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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 1, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Meirhaeghe back at Landbouwkrediet-Colnago

2003 Mountainbike World Champion Filip Meirhaeghe has signed a three-year contract with Belgian Continental Pro team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, for whom he had already raced in 2002. The 34 year-old will participate in Road as well as Mountainbike races, as this discipline is still the Belgian's greatest ambition. Therefore, the team has announced the creation of a mountainbike team named Versluys-Landbouwkrediet-Sportstech.

"I've known Filip Meirhaeghe as a valuable rider on road, mountainbike and even track," said the team's general manager Gerard Bulens. "Indeed, I'm a great supporter of his and want to give him a second chance." Meirhaeghe tested positive for EPO at the Mont Saint Anne race in Canada in June 2004 and then admitted his doping offense openly. While being punished with a 15-month ban from cycling, the Belgian wrote a book (Positive). His ban is due to end on January 14, 2006.

"I'm very happy and would like to thank all my sponsors," Meirhaeghe said. "I will keep on fighting and do everything I can to fulfil my promises. I shouldn't say this but Beijing 2008 could be a goal for me; at least I have two years to prepare for it."

Furlan signs with Colombia-Selle Italia

According to Italian news site, Angelo Furlan has found a new team just before the new year, signing a deal with manager Gianni Savio of Continental Pro team Colombia-Selle Italia. Furlan, who has been a professional bike racer since 2001, has achieved four victories in his career and numerous placings in Grand Tours' sprints. Last season, the 28 year-old was part of Domina Vacanze after having spent the first years of his career with Alessio.

Another "Christmas Prize" for Aldag

By Susan Westemeyer

Only 24 hours after winning the Christmas Prize race in Dortmund, T-Mobile's Rolf Aldag received an even better Christmas present: a daughter. His wife Eva delivered the couple's first child, Maddy, in Ahlen, Germany, on Tuesday, December 27. The baby measured 52 cm and weighed 3000 grams.

"Thank goodness it's a girl," said Aldag. "That means I won't have to take her to cycling races every weekend in the future." (Has Aldag never heard of women's cycling?) Maddy Aldag is the second T-Mobile Christmas baby, as Finn Oscar Schreck was born the previous week.

Burnie Carnival postponed

By Anthony Tan in Burnie

As riders awoke to the pitter patter, pitter patter of rain on their windows the morning of New Year's Day, management of the Burnie Athletic Club - host of the 119th annual Tasmanian Christmas Carnival in Burnie - made the decision to postpone the day's racing until tomorrow, Monday January 2.

Burnie Athletic Club president, Mr Joe Vascocz, standing in a wet and windy West Park, said he was left with no alternative but to postpone the carnival. "It's disappointing for all concerned, but we have to keep in mind people who are travelling a lot of distance throughout the state to be here, so we hade to make a decision early," he said.

Cyclingnews confirmed the postponement with S.C.A.T. president Grant Atkins, who said the decision was made at 9:00am Sunday morning by the Burnie Athletic Club: "It's their decision, their event. It'll be exactly the same program tomorrow," said Atkins.

More than 50mm of rain had fallen overnight and more was forecast throughout the day, although easing. It's not the first time the Burnie Carnival has been put off; bad weather has dogged the event on at least six occasions with the last time in 2002, also occuring on New Year's Day.

"Some interstate riders, including some from the Victorian Institute of Sport have to go back and we understand that," Atkins said. "But we've been in contact with riders like Ben Kersten and Christian Lademann, who have indicated they'd like to stay and are in the process of trying to change their flights."

Rain had already eased early Sunday afternoon, and according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, tomorrow's weather should be fine with moderate to fresh westerly winds and a forecast maximum of 21, although there is the chance of a late shower.

Racing is due to commence at 10:00am. Burnie Athletic Club president Mr Joe Vascocz has urged all competitors to be at the ground early for advice on possible heat and handicap changes.

Yesterday, the weather held out long enough in Burnie for a series of street criteriums to be held on New Year's Eve - see full results, report & photos.

Harman in the lead for Rider-of-the-Season award

By Rod Morris in Devonport, Tasmania

New Devonport Wheel champion, Jarrod Harman has moved into the lead in Cycling Tasmania's Rider-of-the-Season award with just five carnivals left to determine the winner. Harman enjoyed a successful night at the final session of the Devonport Carnival, winning both the $7000 Devonport Wheelrace and the C Grade Scratch.

The dual wins elevated him to 23 points and level with Launceston's Tom Robinson, who had a barren night in regard of podium placings. Harman however took the lead courtesy of a countback - four wins, compared to Robinson's three.

Harman has also leapt into outright second on Cycling Tasmania's Order-of-Merit, with season earnings of $5195, but still well behind the leader, Matt Goss, who has amassed $8875, courtesy of a $7500 payout for winning the Latrobe Wheel on Boxing Day.

The CT award is based on a sliding points scale on all handicap finals and all graded scratch races at every Tasmanian track carnival with events at Burnie, Hobart, Rosebery, Mersey Valley and St Helens still to be raced. Outside of Robinson, Harman's biggest dangers include veteran Steve Martini (20 points), Goss (18), Nathan Clarke (18), Will Robinson (17) and Burnie's Aaron Jones (17).

South Riana rider Karissa Ling extended her narrow lead in the women's category to two points, with Sarah Cure, Jessica Berry and Grace Sulzberger the closest challengers.

Luke Ockerby continues to dominate the junior award, stretching his lead to 10-points over Ben Grenda and then a further seven points to Izac Guest and Andrew Smith. Riders will be keen to chase further points in today's Burnie New Year's Day Carnival.

Award update


1 Jarrod Harman          23 pts
2 Tom Robinson           23
3 Steve Martini          20
4 Matt Goss              18
5 Nathan Clarke          18
6 Will Robinson          17
7 Aaron Jones            17
8 Travis Meyer           15
9 John Forrest           14
10 Ben Kersten           14

1 Karissa Ling           25 pts
2 Sarah Cure             23
3 Jessica Berry          18
4 Grace Sulzberger       18
5 Emma Smith             17
6 Emma Heynes            16
7 Laura McCaughey        13
8 Tarrisha Jones         13
9 Belinda Goss           11
10 Bethany Coleman       11

1 Luke Ockerby           55 pts
2 Ben Grenda             45
3 Izac Guest             38
4 Andrew Smith           38
5 David Stride           37
6 Sam Brett              37
7 Matthew Kent           27
8 Peter Loft             26
9 Drew Redman            26
10 Amy Cure              26

T-Mobile trains into the New Year

By Susan Westemeyer

New Year's Eve is celebrated by pro cyclists, of course, but in Germany they must train first. T-Mobile's Steffen Wesemann will put in his round in the morning - more likely on cross-country skis than on the bike - before seeing the New Year in with his family.

It is the first time in 10 years that Wesemann will celebrate at home. "In the past years we have been either in Australia or Arizona," the German noted, but with the oldest children in school, that is no longer possible.

His teammates André Korff and Andreas Klöden and families are vacationing in Zillertal, Austria. The families will celebrate together, with a few fireworks for Niclas (4) and Luisa Korff (7), and Felicitas Klöden (4) to enjoy. It is hoped that Leticia Klöden (six months) will sleep through the excitement. On the first day of the New Year, however, the two pros will put on their cross-country skis for a training round. "We trained well in South Africa and want to stay at that level, so that we can arrive at our training camp on Mallorca on January 4 in good condition," said Korff.

First Univega team meeting in the snow

The first Univega Pro Cycling Team meeting became an arctic adventure, as it took place from December 28-29 in the skiing area of Engelberg, Switzerland. The objective of the meeting was to integrate the new team members and strengthen the team spirit.

Except for Pascale Schnider, who is staying in L.A. at the moment, Emma Rickards and Joanne Kiesanowski, the whole team gathered at the mountain hotel Trübsee-Hof. Nicole Cooke, the new leader, visited Switzerland for the first time and was enchanted by the white splendour of the mountainous landscape.

After agreeing on the racing program for 2006, the team management announced the goals for the new season: A placing among the best three UCI Pro Teams at the end of next year, the overall World Cup 2006 for Cooke, and the victory in one of the Grand Tours. "If you have the current TT World Champion Karin Thürig, the vice World Champion road 2005 Nicole Cooke as well as a number of good and experienced riders in the team, the expectations of course are very high for next year," said team director Thomas Campana. "That's high level sports and we want to live up to its expectations."

After the meetings, the team members were served a Swiss cheese fondue in an igloo village, where they "comfortably" spent the night in polar sleeping-bags with temperatures of 2° Celsius. The riders and staff agreed that it had been a lot of fun, and were already anticipating the next meeting at the training camp in Melbourne, Australia, starting in the first week of January.

Gustov starting over

Volodymir Gustov, who just like Fabian Cancellara and Ivan Basso will join Team CSC from Fassa Bortolo, is looking forward to his seventh season as a professional next year, especially since the team change represents a new beginning after many years in the same squad. "In a way it feels like starting all over after six years on the same team," Gustov said. "I'm very motivated to show something. So my ambition is to prove I fit in the team and then to do as good as possible, when racing."

A first step in integrating the team led by Bjarne Riis has been made at the training camp in December, which the Ukrainian enjoyed. "It was great," Gustov recalled. "I was in the military in Ukraine, but this was completely different and of course with a different objective. It was really interesting to solve the many assignments together with my teammates, and I believe that's something we can use in the new season."

Gustov hopes to participate once again in the Tour de France, which he rates as his biggest accomplishment so far in his career. As for his personal goals, the 28 year-old denied having set his mind on any particular event. "I must admit that there's no particular race I'd like to win the most," Gustov continued. "I haven't won a lot of races, so when it happens, it's always a big thing for me. So let me put it this way: It would be nice to win any race."

New England team looking for riders

The C L Noonan, Coast to Coast Construction, KAM cycling team is looking for junior riders and U23 riders in the New England area. The team is in its 4th year of existence. For 2006 the team will support up to six riders in each group.

All riders will receive full kit and race entries. Component, shoe, and frame set support will be available to riders with strong resumes. Email resume to All level of riders considered.

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