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First Edition Cycling News for December 29, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Pereiro and Valverde improving time trial form on track

By Gregor Brown

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears riders Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde are preparing for the 2007 season by honing-in their time trial positions. Both Spaniards know the importance of time trialing in grand tour races; Pereiro bravely fought to keep his yellow jersey in the 2006 Tour de France during the final individual test on the penultimate day and Valverde used his abilities to hold on to second in the 2006 Vuelta a España.

In the past days, on the Miguel Indurain Velodrome in Tafalla (near Pamplona, Spain), the two riders were working with positioning guru, Italian Alessandro Mariano, and technicians from the team's bike supplier, Pinarello. Valverde, 26, travelled to Italy last winter to work with Mariano on his positioning and in the past year he has steadily improved.

"Its work, but it is also useful for raising psychological levels," explained the 2006 ProTour champion to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Up until the end of last year I was afraid of time trialing. I know that we are working very well and now I feel strong also in these [TT] races."

Instead of a wind tunnel, Mariano is using the velodrome combined with electromyography (EMG), to verify muscle work, and a "spinal mouse," an instrument that measures the vertebras' shape and mobility. This work, combined with improvements from Pinarello technicians, could help the Spaniards hold their own in the time trials and go on to win the 2007 Tour overall, which this year includes 117 TT kilometres.

"Mariano said to me that with respect to the ideal theoretical position I am at 80%," confirmed Pereiro to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I do not have the aptitude of my teammate [Iván] Gutiérrez, who is a specialist, but for a rider of stage races I have set myself up very well." Pereiro, 29 years-old, has moved his saddle back by 5mm and has lowered his handlebar rests by 2mm.

His honourable ride in the Tour's final time trial gave him second overall, which could result in an overall win if American Floyd Landis is disqualified for his positive testosterone test. "I am not able to do more. I would like that this story is finally resolved. It possibly appears to you that the world's most important race, with the biggest organization, still does not have a certain winner?" Pereiro remarked.

"Besides me, the team is damned because it is not able to promote a victory image. We would like this respect."

Tour of Utah gains new management and UCI approval

The Tour of Utah, America's third biggest stage race behind the Tours of Georgia and California, has undergone a restructuring of its management committee and will now be led by former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson as Executive Director. Featuring some of Utah's highest mountain passes and widely accepted as America's hardest stage race, the 2007 event is now officially certified by the UCI as a 2.2 ranked stage race on the American Tour.

"Being an avid biker myself, I understand the importance of this race to the riders as well as the community," said Wilson. "Our whole new structure makes this a community event. There are no profit takers. If we make money it will go back into the race or to charity. I look forward to working with the board as well as the hundreds of volunteers who will make this event a success."

The 2007 race will feature eight stages and begin on June 30. Details of the stages are due to be announced in January and will likely include mountainous terrain believed to be the equivalent of major climbs in the Tour de France and other European races.

Teams announced for 2007 Tour de Langkawi

By Ben Abrahams

Over 120 international riders are expected to take part in next year's event
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

The Malaysian National Cycling Federation, organisers of Le Tour de Langkawi, have released the 21 teams that will compete in the 2007 event starting in Dataran Lang on February 2. As in previous editions, the race will feature a mix of teams from the ProTour, Pro Continental and Continental ranks, alongside a handful of national squads.

The five ProTour teams are confirmed as Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, Francaise des Jeux, AG2R and Unibet.com who received confirmation of their ProTour license earlier this month. Italian registered Pro Continental team Tinkoff Credit Systems - much talked about recently after the controversial signing of American Tyler Hamilton - will make their first appearance in a major stage race although it is unlikely that Hamilton himself will be making the early season trip to Malaysia.

Among the top riders expected for the 2.HC ranked event are: defending champion David George, likely to be leading the South African national team, 1998 winner Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) winner of stage eight in the 2006 Tour de France, Asian Games gold medallist Wong Kam Po from Hong Kong and Ng Yong Li the first Malaysian cyclist to earn a contract in Europe with Portuguese Continental team Vitoria-ASC.

The previous two editions of the race have been dogged by financial difficulties but a government buyout earlier this year coupled with a considerable financial commitment, have secured the race's license with the UCI.

Details of next year's race route were announced last week; a number of flat stages should suit the sprinters while the general classification is likely to be decided on the savage mountain roads of Cameron and Genting Highlands - the final climbs of stages three and eight respectively.

Full team list for the 2007 Tour de Langkawi

ProTour teams:

Bouygues Telecom
Credit Agricole
Francaise des Jeux
AG2R
Unibet.com

Professional Continental teams:

Tinkoff Credit Systems
Panaria
Selle Italia Serramenti Diquigiovanni
Skil-Shimano
Slipstream

Continental teams:

Vitoria-ASC
SouthAustralia.com-AIS
Nippo-Meitan
Hong Kong Pro Cycling Team
Giant Asia Racing Team
Discovery Channel-Marco Polo
Polygon-Sweetnice

National teams:

South Africa
South Korea
Iran
Malaysia

List courtesy of Jean Francois Quenet

CSC's Breschel okay after fall

Team CSC rider Matti Breschel
Photo ©: CyclingWorld.dk
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC has confirmed that rider Matti Breschel is on the road to recovery following a crash at Thursday's Ouverture to Copenhagen's six-days race in February. The rider had already taken a fall at the event before another, more violent, crash saw the youngster stretcher away .

"Nothing is broken and even though my back is hurting and I'm beaten up pretty good, it does not stop me from training at full effect, so that's good," said Breschel, who fell in the Madison event.

The 22-year-old, who was quick to point out he wont be competing in any more track events, escaped serious injury and hopes to return to competition in late January.

"I have tried that now, and it really didn't go too well," he joked. "I have a bit of experience with injuries to the back now, but the pain comes from a different place this time, so that is comforting."

Breshel is looking forward to assisting Australian teammates Stuart O'Grady, Matthew Goss and Luke Roberts at their home event, the Tour Down Under, in late January. "I am always searching for victories, but we have three Australian riders on the team, so of course we would like to get them some victories," he said, looking forward to the event.

Southaustralia.com-AIS announce TDU team

Gene Bates
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image) Gene Bates  of South Australia is going bananas in the lead group.

The southaustralia.com-AIS team has announced its roster for the 2007 Tour Down Under, which will be spearheaded by 25-year-old Gene Bates. The South Australian outfit is aiming for a successful start to its 2007 season on home soil at the TDU. "Our major goals are stage wins and a high overall finish," said team director Brian Stephens. "I don't know if we can win it but we'll certainly give the competition a fright."

Stephens hopes that Bates will build on the form and benchmark he set at last year's event where the South Australian finished fifth in the general classification. "I'm expecting big things of Gene," said Stephens. "He is always around the mark and is as geed'up as anything to be racing at home with his new team."

Bates will be supported by reigning Tattersall's Cup Champion, Wesley Sulzberger, the Australian Madison Champions pairing of Queenslander Miles Olman and Victorian Simon Clarke.

"Wes is a good 'up and comer' who had a great year in the domestic series winning stages and overall honours in the Tour of Gippsland, three stages of the Tour of Tasmania and the Peace Cup in Canada." said Stephens. "Miles was second behind Wes in Gippsland and Simon, who was the best U21 rider in the Giro delle Regioni always performs well."

Nic Sanderson has been designated as the outfit's sprinter with fellow Victorians Jonathon Clarke, Michael Ford and Johnnis Walker, brother of Rabobank's William, rounding out the roster.

Complete TDU roster:

Gene Bates (SA)
Jonathon Clarke (Vic)
Johnnie Walker (Vic)
Simon Clarke (Vic)
Nicholas Sanderson (Vic)
Miles Olman (Qld)
Michael Ford (Vic)
Wesley Sulzberger (Tas)

Savings & Loans confirm Wellington start

Russell Van Hout (SA)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image) Russell Van Hout (SA) a relaxed character

Australia's Savings & Loans professional cycling team has confirmed its participation in January's Tour of Wellington, with the team unveiling it's rider lineup. The South Australian outfit will be lead by Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitkin and reigning Australian Road Champion Russell Van Hout.

"We had a very good SunTour race recently and we are racing all the big races in Australia between now and January, so we should be on top form for the Trust House Cycle Classic," said team manager Steven Cunningham.

Joining Aitkin and Van Hout at the New Zealand event is former Australian national champions David Pell and Adiran Laidler, and rising talent Will Dickenson.

Tour of Wellington race director Jorge Sandoval was pleased with the announcement that the UCI continental team would take part in the event. "I was at the international SunTour race in Australia in October and this team was one of the most competitive in the race," said Sandoval. "One of their riders finished second in the overall classification and they are one of the strongest teams in Australia. Van Hout is good enough to be the fourth Australian rider to win this race in 20 years".

Bike-riding - a New Year's 'Resolution'?

A new addition to the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, the long-running track racing series currently underway on Australia's 'Apple Isle', is a community ride that will take place at the civilised time of 10am on New Year's Day, perfect for shaking off the effects of over-indulging the previous evening.

The "New Year's Resolution Ride" will feature some of the star riders of the Christmas Carnivals, such as Australian sprinter, Ben Kersten, and American, Jame Carney, as well as Tasmanian and Six Day cycling legend Danny Clarke. The length is in keeping with the likely state of many participants - a gentle 14km - but it is also designed to allow families to get out on their bikes and ride together in a safe, police-supported environment.

It is being organised by the Burnie Athletic Club, which later that day will host the Burnie Carnival, one of the 'Christmas Carnivals' that feature excellent prize-money and high standards of outdoor fixed-gear track racing. Mike McKenna, president of the Burnie Athletic Club, said the ride is "about highlighting road safety for cyclists, getting some exercise and having some fun along the way. To encourage families to join the ride we are providing free entry to the New Year's Day Carnival for all who participate in the ride". The ride is also fully supported by Tasmanian Police, who will have a presence on the day.

Grant Atkins, president of SCAT, said that it is great to see clubs trying new things. "The Burnie Athletic Club need to be congratulated on adding a new dimension to their day, I am sure that the ride will be well supported".

Voting closes for 2006 Cyclingnews reader poll

Tom Boonen: Cyclingnews 2005 rider of the year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

As another year of action-packed cycling draws to a close, so does the 2006 Cyclingnews reader poll. The team at Cyclingnews would like to thank the 11,600 plus of you, the readers, who not only took the time to take part in the reader poll but also supported us throughout a massive 2006 season.

There will be no partying over the new-year for the Cyclingnews bean-counters, as they are now hard at work tallying up the results from this year's poll.

Throughout next week Cyclingnews will be revealing the winners of each category, and, of course, the lucky reader who will be rolling out on their new HED Kermesse wheelset in 2007.

The Cyclingnews team.

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