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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 6, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer & Steve Medcroft

Team Wiesenhof comes to an end

Pro Continental team Wiesenhof-Felt.
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Team Wiesenhof-Felt will end its operations after failing to secure a new sponsor for 2008, the team announced Friday. Business manager Raphael Schweda made the announcement: "Despite many positive conversations, we are not able to present a new title sponsor for the 2008 season." Cycling Sports GmbH, which holds the Professional Continental team's license, has not applied for a new license for the coming season.

Wiesenhof GmbH announced in May that it would not renew its sponsorship of the team, leading to a long search for a new sponsor that was hampered by recent controversies in the sport inside its home country of Germany.

Schweda put part of the blame on the recent World Championships in Stuttgart and the resulting bad publicity. "In the time right after the Deutschland Tour, we noticed a marked upward trend, that there was an increased interest in an engagement in professional cycling," Schweda said. "Unfortunately we were not able to cope with the problematic discussion about the Worlds. It is therefore tragic, that we, as a clean team with many young riders and other employees have to pay for the mistakes and omissions of others. As a team, we have always worked hard for the education and development of young talent into the world class. In the end, we were weren't rewarded for that."

However, Cycling Sports GmbH is not giving up entirely. According to Sport Director Jens Heppner, "It is too bad that we won't have a team for the 2008 season, but that does not mean that we are climbing out of professional cycling. Things are ended for the coming season, but we are starting with the search for a sponsor for the 2009 season. Now we will observe the scene from the outside. Our concept remains unchanged. And the economy will be interested in cycling again some day."

The team started as the GS-III Team Winfex Techem in 2003. It had its first major success in 2004 when Linus Gerdemann won the U23 national title, which he repeated in 2005. Wiesenhof, a poultry producer, took over as title sponsor in 2006. It has provided the U23 world champions on the road in the last two years, with Gerald Ciolek in 2006 and Peter Velits this year.

The team's biggest success in a ProTour race this season was Steffen Wesemann's third-place in Paris-Roubaix. The team received wild-card invitations to numerous ProTour races, including the upcoming Paris-Tours.

Schweda said that his goal was to become the team manager of a ProTour team, and he had hoped to move all the way up with this team, hopes which have now been dashed. "I wouldn't want to miss all those years in management," he said. "We can all be proud to have achieved so much with so few resources. Despite all the strain, it was a good time with many good moments. We can be satisfied with what we have accomplished, especially looking back at all the young riders that we helped bring into the pro business."

Cavendish Closer to Target

By Shane Stokes

Mark Cavendish was happy
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish came frustratingly close to achieving his goal of 11 wins in his debut pro season when he finished as runner-up to Belgian rider Gert Steegmans (Quick.Step - Innergetic) on Friday's second stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge in Templeuve, France.

The 22 year-old Manxman crossed the line just behind Tour de France stage winner Steegmans and ahead of Allan Davis (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team), Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), Tyler Farrar (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) plus the rest of the main bunch.

On Thursday's opening stage Cavendish had also tried to land a victory but crashed with two kilometres to go. He was fortunately uninjured, but the determined competitor would have been greatly annoyed about the missed chance.

The T-Mobile rider has had a stunning debut season, getting his run of victories underway with success in the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen on April 18th and then taking two stage wins apiece in the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. His run-up to the Tour de France saw him also nab a win on stage four of the Ster Elektrotoer.

Cavendish had a difficult Tour debut due to crashes and other bad luck but bounced back to take stage victories in the Post Danmark Rundt and the Eneco Tour. He then brought his tally up to double figures with success in the prologue and on stage one of his home race, the Tour of Britain.

While he was sprinting well on Friday, he had sounded less than confident exactly one week earlier when asked about his chances of taking that eleventh season victory. "I am not optimistic about it," he said at an informal meet-and-greet held by the T-Mobile team at the world road race championships in Stuttgart. "I am feeling the effects of a long season now. I could perhaps pick one up in Franco-Belge but I am not going to risk life and limb for it either."

Things have clearly turned around now and he is likely to try again if the opportunity presents itself.

Cavendish spoke a little about his hunger, giving an insight into his determined nature. "That is just the way that my mentality is; I expected to win races this year but I didn't set out expecting to win a certain number of them. It is just my mentality; when I win I want to win more, and then I kept winning more. It's just worked out that way. I wanted to get to seven wins and when I got those, then I said I wanted 11 now. When I said during the year that I was going for that, Petacchi had 11 wins at that point. Now he has won 16, but what I wanted [at the time] was to get the most wins of any pro this year. That is what I was trying to achieve."

It's been claimed on several occasions this year that Robbie McEwen's debut tally of 10 wins is the record for a neo-pro. Accurate or not, that figure gives Cavendish something to try to surpass. "I spoke to Robbie about it, actually. He takes it as a complete compliment. I said, 'look, I want to do better than you, but it's out of respect.'"

A complete feature on T-Mobile's young star will appear soon on Cyclingnews.

17-year old Taylor Phinney takes elite track title

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Carson, California

Taylor Phinney in his new threads.
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Seventeen year old Taylor Phinney (TIAA-CREF/5280) put a bounce in the step of USA Cycling track staff members last night when he handily won the elite pursuit national title.

Phinney was the talk of the track all day and night on Thursday. At just seventeen, the son of Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney is not eligible for membership in the USA Cycling track talent pool, nor can he compete in World Cup competitions, but after some conversations and rule checking, USA Cycling's athletic director Pat McDonough confirmed that Phinney can compete on the world stage as soon as January 1 when his racing age becomes 18 (though his birthday is not until June). "You will see him on the track at the Los Angeles World Cup," said McDonough. "And I am sure he will be even faster then!"

As well as Phinney, a host of newcomers to track racing have impressed the U.S. coaching staff, making a real possibility that the U.S. team could at least contend for medals in the 2008 Olympics. Dotsie Bausch (Colavita-Sutter Home), a long-time road racer, started training on the track just this year with Sarah Hammer. She won the elite pursuit national title as well as a spot in the USA Cycling track talent pool, which is the first step to making the Olympic team. Both runners-up in the men's and women's pursuit races, Brad Huff (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Christen King (Young's Training) earned spots in the pool thanks to their times.

The racing at the ADT track at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California continues Friday with the continuation of the sprint rounds as well as the men's and women's points races.

Riders union asks for social dialogue

With all the controversy and conflict in the sport of cycling in recent times, the voices of the race organisers, the UCI and the antidoping authorities have been forefront in the news, but one voice not heard enough is that of the riders themselves. Several organisations hope to change this disparity, and the CPA (Professional Cyclists International Association) along with the professional teams organisations the IPCT and AIGCP announced Friday that they have jointly requested the European Commission create a special "Committee for European Social Dialogue" for professional cycling.

The European Commission published a document on sport in July which acknowledged the "growing challenges to sport governance," and which specified that a 'Social Dialogue' could be established on a joint request and could help the parties establish commonly agreed upon codes of conduct or charters.

The move comes after the sport's governing body, the UCI, introduced the Rider and Manager's agreements for 'a new cycling', which have drawn protest from teams and riders alike, most notably World Champion Paolo Bettini, who was nearly refused participation in the World Championships over his objection to parts of the document.

The European Commission will review the request for the new committee, which, if approved, could be established as early as November. A statement from the organizations declared, "The CPA, the IPCT and the AIGCP are convinced of the fact that, under the aegis of the European Commission and in a spirit of perfect collaboration with the actors of the sector, the Social Dialogue Committee will prove a major instrument for the revival of professional cycling and the modernization of its governance."

Kroon extends with CSC

Karsten Kroon (CSC) dives downhill
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC announced Friday that it will extend the contract of Dutch rider Karsten Kroon for two more years. Kroon is a Classics specialist who scored a podium position in the 2006 Flèche Wallonne as well as fourth places in this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen and the 2006 Amstel Gold Race.

Kroon was happy to extend with the team run by manager Bjarne Riis, which he joined in 2006 after eight years with Rabobank. "For me the switch to Team CSC has been the best decision I've ever made as a pro rider," Kroon said. "The last two years have without comparison been the most beneficial for me to date so I'm extremely happy that my contract's been extended. I'm proud to represent this team and I look forward to gaining even more valuable experience with Team CSC over the next two years."

Riis expressed his satisfaction with Kroon's performance: "Karsten has done really well so far and his results prove that he's got the ability to compete with the best in the big classics. He fits well on the team and has turned out to be a major asset on several levels. Karsten has become a key part of our line-up for the classics and I think he's got the potential to become even better over the next few years."

Ascani faces suspension for EPO

Italian cyclist Luca Ascani could face a two-year suspension after he tested positive for EPO at the Italian National Championships. The Italian Olympic Committee announced Friday that the 'B' sample has confirmed the initial positive result and his exact sanction will be decided at a hearing which has yet to be scheduled. Ascani tested positive after winning the time trial and was suspended on August 2. His title was handed down to second placed Marco Pinotti.

Hoy to run for IOC position

Hoy with the last kilo gold
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy was nominated to the International Olympic Committee athletes' commission on Friday. The British rider won the kilometre time trial at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and was chosen as a nominee for one of the four vacant positions on the 19-member panel. If chosen during the election at the 2008 Beijing Games, Hoy will serve an eight-year term on the commission which includes British members Phil Craven, Craig Reedie and Princess Anne.

"It has never been more important for the voice of athletes to be heard clearly and effectively," Hoy said, according to AP. "There are many issues facing Olympic athletes, in particular the difficulties surrounding the fight against doping and the transition when your competitive career comes to an end."

Once a specialist in the 'kilo', Hoy will now focus on the team pursuit since the kilo was removed from the Olympic programme.

Gerolsteiner with seven to Cimurri

Team Gerolsteiner will go to the Memorial Cimurri race Saturday with only seven riders. Fabian Wegmann, who was to have been one of the team's co-captains, has had to cancel his appearance due to a cold. "It is just a cold," said Sport Director Christian Henn. "I assume he will be ready to ride again in one to two weeks." Wegmann is scheduled to ride the Giro di Lombardia on October 20, a race in which he finished third last year.

Gerolsteiner will now be led by Oliver Zaugg in the Memorial Cimurri. The Swiss rider recently finished 15th in the Vuelta a España. Gerolsteiner is sending Johannes Fröhlinger, Tim Klinger, Bernhard Kohl, Andrea Moletta, Ronny Scholz, Zaugg, and stagiaire Mathias Frank to the race.

Demol to Quick.Step?

Dirk Demol may not feel up to becoming Sport Director at Team Astana under the proposed new general manager Johan Bruyneel, but he indicated that he hoped for a decision over his future by Paris-Tours on Oct. 14.

According to Sportwereld.be, he may have already found that answer. During the Vuelta a España, the Belgian website quoted Demol as saying he'd like to work for a Belgian team. If he went to Quick.Step-Innergetic, for example, he could rejoin former US Postal/Discovery Channel riders Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen. Demol would neither deny nor confirm that he was negotiating with Quick.Step - Innergetic but was more definite about another Belgian team, Predictor-Lotto, saying, "There are no talks going on at this time."

Predictor-Lotto confirms changes

Marc Sergeant, the manager of Predictor-Lotto, announced several transfers to and from his team for the 2008 season while at the Circuit Franco-Belge on Friday. According to La Dernière Heure, Sergeant said that the team will be losing Preben Van Hecke, Nick Ingels, Pieter Mertens, Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet), Josep Juffre, Stefano Zanini and Fred Rodriguez (Rock & Republic) at the end of the year.

There was good news for Olivier Kaisen, who was offered a contract extension. "He is young, he learns well and moreover, already has one victory," explained Sergeant.

"We must still discuss the program, but obviously, (the team) counts on me for the races at the beginning of season," said Kaisen.

Joining Predictor-Lotto for 2008 is Yaroslav Popovych and Volodimir Bileka (Discovery Channel), Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano), Gorik Gardeyn and Pieters Jacobs (Unibet.com) as well as neo-pros Francis De Greef and Jurgen Roelandts. Sergeant indicated that the team is currently negotiating with Chris Horner to remain with the squad for 2008.

Discovery Channel closes season with final ProTour races

The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team announced its roster for its final two ProTour competitions. Volodymyr Bileka, Steve Cummings, Allan Davis, Vladimir Gusev, Pavel Padrnos, Tomas Vaitkus, Brian Vandborg, Jurgen Van Goolen will ride Paris-Tours and Lombardy.

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