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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 20, 2005

Edited by Les Clarke and Hedwig Kröner

Yaxley making solid progress

By Les Clarke

Louise Yaxley with Paul Brosnan
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Louise Yaxley, one of the riders seriously injured when the AIS women's squad were hit by a car in Germany on July 19, a tragedy that took the life of team-mate Amy Gillet, is making solid progress in her rehabilitation, albeit slow.

"I'm halfway to being fully recovered," said Yaxley from her home in Launceston, Tasmania, following an afternoon water physiotherapy session. "It's slow progress, but it's happening, and we're still not sure how much extension I can get in my arms just yet."

Yaxley suffered severe injuries to her legs and arms in the accident, and although her legs have healed very quickly, her arms are still quite some way from full recovery. "My left wrist was severely damaged, and I've got seven screws in there. I can feel them moving about - but it's better than having my wrist fused, which is what they normally do."

Louise Yaxley at the start of the TT stage at the Tour de l'Aude in May 2005
Photo ©: Philippe Volle
Click for larger image

Yaxley is already walking up to two hours a day, and she hopes to be running soon. "I try and do two sessions of at least 40 minutes a day," said Yaxley, "when I'm finished I look at my watch and make sure I've completed a full session."

In the next few weeks the 24-year-old Tasmanian will visit the plastic surgeon, which is "a big mental step." But it's a big part of the recovery process, albeit a scary one. "I think the thing I'm worried about the most is wearing knicks again. My arms and legs were pretty badly damaged, and I don't think the actual riding will be the problem, it'll be having people see the scars," said Yaxley. Even though the speed of her recovery has plateaued lately, Yaxley says that the speed of her recovery in the first three months after the crash has "surprised everybody."

But it's time for the hard yards now, and Yaxley knows it, saying, "The doctors couldn't believe it [the speed of her initial recovery], but the lengthier healing starts now." Doctors are still not sure how much she'll be able to extend her arms, affecting her ability to hold onto handlebars.

She's staying enthusiastic, however, and using her recovery so far as motivation for the battles ahead. "Staying positive is the only way to be. I think how lucky I am to be here. Amy [Gillett, Yaxley's teammate who died in the accident] wasn't so lucky, but I have been, so I have to stay positive."

Yaxley's recovery has been very ably assisted by boyfriend Mike, and parents Annette and Brian. With Mike returning to work, Yaxley's mother has become a home nurse for her daughter. "Mum's moved in and is like a home nurse. I haven't got much strength back yet, so mum helps out and she's been excellent. Everyone's been unbelievable."

There's extra motivation for recovery: "They've got a new a new Avanti Carbonia waiting for me at the TIS (Tasmanian Institute of Sport), but I've been told I have to be able to wrap the bar tape properly before I can have it. I've got the squeezing balls out, strengthening my arms for that already!"

Yaxley would be keen to use her experiences to raise awareness of cyclists' safety in the media, and although she hasn't been approached to do anything officially, she lets people know how important the safety of cyclists is.

"Anytime I get the opportunity - when friends are around or something like that - I let people know how important safety is. I don't let my boyfriend use his phone in the car, because it was probably that kind of distraction that caused the accident in Germany."

And Yaxley's aware that safety affects the motorist as well. "There are two sides to the coin. The drivers have to live with what's happened for the rest of their lives. Safety's definitely something that has to be pushed."

(Also see the AIS women's diary.)

UCI Gives Tour de Georgia Bump to Hors Category

By Mark Zalewski

Organizers of the Tour de Georgia announced that the four year-old race will now be categorized as a Hors Category stage race (2.HC) with the Union Cycliste International (UCI), making it the only North American stage race with this classification.

The race stages and routes have yet to be released by Medalist Sports, even though that was expected back in mid-September.

Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports told Cyclingnews that the new date for the route announcement will now be in mid-November. Over the short history of the race, won this year by Discovery's Tom Danielson, more and more European teams have been coming across the pond to give the top domestic teams a challenge as well as to give the North American sponsors and fans an up-close look at the team (see 2005 race section).

It's expected that the increase in UCI points on offer will certainly help persuade other teams to consider racing in the US in April as a warm-up to the Grand Tours.

"USA Cycling is pleased that the UCI has elevated the status so that it receives special attention internationally. The rating is significant to continue the recognition the event deserves from athletes, media and spectators with a global focus," said USA Cycling's CEO Gerard Bisceglia.

An interview with Ben Kersten

Doing things differently

Taking time to reflect
Photo ©: Les Clarke
Click for larger image

With the Kilo now cut from the 2008 Olympic track cycling programme, Sydney rider Ben Kersten is exploring the avenues of endurance track riding. After being an innocent party caught in the crossfire of the Mark French affair before last year's Olympics, Kersten set himself the task of becoming the country's best 1km TT specialist, taking great form into this year's world championships in Los Angeles. Things didn't go according to plan in LA, and with the IOC and UCI deciding his favourite event couldn't be accommodated at the 2008 games in Beijing, the 24-year-old from Kiama, on the NSW south coast had to rearrange his racing and training. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke caught up with Kersten as he prepares for next month's Sydney Thousand track carnival.

It wasn't going to be easy changing from sprint events to an endurance programme, but under the guidance of NSW Institute of Sport head coach Gary Sutton, Kersten is more determined than ever to put the last couple of years behind him and become one of Australia's best endurance riders. Having moved from the AIS track cycling headquarters in Adelaide to Sydney after the 2003 world's, Kersten is now in better shape physically and mentally, saying "I wasn't really happing in Adelaide. I wasn't really getting along with people, and my results reflected this. It was a good move coming up here to Sydney. I'm a lot more relaxed and it's working well."

Obviously disappointed with the decision to scrap the Kilo, Kersten has set about reinventing himself into an endurance rider, with a programme more oriented towards riding longer distances. "I've now got more of an endurance programme, and I race a lot more, which is different to down in Adelaide. I use the racing as training and in Adelaide you don't really get to do that," said Kersten. "Pretty much everything is different here in Sydney, and it's working well. There are different doctors and sports scientists, and I'm doing a mix of longer and shorter stuff for training."

For the full interview with Ben Kersten, click here.

Keisse and Gilmore out of rhythm

World championship medal winners Iljo Keisse and Matthew Gilmore, stars of the Sixdays track racing scene, have started their first event in this European winter season in Amsterdam, but fell behind one lap on overall standings already on the first night. The two Belgians still have to "find their rhythm", as Keisse explained to Belgian Sporza Radio.

"We couldn't train a lot on the track and now we're paying for it," said Keisse. "But it's not an endurance problem, it's the short efforts that break us. We're finished for this event, but by the end of the week, we have to find our rhythm."

The pair still holds another race as a season goal: the Gent Sixday, taking place in the Flemish University town from November 22-27. "After the medals in the European Championship (Gold) and in the World's (Bronze), we're focusing on Gent this season," Keisse added. "But the deception at the Olympic Games in Athens is completely over." Keisse and Gilmore finished the Olympic Madison in 11th spot.

Topping the current overall standings after three evenings of racing in Amsterdam is the Swiss team of Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart, who will be battle it out with the Dutch riders Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, only one point behind.

Lademann returns to Tasmania this Christmas

German track cycling star Christian Lademann has confirmed he will again ride at this year's Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series. The former Olympic medallist is a proven track performer and impressed the crowds at last year's carnivals.

Lademann is a regular Six Day cycling star and the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania organising committee is extremely pleased that he'll return to ride again in races around Tasmania in December and January (see the SCAT site for details).

SCAT President Grant Atkins believes that after last year's experience, the German will be a rider to watch in the big races. Riding from the scratch mark, Lademann is confident that this year he can break though for a major win.

Trial over Pantani's death started

About year and a half after his tragic death in a hotel room in Rimini, Italy, the trial against three drug dealers has begun in that same town yesterday. Three of five persons incriminated for having sold the "Pirate" the deadly cocaine dose on the day of his death are risking imprisonment sentences. A jail sentence of four years and ten months has been requested for alleged dealer Fabio Miradossa (29), while Ciro Veneruso (31) may serve up to three years and ten months behind bars. The owner of a model agency, Fabio Carlino (27) is also accused of having provided the logistical support for the drug deal which led to Pantani's death on February 14, 2004.

A Peruvian barman, Alfonso Gerado Ramirez Cueva, and Pantani's girlfriend at the time, Russian Elena Korovina, are also being held responsible of complicity in the drug trafficking. The verdict is expected on November 28.

Film uncovers courageous cycling story

"Emmanuel's Gift," a new film by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern uncovers the story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young Ghanaian man born with a severely deformed right leg, as he begins a 600-kilometre bicycle ride across Ghana, spreading a vision for greater acceptance of disabled people in Ghana. Opening at selected theatres on October 21, the film documents Emmanuel's plight for over two years, having shot over 400 hours of powerful footage in Ghana, California, Oregon and New York.

OCA Seminar day

The OCA is hosting a series of seminars this fall in an effort to support the growth and future direction of cycling in Ontario. The seminars, to be held on November 19, are sponsored in part by the Ontario Trillium foundation, which sees the needs for strong, self-sustaining events and grass roots development in the province.

Doug Detwiller, inventor of Sprockids will share his experiences about the programme and how to attract youth to cycling - his enthusiasm for the sport has taken a simple idea and created a programme that attracts young people of all ages. Sprockids has grown in the last 15 years and is now present in 15 countries around the world.

USA MTB Hall of Fame member and IEG seminar professional speaker, Laird Knight will speak on 'winning event sponsorships.' Laird has over 23 years experience as mountain bike race organiser and his company, Granny Gear Productions, has earned a name in the industry for most innovative and successful event organiser.

Chuck Hodge will discuss the intricacies of organising road races. He will touch on all aspects of event organisation - as an athlete, an organiser, technical director and commissaire. Examples will be taken from small event organising all the way up to large event organising - e.g. Tour de Georgia, one of the largest road races of North America.

The OCA office can be contacted on 416.426.7416 for tickets, and with limited space available early bookings are advised - see for details.

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