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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for December 15, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile sports directors plan ahead

Bob Stapleton, the head of the new T-Mobile-Team
Photo ©: Susan Westemeyer
(Click for larger image)

The T-Mobile training camp in Lanzarote featured not only 15 riders and support personnel, but also all of the team's sporting management. The team's new management features three newcomers, as well as a new general manager and a sport manager.

General Manager Bob Stapleton said that he was happy to delegate the work: "The assignments have been clearly distributed. I am not a technical or sporting director," he told www.t-mobile-team.com. Former T-Mobile rider Rolf Aldag is the team's new Sport Manager and has the duty of supervising the five Directeurs Sportif. However, the responsibility doesn't lay on him alone. "The team is the core. We want a team with character, to form a community in which every rider is there for the others and is willing to take over responsibility," Aldag said.

Two of the DS's are returning to the team. Valerio Piva, 48, of Italy, has been with the boys in magenta since 2005, while Dane Brian Holm, 44, joined the team a year earlier. Three newcomers will help them cover the full racing schedule over the year: Tristan Hoffman rode until 2005 and served as a DS at Team CSC before joining T-Mobile for 2007, Alan Peiper worked for Davitamon, and Jan Schaffrath is new to the team only in his current role.

All of the newcomers sat down together on Lanzarote and made plans for the coming season. "We got together with the management and the sports director. We put the racing program together and then assigned who would be DS for which race," Schaffrath said. "Everybody got what they wanted. It is a great experience to sit down together so early and to be able to have such constructive conversations."

Milram training around the world

Erik Zabel is trying something new this off-season: a training camp in Cape town, South Africa. He will be there with teammate Enrico Poitschke before returning home on December 23. It will be a short Christmas break for Zabel, who will be back in the saddle on December 26 for the Christmas Prize track meet in Dortmund, Germany.

Meanwhile, all of the team's other German riders are training together on the Spanish island of Mallorca. In Italy, Alessandro Petacchi will be joined next week in Lido di Camaiore by teammates Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo, Alberto Ongarato, Volodymyr Dyudya and Elia Rigotto.

Rubiera and Barredo critical

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The exclusion of Discovery Channel and management company Active Bay from the ProTour team's organisation IPCT has made Chechu Rubiera and Benjamín Noval (Discovery Channel), as well as Carlos Barredo and Dani Navarro (Astana) deeply preoccupied. Barredo trusted that everything will be solved in the end, expressing his desire that, "the project of Manolo Saiz will continue next season". However, he also said to El Comercio digital that he had signed a conditional agreement with Quick.Steep.

"I know that, if the UCI does not finally include my present team Astana in the ProTour, we will have many difficulties to find a job", Barredo commented on the subject. ‘Chechu’ Rubiera added that, "the most of this members’s association are hypocrites. Why should Discovery Channel not sign Basso if his supposed guilt has still not been demonstrated?" Rubiera was surprised at the decision taken by the ProTour teams association, as well as very annoyed, "because we cannot be defended like other citizens: it seems that justice is applied in a different way in cycling."

Australia-UniSA in Tour Down Under

Chris Jongewaard (Savings & Loans)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Race organisers have announced the rider roster of the Australia - UniSA team in the 2007 Tour Down Under, taking place from January 16-21.

The team directed by Dave Sanders will include sprinter and Commonwealth Games medallist, Allan Davis, who has ridden in every Tour Down Under since its inception and this year won two stages of the event. Back in the Australia-UniSA colours for another year is Australian National Series Champion, Robert McLachlan (Drapac Porsche), 2006 Elite Open Road Champion, Russell Van Hout (Savings & Loans) and 2005 Australian cross country mountain bike champion, Chris Jongewaard (Savings & Loans).

Tour Down Under stage winner and super 'domestique' Matt White has been granted permission by his Discovery Channel team bosses to line up in Adelaide and said the Australian line up will definitely be looking for stage wins and more. "It's a very versatile group so we have a lot of options," White said. "It's an honour to be wearing the green and gold of the national team and it always motivates us to impress, even more so because we're at home.

"It's also the first time I'll ride on a team with Rob (McLachlan) who was one of my heroes when I was a junior rider," added White. "I bought a jersey from him in 1989 and I have a lot of respect for him." White owed his selection in the 1994 Commonwealth Games team to McLachlan who announced his retirement, opening the way for White to gain a start in the road line up.

"I'm sure we'll all gel as a team and put our full commitment behind Alby (Davis) in the sprints and then ride for whoever is the best placed to challenge for overall honours," said White. "Taking the Tour Down Under title is certainly not out of the question for us." A good bet for the overall GC will be teammate Chris Jongewaard, as he placed second in the Herald Sun Tour this year, losing only by five seconds to Simon Gerrans.

Further lining up in the team will be young talents Karl Menzies (Health Net) and Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche). Menzies notched up six wins this season with his American registered pro team while Docker is one of Australia's up and coming stars having already notched up a World Championship win in 2004 as a junior on the track.

The Australia - UniSA team roster in short:

Allan Davis
Matthew White
Robert McLachlan
Mitchell Docker
Chris Jongewaard
Russell Van Hout
Karl Menzies
Brett Aitken

For more information on the Tour Down Under, go to www.tourdownunder.com.au.

Basque country represented in Moscow

By Monika Prell

The women's points race in Sydney
Photo ©: John Veage
Click for larger image

The UCI track world cup in Moscow this weekend will feature not only the Spanish national team, but also a delegation from the Basque Country. Team Cespa-Eustrak will represent the region in the north of Spain for the second time after its participation in Sydney.

The squad is the result of hard work. Twenty years ago, in 1985, Néstor Lejarreta founded the team "Velodrome of Berriz". The outfit had no idea about track cycling, and the first steps were to learn about it, to find the cyclists and also form the technical staff. "It was a time of investigation and learning", commented Daniel Larruskain, one of the founders of the team, to the Basque newspaper Gara.

In the 90s, they joined the Basque Cycling Federation. Together with the new-comer Raúl Mena, Lejarreta and Larruskain worked hard and in 2001 they signed a contract with the Center of Technical Perfection (CPT) of Fadura. The Spanish national track championship of 2001 started the success of the Basque selection, as they won the league four times.

The next step would have been arriving at the international level, but inside of the Spanish selection the number of participants was limited. Doors were opened in 2004, when the UCI changed the rules and allowed the creation of professional teams, that are allowed - in addition to the national teams - to participate in all international competitions, except the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

The sponsorship contract with Cepsa, signed on December 12, lasts only for one year, but the project will go on longer than that. The objective for the three cyclists of the team, Leire Olaberría (individual pursuit, scratch and points race), Unai Elorriaga (points race and madison) and Aitor Alonso (scratch and madison), are the Olympic Games of Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. The team will always have only a small number of cyclists as only one can participate in each discipline of the World Cup. The Basque Asier Maeztu, another possible candidate for the team, preferred joining the national team to participate in the Olympics.

The qualities of the three cyclists forming Cespa Eustrak are very different. 28 year-old Leire Olaberría is the biggest female Basque hope, while Unai Elorriaga (27) specialized not only in track cycling, also riding on the road for Spanish Elite 2 Team Alfus Tedes. 26 year-old Aitor Alonso is the "eternal hope", who hopes to find continuity on his very high level and still looks for the opportunity to show his talent.

The next steps will be the formation of a team that combines road and track racing and the creation of the "Eustrak Foundation", which will incorporate all the people who have been with the team from the beginning.

Cycling Central returns for a new season

Australia’s only cycling magazine programme, Cycling Central, returns to SBS for a new season on Sunday 17 December (5.30pm). Hosted by Mike Tomalaris, the show will highlight the best in cycling from around the world with features on road, track, MTB and all things cycling.

The first episode of the season, repeated on Tuesday, 19 at 3.30pm, will review the cycling highlights of the past year and look at the Cycling Australia ‘Cyclist of the Year’ awards. Features will include the QLD Grand Prix cycling series and the Canberra Brindabella Challenge, as well as an interview with cycling legend, Eddie "The Cannibal" Merckx.

In the show on Sunday, December 24 (repeated on Tuesday, 26 at 4.00pm), Cycling Central will talk to track cycling’s newest world record holder and Australian star, Anna Meares, and visit the action from the inaugural Cronulla International Criterium, which will be staged on a 1.34km circuit. Highlights from the first three rounds of the National Mountain bike series will also be featured.

The episode on Sunday, December 31 (repeated on Tuesday, January 2 at 4.00pm), will feature T-Mobile's newest signing, the "crocodile kid", Adam Hanson, from Cairns, and then cool off in Tasmania for the annual Track cycling carnivals. Jim Trail tries to get his hands on Honda’s $100,000 downhill racing rig and looks at the serenity of New Zealand’s Whirinaki forest.

In the brand new Cycling Central Dream Bike Competition, one lucky viewer will win a custom-built road or mountain bike, to the value of $7,000. Entrants will also be in the running to receive a weekly prize of a Surpass cycling jersey.

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