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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, April 16, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Nys: I'm begging for a fresh challenge

Sven Nys announces in Paal, Belgium he will change
Photo ©: AFP
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Belgian cyclo-cross star Sven Nys is aiming to contest the 2010 Ronde van Vlaanderen after announcing yesterday that he would leave the Rabobank squad for Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner. Nys signed with Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner for three years, which sees him leave Rabobank after 10 years with the Dutch squad, in the hope of completing a more diverse program that will include more road racing in the future.

"2009 is perhaps too early, but from 2010 I am certainly available again for the road," Nys told "I have in my life challenges. One of them is this: the Tour of Flanders, that I never [before] could ride."

The offer from Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, which was one of three options the Belgian considered, came after Filip Meirhaeghe introduced Nys to the team's management. Nys, who has won the cyclo-cross World Cup on multiple occasions, had also considered staying at Rabobank for yet another year, while his third option was to build his own team around himself.

"It is this offer which has the balance: a three year contract in a Belgian team in which I am able to meet my ambitions in the discipline of cyclo-cross, in combination with a program on the road," Nys said. "After 10 years at Rabobank I am begging for a fresh challenge."

Nys is one of the world's top athletes in the cyclo-cross discipline. Since turning professional in 1998, the 32 year-old has been Belgian Cyclo-cross Champion on five occasions, and won the world championship in 2005. The Belgian has also won the prestigious GvA Trophy five times and the Superprestige cyclo-cross series an impressive eight times.

"Finally, Sven has chosen the option which he said offered the best opportunities and safeguards with regards to sport, and not the most attractive proposition in financial matters," said Nys' manager Bob Verbeeck.

While Nys will ride a selection of road events in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games before starting his cyclo-cross season this year, the rider is aiming to start one of his homeland's biggest road events by 2010.

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With the rider's future now signed off, Nys can focus on his efforts to become an Olympian in the mountain biking discipline at this year's Beijing Olympic Games in August. Nys, who has won two Belgian Mountain Biking Championship titles, will contest a number of road events, including the Omloop der Kempenv, and mountain bike races such as the Fort William and Italian World Cup events as he prepares for August's Games.

"All of these tests are part of the preparation, none of it is an objective in itself," said trainer Paul Van Den Bosch. "The sole aim is to be able to take this experience to Beijing to have a great performance."

Nys will also take to an altitude chamber in the lead up to Beijing, to ensure he's acclimatised for the event. "Scientific tests show the extent to which heat [coupled with high humidity] can have an impact on the performance of Sven compared to normal conditions," said Van Den Bosch. "At the moment, and in the coming months we will systematically work towards reducing this gap through training and acclimatization to altitude."

Nys will arrive at the Olympic mountain bike track in Beijing, China, on August 12, nine days before the elite men's race.

Rock to race Tour de Georgia

Michael Ball obtained access for his team, Rock Racing, in the Tour of Georgia
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Michael Ball's Rock Racing will contest this year's Tour of Georgia, after the clothing company owner settled out of court yesterday with event organiser Medallist Sports. Ball's team will take the position left vacant by Saunier Duval-Scott, which announced today it would skip the American stage race following the depletion of its squad due to injuries in recent races.

Ironically, Saunier Duval-Scott's announcement came on the same day that Rock Racing and Tour de Georgia organiser Medalist Sports were in Georgia Superior court, with Rock Racking seeking an injunction against the race over a reported alleged verbal agreement the team had with Medalist over its entry.

"Professional cycling fans will get their wish after all: Rock Racing will be a part of the 2008 Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T after reaching a settlement with race organiser, Medalist Sports, LLC," read a release from the team.

A hearing into Rock Racing's case had been scheduled for yesterday, however Ball and Medallist Sports settled out of court. "The fans told us they wanted us to be there," said Ball. "We are pleased that we were able to work with Medalist to come to a mutually beneficial decision. Now the race will truly field the best of the best of international and domestic pro cycling teams which will only build on the momentum created for domestic cycling at the Tour of California."

Rock Racing had a rough entry into the Tour of California earlier this year, with a series of press conferences and meetings with event owner AEG creating a state of confusion over the team's entry. The squad eventually started the event with five of its eight riders, with the organiser refusing to allow Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla start the event as they are alleged to have involvement in the recently re-opened Operación Puerto doping investigation in Spain.

Botero could be a part of Rock Racing's squad at the six-day, 660-mile Tour of Georgia after his impressive ride saw him win the Redlands Bicycle Classic by 54 seconds.

"The team is ready to race," said Ball. "Santiago Botero's win and the team's performance at Redlands is a clear indication of what to expect next week in Georgia."

Boonen targets Tour, Worlds

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) celebrates
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Just days after claiming his second Paris-Roubaix crown Quick Step's Tom Boonen is already looking towards the next goals for his 2008 season. The Belgian rider has his eyes on another green jersey at the Tour de France and also feels the World Championship course in Italy could see him take back the crown he claimed in 2005 from team-mate Paolo Bettini.

"Now, the next big target, is the green jersey," Boonen told AFP. "All will depend on the first week. If I can collect enough points then there will be a good chance. After that, the Worlds road race course in Varese [Italy] will suit me well.

"Certain riders said they have found it [the world's course] hard," he added. "You can never compare looking over a course with the race itself."

Boonen took a commanding victory in the French Spring Classic on Sunday after winning the sprint from break-away rivals Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre). The 27 year-old is taking some time out after his victory to fully recover from the impact of the French cobbles.

"I need to relax on the days following the Paris-Roubaix," said Boonen, who has won six stages on the Tour de France. "You need to let the muscles relax after such a race.

"It's clear that I haven't recovered completely after the tension of Sunday," he added. "It will take me some more time, that is normal."

Barloworld announces Giro selection

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) dons polka dots
Photo ©: AFP
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Team Barloworld has announced a list of 11 riders that will make up the British team's roster for this year's Giro d'Italia. The list includes nine riders that will be in the final team and two that will be reserves.

The riders will do a series of training rides on the key stages of the Giro, starting with the Marmolada which they will drive on April 28 before riding Plan de Corones the following day. On May 2-3 the riders will train specifically for the opening team time trial near its headquarters in Adro, northern Italy. The scouting will continue on May 5 when the team rides Passo del Vivone and Monte Pora, ahead of the race start on May 10 in Palermo.

The pre-selected riders for this year's Italian Grand Tour include some big names like Enrico Gasparotto, Robert Hunter and Tour de France mountains classification winner Mauricio Soler. Barloworld is expected to announce its final nine riders for the event from the 11 selected in the following days.

Barloworld's Giro d'Italia selection: Mauricio Soler, Enrico Gasparotto, Patrick Calcagni, Félix Cárdenas, Robert Hunter, Carlo Scognamiglio, John Lee Augustyn, Francesco Bellotti, Christian Pfannberger, Stephen Cummings and Geraint Thomas.

Valverde takes the cheese

Alejandro Valverde takes the sprint
Photo ©: AFP
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Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) claimed victory at the 69th Paris-Camembert Lepetit in France, proving his form ahead of this weekend's Amstel Gold Race. Valverde won the 202.7 kilometre race after out-sprinting his rivals in an up-hill finish, to win by more than a bike length.

"This is really the victory of the entire team Caisse d'Epargne and the proof once again that our team is really a formidable one," said Valverde. "We were able to perfectly control the many breakaways when went all the day through, till the last one, launched by Sandy Casar. The Frenchman attacked at 11 kilometres from the finish and we caught him at only 1500 metres from the line, but without any problem. The truth is that I felt pretty well so that I launched the sprint at 500 metres from the finishing line and I won easily ahead of Jérôme Pineau and Benoît Vaugrenard."

Valverde is hoping for a strong performance at this weekend's Amstel Gold Race, although he's aware it won't be easy given the form of his rivals. The 27 year-old claimed his best result at the event last year when he finished sixth.

"Five more days and we will be in the Amstel Gold Race already," he said. "My condition is each day better even if I know that my rivals' condition is very high and that it will not be easy for me. But I will take the start with a real motivation because those classics are very important traces and I really like them."

Herrero out for one month

Herrero holds off Paolo Bettini
Photo ©:
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David Herrero (Karpin Galicia) has been forced to sit out for a month following a crash on the Vuelta al País Vasco's fifth stage. Doctors have rested the rider after finding a crack in the 28 year-old's right leg.

The Basque, who claimed a stage win and three second positions in the Spanish race, is clearly frustrated with the injury after showing such strong form.

"I think that I never had this level [of fitness]," said Herrero. "I was really, very strong, physically and mentally, so I am very disappointed. When you are stopped for 30 days you lose the form, so that this will steal a big part of my season."

The Karpin Galicia rider had two big objectives for the 2008 season, however he'll be forced to miss both events due to the injury. "I had prepared the Vuelta al País Vasco, but my objectives in this first part of the season were the Euskal Bizikleta and the Vuelta a Catalunya," he said.

Herrero's injury is a blow for the Galician team, who counts on Herrero as one of its leaders, alongside Ezequiel Mosquera. The team isn't dwelling on the matter, instead it has realigned its goals for the season.

"Álvaro Pino called me up and said that I will reach in a good form in the last part of the season, and that we have to think in this," said Herrero. "We reached an important victory in the Vuelta al País Vasco, but I think that I was in the condition to reach something more. This would have been positive for Karpin Galicia, because it would help the team in his fight for its continuity." (MP)

Broken rib for Moerenhout

Rabobank will have to do without Netherlands Champion Koose Moerenhout for the next two weeks. It was found that he had suffered a broken rib in a crash last week in the Vuelta al País Vasco, according to the Belga news agency.

He crashed in Thursday's fourth stage, along with World Champion Paolo Bettini, who, coincidentally also suffered a broken rib. Moerenhout suffered scrape wounds and what he thought was a bruised rib, but x-rays this week showed the fracture.

Moerenhout will not be able to race for two weeks, which means that he will miss the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Halfords signs Laws

Britain's leading women's team Halfords Bikehut has strengthened its squad with new signing Sharon Laws. The 33-year old, who has returned to the United Kingdom after working in South Africa and Australia, will ride her first major race for the Team at Flèche Wallonne on April 23.

Like compatriots Rebecca Romero and Shanaze Reade, Laws is a recent convert to her new discipline. Her background is in adventure racing and enduro mountain biking, and in 2004 she won the grueling eight-day Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa.

"This is a fantastic opportunity" commented Laws. "When I was in Australia I actually spent more time in an aeroplane than on the ground, let alone riding a bike. Being able to concentrate on my riding is a dream come true."

Following some professional coaching Laws' road career began to take off, finishing runner-up to High Road's Oenone Wood at the Australian National Championships. Laws followed up this result with 23rd place in the Tour of Geelong and 10th place in the Tour of New Zealand. Laws is a strong contender to join team mate Nicole Cooke and Emma Pooley as the third rider in the Olympic road race.

"Great Britain now has the potential to be one of the strongest teams on the start line in Beijing," commented British Cycling's Dave Brailsford. "Nicole and Sharon will race together as team-mates throughout the season, and Emma will also join them for races like the Tour de l'Aude. Should Sharon get that third berth it would put the team in a very strong position compared to squads that only come together just before the Olympics."

Sharon's first race for Halfords Bikehut will be this coming weekend, when she joins team mates Catherine Hare and Jess Allen at the Abergavenny Road Club Spring Handicap. "To get a pro contract is a dream come true" said Laws. "To be spoken about as a possible for the GB Olympic team is a lot to take in. There are a lot of very experienced riders competing for that third berth, so for the moment I'm concentrating on doing a good job for Halfords Bikehut."

Colavita/Sutter Home announce Sea Otter roster

The Colavita/Sutter Home Cycling Team has announced its men's and women's team line-ups for the Sea Otter Classic, which starts on April 17 in Monterey, California. Jack Seehafer, sports director of the Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team, announced that five-time US National Champion Tina Pic will lead the squad, which will include Australian Tiffany Cromwell and Iona Wynter Parks of Jamaica, fresh from their victories at the 2008 Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix.

"I'm thrilled to be back racing with my team-mates," said Pic. "We've got a combination of speed, strength, and savvy that can't be beat."

Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo, Sebastian Haedo, Luis Amaran, Gustavo Artacho and Kyle Wamsley will represent the Colavita/Sutter Home Men's Cycling Team at Sea Otter. "This team has put a man on the podium at nearly every NRC event this season," said sports director Sebastian Alexandre. "I'm expecting more great results at Sea Otter."

Elite women: Dotsie Bausch, Tiffany Cromwell, Iona Wynter Parks, Tina Pic and Nichole Wangsgard.
Elite men: Luis Amaran, Gustavo Artacho, Alejandro Borrajo, Anibal Borrajo, Sebastian Haedo, and Kyle Wamsley.

(Additional reporting and research provided by Monika Prell.)

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