First Edition Cycling News for April 3, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner, assisted by Susan Westemeyer
UCI & GT organisers to end disagreement?
The UCI and the organisers of the three Grand Tours look like they have made significant progress to end their disagreement. At a press conference in Bruges, Belgium, on Saturday, April 1, Paolo Dal Lago of the Liquigas team spoke in the name of all team sponsors as he presented the results of a work group which included members of the UCI, the sponsors, the teams and the organisers. "The work group has settled on an agreement paper which will now be given to the responsible persons of the parties involved," Dal Lago said. "The time is not yet right to be announcing the details. There is still a lot of work to be done but the important thing is there is an agreement of some kind."
In an official presentation of the 2006 race series hosted by UCI ProTour commission chairman Vittorio Adorni and manager Alain Rumpf, a video message from IOC president Jacques Rogge was transmitted, in which he expressed his wish, "that the problems regarding the ProTour be solved in a positive way and in the interest of cycling."
According to German Radsportnews.com, the group representing the UCI, team sponsors, teams, and the race organisers agreed that as of 2009, when most Pro tour team licenses expire, there will be only 18 teams in the Pro Tour instead of the current 20, and that the new licenses will be sold only for three years instead of four. With fewer Pro Tour teams, the race organisers will have the chance to invite more Continental teams. Furthermore, there are plans to give smaller teams the opportunity to move up into the ProTour after every season - how this is to be done is reportedly still being discussed. nevertheless, these informations are rumours which are currently not confirmed.
Big day for the Wegmann brothers
Team Gerolsteiner has always prided itself on its "family" atmosphere and yesterday by the GP Miguel Indurain it achieved perhaps the ultimate result: Fabian Wegmann won the race under directeur sportif and older brother Christian Wegmann. "That it happened in our very first race together is a huge thing and really great," Christian said. "I'm incredibly happy, especially for Fabian. It was really super of him." The younger Wegmann said dryly, "It's a reason to celebrate, also for my brother Christian, who I experienced today as my DS for the first time. It didn't cause any harm." He added, though, that it was great that his brother was there and "I think tonight we'll open a bottle or two."
On his personal website, Fabian Wegmann said the weather played a large role in his performance. "As soon as it gets warmer, I feel good. (...) I just don't do well when I have to ride so long in rain and cold. With warmth and sun, on the other hand, I can get the last percent out of myself. And that's what happened today."
The Gerolsteiner climber is now looking forward to the coming races. "Until now I had always felt good in my races, but the last little bit was missing. With my first win behind me it will be easier to face the Wallonian classics. The results show that my form is right and gives me self-confidence for Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But first we have another race here in the Basque Country with the race of that same name, where I would like to keep on riding like I did today."
Axel Merckx back to training
Phonak's Axel Merckx has been ordered to stay at home in Monaco for the next couple of weeks. Initially wanting to participate in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Merckx will instead put on some more training rides to get in better shape, as he has been struggling since Paris-Nice.
"Axel really wanted to ride (the Ronde), but at the moment he's only at 60 percent of his possibilities," Phonak team manager John Lelangue said. "Ever since Paris-Nice, where he had the flu, he's been struggling. It didn't work well in the Criterium International, either. So the new plan is for him is to train hard in Monaco for two weeks to be back at Amstel Gold Race. With that Dutch Classic in the legs, as well as Flèche Wallonne, he should be good for Liège, which is his first big goal this season."
New German International Championship: 'TUI Cup'
The German cycling Federation has presented a new International Championship, which will begin this season. The 'TUI Cup', sponsored by a big travel agency, is to "strengthen the German calendar and create incentives to participate for the top professional teams," according to new Federation president Rudolf Scharping, a former politician.
the TUI Cup will not only focus on the Men's Elite, but also provide championships for Espoir and Women's cycling. On top of the 17 Elite Men races, there will be series of nine U23 and five women's races. there will also be a series of 'cyclosportives' called the T-Mobile-cycling-Tour, which will give cycling tourists the possibility of riding on the original courses of the pros.
The following races are included in the new championships:
Rund um Köln (17.04.2006)
Rund um Düren (16.04.2006)
German Championships ITT (Forst/Lausitz) (23.06.2006)
Superweek goes inland for 2006-07
The American International Cycling Classic, commonly referred to as Superweek, will not include the well-liked lakefront courses in Milwaukee the next two summers due to road construction. Race organizers were informed earlier this year that traffic re-routing around the nearby Marquette Interchange construction project would prohibit the necessary road closures for at least the next two years. "It was disappointing when we heard the news," said Otto Wenz, founder of the event. "These races are very historic and the riders have always loved the courses."
Race organizers are eager to return to the scenic courses along Lake Michigan as soon as conditions permit, possibly in 2008. Negotiations are now underway to fill the vacancies in the 2006 event schedule, including discussions with a new host city in the Milwaukee area.
"We were approached by many parties interested in hosting the Tuesday races," explained Michael Garrison. "But we're looking for a new host city for the long term rather than just the next two years and when the Lake Front becomes available again we'll find a way to fit it back into the schedule." Organizers hope to announce the new host city in early April as well as a new race site for the Saturday morning races that had also taken place along the Lake Front. The 2006 International Cycling Classic will take place from July 7-23, 2006.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)