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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 22, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Stage 4 wrap-up: Van Hout conquers the heat as Gerrans reigns supreme

By Les Clarke in Willunga

Russell Van Hout (R)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Starting and finishing in the sweltering furnace that was Willunga, stage four of the Tour Down Under was won by Russell Van Hout after an epic all-day breakaway effort. Sitting in a 20-rider break for the day, Van Hout broke free before the KOM at Willunga with teammate Paul Crake and headed for home, taking the win to a delighted hometown audience. "There was no doubt I could get up there first. It was just whether we could make it to the finish, that was all," said Van Hout at the finish.

Going into stage 4, all eyes were on the KOM at Willunga as overall leader Simon Gerrans went into the day seven seconds ahead of last year's champion, Luis Leon Sanchez. The Liberty Seguros rider and his team appeared confident at the start, with a battle royale on the cards as both he and Gerrans knew it was going to come down to the climb after 127 kilometres.

Sanchez's attack came at the predicted point of the race, and with the help of teammates Sylvain Calzati and JJ Luis Arrieta, Gerrans was able to track the young Spaniard's attack, making sure he maintained his lead in this year's tour. "I had Sylvain Calzati with me and he kept his cool, he kept calm and rode an easy tempo so I could hang onto his wheel. Then we caught JJ Luis Arrieta and he started working as well, and the two of them just towed me back up to Sanchez up the front. They just did an awesome job - it worked out absolutely perfectly," said Gerrans after the finish.

Also see: Full results, report & photos, Live report, Main, Stages & results, Map, Start list, History, Photos.

Rony Martias dreams of the Tour de France for his cycling mad island

By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide

Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: JF Quenet
Click for larger image

Third in Willunga after running fifth in stage 2 and 13th in stage 3, Rony Martias is one of the most consistent riders in the 8th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. The Bouygues Telecom rider even started climbing Willunga Hill alone in the front but he got caught before the summit. Hailing from Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe, a French island in the Carribeans, he looks like coping pretty well with the heat. "But it's not the same heat at all," he explained. "At home, it's very humid, it's more of a Malaysian climate than an Australian one."

Apart from captain Walter Bénéteau, Bouygues Telecom had designated a team of very young riders for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, and they only arrived in Adelaide on Sunday, expecting the worst, jet lag wise, but they actually performed very well so far with Sébastien Chavanel making the break in stage 1 and neo-pro Vincent Jérôme finishing fifth in stage 3. "I'm pretty happy with the boys this week," directeur sportif Christian Guiberteau said.

25 year-old Martias, a winner of the amateur GP Plouay before turning professional, is a prospect for the future of French cycling. "I improved a lot by riding the Tour of Italy last year," he declared. I could feel at the end of the season, let's say at the Tour de l'Avenir and Paris-Tours, that I was much stronger. Now I've been very serious during the off-season. I did some solid training in Guadeloupe in November, then I went back to Nantes in December, I didn't celebrate Christmas or New Year, I was on my bike." But his next destination after Adelaide is Martinique, another Carribean island where his girlfriend comes from.

Martias is the cousin of track and field sprinter star Christine Arron and he also has some sprinting abilities on a bicycle. The races he loves the most are the Belgian classics, nothing familiar to someone coming from a sunny island. In Guadeloupe, people are mad about cycling. Their Tour, in August, drags hundreds of thousands of spectators and local media are extremely enthusiastic. Fans who think Brittany is still the hot bed of French cycling should experience Guadeloupe, where a start of the Tour de France has been considered but denied because of the six hours time difference and the complications of such an organisation overseas. If Martias, or his Bouygues Telecom companion Yohan Gène, gets a chance to ride the Tour de France, it would have an unbelievable impact for them at home.

"I'd love to do it but I'm not the person in charge of the decision, let's go for the classics first," Martias said. That person, Jean-René Bernaudeau indeed, owns a house in Guadeloupe and is a regular visitor to the island. He convinced Gène and Martias to give their career a different direction than all the other good young riders from the Carribeans before them: forget about racing at home and give it all for turning pro via the feeder team Vendée U.

Now Martias isn't only Bernaudeau's dream of developing a Guadeloupean rider. He's really knocking at the door of the Tour de France team.

Cox back to defend Lankgawi title

By Shane Stokes

2005 race winner Ryan Cox will attempt to retain his Telekom Malaysia Tour de Lankgawi crown when he spearheads a determined South African team in the Asian event, which begins on February 3 in Kuala Lumpur.

The 26 year old double national road race champion will be backed by riders who have previously competed with him in the colours of Team Barloworld, namely David George, Rodney Green, Darren Lill and Jeremy Maartens. Konica Minolta’s Jacques Fullard completes the national lineup.

Cox has a fine history in the race, finishing second to Freddy Gonzalez in 2004 and then taking a stage win plus the overall classification twelve months ago. George was third in 2002 plus eighth in both the 2003 and 2004 editions, so he too has strong experience of competing in the 2.HC ranked event.

Cox’s participation in the colours of the South African team comes after a change of management in the Barloworld team, with whom he won the race last year.

Race organisers First Cartel Sdn. Bhd. are expecting big things from the squad. "South Africa always come well prepared," said managing director Imran Abdullah. "You can see that in their results of the past five years. This is basically the Barloworld team, beefed up by Fullard, who is one of Konica Minolta's top riders. So, I won't be surprised to see them challenging for top honours."

He feels that the presence of Giro del Capo winner Lill is also relevant. "It just makes South Africa even more dangerous," he continues. "You've got the likes of Cox and George, big riders who are hungry for wins, then you've got young gun Lill, who will be determined to prove himself on the big stage. I think you might see their riders atop one or two podiums this year."

Also announced for the Malaysian tour are the ProTour AG2R Prévoyance squad. Tour de l’Ain victor and Tour de l’Avenir stage winner Carl Naibo is down to ride, as are the Estonian Erki Putstep and the Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus, both of whom have been their countries’ national champions. Julien Loubet took the French under 23 title in 2005 and will be hoping to perform well in the Malaysian heat, as will Laurent Mangel and Renaud Dion.

"We know what Ag2r are capable of," said Abdullah. "Although it is early in the season, I expect Ag2r to put in a strong challenge for honours in the Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi."

Already confirmed are the Colombia Selle Italia team of Jose Rujano, a Credit Agricole squad fronted by up and coming US rider Saul Raisin and Bouygues Telecom. The latter is due to be led by Sebastien Chavanel in the race.

The 10-stage Tour de Langkawi runs from February 3rd until 12th and this year will be 1,161.7 kilometres in length.

Telecom Malaysia ride takes place today

The organisers of the event are hoping for a strong turnout in their pre-Tour TM Ride this Sunday. Previously known as the Blue Ride, the 41 kilometre event is aimed at cycling enthusiasts and a turnout of 1,000 is expected.

"It is a family ride to encourage people to ride in a safe environment. Everybody is welcome to participate in this event which is now something that the cycling fraternity looks forward to every year," said First Cartel managing director Imran Abdullah.

Refreshments will be provided en route while lunch will be available at the finish. Lucky draw prizes will also be up for grabs.

"One of the more interesting prizes we offered last year was a ride in the president commisaires car in the Genting stage of the TMLTdL," he added. "A similar prize will be up for grabs again this time around. This is also part of TM’s activities to promote cycling in the community and a fitting curtain raiser to the TMLTdL."

Mayo Wheelers wakes up early

Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

The cycling season is usually well advanced before the Mayo Wheelers CC comes out of hibernation and launches its cycling programme for both the racing fraternity and the leisure riders. Not so this year. In the Atlantic Coast hotel yesterday evening the club announced that one of its showcase events, the Atlantic Coast Hotel/Sheeffrey Grand Prix will be run this year in march and will be the first event in its Classic Series.

Organiser Joe McGuire said, "traditionally [the Atlantic Coast Hotel/Sheeffrey Grand Prix] was held in late August, but it was generally accepted in cycling circles that an early slot would be of benefit to competitors who were gearing towards the FBD Insurance Ras. It will also be ideal also for the promotion of the sport in the West and particularly in the Westport area."

Although this is now an early-season event, it should certainly provide some tough preparation for riders targeting the FDB Ras. Its sting is a 15 mile circuit will bring the competitors through Westport six times and that includes a climb that will certainly separate the men from the boys.

It is anticipated that the defending champion, David McCann who was the Classic Series winner last season will be on the start line.

Isle of Man International Youth & Junior Tour

The 2006 Isle of Man International Youth & Junior Tour will place Friday 28 April to Sunday 30 April, organisers have announced. The three-stage event will provide challenging racing for the young riders, starting with a Friday evening prologue time trial right outside the event sponsor Sleepwell Hotels on Loch Promenade, Douglas.

Stage two is a hilly road race on a course in the Marown area, just outside Douglas on completely closed roads! The final stage takes place at the National Sports Centre for a circuit race, followed later by the gala prize presentation.

There will be categories for male and female riders, in Juniors & Youths A, B & C. Youth D riders can enter, but will have to ride in the C event on their restricted gearing.

Sleepwell Hotels have once again sponsored the event providing event headquarters, gala prize presentation evening with live entertainment, bike storage and accommodation at reduced cost. The Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry is also offering special deals to competitors and their families.

For more information see www.youthtour.co.uk

HRRC Cycling Team

The HRRC Cycling Team has announced it 2006 roster. In its fifth Season, 2006 will see HRRC racing in most regional and NRC events in the Midwest. This year brings a crop of new talent that the team believes will be among the top riders for the coming season.

Click here for the full roster

Wheel & Sprocket 2006 team

The Wheel & Sprocket Elite Cycling Team has announced its roster and sponsorship for 2006. The team, based in Appleton, Wisconsin, will focus on the National Racing Calendar and large Midwest races, including Superweek.

Click here for the full roster

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