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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 9, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Vos leads Dutch track team to success in Beijing

A qualifying round in the women's scratch race
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In the first two days of competition in Beijing at the UCI Track World Cup, Dutch cycling star Marianne Vos showed her extraordinary talent applies on the track, too. The former women's World Road and Cyclo-cross Champion collected her second gold track World Cup medal in as many days on the newly built Laoshan velodrome.

Saturday, Vos added a women's points race gold medal to her scratch race victory of Friday. In the points race, she won in a tight battle with Cuban Yoanka Gonzalez. In fact, the two women scored the same number of points, 12, but Vos took the win by virtue of her win in the race's final sprint. Australian Kate Bates' finished third with nine points.

The 20 year-old Vos is making her debut on the track after she decided to skip the 'cross season this year to focus on qualifying for the Olympic Games. She will also scope out the courses for the road race events while in Beijing.

Vos's win Saturday wasn't the only medal for the Netherlands. The Dutch men's team collected a third place in the men's team pursuit. The British pursuit team of Ed Clancy, Steve Cummings, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning qualified fastest and took home a gold medal comfortably while New Zealand surprised with a second place.

Dutch women Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis handily won the women's team sprint from French pairing Sandie Clair and Clara Sanchez.

Slipstream rider shines in Beijing

Michael Friedman (Slipstream/Chipotle)
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Team Slipstream-Chipotle's Michael Friedman earned the gold medal in the men's scratch race at the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing Saturday. The 25 year-old American raced 24 others in the final en route to overall victory.

Friedman qualified second in the second heat of the 15km scratch race. He and seven others managed to gain a lap on the rest of the field before he went on to outsprint the lead group for gold. Walter Perez of Argentina and Tim Mertens of Belgium rounded out the top three.

His result was especially remarkable considering he was forced to miss the first half of the 2007 season after being diagnosed with a rare genetic blood condition called Factor 5 Leiden. He discovered the condition late last season after suffering form a blood clot in his lungs following surgery to remove two saddle sores. Friedman has also won the US national points race and team pursuit championships and a stage of the International Tour de Toona since his comeback earlier this year.

Friedman's result puts him into third place in the men's scratch race World Cup standings with two events to go.

Bates makes comeback

By Gennie Sheer

Kate Bates (Aus)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Reigning points race World Champion Kate Bates (T-Mobile) claimed third place and captured Australia's only medal on day two of racing in the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing.

Bates rebounded after a disappointing showing last week at the Sydney World Cup to collect a bronze medal in the women's points race. She made her presence felt in a hard fought 20 kilometre, 80 lap race with sprints for points every twenty laps. The race win went to Dutch sensation, Marianne Vos with Cuba's Yoanka Gonzalez Perez in second.

"I was pretty disappointed last week and tonight is certainly a confidence boost because this is where the Olympics will be," said Bates. "I think I picked my act up a bit this week and really had to tough it out."

The Sydney rider acknowledged that the pressure of being the reigning World Champion and racing in front of her home crowd last weekend affected her more than she expected it would.

"I wouldn't have admitted going into Sydney that I felt that pressure but my reaction after the event - I was just glad it was over," said Bates. "I've waited my whole career to get a stripey jersey (World Champion's rainbow striped jersey) but the pressure I put on myself to defend it in Sydney was too much.

"Now here I proved I have the stripes for a reason and could show everybody exactly why I do," she explained. "I made a really positive step tonight in doing that."

However because of Bates' Sydney woes her schedule of racing has been amended and she now expects to race the third round of the series in Los Angeles in January.

"That wasn't the original plan but hopefully I can get on the podium there as well," she said. "It's a unique opportunity to have the World Champion's jersey leading into an Olympic year and I want to make the most of that and use the pressure that put me off a bit last week to really motivate me and get me going."

Bates brought Australia's medal tally to one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals with one day of competition remaining. Competition in Beijing will wrap up Sunday with the women's keirin and men's sprint and Madison.

Men in Blazers

By Les Woodland

Modern-day 'Men in Blazers?' Race organisers from the three Grand Tours back in 2005.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Several decades ago, a handful of race organisers took their roles a little too seriously. Cyclingnews looks back at some amusing blazer-clad characters from the British racing scene.

I don't know what they call them round your way but to me they're Men in Blazers. It's a British expression but for all I know it's familiar round the world. Certainly the phenomenon is, because Men in Blazers are quite ordinary people who pull on a badged jacket… and become brainless tyrants obsessed with ever more minute details. At least so far as the riders are concerned.

The thought occurs because there was a wonderful outburst of blazerdom 40 years ago last summer. More of that in a moment but first, a tour de l'horizon.

One of the most entertaining blazer men was a rotund, grey-haired chap from the midlands of England, Benny Foster. You couldn't hope to find a bigger-hearted man but his willingness to push his way into levels beyond his capacity was legendary. In real life, this was a man who sold heating oil from door to door but in cycling he rose first to international team manager and then to organiser of the world championships in 1970.

Benny got not only a blazer out of that but a sign written car, in an era when sign written cars were something seen in cycling only among professional teams. Benny drove this car everywhere, throughout 1970 and long afterwards. And when it wore out or he had to hand it back, he paid for one of his own and, long after the event, had it labeled "World championship organiser 1970".

He could talk, too. I worked at the magazine Cycling then, in London, with an equally fresh-faced Phil Liggett, later race director of the Milk Race - which I'll come to in a moment - and a UCI commissaire and television commentator. It was always a delight when Liggett found Benny Foster at the end of the phone because only he had the nerve and fun to do what you usually see only in TV comedies, which was to put the phone into a desk drawer and close it. Taking the phone out again a few minutes later, Benny would still be talking without having noticed a thing.

To read the complete feature, click here.

Valen to team Flexpoint

Norwegian rider Anita Valen will join Dutch women's team Flexpoint for 2008. Valen is aiming for the Beijing Olympics and was delighted to sign a contract with such an internationally-oriented squad.

"Flexpoint competes in major races and that is ideal for me," said Valen. "Furthermore, I am delighted to ride with top riders such as Mirjam Melchers- van Poppel and Amber Neben."

Flexpoint manager Jean-Paul van Poppel sees the 39 year-old Valen, who won a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championships, as a welcome addition to the team. "We have rejuvenated our team with a view toward 2008. It is good for the balance of the team, too, in the long and short-term, certainly at the international races, to have someone with so much experience."

Valen resides in Zwolle, has two children and is married to ex-professional rider Dutchman Gerrit de Vries. Valen won a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championships in Verona. The time trial expert is the 13th signed rider for the squad for 2008.

Multiple Ullrich trips to Madrid?

By Susan Westemeyer

German investigators have uncovered documents showing "very many" short trips by Jan Ullrich to Madrid, presumably to visit Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, according to the German news magazine Focus.

Public prosecutors in Bonn, Germany are investigating Ullrich for fraud over the affair. The magazine clamed that the travel records indicate that Ullrich started working with Fuentes as early as 2003 and continued to visit him up until shortly before the Tour de France 2006.

Howe diary: Things to do in Pittsburgh when it's cold

Barb Howe smiles - or is that a grimace?
Photo ©: Center Avenue Imaging
(Click for larger image)

What does one do in between races while visiting family? I like to bake pies, sleep and ride my bike. The week between USGP rounds three and four and Thanksgiving I got to spend with my family in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] doing just that.

The first few days the weather was unseasonably warm and rode in just shorts and a jersey, unheard of in November in Pittsburgh. By Thanksgiving the weather had turned into the weather I know and love: cold and raining. Friday it was even colder and I had plans to ride the Critical Mass in Pittsburgh. I've never done one before, even though there are two near where I live. Usually by Friday evening I'm either tired or getting ready to race the next day. Since I had neither excuse while in Pittsburgh I made a plan with my brother to do the ride. Friday was quite cold, but dry. As the evening time drew near I rode over to my bother's house dressed in most of my warm clothes. His house is a downhill coast from my parents' house and I was freezing by the time I got there. So I borrowed an extra coat from him. Right before we were about to leave someone showed up to look at a truck he had posted on Craig's List so I headed off on my own.

There was a lot of suffering
Photo ©: Center Avenue Imaging
(Click for larger image)

It was dark by the time I headed out and snow flurries were starting to fall. It's been a long time since I've ridden in the snow. The temperature was low enough that the roads stayed dry and there was very little traffic on the roads. Upon arrival at the appointed meeting place, a life size diplodocus statue in front of the Carnegie Museum, I was disappointed to find no one there. The night was critical but no mass. Maybe the masses showed up after I left, but considering the temperature, I wasn't really interested in waiting too long to find out. So I rode back to my brother's house and then up a large (but not too steep) hill to my sister's house and enjoyed some hot lasagna. Riding around in the dark with snow flurries caressing my cheeks drew me into a Zen-like daze. The streets were all but deserted and for a moment it felt like I had the city all to myself.

Saturday morning is the start of the big day I've been looking forward to for months, The Dirty Dozen. A true Pittsburgh classic, the Dirty Dozen celebrated its twenty fifth year on the Saturday, November 24, 2007. What is the Dirty Dozen? A ride that goes up the thirteen steepest hills in Pittsburgh with points awarded to the top ten finishers on each hill. It was started by two-time RAAM winner and endurance cyclist Danny Chew, and you can find out more about it here The winner walks away with huge prize money, podium girls and ever-lasting fame. Well, not really, but the winner does get some serious bragging rights.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)