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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 3, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, assisted by Susan Westemeyer

ProTour versus GT organizers stoush: round 2, March 6

By Gerard Knapp in Aigle, Switzerland

The next meeting between the working group of ProTour supporters and the organizers of cycling's Grand Tours is set for this Monday, March 6, where discussions will continue towards settling the public row over the direction of professional road racing's future.

UCI president Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews that the major players, including representatives of the UCI, the cycling team sponsors and the Grand Tour organizers, are meeting this Monday where "hopefully (they) will make more progress. There's certainly been no breakdown and hopefully we can reach a resolution in the long term.

"But in the short term, the ProTour is the same in 2006 as it was in 2005, and it's after 2008 we can look at changing the requirements," he said. "The rules and regulations are set until the end of 2008."

The International Cycling Union's 'ProTour' concept of 20 teams competing in a defined series of 'ProTour' races had been rejected by organizers of cycling's major Grand Tours - the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta España, not to mention several one-day monuments of the sport, such as Paris-Roubaix - in a public statement last December. This comes after they were somewhat reluctantly on-board for the inaugural 2005 season.

However, despite their concerns, these organisers' races remain on the UCI's 2006 ProTour calendar, and the UCI will continue to award points on performances in these races, even if the organizers of these races are unwilling to accept the terms set down by the UCI.

One major point of contention is that they are yet to agree on how to present all ProTour events as a combined calendar to the world's TV broadcasters, similar say to the F1 or Moto Grands Prix.

On December 9 last year, the organizers of cycling Grand Tours, RCS (Giro), ASO (TdF) and Unipublic (Vuelta) publicly announced they wanted to withdraw from the ProTour, citing concerns about its overall direction.

In their joint statement of December 9, the organizers also claimed the UCI ProTour series was "not credible on a sports level, because all the 2005 ProTour events - be it one-day or three-week races - are awarded the same number of points." The statement said that it was also "unjust, because the teams like Comunidad Valenciana, who won the Vuelta [teams classification - ed.], or Panaria who won Tirreno Adriatico, were deprived of their points because they had no ProTour licence."

No love-in on V-Day

The meeting this Monday follows on from an earlier meeting held on - perhaps inappropriately - Valentine's Day, February 14. This is where the UCI's ProTour 'working group of stakeholders' first met with the GT organizers to discuss their concerns raised in their December statement.

At this meeting, the Swiss sports marketing company, TEAM (Television Event and Media Marketing) gave a presentation claiming to show the potential to cycling if the ProTour could be presented as a series of races to the world's media, and the possible sponsorship benefits that could result.

The ProTour working group was formed after the UCI called a major meeting on January 18 in Geneva in an effort to address the concerns of the GT organizers. Here, the UCI met with its key ProTour supporters, notably the ProTour teams and their sponsors, represented by Patrick Lefevere, president of the AIGCP and director of the Quick.Step squad, as well as Paolo Del Lago from Liquigas.

Since that meeting, other team directors such as Discovery Channel's Johan Bruyneel have also spoken out in support of the ProTour concept.

While the discussions continue, the UCI seemingly remains firm on the ProTour. McQuaid said, "the calendar is the same as in 2005; it's the UCI's role and responsibility."

He said there's "not a lot" that can change this approach. "They (GT organizers) can protest as they do. If they wish to hinder it and if this was to continue, the sport will suffer.

"I don't think it's in anyone's interests as at the end of the day it is cycling competing against all sports at the highest level. We all need to be singing off the same hymn sheet."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

T-Mobile's Teutenberg on a roll

Ina Teutenberg
Photo ©: Nick Warren
(Click for larger image)

The T-Mobile women are twice as good as the T-Mobile men - at least when it comes to winning races. Or is the internal T-Mobile competition going to be exclusively held between Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Olaf Pollack? Whichever way it is, Teutenberg already has four season victories for the women, while Pollack has only two for the men. He won two in a row in California, but Teutenberg went one better, winning two in one day in New Zealand. She took the two split stages in the Tour of New Zealand (2.2) on Thursday. "It doesn't get much better than this," she told Cyclingnews. "I'm very happy with how today has gone."

In the morning stage, 99 km from Martinborough to Masterton, the peloton stayed together most of the race, and Teutenberg won the mass sprint in front of overall leader Sarah Ulmer. In the evening criterium race, T-Mobile and Univega controlled the last four laps to set things up for their sprinters. Teutenberg beat Univega's Kiesanowski by half a length.

Next on the agenda is the New Zealand World Cup. "I think Sunday's race will be really hard. I hear it's a tough course," Teutenberg added.

Niermann's special snow training

Rabobank's Grischa Niermann had to work a lot in the Vuelta a Valencia, as colleague Alexander Kolobnev took the leader's jersey on the first day. "Bram de Groot and I were practically alone at the front of the field in stages 2, 3 and 4, in order to protect our yellow jersey. But in the last 3 steep kilometres of the fourth stage, unfortunately Alexander had to let a couple of Spanish mountain goats pull away, and he lost the yellow jersey 16 seconds. So I could finally rest up in the field during the last stage! But unfortunately there was wind all day so there was no chance to rest. We then tried to blow up the field in the finale, and it worked, but the three riders in front of Kolobnev in the GC were paying attention, so he had to be satisfied with a fourth place on GC.

"At least I was able to 'train' well in Spain, and I'm looking forward to Paris-Nice," he continued. "And in order to do well there, I've started a special training camp. Based on my experience the last couple of years in Paris-Nice (snow, snow and more snow!) I'm training right now in the very wintry Hanover, Germany!"

UNIQA Classic cancelled

The UNIQA Classic race (2.1) will not be held this year, Otto Flum, president of the Austrian Cycling Federation announced Thursday. The race had been scheduled for May 1-4, but had scheduling problems, being up against, for example, the ProTour race Henninger Turm on May 1. "We would not have been able to assemble a good starting field for these dates," Flum said. "When Rabobank recently cancelled its participation in the UNIQA Classic, we decided we had to cancel the race. Of course we're not happy about it."

The Federation is thinking of alternative plans, so that the race can be held again in 2007 with a strong field. "We will try to come into the ProTour next year with the Austrian Tour, then we could also get a better date for the UNIQA Classic," Flum said.

German Pro Tour Teams set for Niedersachsen

All three German Pro Tour teams will appear in the ODDSET-Rundfahrt (Niedersachsen Rundfahrt) this year, the tour organisers have announced. Otto Pätzold, Tour director, said Thursday that T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Milram have all agreed to ride in the race. Last year T-Mobile withdrew its participation at the last minute, irritating fans and organizers alike.

Gerolsteiner has already announced that Michael Rich will appear. Rabobank will come with Matthew Hayman and Grischa Niermann, Naturino will bring Gabriele Colombo and Murilo Fischer, and the Polish Intel-Action team will bring Cezary Zamana. The 2.1 race will be held from April 19-23.

Stages announced for Post Danmark Rundt

This year's Post Danmark Rundt (Tour of Denmark) will take place from August 2-6 over six stages. The course has been finalised, starting in Frederikshavn and finishing in Frederiksberg. 16 teams will take part, including at least five ProTour teams. According to cyclingworld.dk, Team CSC's provisional line-up is Ivan Basso, Fabian Cancellara, Jakob Piil, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Karsten Kroon, Lars Bak, Matti Breschel and Brian Vandborg. Liquigas will (provisionally) have Magnus Bäckstedt and Luca Paolini in the race and Barloworld will bring Igor Astarloa.

The stages

Stage 1 - August 2nd: Frederikshavn - Viborg, 210 km
Stage 2 - August 3rd: Aalestrup - Vejle, 185 km
Stage 3 - August 4th: Kolding - Odense, 205 km
Stage 4 - August 5th: Sorø - Hillerød, 100 km
Stage 5 - August 5th: Helsingør ITT, 15,5 km
Stage 6 - August 6th: Gilleleje - Frederiksberg, 156 km

Teams

Team CSC (Den) ProTour Team
T-Mobile (Ger) ProTour Team
Liquigas (Ita) ProTour Team
Davitamon-Lotto (Bel) ProTour Team
Gerolsteiner (Ger) ProTour Team
Unibet.com (Bel) Professional Continental Team
Chocolade Jacques (Bel) Professional Continental Team
Panaria Navigare (Ita) Professional Continental Team
Team Barloworld (Gbr) Professional Continental Team
Team Intel Action (Pol) Professional Continental Team
Team GLS (Den) Continental Team
Glud & Marstrand Horsens (Den) Continental Team
Team Designa Køkken (Den) Continental Team
Team Post Danmark (Den) National Team

Two more teams will be invited.

Tour of Elk Grove offers $153,000

A new, big-bucks, international criterium has been announced in the USA, entitled the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove. Taking place over the weekend of August 12-13 in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the race boasts a cash prize purse of $153,000 - one of the largest purses in the U.S. for a criterium event. $25,000 of this will be allotted to the winner of the Men's International Pro Race, a 100 km/57 lap criterium, while the remainder will be spread among the place getters and the 14 other races being held over the weekend.

The race is being staged as part of the Village's 50th anniversary celebration in 2006, and its main sponsor is the Alexian Brothers Medical Center, an health care centre with facilities in Elk Grove.

Event schedule and prize pool

Saturday, August 12 
 
9:00 am  USCF Men's Cat 4                        25 mins + 1 lap     $1,000
9:35 am  USCF Men's Cat 3                        30 mins + 2 laps    $2,500 
10:20 am Junior Men, 12-14                       3 laps (5.25 miles) Awards   
10:45 am Junior Men, 15-18                       20 mins + 1 lap     Awards 
11:15 am USCF Men's Cat 5                        20 mins + 1 lap     Awards  
11:45 am USCF Men's Cat 2                        18 laps (31 miles)  $5,000 
1:15 pm  USCF Pro Women's Cat 1/2/3              60k/29 laps         $6,500 
3:00 pm  USCF Men's International Pro Race       100k/57 laps      $100,000
 
Sunday, August 13 
 
9:00 am  USCF Women's Cat 3/4                    20 mins+ 1 lap      $1,500
9:30 am  USCF Men's Cat 4/5                      20 mins + 1 lap     $1,500 
10:00 am USCF Master's Men 30+, 40+ Cat 1/2/3    20 laps (35 miles)  $2,500  
10:45 am USCF Master's Men 30+, 40+ Cat 4/5      20 laps (35 miles)  $2,500 
11:30 am Mayor's Challenge                       25 mins +1 lap      Awards
1:05 pm  Children's Big Wheel Race                                   Awards
1:40 pm  USCF International Women's Open         60 mins + 2 laps    $5,000
3:00 pm  USCF International Pro-Am Men's Cat 1/2 60k/29 laps        $25,000  

More information: www.tourofelkgrove.com

Second continental level team launched for Irish Cycling

By Shane Stokes

The prospects for Irish cycling took another step forward this week with the launch of Ireland's second Continental-level cycling squad, Team Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group. The team will comprise of fourteen Irish riders and, while it will be primarily based in Ireland, will spend time in Belgium and also compete world-ranked races in Europe, Canada, South Africa and Asia.

Former Irish road race champion and Belgium-based professional Morgan Fox will act as captain for the squad, sharing his experience with the other riders and also striving to get back to his top form. He will be joined by established international and domestic riders such as Conor Murphy, Paul Healion, former Rás winner Andrew Roche, John O'Shea, John Dempsey, Adrian Heddermann, Philip Finegan, Simon Kelly and John Wall. Promising young riders Mark Nestor, Barry Nolan, Derek Burke and Urban Monks complete the squad and will be its hope for the longer-term future.

"This is second to none in terms of the development of Irish cycling in terms of the last ten or fifteen years," said Fox. "When I got my pro contract I had to go to Belgium and do it the hard way; the riders will still need to ride the big races and make their mark, but the difference is now that they will have a big support network that wasn't there before. That should help a lot."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was guest of honour at the launch and while his experience is in another sport, he said he was impressed by the setup of the squad. "It is great to see young professional sportsmen working within a well organised, structured environment that will get the most out of them," he stated. "The Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group team is a great boost to Irish cycling and to all these young riders."

The launch comes five weeks after the unveiling of the Sean Kelly Racing Team, another continental level squad which will line out in world ranked races in 2006 and beyond. This marks the first time Ireland has had teams of this standard, greatly increasing the chances of future success on a world level.

First up for the team is the Giro del Capo in South Africa. Conor Murphy, John O'Shea, Andrew Roche, Derek Burke and John Dempsey will fly out from Dublin on Sunday with team manager Myles Gallagher to the 2.2 ranked event, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday week.

Also confirmed for the team are events such as the Paths of King Nikola in Serbia / Montenegro, the International Presidential Tour of Turkey, the Tour de Beauce, the Sun Tour, plus several races in Belgium. The Irish FBD Insurance Rás is a target, as are Premier Calendar races in Great Britain.

"We are waiting to hear back from more race organisers," said directeur sportif Declan Byrne this week. " We were a little bit concerned because the team wasn't registered until December, and obviously the European races - which are the races teams most want to do - were full by the time that we applied to get into most of them. Especially those in the first half of the season. But we have been lucky with the invitations that we have secured so far, and are on the waiting list for others."

Race organisers can contact the team by emailing mgallagher@teammurphygunn.com.

Click here for the full team roster.

Webcor-Platinum women's team

The Webcor Builders Women's team has signed a new co-sponsor in Platinum Advisors for 2006, and will be known as the Webcor-Platinum Women's Cycling Team. California-based consultancy firm Platinum Advisors was a supporting sponsor of the team in 2005.

The Webcor-Platinum team has six riders returning from last year: 2004 National Time Trial Champion and Olympian, Christine Thorburn, 2005 National Road Champion, Katheryn Curi, 2005 Canadian National Road Race silver medalist, Erinne Willock, 2005 Canadian National Time Trial bronze medalist, Felicia Gomez as well as ever improving riders Cat Malone and Betina Hold.

Click here for the full announcement and roster.

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