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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 4, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Speed, crashes and plenty of quality racing in Sydney

By Les Clarke in Sydney

Women's sprint

Anna Meares (Australia)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

At the 05-06 Track World Cup Round 4 in Sydney, Australia, Anna Meares beat Abassova in race 1 of the semi finals, with Jennie Reed taking her opening race against Italian Elisa Frisoni. In race two of the Meares/Abassova duel the Australian rode an extremely smart race to head into the decider against either the American or Italian. It was the American who would ride against Meares for the gold medal with a dominant win over Elisa Frisoni where she led from start to finish to prove she was a worthy adversary for Meares, who has been recovering from a back injury for several months.

Meares only required two races to defeat Jennie Reed in the final for first and second, the American having shown great form of her own to reach the final. But in the final she was up against a very lean and fast Meares who accounted for her in two near-perfect performances.

The experienced American tried going out hard and fast in both races, because according to Meares she knew that the Queenslander "has a faster jump" than Reed and hitting the front early would nullify Meares' ability to use this to her advantage. But it didn't matter as the younger of the speed sisters won both races in similar fashion, the latter victory bringing a huge smile to her face. "Tonight's ride was all about timing," said Meares after her win. "Marv's been encouraging me to time it [the sprint] from the back. He's been saying 'whatever you do have one good go,' and I saved that one for last."

For the full results, report & photos of the first day of the 05-06 Track World Cup Round 4 in Sydney, Australia, click here.

Leipheimer in Tirreno-Adriatico

Although a break from racing had been planned for Californian Levi Leipheimer, the Gerolsteiner rider has opted to return to competition. After finishing the Tour of California, where he took the prologue and wore the leader's jersey, the American wanted to take a rest and return to racing only at the Settimana Internationale from March 21-26, but now Leipheimer will participate in the upcoming Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico, scheduled for March 8-14.

"Levi's eager to race now," said Gerolsteiner director Christian Henn. "It doesn't make any sense for him to wait and keep up his form by training in Santa Rosa - he needs racing kilometres now." Teammate Robert Förster, a sprinter, will now take the start in Paris-Nice to allow Leipheimer to line-up in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Boonen in France, Bettini in Italy

The Belgian Quick.Steppers have communicated their line-ups for the next races. For Paris-Nice, starting this Sunday, March 5, the team will be consisting of Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Nick Nuyens, Matteo Tosatto, Guido Trenti, Jurgen Van De Walle and Cedric Vasseur.

Hands up for Boonen at last year's "race to the sun"
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

The World Champion has been training in preparation for the race in Montecarlo since Wednesday. "The weather is great and the area in and around Monaco is perfect for this important training as there are some good climbs," Boonen said. "My teammates Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe and Steven De Jongh have also joined me here in Monaco. It’s certainly more fun and stimulating training together."

Boonen will be leaving the principality on Saturday late morning for Paris where he will be receiving the Velo D’Or award at the headquarters of the French Velo magazine in the afternoon. After the award ceremony, Boonen will be going to the Eurosport studios where he will appear as a guest in one of their programs.

"Last year’s Paris-Nice left me very satisfied but I think this year’s route will be harder," Boonen continued. "The prologue certainly will be a bit too tough for me but I’ll still do my very best. Then there are a few stages where I should be able to look toward a win. I’ll be taking part in Paris-Nice with a view to the next classics, in particular Milano-Sanremo. Winning a race is always great for morale but, at the moment, it is not absolutely necessary. One thing I’m certainly hoping is that the weather is better than it was during last year’s race."

With a second roster currently competing in Belgium at the Driedaagse West Vlaanderen, a third Quick.Step contingent will travel to Italy to participate in the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, scheduled for Monday, March 6. Olympic champion Paolo Bettini will lead the team in Lucca, together with Serge Baguet, Davide Bramati, Steven De Jongh, Servais Knaven, Ivan Santaromita, Bram Tankink and Kevin Van Impe.

"I’m glad to be racing in Italy, above all in Tuscany on my home ground," Bettini said. "After the final climb there are lots of kilometres of riding on the flat before reaching the finish line - that's why I think there will be a sprint finish. As far as I'm concerned I’ll be trying to make the most of any situation that arises during the race. I’m in good form. Earlier on in the week I tried out the Monte Serra ascent, finishing with a time of 15'55." Monte Serra (917 m) in Tuscany is a 6.3 km long climb, used by a number of Italian pro riders to test their performances.

Ster van Zwolle cancelled

Due to heavy snowfalls in Northern and Central Europe these past few days, the Dutch opening classic Ster van Zwolle, originally planned to take place on Saturday, March 4, had to be cancelled. Race organiser Jan van Ommen had to abandon the event as police forces could not guarantee the safety of the riders.

It is the second time in a row that the race cannot take place - last year, bad weather conditions also prevented the Ster van Zwolle from happening. The race organiser will now ask the Dutch Cycling Federation KNWU for a new date.

Team Barloworld on test in Italy

After trips to Portugal, France and Switzerland, Team Barloworld is back on Italian roads as the riders get ready for the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race and the first big classic race of the season, Milan-San Remo. This week, the team met in Adro near Brescia for some fine-tune training, which made the riders ready for some racing this weekend at Milano-Torino (Saturday March 4) and Giro della Provincia di Lucca (Monday March 6).

Lead by directeur sportif Alberto Volpi, the following eight riders will ride in the two Italian races: Pedro Quintero Arreitunandia, Igor Astarloa (who started his season last weekend), Giampaolo Cheula, Mads Christensen, Enrico Degano (who won twice already at the GP Costa Azul), Alex Efimkin, Mauro Facci (an impressive third at the G.P. Haribo) and Hugo Manuel Sabido. The same riders will represent Team Barloworld in the Tirreno-Adriatico, beginning in Tivoli near Rome on March 8.

Figueras on the mend in Murcia

Lampre-Fondital is happy about Giuliano Figueras' performances in the ongoing Vuelta a Murcia. In the second stage of the race from Alcantarilla to Alhama de Murcia, Figueras obtained the third place, finishing the final sprint behind the winner Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) and Angel Vicioso (Liberty-Würth).

"After a year full of troubles, for Giuliano beginning with this third place is a very good thing, especially considering that the cyclists with whom he finished the race are all in an advanced fit," was Giuseppe Martinelli's first comment after the race. "Very good work of all the team, which led the race also in the climb."

Martinelli was also satisfied with the racing of Damiano Cunego, who reached the finish line in the second group in 11th position. "Damiano raced in a good way: he didn't force too much and he reached the end of the climb just 150 metres behind the first group, and then he didn't take any risks in the descent. Cunego must use these races to take consciousness of his potential and I think that today has been a good occasion to do so," Martinelli said.

After the stage, the team worked in a supplementary training for 40 km.

Prize money, UCI status for '06 MTB Series

USA Cycling announced Friday that six of the seven 2006 National Mountain Bike Series events have been included on the UCI Calendar and USA Cycling will provide prize money for the UCI-sanctioned events.

The National Mountain Bike Series events in Fontana, Calif., May 5-7 and Banner Elk, N.C., June 10-11 have been granted Category 2 status from the UCI, while incumbent races in West Dover, Vt., June 17-18, Park City, Utah, July 8-9, Brian Head, Utah, August 5-6 and Snowmass Village, Colo., August 12-13 have received Category 1 status from the international governing body.

The events in Fontana and Banner Elk cannot obtain Category 1 designation as first-year events.

As a requirement for UCI sanctioning, USA Cycling has contributed more than $33,000 in prize money and inscription fees towards the national series - an important element in determining the number of start positions the U.S. will receive at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The six National Mountain Bike Series events, plus the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. July 20-23, will provide U.S. athletes the opportunity to accumulate points that factor into a nation's overall ranking.

Points earned between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007 will count towards a nation's ranking and factor into the number of start positions a country receives at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The prize money contributed by USA Cycling for the national series events will be specific to men's and women's cross country races because they are only recognized mountain bike disciplines at the Olympic Games.

"The presence of UCI points for cross country athletes at seven events in the United States this year provides American athletes the much-desired opportunity to accumulate valuable points on their home turf," commented USA Cycling chief executive officer Gerard Bisceglia. "Although the prize money is one of the basic requirements of UCI inscription, it certainly adds to the prestige of events on the national series calendar."

In addition to securing more UCI-sanctioned events in the United States, USA Cycling will also announce plans next week for supporting its top professional riders to attend World Cup events in 2006 and 2007 in an effort to secure maximum start positions for the Beijing Games and further prepare athletes for world-class competition.

"The road to Beijing begins now," Bisceglia said. "These programs are extremely vital to maximum participation and success in 2008."

2006 National Mountain Bike Series Schedule

NMBS#1 May 5-7: Southridge Park - Fontana, Calif. (UCI C2)
NMBS#2 June 10-11: Sugar Mountain Resort - Banner Elk, N.C. (UCI C2)
NMBS#3 June 17-18: Mount Snow Resort - West Dover, Vt. (UCI C1)
NMBS#4 July 8-9: Deer Valley Resort - Park City, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#5 July 15-16: Infineon Raceway - Sonoma, Calif.
NMBS#6 Aug. 5-6: Brian Head Resort - Brian Head, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#7 Aug. 12-13: Snowmass Resort - Aspen, Colo. (UCI C1)

Former Irish champion passes away

By Shane Stokes

Irish cycling is in mourning following the loss of 1954 Rás stage winner Mick Christle earlier this week. He was the brother of former organiser Joe Christle and an accomplished competitor, riding strongly in the Rás and also taking the Irish road race title.

"Mick was a very amiable guy, but also one with steely determination who was physically and mentally very strong," said FBD Insurance Rás director Dermot Dignam on Wednesday. "He won a stage in the Rás, finished fourth overall in 1961 and also finished equal first with Paddy Flanagan in the Irish road race championships. The two were so close that they couldn’t be separated by the judges, so they shared the title."

Christle had a strong role in coaching riders, including Dignam. "He was way ahead of his time as regards coaching methods," he continued. "He had us doing cross country running and weight training right through the winter months, and also set up a training camp in a house he had restored in County Carlow. It was used by big groups of riders at the time and was an important part of the scene."

In his excellent book "The Rás - the Story of Ireland's Unique Bike Race", author Tom Daly wrote about Christle: "Mick Christle was Joe’s brother and one of his right-hand men. A stalwart of the Gate cycling club and of the Rás organisation, he was fiercely loyal to Joe, the NCA and the republican cause. He began competitive cycling in his twenties, having previously played hurling for Dublin. Physical training and exercise were a daily ritual - he was interested in physical fitness for its own sake. He organised winter training sessions, including a specialised cycling training camp in Carlow. He was always very fit and well prepared.

"Equally important was his approach to racing - he was very mentally strong and focused. Dermot Dignam much regretted that he had not come under Mick’s influence sooner in his racing career, and John ‘Jacko’ Mangan, who won the Rás in 1972 and raced for a decade in France, attributed much of his success to the mental strength he absorbed from the Christle circle, especially Mick. O’Hanlon also acknowledged Mick’s contribution to the crucial development of his mentality [as did Seamus Kennedy].

"Mick Christle was a congenial and popular character, but his convivial nature masked a shrewd and wily cycling brain. He disliked ostentatious riders and delighted in outwitting them. He was one of the great ‘fixers’ of the Rás, always planning and plotting, and excelled at organising strong riders not thought to be in contention to slip away in seemingly harmless breaks. They often turned out to be otherwise."

Indeed much of the impetus and organisation behind the legendary 1961 break, which paved the way for Tom Daly’s win, is credited to Christle.

His removal will take place on Friday evening, with the remains being brought to the Adam and Eve church on Merchants Quay for 5 pm. Funeral mass will follow at ten o’clock on Saturday, with the burial then taking place in Kilmessan cemetery in Co. Meath. May he rest in peace.

Sharks' Thornton ride "for" Health Net Maxxis on air

Fox Sports Net Bay Area is running its segment featuring Scott Thornton of the NHL's San Jose Sharks riding the individual time trial course at the Tour of California in Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis kit.

The Sharks' half-hour magazine show, SharkByte, will air four times in the next two weeks on FSN Bay Area (cable channel 40):

Saturday, March 4 at 9:30 PM
Tuesday, March 7 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 11 at 3:30 PM
Tuesday, March 14 at 7:00 PM

Two hours before the pros started on Wednesday, February 22, Thornton took to the streets south of San Jose where the time trial was run, riding a team Cannondale time trial bike. He ripped through the undulating 17-mile course in 48 minutes flat. Along the way, a crew from FSN Bay Area filmed the whole ride, as well as interviews afterward, including one with Health Net Presented by Maxxis rider Jeff Louder.

"The event went really well," said Health Net Presented by Maxxis communications director Jeff Sobul. "Scott enjoyed the ride, despite not having much time to warm up, and the feature on SharkByte gives us the opportunity to take professional cycling to a wider audience."

Thornton became a serious cyclist during the NHL lock-out last season. He continues to use cycling for his training.

World Deaf Cycling Championships to host Power Training Clinic

The World Deaf Cycling Championships, Ergomo and Hunter Allen will team up for a weekend-long power training clinic at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont from May 19-21, 2006, which will immediately precede the 2006 World Deaf Cycling Championships taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"This is exciting news, especially in the Bay Area which has a lot of cyclists who are very competitive and are always looking to improve their performance," said Robin Horwitz, director of the 2006 championships. Proceeds from the clinic will go to the week-long international event, to be hosted on U.S. soil for the first time and to feature elite cyclists from 10 nations.

Hunter Allen, co-author of "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" and CEO of The Peaks Coaching Group, will introduce the concept of power training, which has been widely adopted by professional cyclists such as Lance Armstrong. The clinic will discuss training with a power meter, threshold power, training levels and power profiling, and go out for a group ride on Saturday to perform 20-minute time trial tests in order to determine individual training levels and power profiles.

Ergomo, a manufacturer of power meters, will provide 10 units over the weekend. The units will be available following the clinic to participants at a discounted price.

Registrations are open at For further information, please contact Horwitz at or Allen at

2006 U.S. Armed Forces Cycling Team announced

The U.S. Armed Forces Cycling is starting the 2006 season with a line-up that includes veterans, new team members and an expanded women's program. The team has representatives from all five service branches - Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy, who are potentially stationed around the world. Therefore, riders compete in local events where they are stationed and get together for regional and national race calendar (NRC) events as duty commitments permit. The focus for the men this year is the Military World Championships at the end of July in The Netherlands. The Tour of Somerville weekend will be used for World's team selection. The women will focus on the U.S. National Championships.

Click here for the team roster & announcement.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)