First Edition Cycling News for February 17, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
All systems go for first Tour of California
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
It has been a long time coming, and now the North American cycling fans, as well as the rest of the cycling world, will know if the new Tour of California will live up to the hype to become the top race in the land. Finishing in Los Angeles, the race begins on Sunday with a prologue in San Francisco - from the Embarcadero through Telegraph Hill up to the finish at Coit Tower. The start city is a little ironic with the last pro cycling race in San Francisco having been run out of town by the city. Regardless, one thing is certain, the cast of characters set to play out the drama on the roads past Hollywood shows that people are taking this race seriously.
Without even glancing at the specific riders on the team list, the teams alone make for an impressive line-up. Of the sixteen teams in the race, half are ProTour squads - the most ever to race on this continent. The full T-Mobile team makes its debut in this hemisphere with the world time trial champion, Australian Mick Rogers, leading the way. T-Mobile is racing here in southern California, in part, for its bicycle sponsor Giant. "We are really excited about it," says Giant's Andrew Juskaitis. "We are a little hesitant of how successful it could be, but we are hoping it turns out to be a big deal. Obviously stage seven finishes in our back yard and we are certainly going to take advantage of it with a huge party here. Not only just celebrating the race, but that our team is here. It's almost a homecoming for us!"
Of course, many in America will be looking at the Discovery Channel team - not only for a win, but to see the first step in a process to replace Lance Armstrong. "Tour of California is an important race for us," director Johan Bruyneel said at the team's presentation last month. "The course is great and we are going to bring a strong team. The most important guys are going to be Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Ekimov and Paolo Savoldelli."
Rogers ready for T-Mobile debut
Michael Rogers will be making his debut with the T-Mobile Team at the Tour of California, which starts on Sunday. The eight-day stage race will start with a prologue in San Francisco, and it should suit Rogers' abilities.
"Michael trained well in the past weeks and should be able to aim for a top placing," said T-Mobile's directeur sportif Mario Kummer. "However, it's his first race this season, so one shouldn't expect too much from already." Kummer also tipped Rogers to do well in the third stage, a 27.4 km time trial.
Rogers isn't putting any pressure on himself: "It's my first competition," he said. "Although I did some riding in the wind tunnel at our sponsor Audi, I haven't yet tested the bike to the max in practice yet."
Also travelling to the US are Rogers' countryman Scott Davis, Dutchman Bas Giling, Austrian Bernhard Kohl and Czech Frantisek Rabon. Rounding out the roster are Olaf Pollack, André Korff und André Greipel from Germany. The three fast men are expected to put their skills to good use in sprint finals and go for stage wins.
Team manager Brian Holm predicts a tough race: "Given that the season is still in its early stage, it's a pretty intense race with numerous climbs. There's no way you can call this a preparation race," he said.
T-Mobile women down under
The T-Mobile women will start their season in a different hemisphere to the men. The squad will debut down under in Australia and New Zealand, starting next week. Their first race is the Geelong Tour in Australia from February 21-23. This is followed on February 26 by the first of 12 events in this year's World Cup series, and will also be in Geelong. Afterwards, the riders will travel to New Zealand, where they will compete in the Tour of New Zealand (March 1-3) and the subsequent New Zealand leg of the World Cup (March 5).
"It will be a big challenge", said sporting director Andrzej Bek. "It's summertime in the southern hemisphere and the Australians are in excellent form. With the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne following shortly after these races, the competition will be very strong and in peak fitness."
Captain and ten-time German Champion Ina-Yoko Teutenberg is confident: "It's the first race of the new T-Mobile Team, we are motivated and ready to race together as a team!"
The full roster is: Judith Arndt, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (both Germany), Lyne Bessette, Amy Moore (Canada), Magali Le Floch (France), Kimberly Baldwin (USA).
Simoni leads Saunier Duval in Tour of CA
The Saunier Duval-Prodir team will take part in the Tour of California, which begins on February 19, with the following riders: Gilberto Simoni, Koldo Gil, Ángel Gómez Marchante, Riccardo Riccò, José Alberto Benítez, Aaron Olson, Charles Dionne and Marco Pinotti.
After the race, four riders will head for San Diego to do wind tunnel tests: Simoni, Gil, and Marchante will be joined by David Millar. There they will fine tune their TT equipment and test out the new Scott Plasma frame.
CPA wants to continue negotiations with grand tours
In the ongoing battle between the UCI and the grand tour organisers over the ProTour, the Professional Riders Association says that it will keep talks open. At a recent meeting in Milan, attended by all interested parties, the CPA voted to set up a special commission that will be responsible for resuming negotiations with the organisers of the grand tours: ASO, RCS and Unipublic. The CPA strongly desires to reach a solution that will satisfy all parties, as the current debate is only damaging cycling.
Wildcards announced for Roubaix, Flèche, and Liège
ASO has announced the lists of teams that are eligible to ride its three big classics: Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Despite the ongoing conflict between ASO and the UCI over the ProTour, the 20 ProTour teams will be automatically given starting berths:
T-Mobile Team, Gerolsteiner, Lampre, Team Milram, Liquigas, Davitamon-Lotto, Quick Step-Innergetic, Rabobank, Team CSC, Phonak Hearing Systems, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Liberty Seguros-Würth, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Discovery Channel, AG2R Prevoyance, Cofidis, crédit par téléphone, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux, and Bouygues Telecom.
Five Professional Continental teams will be given wildcard slots for each race as follows:
Paris-Roubaix: Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Unibet.com, Skil-Shimano, Agritubel, Team L.P.R.
Flèche Wallonne: Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Unibet.com, Barloworld, and Agritubel.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Unibet.com, Barloworld, and Agritubel.
Revolution 12 wraps up season
Revolution 12 on Saturday, February 18 at the Manchester velodrome, will be the last chance for British fans to see Rob Hayles and Chris Newton in action before they make the trip to Australia to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
With the rest of the elite squad already down under, it will be up to Hayles and Newton to defend national pride against what will be the strongest international line up ever seen at a Revolution event. With four international teams including Matt Gilmore and Iljo Keisse from Belgium, Danny Stam and Peter Schep from Holland, Franco Marvulli and Alex Aeschbach from Switzerland, and Jimmi Madsen and Marc Hester from Denmark, the racing will be intense.
"With the line up at Revolution 12 the racing is going to be fast," commented Hayles. "I'm riding well at the moment and the preparation is going to plan so it will be good to get some fast racing in against the six day guys to fine tune my form, it should be an exciting end to the Revolution season so I'm looking forward to it."
For Newton, things haven't been running so smoothly as he suffered a deep cut to his hand in a crash at the end of the second stage at the Tour of Langkawi, "It was a sprint finish and I got edged out and there was only one place I could go and that was over my handlebars," said Newton. "I struggled a bit after that but it hasn't affected my preparation for the Games. I've had to do things a different way round but its all swings and roundabouts."
With a 20km madison serving as the final event on the program in Manchester, there have been concerns over Newton's participation, but the Recycling.co.uk rider is more than up for the challenge, "I'll be fine. I was a bit apprehensive when I heard the calibre of riders that will be there but the hand is healing up nicely so I don't think it will affect my performance. I'm feeling strong and I know Rob is so we will be ready to give it a good shot."
Hayles and Newton will be backed up by a strong domestic field featuring British Madison Champions Tony Gibb and James Taylor and DFL/Cyclingnews.com brothers Russell and Dean Downing.
More information: www.cyclingrevolution.com
Perth International GP a speedy affair
The Perth International GP, to be held on February 19, will showcase some of the world's best junior and senior talent in a three-hour festival of speed at Perth's Midvale Speeddome. The program features an international team sprint, with international riders such as Chris Hoy and Jason Queally riding against each other and the best of Australia's sprinting talent, including Ryan Bayley and Ben Kersten.
The speed continues with a women's keirin, where Queensland's Anna and Kerrie Meares will be continuing their Commonwealth Games preparation against American Jennie Reed, local girl Kristine Bayley and possibly Brit Victoria Pendleton over two heats, with the three fastest riders making their way to the final. A corresponding men's event will pit Ryan Bayley against Kersten, Shane Perkins and Shane Kelly plus other international stars all preparing for next month's Commonwealth Games.
Also featuring during the afternoon will be men's and women's derby races, providing another opportunity for Australia, England and Scotland to test each other out ahead of the Melbourne games. With the success of the WA endurance squad at the recent national titles, Western Australians Cameron and Travis Meyer, Scott Sunderland and Peter Dawson will ride the endurance events scheduled for the programme, up against riders such as Englishman Kristian House.
But it's all about speed on the afternoon of February 19, and those looking to watch the action from 3pm (gates open at 2pm) can purchase tickets through www.ticketmaster.com.au, the Western Australian Cycling Federation or on the day at Midvale Speeddome. Adults are $25, concession $10
Wired to Win in Australia
The IMAX movie Wired to Win is set to debut in Melbourne, Australia on February 23. The film follows Baden Cooke on his way to winning the green sprinter's jersey in the 2003 Tour de France, and his Française des Jeux teammate Jimmy Casper. It shows how the human brain allows elite athletes to compete and push themselves beyond ordinary limits.
"There are so many great cyclists who put themselves through so much, yet go unnoticed," said Baden Cooke. "Winning the green jersey has been one of the highlights of my career, and to have this captured on the giant screen is even more rewarding."
The film manages to capture the challenges a scientist can experience every day, piecing together the remarkable puzzle of the brain. This is set alongside the beautiful scenery of the French Alps, the knotted villages of Provence, and the chic streets of Paris.
To raise awareness of brain research, IMAX has partnered with the Howard Florey Institute, Australia's leading brain research institute in Melbourne, that uses the brain imaging technology demonstrated in the film to investigate the brain and work towards better treatments for brain disorders.
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