First Edition Cycling News for November 28, 2007
Edited by Paul Verkuylen
T-Mobile Team becomes Team High Road
By Susan Westemeyer
After Deutsche Telekom announced Tuesday that it would cancel its sponsorship effective immediately, the T-Mobile Team management quickly announced that it would continue on under the name of its management company, High Road Sports, which also holds the UCI ProTour license. Manager Bob Stapleton now becomes team owner, and two teams now breathe a sigh of relief that the organization is able to continue.
Weeks of uncertainty and rumour followed the T-Mobile team after its long-standing sponsor Deutsche Telekom mulled over pulling its sponsorship after the doping positive of Patrik Sinkewitz was announced during the Tour de France. The title sponsor, convinced of general manager Bob Stapleton's vision for the future, announced in August, however, that it would stay through 2010.
The announcement earned the company praise from Stapleton and the UCI, but all of that happened before another doping positive and before Sinkewitz testified about doping practices on the team in return for a shortened suspension. What followed was a sordid tale of blood doping and more; practices which he claimed were so commonplace, he didn't even see it as wrong.
Despite Sinkewitz long being fired from the team, each report of doping on the team in the past - even if it was tempered by insistence that Stapleton had cleaned up the team - continued to associate the T-Mobile name with scandal. This connection proved to be too much for the telecommunications giant, who ended its sponsorship abruptly on Tuesday.
With a sponsorship contract scheduled to run through 2010, the firm and Stapleton negotiated a "mutually agreeable termination", he said, with all details to remain confidential. What was made clear was that the team will continue on under the name of the management firm for the near future.
"We have enough money to run the team for the next two years without finding a new main sponsor," he said. "We will continue to look for a new sponsor but we will take our time. It must be the right sponsor, one who is willing to make a long-term commitment to the sport and who will be good for the sport."
Stapleton indicated that these funds come from other sponsors and suppliers, "as well as a couple of well-intentioned investors," who wish to remain anonymous at this time according to Stapleton. He refused to go into financial detail.
more on T-Mobile Team becomes Team High Road.
Reactions to T-Mobile decision
By Susan Westemeyer
Linus Gerdemann was the only T-Mobile/High Road rider available for comment Tuesday evening. He learned the news while on Mallorca, training for the upcoming season. "I have to think about the whole thing first," he told the dpa. "Before tomorrow I won't have anything to say."
Patrik Sinkewitz may well be seen as the straw that broke the camel's back, through his extended confessions of doping at T-Mobile as well as elsewhere. "It wasn't a surprise," he said. "In the last time a new beginning was made and some things did change. It is too bad that the sponsor drops out right now."
Rudolf Scharping, head of the German cycling federation, called it "A serious blow for pro cycling in Germany."
"I am surprised by the decision," said Bjarne Riis, who won the Tour de France for Team Telekom in 1996 later confessing to using EPO to win. "Naturally one is a little wistful. Like everyone else in cycling, I had hoped that T-Mobile would continue. But they have their reasons. We have to accept it."
His Team CSC rider, the German Jens Voigt, was concerned for his colleagues. "I can only hope that things go well for the riders and that the cancellation doesn't have any negative effects on cycling. T-Mobile stood until now for cycling. Without Telekom, there would never have been any other German teams."
Record numbers descend on Sydney for World Cup round one
The 2007-2008 UCI Track Cycling World Cup gets underway on November 30 at Sydney's Dunc Gray velodrome, where a record number of entrants will pursue all important points toward Olympic qualification. Of the 395 riders entered in the event, there are 15 reigning World Champions - all of last year's winner except for two from the British team pursuit squad: Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning, the Madison champions Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, who are in the midst of the lucrative Six Day season in Europe, and British women's team sprint champion Shanaze Reade.
Among the World Champions lining up in Sydney are two Australians: Anna Meares, who set a new world record on her way to victory in the 500m time trial, and Katherine Bates. Also racing in Sydney will be American Sarah Hammer (women's pursuit), Dutchman Theo Bos (men's sprint), Great Britain's Chris Hoy (men's keirin and kilometer time trial) and Victoria Pendleton (women's sprint, team sprint and keirin), Bradley Wiggins, (men's pursuit, team pursuit), Korean Kam Po Wong (men's scratch), the first men's omnium champion, Czech Alois Kankovsky as well as the French team sprint champions, British pursuit team, Points race champion Juan Llaneras and Cuban scratch race winner Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso.
With a new qualification system for the 2008 Olympics which gives automatic selection to individual World Cup winners as well as World Champions, each World Cup has become an individual battle to make the Games in Beijing. Whereas in previous years each National Olympic Committee would select athletes to fill up its spots, the new rules will see 21 riders gain automatic qualification through the UCI events, with the remaining 144 places distributed to the national committees according to the individual track rankings after the UCI World Championships in March.
The Sydney event will also see a record number of track teams racing alongside the national teams. The number of teams has grown steadily since their introduction in 2004, and this year 28 teams will contest the Sydney World Cup as well as teams from 48 nations - also a record.
Kupfernagel targeting Olympic hat trick
By Susan Westemeyer
Hanka Kupfernagel is aiming high at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. As reigning time trial World Champion, the German can expect to be named to the German team for both the time trial and road races. But the 33-year-old is also contemplating the Olympic mountain bike event according to German news agency sid.
The two-time cyclo-cross World Champion is coached and managed by her partner and former cyclo-cross ace Mike Kluge. Kupfernagel explained that Kluge has convinced her that the mountain bike course is well suited to her ability. The mountain bike event also takes place two weeks after the road race, meaning that there is ample time to prepare for the event after the road cycling events have finished. "That could be something," she admitted.
Changes at Rabobank
The executive board of the Rabobank group today approved the proposed revised structure for the Rabobank cycling team. The primary changes are a revised composition of management, the appointment of one rather than three statutory directors and the merger of the cycling team's advisory board and supervisory board.
The changes to the structure of are a direct result of the Vogelzang Committee's report of the Rasmussen affair.
'These far-reaching changes to the structure of Rabo wielerploegen BV are in line with the recommendations of the Vogelzang committee and we hope that through these measures we will be able to once again raise the sport of cycling to a higher plane," said member of the executive board of the Rabobank group responsible for the cycling portfolio, Piet van Schijndel.
"Through the appointment of Harold Knebel, who is currently director of private banking at Rabobank Nederland, we are gaining a general managing director who is removed somewhat from the world of cycling, but who also has tremendous affinity with the sport. The fact that he is an experienced manager is also extremely important. This appointment means the management will be placed in the hands of a single member statutory board with overall responsibility. All sport-specific, medical and operational tasks will be overseen by a management team. A medical manager will also be appointed to this team in accordance with the Vogelzang committee's recommendation," Van Schijndel said.
As part of the recommendations, Eric Breukink has been relieved of his responsibilities as member of the board of directors, but will remain as the number one sports director for the ProTour squad.
"I respect the executive board's decision and am pleased that I will now be able to once again focus fully on the team management. The team management has learned from what has happened. For me personally, I know now that I should have been more alert. I unconditionally endorse the more stringent policy regarding whereabouts and the new approach based on providing the riders with more intensive coaching and management," Breukink said.
New sponsor for World's View Challenge
The UCI's newest event on the global calendar, the 1.1 World's View Challenge scheduled to take place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from the February 2-7 2008, has received yet another boost after it announced yesterday that Intaka Tech has come on board as the title sponsor for the race.
The inaugural Intaka Tech World's View Challenge is South Africa's premier international road cycling event that will be taking place among the rolling terrain of the KwaZulu Natal midlands. For Intaka Tech, who produce industrial water purification and oxygen generators, this isn't the first time that they have supported a major cycling event as they were the primary sponsor of the 2007 UCI B World Championships that took place in Cape Town earlier this year.
Dr Gaston Savoi, Chairman of Intaka Tech, is extremely upbeat about being associated with the event, "I have always admired South Africa. People don't realise what they have here, there is so much to be proud of! Including this fantastic opportunity which enables South Africa to be an integral part of the international cycling community. We can only grow from this relationship."
Confirmed international teams for the Intaka Tech World's View Challenge are Milram, Liquigas and Barloworld. The series is made up of five one-day races over six days. With R650 000 (US$ 93,000) in prize money and valuable UCI points on offer the event is set to be hotly contested.
Sastre' bike auction
By Antonio J. Salmerón
CSC's Spanish climber, Carlos Sastre, who finished fourth in this year's Tour de France and second in his nation tour, the Vuelta has donated his bike and a signed CSC jersey to a charity auction that will help raise money for Velokhaya, the fundraising initiative of South Africa's Life Cycling Academy.
The charity's aim is to build a build a much-needed cycling center in the heart of South Africa. The online auction began November 26 and will run through until December 6, with all proceeds going to the charity.
A trip for two to Team CSC's California training camp as well as jersey signed by the entire team is also up for grabs in the ebay auction.
The entire CSC team are currently enduring 15 degree below zero temperatures at a team training camp somewhere in Norway, aimed at promoting leadership and friendship among the team. "We had been given a sleeping bag, and we are going to spend two days in the open-air, trying to survive," Sastre said.
New Russian professional team
Yesterday Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed his desire to the UCI to have a ProTour status event in the country as early as next year. Apparently Putin isn't stopping there.
The Russian is planning a new professional cycling team in the same vein as the Kazakhstan's Astana, according to Sportensverden.dk. The project has already been approved by the Russian Cycling Federation with more details set to be released some time this week.
According to a source close to the new team, for 2008 the squad will become a Professional Continental squad, with the aim to become larger as the team gains more experience. The team will be subsidised by the Russian government, much like Astana.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)