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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for November 28, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

T-Mobile sponsorship termination reactions

By Susan Westemeyer and Gregor Brown

Marco Pinotti sees no change in his 2008 programme.
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Many team riders and staff were surprised when Deutsche Telekom announced yesterday that it would cancel its sponsorship effective immediately. Team Manager Bob Stapleton vowed to continue on the team – to be known as Team High Road – with or with out a sponsor, thus securing the jobs of the team's many employees.

Italian Marco Pinotti, who flew the T-Mobile flag high this season when he took the maglia rosa of overall leader in this year's Giro d'Italia, was a little shocked by the news from yesterday but insists that his schedule will remain the same for 2008.

"I was on my way to the gym," noted Pinotti to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The message from Stapleton left me a little shocked. It made me laugh to think that tomorrow [today - ed.] at 10:40 [Morris] Possoni and I were supposed to be in Cologne, Germany, to try out time trial bikes with the team's mechanics.

"It is too bad because we are losing a prestigious sponsor," continued the 31 year-old from Bergamo. "However, my programme for 2008 will not change: I am sure that the team will go on and I will prepare for the first team camp in Mallorca." For more on Pinotti's 2008 schedule read Engineering a new path.

Bernhard Eisel predicts "things will go on."
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Austrian sprinter Bernhard Eisel was surprised at the news, to say the least. "I am shocked, but I can't say anything because I don't know anything," was his first reaction on his personal website.

Andreas Klier joined Team Telekom, as it was known at the time, in 2001, making him the "oldest" on the team. His answer to the news of the day: "I'll just keep on training, as usual. I wasn't very good in school, I can't do anything else [to earn a living]." He continued to Sportwereld that he has "not yet spoken with my lawyer, but I have faith in management."

Directeur Sportif Valerio Piva thought he knew why it happened. "A certain part of the press in Germany has put a lot of pressure on the sponsor, which is the reason," he said on the Belgian Radio 1, according to Sportwereld. "The team has already given important signals against doping. We had hoped that would be enough, but apparently it wasn't. The ground swell of rumours the last few weeks has surprised us all."

Walter Godefroot was involved with Team Telekom/T-Mobile since its second year, 1992, before leaving it in 2005. "I am thankful to the team. I met many splendid people there. There were ups and downs, of course," he told Sportwereld.

Looking back, he continued, "I have no regrets. I can still look at myself in the mirror. You must forget the negatives and remember the positives."

It could be argued that Jef d'Hont started the actions which culminated in yesterday's announcement. The publication of his book this spring kicked off a spate of doping confessions from the earlier years of the team. "This is not a good thing," he told Sportwereld. "Manager Bob Stapleton has done so much."

He does not feel responsible, though. "No. I am not guilty. I could no longer endure the use of doping, and I wanted to warn the youngsters. It is the racers themselves who have the problems and have injured the team," he said. "But in the long run, this is a good matter. Stapleton will find a solution."

For more read Reactions to T-Mobile decision and T-Mobile Team becomes Team High Road.

Adidas imitates Deutsche Telekom

By Susan Westemeyer

Adidas is following in the footsteps of Deutsche Telekom and is immediately ending its sponsorship of the former Team T-Mobile. The German sporting goods manufacturer had announced earlier this month that it would not renew its contract, which was to expire the end of the 2008.

A company representative told the dpa that "as of now it would no longer appear as the team's supplier."

Two other major sponsors, Giant (bike manufacturer) and Audi (auto) are considering their engagements with the cycling team.

UCI visit Liquigas during team meeting

The International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping inspectors joined Team Liquigas during its first meeting for the 2008 season. The Italian ProTour Team had a surprise visit for blood controls during its stay at Salsomaggiore Terme (Lombardia), Italy, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Liquigas is enjoying the thermal baths while meeting with Team Manager Roberto Amadio to define the 2008 programmes. There are seven new signings for 2008 include Daniele Bennati, Enrico Franzoi, Valerio Agnoli, Claudio Corioni, Ivan Santaromita, Alberto Curtolo and Maciej Bodnar. Filippo Pozzato, who won 2007 Tour de France's stage in Autun, will arrive at the camp tomorrow, and was not controlled.

The 2008 Liquigas squad consists of returning riders Michael Albasini (Swi), Manuel Beltrán (Spa), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita), Kjell Carlström (Fin), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Mauro Da Dalto (Ita), Murilo Fischer (Bra), Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr), Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Matej Mugerli (Slo), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Andrea Noè (Ita), Franco Pellizotti (Ita), Roberto Petito (Ita), Filippo Pozzato (Ita), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Guido Trenti (Ita), Alessandro Vanotti (Ita), Charles Wegelius (GBr) and Frederik Willems (Bel), and new signings Valerio Agnoli (Ita), Daniele Bennati (Ita), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Claudio Corioni (Ita), Alberto Curtolo (Ita), Enrico Franzoi (Ita) and Ivan Santaromita (Ita).

USA Criterium Champion O'Bee sans team for 2008

O'Bee on the attack
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

A lot has been reported on the tough time American domestic riders are having landing employment for the 2008 season. With two major teams closing up shop in Navigators and Kodak-Sierra Nevada, as well as Health Net-Maxxis downsizing and Slipstream-Chipotle replacing half of its team, the fact is that the market, while healthy in terms of quality teams, is just flooded with riders. The depth of talent that remains unsigned this late into the off-season is sadly evident in the fact that the two-time and current USA Criterium National Champion, Kirk O'Bee, still does not have a 2008 ride. Cyclingnews' has a look at what led to O'Bees unemployment and what his options are for 2008.

Sure a sprinter and national champion like O'Bee could get a roster spot on most teams, but not at the rate he was paid this season before winning the jersey. His case is one of bad timing. Health Net downsized its sponsorship budget for the 2008 team and subsequently the number of riders was reduced. Unfortunately for O'Bee he was not considered a key rider and it left him without a contract offer until late in the season, which mostly came as a result of his national championship.

"They knew what their budget was going to be, and they wanted their five or six core riders," O'Bee said. "And they knew who they were by June, and anyone else was an afterthought hoping for additional sponsors to come through. I was one of those riders on the bubble, and they did make me an official offer, but it was literally half of what I was making this year. They felt bad, but I was more upset because by June I had proven myself – and then I went and won the national championship! It's a weird situation because I did enjoy riding with the team but I also felt a little screwed. I don't think that people realize that what Health Net was paying would be such a different next year with their budget."

After this late date, the budgets of most teams were mostly spoken for and O'Bee found himself faced with a tough question – take a huge pay cut in 2008, or forgo racing for a job to provide for his wife and son. "It's mostly a matter of money, I can't ride for free. I have a son and family that I need to support. Even $20,000 a year isn't enough; I can go get a job in construction or cutting down trees for more."

Read the full news feature on O'Bee.

Team Barloworld to train in Tuscany

Barloworld in action at the Tour de France
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The 2007 season is only just over but Team Barloworld is already planning for 2008. The team's first appointment of the new year will be the traditional pre-season training camp in Italy at the Hotel Marinetta in Marina di Bibbona (Toscana), Italy. From January 17 to 26, the riders and staff will get together to prepare for what will hopefully be another successful season of racing.

Team manager Claudio Corti and directeur sportifs Alberto Volpi and Valerio Tebaldi have planned a busy nine days for the riders, with training rides, meetings with new riders (10 out of a total of 19 in the team) and the programming of the team's race calendars and season objectives.

The first race of the season is expected to be in South Africa, where Barloworld has its company headquarters, at the Worlds View Challenge, February 2 to 7. The team will also ride the GP degli Etruschi on February 7.

Support for Hondo

By Susan Westemeyer

German Danilo Hondo got a vote of confidence from his new employer, Italian Gianni Savio, with whom he signed on November 26.

"I am sure that he will use fair and clean means to reach the sporting goals, which makes him so important and valuable to our team," said Diquigiovanni-Androni Team Manager Savio to the dpa agency. "We paid sharp attention to the signing of Danilo Hondo," he continued. "We decided to trust him and to give him this chance."

Hondo's last team was Tinkoff Credit Systems.

The dpa also added that UCI President Pat McQuaid had said that he had met twice recently with Hondo, who had showed himself ready to support the fight against doping.

Ireland's Pezula debuts

By Gerard Cromwell

New Irish UCI continental cycling team Pezula will make their international road debut in South Africa in February, manager David McQuaid confirmed.

The recently launched squad, whose Galway based construction management sponsors borrowed their name from a South African holiday hotspot, will be registered both on the road and the track for 2008 with former Navigators Insurance duo David O'Loughlin and Ciarán Power heading the Irish challenge.

Pezula will get its road campaign underway when they tackle the inaugural edition of the Worlds View Challenge in South Africa alongside top teams Milram, Liquigas and Barloworld as well as Professional Continental teams and some national squads from around the world. The five-day series, which begins on February 2, will be run as five separate 1.1 ranked UCI races, along the same lines as the traditional season opening Mallorca Challenge in Europe. Riders can pick and choose which races they will compete in over the five days, with points accumulated each day going towards a final general classification.

Originally intending to compete in the Tour de Langkawi in February, McQuaid feels the trip to South Africa will be more beneficial to the Pezula set up. "We had intended to ride the Tour of Langkawi, before heading to South Africa for the Giro Del Capo in early March," said the son of UCI president Pat McQuaid. "Now we will head to South Africa at the end of January, ride the World View Challenge series and stay for a three week training camp before riding the Giro del Capo. David O'Loughlin and some of our track guys would have missed Langkawi because it clashed with the Los Angeles round of the track world cup, but now he can ride some of the South African races and we can rotate some of the younger guys and give them valuable experience."

"I can't wait for the season to start," noted Power. "I have been training really hard and hope to make a big impact in the early season, to get some results and generate as much publicity as we can for Pezula. I have a good training programme worked out with my coach Paddy Doran and I've been working on my sprint a lot. I'm likely to get a lot more opportunity to race for myself with Pezula, so as well as doing team duties, hopefully I can take this opportunity and get some good results."

Power has his eyes firmly set on one of the two Irish places available in the road race in Beijing. "I originally tried to qualify via the track but I just couldn't transfer over the power I was putting out on the road. We decided early to stop trying, and to concentrate on the road. I don't see why I can't make one of those places. There are probably five guys out there who fit the bill and although I haven't seen the full criteria for selection, a place on the start line in Beijing is my overall aim for this season."

World AIDS Day bike ride

On Saturday December 1, 2007, cyclists from all over the world will participate in World AIDS Day by cycling 27 miles to commemorate 27 years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. All rides will start at 8:00. Cities and townships from all over the United States and the world have committed to highlight critical awareness by cycling in organized groups and wearing red symbolizing the AIDS ribbon.

Some of the cities participating in this event are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Tucson, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Montreal, London and Sydney. Additional cities are signing up daily.

This year's Los Angeles ride will honour HIV-positive three year-old Caleb Glover. This past July while on vacation with his foster parents in Alabama, Caleb was denied access to the swimming pool and showers at Alabama's Wales West RV Resort. The incident received national attention including a segment on ABC TV where Until There's a Cure (UTAC) member and ride organizer Brian Hodes first heard about Caleb's ordeal.

The World AIDS Day ride organizes groups around the world to ride to raise awareness of the perception and stigma associated with HIV. So far Hodes has spoken to people in England, Czechoslovakia and Australia about having bike rides in their communities. In cities where December's cooler weather could present a challenge, Hodes suggests organizing spin class marathons at local gyms.

Silvia Glover, Caleb's foster mother, expressed her support for Hodes' efforts. "I'm totally blown away that people all the way in California heard about Caleb and want to raise awareness," Glover said. "It's such an honour and such a good opportunity."

Caleb's health is now precarious because of complications from HIV and his medication, and he might have to have a feeding tube installed. "Caleb's had a harder time than most," she said, "but he's a fighter." Hodes, who is also a rider in the fundraising AIDS LifeCycle ride, a 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to LA, will be riding in Los Angeles on December. 1.

Until There's A Cure (UTAC) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and funds for vaccine development, care services and youth education.

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