Latest Cycling News for December 3, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
Bruyneel confirms 2007 Astana debts to be paid
Astana 2008 Team Manager Johan Bruyneel has indicated the team's intentions to cover outstanding payments from the 2007 management, Zeus. In a press release today, the Belgian said the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF) put the money owed into a escrow account that will be paid out once all information is gathered.
"Although the new management team, as well as the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF), is not responsible for rider salaries for 2007, KCF will pay all back salary of the riders. They all should go into the new season with peace of mind," said Bruyneel of the problems that were brought to light last month.
The 2007 Astana Cycling Team had a contract with Zeus, the management company of Luxemburger manager Marc Biver. In September 2007, ProTour license holder KCF ended its collaboration with Zeus due to a breach of trust, which is when the payment problems began, according to the 2008 management.
It is reported that KCF put the total amount of salaries owed into an escrow account, and it is in the process of gathering information regarding bank accounts, social security and the tax status of individual riders. The team managment noted payments are to be made "as soon as possible and that KCF has not ruled out future legal procedures against Zeus."
"I am very glad that we can start the season without debts from the past," continued former Discovery Channel General Manger, Bruyneel, who confirmed his position with Astana in September.
"When KCF contracted my management team for the 2008 season, they committed themselves to solving the existing problem. KCF keeps its word. Hopefully this will relieve the concerns of all riders – both those who be on the 2008 Astana Cycling Team as well as the riders that will transfer to other teams."
Gasparotto excited for Giro and new season with Barloworld
By Gregor Brown in Milan
Enrico Gasparotto, winner of the opening stage of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, was present at the unveiling of the 2008 race parcours Saturday night in Milano, and was pleased to see another team time trial opening the race. Though he took the day and maglia rosa almost by chance this year in Sardegna, and admits a chance of repeating will be mostly up to his new team, Barloworld.
"It depends a lot on the team, and it is not entirely up to me," he said to Cyclingnews after the presentation. "In order to do a good team time trial we will need all of Barloworld working together, and after, we will see."
Rather than thinking of the opening 28.5 kilometres, Gasparotto had his mind on that final week through the high mountains. At the suggestion that the parcours is easier than last year, he said, "You're crazy! It is a Giro that is so much more difficult than last year, the last week will be truly hard. Before then [the final week – ed.] we will have to see how we are showing. The last week is hard, hard, hard."
As a Professional Continental team Barloworld does not have a guaranteed start in the Italian three-week tour, but with last year's good results it is relying on an invitation. "I think it does," responded 'Gaspa' when asked if the team will have a chance at an invite. "It had a great Tour de France, and also other races that are organized here in Italy by La Gazzetta [RCS Sport – ed.]. I think we really have a good chance to race the Giro."
The team will meet in Tuscany this January to prepare for the 2008 season, while Gasparotto is excited to begin the season with a new jersey on his back. "We have not yet met for a training camp; we will only have one in January, in Toscana. We will have a brief visit with the team doctors on December 11."
The new team "will be a big stimulus for me because now I have more responsibility on my back. The thing I like is that I will have more liberty in the courses that suit me, like stages in the Giro and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the one-day races of Sanremo, Flanders... It is a huge stimulus, and I can't wait to start the season with this recharge."
For more on Gasparotto read Gaspa aces spring exams.
Andy Hampsten pleased with Giro's inclusion of the Gavia
By Gregor Brown in Milan
Andy Hampsten famously staked his claim to a Giro d'Italia win with the passage of the snow-covered Passo di Gavia in 1988. The rider from the USA was in Milan Saturday night for the presentation of the 2008 Italian Grand Tour, and pleased to see the famous 18.9-kilometre ascent included for the penultimate day.
"The Passo del Mortirolo will come after the Gavia, which is different from the year in which I raced it," noted the astute ex-cyclist to Cyclingnews. "I think they have done the Gavia as a non-finishing climb in the last few years, but doing the Mortirolo after the Gavia will be terrible. The Gavia is not the hardest, it is long, it’s steep, there is no way they can go easy over it."
The famed Mortirolo averages 10.3 percent over 12.8 kilometres of climbing and tops out 50 kilometres before the finish in Tirano.
"I think the Giro usually has more of an interesting profile than the Tour because it really focuses on the mountains in the north in the last part, and there is usually a pretty hard stage in the first week," he continued. This year the Giro will face the Pescocostanzo at the end of the first week. "In the Tour there is the long first week of survival. The Giro allows you to relax – if you not Italian – and have fun."
Unlike the 2008 Tour de France that was unveiled in October and has notably fewer time trial kilometres than recent years, there are 73.3 kilometres of the discipline that will appear in the 91st edition of the Corsa Rosa. Four time trials in total, one to start and end the race: A Palermo team time trial of 28.5km (stage 1), Pesaro to Urbino TT of 36km (10), a mountain TT to Plan de Corones of 13.8km (16) and a TT to the city renowned for fashion, Milano, on the last day of 23.5km (21). The Giro included a timed mountain test this year to the Santuario Di Oropa, but it has not seen an individual time trail on the final day in some years.
Hampsten, who has won three mountain stages in the Giro d'Italia, was pleased to see the number of time trial kilometres. "I don't know if the Giro has done the time trial on the last stage in quite some time. I know you journalists hate it because the race is held in suspense through the last moment, and you have to write a new script at the last moment – working harder. I think it is great that it is there, going into Milano they can probably have a pretty predictable course. I think it is good.
"The overall number of time trial kilometres is good; I wish they had done that more often. The team time trial is probably the worst event for the racers because it is so much stress, but an uphill time trial and a couple of short time trials is great. It will be fair and test the riders during the three weeks. It will give us an interesting variety of results.
The 45 year-old plans to stay in Italy for another week before returning to Colorado. "I am here for this and to organize one of my bike tours that will at the same time as the Giro. I am doing this, organizing my trip and then going to my little place in Tuscany. After that I will return home."
Australian ProTour team interested in Rogers
By Susan Westemeyer
Michael Rogers has said that he is happy with Team High Road and would seriously considering staying with the team after his contract expires next year, but some Australians are hoping he will change his mind and join a planned Australian ProTour team in 2009.
UCI Vice President, Australian Ray Godkin, told the Sydney Morning Herald, "It is an absolute disaster that a company like T-Mobile is pulling out. They have been such a great sponsor, and for some time.
"But I don't know if I am so distressed about Michael. I hope that in 2009 when [the team] will be finished that we will have a professional team [from Australia]. If he comes off contract that makes it easier for us. I am sure Michael being Michael, he would love to be in an Australian team if we do have one. And if so, hopefully we will have some other prominent riders also coming off contract [to join]."
Australian businessman Tony Smith has said that he will provide five million Australian dollars a year for a team to be called "Roam Free," assuming other sponsors will also participate. "We need other support. We are talking minimum $10 million a year, but the more the better," Godkin said. "There are other people who are doing the same. If we can link them together we are on a winner."
Davis hits the track
By John Michael Flynn in Brisbane, Australia
Allan Davis, who claimed a bronze medal at Sunday's National Criterium Championship by winning the bunch kick, will follow a vastly different path to his road rivals in coming weeks. The Bundaberg cyclist, presently off-contract and officially a "free agent" will leave Australia tomorrow for a World Cup track meet in China, following on from a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Davis' longer-term goal is a place in Australia's track endurance team for the Beijing Olympics. "I've had a good break and started to get back into it now," Davis said. "Off to China tomorrow for a World Cup on the track, and I'm looking forward to that and then back to Bundaberg after that for a few weeks before Christmas."
De Rooij "should have" handled Rasmussen differently
By Susan Westemeyer
Theo de Rooij, former Team Rabobank team manager, has said that he should have acted differently in the Michael Rasmussen affair during the Tour de France. However, in an interview on the Dutch TV program Spraakmakende Zaken, he refused to take all the blame upon himself. "Knowing what I know now, I can say: I should have handled it differently."
Describing the night he withdrew the Danish rider from the Tour de France, De Rooij said, "When I confronted him with what I knew, he first admitted it, but then withdrew that immediately. It was his word against mine. It was clear to me." Rasmussen has said that he considered committing suicide that evening.
De Rooij also said that he would have preferred not to let Rasmussen start the Tour, but that the UCI indicated that he legally could start.
Informal High Road training camp on Mallorca
By Susan Westemeyer
Roughly two-thirds of the new Team High Road will be participating in an unofficial training camp on the island of Mallorca from December 1 to 5. Team spokesman Stefan Wagner told Cyclingnews that 18 riders will be attending the voluntary training, some staying longer or arriving earlier. Among those attending are Michael Rogers and Bernhard Eisel.
Eisel noted that the training camp will allow the riders to escape not only the European winter weather, but also the problems surrounding the team lately. "I'm really looking forward to training in the warmth of southern Europe. And to put the last few turbulent days behind us," he said on his website, eisel.com.
CSC survives Norwegian blizzard
By Susan Westemeyer
Team CSC has completed its traditional team-building exercises, held this year in the snow at Hovden, Norway. Training leader B.S. Christiansen called the session a success, saying, "I'm very happy and satisfied with the outcome. Everyone's accounted for and there are no casualties. I'm convinced that they can all take some of what they've learned here and use it in their job as well as in their private lives. This is very important in order for Team CSC to make it through next season on the roads."
Several riders came down with the flu during the training, and Karsten Kroon left early to be with his wife when she delivered their second child. Jens Voigt did not attend, but stayed home in Berlin to await the birth of his fifth child. Not only the riders were involved but also all of the other team personnel, including soigneurs, mechanics, and office staff.
The training involved cross-country skiing, cold and lots of snow. "The main purpose of this year's team trip was to get back to our roots – or back to basics, which is why the camp was deliberately planned as being very tough. Everyone had to go through difficult tests. There were a total of five teams, which had to find a way of working together under the worst weather conditions with frost and snow and where the consequences of each individual's actions were easily measured. If you were to make a mistake you paid the price immediately," according to Christianesen, on the team's website, team-csc.com.
"Teamwork was a key factor for everyone to get through this ordeal safely. Each team had to carry what is necessary to survive in the cold for three days and nights."
Team manager Bjarne Riis was also pleased. "We've gotten a closer look at everyone in the organization. Of course it's been really tough this time, and I've put high demands on the riders so the strong could help the not so strong. The purpose of this has been not to see a bunch of individuals – each their own superman, but a strong united group working together as a team. You could say that the rider's jobs were to help the 'weak,' which generally meant the staff and administration, through the various tests, where normally it's the staff and administration, who help the riders."
Riebenbauer to Austrian Continental Team
By Susan Westemeyer
Werner Riebenbauer has signed with the Austrian Continental Team Arbö Wels Gourmetfein for one year. "In Werner Riebenbauer we have succeeded in signing one of the top Austrian pros," said Sporting Director Uli Öhlböck.
The 33 year-old Vienna, Austria, native turned pro in 2001 with Team Nürnberger in Germany. He rode the last two years for the Professional Continental Team Volksbank.
"Ribi has won a stage in the Vuelta a Murcia for Team Nürnberger, the Tchibo Cup, has been often national champion on the road and on the track, had high finishes in Giro d'Italia stages and had top finishes in the Tour of Austria," Öhlböck said.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)