First Edition Cycling News for January 28, 2006
Edited by Les Clarke
Fast, freezing and tacky - a fast course for the 2006 'cross world's
By Steve Medcroft in Zeddam
The cyclo-cross season comes to a head in the Dutch hamlet of Zeddam this weekend. In four competitions over two days, the UCI World Champion Elite Junior, Espoir, Woman and Man will be crowned. Course planners have been building bridges and wooden steps in and around the hills of tiny Zeddam for several weeks, and the final course has been open for practice all week.
The weather has been mild for a Northern Europe winter; the ground is devoid of snow and the temperatures have hovered around and above freezing enough that the course promises to be tacky and fast. A tacky and fast course, as if any advantage is needed, plays to Sunday's elite men's race favourite, defending World Champion Sven Nys (Bel). He's had a season of success, leading the World Cup and SuperPrestige standings, having won eight of ten World Cups and the Belgian National Championships (among other victories). (continued)
Misfortune for O'Grady in Doha
In his first outing for Team CSC, Australian rider Stuart O'Grady broke his chain while contesting the final sprint against Tom Boonen in the 108km event. World champion Boonen (Quick Step) went on to take the win while O'Grady was left to rue an opportunity missed in his first race for the Danish squad.
"The whole team was up front during the final lap and Stuart was in a perfect position, right on Tom Boonen's wheel, when the sprint started," said CSC sports director Alain Gallopin. Speaking on the team's official website, Gallopin continued, "So it could have been a really good result, but then his chain broke. On the other hand, Stuart was lucky not to crash, and today's effort from the team makes me very optimistic for the Tour of Qatar."
Gallopin wasn't pleased with the piece of bad luck, but is very pleased with the form of his squad so early in the season. "We've come directly from a hard training camp, but we've noticed that some of the riders are already in great shape," he said. "We obviously need a bit of luck to repeat last year's huge success in the Tour of Qatar, but I wouldn't be surprised if we got one or two big results down here again this year."
World championship venues announced
After a meeting of the UCI Management Committee in Kleve, Germany, venues for various world championship events for the next 2-3 years were awarded. After the successful Revolution series of track meeting were once again popular in 2005, Manchester will host the 2008 track world championships. The 2007 junior world championships will be held in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with the 2008 event to be held in Cape Town, South Africa. The 2008 MTB marathon world championships were awarded to the Italian city of Villabassa while the track masters world championships for the years 2007-09 will be staged in Sydney, Australia. Finally, the cyclo-cross masters world championships for 2007-09 were awarded to the Belgian city of Mol.
Pollack to lead T-Mobile in French season openers
Sprinter Olaf Pollack has inherited Erik Zabel's position as T-Mobile's number one sprinter and will be captain in the team's season-opening races next week - Grand Prix Marseillaise and the Etoile de Bessèges - where he'll be supported by fellow sprinters Eric Baumann, Andre Korff and Andre Greipel. "There is never too much time separating the leaders and the pack," said Directeur Sportif Frans van Looy. "With four strong sprinters in Pollack, Baumann, Korff and Greipel we are well equipped to take advantage," he added.
T-Mobile for GP Marseillaise and Etoile de Bessèges:
Eric Baumann, Marcus Burghardt, Bas Gilling, Andre Greipel, Andre Korff, Olaf Pollack, Jörg Ludewig and Frantisek Rabon.
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Health Net for Tour of California
With new recruits such as Australia's Nathan O'Neill and Kiwi rider Hayden Roulston, Health Net presented by Maxxis is confident they can perform even better in 2006. Fresh from their training camp in Buellton, CA, team management says they are ready and motivated for the inaugural Amgen Tour of California.
Directeur sportif Jeff Corbett believes that, "We've put together an eight-man team for California that we feel can contend for the win in just about every stage, as well as a place on the final podium. New guys like Nathan O'Neill and Hayden Roulston give us even more power, while Tim Johnson gives us another highly talented and experienced tactician on the road."
The team certainly boasts big names, but with some of the worlds best team coming to race in California, they'll need all the firepower and experience they can get, including sprinters Gord Fraser and Greg Henderson, plus Scott Moninger, Mike Jones and Mike Sayers. "The Amgen Tour of California provides a great stage to show the strength of our team," continued Corbett, "And with the team and our title sponsor - as well as a number of our industry sponsors - based in California, we intend to make a good showing during the race."
Health Net's roster for the Tour of California:
Gord Fraser, Greg Henderson, Tim Johnson, Mike Jones, Scott Moninger, Nathan O'Neill, Hayden Roulston, Mike Sayers. Alternates: Karl Menzies, Doug Ollerenshaw, Jeff Louder
O'Neill available for Commonwealth Games
After recently winning his seventh national time-trial championship, Health Net's Nathan O'Neill is available for the Commonwealth Games time trial. Australian national road coach Shayne Bannan, who had pushed hard to make sure O'Neill was available for the Games in Melbourne yesterday confirmed that the 31-year-old would be released for national duties come mid-March. "We have received verbal confirmation, so it's safe to say he's available for the Games if selected, which is good news for us," said Bannan.
Cycling South Africa's Commonwealth Games crisis
Cycling South Africa's [CSA] board will meet next Friday in Cape Town to discuss a series of incidents which has put the participation of the national track team at the Commonwealth Games in March in Melbourne in serious jeopardy. The dispute centres on the participation of two riders, Rupert Rheeder and Nolan Hoffman, who ride for South African pro team Exel, owned by CSA board member Eugene Ruiters. Ruiters, who is responsible for development and transformation, has told Allan Wolhuter, national coach for the Commonwealth Games, that these two riders won't be released for the Games in Melbourne during March.
"In doing this, these two riders will be denied the opportunity to represent their country," said Wolhuter. "And if that is the case, we don't even have to send a track team to Melbourne," he added. This raises a bigger issue within South Africa's cycling administration - the conflict of interest present in this case and how it affects the national team's performance. Gottie Hansen, president of CSA, said early last week he is 'fed-up' with the whole issue. "Eugene [Ruiters] has been part of the development and transformation committee and over the past year he has not come up with one suggestion how to address the issue," he said.
Hansen elaborated further by saying that Hoffman, a rider of native South African origin who has shown plenty of promise may now miss his chance to ride at the highest level because, "Eugene is not playing fair and all he does is to discredit CSA." Ruiters failed to respond to questions about contracts which clearly state that any rider's first obligation is to be available for the national team and how he'd react if they do make themselves available for the national track team. It's believed that Ruiters threatened to suspend rider's contracts if they seek entry into team for the event in Melbourne this March.
According to Ruiters "it is not a major issue and I don't think Gottie [Hansen] understands it fully. A lot of major sponsors are involved here and I don't think it is in the interest of the sport to discuss this issue in the public domain. I request you to leave it. Gottie and I still have to chat about it," he said. Allan Wolhuter added that he has been in contact with Ruiters via email to try and resolve the matter, but never received a reply. "We've been busy training and doing tests in Cape Town since last year, and I even worked out a three-month schedule to accommodate the riders from Exel not be present at all the camps we had down in Cape Town.
"Up to know I've had no reply. I honestly believe the SA track squad will bring home some medals, but we have to finalise the team by Wednesday and if they're [Rheeder and Hoffman] not available everything that has been done up to now, will be in vain," said Wolhuter.
The issue may become more complex, as Rheeder and Hoffman have been selected to represent South Africa in Egypt next month when the national B road team will participate in the eight day Tour of Egypt. Feelings are quite strong that if they're not available for the track team to ride in Melbourne, they should be kicked off the team to represent South Africa in Egypt on the road. Furthermore, Ruiters is yet to put forward his five and ten-year plans to the ANC (African National Council, South Africa's ruling political party) portfolio committee on sport about the way forward for cycling. His committee has missed the first deadline on these proposals in November and SASCOC has postponed the deadline to Jan 31. Up to now no documents regarding this issue have been received.
Camp Highland racing team ready for 2006
After a successful first year of road racing and triathlons in 2005, the Camp Highland Racing Team look forward to an even more rewarding season in 2006. Having nearly doubled the size of the roster with high quality riders racing categories 2, 3, masters, juniors and women's pro-am, the team are set to be dominant in the regional Georgia Cup series as well as some selected regional stage races.
Tilford to lead Midwest Trek/VW squad
Multiple cyclocross and mountain bike champion Steve Tilford will head another new Midwest team in 2006, when he lines up as rider/manager for the Midwest Trek-Volkswagen road team. Tilford brings over 20 years of racing and team management experience to the squad that will focus on the larger Midwest races including the Tour of Kansas City, Gateway Cup, Lincoln Plating Spring Cycling Classic as well as select National Racing Calendar events.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)