First Edition Cycling News for October 28, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
A classic, cautious 93rd edition for 2006 Tour de France
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris
On midday Thursday at Paris' Palais des Congres, the official route of the 2006 Tour de France was unveiled. A classic course according to veteran Tour experts, but also one of the hardest in recent years, the 93rd edition of La Grande Boucle follows an anti-clockwise direction around France, the 20 stages covering some 3,600 kilometres including nine flat stages, five mountain stages, four medium mountain stages and two individual time trials.
ASO President Patrice Clerc opened the proceedings for the big reveal of the 2006 Tour de France with some pointed comments about the race, explaining that, "We want a clean sport, without suspicion and one that conforms to the basic values of sport." Clerc also announced that before the '06 Tour, WADA would be increasing the number of out of competition testing for the Tour De France riders. "A lot of work has been done by the UCI up to now", stated Clerc, "But more needs to be done."
Clerc also addressed the recent changing at the guard at the UCI by saying, "We believe that we need to respect the basic values of the sport of cycling and the ProTour has not done that. That's why the Grand Tour organizers have chosen to stay out." But Clerc left the door open to working with new UCI President McQuaid, saying, "We still think (the Grand Tour organizers) and the UCI can find a way to work together."
Bruyneel disappointed at ASO treatment
Following today's grand unveiling of the 2006 Tour de France route in Paris, the Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel left the Palais de Congres still smarting from what was widely perceived as a slap to Armstrong's legacy by Tour organizers during its route presentation. However, Bruyneel quickly decided to focus his energy the only way he knows how.
"I walked away a bit angry but at the same time, and I have to thank the Tour for this, more driven than ever before," Bruyneel said. "One of the things Lance passed on to me was to find motivation out of unpleasant things. I walked away thinking about how we are going to try to win the Tour de France next year."
Bruyneel had trouble just focusing on the route ("it looks to be very, very difficult," he said) following the presentation. "What I can say is that it seems some have quickly forgotten what Lance and our team have done for the Tour over the past seven years," he said. "I left the presentation today more motivated than ever for the new challenge ahead for me. We've lived for the Tour 365 days a year and I plan to keep doing that."
The day's activities began with a video recap of the '05 Tour and Bruyneel, along with many of his peers, was surprised to see Armstrong largely ignored in the 10 minute video.
"My general feeling was disappointment," Bruyneel said. "It almost felt like it was raining in the room. But it wasn't a big surprise to me. The organization was quoted as saying they would have preferred Lance not come back to try and win a seventh Tour. And looking back, I remember when we went to them first, before we made it public, that Lance would indeed race the Tour this year. I can tell you, ASO wasn't jumping up and down when they got the news."
Bruyneel said the video's "main protagonists" were Francaise des Jeux team sports manager Marc Madiot yelling into his race radio, the Cofidis' team's sports manager's voice yelling into his race radio and a "two or three year old boy wearing a Cofidis cap." Bruyneel said they did show some winning images but that was not the main takeaway at all.
"I could tell certain people in the crowd, other directors, almost got up and left.
"When I think back on all that, it's been the same scenario for them for years. A French rider hasn't won the Tour in 20 years. Why? Simple, they haven't been good enough. And then you see the final ProTour standings and notice there were four Americans in the top 10 (Armstrong, 5th; Levi Leipheimer, 7th; Bobby Julich, 9th; George Hincapie, 10th) and for the French, they had four riders in the top 100 (David Moncoutié, 30th; Anthony Geslin, 62nd; Christophe Moreau, 79th; Laurent Brochard, 84th). That's the facts. It's nothing more than that. I realize it's frustrating for them."
On the '06 route itself, Bruyneel said the biggest change was the exclusion of the team time trial event, won the last three years by an Armstrong led team. "We will probably be the most affected by it since we've won it the last three years," Bruyneel said. "But I've always said that since they applied the new rule to the stage, which I never approved of, it made the stage less interesting when the time losses were capped. It was a very stressful day and almost had no major change to the race. Plus, we've heard that most of the spectators didn't really understand what was going on as well. You either need to have it full on, or not."
Bruyneel added that while the 100+ kilometres of time trials favoured a rider like Jan Ullrich, his favourite is still Ivan Basso. Pinpointing the route's most difficult stretch, Bruyneel said the stages in the Alps, stage 15, 16 and 17, will be extremely hard, especially coming after two plus weeks of racing.
"No other team has sacrificed more for the Tour than us over the last seven years,' Bruyneel said. "We have always put it ahead every other race and have planned our entire season around it. Even without Lance, that won't change."
Tom Boonen's reaction
"It will be a "classic" Tour," said World Champion Tom Boonen after seeing the parcours of the 2006 race. "A tour that is very much suited to my style of racing. There will be nine flat stages - ideal for riders with my characteristics."
"The prologue time trial won't be as long as last year's. In normal conditions, I believe I'll be able to finish amongst the first 25 and above all I don't think I'll lose many seconds. At that point I could even fight for the yellow jersey during the first stages that are suited to my style of racing."
Boonen also has a few thoughts on the points classifications. "The green jersey is one of my objectives. After this year's fall and subsequent pulling out of the race, I wasn't able to battle right up to Paris. I'll certainly be trying again next year, hoping to have a bit more luck than last year. Stage wins remain and are always a priority.
"I'm also happy that there won't be a team time trial. My teammates will have to work hard, just as they did this year, in preparation for the sprints. The fact that there won't be a TTT means one less physical exertion giving us that extra possibility of winning another stage."
With regard to a possible winner of the Tour, Boonen said, "Lance Armstrong's absence from the race means there is a vacancy for a new title holder. We'll just have to wait and see who has the strength and capability of gaining this title, title that for years has belonged to the American champion."
More rider reactions
CSC signs Stuart O'Grady
32-year old Australian Stuart O'Grady will ride for Team CSC next year, official team sources say. O'Grady has signed a one year contract with the team and will be a big boost to the top ProTour squad. O'Grady rode for Cofidis this year, but left to join Giancarlo Ferretti's Sony-Ericsson team, which turned out not to exist. Like several other high profile riders, the talented Aussie was suddenly left without a team, and with many ProTour team budgets almost used up for next season, a lucrative contract was out of the question.
O'Grady was "saved" from riding in a non-ProTour team by his South Australian friend and CSC rider Luke Roberts, who told him to call bossman Bjarne Riis. O'Grady did so on Wednesday evening, and told The Adelaide Advertiser's David Valente, "By the end of the call, we came to an agreement. It's an unbelievable relief. This has been probably the most worrying times I've had."
Riis commented that O'Grady will fill a critical but vacant gap in the team: that of a top sprinter and classics rider. "Stuart is a fantastic rider who is very all-round, and of course we consider him a big reinforcement," said Riis. "I think he'll be very useful in the classics, but also during other parts of the season due to his sprinting skills. At the same time we're dealing with a rider who has a big personality and a lot of experience. I look forward to working with Stuart.
"The deal has not taken long to close, but I've sensed an interest in our team from Stuart before," continued Riis, in reference to the Australian nearly signing for CSC in 2004 before he went to Cofidis. "Now the opportunity was there and I'm very pleased to be able to sign with a rider of his calibre."
O'Grady's program next season has yet to be decided, but it's already certain that he won't be available to ride the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in January, a race that he loves doing. "It's hard to swallow," O'Grady told The Advertiser. "[The JCTDU], behind the Tour de France, is my favourite. I don't get the chance to compete in Australia very often. This is going to really hurt." O'Grady missed the JCTDU in 2004 after he signed for Cofidis, but persuaded his French team to race it this year.
Hamburger signs with Team Miche
Danish veteran Bo Hamburger signed what will be his last contract with Team Miche. "I happy about joining the team," Hamburger told Procycling.dk. "We had talks for some time and then finally agreed today. I had some possibilities with larger team, but I couldn't wait for them to call me back. Therefore I chose Team Miche. I also took into consideration that I could stay here in Italy, where I live and also are looking into some projects concerning my future."
McCauley says he hasn't signed
New Zealand champion Gordon McCauley has denied the news that he has signed with American Team Monex for next season. After Monex team manager Roberto Gaggioli told Cyclingnews that McCauley was a sure thing for 2006, the Kiwi responded to us, "I should point out that I have not signed with Monex. I have been in talks with Monex for the last month or so, however no final agreement has been made and no contract has been signed."
Bäckstedt ready for Derny Hour Record
Welsh based Swede Magnus Bäckstedt has completed his final test session on the Newport Velodrome and declared himself happy with his form.
Bäckstedt and his derny driver British pacer Paul Spender, were in perfect harmony from the first time they took to the track and have spent close to 30 hours on the track together in preparation for the record attempt.
Big Magnus has also now decided on a gear of 60 x 13 which is in stark contrast to the gear used by the current holder of the record Matthé Pronk. "We are totally different riders," said Bäckstedt. "Pronk pedalled his way to the record and is a very talented six day rider. Anyone who knows me will see I am all power! I studied the gears used by riders such as Tony Rominger and Miguel Indurain when they went for the hour record and they used similar gears to the one I am on now.
"I just want the crowd to come along and enjoy and evening's entertainment."
Bäckstedt's Blast, as the event is being titled, will feature a keirin series headlined by top British sprinter Craig McLean and a series of endurance races of which World Team Pursuit Champion Steve Cummings is the star attraction.
The Liquigas pro will also be joined on the night by Reading-born Dario Cioni, Patrick Calcagni, Marco Milesi and Mario Scirea, who will all take to the track for first time in a team Liquigas-Bianchi pursuit series.
"It will be great for the British public to see these guys in action and the pursuit series should be really entertaining," Bäckstedt said.
The event will get under way at 7pm on Saturday October 29, with Magnus heading out at 9:30pm. Tickets are £10 with a concession for under 10 years at £5 and under 5's are free.
No more beer tents in Cyclo-cross
The UCI has banned cyclo-cross races from passing through beer tents, one of the hallowed traditions in many Belgian events. The decision was made on the grounds that it was unsafe, on the basis of remarks made by Richard Groenendaal last year about the difference in inside/outside temperatures and the danger of being hit by beer glasses. However, Groenendaal said that his comments were not intended to be taken that way.
UCI's Olympic quota increase "still under discussion" by IOC
By Carlton Reid, bikebiz.com
Women's boxing has been KO'ed by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Association - it will not feature at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 - but no final decision has been made by the IOC over the UCI's "quota increase" request. Earlier this year the UCI decided to axe the men's kilo and the women's 500m time trial in favour of BMX. The kilo is as old as the Olympics, the women's 500m is a recent addition to the Games. The UCI decided to drop the women's 500m even though the IOC wants more women participants at the Olympics.
On Thursday morning, the Executive Board (EB) of the IOC announced which sporting federations would have their requests met in regards to changes or additions to events and quotas within their respective sports for the programme of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The EB based its discussion on the recommendations of the Olympic Programme Commission. Using 'positive discrimination', the EB agreed to changes which will lead to an increase in the number of female athletes by about 80.
Among the requests by international federations accepted by the EB was an increase of two female teams - from 10 to 12 - for football at the Olympics, a request from FIFA. However, women's boxing will not be seen in Beijing, decided the EB.
But the UCI request to "increase their quotas for the 2008 Olympic Games" are "still under discussion," said a statement from the IOC.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)