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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 26, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Anthony Tan

Boonen aims big

Tom Boonen wins a stage of the 2005 Tour of Qatar, the first of many victories in a stellar year.
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

World champion Tom Boonen is aiming for a big Classics triple to add to his 2005 double of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian speedster told Sporza TV that he his has one big dream: to win Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in one and the same season.

"I know that is huge, but I don't dream small," said Boonen. "I've remained the same human after I won the world title; but physically I have become stronger. I have matured; get to my ideal weight easier, the muscles are co-operating and the tests don't lie."

Boonen's Quickstep - Innergetic contains a few other useful riders such as Paolo Bettini, but it seems likely that the team's focus in 2006 will be on delivering Boonen to the line. The team's new recruits have been enlisted with that in mind. "I'm expecting a lot from the new riders Steven de Jongh, Kevin Van Impe, Geert Verheyen and Matteo Tosatto," said Boonen. "They can help me well in the sprint and in the sprints."

Boonen's huge success in 2005 has led to another ambition, though it's far less likely to come true than his aim of a major Classics trio. "Another thing I long for is to walk the streets here in Belgium unrecognised; but I'm afraid that's not possible anymore," he said. "Fact is I don't really like to be in the spotlight."

Change of tack for T-Mobile season start

By Susan Westemeyer

For the last few years T-Mobile has started its season with the GP Doha and the Tour of Qatar, but this year the team will do things differently, kicking off the season in France with the GP Marseillaise and the Etoile de Besseges "We chose a slightly different season start this year. We haven't started these two races in a long time," said Team Manager Olaf Ludwig, noting that he is convinced that sprinter Olaf Pollack will do well there. Another new move for the team was the announcement of the preselected Tour de France squad Ludwig said that this will help the riders. "They can now pointedly and concentratedly prepared themselves for their season highlight." But the team selection is not absolute, he says. "The other pros still have a chance."

Two of those nominated to the "larger" Tour squad are Stefan Schreck and Matthias Kessler, both of whom came to the team from the former Junior Team Telekom. Ludwig noted that the team hopes to continue this success with the development program that it started last year. The program does not restrict itself to young German riders but looks internationally "to find and especially to support and challenge" young riders. He notes the importance of young pros such as Linus Gerdemann, Patrik Sinkewitz and Andre Greipel, saying "the future belongs to them and they are our future." But, he added, "one must not forget the experienced pros in a team like ours. They can show the youngsters the right way."

Austrians in Qatar

Austrian riders Rene Haselbacher, Paco Wrolich (both Gerolsteiner) and Bernie Eisel (Française des Jeux)) have all announced on their websites that they will be riding the GP Doha and Tour of Qatar.

However, Haselbacher and Wrolich haven't had the best final preparation as they were both laid up over the weekend with an intestinal infection. "For 24 hours I felt really awful, but luckily then it was over," says Haselbacher, who will follow the mid-east races with the Tour of California Tour and then eventually Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan Remo.

Wrolich notes that he has only 800 km of riding in his legs so far, since he concentrated his off-season training in alternative sports such as cross-country and downhill skiing, and weight lifting. After the races in Qatar he will decide whether to ride the upcoming races in Portugal or to return to Mallorca for further training.

While both Hasi and Paco are planning to use the races in Qatar as training and preparation, FdJ's Bernie Eisel is planning to do more. "Because of Baden Cooke's departure, I am the only sprinter on the team this year," he said. "That mean that the sprints will be prepared for me at every opportunity. We will only have two experienced riders in Qatar and the rest are youngsters. I can't yet say how it will work out or how we will work together, but a top placement ought to be possible." Eisel's next races will be the GP Internacional and the Algarve-Tour in Portugal, leading up to the Classics season.

Women's Milan-San Remo cancelled

The Primavera Rosa - the women's edition of Milan-San Remo, scheduled for March 18 - has been cancelled by the UCI, according to European press reports. Finishing in San Remo shortly before the men's race, the Primavera Rosa has been run over a shorter course since 1999 when it was won by Italian Sara Felloni. German rider Trixi Worrack won the 2005 race which now looks set to be the last.

An interview with Tina Pic: Pic-ing her way

Pic likes to smile...
Photo ©: Steve Cohen
Click for larger image

Current US criterium national champion Tina Pic has ridden with the title since 2002 as she's dominated American cycling's favourite road discipline against the cream of America's female elite riders. She's done this both with entire teams backing her and with only a couple of team-mates, attesting to her abilities to consistently find her way to the front in a field sprint. With a switch to a new squad and plenty of racing ahead of her in 2006, Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski tracked Pic down during the recent Los Angeles track world cup round.

Tina Pic is fast, no doubt about that. Winning the elite criterium championships four years in a row, after being the first woman to do it twice consecutively, is quite a line on a racing resume. So, it was a surprise when I found Pic training in Los Angeles for her first track competition. One would assume that a sprinter like Pic would be a track sensation, or assume that her sprint prowess comes from years or racing on the velodrome. But this couldn't be further from the truth.

"They say it's 'just like a crit,' but it's not!" says Pic, half-chuckling. "Because there is that bank, and it's not the same. You aren't in a big blob of people and you can just dart around and go where you want to go. There are layers. At first I was four back and that is too far to win the sprint. And there's a big ole hole on top, but you aren't going to do that because you have to go twice as far! It's an interesting learning curve. I can just hope to make it to the finals in the world cup. I'm so nervous about it, but I think it's going to be fun."

Click here for the full interview.

Mark French makes last-minute attempt to qualify for Commonwealth Games

Australian track sprinter Mark French will be one of three riders in a deadline-pushing attempt at qualifying for Australia's Commonwealth Games team at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome this Saturday night.

Along with fellow Victorians Joel Leonard and Michael Ford, French will ride the Bankstown Sports Carnival, January 28, 2006, just three days before the January 31 cut-off for Games qualifying.

French is making a return to track cycling after being suspended and then cleared of doping allegations. At the time of his suspension, he created a huge controversy in Australia in 2004 with allegations of doping among his team-mates.

On January 21 French made a qualifying attempt at the Sid Patterson GP in Melbourne, but fell short of the mark, recording 10.8 seconds for the flying 200m, against a qualifying standard of 10.55. French's coach John Beasley, said the rider used up a lot of nervous energy before the attempt worrying about his form and the reception he would get from the spectators and fellow athletes. However, French was delighted with the rousing reception and appreciation he got from the crowd who got extremely vocal in supporting him throughout the nights racing.

Beasley and French both believe with the vocal support of a strong Sydney crowd and his ever improving form he can achieve the time needed to put him in the Australian squad, though a qualifying time does not automatically guarantee selection.

Australian keirin champion Joel Leonard is also aiming to make the Commonwealth Games team after his one minute, two second ride in the Victorian 1km Time Trial Championships two weeks ago was ruled invalid for team selection because the electronic timing start gate had to be manually operated.

Also competing are Michael Ford, twice a junior world champion on the track and current world record holder in the junior 3km individual pursuit; and Ben Kersten, Athens Olympian and Australian 1km time trial champion. Kersten has emerged in the last 18 months as Australia's new 'kilo king', most recently winning the 1km time trial at the Los Angeles World Cup this past weekend and posting a time that qualifies him for the Commonwealth Games team.

Joining these riders is an array of Australia's best female cyclists including Kate Bates, Rochelle Gilmore, Kial Stewart, Skye-Lee Armstrong, and Amanda Spratt.

The main carnival starts at 6.30pm with gates opening at 5.30pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for pensioners and kids less than 16 free.

Malcolm Elliott joins Plowman Craven

UK team Plowman Craven announced the launch of their seven-man racing team today that sees evergreen former Vuelta a España points winner and Tour de France rider, Malcolm Elliott, back for another season of racing. The team will ride a mostly domestic program, taking in Premier Calendar events and the national circuit series, with the new national track series being a firm target.

Continuing their long-term support of local rider Tony Gibb, the other members include: Gibb's close friend and three-time national Madison champion partner James Taylor; South Africans Wesley Cole and Craig Butland (who both rode for Plowman Craven in the Surrey 5 Day last year); plus talented youngsters Tom Smith and national junior road race champion, Adam Norris.

Phil Griffiths will sponsor the team with Opera bikes, Giordana Clothing, Rudy Project accessories, DMT shoes and components. Michelin will be supplying tyres and Trevor Madden at Ciclos Uno will continue to help the team. Plowman Craven, who are recognised as one of the world's leading and most innovative geomatics companies, have also obtained sponsorship from their major equipment supplier Leica Geosystems.

Said managing director of Plowman Craven, Simon Barnes: "I have found that sponsoring Tony Gibb over the last four years has been a good PR move. The new seven man team will be a publicity vehicle for my fast moving company and whilst Malcolm, Tony and James are already multi national champions, Adam and Tom will benefit from the mentoring of the more experienced riders. Wesley and Craig enjoyed their racing in the UK in 2005 and are keen to make their mark in the UK this year."

The official team launch will be at the end of February with team building events taking place early in the month. The team's first race is the Eddie Soens Memorial Race at Aintree, where Gibb aims to become only the second rider to win the event four times.

Delta Faucet Indy Velo Cycling Team

Indianapolis, IN based Delta Faucet Company has again demonstrated its corporate citizenship and commitment to cycling by renewing its sponsorship of the Indy Velo Cycling Team. Delta Faucet is the presenting sponsor of the team that last year made its mark on the road and track in the Midwest by winning numerous state championships in IL and IN and Nationally at the USCF Masters National Road and Track Championships. In addition to sponsoring The Indy Velo Cycling Team in 2005 Delta Faucet also sponsored the USCF Masters Track Nationals at the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis, IN

Click here for the full roster and announcement.

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