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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for November 2, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

New pro race for Armstrong's hometown of Austin

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Big time professional cycling for both men and women is coming to Austin, Texas, the hometown of seven time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong next June. The Austin International is a new race that has already earned a prestigious 1.1 UCI rating for its first edition. Executive Director of the Austin Sports Commission Matthew Payne declared "On behalf of the City of Austin, the Austin Sports Commission is very excited to welcome the Austin International in June 2007. It will be one of the first international sporting events ever hosted in Austin and will continue to distinguish our city as a true global destination. It will be a great new event for our corporate sponsors, the city of Austin and all of the avid cyclists that are proud to call Austin their home."

The 2007 Austin International, slated for June 17, 2007, will feature a pro men's and women's race and will be evaluated as a potential Women's World Cup event for 2008.

The Austin International is organized by g4 Productions, a highly experienced team of four women who were instrumental in the success of the USPRO Championships and Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, the inaugural edition of the Tour de Georgia among many other international cycling events in the USA.

Moving on from their previous affiliation, the Austin International is the first major venture for g4 Productions. "We are very proud that the Austin International has received a 1.1 from the UCI. It is rare for a first year event to receive such a high ranking but we have put a lot of effort into the organization and planning of this race," said Robin Morton, President of g4 Productions. "The course for the Austin International is very challenging and technical and should be very popular with the teams. Additionally, we are also very pleased that our race will be included in the new USA Cycling Professional Tour, immediately recognizing the Austin International as one of the premier cycling races in America."

USA Cycling welcomed g4's Austin International to the growing list of world class American races that will make up their ambitious new USA Cycling Professional Tour in 2007. Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling stated that "USA Cycling is very excited about the commitment that Austin has made to support and showcase professional men's and women's racing. Austin has a great history of supporting world class bike racing and we are elated to see Austin back on the calendar. We trust and hope the Austin International will become a mainstay on the USA Cycling Professional Tour attracting some of the top teams and riders in the world. We are very hopeful that the women's race will become one of the prestigious World Cup races in the very near future."

Local Austin International supporter Hill Able, owner of Austin's Bicycle Sport Shop and President of mountain bike advocacy group International Mountain Bike Association stated that "Austin, Texas is a world class cycling city and the announcement of the Austin International race coming to town is solid confirmation of that fact. Austinites are some of the healthiest, most active people in the world and riding bicycles is a core part of their lifestyles. The race is sure to be a huge success and we look forward to hosting some of the best cyclists in the world next June."

Basso likely to non-ProTour team

Ivan Basso at home after Giro win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

2006 Giro d'Italia winner, Ivan Basso, still has not found a team for the coming 2007 season. The Italian from Varese was allowed to race after the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) officially shelved the investigation files regarding his involvement in Operación Puerto on October 27 but he will not likely partake in any race action until the new year.

Top on Basso's list of teams are rumoured to be Discovery Channel and Barloworld, the former at the ProTour level. Following the ruling by the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) last week, requiring riders linked to Operación Puerto to submit to DNA testing before being allowed to sign with ProTour teams, it is likely riders like Basso, Jan Ullrich and Francisco Mancebo will be looking to join professional continental teams.

"I am in stand-by," said the 28 year-old Italian to La Gazzetta dello Sport before departing to Japan on a planned trip to a bike show. "But it is important that I decide [on a team]. I am coming from a very difficult season and when I start training I will not have a minute's rest. Actually, there are still many things to put together and we are not sure of the particulars."

If the former-CSC man goes to a non-ProTour setup, then the team would be dependent on wild card invitations to get into the bigger races, like the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. However, working in favour of Basso, is the continued disagreements between the Grand Tour organizers and the UCI ProTour Council (UPTC), which could allow more freedom by the grand tours in how they select the participating teams.

"Selecting a ProTour team is not fundamental," confirmed Basso. "There are some very valid offers from the professional [continental] teams; it is probable that I will go to one of these. The grand races are outside of the ProTour and to be a part of a ProTour team is not necessary."

Milram shrinks in 2007

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Milram, the Italian-German ProTour team, will be smaller next year. Eight riders have left the team, while only five newcomers have been hired. No more signings are expected; team spokesman Sandra Schmitz reported to that "There's still some space, but we're going to stay with 27 riders."

The most illustrious newcomer is former World Champion Igor Astarloa. The 30 year-old Spaniard is a one-day specialist who can also sprint. The heart of the team will continue to be all-out sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, and they will have a new man to pull sprints for them in Brett Lancaster. The 26 year-old Australian is coming over from professional continental team Panaria-Navigare.

In addition, Milram has signed three young riders. Marcel Sieberg, 24, is moving up to the ProTour from Wiesenhof-Akud. He added Belgian one day race GP Jef Scherens to his palmarčs this year. 22 year-old Sebastian Schwager comes from Continental Team Thüringer Energie, and finished second this year in the German U23 league. The two will be joined by Niki Terpstra, a 22 year-old Dutchman.

Eight riders are leaving Milram, three of whom have not yet found new teams: Daniel Becke, Simone Cadamuro and Michele Gobbi. Gobbi is still in rehabilitation after suffering life-threatening head injuries in a race crash in October. Daniel Musiol is going to Wiesenhof-Felt, Maxim Iglinsky to Astaná, Maarten den Bakker to Skil-Shimano, Giovanni Visconti to Quick-Step and Alessandro Vanotti to Liquigas.

The team will not only have fewer riders but also one less director sportif. Jan Schaffrath has moved over to rival T-Mobile, and spokesman Schmitz indicated that there are no plans to replace him.

Bettini: Grenoble to Munich

World champion Paolo Bettini has successfully completed his first Six Day, finishing fifth in the 36th Grenoble Six Day with his partner Marco Villa. Il Grillo Livornese was guided along by his experienced six day partner, with whom he will pair with in the Munich Six Day, November 9 to 14.

The track racing offers the Bettini a chance to stretch his legs in a different discipline and to earn a little extra cash. According to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian will earn €100,000 for an appearance fee.

Bettini and Villa are due to train together in the coming week before the Munich race starts. "I have had fun and I am progressing," concluded 32 year-old Bettini told the Italian newspaper.

Henninger Turm: Sponsor or not?

By Susan Westemeyer

Garzelli with Henninger beer after 2006 win
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Tuesday, the word was that Henninger Brewery was considering cancelling its sponsorship of Rund um den Henninger Turm, traditionally run on May 1 in Frankfurt, Germany. Their sponsor contract runs though 2007 and contains an option for 2008, but "We wouldn't have anything against it, if the organizer would look for a new co-sponsor or sponsor," brewery spokesman Birte Kleppien told the Frankfurther Neue Presse.

The German brewery was allegedly even considering withdrawing its sponsorship entirely. "That is a part of the negotiations at the moment, but I can't comment further," said Kleppien.

However, things sounded different on Thursday. The brewery plans to honour its contract, and anything else was a "misapprehension", said Otto Völker, the Henninger Brewery director. It does plan to reduce its financial contribution, though, and says, "We would of course not stand in the way of the engagement by other firms who want to contribute to the success of this race with a financial donation."

Hunter set to soak up Cycle Challenge atmosphere

Robert Hunter in Phonak colours
Photo ©: Mark P. Hazelton
Click for larger image

The Pick 'n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge is slated to have many cycling personalities for their 2006 race, including South Africa's Robert Hunter. Hunter, a past winner of the event, won't be racing with the pros on November 19 but the Tour de France rider will be taking time off to soak in atmosphere of Joburg's Safest Race with a corporate group (Bond Exchange) in aid of charity.

Hunter has been in the top echelons of the sport in Europe for more than seven years. The former West Rand schoolboy is one of the top sprinters and believes the Cycle Challenge is a tribute to cycling in South Africa. "I still come back to Johannesburg and stand in awe of the event. The racing is, of course, much harder in Europe, but that's what the sport is focussed on over there," said Hunter.

"When I tell people in Europe that 28,000 people line up to ride a bike race over here - and that they are actually timed - they think I'm joking. Fortunately I have a couple of pics on my laptop to prove my point."

Since racing competitively in Europe, Hunter has viewed the Cycle Challenge as an outing, rather than a race. Two years ago he rode tandem with his wife, Claudia, and last year he headed up the Ride for Larry group. The group collected funds for the medical care of sports journalist Larry Lombaard, who is still on the road to recovery following a horrific armed attack on him last year.

"I get more than enough chance to race in Europe, so when I come back it's nice to be on the other side of the fence for a change," Hunter continued. "I love cycling, and I love seeing so many people sharing in my passion. ... I don't think South Africans really understand the uniqueness around the Cycle Challenge and what it takes to get a city to buy into an event in the way that Joburg's management bends over backwards to accommodate cyclists."

Hunter did more racing than usual in South Africa this year after a decision to extend his season. "I've had such a roller coaster year and didn't have an extended period of racing [he crashed heavily, breaking a collarbone in May]. So I came off my European season feeling fresh and still wanted to race consistently for a couple of months."

Hunter will line up as part of the South African team in the Continental Championships in Mauritius next week and that will be his final "race" of the year. Then it will be time for some rest and relaxation before he starts training again in December to take on the new European season as part of Barloworld.

The Cycle Challenge is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and is expected to see more than 28,000 cyclists line up Sunday, November 19.

Team Nerac new Signings for 2007

Team Nerac have six new signings. The Connecticut-based team has again re-focused its operation to the New England area and has recruited some talented riders for its 2007 roster.

Some of the new signings include Daniel Greenfield, a highly talented rider who rode for Targetraining last year. Additional riders include the second and fourth ranked riders by USA Cycling for 2006, Patrick Walsh and Christopher Jones. Team Nerac also signed some young guns with Aidan Charles and David Wiswell.

The returning Team Nerac riders include Adam Myerson and Todd Yezefski. There will be three additional riders signed which will help Team Nerac improve on their 22 wins and 76 podium appearances the 2006 season.

Latrobe moves to a two-day carnival

The sports carnivals association of Tasmania (SCAT), Australia has made the leap back up to two days for their Latrobe Carnival. The cycling carnival will aim for a better format in 2006 as organisers return to a two-day schedule, December 26 and 27, 2006.

Dennis Clarke, President of the Latrobe cycling club, believes that the two-day program will allow for some flexibility and will add to the series. "We are happy to announce that going to a two-day program allows us to expand the number of events and we have injected more prize money for competitors," said Clarke. "Spreading the events over two-days also allows us to shorten the program slightly to make it more exciting and interesting for the public."

President of sports carnivals association Grant Atkins notes that "The two-day program will enhance the series and provide the public with an extra chance to see some of the great talent on display."

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