First Edition Cycling News for August 14, 2007
Edited by Paul Verkuylen & Greg Johnson
Recovering Rogers joins Aussies in Beijing
T-Mobile rider Michael Rogers will join the Australian national road team at this week's Good Luck Beijing Road events. Rogers, a three times Time Trial world champion, was originally going to skip the preview of the Beijing Olympic Games TT and road race courses, but has decided to contest the events after crashing out early at last month's Tour de France.
"If I had completed the Tour de France I probably wouldn't have gone but crashing out early meant I could reconsider," said Rogers, who injured his right shoulder after slamming into a metal barrier on the Tour's Stage 8. "I've recovered well and probably have about 95 percent movement back.
"I'm in full training and suffering no pain on the bike although I'm still missing a little bit of movement when I raise my hand over my shoulder," added Rogers. "I'm not planning to do that on the bike though so it's not an issue."
Rogers will be joined at the event by Tour runner-up Cadel Evans. The Predictor-Lotto rider has spend the weeks since the Tour resting with his family in Europe, in between media commitments. The pair will be joined by fellow ProTour rider Matt White (Discovery Channel), Australian pursuit champion Phil Thuaux and three time junior 2006 World Champion, Cameron Meyer.
"It was a big advantage for me to go to Athens because I got to study it in my mind for a year and it gave me a clear mental image," said Rogers of the Athens course preview. "Definitely better than turning up three or four days before and trying to master the course.
"We'll study every metre of the course," said Rogers. "We're taking Dave Martin (AIS Sports Scientist) and some of the world's best physiologists so we can gain all the information we need to work out a strategic pacing plan plus I'll have a year to think about how to tackle it."
Athens Olympic teams pursuit gold medallist Peter Dawson stepped aside to allow Rogers to make the trip. Athens Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan and two time World Cup Series winner Oenone Wood will also make the trip for reconnaissance purposes as only men's races are scheduled for the test event.
Meanwhile Rogers is expected to contest the Vuelta a Espana with his ProTour squad, but remains uncertain about his availability for the 2007 Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany during September, as his wife is expecting to give birth to twins around the time of the event.
"I'm looking into it at the moment," said Rogers. "I'll do the first ten days of the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) and then it depends on the birth of our twins because they're due around the same day as the time trial.
"I suppose that's one positive for me out of my Tour de France crash," he said. "At least I got to spend some time with my wife (Alessia) who's been having a rough time of it but it's only a month to go now so we're on the downhill stretch and trying to get as much sleep stored up as possible."
Cruz over to BMC
Discovery Channel's Antonio Cruz has found a new home following the planned disbanding of the ProTour squad at season's end, with the American joining the BMC Professional Cycling Team. The former UC Pro Criterium Champion has spent the majority of his professional career with the Discovery Channel/US Postal squad, alongside former rider and part team owner Lance Armstrong.
"I would like to thank everyone at Tailwind Sports and CSE for their support over the years," stated Cruz when announcing his new home. "I was deeply saddened to hear that the team and its management structure would be folding. I will greatly miss this cycling family. I have learned so much from Johan and Dirk and will always be grateful for the sporting opportunities that they have given me.
"Now that this chapter in American cycling closes I am ecstatic to be a part of BMC Professional Cycling Team's young and growing program," he added. "I know that we will accomplish great things through the coming years. It is a great feeling to know who my team will be for the next two years. I am calm."
Cruz, who has signed a two year deal with the BMC team, spent 2006 riding for rival American Continental squad Toyota United during a 12 month hiatus from ProTour racing.
"I am extremely pleased to add Tony Cruz to our team roster for 2008 and 2009," said BMC team manager Gavin Chilcott. "Tony brings the caliber and depth to the team that will be critical for the success of the expanded international program that we have designed for the upcoming two years. In addition to being a versatile and effective rider, Tony brings a valuable level of maturity and leadership to the team.
Chilcott went on to hint at further announcements from the squad expected over the coming weeks. "In addition to Tony, a number of other new members of the team's rider roster and staff will be announced during the upcoming weeks," he said. "2008 promises to be an exciting continuation of the BMC program's development as a team. As an organization, we are extremely fortunate for the steadfastness of our sponsors and the long-range perspective of our advisors. Together we look forward making a constructive and meaningful contribution to the future of cycling."
Discovery Channel's management company Tailwind Sports announced Friday that it would cease its hunt for a new title sponsor in 2008 and leave the ProTour. The company's decision has thrown the majority of its roster onto the market, with many expecting both American George Hincapie and Slovenian Jani Brajkovic to be announced as signing to the German T-Mobile ProTour squad in the near future.
Other competitors within the Discovery ranks are calling an end to their competitive careers following the announcement. Australian Matthew White is one such rider who will join American Professional Continental squad Team Slipstream as a sports director next season.
Roamfree pledges $20 million towards Aussie ProTour team
Australian online tourism company, Roamfree.com, backed by former Australian Rules footballer turned businessmen Tony Smith, has announced that it will commit $20 million into setting up an Australian team, with the aim of obtaining a ProTour licence for 2009 in order to compete in the Tour de France. The ambitious plan, originally put forward earlier this year, is dependant on additional support from another corporate back and Australian Tourism or government support.
Australia has long been seen as one of the most dominant cycling nations in the world, currently ranked third in the world as a nation, out ranking the more traditional cycling nations of the Netherlands and Belgium, but never before has Australia had a ProTour or category one trade team, as they were previously known.
Smith, who moved to Queensland in the late '80s and acquired his wealth via strategic investments in the tourism industry, believes that there has never been a better time to enter the sport. "Cadel Evans' efforts in the recent Tour de France has been an inspiration to us all and put this great sport on the radar in Australia," he said.
"The cycling world has been talking about this for years and now it's finally about to happen," he added.
Roamfree.com has established a company called Pro Cycling Australia, which is expected to form the backbone of the cycling team, providing the organisation can acquire the level of corporate and government support its seeking to make the project a reality.
According to Dr Paul Varco, CEO of Pro Cycling Australia, riders such as Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Michael Rogers and Stuart O'Grady have all expressed interest in the project.
"This is something that Australian cyclists have wanted to see for a long time," Dr Varcoe says. "We will be talking to all professional cyclists including Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen and Michael Rodgers who all want to be on the team."
The project is still in its infancy, and in order for it to go ahead Pro Cycling Australia is looking for another major sponsor to jump on board as well as support from the government. "For a sponsor, this is the most watched annual sporting event in the world, beamed to a television audience of more than four billion people," said Dr Varcoe. "It is a great opportunity for companies to get maximum coverage. There is no other event in the world that can compare to the coverage that the Tour de France gets every year."
McEwen to the Vuelta
Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) has decided to ride the Vuelta a Espana, meaning the Australian will start all three Grand Tours this year, having also contested May's Giro d'Italia and last month's Tour de France.
The Tour de France stage winner's main goal for the Vuelta will be to win a stage and if he does so, he will have won a stage in all three Grand Tours this year. Should McEwen be able to walk away with the first stage win, thus gaining the leader's golden jersey, his jersey cabinet will be complete after already wearing the Tour's yellow jersey and the Giro's pink jersey.
Belgian ProTour squad Predictor Lotto is yet to finalise its complete line up for the Vuelta.
Australian Josephine Tomic has been a known rising talent for some time, the youngster proving her ability at last week's Junior World Championships. Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson caught up with the three time world champion before leaving Mexico to return home.
At 18 years of age, Josephine Tomic is barely on the outskirts of reaching her full competitive potential, yet the Australian is sending shockwaves throughout the international women's cycling scene. For the past week, Tomic's epicenter has been at the Junior World Championships in Aquascalientes, Mexico.
Despite narrowly missing out on a podium position in Sunday's women's road race, where she finished fourth in the lead bunch, Tomic is pleased with her efforts abroad. When Tomic returns to West Australia later this week, she'll bring with her three rainbow UCI Junior Women's World Champion jerseys - the two kilometre individual pursuit, and sprint jerseys for her track efforts in addition to her Time Trial World Championship.
Tomic's Junior World Championships campaign commenced in record setting fashion. In the two kilometre individual pursuit qualifying, Tomic shattered the world record with her time of 2.24.1, only to break her own record in the final with a 2.23.2; nearly seven seconds quicker than fellow finalist and compatriot Sarah Kent.
On day three, Tomic took fifth place in the women's scratch race, before returning to her winning form on day four in the points race. There, Tomic secured the rainbow jersey with an impressive 28 points, a haul more than double that of nearest rival Jenny Rios (Mexico).
"The individual pursuit win at worlds was very satisfying," Tomic told Cyclingnews before leaving South America. "I was reserve for the track team last year, so to make it this year and win was a great feeling as it made up for the huge disappointment I felt last year.
"I was in the road worlds team last year and we went to watch one night of the track racing and it was the night that the pursuit finals were on," she added. "I was very disappointed that I wasn't there racing and I remember saying to myself that that will be me next year. So to do it and to break the world record twice in one day, that was an amazing feeling."
To read the full interview with Josephine Tomic, click here.
Rabobank for the Vuelta
By Paul Verkuylen
Dutch ProTour team Rabobank has named its nine riders that will take to the start in Spain on the September 1. Spaniard Oscar Freire will line up for his second Grand Tour this year, and will be targeting the mass sprints, surely with a fourth world title in the back of his mind.
Denis Menchov will be looking to improve on his performance in the Tour de France this year. The 2005 Vuelta winner was denied the chance to stand atop the final podium, as Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth Team) was not disqualified until after the race.
Theo Eltink is another rider to watch out for, the young Dutch climber has been gradually improving over the years. In 2005 he finished 29th in the Giro, his first ever Grand Tour, then last year saw him finish in a little further down in 55th overall, but in his second Grand Tour of 2006, the Vuelta, he rode strongly to finish 24th and the first Rabobank rider on general classification.
Eltink missed out on selection for the Rabobank Tour de France squad this year, after suffering with illness in the lead up to the event, so will be looking to prove to them that he is more than capable in a three week race.
Rabobank for the Vuelta a Espana: Oscar Freire, Denis Menchov,
Theo Eltink, Joost Posthuma, Pedro Horrillo, Sébastian Langeveld, Koos
Moerenhout, Mauricio Ardila, Marc de Maar
Vos wraps up Top Competition
Women's World Champion Marianne Vos (Team DSB Bank) won the women's Dutch Top Competition series Sunday, by claiming victory in the series' final round. In doing so, Vos won her fourth round of the five event series. Suzanne de Goede (T-Mobile) was the only rider who was able to beat the youngster, who won the women's World Cyclo-cross Championship in 2006.
With the win, Vos not only claimed the overall series victory, but also the young rider competition, and her team DSB squad claimed the team's prize.
The win was not just a formality for Vos. "Given that there was still a classification to win here today, this race was important for all the Dutch ladies," she said, referring to the team's prize. "It is a nice race to win, I gave it everything that I had on the Gulpenerberg, close to the finish. In the end only Susanne Ljungskog was able to stay with me, but I was able to beat her in the sprint."
Ljungskog finished second, with Andrea Graus completing the podium after recent Sweden women's World Cup round winner Chantal Beltman missed the second to last turn, while riding with the leaders.
Crawford determined to conquer Qinghai
By Greg Johnson
Australian Jai Crawford is determined to return to the Tour of Qinghai Lake for another attempt at the event, after enjoying his first race in true altitude at the July race. The Tasmanian, who is busy searching for a new squad for 2008, hopes to have a better shot in the future after finding the Chinese race an exciting challenge.
"I did enjoy the experience and I would like to go back and accept the challenge once again; the harder the race, the more hungry it makes you to succeed," he said after returning to Australia. "Maybe next time I can be prepared with a little acclimatising before hand."
Crawford had hoped to put in a stellar performance at the race to help secure a European contract for 2008, but the Giant Asia rider was surprised by the lack of gradient on the event's stages. The climber admitted to battling with his first race in high altitude, with the majority of the nine day's race taking place between three and four kilometres above sea level, in addition to long .
"I didn't achieve the results I was looking for in Qinghai but I still didn't disgrace myself and probably shouldn't have hoped for much better on my first attempt at altitude," said Crawford. "It is yet to be seen if what I did there has had any impact on my future. I hope what I showed was that despite not being able to climb as per usual, I kept my head and continued to try every day.
"I have shown my climbing ability in Langkawi and other races this year, races where it is possible to breath and I feel like I can only improve given this is easily the most racing I have done in a season," he said. "Furthermore, it appears as if the sport is on its way to becoming clean and this is going to benefit riders like myself no end."
Crawford heads back to China this week for the Beijing test event, followed by the Tour of Korea. The youngster is also hopeful his squad will gain entry to Melbourne's Sun Tour, which he would contest before a final block of UCI 2.2 races in the tours of Okinawa, Indonesia and Thailand.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)