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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 25, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

2007 Tour de France confirmed for London

By Shane Stokes

Following months of speculation, the organisers of the Tour de France and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone confirmed on Tuesday that the 2007 Tour will start in Britain's capital.

Although no specifics of the route will be revealed prior to a joint press conference due to be held in London on February 9th, Livingstone suggested that it will be similar to that described in the original bid document. Under the outline submitted then, the capital would host a prologue based on The Mall and taking in many of the famous landmarks there. A full road stage would then follow, running from London to the coast of Kent.

London was up against bids from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark and will pay £1.5 million to host the first two days of the Tour. Livingstone said that this was far less than would have been paid to hold the proposed London Grand Prix Formula One event, and that he expected the Tour to generate a figure of up to ten times greater than the outlay to secure the race.

The 2007 Tour de France will get underway on July 6th and, according to Livingstone's estimations, up to three million people could turn out to see the Grand Départ. Hosting the race will generate publicity for the capital and act as a dry run prior to its hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games.

"I am proud to announce that London has successfully bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2007," he stated. "Hosting the first stage of the legendary French cycle race will raise the profile of cycling in the capital, attract visitors and promote the capital as a venue for international sporting events.

"Cycling in the capital is growing faster than anywhere else in Europe. I want London to become a world-class cycling city and Transport for London has increased investment in cycling from £5.5 million in 2000, to £24 million this year.

"Today's announcement is great news for cycling and for London and we will unveil the route at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference centre on 9 February."

The Tour de France has previously visited the UK on two occasions, in 1974 and then 20 years later. This will be only the second time the world's biggest annual sporting event will start outside continental Europe. Ireland was the first such location, with three days of the race being held there in 1998.

Russians ready to rock at Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

By Tim Maloney, European Editor In Paris

The Russians
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Team Weisenhof 2006

Alexei Markov, a 26 year old Russian fastman from St.Petersburg, is Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears new sprinter for 2006. Markov, who had five wins in 2005 on Maia-Milaneza, a Portuguese Continental Pro team, has paid his dues on small Russian and Polish teams, gradually moving up the ladder to the big time. Markov comes from the track racing school of legendary Russian coach Alexander Kusznetzov of Team Lokomotiv in St.Petersburg, who produced talents like Ekimov, Berzin and Bobrik. Indeed, Markov himself comes from track racing, and won an Olympic Gold Medal at the as a member of the Russian Team Pursuit squad.

At the team's presentation on Monday, Markov told Cyclingnews, "I'm happy to be on (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), it's the best team I've ever been on." Markov wasn't specific on his goals for 2006, but said "I'm here to help the team however I winning races and doing well."

Another Russian newcomer to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears is Vladimir Efimkin, a 24 year old from Samara who burst onto the pro cycling scene last season as a neo-pro on the Barloworld squad. After racing in Italy on the amateur Feralpi team in 2003-4 and having some success, Efimkin had his first pro win at last year's Tour of Aragon in April, then backed it up with a stage win and second on GC at the Four Days of Dunkirk in May. Then, at the end of a long, hot August in a difficult, hard fought Tour of Portugal, Efimkin emerged victorious and attracted a lot of attention from top teams. Finally inking a deal with Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Efimkin could become another top stage race rider like his teammate Karpets.

Efimkin told Cyclingnews, "This team is so good to be on for me; I have a lot good races I can ride." Efimkin will likely ride the Giro d'Italia this season to test his legs in his first Grand Tour.

Wiesenhof-AKUD: Moving up

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Wiesenhof 2006
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Team Weisenhof 2006
Sport director Jens Heppner
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Sport director Jens Heppner believes he has managed to meld together the two disparate halves of his new team.
Gerald Ciolek and Marcel Wüst
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Gerald Ciolek and Marcel Wüst  - two generations of Sprinters from Cologne, Germany
Ja, ja, ich bin ein Rockstar
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Ja, ja, ich bin ein Rockstar  - Gerard Trampusch looks like he'd be more at home playing guitar for a metal band.

A little team that is working its way up introduced itself to the public Tuesday in a day of superlatives. On one of the coldest days of the winter, in the biggest bike store in Germany (and maybe in the world), Germany's "No. 1 poultry brand" introduced the newest German entry into the pro cycling ranks. Team Wiesenhof-AKUD proudly presented its 16 riders, including national road champion Gerald Ciolek, to the press and public.

After the 2005 season, Wiesenhof gave up the Professional Continental (formerly GS II) team that it had sponsored for years and joined forces with the small Team Akud-Arnold's Sicherheit. Many Wiesenhof riders went over to the new Team Milram. The young riders carried over from AKUD have been joined by German neo-pros and seasoned veterans, presenting sport director Jens Heppner with the challenge of integrating them into a successful team. Heppner noted that he was given a team, "made up of two parts, one older, one younger, and they had not really come together. But I hope that we have now accomplished that."

Designated captain is Thorsten Schmidt, formerly of Team Gerolsteiner, who noted that he weighs six kilos less than last year. After nine years with Gerolsteiner, he says, "it was time to find a new way and a new motivation." His season goals are "to ride successfully and to lead and help develop the young team." The team's real star, though, is youngster Gerald Ciolek, only 19 years old and already German road champion. Heppner noted that Ciolek "handily beat Zabel" in the championship race sprint, and added that after watching Ciolek in the mountains during the team's recent training camp on Mallorca, "I think he has the potential to be the next Erik Zabel." The subject of this praise will be making a delayed season start, though, as he faces exams at the end of this month. And he notes that he lost one of his German champion jerseys during the training camp. Like a typical teenager, "I hung it somewhere on a door knob and when I went to look for it, it was gone." Ciolek says that he decided not to move to a larger team, but to stay with Wiesenhof-AKUD because "I have always felt good here. I want to keep on developing, and I think I can do it best here."

Austrian Gerard Trampusch managed to stand out in the crowd, with his shoulder-length hair, beard, tattoo and piercings. "Hair length doesn't play a major role in cycling performance," he noted.

Is the team content with its new role, or does it want to go further, like to the Tour de France someday? Heppner notes that every rider wants to ride the Tour and to do that you have to be in the ProTour. Team manager Raphael Schweda says straightforwardly that, yes, "We want to ride the Tour sooner or later." So the little team is already looking at its next step up.

Canadian Commonwealth Games team announced

The Canadian Cycling Association has announced its team for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, from March 16 to 26. A total of 19 riders have been named to the team. "The process of selecting a team of 19 riders covering the men's and women's categories in three disciplines and 12 medal events was very difficult," said CCA High Performance Director Kris Westwood. "Some tough choices were made and some experienced riders were left off the team, but the limited team size made those decisions necessary. Every rider was evaluated based on his or her ability to either win medals or provide support to a medal candidate, and I'm very happy with the work our national coaches and High Performance Committee accomplished."

The mountain bike team will compete in the Oceania championship in Rotorua, New Zealand, on March 5, and will stay there for a week before travelling to Melbourne. The track team will take part in the final World Cup of the season in Sydney on March 3-5. The road athletes are all following programs set by their trade teams and will travel direct to Melbourne on or about March 13.

The team staff will include National Mountain Bike Coach Michel Leblanc, National Track Coach Eric van den Eynde, National Road Coach Vincent Jourdain, CCA High Performance Manager Sean O'Donnell, CCA High Performance Director Kris Westwood, massage therapist Sophie St-Jacques and mechanic Chad Grochowina (pending confirmation).

Team roster

Mountain bike XC women

Marie-Hélène Prémont
Kiara Bisaro

Mountain bike XC men

Geoff Kabush
Seamus McGrath

Women's road race

Sue Palmer-Komar
Lyne Bessette
Erinne Willock
Amy Moore
Gina Grain
Mandy Poitras

Women's time trial

Sue Palmer-Komar
Lyne Bessette
Erinne Willock

Men's road race

François Parisien
Svein Tuft
Gord Fraser
Dominique Perras
Geoff Kabush
Martin Gilbert

Men's time trial

Svein Tuft
Zach Bell

Women's track

Mandy Poitras (scratch race, points race)
Gina Grain (scratch race, points race)

Men's track

Travis Smith (team sprint, sprint, keirin)
Cam MacKinnon (team sprint, sprint, kilo)
Yannick Morin (team sprint, sprint, kilo)
Martin Gilbert (scratch race, points race)
Zach Bell (scratch race, points race)

Joseph Sunde Memorial Criteriums

CJ is back...

Robbie McEwen and John Sunde
Photo ©: Tony Horneman
Click for larger image

Cofidis neo pro Chris Sutton is shaping as the favourite to defend his 2005 title when he and Sydney's top road cyclists line up in the 13th Annual Joseph Sunde Memorial Criteriums to be held on Australia Day, Thursday, January 26 at the popular Heffron Park criterium circuit in Sydney. They are dedicated to the memory of Joseph Sunde, who passed away in 1993 after an 18 month battle with leukaemia.

Previous winners who will be competing with the aim of winning the prestigious criterium a second time include 2004 winner Troy Glennan (FRF Couriers), Graeme Moffett (Clarence St) 2003, Jeff Hopkins (Jittery Joes) 2002, Stuart Dangerfield (UK) 2000 and Heffron favourite Anthony Spurgeon (FRF Couriers) 1997.

Racing gets underway with Masters support race at 8am followed by the popular graded handicap event at 9am. The event raises money for the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia with a raffle prize of a Trek 1000 road bike to win. Aussie sprint star Robbie McEwen got the raffle started by buying the first raffle tickets, as part of his publicity day spent in Sydney on January 23.

See the Joseph Sunde Memorial Criteriums page for more information.

GS CIAO announces Wild Oats Natural Market Place team

One of the Colorado’s longest running cycling teams, GS CIAO, has announced it 2006 roster. The team has a new title sponsor for 2006, Wild Oats Natural Market Place. The Elite Team will focus on all races in the Front Range of Colorado, and select NRC races. Our Category 3 team will be well represented in the Front Range and also has several young riders who have great promise.

Click here for the full announcement and roster

OTR Cycling-Strenflex

The OTR Cycling-Strenflex cycling team has announced its 2006 roster. Composed of amateur racers from Atlanta, Georgia, OTR Cycling will concentrate on the Georgia Cup series, Georgia Championships Mountain Bike Series, the Southeastern Regional Championship Series and other races throughout the Southeast. OTR Cycling is also planning to travel to several NRC road races and NCS mountain bike events this year.

Click here for the full announcement and roster

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