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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for February 17, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Floyd Landis: Settling into team leadership role

Floyd Landis
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Ever since leaving the US Postal team at the end of 2004, Floyd Landis has been working towards emulating the Tour-winning feats of his former leader Lance Armstrong. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to him at the Phonak pre-season training camp and discovered that he is raring to go in 2006.

This weekend's start to the Amgen Tour of California sees Floyd Landis get his season under way on home soil. The 30 year-old is in his second year with the Phonak team and is hoping to step up to a higher level in 2006, with a stronger challenge in the Tour de France his main goal.

Landis finished a solid ninth in the race last time round and says that, having learned a lot from his first time as team leader for the race, he is confident that he can go quite a bit higher in the future. Indeed he believes that the top step of the podium is reachable if everything clicks just right.

"I think it is possible for me to win the Tour," he told Cyclingnews at the recent Phonak training camp in Mallorca. "I am not predicting I will win it, but if I get things go to plan and don't get unlucky, anything can happen there. It is three weeks [long] and it is possible that I can win. It is also possible that five, or six, or ten other guys can win. That is what makes it such a great race. But I believe that I can do it, if things go right."

Landis was in strong form at the camp, showing good climbing legs in the hills and also a determination to get stuck in and do some high-intensity speedwork on the flat. The Tour is still quite a way off but the opportunity to do something on home soil means that he'd like to ride well before then.

"It is definitely good to do well at home," he elaborated. "The objective is the Tour, but if those two [the Tour of California and Tour of Georgia] fit into that plan, then so be it. I should be in decent shape for the Tour of California. The Tour of Georgia finishes a week or 10 days before the Giro, so I don't know - I will see how it works out."

In a bid to gain extra strength before the Tour, Landis will join such other big-name riders such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso in the 2006 Giro d'Italia. He's finalised what should be his program for the first half of the season, with everything being carefully worked out to get him into peak shape come July.

"Right now, I plan to do California, then Paris-Nice, Criterium International, the Tour of Georgia again. So everything is the same until then. Then, after that, I will probably do the Giro and the Tour. If I do the Giro, and I probably will, it will just be to ride. No other agenda whatsoever...I don't think it would be wise to try to win both. It has happened before, but it is rare. For an American, the only thing that really matters is the Tour; that is the biggest thing in all of cycling. So we will take a risk and gamble on that, I think that is the best thing to do."

Click here for the full interview

Broken wrist doesn't stop Zajicek

Phil Zajicek will be lining up with the Navigators team to compete in the Tour of California, which starts this weekend. The American broke his wrist when he crashed in last month's Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia, but told Cyclingnews that he didn't know it was broken until he returned home. "A nice ti screw through the scaphoid and I'm all better now," he said.

Power gets operation to correct vascular problem

By Shane Stokes

Navigators Insurance professional Ciarán Power is recovering after he underwent surgery last Tuesday week in France in order to correct a long-running injury. Power was recently told that the leg problem, which cropped up after he finished 13th in the 2004 Olympic Games road race in Athens, was a trapped nerve issue. However further test showed conclusively that an earlier diagnosis of endofibrosis was correct, a blood flow obstruction in his external iliac artery leading to the symptoms of numbness and a loss of power.

"It turns out it was a vascular problem after all," said Power before the operation. "I had a test done here which showed a lesion in the artery. I will be in hospital for a week."

Speaking at the Tour de Langkawi, Navigators manager Ed Beamon told said that it has been a frustrating experience for Power and the team. "Mid-season, we were pretty convinced that [endofibrosis] was what the problem was. Then when Ciarán went back to Ireland they started doing other things and switched the whole thing around on him. He went to see one specialist and this guy was convinced that it was a nerve passage thing. So it is very frustrating.

"He originally went home to have the vascular operation in October. It is crazy. They [the doctors] switched the whole thing around and now it is the start of the season and he has had to get it done now. We had him pretty focused and motivated for the early spring stuff but that's out the window.

"The diagnosis has gone back to endofibrosis now. It is a vascular problem, in other words. He had three or four different tests in the past week to absolutely affirm that is what it is and to pinpoint the exact location.

"It is better that we know unequivocally that this is what it is, and that the operation is what they have to do. [Stuart] O'Grady had a similar operation a couple of years ago, to widen an artery. It will take three months for him to get back to training hard. He actually had a pretty good winter until he got sidetracked, so at least he has got some base to fall back on. I think if he recovers well, he could be back on the bike in two months."

Beamon says that the new team program will play in Power's favour. "We are going to have a more aggressive [European] campaign in the second half of the year than in recent years, so hopefully at the very least he can be back in April and May and be a go-to guy in the second half."

Liquigas in France

The Liquigas team will take part in the two French races this weekend: the Tour du Haut Var on Saturday, February 18, and the Classic Haribo, on Sunday, February 19. Team manager Mario Chiesa will lead a squad featuring some young talented riders: Daniele Colli, Michael Albasini, Vincenzo Nibali, Eros Capecchi, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Failli, Nicola Loda, and Charles Wegelius.

"These races are very different," said Chiesa. "The Tour du Haut Var has a tough undulating route. I expect especially Nibali and Albasini to perform well. On the other hand, the route of the Classic Haribo is best for sprinters. So, Colli may have a chance to win."

McGrory to ride Bendigo Madison

Olympic gold medalist Scott McGrory will once again ride the McCaig & Daikin Air Conditioning Bendigo International Madison, which takes place between March 10-12 in Bendigo, Australia. McGrory will team with Danish rider Jimmi Madsen in an attempt to win his third madison title. Madsen who has been targeted by the Bendigo madison committee for a number of years, has finally agreed to race. McGrory and Madsen have ridden together on a number occasions in the lucrative six day races in Europe. Together they have won the Ghent Six Day back in 1999.

Madsen is a complete rider, who has the speed and strength needed in madison racing, and this makes him a most feared competitor. Together, he and McGrory will make a formidable team in the 200 lap event. Madsen has competed in three Olympic Games while McGrory has contested two over a 14 year span. Madsen has won seven six day events in Europe while McGrory has 14 victories. Both have represented their countries at World championships over 10 times.

Scott McGrory, who is now based in Bendigo, sees the McCaig Airconditioning Madison as his home event. Missing last year through illness, McGrory is eager to stamp his superiority on the event once again. His class and experience along with a great partner will see this pairing go in as one of the definite favourites.

For more information: www.madison.org.au

Nixon heads up Malaysian cycling program

Life after 40 heads down a different track

By Gerard Knapp

Lyn Nixon, Malaysia's new head coach
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

Her description in reports when racing as an elite cyclist was "always Lyn Nixon, mother of two", such was the novelty of a mother with teenage children racing among women considerably younger and unencumbered with family responsibilities. Nixon represented Australia at the highest level, was open road champion and at the same time also managed to raise her family. Now in her mid '40s and "officially empty-nested", she has taken on a somewhat different career trajectory - that of head coach of the cycling program for Malaysia.

Nixon lives in Western Australia and "was in a suit in a corporate marketing job" after retiring as an elite cyclist. At the same time, she was studying coaching and training a women's group in riding skills. Nixon met officials from the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) and suggested they think of using her home city, Perth, as a training base prior to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

In the lead-up to the Games, the Western Australian capital city has found favour with elite riders from UK nations such as England, Scotland and Wales due its warm, dry weather, relatively light traffic and flat roads. Also, the Western Australia Institute of Sport (WAIS) is very accommodating and helpful to visiting riders, so Nixon suggested the Malaysians may also like to use Perth as a base to prepare. Much to her surprise, the MNCF told her they were sending almost all their national squad to Perth. The then head coach resigned his position, so the MNCF offered the job to Nixon, who was both surprised and delighted to take on the job.

Her first task - and with only several days notice - was to get the Malaysian track riders prepared to enter the Australian National Track Cycling Championships (the Malaysians, as well as riders from the USA, were allowed to compete in the Australian championships). In fact, it is this aspect of cycling in Australia that convinced Nixon she should take the job. "Australian cycling has been really supportive. Martin Barras (Australia's national sprint coach) has been my mentor coach and he's been absolutely brilliant, so helpful.

"I wouldn't have taken on this job without their support," she said.

Click here for the full story.

Meet Team TIAA-CREF

Team TIAA-CREF, America's young developmental professional cycling team, will be holding two "meet and greet" sessions at Chipotle restaurants. On Friday, February 17, the team will be at Chipotle San Francisco (126 New Montgomery) at 1:30 pm. On Wednesday, February 22 at 6:30 pm, the team will be at Chipotle Monterey (500 Del Monte Center).

Team manager Jonathan Vaughters will be present, along with 2001 World Champion Danny Pate, and other rising stars from the team. There will be an opportunity to enter a competition to win a package to see the final stage of the Tour de France, including a three night stay in Paris for two, and a live view of the final circuit from the five star Hotel de Crillon.

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