy at the Giro dell'Emilia and the G.P. Beghelli taking place on October 8 and 9 respectively, Ag2r will be represented by: Mikel Astarloza, Inigo Chaurreau, Cyril Dessel, Philip Deignan, Stéphane Poulhies, Blaise Sonnery and Ludovic Turpin.
Finally, the team announced its line-up for the Herald Sun Tour in Australia. From October 9-15, Andy Flickinger, Simon Gerrans, Christophe Oriol, Nicolas Portal and Erki Putsep will race the event "down under".
Lampre and Liquigas rosters
Italian teams Lampre-Caffita and Liquigas-Bianchi have communicated their selection for the Italian races Coppa Sabatini (October 6), Giro dell'Emilia (October 8) and the G.P. Beghelli (October 9).