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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for November 20, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

David George: A new plan of attack

David George hopes that starting his '07 plans now will pay dividends
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Having won the Tour de Langkawi at the start of 2006, South African Time Trial Champion David George is aiming to translate that kind of form into European success in 2007. Last year he hit top condition very early on in a bid to secure a contract; this time round, he's hoping to find a new team early on and structure things very differently. George explains the approach he feels can pay off to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes.

This is a period of change for South African rider David George. On Saturday he married his fiancée, Michelle Carstens, exchanging single life for that of a newlywed. At the same time he's seeking another type of commitment, the 30-year-old is currently looking for a new professional team to race with in 2007.

George had some good results this season, including victory in the Tour de Langkawi, second in the Giro del Capo, a win in the South African Time Trial Championships and third in the national road champs. He had been left without a contract by the Barloworld team at the end of '05, but that strong run of early form captured the interest of Spanish squad Relax, who signed him on a one year contract in March.

He celebrated the good news by taking second in the Commonwealth Games Road Race, then travelled to Europe to get kitted out in the colours of the Continental Professional squad. Starting with a new team at such a late point in the season made things a little more difficult than they would otherwise have been, but he settled in and rode strongly in the Tour of Burgos in August, finishing fifth in the time trial and 11th overall.

When he spoke to Cyclingnews back in March, George said that a good ride in the Vuelta was his main aim for the rest of the season. However he fell sick just before the race, requiring a course of antibiotics and suffering a drop in form as a result. After finishing the Grand Tour in 70th, George went on to perform respectably at the World Championships.

"I was hoping to go little bit better in the Vuelta. Sometimes things need to work out better than they did," George told Cyclingnews. "As for the worlds, I was reasonably happy with that. I'd just finished a Grand Tour for the first time and I wasn't quite sure how I was going to come out of it, especially with the Worlds being just a few days later.

To read the full interview, click here.

Freire's spinal problems unchanged

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Triple World Champion Oscar Freire is still suffering from the same cervical spinal problems which made him miss the Vuelta a España and the World Championships in Salzburg this season. The Rabobank rider did win the Hamburg Cyclassics after abandoning the Tour de France, but his condition hasn't allowed him to train properly since then, as he was fighting off headaches and dizziness.

"It's still the same," said Freire as Marca's Josu Garai caught up with him at his Swiss residence. "I'm trying to solve the problem before the season starts, but instead of improving, it's actually worsened." The headaches and dizziness persisted, at times preventing the cyclist from leading a normal life, although Freire has been treated by Rabobank doctors with all due attention. "I changed my physiotherapy, went to a neurologist, got a scan, acupuncture, stretching, relaxation... but it just didn't get better," he said.

First team meeting for Milram

German-Italian team Milram will meet for the first time in its 2007 composition in Montegrotto Terme (Padova, Italy) from December 4-7. Besides the merits of a social gathering, the camp will allow the cyclists to get to know their new gear and bikes for the coming season and undergo medical examinations. Team manager Gianluigi Stanga will also discuss race programs with the riders. "But of course, it is a great opportunity to get to know the newly arrived cyclists and to allow them to integrate into the squad as fast as possible," Stanga said.

66th Gent Six: Will Keisse defend his title?

Gilmore and Keisse celebrated last year
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
Click for larger image

From Tuesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 26, the small university town of Gent in Northern Belgium will again be the centre of attention for all track cycling lovers. The 66th Gent Sixdays will feature not only some of the world's finest track cyclists, including last year's winner Iljo Keisse, but also the traditional mix of entertainment, food and beer. On Wednesday, former Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc will visit the "Kuipke" indoor track, as the greatest road race on earth will pass through Gent next summer.

Local hero Keisse, who won the event in 2005 together with Matthew Gilmore, will this year team up with German Robert Bartko. They will face strong competition from Swiss duo and Grenoble Six winners Franco Marvulli and Alexander Aeschbach, as well as from Munich winner Bruno Risi, who this time pairs with Leif Lampater, and many other champion cyclists.

The full list of competitors reads as follows:

1 Isaac Galvez / Juan Llaneras (Spa)
2 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Robert Bartko (Ger)
3 Danny Stam / Peter Schep (Ned)
4 Bruno Risi (Swi) / Leif Lampater (Ger)
5 Franco Marvulli / Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)
6 Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey (Ger)
7 Kenny De Ketele / Steve Schets (Bel)
8 Matthé Pronk / Aart Vierhouten (Ned)
9 Dimitri De Fauw / Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel)
10 Marco Villa (Ita) / Marc Hester (Den)
11 Steven Deneef / Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)
12 Andreas Muller / Christian Grasmann (Swi)
13 Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka (Slo) 

O’Loughlin stuns track meet with unexpected win

By Shane Stokes

David O'Loughlin
Photo ©: Richard Robotham
Click for larger image

Navigators Insurance professional David O’Loughlin outlined his class on the track with an unexpected victory against three far more experienced riders in the latest round of the Revolution series in Manchester on Saturday.

O’Loughlin, who broke the long-standing Irish record on his 4,000 metre track debut earlier this autumn, got the better of Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins, former world pursuit champion Bradley McGee and Tour de France and Tour of Spain stage winner David Millar in the 2 kilometre roadman’s pursuit. The unusual race saw all four riders on the track at the same time and despite O’Loughlin having nothing like the pedigree of the other riders, he came out best ahead of McGee, Wiggins and Millar.

The victory underlines the Irishman’s considerable potential on the track and, together with his smashing of the Irish record this year, gives real hope that he can compete in the next Olympics at the discipline. He, along with several other Irish professionals and international riders, will have trials in the velodrome in Ghent, Belgium, later this month.

Oliphant returns to Christmas Carnival

Scottish cyclist Evan Oliphant will return to compete in this year's National Grid Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series in Australia. Oliphant, riding from the 70m mark, won the Mersey Wheel Race at last year’s Devonport Carnival. Since then Oliphant has continued to impress with several significant performances including criterium victories in the Victorian Bay Series and Warnambol Road Race. Oliphant also represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games finishing fourth in the points race.

Crake out of intensive care

Australian cycling medallist and stairclimbing champion, Paul Crake, 29, from Canberra, has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and into the orthopaedic ward at Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand to continue his recovery from spinal surgery. He will remain in hospital in New Zealand until doctors give the all clear for him to travel back to Australia for admission to a specialist spinal care unit.

Crake, who is paralysed from the waist down, faces several months of rehabilitation. He was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust as during the eighth stage of the Powernet Tour of Southland, north of Invercargill on Saturday November 11. Crake sustained minor fractures to the C1 and C2 cervical vertebrae, a fracture to the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations from T5 down to T7. Last week, surgeons operated to insert a surgical rod and screws into his thoracic spine and graft bone from his hip into the spinal area to stabilise and realign his spine.

Crake was a member of the Australian team at the 2004 Road World Championships in Italy, was third in the road race at last year's Australian Open Road Championships and this year placed second on the fourth stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under into Willunga. This season, he raced as a professional in Italy with the Naturino-Sapore di Mare team.

He switched from stair-climbing to cycling in 2002. As a stairclimber he notched up five straight victories in the annual sprint up the 86 flights of stairs (1576 stairs) to the top of New York's Empire State Building between 1999 and 2003 and still holds the record for the fastest ascent of 9mins33secs.

People wishing to send messages of support to him can do so via email through the Cycling Australia website or by mail to:

Paul Crake
Orthopaedic Trauma Ward (Ward 19)
Christchurch Hospital
Riccarton Ave
Christchurch New Zealand

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