First Edition Cycling News for February 23, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
McEwen targeting Het Volk
Davitamon-Lotto's biggest star, Robbie McEwen, is ready for the opening race Omloop Het Volk in Belgium, although his wife Angélique should be giving birth to their second child any day. "I think I've got a fair chance of winning the Omloop Het Volk," he told Belgian Sporza radio. "I think it's logical that Peter [Van Petegem] is also team leader for this weekend; but this really is a race for me, I think. In previous years it was hard for me to start this race in good health, but if you can finish in the front group or top four like I have done, then you can win. It's a goal for me, but not the most important of the season."
McEwen is naturally distracted by the arrival of the baby. "My preparation wasn't ideal as my wife will give birth soon," he continued. "It was to be last Monday but it didn't happen - still hasn't - and clearly, if my wife is going to give birth on Saturday, I won't be riding."
The Australian sprinter hasn't been racing since the GP Costa Azul, but spent some time in training. "I've trained in my garage on the home-trainer; not the ideal circumstances," McEwen explained. "I've tried my best to train but naturally I wanted to be home for my wife. I've trained five hours on the parcours today, with Van Petegem and a few guys of the Quick.Step team. I don't feel too bad. The last race was in Portugal where I won, but by Saturday it will have been two weeks without a race - that's a long time without competition. I'll do my best. I knew it was going to be hard to prepare properly for this race but I've got a good feeling."
This year, McEwen made the right decisions to be an early starter into the season and staying in good health. "I've taken it easier in December this time," the 33 year-old said. "I've changed my program this year. I haven't raced Qatar after the Tour Down Under to avoid getting sick like I did previous years because of the racing and travelling. I am still fresh and that's good. It's not ideal for the Omloop but it is for the races in March."
Naming his teammate Van Petegem, Tom Boonen and Andreas Klier as the "main guys to expect on Saturday", McEwen is hoping for sunny skies for the weekend. "They predict good weather (sic) so it will be a big group going to the finish - maybe 40 to 50 men of which I'll be part hopefully. I prefer it to stay dry, it can be cold as long as it's dry: I can do it in the rain but prefer not to."
Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland
Winter time in Belgium
Belgium's weather forecast is looking rather cold for the upcoming week-end: with minimal temperatures down to -3° Celsius and a possibility of snow on Friday, the season starter Omloop Het Volk scheduled for Saturday is again at risk. Two years ago, the race had to be cancelled because of the weather, but this year the organisers are determined to go ahead with it.
"If it snows, we have to cancel the race," Lucien Van Hoorde announced. "But we'll wait until the very last moment. We can also take an alternative route by riding around the Oude Kwaremont, the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Molenberg."
Naturino for Swiss races
Italian team Naturino-Sapore di Mare has announced its roster for the GP Città di Chiasso and the GP di Lugano taking place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 of February. Filippo Simeoni, Luigi Sestili, Massimo Giunti, Luca Pierfelici, Massimiliano Gentili, Alexander Bazhenov, Cristian Gasperoni, Emanuele Rizza and Leonardo Giordani will line up at the events under the supervision of directeur sportif Antonio Salutini.
"They are two hard and very demanding races," Salutini said. "We will participate with a highly-experienced team, of which some riders may well be up for victory like the Russian Bazhenov or Giordani, who have already a lot of kilometres in their legs. Our young neo-pro Pierfelici will also make its debut."
Gilmore injured in Geelong Tour
By John Michael Flynn
Australian Commonwealth Games cyclist Rochelle Gilmore is undergoing scans on an injured knee following a nasty crash in the final kilometre of the third stage of Australia’s Geelong Tour on February 22. Gilmore was one of fourteen riders who hit the deck at the end of the 76 kilometre-stage at Barwon Heads on Victoria’s Surf Coast.
Gilmore will undergo hospital scans to determine if there is any serious damage to her right knee. "I'm most worried about the bump on my knee that’s come up straight away," Gilmore said. "The last couple of k’s were chaotic for everybody: everyone was taking risks that we shouldn’t. I would admit that I was taking risks but it takes two to tango."
The crash occurred when two riders at the front of the bunch locked handlebars and another cyclist behind them hit the brakes. "We weren't giving up wheels," Gilmore recounted of the crash with 200 metres to go. "I wanted Ina's wheel and she had T-Mobile girls trying to push me off it, trying to keep her wheel clear, it was just really rough out there."
For the full report of the Geelong Tour stage three, click here.
Van Goolen breaks hip
Bad news for Team Discovery Channel: young Belgian rider Jurgen Van Goolen started out the season at the Tour of Algarve, but fell during the race and has now been diagnosed with a broken hip. "Surgery is not necessary," team director Dirk Demol told Belgian media. "It will heal better if he rests for six weeks. At first, we though that it was only a sprain, but his spring season is over."
The 25 year-old, who came to the American squad from Quick.Step, will be replaced by Benjamin Noval at the first Belgian races this weekend.
Sutton in road rage incident
Chris Sutton (Cofidis) was involved in a road rage incident in the South of Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, February 21. The Australian pro cyclist was training with a group of 20 riders from the St George Cycling Club on General Holmes Drive in Brighton-Le-Sands at about 5.40am, when a 50 year-old man drove out of a service station, followed the cyclists and crossed three lanes to drive up on them, narrowly missing the leading rider.
"I've grown up with cycling all my life, and it's always been dangerous on the roads, but just of late it's been getting out of control," Sutton told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Every year I come back from Europe and over there people are really nice, but when you come home it's almost like you're scared to ride on the roads. You go for a nice ride to Cronulla or somewhere and people are beeping their horns and yelling stuff out the windows. We're not like other athletes, swimmers are in the pool, athletes are on the track, but we have to ride on the roads."
The driver, from Rockdale in Sydney's south, was arrested and will face Downing Centre Local Court on March 17, charged with dangerous and negligent driving.
A St George Cycling Club official, whose name was not be revealed as he had been harassed by callers who tracked down his phone number, said road rage targeting cyclists in and around Sydney occurred on a daily basis. "We're riding early in the morning and against the traffic, but if we hold some motorists up for five or 10 seconds they think it's their God-given right to have a shot at us," he commented.
Encino Velodrome announces Hansing Memorial Cup Series
The Encino Velodrome in Los Angeles, California, has announced the 2006 Bob Hansing Memorial Cup Track Race Series. Four award types (best overall, best sprinter, best endurance racer and most aggressive) will be given on the basis of points acquired during Bob Hansing Memorial Cup Series designated Omniums at the Encino Velodrome in each of five competitive categories: 1/2/3, Masters 40+, Women, 4/5, and Juniors.
The race series will begin in March and finish in September. Racers can compete in as few or as many of the Bob Hansing Memorial Cup Series Omniums as they wish. Points accumulate throughout the year and will be tabulated on an ongoing basis. All points will count towards a racer's overall series results.
Starting with the second event in the series, the leaders in each award competition will wear a specially coloured number, similar to the leaders' jerseys in the Tour de France: yellow for the overall leader, green for the sprint leader, red for the endurance leader and purple for the leader in the most aggressive competition. At the end of the series, trophies will be awarded to the four award winners (best overall, best sprinter, best endurance racer and most aggressive) in each of the five categories (1/2/3, Masters 40+, Women, 4/5, and Juniors) - 20 awards in all.
Full race schedule and Cup Series rules can be found at encinovelodrome.org.
SEQ Tour sponsored by Cannondale
Cannondale Australia has been confirmed as the naming sponsor of the South East Queensland Tour race series. Asserting its support of the domestic racing scene, Cannondale Australia’s General Manager Lucien Loyens and Queensland State Manager Neil Eichorn viewed the opportunity to become involved as "natural" considering their company’s desire to be recognized as dynamic, supportive and involved at all levels of the sport.
A major launch will be held for the Cannondale-South East Queensland Tour at Vino’s Bar and Restaurant on March 15, 7pm. All are welcome to attend and all details are available at www.seqtour.com.
45th edition of UK's Soens Memorial
With entries already topping 100, the 45th Eddie Soens Memorial Cycle Race at Aintree Racecourse close to Liverpool, UK on Saturday, March 4, looks set to be a hotly contested affair. Three-time winner Tony Gibb returns with a strong PCA team (including former Milk Race winner Malcolm Elliott) in a bid for win number four. Robin Sharman and Ben Elliott represent the new look Recycling.co.uk squad who dominated last year’s Soens, whilst former GB International Matt Stephens will also be looking to make his mark. Former winners Julian Ramsbottom and Matt Bottrill also take the start.
Famous sports clothing brand Le Coq Sportif will be sponsoring the points competition at the race. The company - whose heritage includes supplying leaders jersey’s for the Tour de France - will have a strong presence at the event.
The race is also supported by Impsport and The Aintree Race Course Company, and Silverbeck Rymer Solicitors will celebrate 10 successive years as the event’s major sponsor.
Further details can be found on www.ccs-uk.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk.
IMAX teams up with new women's squad for Wired to Win premiere
With the premiere of the new IMAX film Wired to Win on February 23, fledgling women's team Chase Smart Mercedes-Benz will launch its squad at Melbourne's IMAX theatre at 7pm the same evening to coincide the release of the film. As a special for Cyclingnews readers, mention the Chase Smart Mercedes-Benz women's team on arrival and receive tickets for $12.50 instead of the normal $17.00 admission.
The production, which is made by Partners HealthCare and nWave Pictures and has support from Ortho McNeil Neurologics and the U.S. National Science Foundation, features Australian sprinter Baden Cooke as he rides to a green jersey at the 2003 Tour de France. It examines a rider's ability to handle pain and compete in what is arguably one of world's toughest sporting competitions. It's sure to provide a fascinating insight into what it takes to succeed and the extent of riders' mental and physical limits.
See http://www.imaxmelbourne.com.au/ for more details
Cyclingnews' WAP service with new browser link
As the Tour of California winds its way south from the San Francisco Bay area to the greater Los Angeles area, cycling fans don't have to miss the action thanks to Cyclingnews' free WAP service.
Please note that the browser link has changed to live.cyclingnews.com/wap. Just enter it on your handheld device or WAP-enabled phone and you can follow all the action of the 2006 Tour of California.
Cyclingnews publisher Gerard Knapp explained how the WAP service allows users to follow all the action. "All efforts have been made to ensure our Cyclingnews WAP service works really well, and after a lot of testing and research, we know it's far superior to SMS updates - we're the only web site in the world offering a free WAP service. Anyone with a WAP compatible handset or handheld device can get our WAP service link and watch live coverage free of charge from CN, although users may require a data package/browsing rate from their mobile phone company."
Any of Cyclingnews' live coverage can be followed via this free service.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)