First Edition Cycling News for November 30, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
TdU gets four year ProTour license
Australia's premiere bike race, the Tour Down Under, was given a vote of confidence by the UCI on Thursday. Cycling's governing body announced that the newly minted ProTour event has been awarded a four-year license for the series. The race is the first ProTour event to be held outside of Europe.
The tenth edition of the Tour Down Under will kick off the ProTour season on 22-27 January, 2008, starting from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.
UCI President Pat McQuaid has been a proponent of globalisation of the sport, and expressed his confidence in the Australian race. "The Tour Down Under fully deserves to be part of the UCI ProTour," McQuaid said. "Australia has definitely become one of the leading nations in international cycling. It is only fair that it should host a top-class competition from now on."
McQuaid also sees the strong growth of cycling in Australia as a good sign for the sport as a whole. "The incorporation of the Tour Down Under in the UCI ProTour is also excellent news for cycling: it shows that the sport is continuing to develop, including outside Europe."
The approval of the Tour Down Under as a UCI ProTour event has been welcomed enthusiastically in Australia. Premier for South Australia, Mike Rann welcomed the fact that the best cycling teams in the world would soon be in the State, and sees the race as an economic boost for the region. "Over time, we hope to achieve a 60 per cent increase in tourists from interstate and overseas, a 40 per cent increase in media publicity and television broadcast," said Rann.
"Today I'm also pleased to announce the 18 cycling teams that will come to South Australia for the UCI ProTour Tour Down Under. Competing cyclists will be confirmed in the coming weeks," Rann continued. "We have made a request to the UCI to look at the UCI ProTour regulations to allow the Australian national cycling team UniSA, a Tour Down Under stalwart, to take part next year.
"Expanding the UCI ProTour outside of Europe for the first time is breaking new ground and we are hopeful of successful talks that will see the much-loved UniSA team continue to take part."
Last year UniSA rider Karl Menzies placed second in the overall classification.
The 18 teams that have been announced to take part in the 2008 Tour Down Under are: Ag2r - La Mondiale (Fra), Astana (Swi), Bouygues Télécom (Fra), Caisse D’Epargne (Spa), Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone (Fra), Crédit Agricole (Fra), CSC (Den), Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa), Francaise des Jeux (Fra), Gerolsteiner (Ger), Lampre (Ita), Liquigas (Ita), Milram (Ita), Silence - Lotto (Bel), Quick Step (Bel), Rabobank (Ned), Saunier Duval (Spa), High Road (former T-Mobile) (Ger) Conditional upon UCI approval of the new team structure.
Team High Road: Giant stays, Audi drives away
Team High Road, the new incarnation of the former T-Mobile team, has lost one more sponsor, but will keep its supplier of the team's most critical gear: their bikes. Bike supplier Giant has indicated that it will stay with the newly named team, but the Directeurs Sportif will have to find a new way to follow the riders around after automobile manufacturer Audi said that it will stop supplying the team with cars.
The team lost its title sponsor on Wednesday, as well as clothing sponsor Adidas following a season during which the team could not escape the repercussions of past doping practices. The team's manager, Bob Stapleton, took over ownership of the team, running on funds from various sources, one of which is reportedly a settlement from T-Mobile, whose sponsorship contract lasted through 2010.
Giant, Europe's largest bicycle manufacturer, said on Thursday that it would continue working with Stapleton's team. "It is our intention to continue," Tom Davies, head of sport marketing for Giant Europe, told dpa. "We do not plan to stop."
The firm said that it was not influenced by other sponsors leaving the team. "We don't follow them. It is our intention to go on working with the young and promising talent," Davies said. The firm has a contract with the Stapleton team through 2010.
Audi, on the other hand, took a different route. The company cited the withdrawal of Deutsche Telekom as the reason for its own withdrawal. "Through the removal of Deutsche Telekom, the team has lost its most important partner and with it, the basis on which Audi had committed itself. Therefore we will not continue our engagement in the coming year," said Audi spokeswoman Iris Altig.
Audi joined Adidas in withdrawing sponsorship from the former T-Mobile Team, although team spokeswoman Kristy Scrymgeour told Cyclingnews that "Adidas has committed to financially back the team until the end of 2008." She continued, "The announcement from Audi and Adidas are not a surprise to anyone. It was expected and we are moving quickly to adapt and get everything in place by January."
High Road's Aussies optimistic
Just two days after getting the news that their team's title sponsor had pulled out, Australian riders Adam Hansen and Katherine Bates expressed an upbeat faith in manager Bob Stapleton and in the sport as a whole. Hansen and Bates just completed their first year on the team only to learn of the organisation's woes this week.
"(The team) got an email just before one o'clock in the morning (on Wednesday)," Hansen told Fox Sports. "It was something we all thought could happen." Hansen understood why the sponsor Deutsche Telekom decided to pull out. "We understand the position they were in, and we can't really think too bad of them. T-Mobile have done a lot for cycling so you can't really be angry with them."
Hansen does see problems for the squad going forward now that they won't be wearing the familiar magenta kit with the Adidas stripes. "In Europe everyone knows T-Mobile as a cycling team. It was an honour to race for that team and we do lose that, which is sad. Every kid cyclist wants to ride for T-Mobile but now it's a new name and it won't have that impact. Also, when you wear the T-Mobile jersey - you get a lot of respect from the other (cyclists) and I don't know if we'll still have that next year."
Both Hansen and Bates see the sport going forward with a new attitude, one which is being fostered by their team. "The sport is cleaning up a lot. You can see a lot of riders that are racing clean this year, so I think it's on its way and it's good we have people like (team owner) Bob Stapleton, who's trying to do everything to help the sport," said Hansen. "The other teams are starting to have strict anti-doping programs, like the new Astana team – if we had more teams like that I think we would continue to improve."
"I think it's a new era," Bates, a World Champion track racer, told the Associated Press. "Maybe in order to get rid of the past you've also got to get rid of a lot of the connotations that go with that.
Bates, who will wear her magenta kit in the upcoming Sydney track World Cup, thinks the sport is bigger than the controversies which has plagued it in recent years. "I think there's always scandals but at the end of the day the Tour de France is the biggest sporting event in the world.
"Nobody standing on the side (of the road) cares about anything except the bike riders going past. As a sponsor you'd be nuts not to get involved with that, wouldn't you? And if you look at it from that point of view and you're committed to the anti-doping side, there's really a very, very bright future for the sport."
Amber Neben interview: An unusual year
American cyclist Amber Neben has been quietly racking up outstanding results in the European women's peloton. After coming second to Judith Arndt in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, she dominated the La Route de France Féminine, winning by more than one minute over Svetlana Bubnenkova. However, when the season ended, she received a shocking diagnosis of skin cancer. Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo talked to Neben about life before and after her brush with cancer.
The C-word. Cancer. It's something you never want to hear coming out of your doctor's mouth, even more so if you're at the peak of your physical condition and at the top of your career as a professional athlete. However, not everyone's fight is as dramatic as that of Lance Armstrong, and Amber Neben was one of those lucky ones who escaped with a relatively simple treatment.
Earlier in the year, Neben had noticed a mole on her back that seemed suspicious. Being red-haired and fair skinned, she knew she had to be on the lookout for signs of skin cancer, but thought it unusual that it might crop up on a spot that was always covered. "It was just a small mole, less than a centimetre in diameter, in the middle of my back. It was not in an area that I could easily see," Neben said from her one bedroom apartment in Irvine, California where she lives with husband Jason. "In fact, it was my husband who asked me what was on my back that brought my attention to it."
"From that point on, I watched it. The more I looked at it, the more I thought I should get in to get it checked out. I was worried, but not so worried to do it in the middle of my season. I waited until after World's, and went to the doctor as soon as I got home. Thankfully, I did."
After putting in another solid performance at the World Championships where she finished fourth in the time trial and at the back of the first chase group in the road race, Neben finally had a chance to see the doctor where the diagnosis was made - it was melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer which can be hard to control if it spreads.
"It was surreal to hear," Neben said about the news. "As a healthy athlete, the last thing on my mind was a disease like cancer. Even though I knew skin cancer was a possibility because of what the mole looked like and the history of cancer in my family, it certainly wasn't expected."
Holczer still searching for a sponsor
Team Gerolsteiner has concluded its fall team meeting in Hillesheim, Germany, and team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was unable to give his riders the good news of a new sponsor, but said that his search was continuing.
"I will have to have a new sponsor for 2009 by April or May, otherwise I will have to tell my riders that they should look around for something else," he told the dpa. Gerolsteiner Brunnen Gmbh & Co. announced in September that it would not renew its sponsoring contract which expires the end of 2008.
"Hans will do it," rider Markus Fothen said confidently. "If not then I will have to ride well in the summer to recommend myself to other teams."
Holczer has been meeting with prospective sponsors, working diligently to ensure the future of the team. "I am having an extremely large number of discussions," Holczer said. "It is a lot of work and it is moving forward. But it's not as if there is a long line of interested parties out there."
"I am selling a perspective, a young team with the right attitude and extraordinary athletic capabilities," he said. The cost is around nine million Euro a year.
At the team meeting, he introduced his riders to the new "whereabouts" reporting requirements and let them know what they can expect in the coming year. Each rider can expect ten blood and five urine test per year "Next year there will be 7000 controls, in 2006 there were 150."
Holczer also supported his rider Stefan Schumacher, who earlier in the week released documents showing his blood values. Schumacher, who finished third in the men's Worlds road race, showed irregular blood values in an unannounced doping control a few days before the race. He said that they were due to a severe case of diarrhoea.
"A manipulation can be 100 percent out of consideration," Holczer said. "At my request the German cycling federation tested him again 62 hours after the NADA tests. All of the values were in the normal range, and most importantly – the increase in the leukocytes [white blood cells] which happens with an infection and can't be influenced by medication had decreased rapidly. That speaks very clearly for the fact that he had an infection.
Saunier Duval gets sponsor
The Vuelta a Chihuahua, the Mexican stage race which held its second edition this summer, will become the first race to sponsor a ProTour team. The race has signed on to sponsor the Saunier Duval team of 2007 stage one winner Javier Mejías, who marked his first professional win in Mexico. The team also indicated it would announce another new sponsor in coming days, which would help offset reduced sponsorship by former co-title sponsor Prodir
The 2008 team will have its first gathering this weekend in the Atlantic coastal town of Noja, Cantabria in Spain. Twenty-six riders will get together for the first time, including the seven newcomers: Josep Jufré, Denis Flahaut, Aurelien Passeron, Eros Capecchi, Beñat Intxausti, Ermanno Capelli, and Héctor González.
USGP title decided in Portland this weekend
The US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (USGP) presented by Crank Brothers moves to the Pacific Northwest for the exciting series finale, where tight races in the elite men's, women's and U23 races will be decided in the cyclo-cross hot bed of Portland, Oregon.
Taking place at the Portland International Raceway, the USGP Toyota Portland Cup will host the last two days of racing in the six-race national series and will determine the USGP Champions and who will receive an automatic USA Cycling world championship berth. 2007 marks the fourth consecutive year Portland will play host to the USGP.
The USGP Toyota Portland Cup will be held on the same cyclo-cross course used for the 2004 National Championships and should be a challenge for the series finale.
"The course is relatively flat and offers spectators a wide open view of almost the entire course from the infield at Portland International Raceway," said Brad Ross, local organizer for the USGP of Cyclocross Toyota Portland Cup. "As in the past, we expect that having our race in December means that the weather is going to play a huge role in the outcome." As expected, the weather will play a factor with rain and snow showers predicted throughout the weekend.
Defending USGP Champ Ryan Trebon (Kona - YourKey) is coming off a weekend sweep in New Jersey at the USGP Mercer Cup where he reclaimed the leader's jersey from Tim Johnson (Cannondale/ Lear /cyclocrossworld.com). Johnson sitting just six points behind Trebon in the standings is well within striking distance of the leader's jersey and the overall championship. Johnson's team-mate Jeremy Powers (currently third in the standings) and Trebon's Kona team-mate Barry Wicks (fourth overall) will also be a threat this weekend and in the hunt for a podium spot.
In the Elite Women's field, USGP leader Georgia Gould (Luna) looks to maintain her series lead. Gould's sweep in Mercer allowed her to don the leader's jersey and take the lead from Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) who missed the last stop of the USGP while in Belgium winning her first ever World Cup race.
Compton, who is now ranked #2 in the World, will be back and looking to make some noise in the women's field. Also, vying for the series lead are Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Haywood) who sits in second place overall and defending USGP champion Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) currently third.
The U23 series is even tighter than the elite races, where a mere eight points separate first and third place. Series leader Jamey Driscoll (FiordiFrutta) claimed the series lead after a win and a third place finish in New Jersey to claim the series leader's jersey heading into Portland. Bjorn Selander (Ridley) sits just two points behind Driscoll and World Silver Medalist Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar) lurks in third place just eight points back.
For more information on the USGP, visit www.usgpcyclocross.com.
Atlas-Romer's Hausbäckerei 2008
The Continental Cycling Team Atlas Personal-Romer's Hausbäckerei will head into the 2008 UCI Europe Touras one of three Swiss Continental teams. Formerly licensed in Germany, the team consists of 16 riders who will dispute the European calendar.
Atlas Personal-Romer's Hausbäckerei will field a team with ten new riders, including Germans Felix Odebrecht (Wiesenhof-Felt) and Nico Graf (Thüringer Energie), as well as new bike sponsor Scott USA.
The Team 2008: Benjamin Baumgartner (Swi), Guillaume Bourgeois (Swi), Mathieu Deschenaux (Swi), Nico Graf (Ger), Andreas Henig (Ger), Reto Hollenstein (Swi), Timo Honstein (Ger), Martin Lang (Ger), Igor Leonovich (Ger), Felix Odebrecht (Ger), Giuseppe Ribolzi (Ita), Lukas Rohner (Swi), Sven Schelling (Swi), Nico Schneider (Ger), Janick Wisler (Swi), Marcel Wyss (Swi).
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