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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 18, 2006

Edited by Sue George

MGM Buys Obree Biopic

Flying Scotsman gets worldwide deal

By Shane Stokes

British cyclist Graeme Obree races in his famous superman position
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The film about former world hour record holder and visionary bike builder Graeme Obree will be screened in the US at the end of December thanks to a new distribution deal.

This week MGM confirmed that it acquired worldwide distribution rights to "The Flying Scotsman," a bio-pic about the life of the Scottish time trial specialist. The film stars Trainspotting actor Jonny Lee Miller and is directed by British TV director Douglas Mackinnon.

Obree and Mackinnon were both due to attend a booked-out screening last Sunday at the Inverness Film Festival.

According to, the London-based ContentFilm Intl. sold the film to MGM at the American Film Market, which occurred November 8. The film had previously secured deals for a handful of markets including Italy, Scandinavia, and Portugal, but MGM now has distribution rights for the US and other markets. The film will make its theatrical debut stateside on December 29th, while it is expected that MGM will distribute it directly to TV in the international market.

Obree was one of the most unique and inspirational riders of recent years, stunning the cycling world back in 1993 when he broke Francesco Moser's long-standing hour record on a self-made bike made from a hodgepodge of spare parts and using bearings from a washing machine. Of equal surprise was the position he used, with his arms tucked in under his chest in order to minimize wind resistance. Obree also took the world pursuit title that year and later repeated the feat in 1995.

Obree's record of 51.596km set in Hamar, Norway, only stood a few days before it was beaten by Chris Boardman's 52.270 in the Velodrome du Lac in Bordeaux. The Scot then came back the following year and recorded 52.713km in the same venue, resetting the hour mark. However, his unconventional position and approach irked the UCI, and they banned his aero setup.

British champion Graeme Obree
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Obree only found out about the rule change during the 1994 world track championships when he was disqualified by the officials there. However he rose to the challenge and, using the same lateral thinking, invented the so-called Superman position. This saw his arms fully outstretched ahead of him and appeared to be even faster, helping him to take his second world pursuit title in 1995.

This time the position really caught on, with several riders using it at the Atlanta Olympics and longtime rival Chris Boardman going on to win the world pursuit championship in a new record of 4 minutes and 11.114 seconds. He then went "Superman" once more to set a new hour record of 56.375km in September of that year, showing the benefits of Obree's wind-slicing vision.

Obree had a chance to ride professionally for the Le Groupement squad in 1994 but pulled out, later saying that doping in cycling was a big factor in his decision to remain an amateur. He also struggled with bipolar disorder (aka manic depression), a personal battle which hampered his career but adds to the magnitude of his achievements.

The Flying Scotsman documents Obree's battles on and off the bike, and draws on his excellent autobiography of the same name. The film was beset by financial problems during its making due to the sudden death of a major financier involved with the project, but the news of the MGM deal means that there is now the chance for some or all of the debts to be settled, as well as for the Scotsman's unique story to reach a global audience.

Sydney track World Cup kicks off first night's racing

By Gerard Knapp

Members of the ‘Kate Bates fan club’
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

The first night of racing at the Dunc Gray Velodrome saw some excellent racing, including the men's keirin final - a showdown between super-sprinters Theo Bos (Netherlands) and Ryan Bayley (Australia) - as well as the women's 20km points race, taken by Australia's Katherine Bates.

On hand to support Bates were members of her own fan club - friends and former schoolmates of the champion Australian cyclist who attended Westfields Sports High School in Sydney. While keen supporters of their friend, some still seemed perplexed by the point score's tactical finale. "Kate finished the race halfway back in the field, but still wins. What's that about? But we're still happy for her and it's great she won."

The slogan says it all.
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

The race itself was closely fought and it was in fact a late attack by Catherine Cheatley (New Zealand) for the final sprint that took the top points, leaving the leaders to scrap over the remaining points from the minor placings to determine the overall winner.

"I've got some school friends here, all my family - it's a very rare opportunity. I've never actually ridden this event at Sydney World Cup before, so to be able to come out and win is pretty cool," Bates said afterwards.

For complete coverage of the first day of racing at Sydney's World Cup track opener, click here.

Evans 'auction' finds willing diners

By Gerard Knapp

Cadel Evans (seated - centre)
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

One of the special attractions at the first night of the Sydney round of the UCI Track World Cup was the auction of dinner with invited VIP, Australian road cyclist Cadel Evans, with profits going to charities set up to assist local cyclists.

The 'dinner with Cadel' was auctioned on EBay and the winning bid of AUS$3,000 came from Ray Burquest, an IT consultant from the firm ThinkSecure. Burquest said he contacted the company's customers to invite them to the evening. While most wanted to be there, they couldn't attend, but Burquest didn't have too much trouble filling the table with colleagues and friends who wanted to share dinner with Evans, the fifth-placed rider in this year's Tour de France.

Dotted around the table were other employees of ThinkSecure, who are also keen cyclists, like Burquest, and they seemed to be having a great time listening to the Tour rider share stories of life in the pro peloton.

Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Burquest explained that he's a relatively recent convert to the sport - well for a few years now - and how he cycles 40km to and from work each day and takes part in group rides on the weekend, evidence of the sport's growing popularity among educated professionals in English-speaking countries.

Apart from investing in the latest kit, they're also seemingly prepared to put something into the sport, and in this case the proceeds from the auction will go towards the Amy Gillett Foundation, set up in memory of the Australian cyclist tragically killed while training with her AIS team-mates in Germany last July, as well as the new fund that's been set up to assist Australian MTB rider Renee Junga, who was seriously injured at the World MTB Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand, last September.

As for Evans, he was delighted to take part. "When they told me about the idea (to help the cyclists' funds), that's why I came here," he told Cyclingnews. Evans had just returned from a two-week holiday in Tasmania, where he planned to take in some bushwalking and sight-seeing with his wife and family, but some unexpected heavy snowfalls put a stop to their planned adventures.

Riding 'cross on MTB trails

Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel)
Photo ©: AFP
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Evans will return to his home in Barwon Heads, Victoria, where he plans to commence his training in preparation for the 2007 season (as well as sort out the carburetor of his '64 Mustang). He will be mostly riding on the road with local groups - "Have you been there? It's too windy to ride solo!" - and will also take to the local national park and do some climbing work, but this will involve riding a cyclo-cross bike on the same trails that he used to ride on his MTB. He said it makes a change and is good training before he starts the serious climbing.

His Belgian team will commence its 2007 season with Tour Down Under in Adelaide, though Evans is not sure at this stage if he will be lining up with the team in January for that race. "We'll see how things go for me," the popular rider said as he signed (yet another) autograph for a young fan. "It's an early start (to the season), and it can stretch it out a bit if I have to be ready by then. We'll see."

Klöden training quietly

Germany's Andreas Klöden
Photo ©: AFP
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Andreas Klöden took advantage of the off-season to "recharge my batteries to 100 percent and spend time with my family." But the quiet time is over for the slender T-Mobile rider, who will be riding for Team Astaná in the coming season as he wrote on his website,

"Now that I have recovered well, I have been training again since the beginning of November-four or five days a week on the bike, and also doing something for the whole body." He will be staying near his home in Switzerland, at least for the time being. "After the past two years, I want to train quietly and therefore won't be flying south, but will stay home. But possibly, I will go to a training camp not to far away."

Mancebo approached by Tinkoff

By Hedwig Kröner

Spain's Francisco Mancebo (AG2R/Fra) talks on the phone
Photo ©: AFP
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The new Italian Continental Pro team Tinkoff Credit Systems has made an offer to Francisco Mancebo, the Spanish Ag2R Prévoyance rider who was suspended by his squad prior to the Tour de France this year because of his alleged involvement with the Operación Puerto doping scandal. "It's true that we have received a relatively attractive offer from Tinkoff," David Plaza, Mancebo's manager told French L'Equipe. "The only problem is that Paco is still under contract with AG2R, and our first intention is to fulfill that contract's term."

As reported last week, rumour has it that Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov offered Mancebo 600,000 Euros annually to join his squad, the Tour de France podium candidate is said to receive an even greater sum at the French team. Meanwhile, AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't want Mancebo in his team anymore, but the Spaniard will legally be entitled to race next season as the Spanish federation cannot use the Puerto documents against him.

Haedo signs with Team CSC

25-year-old Argentinean sprinter Juan José Haedo signed a two-year contract with Team CSC. Haedo has won nine victories since becoming a professional in 2003. During last season, he won three victories with the American Toyota-United team: two in the Tour of California and one in the Tour of Georgia.

"I had several opportunities to further my career, but when the offer came in from Team CSC, I had no doubts. I've watched the team from the outside when they've been in the States, and it made a big impression on me. I believe I'll get a unique opportunity to grow as a rider here, and I'll be working with the most competent people in the business. I know the transition to the European races will be a tough one, but I'm highly motivated to fight for it. I'm the first-ever Argentinean rider to be given a chance at this level, and the fact that Team CSC has chosen me gives me a tremendous confidence boost," says Haedo.

Director Bjarne Riis spoke highly of Haedo. " I first noticed Haedo this year during Tour of California, where he was yards better than the other sprinters. He is very fast, and in my opinion he also has what it takes to do well on the European scene. He's the type, who has been able to make it on his own in the sprints."

Five Colombian continental teams ready for next season

By Hernan Alvarez

Colombian Santiago Botero
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Five major Colombian teams are ready to race 2007 as continental teams for UCI competitions. The EPM-Orbitel team reached an agreement with star rider Santiago Botero for next season. Botero will serve as team leader and will guide the team's other 12 riders in local races. Colombia es Pasion will be an outfit with a bigger roster; they will have 24 riders. The Boyaca es Para Vivirla-Marche team will have16 cyclists, while Aguardiente Antioqueño-Idea and Indervalle have 16 and 12 riders respectively thus far.

Botero will be the greatest attraction inside Colombian cycling next season, but EPM-Orbitel also brings Giovanni Baez to its troop. Meanwhile, Colombia es Pasion is trying to sign Daniel Rincon, Edwin Parra, Freddy Gonzalez, Mauricio Ortega, and Sergio L. Henao. Boyaca es Para Vivirla-Marche Team has already reached a deal with Julian Becerra, Mario Rojas, and Ivan Casas. They will be joined by Freddy Piamonte.

Pradera to Benfica

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Mikel Pradera reached a contractual agreement with the powerful Portuguese squad Benfica. The Spaniard had left Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears after two seasons. Prior to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Pradera raced for Euskaltel and ONCE-Eroski.

Team Benifica will be directed by Orlando Rodrigues. The squad had already signed three other riders come: Jose Antonio Pecharromán (from Comunitat Valenciana), the sprinter Javier Benítez (from Grupo Nicolás Mateos), and the neo-professional Didac Ortega (from FC Barcelona). Portuguese rider Jose Azevedo (from Discovery Channel) will head this new pro-continental squad. Other possible team members include Jesús Buendía, now with 3 Molinos Resort.

Benfica will tackle an international calendar, but will mainly race in Spain and France. Vuelta a Andalucia, Vuelta a Valencia, and Vuelta a Murcia are on the list of candidate races.

Merckx dines with royalty

Eddy Merckx (5th from right) joins King Albert II of Belgium (4th from left)
Photo ©: AFP
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Belgian cycling champion Eddy Merckx spent some time with royalty on Thursday when he participated in the official state visit of Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani to Belgium. Merckx joined the Emir and Belgian King Albert II and Crown Prince Philippe for a formal state dinner at Laken castle..

Iron Horse Classic taps new head

The Iron Horse Bicycle Class will get a new organizer for next year's event. The 36th edition of the race will be held on Memorial Day weekend in Durango, Colorado. Longtime racer Gaige Sippy will take over for Kendra Holmes ho left her position to help run a family business.

The Iron Horse includes a road race and a citizen's ride during which riders try to beat the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad on its 3.5 hour journey to Silverton. Over 2,000 participants join in annually. Many stay over for a criterium held as part of the event the next day. The popular weekend used to include a mountain bike race, too. Well-known racers like Ned Overend have made their mark on the Iron Horse in past years.

Sippy approached Iron Horse founder Ed Zink with a proposal for the race. "We want to reinforce the numbers in the road race on Saturday and the criterium on Sunday. We also are looking at ways to bring back a mountain bike component in late summer or early fall," Sippy told the Durango Herald. Sippy is looking at options for the mountain bike race to take the form of a 6, 12, or 24 hour event, but he is leaning toward a six-hour event due to logistics.

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