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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for February 13, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Cooke heading to Spring Classics

By Hedwig Kröner

A happy Baden Cooke just won the 2006 GP d'Ouverture
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian Baden Cooke, who recently won the GP d'Ouverture de la Marseillaise for the second time in his career, is looking forward to riding the Belgian Classics. After changing teams from ProTeam Francaise des Jeux to Continental outfit, the 27 year-old has many reasons to confirm his talents on the tarmac.

"The Belgian Classics: Het Volk, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix are my main goals this season," Cooke told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Ruta del Sol from Southern Spain. "Changing teams has given me the opportunity of changing my focus on the classics; and I will give them everything this year. Hopefully I'll be able to do something special this spring."

Coming back from Australia in mid-January, where he had done much training in the gym to round out his cycling sessions, the 'Benalla bullet' was almost immediately rewarded of his efforts. At the GP d'Ouverture de la Marseillaise, his new team was right to put its confidence in him. "In the earpiece, I told my directeur sportif that I felt good, and [with 20 km to go] immediately, five guys moved up from behind and got to the front. They started riding and pulled the breakaway back with about one kilometre to go. Considering I had never raced with these guys before, this really shows a lot. It's just a perfect way of entering a new team."

Although he does regret not being part of a ProTour team anymore ("Obviously, I would like to go back to the Tour de France"), Cooke is happy with "The team's got a great spirit - after the presentation in Brussels in January, we had really good bonding sessions and I realized they're really good guys, also the directeurs sportifs. And their goal is to upgrade to the ProTour for next season, so I'd like to be a part of that."

At the Ruta del Sol, Cooke and his teammates hope for a possibility to achieve a stage victory, although the Australian sees the Spanish stage race as a means to prepare for greater goals. "Obviously, I'm here to get more racing into my legs, but if there's a win on my way then I'll certainly try and take my chances," the sprinter said, knowing that the likes of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi will not be easily beaten. "The first few days are a bit tough, but there might be sprint finishes on the last couple of stages."

Cyclingnews will feature a full interview with Baden Cooke in the coming days.

Australian team on track for Commonwealth Games

After the final racing of the Australian Track Championships finished, Australia's National Track Coach Martin Barras believes the overall situation of his athletes is looking 'satisfactory' heading into the Commonwealth Games. Two athletes in particular stand out as near certainties for gold medals.

"Mactier [Katie] I think is a standout ," said Barras. "Kate Bates would be right next to it - after that, everything else we're going to have to fight for." Barras was also impressed with the performances of the Meares sisters, and is confident Australia's track endurance riders will lift to another level once their current heavy training phase comes to an end.

While Australia's team pursuit riders didn't exactly stand out at the National Championships, Barras believes their performances will lift significantly. "We've got good depth, we've got good riders, quite a few riders that we've been preparing and training for quite a few years to take over from the big names," Barras said. "But we're also meeting the very stiffest opposition in the world when we go to the Commonwealth Games. The Brits are coming with their very best their strongest team, with the exception of Wiggins, so we need to be good, we need to be ready just to be a close match."

The concern at this point is Australia's stocks in the men's sprints, with concerns still over Shane Kelly (who didn't race at the National Championships) and Ryan Bayley, who is yet to find anywhere near top form. "He's got a lot of refining to do in terms of his preparation and he knows that and he understands that," Barras said. "What I was saying about the men's sprint applies to him specifically; there's a lot of work that needs to be done between now and the Games."

Team line-ups for Trofeo Laigueglia

Italian teams have announced their rosters for the 43rd edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia, taking place on Valentine's Day (February 14). For the Continental Pro team Naturino-Sapore di Mare will be competing: Valerio Agnoli, Alexander Bazhenov, Stefan Cohnen, Paul Crake, Antonio Murilo Fischer, Massimo Giunti, Martin Mares and Luigi Sestili. Directeur sportif Antonio Salutini is hopeful that some of his riders will be up front in the event.

"The Trofeo Laigueglia is traditionally a hard race," Salutini said. "But we have riders who already turn their legs well, like the Russian Bazhenov and the Australian Crake. Also Murilo Fischer is getting better every day; I could see that in the Tour Mediterranéen."

ProTeam Lampre-Fondital will be represented by the following riders at the UCI-rated 1.1 race: Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Bono, Salvatore Commesso, Claudio Corioni, Giuliano Figueras, David Loosli and Evgueni Petrov.

Another Italian team, Miche, has also revealed its participating riders. Seweryn Kohut, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Pasquale Muto, Maurizio Carta, Armando Rupa, Mauro Gerosa and Alejandro Alberto Borrajo will be looking to support Antonio D'Aniello if it comes down to a sprint: the Italian proved to be in good form in the last stage of the Tour Mediterranéen, where he finished fourth just behind Erik Zabel in Sanremo.

Finally, Acqua&Sapone will take Alexander Arkeev, Gabriele Balducci, Alessandro Donati, Andrea Masciarelli, Rinaldo Nocentini, Giuseppe Palumbo, Andrea Rossi and Kanstantsin Siutsou to Laigueglia.

Löwik undergoes surgery, again

Dutch cyclist Gerben Löwik will be operated for the second time on Monday, February 13. The Rabobank rider has had problems with his saddle area for several months, which aggravated again during the Tour of Qatar. Originally scheduled to take part in the Ruta del Sol, it is hoped that the 28 year-old will be able to take up training again in ten days' time.

"All I want is to get back to my best level, to be able to go to races with the idea to win them," said Löwik, who has been struggling with bad luck since 2004, where a crash in Paris-Roubaix destroyed his spring season and his elbow. Last year, his season was also overshadowed by injuries on his knee and hip; and first saddle problems appeared during the Tour de France.

"It's the same wound, but in a different place," Löwik explained. "There's no other way than to operate and hope that it will heal quickly. I'm not asking for luck, but it would be nice not to be unlucky for a change."

Caisse d'Epargne team bus robbed

The team bus of Spanish outfit Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears was forced open on Friday in Sanremo, where the team was staying during the Tour Mediterranéen. The burglars stole some helmets, jerseys and earpieces but fortunately couldn't get a hold of any bikes. The team's riders were held up by the incident and arrived late at the start of the fifth stage in La Londe Les Maures on Saturday morning, but were able to depart on time.

Cannondale supports Meredith Group-GPOA Cycling Team

American bicycle manufacturer Cannondale Bicycles has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Meredith Group-GPOA Cycling Team, an elite squad based in Pittsburgh. "Not only do we (Cannondale) believe that the Meredith Group-GPOA Cycling Team is the best elite team in the state (Pa), winning the Elite Men's Crit Championships and other top races, but they have been extremely successful in some of the most competitive races on the east coast, including winning Housatonic Hills Classic (NRC, Conn.) road race and winning five state elite road and criterium championships," said Cannondale team representatives Bart Passanante and Debbie Lewis. "The team performed extremely well in other major races such as the Tour of Shenandoah SR (VA), Owasco SR (NY) and the US National Elite and ProAm Championships near Chicago."

Meredith Group-GPOA will receive similar support as Cannondale's international and domestic professional teams - Barloworld Pro Cycling Team for the international races, and America's premiere domestic professional team, Health Net-Maxxis. "Naturally, we are honoured and privileged to have signed with Cannondale as our sponsor for our team bikes," commented team director Dennis Dansak.

For 2006, the team has added riders to the already successful elite squad. The new additions include Stephan Kincaid (Snow Valley, VA), former two-time winner of US National Championship titles and former overall winner of Pennsylvania's Elite Men's Best All 'Round Series (BAR). Other new riders include Chadd Martin (Bicycle Therapy), former overall Elite Men's BAR Champion and former Pa. State Elite Men's Criterium Champion; Mike Stubna (Savage Hill, OH), Steve "Steevo" Cummings (ACA/Kraynick's), and Dave Mitchell (QCW), current President of the Pa. Cycling Association.

The elite riders returning to the squad include Jared Babik, Sarah Bickerstaff, Nate Piekielek, Rob Hacker, Mike Hebe, Colin Sandberg, Ryan Graff, Ryan Leech, Fred Billet and Greg Ferguson. The team will focus on US National Criterium and Road Championships, 9 NRC events, defend most of their current state elite championship titles and will compete in many other prestigious races throughout the east coast and mid-west.

The regional squad's full roster includes Bob Riffle, Glenn Snyder, Doug Williamson, Pam Moali-Rytel, Mike Rytel, Mike Lopez, and Ben Pate. Cummings and Stubna will race with both the regional and elite teams depending on the race and the needs of the team.

M Street Racing announces 2006 roster

The Washington DC-based M Street Racing has announced its complete roster for 2006 cycling season. Among the team’s 26 race victories in 2005´, the team counts two stage wins in the Category 2 event at the International Tour de Toona, first place overall and two stages of the Masters 30+ event at the Green Mountain Stage Race, first place overall in the Category 3 event at the CSC Clarendon Cup, and first place overall and both stages of the Category 3 event at the Seaford Race Weekend.

In addition, M Street Racing placed second overall in the Cat 2 International Tour de Toona and second overall (both in Men’s Cat 1/2/3 & Cat 3) in the individual rankings for the Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association’s (MABRA) Best All-Around Rider Competitions.

Click here for the full roster & announcement.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)