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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 1, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kroner & John Stevenson

An interview with Saul Raisin: Young American

Saul Raisin
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

One of American cycling's big young talents, Saul Raisin took his first pro victory earlier this month; more wins are surely on their way. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes caught up with Raisin just before the Tour of California to find out about that first pro win and his next moves in a promising career.

As much as an ability to read a good race and pedal a bike quickly, making it as a European professional can depend on the rider being able to handle frequent travel, adapting to changes in climate, timezones and weather conditions.

American Saul Raisin is an example in point. He flew to Europe earlier this year to meet up with his Credit Agricole team, then traveled to the Tour de Langkawi to compete there. Immediately after the race he boarded a plane for the US, going from the sweltering humidity of Malaysia to riding in a snowstorm in the mountains prior to the start of the Tour of California.

Raisin doesn't mind too much, though; when talking to Cyclingnews in recent days he nominated travel and meeting new people as part of his motivations in cycling and for life. That's just as well, as competing in such a tough sport is all the easier when you derive satisfaction from what you do.

"I would say that I am easygoing," he says over the phone from California. "I enjoy living, I race bikes for fun, for the pleasure of it, and that is how I live. Racing used to be my life, whereas nowadays I see it more as something I really like doing. I enjoy seeing the world and meeting new people…having fun."

Click here for the full interview.

Walker turns Pro with Rabobank

During the current season, 20 year-old William Walker will make the switch from the Rabobank Continental Team to the Rabobank ProTeam. The Australian under-23 national champion and Rabobank's general director Theo de Rooij have reached an agreement over a pro contract that will run through December 31, 2008. By mutual agreement, the switch will most likely be made halfway into the 2006 season.

Walker, who won the silver medal in the road race at the last U23 World Championships in Madrid, Spain, before taking the Australian title in January this year, is in his second season with Rabobank. Recently interviewed by Cyclingnews, the Australian said he hadn't set himself any particular goals for this season. "I'm just going to try and go well in every race I do - it's as simple as that," Walker said. "I'll probably have a bit easier time in July in terms of training, but [my objective] is just go well in every race. Except for the ones with cobbles... I'll take those ones easy," he added.

Gerolsteiner wants stage win in Murcia

German team Gerolsteiner has the firm intention of achieving a stage victory in the upcoming Vuelta a Murcia. Starting March 1, the Spanish stage race is a perfect opportunity, according to directeur sportif Udo Bölts, for one of his riders to hop on the podium.

"It's a realistic goal," Bölts said. "We have the candidates here to achieve it, and the boys are motivated. Michael Rich could pull it off in the time trial on Friday, or Heinrich Haussler and Peter Wrolich could do it in the sprint of a breakaway."

Meanwhile, Bölts doesn't think that a Gerolsteiner rider will be up for an overall podium placing, although two complete riders, Markus Fothen and Georg Totschnig, are also participating. "Both of them rode well in the Clasica de Almeria on Sunday, which was their first race this season," Bölts continued. "But their form isn't at a level yet where they could really be up front."

Gerolsteiner will line up the following riders at the Vuelta a Murcia: Markus Fothen, Thomas Fothen, Heinrich Haussler, Michael Rich, Marcel Strauss, Georg Totschnig, Peter Wrolich and Beat Zberg.

Milram for Italian races

Team Milram has announced its roster for the next races taking place in Italy: Milano-Torino on Saturday, March 4 and the Giro della Provincia di Lucca on Monday, March 6. Erik Zabel, Alessandro Cortinovis, Sergio Ghisalberti, Enrico Poitschke and Christian Knees will ride in both races, whereas Mirko Celestino and Alessandro Vanotti will only participate in Milano-Torino and Alessandro Petacchi, Michele Gobbi, Alberto Ongarato and Marco Velo will reinforce the light blue train at the Giro della Provincia di Lucca.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for upcoming races

The Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team has announced its riders for two upcoming races. For the Driedaagse Van West-Vlaanderen (Belgium, March 3-5) the team will field: Bert De Waele, Nico Sijmens, Filip Meirhaeghe, Steven Kleynen, Johan Verstrepen, Andy Cappelle, Fréderic Amorison and Jurgen Van Loocke.

At the De Vlaamse Pijl (Belgium, March 4), the squad will be: Sjef De Wilde, - Kevin Neyrinck, Sven Renders, Jean Paul Simon, Mathieu Criquielion, and Jean Claude Lebeau.

Forde dropped from Comm Games team

Barbados track cyclist Barry Forde has been dropped from his country's team for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, March 15-16. According to AP, the Barbados Cycling Union is still investigating him recording high levels of testosterone in October while competing in France, and as a result, the Barbados Olympic Committee has withdrawn his nomination.

Forde won a silver medal in the sprint at the 2005 track world championships in Los Angeles and was Barbados' chief cycling medal hope in Melbourne.

2006 Nerac/ presentation

Jon Hamblen
Photo ©: Team Nerac/
(Click for larger image)
All together now.
Photo ©: Team Nerac/
(Click for larger image)

Fans, sponsors and team members congregated in Tolland, Connecticut as the Nerac/Outdoorlights.Com Professional Cycling Team was officially presented. The event was set back in the New England woods in a rustic lodge - an ideal atmosphere for the riders to lay out their goals and aspirations for the 2006 season.

The roster is composed of an interesting mix of New England riders and new recruits from the Southeast and Colorado. Returning to the team is New England criterium star Adam Hodges Meyerson and all-arounder Mike Norton who finished 2005 with a strong third place at the Tour of Barbados. Joining the team in 2006 are former Saeco rider Justin Spinelli, 11 time national champion Todd Yezefski, consistent strongman John Hamblen and time trial standout Thad Dulin. With a roster of 16 riders, Nerac/ enters its second year as a professional team and is highly motivated.

"This is a team with long term aspirations," said new manager Thad Fischer. "Our goal is to grow this team each year and with long-term support from our sponsor we hope to do so." To help the riders make the most of their abilities, the bike sponsor Pegorretti has provided new team edition bikes in Columbus scandium. Long kept a secret to the American market, Dario Peggoretti's bikes will now be put to use by the Nerac/ riders in races throughout the United States as well as Latin America and Europe.

Click here for the team roster


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Team Nerac/

Team Group Health again "Women's Club of the Year"

Team Group Health has been named USA Cycling's 2005 Women's Club of the Year for the second time in a row - the team also won the award for its 2004 season. Team Group Health was one of nine teams from across the U.S. to be recognised for their outstanding competitive results and contributions to the greater cycling community.

"We are thrilled to receive this award for the second time, and excited about the opportunity we have to grow the sport in the Pacific Northwest," said Team Group Health President Dana Robertson Halter. "We are particularly delighted that we have been able to help Group Health Cooperative to raise awareness of the tremendous health benefits of cycling. Last season, we had some terrific results and we supported a wide range of cycling-related community events."

In 2005, Team Group Health won the Washington State Best All Around Road team award and 15 state championship medals, achieved 230 top-ten finishes, raised money for important causes such as Multiple Sclerosis, mentored new riders, and organised and supported local cycling events. Team Group Health is looking to build on this foundation in 2006 - the mountain bike and road racing seasons begin in the next two weeks, and the outfit will support and participate in Group Health Cooperative-sponsored events throughout the year, including the Seattle International Bicycle Expo, the "Chilly Hilly" bicycle ride and the Seattle-to-Portland and Flying Wheels rides.

Team Group Health's focus on developing new women riders led to tremendous growth in 2005: the roster now includes over 100 women, ranging in age from 15 to 55, with team members competing in all cycling disciplines - road, cyclocross, track and mountain bike.

MPCC up next in California

The McLane Pacific Cycling Classic (MPCC), the first non-stage race of the year on the National Racing Calendar, will be taking place again in Merced, California, on March 4, 2006. At last year's event, Gord Fraser of Health Net-Maxxis team won the Downtown Grand Prix for the fourth year in a row, edging out J.J. Haedo of Colavita- Sutter Home. Haedo then wrestled the top prize from Fraser in the Foothills Road Race the following day.

For the 13th edition of the MPCC, Fraser and Haedo will meet again, with Haedo wearing the new Toyota-United jersey, the same as Fraser's former team-mate and current US Pro Road Champion Chris Wherry.

The battle for the pros begins with the Downtown Grand Prix on Saturday, March 4, taking place on a 0.8 mile downtown circuit. On the next day, the Foothills Road Race will see the riders on a 24 mile rolling loop on a closed course that runs a total distance of up to 125 miles for the professional men. All in all, over 3000 riders are expected to make their mark in Merced and take home over $20,000 in cash prizes.

For registration and more information, please visit

Niewand bailed pending appeal

Australian former track cycling star Gary Niewand has been released on bail pending appeal. Melbourne Magistrates' Court sentenced Niewand to four months in prison for breaching the terms of a court order requiring him to keep away from his ex-wife.

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