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Latest Edition Cycling News for February 14, 2006

Edited by Les Clarke

Gianluca Bortolami retires

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Bortolami's Ronde
Photo: © AFP

After a career spanning 15 years, Lampre's Gianluca Bortolami has decided to retire. A pro since 1990, the Italian has taken wins at the Tour de France, GP of Zurich, Giro del Piemonte and the Tour of Flanders, having ridden for teams such as Vini Caldirola, Saunier Duval and Lampre. Bortolami suffers from a myocarditis, caused by a virus that leaves scars on the heart, and after a lengthy and illustrious career, Bortolami decided to end his career at the age of 37.

The Italian veteran was full of praise for all the support he's received, but hopes to maintain some activity within the sport, albeit in a different role. "I thank the team and particularly the Galbusera family, all the sponsors and Giuseppe Saronni; they all gave me the trust and the hope of being able to continue to run until the end," he said. "I would also like to thank all the technical staff and my teammates - this forced withdrawal makes me miss the sport that I always loved in a stronger way. I hope to be able to stay in the cycling world with a new role."

Wildcard still available for Deutschland Tour

Organisers of the Deutschland Tour will hand out one more wild card for the 2006 race, to be held from August 1-9, to join the 20 ProTour teams automatically selected for the event. German squad Wiesenhof Akud have already been granted a start in the race, but one more place needs to be filled.

Currently, six teams have applied for the positions, including Team Miche (Ita), Naturino - Sapore di Mare (Ita), Skil-Shimano (Ned), Elk Haus - Simplon (Aut), Vorarlberg - Volksbank (Aut) and Wiesenhof Akud (Ger). A decision on which two teams will compete will be made on March 2. Tour director Kai Rapp explained that, "By handing out two wild cards we want to appreciate the increasing interest in our event."

New date for Univest GP

This year's Univest GP will return to Souderton, PA on September 9, with the Univest Criterium in Doylestown to be held on the following day. Moving up a week from its traditional date on the National Race Calendar, USA Cycling has chosen the Pennsylvania race weekend to fill the spot left vacant by the San Francisco Grand Prix.

One of only six UCI sanctioned races in the United States, the Univest GP is now the final stop on this year's UCI American Tour, and for 2006 Univest Corporation will retain title sponsorship of the race. "After the success of last year's race, we're delighted that Univest Corporation has increased their commitment to bringing one of the most anticipated events on the North American cycling calendar back to the communities of Montgomery and Bucks counties," said race organiser, John Eustice. "The Univest weekend continues to be one of the crown jewels in North American cycling. We're confident that the new date will enhance the already established reputation of the Souderton road race as the defining one day classic of the U.S. while also showcasing the popularity of the Univest Criterium of Doylestown."

The Univest Cyclosportif 100k, a 62-mile timed recreational ride held on the challenging pro race course will once again highlight the weekend of community activities and benefit the Indian Creek Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled. Participation in the "Cyclo", is expected to increase as the ride no longer conflicts with the MS150 ride from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. More details on the 2006 event, including an expanded race route, will follow in the coming months. For more information visit www.univestgrandprix.com.

Sea Otter Classic brings $28 million to local economy

According to an economic impact report recently released by the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sea Otter Classic brings in an estimated revenue of $28.6 million for the local community. "With 69% of the audience coming from outside our local market, it not only brings in new revenue but helps in the marketing exposure of our destination," said Julie Armstrong, a spokesperson for the bureau.

Prepared by Fredric Kropp & Associates to assess the economic impact the 2005 Sea Otter Classic had on the greater Monterey/Salinas area, local businesses saw a large increase in revenue during the period that was directly linked to the Classic itself. Findings of the report include:

-When indirect multiplier effects are included, the total estimated impact on the Monterey/Salinas area is $21.51-$28.68 million, based on multipliers of 1.5 to 2.0.

-The direct estimate of the economic impact of the 2005 Sea Otter Classic on the greater Monterey/Salinas area is approximately $14.34 million. This consists of spectator spending of $10.51 million, athlete spending of $2.87 million, and vendor and sponsor spending of $0.92 million.

-In general, spectators were highly satisfied with the Sea Otter Classic - 89% of the respondents agreed that they would recommend the Sea Otter Classic to a friend; 87% agreed that the overall quality is good; and 82% plan to return within the next three years.

-In general, athletes were highly satisfied with the Sea Otter Classic - 96% of the respondents agreed that they would recommend the Sea Otter Classic to a friend, 91% said that their overall Sea Otter Classic experience was either good or excellent, and 95% plan to return within the next three years.

LeMond to feature at ICC awards

Greg LeMond will deliver the keynote address at the International Cycling Centre's annual awards dinner in Allentown, PA on October 7. Morgan Stanley and its Financial Advisors in Allentown, PA will be the presenting sponsor for this year's event. Designed as the "Oscars" of cycling, the 2006 event will be held at Bilera Hall on DeSales University campus, and will honour achievements in the sport and industry, combining the US Bicycling Hall of Fame awards. Festivities include dining, regional art display and silent auction, plus live music and raffle and door prizes. Tickets are $150 and as seating is limited confirmed reservations will be available until May 31. Visit www.bicyclecrossing.org for more information.

World champions to ride Oceania MTB Championships

In a major boost for the event, a host of world-class riders will ride the New Zealand Community Trust Oceania MTB Championships in Rotorua on March 3-5. French downhill legends Fabien Barel and Cedric Gracia will compete, along with Canadian Geoff Kabush plus Australians Sid Taberlay and Chris Jongewaard, who'll ride the cross country race. The course will be the one used for this year's world championships, and with most riders competing at the Commonwealth Games using the event as preparation for Melbourne two weeks later, competitive racing is guaranteed.

Barel, the reigning men's down hill world champion, should be competing against Australian Sam Hill, who was second to Barel at the 2005 World Championships in Italy. Barel's countryman Gracia, along with New Zealand's new national champion Nathan Rankin, Justin Leov and Glenn Haden will join riders from New Caledonia, Austria, Israel and Britain in the men's downhill competition. In the women's event, New Zealand's former world champions Vanessa Quin and Scarlett Hagen will ride for an Oceania title.

In the elite men's cross country race Canada's Geoff Kabush will push Australia's three Commonwealth Games riders Josh Fleming, Chris Jongewaard and Sid Taberlay all the way, and with New Zealand's Kashi Leuchs competing, a podium place will be a hard task. The women's cross country race has also attracted a big field, with New Zealand's national champion Rosara Joseph facing Kiara Bisaro (Canada), former world champion Lisa Mathison (Australia), Australian Commonwealth Games riders Claire Baxter, Emma Colson and Dellys Starr, plus Switzerland's Nathalie Schneittel and Eva Lechner from Italy (silver medalist, 2003 world championships) all featuring in Rotorua.

Nothin' to do but hit the dirt

Road riders found lurking at MTB race

Three former riders of the Belgium-based Team Cyclingnews.com found themselves on the same parcours last weekend, but this time it was the heat and dust of an eight-hour endurance MTB race in Lithgow, 150km west of Sydney, Australia. Gerard Knapp caught up with the trio to find out why they were there.

No more secret training
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

Nathan 'Chookman' Russell, Cody Stevenson and Josh Fleming were all racing in the first round of the RaceTech Working Week Series of endurance events held throughout NSW. For Fleming, it's not such a surprise given his credentials as a mountain bike racer - he's part of Australia's MTB squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games - but it was a first-time experience for both Russell and Stevenson. Further, neither of the former team-mates knew they'd be racing in the same event - so much for any secret training.

And how did these experienced roadies find it? Well, harder than they thought it would be, particularly for Russell and Stevenson, who raced in the 'solo' category. But still, Stevenson finished sixth in the hardest men's group, while 'Chookman' came in 10th.

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