First Edition Cycling News for March 1, 2007
Edited by Sue George
Unibet.com appeals for solution to ProTour conflict
Unibet.com posted an open letter to the three organizers of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España Wednesday. The team has been caught amidst an ongoing battle between ASO, RCS Sport, and Unipublic and the UCI in recent months, and they pleaded publicly for a resolution with a more than 1800 word letter published on their website www.unibetcycling.com.
"In the name of all those who are passionate about cycling and who live for this sport, we invite the organizers of the major tours and the International Union of Cycling to bury the hatchet. Stop this arbitrary decision which threatens cycling," said the letter.
The three organizers of the major Tours, Paris-Nice, the Giro, and the Vuelta have declined to participate in the UCI ProTour. Recently, Paris-Nice organizers refused to allow entry for all twenty ProTour teams, and as a result, it lost UCI sanctioning and then converted to a French national calendar event. ASO formally denied participation of Unibet.com in favor of other "wild card" teams that they nominated. Unibet.com pointed out in its release that four ProTour teams will be excluded from the 2008 Tour de France and said that cash and favors friends determine the four wild card invitations.
Unibet.com, which holds its ProTour license through 2010, warned that the decisions not to play along with the UCI "will have deplorable consequences" for the athletes and their teams. "Even the most exacting training does no longer guarantee a place in the major cycling races in France, Italy and Spain, the best cyclists will be threatened by the lack of security." They predict the subsequent withdrawal of sponsors who won't want to risk sponsoring a team "which, at the discretion of the organizers, may be prevented from racing at any time." What are the consequences for cycling fans? Unibet said, "They will find themselves deprived of a genuine competition in which the best compete against one another under transparent regulations." They also wonder if the media will maintain interest if the best teams are replaced by teams of a lower level.
One simple solution is diplomatically proposed. "For example, it would suffice to reduce the number of cyclists per team for the coming races. This would give more teams the opportunity to participate without overburdening the peloton. This reasonable compromise should be acceptable to everyone: UCI [International Cycling Union], teams, athletes and organizers," said the letter.
It is not until later in the letter that Unibet specifically laments its own situation and warns other teams. In a section titled "Why the discrimination of the ProTour Cycling Team Unibet.com is very unfair," they remind readers that they passed "a rigorous and objective selection procedure to obtain its UCI ProTour Licence." Calling the invitation of Pro "Cash" Continental teams in place of UCI ProTour teams discriminatory, Unibet.com wrote, "We feel strongly victimized by the cartel ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic... The economic damage to our team and our partners, suppliers & staff of not participating in all ProTour Races would be tremendous. The cartel wants to exclude Unibet... Whose turn will it be next?"
Unibet.com considers its team a long-term project which supports the Swedish Cycling Federation in order to develop a top pro cycling team based in a country not traditionally known for cycling... "We want to become better and better every year, by building up a whole structure and strengthening the squad." They also boast well-known riders like sprinter Baden Cooke, former green jersey in the Tour de France, and climber Jose Rujano. "Are the organizers of the Tour, Giro and Vuelta afraid of Jose Rujano, our Venezuelan top climber ready to take the mountain jersey or a podium in a Grand Tour (as he did in the Giro of 2005)?" Finally, the team calls attention to two other initiatives: it supports its own Professional Continental Team with 13 young cyclists and has implemented stringent anti-doping policies.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
Cyclo-cross World Cup 2007-2008: Nommay out, USA & Milan in
By Brecht Decaluwé
The UCI cyclo-cross calendar for the 2007-2008 season has been presented with three important changes. As previously announced in news, the USA is almost certain to host a World Cup event on October 7. The location for this event is officially still unknown; the desired location in Providence seems to be unable to show the UCI officials that it has what it takes to organize a World Cup.
The second big change is the removal of the event in Nommay, France. The organizers in Nommay annoyed the UCI officials by changing the course without an official approval; in the end, the pits proved to be far too small for all the riders causing heavy traffic problems during the races.
The big crowds and the exciting race did not persuade the UCI, and Liévin will now organize the French World Cup event. They previously organized an event back in early 2006 when Sven Nys finished in front of the two French specialists Francis Mourey and John Gadret.
Geelong World Cup Champions rate course
A sprinter's race?
By John Michael Flynn in Geelong
With one day of the Geelong Women's Tour remaining at beautiful Barwon Heads, and a rest day for the riders to look forward to ahead of Saturday's World Cup, one of the yet to be answered questions is - will the Geelong World Cup of 2007 be a race for the sprinters?
The course for 2007 is slightly different to previous years, and will travel in the opposite direction as the world's best women's cyclists complete eight laps of a 15 kilometre circuit around the greater city of Geelong.
Yesterday, Cyclingnews caught up with the four previous winners of the Geelong World Cup, to check on their form and feelings heading into the World Cup series opener for 2007.
There's no disputing T-mobile's Ina Teutenberg will be the hot favourite. The defending champion has started her Geelong Tour with two impressive stage victories, and should the World Cup race come down to a sprint, she is in the right sort of form. Teutenberg faces a tough decision - whether to make it three stage wins from three in today's Geelong Tour finale, or take it easy on the bike with Saturday in mind.
"We have to watch out a little bit because there's only one day rest between the Tour and the World Cup," Teutenberg explained. "The early races still take more out of you than normal, it's hard to recover after the first races and only with one day in between, you have to be really careful not to overdo it those three days."
T-mobile has no shortage of options for the World Cup race. On any given day, any one of the team's six riders (Teutenberg, Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Alexis Rhodes, Linda Villumsen or Oenone Wood) could feature in the race finish.
One of those riders is the Geelong World Cup winner from 2004, Oenone Wood, whose form looks to be getting better with each stage of the Geelong Tour.
"With a team like we've got here that's working already, we've only raced for two days and are working so well together I think we're a great chance to win. 100 per cent," a supremely confident Wood told Cyclingnews. "There are six options in our team and six very realistic options, that's all I can say I suppose. Any one of the six girls can win and I'm very confident of that."
One of those looking to spoil T-Mobile's part is 2005 Geelong World Cup winner Rochelle Gilmore. Racing in 2007 with Italian team Menikini Gysko, Gilmore will be ably supported by fellow Aussie Olivia Gollan and nine-time Japanese National Champion Miho Oki, who finished on the podium in Geelong last year.
"I still haven't seen the course (for the World Cup) so it's hard to say whether it'll be a sprinters race or not," the Cyclingnews diarist said. "I definitely have done no work in the hills this summer, just been concentrating on the track. Not sure how hard the hill is in the course."
The Italian team's plan will be to work for Gilmore if the race ends in a sprint - but Oki is also a sprint option, depending upon how the cards fall.
"Yeah I have good shape, but I don't know Saturday," Oki said. "I will help sprint for Rochelle and other girls if possible. If Rochelle is having a good race I can help."
Olivia Gollan will be working for the team but is unsure how the race will pan out on Saturday. "It'll be interesting to see how the World Cup plays out with the different direction of the course," Gollan said. "To see whether it's a harder race or an easier race in terms of how that hill takes its toll and how the race is raced. My best chance of a result for myself is to get in an early break or a late break."
When Cyclingnews talked to 2003 Geelong World Cup Champion Sara Carrigan, she was talking up the altered course for 2007. The Olympic Road Race Champion is pinning her hopes on a breakaway getting away. "I'm very excited about them having changed the course. It's definitely going to make it more interesting, the last three years has made it quite boring, it's hard to get away on that circuit the way it has been. It's just a short little hill, it's hard to attack afterwards because it's a big long downhill. I think there might be more opportunity this year for an exciting race and for attacks to stay away."
Twenty one teams featuring the world's best women's cyclists will line up on the Geelong waterfront at 10:30 AM Saturday.
Women's Prestige Cycling Series set for 2007
After a year's hiatus, the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California will return as the kickoff race launching the four-race Women's Prestige Cycling Series. The series continues with the Nature Valley Grand Prix (June 20 - 24) and the International Tour de 'Toona (July 23 - 29) before wrapping up with the CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix on September 20 - 23. The top ten teams following the International Tour de Toona will receive housing and a travel subsidy to attend the Bermuda finale.
Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) is expected back to defend her 2006 individual title along with 2005 champion Christine Thorburne (Webcor - Platinum).
In the best young rider competition, Canadian Alex Wrubleski (Colavita) is the clear favorite after last year's winner and runner up Katharine Carroll (Victory Brewing) and Erinne Willock (Webcor - Platinum) are now "too old" for this U26 division. Wrubleski, who claimed the Best Young Rider jersey at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, also won two Canadian National Championships and is a rider to watch in both the young rider competition and for the overall series.
Brooke Miller (TIBCO), the recent winner of the Santa Clarita Grand Prix, was the surprise winner of the sprint competition in 2006. She burst onto the national scene last year with her win at the Nature Valley Grand Prix's Cannon Falls Road Race, going on to claim that race's sprint jersey. She will return to defend her crown in 2007, but is likely to be in the crosshairs of veteran sprinters such as Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) and Tina Pic (Colavita).
Team transfers in the off season leave the team competition wide open. Webcor - Platinum took over TEAm Lipton last year, but star rider Laura Van Gilder moved from Litpon to Cheerwine and Erinne Willock moved from Webcor - Platinum to Team ExpressCopy.com.
O'Loughlin and Nally likely for track Worlds
By Shane Stokes
O'Loughlin had previously qualified for the individual pursuit, placing fifth in the Los Angeles round of the series, but is now expected to also go in the points race in Palma, Mallorca next month. Cycling Ireland's high performance manager Frank Campbell says that he has been told that Ireland will be able to take part in three events, and so Nally will also travel to the Spanish island to compete.
"David got 12th in the points race so that got him more UCI points," said Campbell on Monday of this week. "We are waiting on written confirmation which is due to come out this week, but I spoke to the UCI yesterday and they are happy enough that we will get a likely invite into three events.
"With David already qualified for the individual pursuit, we will look at the points race for him to do as well. As regards the third slot, we will probably put Dermot Nally into the scratch race. Dermot is living in Spain and he was already planning to go over to Majorca and help David prepare in the lead up to the event, rather than him having to try to prepare on the track on his own."
Navigators Insurance professional O'Loughlin took up the individual pursuit last September and broke the long-standing Irish record on his first attempt when he recorded a time of 4 minutes 29.9 seconds. He was considerably quicker than this time in training prior to Manchester but during the race itself he, somewhat inexplicably, did a 4 minute 30.12 seconds qualifier en route to eighth place.
"To be honest, we are not sure why it was slower because the whole way through Newport and doing trials in Manchester, he was taking five seconds off the time of his national record in every training session he did," said Campbell. "He was doing 4 minute 25 second efforts so that is why I was so sure that is what he was going to be doing [in the World Cup].
"We can't work out whether it is something we are doing in the warm-up, whether it is something we are doing in the lead up in the morning, if we are working him too hard. These are all things that we can only learn as we go along."
Had he been able to replicate that speed in competition, O'Loughlin would have been two or three places better than his final finishing position of eighth. 2004 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Sergi Escobar (Spain) recorded a time of 4 minutes 25.392 seconds en route to fifth in Manchester, while Daniel Becke (Germany) finished with 4 minutes 26.716 seconds in sixth.
"If he had done it in the race, that would have put him inside the top six," said Campbell. "You can measure him against the other riders and it is very frustrating, especially for him. He has taken such big chunks out of it [in training].
"We spoke at length this morning about how we move the thing forward. We need the expertise in coaching we don't really have track coaches at the moment. The guy who has been left lumbered with the whole thing is young Brian Nugent. He is trying the very best to work with his knowledge. The thing is that we have moved into world level very, very quickly and we need to learn more."
Britain celebrates Manchester World Cup success
On home turf, Great Britain scored a record medal haul amid record numbers of fans. The weekend's racing saw gold medal rides by Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Wendy Houvenaghel. Wiggins also took victory with Paul Manning, Rob Hayles, and Ed Clancy in the men's 4,000m team pursuit, and the quartet got close to the British record when they qualified in under four minutes. Houvenaghel broke the British record in the 3,000m women's individual pursuit on her way to winning gold.
"We had done a lot of hard work behind the scenes starting 12-months ago to make this event a success," said event organiser Alan Rushton. "And it's a win-win situation all round because you will find that everyone who attended will have left the event delighted by an exciting race programme for the cost of only a few pounds." Millions also saw the event televised by the BBC and on networks across Europe and Asia.
"We are already looking forward to March 2008 when we are bringing the UCI Track Cycling World Championships to Manchester," said Rushton. Organizers of this event are part of a group that has previously organised major cycling events like the Tour of Britain. This year it breaks new ground with involvement in the inaugural Montreal to Boston road cycling stage race."
For complete Cyclingnews' coverage of the Manchester World Cup Track event, click here.
Balearic government criticised for sponsorship
By Monika Prell
After the announcement of the withdrawal of sponsor Illes Balears, effective since the end of the 2006 season, the government of the Balearic Islands was criticised for ever engaging with the cycling team by the political party PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español).
According to todociclismo.com, the delegate Antoni Diéguez called the team's sponsorship "one of the biggest affronts of the sportsmen of the Balearic Islands." He added, "This patronage should never have been allowed to happen."
He calculated that "the high-level-sportsmen in the Balearic Islands receive every year 2.1 million euros all combined. Meanwhile "a professional team of Pamplona" like Caisse d'Epargne was sponsored by the government with "six million euros every year." He highlighted the fact that the government's biggest investment in sports, besides infrastracture, was going outside of the Islands.
Delegate Diéguez conceded that "the government has always said that this [the sponsorship] was a great business because they received a lot of advertising benefits," but he questioned this and cited the proof a lie being that the government "stopped the sponsorship as soon as they could." Summarizing, Diéguez said, "It has been an expenditure to the disadvantage of the sportsmen of the Balearic Islands."
Women's Tour expects top field
Race director Jorge Sandoval called the field for the Trust House Women's Tour of New Zealand "well beyond all of his expectations." He's had to turn down overseas riders because he couldn't fit them into teams. The five day international-class race will run from March 7 to 11 in Lower Hutt, Wellington and the Wairarapa.
Two of the top three professional teams in the world and six riders in the top 21 world rankings will race. Eight of the top ten ranked nations will be represented. Many will head to the race after wrapping up the Tour of Geelong, happening in Australia this week.
"To have the reigning champions from three of the biggest cycling nations in the world, Sweden, The Netherlands and Switzerland plus two former World Champions and current Olympic champions racing on New Zealand soil, is a privilege to any sport," said Sandoval. "On top of this we have national teams from Australia, Germany and of course New Zealand as well as professional teams from USA, the Netherlands and Germany."
The two highest ranked New Zealanders on the list are Joanne Kiesanowski, ranked 36th, and Sarah Ulmer, ranked 27th. Both will ride for the New Zealand national team. Ulmer won the race in 2006.
Skil-Shimano cycling team presented in Vaals
Skil-Shimano presented its professional team Wednesday in Vaals in the south of the Netherlands. For 2007, the team counts 25 riders for a total of four more than last year. The internationally oriented team has more or less the same ambitions as last year, according to team managers Arend Scheppink and Iwan Spekenbrink.
"We hope that we can continue the progression we made last season, when we had some excellent results in the form of wins in the Tour of Belgium and the Tour of Qinghai Lake. On top of that our aim is to take part in some prestigious races and to continue with our up-front racing style, while we will also be focusing on the development of talented riders," said the managers.
Seven newcomers add to the international mix: Fabien Bacquet (France), Maarten den Bakker (NL), Ji Cheng (China), David Deroo (France), Clément Lhotellerie (France), Christian Müller (Germany), and Albert Timmer (NL). Just like in 2006, the team will retain a number of Asian riders as part of its efforts to grow racing in Japan and China. Five Japanese riders (Hidenori Nodera, Tomayo Kano, Yoshimasa Hirose, Yukihiro Doi and Masahiro Shinagawa) and three Chinese riders (Fang Xu, Jin Long and Ji Cheng) will ride a primarily European program; while the other Japanese riders will focus on racing in Asia
For a complete team roster, please see Cyclingnews' team database.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)