First Edition Cycling News for October 19, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke
McGee stays put
But will La Grande Boucle continue to elude him?
By Anthony Tan
After bringing three other Australians to the team where he started his professional career six years ago, only to see each of them leave at the end of this season, it appears likely that Bradley McGee will find himself the lone Australian rider in the Française des Jeux line-up for 2006.
"That's just astounding if that's how it ends up - it's gone from having four Aussies to one," said his bemused manager Kerry Ruffels to Cyclingnews. "Brad has opened up the door for so many other Aussies on so many other teams because of the success of the Aussies. Now, they're considered to be worthwhile to have a look at."
For those having trouble keeping up with the transfer season, Française des Jeux sprinter Baden Cooke and all-rounder Matt Wilson have signed for Continental Pro Team Unibet.com (formerly MrBookmaker.com), and ex-track star Mark Renshaw is staying in France, but moving to rival team Crédit Agricole.
Unibet chases Simoni in late ProTour bid hope
By Shane Stokes
Capitalising on the fallout from the collapse of Giancarlo Ferretti's planned Sony Ericsson squad, the Unibet.com team has revealed that it is in negotiations with double Tour of Italy winner Gilberto Simoni. Simoni showed his current excellent form when he finished a close second to Paolo Bettini in last Saturday's Tour of Lombardy, and the Unibet.com team - currently known as MrBookmaker.com - is hoping that the signing of the Italian would help it earn a place in the ProTour in 2006.
According to a press release from the Belgian team, manager Hilaire Van der Schueren and Paul Degeyter of the SEM management agency are in discussions with several riders about a place on the team for next year.
"The two men are in contact with several riders," confirmed team director general Koen Terryn in the release. "In particular with Gilberto Simoni, two time champion of the Tour of Italy and second this year, plus the Quesada brothers who took eight victories in 2005 and an impressive fifth place in the final classification of the Vuelta. These are our favourites."
"If we succeed in attracting these riders we will apply immediately to the ProTour. I presume then that we would be favourite for the 20th and final licence."
Terryn will be aware that their application is very late, but he uses every argument at his disposal to argue the team's case. "I cannot believe that they [the UCI licencing commission] could offer five licences to France and only two to Belgium. That would show a certain lack of respect for our country and its tradition of cycling, in particular as it was always the goal of the UCI to globalise the sport of cycling.
"Unibet.com is a European company quoted on the stock exchange, which is active in 11 countries. The accounts of the companies are audited, as are those of the cycling team. I believe that these are things which the UCI hold in high regard."
Van der Schueren feels that the strength of the team should play a part in the UCI's decision. "At the moment we are waiting for the signature of Simoni and the Quesada brothers to apply to the UCI," he said. "Don't forget that we already have such big names as Baden Cooke, previous winner of the green jersey, as well as 2005 Tour of Burgos winner Juan Carlos Dominguez. As late as yesterday, we signed Marco Zanotti. And let's not forget our joker VDB!"
However, according to UCI rules, Unibet.com would appear to have missed the boat. When asked by Cyclingnews last week if any teams other than Comunidad Valenciana, Sony Ericsson and Ag2R Prévoyance were in the running, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf confirmed that those three teams were the only ones who had applied for a licence in time. Comunidad Valenciana had already withdrawn their application by that point, while the Sony Ericsson project was just two days from its collapse.
"MrBookmaker.com is not a candidate," said Rumpf last week. "The deadline for lodging an application was the 31st of May and they did not do that."
Russian rider Pavel Tonkov (Team LPR) has announced his retirement. In a statement on his website, the 37-year-old said he had been thinking of retiring for the last three years, and now the time had come.
"I had a long life on the bicycle, a long and beautiful career," said Tonkov. "I am very satisfied and I thank cycling for all that it has given me. Now, I must leave my place to make way for younger riders who are coming up."
Saturday's Giro di Lombardia was therefore Tonkov's last day in the professional peloton, but he is not intending to leave cycling. "I am saying 'au revoir' but not 'adieu'," he said.
"I am ending my job as a racing cyclist," said Tonkov, "but not [my involvement in] the sport. I am always looking to the future and I still see my future in cycling." Tonkov added that he intended to remain involved with his team and pass on the experience he had gained in a long career as a cyclist.
Born in 1969 in Ishevsk, Russia, Tonkov was a very successful amateur with 110 victories including the 1988 Hessen Rundfahrt, the 1989 Tour of Czechoslovakia and the 1991 Tour of Chile. He turned professional in 1992 for the RUSS-Baikal and Lampre-Colnago teams, winning best young rider in the Giro d'Italia that year. He went on to ride for a variety of teams, mostly in Italy including various incarnations of the Lampre and Mapei squads and, in 2001, the ill-starred Mercury-Viatel team.
High points of Tonkov's 17-year professional career include overall victory in the 1996 Giro d'Italia, 1995 Tour of Switzerland and 1997 Tour de Romandie. He also took stage wins in the Giro, Tour of Switzerland, Tour du Midi Libre, Tour de Romandie, and Vuelta a Espana.
In 2004, riding for Vini Caldirola, he proved he still had what it takes when he won a stage of the Giro d'Italia, gesturing aggressively as he crossed the line. "It was only a gesture of rage against the journalists, that did not consider a protagonist in the Giro any more," he said. His last professional win was a stage of the Clásica Internacional Alcobendas in May of this year.
Tonkov took time in his announcement of his retirement to thank the fans who stand by the roadside to cheer on the racers. "if the supporters did not exist, this sport would not work," he said. "In races, I always thought about all these people that waited for us for hours, under the sun and rain, and I thought, 'the poor things'. The greatest thing about this sport of cycling is the passion that fills the racers and the fans."
Tonkov concluded with some advice to young racers. He said that young racers had told him that the had kindled their interest in cycling and that if had caused youngsters to find a vocation in cycling, "my career would have succeeded beyond my wildest hopes." Young riders, he said, should "be patient, learn, listen to their parents and the director of their club, to consider him as a teacher."
Bart Voskamp bows out quietly
Dutch professional Bart Voskamp is another who has announced a low-key transition to retirement.
The 37-year-old, who turned professional in 1993 and rode for various incarnations of the TVM squad until 1999 before riding for teams such as BankGiroLoteri and Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf knew he was going to quit at the end of this year, and was prepared mentally for retirement. He didn't want a big farewell, preferring instead to take a walk around Groningen with some friends. He cites a Tour de France stage win, two Vuelta stage wins and victory in the Tour of Belgium as the highlights of his career. He was Dutch national time trial champion in 1999 and 2001.
The state of his team in 2005, Skil-Moser, helped convince him that the time was right to stop, saying, "Now, I am 37; consequently it's also a good time to stop - the organisation of my team Skil-Moser was not so good and the sponsor stopped their support of it." He isn't ruling out staying involved in professional cycling, possibly as a part of team management - but believes he needs to find what he has a talent for before committing himself to career in that field.
Amsterdam six-day serious business for Schep
For Dutch rider Peter Schep, riding the Amsterdam Six-Day isn't just a fun way to end a busy season, but serious business in itself, and he could be forgiven for being a little nervous on the start line. Schep makes his living from riding the six-day events, and is also aiming to ride in Beijing in 2008 for his fourth Olympic Games appearance. And every opportunity to make a living and train, including this one in Amsterdam, must be taken.
In previous years Schep has focused on the team pursuit and the points race. At the world championships in March, he won silver in the teams pursuit, which was an improvement on the Netherlands team's fifth place at the 2004 Olympics, where Schep also took seventh in the points race. "I know it's possible to make further progress in my racing," said Schep. "I don't want to go to Beijing just to compete in four Olympic Games, I want to go there to win a medal."
But Beijing is still three years away and for 28-year-old Schep, who these days lives together with Dutch judo representative Edith Bosch, there's the reality of making a living. "Riding six-day meetings has to become my profession. That sounds negative, but it's the reality of the situation." said Schep. Schep says that making a living from six-day racing is not always easy, as contracts to ride each meet aren't always guaranteed, although this season according to organisers he'll be riding six six-day events, including Amsterdam and Gent.
In the meantime Schep also has to prepare for the world cup competitions that begin shortly and the world championships, to be held next April in Bordeaux. "The six-day season finishes at the end of February, beginning of March. You then have a month to specifically prepare for worlds. That preparation has to be good, too." At the Amsterdam six-day he's been partnered with Australian rider Scott McGrory, and after the first day's competition they lie in fifth place - much like the riders of previous generations, however, Schep's hoping that he and McGrory can perform consistently over the remaining days to make sure he can continue to make his living from riding on the track.
Lampre-Caffita for Japan Cup
The Lampre team has won four of the last five Japan Cups, and is hoping to add to the tally on Sunday in the race's fourteenth edition. Damiano Cunego will head the five-man team. Team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said, "The Japan Cup is a difficult race and Damiano will do his best to end this season with a great win."
Cunego will be supported by Alessandro Ballan, Marco Marzano, Morris Possoni and Patxi Vila.
VMG racing and ABN AMRO to create new squad
VMG have recently severed ties with Aerospace racing (formerly the Aerospace-VMG pro team) due to "a difference of philosophy" and will form an independent professional team. The Aerospace-VMG squad collaborated with riders from Serbia, their most notable performer being Ivan Stevic, with several podium finishes in 2005.
VMG, a non-profit company that funds developing athletes as well as various sports charities and organisations, have teamed up with financial company ABN AMRO to create what is hoped will eventually be a top-line US UCI continental team. Their vision is to create an Under 23 developmental squad providing training and for up-and-coming US and Bahamian riders.
General Manager of VMG racing, Scott Hirshorn, has a strong vision for the venture, saying, "we hope to build a programme known for its highest level of sportsmanship and ethics for young riders to develop into the champions of tomorrow."
Vallery awarded top bike messenger award
The International Federation of Bike Messenger Association's Markus Cook Memorial Award (MCA) is awarded annually for services to the international messenger community. The MCA was conceived as a way for the international messenger community to thank it's most tireless workers, with the recipient of this year's MCA being Jean Andre Vallery of Sarasota, Florida.
Vallery is being honored for his work with the Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund (BMEF) and will be awarded the MCA on October 18 at a meeting of the Sarasota Bicycle/Pedestrian/Trail Advisory Committee in the Sarasota County Administration Building.
The MCA was inaugurated in 1998 to honour the memory of Markus Cook (aka Fur), a key figure in the San Francisco messenger scene, and one of the leaders of the international messenger community. His great dream was to bring the Cycle Messenger World Championships to San Francisco in 1996, but never lived to see his dream realised. He died January 3, 1996, aged 35, of an accidental heroin overdose.
In 1994 Cook came up with the idea of a fund for bicycle messengers, believing that a few dollars from each courier per week could be siphoned into "some kind of emergency fund thing." From there the fund was born with its intention to strengthen the messenger community in a variety of ways. Vallery's work with this fund means he continues a tradition in an industry that has been described as the most hazardous in North America.
Scholarship for top Kiwi mountain biker
New Zealand's top female mountain Rosara Joseph is one of three New Zealanders to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to the UK's Oxford University.
The reigning New Zealand cross-country MTB champion, Joseph studied law at Canterbury University, but now lives and works in Wellington. She will take her place at Oxford in October 2006 to spend nine months studying for a BSL, the equivalent of a masters degree in law. In the meantime, she is expected to represent New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia and at the 2006 world championships, which will be held in New Zealand for the first time..
"I found out last week that I was selected for [a Rhodes Scholarship] and I am absolutely over the moon," Joseph said. "I still plan to race while I am in Europe, but at the moment my focus is on the upcoming season which promises to be one of the toughest and exciting New Zealand has had for a while."
Rhodes Scholarships are awarded for a combination of academic excellence, physical prowess and strength of character. Well-known former Rhodes Scholars include former US president Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, and philosopher EF Schumacher.
Biggest ever Bicycling Australia Show
Organisers of this year's Bicycling Australia Show are touting it as a festival of cycling not to be missed, and with a new location at The Dome, Sydney Olympic Park, more entertainment and more exhibitors than ever before it's expected to be the biggest yet. The show takes place on October 22 and 23 (plus a trade-only day on October 21), with racing, recreational events, and plenty of the latest cycling gear to keep patrons entertained.
There are seminars, exhibitors and test bikes available, plus the opportunity to meet top Australian riders such as Matt White, Simon Gerrans and MTB Downhill star Nathan Rennie, along with Olympic riders Anna and Kerrie Meares and Sara Carrigan. They'll be at the Cycling Australia/SBS Television stand to sign autographs and chat with fans before SBS presenter Mike Tomalaris conducts on-stage interviews with the riders each day.
Cyclingnews.com will be at the show, so drop by and say 'hi' - and grab the chance to pick up a bargain from our range of DVDs, posters and clothing, which you can browse in advance at the Cyclingnews shop.
There are also on-bike events for riders, with a criterium on October 22 along the Olympic Boulevard starting at 11am, and the Portfolio Partners Sydney Spring Cycle, which starts at 7am October 23 at St Leonards Park and finishes at the doors of The Dome later that day. By joining the ride, visitors will receive a discount on entry to the show.
For fans of the dirt, the opening round of the 2005/06 National Mountain Cross Series will take place on Friday October 21 at 7pm, with a brand new purpose-built course the centerpiece of the event. A minimum of $5000 cash prizes are up for grabs courtesy of Bicycling Australia, with free admission for spectators and all competitors receiving two free passes to the Bicycling Australia Show. The NSW Wheelchair Sports Association will also be conducting Come 'N' Try hand cycling plus 5km and 20km races for the experts at Yulang, which is located in front of the Novotel Hotel.
Visitors have the chance to win either a Trek 2000 road bike or a Fuel EX7 dual suspension mountain bike, along with accessories to a total prize value of over $4,500 when they attend. For more information about the Bicycling Australia Show and related events, visit www.bicyclingaustralia.com.
Bicycling Australia Show dates
When: Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 October, 2005
Bicycling Australia Mountain Cross
When: Friday 21 October 2005
Portfolio Partners Sydney Spring Cycle
When: Sunday 23 October, 2005
Festival of Cycling
When: Sunday 23 October, 2005
Thread City Cyclo-cross
The fourth annual Thread City Cyclo-cross will take place Saturday October 22 at Mansfield Hollow State Park in Mansfield, CT. Although the Mansfield Hollow venue has hosted cyclo-cross races dating back to the early 1980's, the historic course will have a new look this year thanks in part to local flooding that has placed the old course 40 feet underwater.
The new course will feature many of the same torturous run-ups, some technical off-camber sections as well as plenty of interesting turns. The new course promises to be faster and even more spectator friendly than the old course.
The competition looks to be fierce for the 2005 version of the Thread City Cyclo-cross Race as several current and past national champions have confirmed their participation in selected categories. For more information or to register for the Thread City Cyclo-cross Race, please go to www.BikeReg.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)