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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 1, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Health Net-Maxxis keeps strong core for 2008

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Karl Menzies will stay with Health Net - Maxxis in 2008
Photo ©: Rob Karman
(Click for larger image)

Two major teams will not be in the US peloton for 2008, and other teams are changing their rosters rather significantly – including the Health Net-Maxxis team. The difference for Health Net, is that the changes will not likely be too noticeable. Even though the team has downsized from fifteen to eleven riders, the core performers and result-earners of the team remain virtually the same – such as Rory Sutherland, Frank Pipp and Karl Menzies. According to new director sportif Mike Tamayo, the reduction in roster spots meant that the focus was on keeping current and selecting new riders that have multiple racing personalities.

"It was really important to select guys who can fill multiple roles," he told Cyclingnews. "Guys like Rory and Karl who can sprint in a crit and go for GC in a stage race. Tim Johnson is still our captain on the road, and Phil Zajicek is a stage race guy who can also race in a one-day environment."

Tamayo himself is another change for the team, taking over the directing duties from Jeff Corbett, the man that built the team into the powerhouse that it has been in recent years, including four NRC team titles. Corbett announced his retirement from directing at the end of the season, with the team promoting the new assistant director Tamayo into the director role. Even though Tamayo has directed teams before, including the Victory Brewing women's team most recently in 2006, he said he will still utilize the wealth of knowledge Corbett has.

"To be honest, Corbett is one of the best tactical minds in racing in the US." said Tamayo. "Those are big shoes to fill. He and I have joked around that his number will be on speed dial for during the races, because he knows the courses and the races really well and is great at making those split-second decisions."

"Even though this year was successful for me as an assistant director getting some wins under my belt, there is always more to learn – especially at the big races like Philly and California when you involve the ProTour teams.

As it has been reported, the team's title sponsor Health Net reduced its funding for the team in 2008. However Tamayo said that this will not affect the team operations, it only affected the number or riders the team could support. Therefore, current riders such as U.S. criterium champion Kirk O'Bee were left without roster spots at their current pay rates.

"The smaller budget myth is just that, a myth," said Tamayo. "It's not affecting how we run the team, our operating budget hasn't changed. It's more that we are just now 11 instead of 15. We will do less double weekends this year, but we still want to win a whole lot of bike races. And we want to contend at the major races with a podium spot. This year we did a lot of split squads and racing all over the place."

After re-signing the key players such as Karl Menzies, Rory Sutherland and Frank Pipp, the team snagged another versatile rider in Phil Zajicek from Navigators. Tamayo said Zajicek's performance at Mt. Hood this year really sold the team on him – particularly his impressive time trial. "Mt. Hood really impressed us," said Tamayo. "He attacked the crap out of the race and made us work for the win for Nathan. He likes to race his bike hard, and proved he could time trial with the best in the country, so I am looking forward to getting the right environment to be a true GC guy."

The other new riders to the team are Zajicek's former team-mate Matt Cooke and Corey Collier. Cooke will continue in his role as a strong domestique while Collier enters as a new professional, looking to benefit from the team's long tradition of molding top professionals.

Health Net-Maxxis 2008 roster
Returning riders:
Matt Crane, USA
Kyle Gritters, USA
Tim Johnson, USA
Roman Kilun, USA
Karl Menzies, TAS
John Murphy, USA
Frank Pipp, USA
Rory Sutherland, AUS

New riders:
Corey Collier, USA
Matt Cooke, USA
Phil Zajicek, USA

Aussies lead in Sydney World Cup

By Laura Weislo

The Australians on Team Toshiba
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Australians led the day at their home World Cup in Sydney on Friday, taking home two gold medals, two silver and one bronze - medaling in every event except the women's scratch race. The Australian trade team Toshiba now leads the standings with 30 points after taking home the men's team sprint gold, bronze in the points race and silver in the women's sprint. New Zealand and the Australian national team are tied for second with 27 points with Russia fourth with 24.

In the men's team sprint, Ryan Bayley, Daniel Ellis and Shane John Kelly powered their way to a 44.639 to edge out the German team The French Cofidis team was third and Great Britain fourth.

Australian national team member Katie Mactier repeated her win of last year in the women's individual pursuit. Mactier, hampered by an arm injury which slowed her start, qualified second, but overtook Lithuanian Vilija Sereikaite to take the gold in the final, dropping 0.36 seconds from last year's time in the process. Karin Thürig (Switzerland) bested British rider Wendy Houvenaghel for the bronze.

In the men's individual pursuit, Drapac Porsche's Phillip Thuaux set a personal best to qualify in second, just half a second behind Ukrainian Volodymyr Dyudya. However, in the final Thuaux couldn't match the pace of Dyudya, and fell five seconds behind the winner. Last year's winner Alexander Serov (Russia) was third ahead of Marc Ryan (New Zealand).

The men's points race went to the Kiwis, with Greg Henderson succeeding in taking a lap along with Australian Cameron Meyer (Team Toshiba) and Spain's Toni Tauler. Henderson took the win with 31 points over Tauler, while Meyer finished third.

In the women's sprint, Australian Anna Meares found herself in the gold medal final after besting Ukranian Lyubov Shulika, French woman Clara Sanchez, and Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus). Tsylinskaya had unexpectedly beaten World Champion Victoria Pendleton in the quarter final round. Mears went up against 23 year-old Dutch woman Willy Kanis. Kanis, who is a two time BMX world champion and recently made the switch to the track, took the gold in three matches over Meares. Tsylinskaya took the bronze after beating China's Shuang Gao in two matches.

Cuba had its moment in the women's scratch race, where Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso, the reigning World Champion, rocketed out of the final turn and held off Italy's Annalisa Cucinotta and Anastasiay Chulkova (Russia).

Cycling's new golden couple

By Karen Forman in Sydney, Australia

Katie Mactier (Australia)
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Olympic selection wasn't the only inspiration for New Zealand's new World Cup men's points race hero Greg Henderson when he hit the track for his big event in Sydney on Friday night.

While there was no doubt the 30 year-old from Dunedin was every bit as focused as the rest of the 400-odd riders at Dunc Gray velodrome on trying to snag a direct entry ticket for Beijing, Henderson, by his own admission, also had romance on his mind.

"I don't think you can ever expect to win the gold at a World Cup, but I wanted to be on the podium," he told Cyclingnews.

"Also, I couldn't let my fiancée outdo me!" That explains the quick peck on the lips one Katie Mactier gave Henderson after his win.

"Yes, it's true," a slightly bashful but overtly pleased as punch new World Cup champ admitted. "We got engaged a couple of months ago."

That explains not only the peck on the lips Mactier gave Henderson "in passing" after his win and also the giant hug Henderson had also been seen giving Mactier after her women's pursuit gold just moments earlier.

Greg Henderson (New Zealand)
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

The big day, Henderson was more than happy to tell us, will be this time next year. He wasn't so open about "how we met", though, but yes, it was at a race back in 2005. "She followed me around," he said.

Obviously a marriage between two gold medalists from different countries then poses questions, like, "Okay, who is going to move where and does that mean Australia/New Zealand will get a new team member?"

Henderson is adamant on that one. "I spend a lot of time in Australia," he said. "I might live here, but I will never race for Australia. I AM A KIWI!" For the record, he currently is a Kiwi living in Spain, where he's based with what was known as the T-Mobile pro road team, but is now High Road Sports (see report).

Sydney World Cup crowds will next see Henderson in his other pet event - Sunday night's Madison.

At 30, he said he's conscious of the age difference between him and some of his peers and that these days he has to ride smart, "not being the strongest rider in the race". His goal, like so many others, is Olympic gold and he's looking forward to Beijing. "I am getting on so sometime I will hang the bike up for good," he said.

Meanwhile, he will hit the road again soon, with the Tour Down Under his first race of 2008.

Odds for a new sponsor for High Road

By Susan Westemeyer

The question that all of cycling is asking itself now is who will be the new sponsor for Bob Stapleton's team, the former T-Mobile Team, now known as Team High Road? While German sources claim to know, an Irish bookie is taking bets.

The dpa press agency is putting its money on "an American logistics company," which will be presented as early as the team presentation in January.

But Paddy Powers, an Irish bookie, is looking further afield. The favoured company by him, with odds of seven to one, is Gazprom, the Russian natural gas company. It is followed by Kik, a German discount textile chain which sponsors a number of soccer teams (11 to one).

Germany is also known for its pharmaceutical firms. Would the team be willing to accept one as sponsor and buck the doping charges? Powers doesn't give them that much of a chance, but is willing to give Bayer odds of 41 to 1, and Roche is 31 to 1.

"The absolute favourite with odds of 1.33 to 1, however, is the option that no sponsor will be found," Powers' press release says. "Because it is hard to believe that any company would voluntarily venture into the doping swamp."

For Eisel, it's all about the Classics

By Sarah Staber

Bernhard Eisel (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 2006 edition of Paris-Roubaix had many memorable moments: George Hincapie's epic crash, that infamous train crossing incident, and not least the ride of Fabian Cancellara. Not far behind the chaos, however, was Bernhard Eisel, whose fifth place finish earned him immediate attention from T-Mobile, with a contract following soon afterwards. And despite a less than ideal first season, the Austrian is already making plans for 2008.

The decision to switch from Française des Jeux, a team he'd ridden for since 2003, to one of cycling's powerhouse teams was an easy one. Long before the September announcement, Eisel had signed on the dotted line with T-Mobile - an agreement that was still honoured after the internal housekeeping and management shakeup from the Jan Ullrich saga took place.

Eisel's 2007 season started well enough, taking T-Mobile's first season victory on stage two of the Tour of Algarve. However, the planned splash at the Spring Classic never materialised, and despite back-to-back victories at the Commerce Bank Triple Crown series over in Philadelphia, 2007 was not a happy time for Eisel or his magenta squad. Doping revelations followed by accusations and more revelations came like an earthquake with many aftershocks, ending in the abrupt reality of title sponsor Deutsche Telekom finally losing patience this week and ending its 16-year relationship with professional cycling.

Over a morning coffee in Klagenfurt, Austria, where Eisel makes his home with long-term girlfriend Birgit, the 26 year-old reflected on his past year with Die Mannschaft [the team] and talked positively about the upcoming season. "The move to T-Mobile was absolutely the best thing I could have done," began Eisel. "There aren't a lot of teams that are this professional. I was with Mapei Quick.Step in 2001 - 2002 and we had no budget. There it was like, 'this is the money we have at the moment, if you need more we will try to get more.'

To read the complete feature, click here.

Rogers expresses trust in Stapleton

By Susan Westemeyer

Michael Rogers at the 2007 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rogers was worried at first when he heard that Deutsche Telekom was cancelling its sponsorship of the T-Mobile Team, but the team captain has faith in the team owner and manager Bob Stapleton. "Bob has given us his word. I've known him for some time now and when he gives his word, that's what he does."

Interviewed in the Canberra Times, he said he was looking forward to the coming season with Team High Road. "We just hope there's no loss of valuable time. We've got the professionals around us and they're still very capable of doing their job under any conditions, so I'm quite confident and optimistic that we won't lose any of our advantage."

Rogers' contract expires in 2008, but he is not planning on looking for a new team. "It'd have to be quite a good offer for me to move on. I really like the way Bob and his team works. If they were to offer me a new contract tomorrow I'd take it very seriously and probably make the decision to stay," he said, but then qualified his statement. "It's maybe a bit premature though, we've got a year to go and the current situation of cycling isn't good, so we just have to see how things pan out during the year and I'm sure around about the Tour de France time I'd have made a decision."

The Australian said that he was not concerned about being linked to Patrik Sinkewitz' doping confession, especially after the UCI cleared him of involvement. "Unfortunately cycling is almost in an environment where we're all considered guilty until proven innocent, and we all have to expect that kind of thing. I'm not the first rider to be in the press rumoured to be involved in certain practices and I won't be the last."

Cycling scoops London tourism awards

By Ben Atkins, UK Editor in London

Riders line up on the Tower Bridge
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France Grand Depart and the Rapha-Condor Smithfield Nocturne scooped gold and bronze medals respectively in the Sports Tourism category of this year's Visit London Awards. The silver medal was won by Emirates Stadium Tours, which offer trips around the new Arsenal Football Club venue.

There were no surprises that the Tour de France scooped the award as it attracted an estimated two million visitors to Britain's capital, but the Smithfield Nocturne's medal was less obvious. The judges were impressed with the innovation and originality of the event that included a cycle couriers' race, a "Le Mans" style start folding bike commuter race as well as the elite criterium, and attracted an estimated crowd of over 5,000.

"We're over the moon." said Fran Millar of Face Partnership, the event promoters. "The event was a fantastic opportunity for us to work in London, our home city and superb venue for cycling. We look forward to making the Rapha Condor Smithfield Nocturne bigger and better next year."

The Visit London Awards are now in their third year and have become known as the "Oscars" or tourism in the capital. That cycling managed to win two of the medals is seen as a real boost for the sport, and two-wheeled transport in London.

German court orders Fuentes testimony

By Susan Westemeyer

A Hamburg, Germany, court has ordered testimony to be taken from Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in a lawsuit between Jan Ullrich and German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke. "This is a breakthrough," Franke told the dpa press agency. "Until now we weren't able to get to Fuentes."

Franke was challenging an injunction which prevents him from claiming that Ullrich paid Fuentes 35,000 Euros. Apparently Fuentes would not be called to court in Germany but could be questioned in Spain, a process which could take several months.

"Ullrich's attorneys protested vehemently against the introduction of such evidence, but this defense strategy was not successful," noted Franke's attorney, Michael Lehner, to the sid agency. "Now Ullrich's hopes that he might win in the long run will disappear."

Lehner was optimistic that Fuentes would cooperate with the questioning. "I can't imagine that Mr. Fuentes would try to hide something or even make a false statement. This case does not deal with him, and a false statement would be punishable." The attorney further hoped that Ullrich himself would be willing to make a statement. "It would be good if he put an end to this sad drama, before he gets buried by the evidence."

Franke and Lehner also wanted Ullrich mentor Rudy Pevenage, confessed Fuentes customer Jörg Jaksche, and former Team Telekom soigneur Jef d'Hont called to give evidence, but that was not ordered. "I think that the court wants Fuentes first, because if he says he received money from Ullrich, then they won't need the other witnesses."

Ullrich's attorney Marcus Hotze, on the other hand, called the ruling "a real slap in the face for Professor Franke. We have always said that Mr. Franke's claim was false – and that remains so."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Brindabella Challenge kicks off

The Brindabella Challenge, Australia's largest variety cycling event, kicked off Friday and will run through December 9. The Challenge includes an adventure races, a navigation event, a mountain bike race and social mountain bike rides and skills practice. The event is named for the hills that ring the city.

One the competitive highlights is the Urban Polaris, on Sunday, December 2, with up to 600 participants expected to take on what will be the final Polaris event. In the Urban Polaris, bikes come to the streets, tracks, forests and parks of the nation's capital in Australia's biggest one day mountain bike navigation event. Teams of two riders (and a limited solo category) have seven hours to visit as many checkpoints as they can which are in buildings, up mountains, deep in forests and around tourist icons.

Other competitive events include the Paddy Pallin Adventure Race (in kayak, on mountain bike and on foot) held opening day and the CORC Brindabella Challenge Cross Country on December 1 at Stromlo Forest Park. Those not so interested in racing may come out for the skills clinic and social ride the afternoon of Saturday, December 1.

November 30: Paddy Pallin Adventure Race
December 1: CORC Brindabella XC, Skills clinic & social ride, Brindabella MTB Ride, Federation Historical Ride
December 2: Urban Polaris
December 7: Twilight ride around the Embassies
December 8: Brindabella Epic Point-to-Point, Mountain Cross, Brindabella Challenge Criteriums, Kids Fun Ride
December 9: Mountain Bike Orienteering, Downhill, BMX Racing, Brindabella Challenge Handicap

For more information, visit the official website.

CSC auctions team memorabilia to benefit charity

Team CSC is in the midst of a 10-day eBay auction of team memorabilia that began November 26. All proceeds from the auction will go toward Velokhaya, the fundraising initiative of South Africa's Life Cycling Academy. Team CSC, Cervelo and Computer Sciences Corporation are the international partners of Velokhaya, which intends to build a much-needed Cycling Center in the heart of South Africa.

Some items up for auction include Carlos Sastre's Cervelo R3 and signed jersey, Sastre's 2007 Tour de France and Vuelta a España bike, a Team CSC jerseys signed by Sastre and all 27 members of the team, a trip for two to Team CSC's California Training Camp.

For more information, visit the team's website. The auctions end on December 6.

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