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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for October 21, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

New U.S. Professional team on the way

New team with new sponsor twist

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Many a whisper (and even a low rumble) has been circulating around the U.S. racing scene for a couple of months now about a new pro team entering the fray. And while rumours have been a plenty, Cyclingnews was able to talk with the people in charge to get the story straight. Leading the charge in this new venture, called United Pro Cycling, are two veteran racers, Frankie Andreu of U.S. Postal fame, and former Saturn pro Harm Jansen. Working the logistics behind them are longtime cyclist Sean Tucker and veteran marketing professional Mark Dyce.

While a presenting sponsor is still in the final stages, this group has already rallied an impressive team with the help of signing bonuses. "We have cyclists signed to contracts with the help of investors behind the deal," said Dyce. These cyclists include current USPRO road champion Chris Wherry and his very quick Health Net teammate Ivan Dominguez, equally quick Argentinean sprinter Juan Jose Haedo from Colavita-Sutter Home, multiple U.S. national time trial champion Chris Baldwin from Navigators Insurance and Tony Cruz from Discovery Channel.

The biggest difference behind this team is that it will not be a traditional sponsor-team business model. What Tucker and Dyce are proposing is a team organization that is more independent from the sponsor, enabling the organization to cross-apply their marketing efforts within their presenting sponsors. "Most teams in the history of cycling has been Team something... and as long as you have your sponsor, you are ok," Dyce explained. "But as soon as you lose that sponsor, you lose everything. And the thing Sean is trying to do is to create a franchise around the cream of the crop - that's why we signed riders like Chris Baldwin, Chris Wherry and Tony Cruz.

"This is really different than anything that has been done before," Dyce continued. "The value we believe is significant with this new model, so we've been strategic about who we even talk to. So it is going to be United Pro Cycling presented by..."

The presenting sponsor will become known shortly. However, Dyce was able to share that significant steps have been made in regards to the team name, which was a little too close to the USPRO brand for some. "USA Cycling has approved the name of the team, United Pro Cycling, as well as the UCI," said Dyce. "The uniform has also been approved."

Simoni to Saunier Duval-Prodir

Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The Saunier Duval-Prodir team has announced that Gilberto Simoni will be joining its line-up in 2006. The Lampre man was left temporarily teamless when Giancarlo Ferretti's Sony-Ericsson deal dropped out, but there was still plenty of interest in signing the two-time Giro d'Italia winner.

"I am looking forward in joining this team," said Simoni. "I really like its positive atmosphere and great motivation." Simoni already knows a few members of the team quite well, like Pietro Algeri who was his Directeur Sportif when he won his first Giro in 2001: "Pietro is a very good person and I know Mauro Gianetti as well, when he was still riding. I look forward to work with Matxin too; he is a young and ambitious manager!"

Gerdemann leaves CSC for T-Mobile

After German Bild magazine reported that CSC's Linus Gerdemann would be leaving the team for T-Mobile in 2006, T-Mobile has now confirmed that it has signed the young talent. The 23-year-old German rider has signed a deal that will keep him in magenta colours up until December 31, 2008, and will be the 29th rider on T-Mobile's roster for the coming season.

Gerdemann figured on the T-Mobile Team's wish list as early as last year, but CSC snaffled him first. "At that time we didn't have the opportunity to recruit him to the team," said T-Mobile's manager Olaf Ludwig. A few days ago, however, Ludwig and Gerdemann reached an agreement on a collaboration starting in 2007. "Linus also had a concrete offer from CSC for this period, but he decided to join us in 2007," added Ludwig. Without the prospect of a long-term working relationship with the rider, CSC manager Bjarne Riis made the decision to release Gerdemann with immediate effect. Ludwig reacted promptly, bringing forward Gerdemann's new contract to 2006.

"I am delighted that we were able to finalise a long-term contract with Linus. Last season he proved himself to be one of the most promising riders in the German cycling scene," said Ludwig, who wants to "progressively develop" the young pro, "so that in the future he will give us lots to celebrate".

Gerdemann scored a breakthrough win this year in the seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse. He also finished the Bayern-Rundfahrt in third overall and wore the leader's jersey for one day in his first pro race, the Four Days of Dunkirk. "Now I have the security to concentrate fully on my development as a rider," he said. "The chance to ride for TMobile is a great opportunity for me. I am sure that I can fulfil my potential with this team, and am looking forward to the challenge."

Bjarne Riis has called Gerdemann "the next Jan Ullrich." The current Jan Ullrich was quoted in Bild as saying "Gerdemann is the most talented young rider in Germany. He is a real jewel."

Schmidt leaving Gerolsteiner

Torsten Schmidt, 33, has announced that he is leaving Team Gerolsteiner at the end of the year, and is looking to become captain in a smaller team. "My time at Gerolsteiner was good and I had a lot of positive moments. Supporting captains like Rebellin or Hondo gives lots of satisfaction," he said. "I have reached a point in my career where I have to ask if I want to ride out my career as a helper, or whether I can use my experience and class to really 'go for it' one more time." reports that Schmidt has an offer from the Wiesenhof-Akud Team.

Milram plans Continental Team

The new Milram Team, which will be sending Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel to the Pro Tour, will also sponsor a Continental Team this coming season, the sponsor Nordmilch-Konzern announced today. The team will be based in Gera, Germany, and will consist of dutch and German riders, including Paul Martens. The team will be managed by Sylvia Haueisen, and former world champion Andreas Petermann will be Directeur Sportif.

Jail sentences for Pantani drug dealers

Three drug dealers charged with selling cocaine to Marco Pantani shortly before his death have been sentenced to prison, it was announced on Thursday. The sentences range from 23 to 58 months. Jelena Korowaina, a Russian model and Pantani's girlfriend, is scheduled to go on trial at the end of November on related charges. Pantani died from a cocaine overdose in a hotel room in Rimini, Italy, on February 14, 2004.

Van Dijk gets a year

Stefan Van Dijk ( has been suspended for one year by the Flemish Anti-Doping Commission after missing an out of competition drug test at his home on June 8. According to the doping control inspector Hans Cooman, Van Dijk drove away when he saw the Flemish anti-doping bus parked outside his house in Oud Turnhout. Refusing to take a doping test is treated the same way as testing positive.

Van Dijk's team manager Hilaire van der Schueren told De Telegraaf that he expects his sprinter to appeal the decision.

An interview with Marcus Burghardt

Boys just wanna have fun

Marcus Burghardt
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
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How does a neo-pro survive his first year at T-Mobile in team full of super-stars? Susan Westemeyer asks 22 year-old Marcus Burghardt.

Cycling is "very, very fun". The races this season "were a lot of fun". Being a pro cyclist "is even more fun". Hanging around with Erik Zabel "and the other guys is a lot of fun".

This happy young man is 22 year-old Marcus Burghardt, a neo-pro with T-Mobile. "I'm really lucky to be riding in a squad like the T-Mobile Team. I will take this chance with both hands," he said at the beginning of the year. He took his chance and did it well, with an impressive season for a newcomer, topping it off with his selection as a substitute for the German team at the world road championships.

Was it easier or harder than he had expected? "At the beginning of the season it was pretty hard, but now I've gotten used to it," Burghardt said in a recent interview. With some 60 race days in his first season, and a well-tailored race program, it was "not a problem to ride from January to October," he said.

However, Burghardt didn't get off to the best of starts. After an impressive team training camp, he was nominated for the GP Doha and the Tour of Qatar - but almost didn't make the trip. Europeans are used to travelling around Europe with only their national identity cards, but Qatar requires a passport. Burghardt turned up at the airport without it, and had to go back home for it, thus missing the team flight. He caught a flight the next day. "That [incident] with my passport was really dumb, something like that shouldn't happen," he said. "I really didn't want to start my first race in my new magenta trikot that way."

Click here for the full interview

Holczer looks back on a successful year

Two Grand Tour stage wins, third and seventh in the Pro Tour rider rankings, 23 season victories - Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is happy with the first Pro Tour season. "The quality of our successes has changed, they have become bigger and better. And it is being noticed by the public."

After several years of poor performances, Gerolsteiner rode a highly successful Tour de France this year. Georg Totschnig's stage win in Ax-3-Domaines was an "unforgettable highlight," but that was not all: Fabian Wegmann wore the Mountain jersey for a day and Levi Leipheimer finished sixth overall.

The young riders did more than their part to help the team, particularly in the Grand Tours, Holczer noted. Marcus Fothen rode the Giro as his first GT and finished 12th overall, the best German finish, and Sven Krauss finished a close second for the blue jersey. But it was 21-year-old Heinrich Haussler who took the only German stage win in a Grand Tour this year, winning the 19th Vuelta stage. "We know the kid was good. But that he was this good?" said Holczer. Haussler also rode in seven Classic races this year, finishing all but Lombardy.

The year had its problems for the team, too. "Danilo Hondo's positive doping test was a shock for me personally and for the team, too," said Holczer, who was proud of his riders' reaction. "It was amazing. We pulled ourselves together and together we got over it. Other riders accepted the responsibilities in the team. That is a good sign of our team spirit."

Team lineups for Japan Cup

This Sunday's Japan Cup will be the last race of the season for most of the major trade teams who haven't already stopped racing.

Quick Step-Innergetic is sending Davide Bramati, Kevin Hulsmans, Ivan Santaromita, Cristian Moreni, Patrik Sinkewitz and D.S. Wilfried Peeters to Japan.

Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne will be represented by Jose Vicente García Acosta, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, Francisco Mancebo, Mikel Pradera, with Alfonso Galilea as director.

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