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Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 3, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Tour de France wildcards announced

One French and one Spanish team have made it into the selection to participate in the 2006 Tour de France. Race organiser ASO announced on Thursday, March 2, that Continental Pro teams Agritubel and Comunidad Valenciana will line up their riders alongside the 20 ProTour teams in the next Grande Boucle.

The French outfit will probably again count on its leader Juan-Miguel Mercado, who already scored a stage win in the 2004 Tour de France. Spanish Comunidad Valenciana is thought to try its luck with Ruben Plaza, sixth of the overall classification of the Vuelta a España last year. Contrary to previous years, there will be no more entries available for the race - therefore, 22 teams (198 riders) will be taking the start of the greatest bike race on earth in Strasbourg on Saturday, July 1, 2006.

Wiesenhof-Akud, Volksbank invited to Deutschland Tour

The Deutschland Tour has given its two wildcard spots to two Continental Pro teams, the German Team Wiesenhof-Akud and the Austrian Team Volksbank. In awarding the two slots, the race management noted that the teams have a strong relationship to the stage race.

The race directors feels themselves obliged to invite Wiesenhof-Akud, "the only German team with Professional Continental status," but also note that the former Team Wiesenhof "has taken part in the Deutschland Tour every year since 2002, has always raced there competitively and as Team Wiesenhof-Akud in 2006, can boast former tour winner Jens Heppner as Sporting Director."

The second wild card was given to Team Volksbank, with an eye to the Deutschland Tour's run through the Austrian Tyrol. The team includes Gerrit Glomser, who has participated in the Tour of Germany three times, as well as multiple year participants Werner Riebenbauer and Harald Morscher. "This is a very big thing for the team and for Austrian cycling, to be invited to the Deutschland Tour in our first year as a Professional Continental team," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "We will represent Austria the best we can and ride actively. Gerrit Glomser has already announced that the stage finishing in St. Anton is exactly tailored to him.

Deutschland Tour director Kai Rapp said, "We are very happy that next to the three German/German-sponsored teams, T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Milram, we can give a platform to two further teams from the German-Austrian cycling community, to help them with their further development to the highest possible level."

The Deutschland Tour will start August 1, 2006, with 176 riders from 22 teams as each outfit may line up eight riders.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Paris-Nice: a test for T-Mobile's new recruits

Although the ProTour status of the ASO-organised Paris-Nice is a little ambiguous, the race will kick off this Sunday and see all ProTeams participating, as well as French Continental Pro squad Agritubel. German T-Mobile is using the "race to the sun" to send its new recruits into the field, as six out of the eight announced riders will be in their first season in magenta.

"We are looking forward to this first big race of the season," said T-Mobile sports and technical director Mario Kummer. "For us the race is an indicator of where we stand." Kummer believes that in Patrik Sinkewitz, Kim Kirchen and Linus Gerdemann, his team has three riders "capable of aiming for the GC".

In the past years, T-Mobile riders have been able to achieve the overall victory several times: Alexander Vinokourov won twice in 2002 and 2003, while Andreas Klöden was overall winner in 2000, his break-out year. But sports director Frans van Looy is not reading too much into past exploits: "We have set ourselves high targets, but to be right up there in a race like Paris-Nice, everything has to run smoothly."

Italian all-rounder Eddy Mazzoleni will make his magenta debut in Paris. The 32 year-old was planned to ride the GP di Lugano/GP Chiasso double last weekend, but had to withdraw in the very last minute because of knee problems. Jörg Ludewig is another T-Mobile newcomer anticipating what he describes as his "first big season highlight". The German rider reckons he has an old score to settle at Paris-Nice, as Dutchman Joost Posthuma "last year snatched victory in stage six from under my nose".

Also lining up will be Kim Kirchen, who travels to France fresh off a second place at Sunday’s GP di Chiasso. The tricky terrain in the South of France is likely to suit the Luxembourg rider. Second-year pros Marcus Burghardt and Bas Giling and sprinter Thomas Ziegler round out the T-Mobile roster.

Garzelli aims for Tirreno Adriatico

Liquigas-Bianchi is looking for the General Classification victory in the Italian ProTour race Tirreno Adriatico, taking place from March 8-14. Team leaders for the event will be Danilo Di Luca and Stefano Garzelli, but the winner of the first-ever ProTour points ranking last year already knows that he will not be the one fighting for it - although he took three stage wins there in the past.

"I like the route of Tirreno-Adriatico very much, but this year's edition is scheduled too early for my objectives," said Di Luca. "I’m expected to reach the peak of my fitness in two months time, so I can’t be a favourite. I could claim a stage win, but my first goal is decidedly to help Stefano Garzelli: he seems to be flying and will surely aim at overall victory."

According to Garzelli, this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico will be very demanding. "That’s a tough route, but I trained really well during the long training camp in Mexico. The race will already be fought in stage one to Tivoli, but only the time trial in Servigliano and the finish on the climb to Monti della Laga will decide the race. There, I’ll do my best," he commented.

Besides Di Luca and Garzelli, the Liquigas squad for the "race between the two seas" will also include Luca Paolini, Franco Pellizotti, Magnus Backstedt, Stefano Zanini, Marco Milesi, and Alessandro Spezialetti. Team managers directing the squad will be Stefano Zanatta and Mario Scirea.

Liquigas for Paris-Nice

The Liquigas team has announced its roster for Paris-Nice. The squad will be represented by Vincenzo Nibali, Dario Cioni, Daniele Colli, Michael Albasini, Kjell Carlström, Francesco Failli, Nicola Loda and Matej Mugerli.

Davitamon for Tirreno-Adriatico

For next week's Tirreno-Adriatico, the Belgian Davitamon-Lotto team has selected Wim De Vocht, Björn Leukemans, Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez, Leon Van Bon, Peter Van Petegem, Wim Vansevenant and Henk Vogels.

New French race: Chrono des Nations

A new French race is born: The Grand Prix des Nations, which was created in 1932 and disappeared in 2004, will be revived as it will merge with the Chrono des Herbiers to become what is to be called the Chrono des Nations. The French time trial event will take place for the very first time on October 15, 2006, and World Hour Record holder Ondrej Sosenka, as well as time trial World Champion Michael Rogers have already assured the organiser with their coming.

"The GP des Nations had been the Queen event of time trial kings," said Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc at the announcement in Paris on Wednesday. "We are very glad that the word 'Nations' can continue to exist," added his successor Christian Prudhomme.

Wiggins to race at Good Friday Track Meeting

A great favourite of the large Easter crowd, Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins (Credit Agricole) will race at the April 14 Good Friday Track Meeting to be held at South London's Herne Hill Velodrome. The last time Wiggins featured at Herne Hill was in 2003: That year he raced against World Champions and Tour de France stars Bradley McGee and Stuart O'Grady, not forgetting a number of UK world champions, national stars and local talents.

The race programme for the 2006 event is still coming together, as are entries, but more top names to join Wiggins on April 14 are expected.

For more information on the Good Friday Track Meeting, please visit

Irish race organisers up in a heap

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

What have Liam Collins and Noel Clarke got in common? Both have been left without a bell on their bicycles and a real possibility that they will be bereft of participants through no fault of theirs. The Irish race organisers have been frantic in the last few days as a result of an error in the Cycling Ireland calendar which has just been published.

"All right if one had the misfortune to have to incorrect information, you would say a publisher’s error, but two is mysterious to say the least," said Clarke, whose event has been listed for just A & B. "Navan Avonmore CC caters for cyclists and anybody that is involved with the sport. Know full well that we always have a full program of racing every year," he added.

Liam Collins' circumstances are different, as the message going out according to the calendar was that only juniors and veterans would be catered for. "Far from it! We are organising a race to facilitate all the categories," he said. "I have been at pains to tell everybody that the race is open, and - more importantly - that the Broadford where the race is scheduled to commence is between Kanturk and Newcastlewest, and not on the Dublin side of Limerick. The locality is famous because it is home to journalist-publisher-broadcaster, Vincent Browne, who is a household name in Ireland."

Hopefully all be in order, prior to race time on Sunday. The Cycleways Cup's start will be moved out into the country as there will be a big Gaelic football match in Pairc Taliteann on the same day, but the finish is in town. It will be circuit race for all categories.

Despite losing five of their team to international duty, Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn Property Group will still have a big say in the destination of the trophy. But for the last number of years, it has become custom and practice for the sponsors of the event, Cycleways, to also have a say in the result. Whilst other teams may be in awe of the Murphy outfit, no such feelings are afield from the Cycleway members who now have a co-sponsor in MyHome.Com. They’ll be eager to upset the applecart and prove that the new kids on the block will have to show their mettle in competition. Cycleways have also enlisted the services of Johnny Carroll who will be the joker in the pack.

In Limerick, it will be action all the way for the Limerick City CC, who is promoting the Cycling Pursuits Cup in Broadford. At least those participating at that venue will not have to go off searching for pieces of equipment in the area, as the sponsor will have the equipment.

Last week's winner of the Lacey Cup, Paul Griffin has winged his way back to the Far East for a race in Taiwan. Michael Hennessy, who was runner-up last week, will be well capable of carrying the mantel of favourite and the course will ideal for him with a testing drag on each of the six laps.

In both venues, all categories will be catered for and the start time is at one o’clock at both locations.

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