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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for October 12, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Jalabert becomes Ironman

Laurent Jalabert
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Former professional cyclist Laurent Jalabert will swim, bike and run in the 2007 Ironman on Hawaii, which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, October 13. Jalabert has continued with sports after the end of his active pro cycling career and has finished three marathon events so far, all under three hours.

Jalabert told French paper L'Equipe that he simply does the race, also known as "the longest day," out of "pleasure." The Ironman, a grueling event of a 3.8-kilometre ocean swim, a 180-kilometre bike ride along the windy island and a full-fledged marathon in the end, has the name for a reason. Whoever survived swimming in the waves and riding along the monotony of the endless lava fields will then still have to run 42.195 kilometres to the finish line.

Jalabert explained that when he stopped his career in October 2002 he "wanted to spend more time with my family after all those years in the peloton. And that's what I did at the beginning of my retirement. But I gained weight and I missed the sport. So I started training for triathlons with a friend."

Jalabert also works as an advisor and commentator to French television, especially during the Tour de France. He did jokingly answer a question from a ten-year old girl during this year's Tour, saying "that sitting on a motorbike is a much easier way to see France." But clearly, Jalabert keeps up with his workouts and his marathon performances will help him along to finish well tomorrow.

He did well with his first competitions and his first full triathlon, the Ironman in Zurich, Switzerland. The Frenchman finished a respectable 21st. That was in June and gave him the ticket to Hawaii. But he insists that unlike in the pro peloton, where he wanted to be first over the cols and win the bunch sprints, the triathlon is "simply a personal desire. I participate like an amateur and I am not jumping in to compete for victory, I just want to please myself. I keep track of the times I do at every event. The goal is to improve little by little. The only goal is the victory over myself, while having fun."

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Most triathlon specialists agree that Hawaii is the most difficult triathlon. It seems like a "hell on earth", fought out on a "paradise island." Other cyclists that have finished the event include Udo Bölts who was still actively racing at the time, and Kai Hundertmarck.

At 38 years of age, 'Jaja' is getting ready for one of his biggest beatings. To withstand, he will have to give it his all and be able to suffer tremendously. Just for pleasure.

Astana confirmed for 2008

Johan Bruyneel
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Today the Kazakh Cycling Federation officially revealed the new Astana structure for the 2008 season, continuing the commitment to support the only Kazakh team in the ProTour. Besides the official confirmation of Johan Bruyneel as the general manager of the team they also signed Frenchman Alain Gallopin as the head directeur sportif. Also, Astana will participate in the same anti-doping programme of Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard that CSC has already been using this season.

Bruyneel, who has won eight Tours de France as a directeur sportif, declared that "It was not an easy decision to return to cycling after my recent announcement in August, however, in my new role with Astana I have found new challenges and I am excited to help the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation grow the sport in the country." He added that "After the 2007 season, this team had no choice but to make big changes if it wanted to continue on, and I am proud to be the person they have chosen to lead this programme".

The Kazakh Cycling Federation emphasized that they "will have no connection at all to any of the team members implicated [in doping cases]," speaking of Matthias Kessler, Eddy Mazzoleni, Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin. This will include either direct or indirect contact.

The federation announced that under Bruyneel's guidance the team will strictly abide by the UCI Pro Team Code of Conduct as well as any and all anti-doping measures agreed to by the UCI or the Team's Union and will use the Damsgaard anti-doping system.

The chairman of the Kazakh Cycling Federation, Danial Akhmetov, noted that "Astana Pro Cycling Team is a national project. And we will by all means help it on to become one of the best professional cycling teams. I am fully convinced that our riders will occupy a worthy place in world's elite."

The roster for 2008 has not yet been finalized.

Capecchi to Saunier Duval-Prodir

Eros Capecchi from Liquigas to Saunier
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Saunier Duval-Prodir decided to bet on young riders, which can be seen in the three-year contract signed with Eros Capecchi (21), who comes from Liquigas. Capecchi made his professional debut with the Italian team last season.

The Italian rider was national junior champion 2004, and got fourth in the World Cycling Championships, in Verona, that year. Two years later he became the youngest rider of the UCI ProTour. In his two seasons as a pro, Capecchi was third in stages of the Tour of Luxembourg and Settimana Lombarda, and fifth in stage five of the 2006 Volta a Catalunya, ahead of Erik Zabel.

With Capecchi's signing, Saunier Duval-Prodir is showing its intention to give young riders a chance. The Italian, who hails from Castiglione del Lago, in the province of Perugia, is the ninth "red bird," including Arkaitz Durán, Alberto Fernández De La Puebla, Javier Mejías, Raúl Alarcón, Aurélien Passeron, Ermanno Capelli, Beñat Intxausti and Héctor González, under 24 years of age and part of the promising future for the yellow squad.

Mejías is the current leader of the Vuelta a Chihuahua Internacional.

Rohregger giving up hope on ProTour in 2008

By Susan Westemeyer

Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus-Simplon)
Photo ©: world of cycling
(Click for larger image)

2007 was to be the season that Thomas Rohregger of Team Elk Haus-Simplon made his name and signed a ProTour contract for the coming year. He did his part, riding well enough to wear the leader's jersey in the Tour of Austria for three days this summer, but the ProTour teams are not doing their part.

"We are still in contact with Milram and Agritubel, but I can't rely on that," he said in an interview with "I assume I will ride again with Elk in 2008."

There are two reasons why he is having little luck finding a place on a ProTour team, he said. One is that "The competition [for a contract] is very hard and most riders would ride for free if they could only get a place on the team. It's almost as if you have to bring your own sponsor with you. And I'm not interested in riding for pennies. The sport is too hard for that."

The second reason, the 26 year-old said, is his nationality. "With an Austrian passport it is even more difficult to get a contract in another country." Possibly "because we don't have any big teams, which present the Austrian pros on the international market. On the other hand, how would an Austrian help a company like Cofidis or Française Des Jeux, when they aren't even on the market in our country."

Rohregger would liked to have signed with T-Mobile, noting that talks were held. "But they didn't go anywhere. That's pretty demoralizing, but I have to accept it."

Meanwhile, he accepts that he will be with the Professional Continental Elk Haus team for another year. "It looks like we could ride the Giro next year. In Italy as captain next to [team-mate Christian] Pfannberger, to be able to ride for myself -- what more could I want? Also, the Tour of Austria and the Deutschland Tour are set. The race schedule is not bad."

Beima to Rabo Continental Team

Marcel Beima (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Stijn Vercaemer
(Click for larger image)

Marcel Beima has signed with the Rabobank Continental Team for next year. The 23 year-old has been riding as a stagiaire for T-Mobile Team since August 1, but the German team did not offer him a contract for the coming season.

Beima said he knew from the start that T-Mobile would not offer him a contract. "They were completely honest and clear concerning that from the beginning," he said on his new team's website, "I am absolutely not disappointed, only grateful that I got the chance to take a look at what goes on in a big team."

He will not ride for the Rabobank ProTour team in 2008 but will serve for a year on the Continental team. "This is the next logical step in my career," said the young Netherlander. "At the Rabo Continental team I will have my own chances, I think. Plus it is a team with an impressive name and reputation. I want to be a part of that."

Française Des Jeux signs Belarusian

French team Française des Jeux has closed its transfer season by signing the last man to the squad, which will count 28 riders next season. Belarusian Yauheni Hutarovich got the lucky slot and moved up from local club Roubaix-Lille Metropole to the ProTour. The 23 year-old won a stage in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes in August this year.

"We needed another sprinter and he was vividly recommended to us by [famous former directeur sportif] Cyrille Guimard," explained team manager Marc Madiot to L'Equipe on Thursday. "I'm happy, as we have been able to recruit the roster we wanted: young talents as well as experienced riders."

Criterium racing returns to Launceston?

The State of Tasmania is gearing up to become the hub of Australian cycling for the month of December. Along with the Christmas track carnivals that take place all over the state between Christmas and New Years, three of which have now also been granted UCI status with valuable qualifying points for the Olympics in Beijing, there may be another criterium in the mix. The city of Launceston is preparing to announce that it will again host a field of international stars for a twilight criterium through streets of the city on December 23, according to Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner. The event was last held in 2004 and won by local rider Matt Goss, now riding for team CSC.

Rumoured to be attending the event is this year's Tour de France runner up, Cadel Evans, as well as his Predictor-Lotto team-mate and three-time Tour de France green jersey winner, Robbie McEwen.

"We are in negotiation with those two," Launceston Cycling Classic steering committee chairman Hugh McKenzie confirmed.

"There's no doubt about it, these guys are the best of the best, and for them to be wanting to come and race in Tasmania says a lot for this event and for their desire to promote events here."

While the race has yet to be completely confirmed, the high-profile duo are likely to be joined by the pick of the Australian professionals such as Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), Karl Menzies (Healthnet) and Chris Sutton (Cofidis) as well as a host of Tasmania's top cyclists.

"It would be great for Launceston but also great for cycling in Tasmania in general if these two did come down," TIS head cycling Coach Paul Brosnan said.

"But this is also a great opportunity to showcase our internationally successful cyclists like Matthew Goss, Wes Sulzberger, Karl Menzies and Caleb Manion.

"If it goes ahead, it will be fantastic and it will get the full support of our riders."

The timing of the event would coincide perfectly with the Tasmanian track carnivals as well as for the international stars who will be at home preparing for the 2008 season, many of whom are no strangers to the racing scene in Tasmania.

"Robbie McEwen raced our track carnivals when he was starting out in his career and Cadel Evans won the Tour of Tasmania as a youngster, and I think they have both previously competed in this event, so they certainly have a history of competing in Tasmania."

UCI Juniors Nations Cup

One year after introducing the successful UCI Under-23 Nations Cup, the UCI is launching the same system for Junior riders.

The UCI Juniors Nations Cup will kick off in the 2008 season. It will provide a new qualification system for the UCI Juniors Road World Championships. As with the Under-23 Nations Cup, the new system will be based on the ranking by nation on the Nations Cup circuit.

The UCI announced on its web site,, that the Nations Cup will encourage the participation of national teams and guarantee a more equitable qualification system. The aim is to show up the true strength of each nation, without putting undue pressure on individual riders. Riders will not be able to ride more than five races on the Juniors Nations Cup calendar, excluding World Championship events. The individual ranking for Juniors will no longer exist with the beginning of the 2008 season.

The UCI Juniors Nations Cup will be open to national and mixed teams of six riders, of whom at least four must participate. In 2008 it will be made up of seven events, plus the UCI Juniors World Championships, in three continents.

The UCI Management Committee will determine the selection system each year. However for the transition year, the 2008 qualification system will be established according to the 2007 UCI ranking by nation.

The 2008 UCI Juniors Nations Cup calendar will be comprised of Paris – Roubaix Juniors, France, April 13; Course de la Paix Junior, Czech Republic, May 7–11; Trofeo Karlsberg, Germany, May 22-25; GP Général Patton, Luxembourg, July 12-13; UCI Juniors Road World Championships, South Africa, July 17-20; Nations Cup Abitibi, Canada, July 31 – August 3; Giro Ciclistico della Lunigiana, Italy, September 4-9 and Kroz Istru / Tour d'Istrie, Croatia, September 19-21.

Petacchi and Zabel for Paris-Tours

Team Milram is pulling out its big guns for the penultimate ProTour race of the 2007 season. Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel will lead the team in Paris-Tours this weekend. The two sprinters go into the race as favourites. Zabel has won the race three times already. In 1994 he stormed ahead in his first year as a professional and then repeated the victory in 2003 and 2005.

Milram for Paris-Tours: Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Alberto Ongarato, Fabio Sabatini, Ralf Grabsch, Carlo Scognamiglio, Niki Terpstra and Marco Velo.

Kate Bates joins Pitcher Partners team

Current world track champion Kate Bates will ride with her team, Pitcher Partner, in the "Around the Bay in a Day" on Sunday, October 21.

Kate has recently returned to Australia from her triumph in Mallorca, Spain, where she took out the World Track Championships Points Race. After the "Around the Bay in Day" she will be heading up to the Pitcher Partners Women's elite team for the Jayco Cycling Classic in January 2008.

Pitcher Partners will have a combined team of 75, including staff, partners and clients, competing in the various distances around the Bay.

Kate's involvement with Pitcher Partners over the summer is part of the firm's support for her as she prepares for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Kate is studying to be an accountant, in anticipation of the days after her career. –Riding for Pitcher Partners, an accounting firm, seems a natural fit.

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