First Edition Cycling News for December 7, 2006
Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo
Tour of California gets tougher for 2007
By Sue George
The Tour of California announced specific route details earlier today for the 2007 edition, which will cover 650 miles in eight days in February. The 2007 race is expected to be tougher than the 2006 edition. The last few days of the race, when riders are more fatigued, will likely be more difficult.
The route was put together by a committee of three individuals from Medalist Sports including managing partner Jim Birrell, race technical director Chuck Hodge, and competition director and former pro racer Kevin Livingston.
"We created a race that will complement where riders are in their season," said Birrell to Cyclingnews. He observed that while the race is tougher than last year, it is still appropriate for pros building up their race fitness in the early part of their season. The course was modified after input from team directors and spectators.
Michael Roth, Vice President of promoting company AEG, highlighted two key changes to the 2007 edition. "We've taken the race further north this year. The race does go through the state's capitol, Sacramento. In fact, we finish Stage 2 on the steps of the capitol."
Picking the route was not easy. Birrell said, "California has so many gorgeous roads. We've created the route as another beautiful postcard of the state." The team chose routes with one goal in mind: to make the race more exciting.
"We'll get closer to our ultimate goal," said Birrell, "of seeing the jersey change on a nightly basis. So we've moved up the time trial to the end of the race and tightened it up by shortening it from 18 to 15 miles. I think the gaps will be tighter between top GC riders this year."
Birrell said that expects the pros to let it all hang out in the time trial, which will be held in Solvang, in an area of California where some pro teams conduct early season training camps. Many riders will be familiar with portions of the course and should therefore be more comfortable giving it one hundred percent.
"Saturday's Stage 6 is probably the toughest stage of all," said Birrell. "There is a foray into the mountains before the finish in Santa Clarita. It may not be the longest stage, but we have four KOMs, all of which were seen last year in the stage from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks, but this year when you look at overall tour and where they will be physically, this stage will be harder, especially after TT on Friday in Solvang."
Organizers declined to select favourites for the 2007 edition because they are still finalizing the teams and riders who will be participating.
Discovery Channel riders help support "Bikes for Kids" program
Set at Austin's Bicycle Sport Shop, this morning's fundraiser continued the ten-year-old Bikes for Kids program which provides bikes and equipment to underprivileged children in the Austin community. In its ten years, the program has raised more than $1 million and donated more than 10,000 brand new Trek bikes, locks, and helmets to kids in need. The program aims to donate 750 new bikes this year.
For his part, Armstrong has been a supporter of the program all ten years, and once again was on-hand with some of the Discovery Channel team's top names to sign autographs for hundreds of eager fans. Speaking of his involvement in the program, Armstrong said, "Well, of course Christmas is a very special time of year, and the gift of giving a kid a bike is more than just a toy. It’s a gift that literally allows you to get away; as soon as you turn a corner on a bike you’re in a special place. So my hat’s off to you guys for doing this so long and helping so many."
In addition to signing autographs for hundreds of eager fans, the fundraiser also offered an opportunity to hear from Bruyneel, Basso, and Leipheimer about their prospects for the year. According to Levi Leipheimer, "With Ivan and myself, our number one goal is to win the Tour de France for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. And I think we have the best team to do just that."
The desire and determination to win the Tour was a sentiment echoed by Ivan Basso. When asked whether the Giro d'Italia remains the first race in his heart compared to winning the Tour, Basso replied, "I am Italian, yes, and the Giro is a very nice race to me, but the Tour is the Tour and that is my first goal. Even if you were asking me this in Italy, everyone knows I love the Tour and while I won the Giro last year, which is very important to my countrymen, wining the Tour de France is my main goal."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rick Kent
Fuji partners with United Bicycles for 2007 team
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
United Bicycles, the exclusive team brand of the Toyota-United team, announced a licensing agreement with Fuji Bicycles to make and distribute United Bicycles as well as provide the professional team with Fuji frames for 2007. "It's two deals," said Fuji's Patrick Cunnane. "It's an agreement to supply the team with bikes and an additional agreement to license the United brand. They made some attempt to sell it this year, but with our foundation we feel that we will be more successful in distributing it."
The Toyota-United team entered the 2006 season with its own brand of team bicycles that they sold on the team web site. However, the lack of wide distribution made growth potential for the bike limited, according to team owner Sean Tucker. "I never wanted to be in the bike business, I just wanted my guys to have the best bike possible. You can't sell anything in this world unless you have distribution. Patrick called us and said he was excited about the United brand and wanted to do something with it. We were looking for a distribution deal since we weren't doing great volume. So when Patrick called and offered full distribution I was all ears. We did a multi-year licensing agreement. We are making less money initially but hopefully more in the end."
The Easton scandium United frame that the team rode in 2006 will no longer be distributed, as the team will switch to Fuji's two top all-carbon models with Fuji and United co-branding. "They will ride the Team Issue and our SL1 frame which is a 14.5 pound complete bike -- two excellent carbon frames that will give the riders a choice," said Cunnane. Additionally, Fuji will manufacture and distribute an entire line of United-branded bicycles, due out in the summer as well as maintain their professional sponsorships of two women's professional teams -- Nürnberger Versicherung and TEAm Lipton.
Team time trial in Qatar
By Susan Westemeyer
The Tour of Qatar is doing something new in 2007: it will be opening with a six-kilometer long team time trial in the city of Doha, on Sunday, January 28. That will be followed by five "flat and straight" stages throughout the land.
In announcing the stages, the tour organizers noted that, "If he is true to his traditional start of season, Tom Boonen...could embark upon a new series of victories. But there is also every chance that the ex-Belgian world champion will face fierce opposition from the Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi, eager to test his finish in the Middle East after a season disrupted by injuries in 2006."
While the race marks the start of the season for the European riders, it is a season highlight for other participants. Iran has been asked to put together a team, since Iranian cyclists hold the first three places in the Asia Tour continental ranking. In addition, Qatar, Bahrain and The United Arab Erimates will join together in a mixed team.
The 2007 route
Stage 1: Sunday, January 28, 2007 - Cornice Doha, team time trial, 6km
ValueAct Capital sponsors women's team
ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm, annoucned a new team for 2007: the ValueAct Capital women's cycling team. With a promising mix of experienced and developing talent, the team will contest US National Racing Calendar (NRC) events as well as northern California races.
The ValueAct Capital Cycling Team Roster consists of Martina Patella, Laura Downey, Taitt Sato, Sharon Allpress, Courtenay Brown, as well as Australians Hayley Brown and 2005 individual pursuit World Champion Katie Mactier for select U.S. events. Lisa Hunt brings experience and vitality as the director, but the team will be coached by. Michael Smartt.
The team is being managed under the umbrella of Momentum Sports Group, LLC, which also manages the Health Net presented by Maxxis Cycling Team. "We recognize the growth of women's cycling and racing, and we are very excited to support the ValueAct Capital Cycling Team," says Thierry Attias of Momentum Sports Group. The team will be riding Serotta bicycles.
Cycling’s elite unite for Amy’s ride Queensland
Australia’s international superstars of cycling have confirmed they will be turning out to support this year’s Portfolio Partners South Bank to Surfers Paradise - Amy’s Ride, Queensland on Saturday, December 9th. Portfolio Partners is the new naming rights sponsor for this popular event on the Queensland Grand Prix Cycling program which showcases Australia's cycling heroes.
The state’s first Amy’s Ride, in honour of Amy Gillett who was killed in the tragic accident involving the women's AIS team in July 2005, has been organised to raise funds for The Amy Gillett Foundation, which aims to promote mutual awareness and understanding between cyclists and motorists on our roads. The ride is open to cycling enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels.
Some 3,000 participants joined the inaugural ride in Victoria earlier this year, and the Queensland organisers hope their event will eclipse this figure. Participants can choose from a 100km ride, starting at Southbank, or a 45km out-and-back, starting in Surfers Paradise; both finishing on the Esplanade in Surfers Paradise followed by coffee, entertainment, interviews and autograph signing with the stars.
Leading the riders out from South Bank, Simon Gerrans, Matt Hayman, and Lorian Graham will be joined by Noosa Triathlon Champion Felicity Abrams and Maxine Seear making her return to the spotlight after a long battle with injury and illness. Cycling enthusiasts Brisbane Lions star Chris Scott, radio personality Greg "Marto" Martin and Olympic medalist Duncan Armstrong will also be on tap for the festivities.
For further information or to enter online visit www.usmevents.com.au
Bikes 4 Kids Utah gets honours
In its first year, Bikes 4 Kids Utah, a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization, was ranked 24th in Outside Magazine’s "Outside One-hundred," a list of top newsworthy athletes, products, gadgets and bold ideas in published in its December 2006 issue.
"We are very excited and honored to be included in Outside's Top 100 list," said Debbie Reid, founder and director of Bikes 4 Kids Utah. "Hopefully sponsors and potential participants will see us mentioned in the list and will want to assist us in raising funds to help even more kids realize the freedom of riding a bike."
Bikes 4 Kids' four-fold mission is to provide a positive education and cycling experience for disadvantaged children, an inexpensive and fun way to get to school, a hobby that will help them get some exercise and a way for them to learn responsibility and safety. For more information about Bikes 4 Kids Utah, please visit www.bikes4kidsutah.org
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)