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First Edition Cycling News for January 3, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Mayo targets Giro-Tour

By Gregor Brown

Iban Mayo
Photo ©: Christine Grein
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Tuesday in Bilbao, Iban Mayo was publicly presented in his new Saunier Duval-Prodir colours. The Basque rider made a big change at the end of 2006 when he departed Euskaltel-Euskadi, where he had ridden for the past seven years, to join Mauro Gianetti's Spain-based team.

Mayo's long-time friend and Saunier team director, Joxean Matxin, was happy to welcome the team's new member. "To see Mayo with the maglia rosa or maillot jaune on his back? This is not unfounded, seeing how he is considered one of the best talents in the international field," the Basque director told

The 29 year-old Mayo, when asked about his main objectives for 2007, indicated he'd like to focus on two of the biggest tours. "The Giro d'Italia and Tour de France," Mayo stated. "Above all the Giro attracts me, seeing is how it will be a first time for me in the corsa rosa; it is the only grand tour I am missing. ... I will race in support of Gilberto Simoni."

Mayo said that in the Spanish-Swiss team he will have less pressure than he did as leader of the Basque squad, and working alongside riders like Simoni, David Millar and Koldo Gil will offer him more freedom. "I am very relaxed this winter; I was able to train well and without pressure," he continued. "Also, the team has made me feel liberated; at the Giro I will race without pressure, with only the objective to learn from Simoni and help him win the overall."

Lefèbvre's career in jeopardy

The podium
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Maxime Lefèbvre, the French 'cross racer who found himself in trouble after missing his antidoping control after the December 29 race in Middelkerke, continues to race despite having a huge weight hanging over his head. Lefèbvre placed second in the GP der Ster Sint Niklaas behind Sven Nys, but it wasn't his podium result that was foremost in his mind, it was whether his career will survive another suspension.

The 34-year old claims he knew nothing about the doping control, telling Het Laatste Nieuws "I knew nothing. At the finish the crew and myself had heard nothing of a control. For this reason we then headed home." Lefèbvre now fears that his racing days could be over. "After my earlier suspension [a one year ban in 2004 for a Heptaminol positive], a new period of inactivity might await me. Possibly that will mean the end of my career."

Rojas on his way up

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The modesty, perseverance and good sense of José Joaquín Rojas give a strong outline of the character of this young Spaniard. At the beginning of the 2006, Rojas made his debut in the Tour Down Under in Australia, after only a pair of seasons under the leadership of Juan González and the Liberty-Würth team. At only 20 years of age, the promising Spaniard made an rapid adaptation to the professional ranks, as could be seen in the Tirreno-Adriatico, where he won the mountains classification, as well as in the Three Days of de Panne, where he finished seventh.

"I will start the season in February with the Challenge Mallorca and the Vuelta a Valencia, but my presence in the Vuelta a Murcia is doubtful because to in order to race Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, it would be more convenient to race Tirreno-Adriatico and de Panne, in addition to the Criterium International", Rojas told Cyclingnews.

The peak of the season for Rojas will be his debut in the Giro of Italy. "I think agree with Eusebio Unzúe [his director -ed.] that the Giro could be the best race to escape the pressure of competing at home", the new Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider explained.

Rojas aims to continue his upward progression as a professional in 2007, and in order to do that, he is inclined "to continue polishing my better qualities". In this sense, many people consider him as a 'classics man', although he does not share that impression: "It is true that I planned to race in Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders, and that I dream of someday winning one of them, but I also wish to be competing in short stage races".

The Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider has still ample room to improve, and needs to choose his races wisely. He says, "It is fundamental to know which are your better qualities - and to guess correctly where I can do better than my rivals". Now, under Eusebio Unzúe's orders, but mainly, to be next to "magnificent riders such as Alejandro Valverde, Fran Perez and Luis León Sánchez", Rojas want to become the great cyclist he promises to be.

Americans For LA World Cup

World champ Sarah Hammer
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

World champions Sarah Hammer (OUCH Pro Cycling) and Kristin Armstrong (Team Lipton) will lead the USA national team when the UCI world cup heads to their home country in Los Angeles, California on January 19-21. Hammer, the reigning individual pursuit world champion will put in her first world cup appearance this season after choosing to opt out of the events in Sydney and Moscow. She'll aim to improve on her record setting effort from the US national championships in October, where she bested Rebecca Twigg's US pursuit record from 1995 by more than three seconds.

Hammer will be joined by Armstrong, who took a bronze medal in the pursuit at the Sydney world cup last season. Armstrong notched the biggest result of her career last fall when she captured a rainbow jersey in the elite women’s time trial in Salzburg, Austria. Also on tap for the women’s endurance events is Becky Quinn, a consistent performer who won a pair of silver medals at last year's Los Angeles world cup, taking second place in both the points race and scratch race, and first timer Neva Day.

For the sprint events, the team will be led by Jennie Reed, who is the only American to medal in world cup competition this season with a silver medal in the keirin at the world cup opener in Australia. Former collegiate champion Anna Lang and master's world champion Liz Reap-Carlson fill out the team.

On the men’s side, sprinters Giddeon Massie, Adam Duvendeck, Michael Blatchford, Ben Barczewski and Kevin Selker will take to the boards with endurance riders Tom Zirbel, Bobby Lea and Austin Carroll.

Veteran trackie and Cyclingnews diarist Jame Carney will head to Los Angeles with the support of Team Fuji, and Jonathan Vaugthers' Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle squad will send a pair of riders, Brad Huff and Michael Creed, to take part.

Llaneras to return

Llaneras and Galvez
Photo ©: AFP
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Juan Llaneras, Madison partner to the late Isaac Galvez, will return to competition this month, according to the Spanish daily Marca. Llaneras initially indicated he'd retire after living through such an unprecedented loss, but the 37 year old isn't ready to hang up the bike just yet. "Clearly I thought about leaving it and everything. It was the first reaction: logic, natural… normal after what had happened... but life goes on and giving it all up, unfortunately, will not solve anything. In addition, the track is my life, is my dream, my family, is it almost everything."

Llaneras and Galvez had dreamed of winning another world title, this time in their home country when the championship is held in Mallorca, but the loss of this dream does not deter Llaneras. "Although I will no longer be able to achieve some of the goals that I had, I still have some other challenges left to fulfill" he told Marca.

Despite continuing on in the world of track cycling, one thing Llaneras will not do try to win the world championship in the Madison this year. But he isn't counting out the possibility of finding another partner in the future. "I am not closing the door on contesting the Madison in the Olympic Games in Beijing, but I must desire it - and right now it doesn't appeal to me."

Even though he was so emotionally impacted by the tragic accident to his partner, Llaneras does not believe that track cycling is inherently dangerous. "I am convinced of it - the track is safe. It is not a risky sport, rather on the contrary...They can always do things to improve the safety, perhaps and, in particular, some protection could be put on the balustrade", but he insisted that the accident was just a bad turn of fate.

Risi and Stam come to blows

Bruno Risi
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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A slightly ridiculous turn of events came during the fifth night of the Zurich six day, reports Tages-Anzeiger. During the 50km Madison, the prime event of the evening, leaders Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, who apparently had been cultivating a sort of rivalry with the Dutch pair Danny Stam and Jens Mouris, found the conflict coming to a head. Risi and Marvulli, who ended the night a lap down on the pair of Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko, could find themselves losing what looked like a sure thing because of the spat.

Risi was so annoyed with the racing style of the Dutch pair that he went over to Stam's camp to confront him. According to the Tages-Anzeiger, Risi doused Stam with a water bottle and the pair came nearly to blows. Risi said that he regretted the outburst. "I never lost my temper in this way before, and I would have also never believed that this would happen." He continued, "I was dreadfully annoyed, because we will possibly lose here because of the behavior of the Dutchmen."

Risi and Stam were given a fine of 50 Swiss francs for "improper behavior", a mere slap on the wrist compared with similar events such as Tom Steels' famous bottle throw in the Tour de France, or Jeroen Blijleven's slapping match with Bobby Julich, both of which led to the riders' disqualification from the event. Stam and Risi eventually shook hands, but Risi's team ended the night in second place as Robert Bartko/Iljo Keisse took advantage of the spat to steal the lap and take over the lead.

Stormy start to Bay Classic

By Mal Sawford

Robbie McEwen will launch his bid for a seventh series win in the 2007 edition of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, which kicks off in Williamstown today, but he'll be up against forces of nature and some stiff competition. A host of up and coming riders be out to try and steal his thunder, but they might be doing so under threat of the real thing, as forecasts call for showers and even thunderstorms – which will no doubt cause havoc on the tight and technical city circuit around Williamstown’s café district.

Fortunately, the weather should improve for the next two days of racing, and McEwen will be ably supported in the Volvo team by European teammate Nick Gates and a trio of Queenslanders including Jason Phillips, one of the form riders from the South Bank and Surfers paradise Gran Prix series last month.

In the women’s series, defending champion Katie Mactier will aim for her second title, but without the luxury of the strong Jayco VIS team she led last year. Instead, Mactier will wear the Portfolio Partners strip and have Kiwi sprint ace Joanne Kiesanowski and junior track star Tess Downing for support as she takes on her former teammates, led by Jenny Macpherson, Emma Rickards and Peta Mullens.

Team FBUK returns as Global

British cyclo-cross national champion Helen Wyman will lead the Global racing team, formerly known as Team FBUK, for the 2007 season. Wyman, who also won the mountains classification at the Tour of Brittany, competed in the world road championships this year in support of Nicole Cooke. Joining Wyman on the team will be South African Yolandi du Toit, winner of the 94.7 classic, and Gabby Day, who is currently ranked 18th in the world in cyclo-cross.

More riders will be added to the roster this month.

Click here for the full roster.

Cyclingnews reader poll

Cyclingnews has finally tallied up all 11,532 votes in the the biggest ever reader poll. Today, we announce the winners of the best male and female cyclo-cross categories, and in both cases the winners were clear. The winner of the HED Kermesse road wheels will be announced later in the week. Thanks to everyone who voted.

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