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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 22, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tinkov in Sydney to watch star rider, Bates focused on Beijing

By Gerard Knapp

The Siberian businessman, Oleg Tinkov,
Photo ©: Sergey Kurdyukov
Click for larger image

One of the unannounced and low-key visitors to the Sydney round of the UCI Track World Cup was none other than man-of-the-moment, cyclist, millionaire and cycling team sponsor, Oleg Tinkov.

The Siberian was in Sydney en-route to Fiji for a holiday, apparently, and took time out to visit Dunc Gray Velodrome to catch some of the track racing action; in particular, riders such as Mikhail Ignatiev and Nikolei Trussov, who were both representing Russia (and are also riders in the Italy-based, Russia-registered Tinkoff Restaurants professional squad).

Tinkoff himself is not only a very successful businessman in Russia, he's also fit enough to race for his own team, as Sergey Kurdyukov revealed in this profile and interview in May this year. His regular training partners include Viatcheslav Ekimov, the legendary Russian cyclist who also wrote Tinkov's training program that helped the businessman shed almost 20kg's to get back to racing weight.

Tinkov has also been in the news recently for hiring Danilo Hondo (the German sprinter returning from a doping suspension) and is rumoured to have signed American, Tyler Hamilton, for his 2007 squad, to be called Tinkoff Credit Systems.

While Tinkov did not make his presence known to the media (or the officials, for that matter), the riders certainly knew he was there, as Ignatiev explained after he and Trussov had won the Madison on Sunday.

"My sponsor, Oleg Tinkov, is here to look at race. We need to win!" Ignatiev said with a smile. The Russian duo rode very strongly on the final day and took the Madison comfortably. In fact, the Russian male endurance riders were particularly strong in Sydney, with Alexander Serov defeating Robert Bengsch (Germany) in the individual pursuit final with a time of 2.45.056 (the Russian actually caught his opponent – fairly rare in a gold medal final – see report); and the Russian men won the teams pursuit, and in the same session Ignatiev also won the points race in devastating style (see report).

Ignatiev said it was important to ride well when the team owner and main sponsor was present, even if he was on his way to a holiday in the Pacific. So did the vacations extend to the riders? "Me? Go to Fiji? No! I work, I work," he repeated, before heading off to yet another medal presentation.

Bates focused on points

Kerrie Meares and friends
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
Click for larger image

While the Russians dominated the men's endurance events in Sydney, the women's events were shared among the relative favourites from the host nation, while Vera Koedooder from The Netherlands showed that the former junior world track champion is starting to realize her potential with a win in the scratch race.

Katherine Bates, who narrowly won the women's 20km points race, couldn't repeat the performance two days later in the scratch race.

Bates admitted to not being in top form during the scratch race. "I left everything out on the track during the points race," she said of her effort two days earlier. Bates also joked that the absence of her 'fan club' on the Sunday could also have been a factor. "Absolutely, that's why it didn't happen!"

"I think I did everything right [in the scratch race] but I just didn't have the gas that I normally do. I knew I didn't have enough for the sprint so I had to go for it [attack the field for a break-away win]. But I'm not too disappointed; sometimes you just blow it."

But as the scratch race is not an Olympic event, it doesn't seem to figure too prominently in her plans for the next two years.

"My life doesn't exist beyond Beijing at this point," she said of her focus on the points race at the next Olympic games. While a very strong pursuit rider, the Australian is targeting the one endurance event in the next two years, and that will include the 2007 track world's to be held in Palma de Mallorca next March.

Ready for check-in
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
Click for larger image

Bates is seen as Australia's best hope to break the stranglehold on this title held by Europeans, such as Italian Vera Carrara (Italy), who successfully defended her world title at this year's world's in Bordeaux with a late attack to draw level on points with early leader, four time winner Olga Slyusareva (Russia).

Bates is also a new recruit to the multinational T-Mobile women's road team for 2007. "It's an opportunity of a lifetime," she said. "I think it's the first time a women's team will actually be run by women, with a female manager and female race director, and they were both my heroes growing up, too," Bates said of her fellow Australians, Kristy Scrymgeour (manager) and Anna Wilson (director sportif), who were former team-mates with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Saturn.

The 2007 program should allow her to focus on the road events that suit her strengths and also fit in with her preparation for the track events. So that could involve a few hard races in flat and windy northern European roads? "I suppose so. I'm sure there'll be a few races where I can make a contribution," she added.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gerard Knapp/Cyclingnews

  • Kerrie Meares and friends after her serious-sounding crash in the flying last lap in the women’s keirin due to a burst rear tyre, Meares (right) was up and about in the infield. Fellow sprinters, The Netherlands’ Yvonne Hijgenaar (left) and Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) both stopped to offer support and share war-stories.
  • Self-help time sprinters from the Catalunya professional team (Spain) show what many track riders deals with from event-to-event; having to pack their bikes to make the next flight.
  • Ready for check-in The giant-sized bike bags finally packed by the Catalunyan sprinters.
  • Members of the ‘Kate Bates fan club’ pose inside Dunc Gray Velodrome. All are former schoolmates of the champion Australian cyclist who attended Westfields Sports High School in Sydney.
  • The slogan says it all. Friends' T-shirts showed Katherine Bates just how much they love her.

Images by John Veage

  • Looking to Beijing? – Katherine Bates won the points race at the Sydney round of the track World Cup in Sydney on November 17, 2006, but was already thinking of the same event in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.

Images by Sergey Kurdyukov

  • The Siberian businessman, Oleg Tinkov, is perhaps the only team owner and manager who is also strong enough to ride for his own team. His training program was developed by friend, Russian legend Viatcheslav Ekimov.

José Joaquín Rojas is optimistic for 2007

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Rojas in 2006 Tirreno-Adriatico for Liberty
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Last Saturday, José Joaquín Rojas joined his family for the inauguration of a cycling store in his home town, a store which uses the name of his brother, Mariano Rojas, a former ONCE rider who died in traffic accident in 1996.

"People talk about me like a clasicómano, but why not to prove with races of five stages, like the Vuelta a Valencia or Vuelta a Murcia", said José Joaquín Rojas to Cyclingnews. It could be due to his leadership of the national team during his time in the junior and under-23 levels, but in the last edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico, the 21 year-old Astaná rider lived up to promises and emerged as overall winner of the mountains competition.

Many speculated Rojas to be included in Astaná's Tour de France or Vuelta a España roster but the year soon became complicated for his team when many of its riders were implicated in Operación Puerto "It was something very hasty to speculate my participation in the Tour or the Vuelta, because I was really not prepared for that," commented Rojas.

Now that the Operación Puerto files have been shelved by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), and with Manolo Saiz keeping his ProTour license, Rojas does not have any doubt that his team will come out ahead. "I never requested my freedom to Saiz, although I admit to have followed the march to the Astaná or Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, among others, but effectively I have contract until 2008 with Active Bay, and I hope to fulfil it.

"The rage created by all the injustices that we have suffered will make me fight", Rojas concluded.

Nardello signs with Boifava for 2007

Nardello during 2005 Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Daniele Nardello has found a new team for 2007. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the Italian cyclist from Varese, who was not renewed with T-Mobile, has reached an accord with Davide Boifava, current team manager of Androni Giocattoli-3C Casalinghi. Nardello, who was once speculated to be joining friend Ivan Basso at Discovery Channel, will ride Boifava's new team, a fusion of Androni Giocattoli-3C Casalinghi and Team LPR

Nardello will have a chance to familiarized himself with the new pro-continental team, including Raffaele Ferrara, starting today at the first team gathering. The boys will meet in Calcinato (Brescia), the site of bicycle manufacturer Carrera, for training rides and distribution of technical materials.

Final opportunity to qualify for 2007 USA track talent pool

Cyclists hoping to represent the United States in future international track competitions will have one more opportunity to qualify for the 2007 USA Cycling Track Talent Pool, announced the national governing body on November 22. Only riders in the USA Cycling Track Talent Pool will be eligible to compete at the remaining international events on the 2006-07 calendar, including the final three rounds of the 2006-07 UCI track world cup series, the 2007 UCI track world championships, the 2007 Pan American Games and the 2007 continental championships.

USA Cycling will hold one final talent pool qualifying event January 12-13, 2007 at the ADT Event Center velodrome in Carson, California, a week prior to the Los Angeles World Cup event January 19-21. All US citizens with a valid pro or category 1 or 2 road and track USA Cycling license are eligible to participate. The following weekend, USA Cycling will host a world championship team trial open only to riders who have qualified for the talent pool.

Race Schedule: Friday, January 12: Men Standing 250m TT, Women 3km TT, Men 4km TT, Women Flying 200m TT, Men Flying 200m TT Saturday, January 13: Men 4km Team Pursuit, Men Flying 200m TT, Women Flying 200m TT, Women 2km Mass Start Test, Men 3km Mass Start Test, Men 1km TT, Women 500m TT

Chann McRae named director of VMG Racing

After announcing a formal partnership between USA Cycling and VMG Racing in September, the national governing body, on November 20, named former cyclist Chann McRae as team director for VMG Racing. The former rider who lists Mapei, the US Postal Service and the Mercury as his former employers, will direct the next generation of young cyclists as they pursue their elite-level aspirations.

McRae, 35, is a native of Austin, Texas and has represented the United States in 11 world championships including the 1999 edition in Verona, Italy where he placed fifth. The former Tour de France veteran and IronMan Triathlon competitor will assume the traditional duties of team director for VMG Racing immediately.

"It's an awesome opportunity to work with a group of younger riders that all share the same goals that I had when I was at that stage of my career," said McRae. "I'm still young myself, so I can relate to all the riders in the program."

As previously announced, USA Cycling's Belgian-based national development team and VMG Racing will work together to compliment each other to collectively identify, develop and produce future world-class athletes. In the United States, U23 athletes identified by USA Cycling will ride for VMG Racing in a mix of National Racing Calendar and Central and South American UCI-sanctioned events. In Europe, USA Cycling will maintain its focus on the national development team as top performers from the VMG program will be made available to USA Cycling for UCI U23 World Cup events and additional European-based events.

"The key to future success at the elite level depends heavily upon the involvement of former world-class athletes that are intimately familiar with the training, commitment and knowledge necessary to excel at the sport's highest level," commented Jim Miller, director of endurance programs for USA Cycling. "Chann's résumé as a professional cyclist speaks for itself and his experience in the international peloton will now be an important element in building the future of our sport."

The addition of McRae to the VMG Racing program is a central component to the overall development efforts of USA Cycling. Since the national development team's inception in 1999, several graduates of the program have gone on to compete for UCI ProTour-level teams including David Zabriskie, one of only five Americans to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the only American to win a stage in the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, as well as Saul Raisin, Tyler Farrar, Patrick McCarty, Michael Creed and Aaron Olson.

VMG Racing will make its 2007 debut at the Tour of the Bahamas in February. A complete roster and race schedule is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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