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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for February 24, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, assisted by Sabine Sunderland

Boonen and Nuyens lead Quick.Step at Het Volk

"This will be an important weekend," Quick.Step's Tom Boonen said of this Saturday's Omloop Het Volk. Boonen finished second last year behind his teammate Nick Nuyens. "I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait to be on the starting line. Our team is really good and we've got lots of very capable riders. The most important thing for me is that one of us is able to win even though there are five or six other 'big names' in good condition. I'm referring to Van Petegem or McEwen, who have both proven to be in excellent form.

"[Nick] Nuyens told me that the route has been changed, during the final there will be long straight sections. Most probably the race will be decided in the final sprint - we'll soon see. We've got lots of alternatives with Nick and the other team members. I'm in good form. On Monday and Tuesday, I trained in and around Monte Carlo for about five and a half hours each time. On Monday I also rode the last few kilometres of Milan-Sanremo, including the Cipressa and Poggio. It is always good re-riding this route."

Defending champion Nick Nuyens will be a handy alternative for the heavily marked Boonen. "I'm in good form and am pretty sure I'll do well during Saturday's race," he said. "We've got a very well-balanced team. As always, a little bit of luck helps in winning. I'm sure it will be fundamental to have more than one rider in the breakaway attempts that are sure to take place during the finale. The race route has changed slightly - during the final kilometres there will now be lots of very long straight sections that will only favour any chasers. We'll need to be very strong to win at the end of a breakaway. I think the wind will certainly play an important role in the race."

Kevin Van Impe, in his first season with Quick.Step, seems to have acclimatised quickly to his new surroundings, and is in full preparation to ride his first big race with the team: "We're one of the best teams starting the Omloop Het Volk this weekend. It's all new to me; to ride in full service of the team leaders. It's going to be quite special for me to ride in this area (Van Impe lives close to Zottegem), I'm expecting a lot of people to be cheering me on." he told local Kanaal3 TV.

Van Impe's well informed of what his duties will be on the weekend. "My task is to bring the team leaders to the front on the important stretches of the parcours and then try to keep hold of the group. My job will be just doing as I'm told really."

Quick.Step will field the following team for Het Volk: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Kevin Van Impe. D.S.: Wilfried Peeters.

For Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday, the squad will be Tom Boonen, Serge Baguet, Steven De Jongh, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Bram Tankink, Kevin Van Impe, and Wouter Weylandt. D.S.: Wilfried Peeters.

Paolo Bettini will be in action in Switzerland in the weekend's double header, riding the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano. He will be joined by Davide Bramati, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Hubert Schwab, Jurgen Van De Walle, Cedric Vasseur and Remmert Wielinga on Saturday, and Davide Bramati, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Hubert Schwab, Jurgen Van De Walle, Cedric Vasseur, and Remmert Wielinga on Sunday.

Boonen leads the way in promoting cycling in Belgium

The Tom Boonen juggernaut continues to roll on, with the World Champion notching up seven victories already this season. As well as giving Belgian cycling another lift, Boonen is now promoting a range of smallgoods... Sabine Sunderland reports on the latest round of Boonen-mania.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Cycling fever is rising in Belgium and even though Tom Boonen is training on the sunny Côte d'Azur and not on the parcours of Het Volk, the media are heating up the discussion about the next winner of the opening race of the 2006 calendar in Flanders. Tom Boonen's name seems to be named the most as possible winner, and his popularity in Belgium is benefiting the sport of cycling immensely. reports that everyone wants to be become the new Tom Boonen and they are actually not talking about the other sprinters in the peloton. According to the latest figures, last year no less than 587 kids signed up with a cycling club in Belgium, a considerable growth of 42% compared to five years ago.

Former cycling start Rik Van Looy comments: "A similar progress was noted in tennis over the last years, thanks to the successes of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, and currently cycling is profiting from the success of Tom Boonen. Tom Boonen is a the guy of the many victories. He's an example for our youth."

If you really would like to get a piece of Tommeke Boonen, you can now literally put your teeth in. The World Champion will be featuring in the publicity for Fresty Fresh, a new brand of meats, sandwich spreads and sauces produced by Van Baelen NV. Not only the food sector has discovered Boonen as a great marketing tool; he'll also be the face of a telecommunication company and a third endorsement is being analysed.

Click here for the full feature.

Nichols and Rhodes ready for Geelong World Cup

By John Flynn

Esteemed company
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Perhaps the most inspiring story to emerge from the three-day Geelong Tour, won yet again by Oenone Wood, was the performance of New South Wales Institute of Sport cyclist Kate Nichols.

A member of the A.I.S. team involved in last July's tragedy in Germany, Nichols' return to racing continues to build momentum and there was no wiping the smile from her face after claiming one of the intermediate sprints during the final stage.

"I've been really pleased with the tour I think it's my best ever," a beaming Nichols told Cyclingnews. "I'm stoked with how I went in the prologue and I was up there in the crit. In a few road stages I picked up a few sprint points just to try and move up a few places on G.C. and finish in that top ten."

It's been a huge week for the young Australian who is still getting used to competing with Olympic and World Championships and more to the point being up there with them on the road.

"Obviously it's their off season but it's amazing to be amongst them," Nichols said. "I had a go in all areas of the racing, I'm in amongst it and I'm looking forward to the World Cup. Hopefully it'll be tough because that's how I like it."

Alexis Rhodes
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Fellow A.I.S. cyclist Alexis Rhodes will also compete in Sunday's Geelong World Cup after enjoying a mixed bag in the three day Geelong Tour.

Today's final stage turned out to be a hard day at the office for the South Australian, whose comeback to the sport has already brought a national criterium championship and medals at the recent national track championships.

"Yesterday was not a bad day for me, today I had a bit of bad luck," Rhodes said. "Someone ran into my rear wheel and pushed it into my frame and I thought I'd broken a spoke, so I sort of stopped and fixed it up. Got back on, then I punctured at the bottom of the hill."

As one of the senior Australian rider in the peloton sees it, the likes of Alexis Rhodes and Kate Nichols can only benefit from racing the Geelong Tour and Geelong World Cup.

Wood early favourite for New Zealand World Cup

Defending World Cup champion, Australian Oenone Wood, is shaping as one of the favourites to take out next week's New Zealand leg of the women's cycling World Cup in Wellington.

The teams for the race on Sunday March 5, and the preceding three-day Trust House Cycle Tour have now been confirmed by race director Jorge Sandoval. Wood will be racing as part of her German professional team, Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. Other top contenders include 2005 world champion Judith Arndt from Germany, riding with the German T-Mobile team, and two-time world champion Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden, who'll race with a composite international team.

Three teams have been entered by BikeNZ, including the Trust House New Zealand national team, which features Olympic track champion Sarah Ulmer and top Kiwi contender Melissa Holt.

Sandoval said with national and professional teams from 19 countries making up the field, this is arguably the country's biggest women's sporting event this year.

On Tuesday the 124 competitors will ride through central Wellington, leaving Parliament at 12:30, headed for a Mayoral Reception in Civic Square. The event launch takes place at the National Library Auditorium, 58-78 Molesworth Street, Wellington on Wednesday 1st March at 11.00am. This will include the presentation of teams and media opportunities.

The Trust House Cycle Tour gets under way with a criterium around the Lower Hutt CBD on Wednesday evening (March 1).

More information:

Barloworld ready for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo

With a busy spring of racing coming up, Team Barloworld is keen to test its form in Switzerland this weekend at the GP di Chiasso on Saturday, February 25 and then the GP di Lugano on Sunday, February 26.

The results obtained so far this season, including a third place by Mauro Facci in the Classic Haribo in France, have allowed team manager Claudio Corti to plan a busy March and April. The South African-sponsored and British-registered team will take part in all the races organised by RCS Sport in Italy, including the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race and the Milan-Sanremo one-day classic.

After the Italian races Team Barloworld will head to Belgium for the spring classics, with the team already invited to ride the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche-Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

"We're really satisfied with the races we're about ride, because the team has earned the right to be in them with some strong riding," Corti explained. "They're big and very prestigious races and is a great start for the Barloworld team and very important for the long term plans we're working on for the future."

In Switzerland the team will race with the following riders: Igor Astarloa, who has for now recovered from his hand tendon problems, Gianpaolo Cheula, Mads Christensen, Alex Efimkin, Mauro Facci, Rodney Green, Tiaan Kannemeyer and Jeremy Maartens. Alberto Volpi will direct the team.

Classics accessible for handicapped spectators

The Belgian INTRO organisation will see to it that from this season onwards disabled people can enjoy being at the start and finish of important races. Allocated places will be reserved in the spectator tribunes and special parking places provided. In the close vicinity of those locations, toilet facilities will be accessible for people in wheelchairs.

Flemish minister of equal opportunities, Kathleen Van Brempt, will present the initiative at the start of the Omloop Het Volk in Gent on Saturday. For the Vlaamse Pijl, the E3 Prize, the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem the same facilities will be provided for disabled cycling fans.

People interested in this initiative can contact Intro via e-mail at

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