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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, August 22, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Olympic mountain bikers to take on tougher course

By Sue George, with additional reporting by Rob Jones

Watch out for World Champion Margarita Fullana (Spain) and runner-up Sabine Spitz (Germany) to do well in Beijing
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

After last fall's mountain bike Test Event in Beijing, China, many riders lamented that the Olympic course was not technically challenging enough and asked for changes. Then they arrived earlier this month to find a very different and much more technical course than they were expecting.

The roughly 4.5 kilometre circuit has undergone drastic revisions since it was charitably described as a road course. Now, it is very technical, with an added switchback climb and rock-strewn descents. The riders have been praising the alterations.

"The course has changed a lot since the test event," said Spain's Jose Antonio Hermida, who won silver in Athens in 2004. "We were complaining last year that it wasn't hard enough, now we find ourselves in a situation where it might almost be too hard!"

"The first part is all up-down, up-down. Then there is a long climb after the feedzone with a very fast downhill right after. It's a beautiful course, a hard course, and now it is a course worthy of the Olympics," said Hermida.

"It is the most difficult course of the year," said U23 World Champion Nino Schurter, a member of the powerful Swiss team.

"It's pretty brutal," agreed Canada's Seamus McGrath, who finished ninth in Athens. "The heat back in the woods is like an oven, and I expect a lot of riders will get into trouble by going out too fast."

His team-mate Catharine Pendrel, winner of the Bromont World Cup, said, "The start is still the same; however, the descent afterwards is much more challenging than before. They added big rocks, steep climbs and a long switchback climb." She forecasted a "race of attrition" due to the course's difficulty.

"The climbs are steep, so it will suit someone with a high power to weight ratio, like Marga [Fullana] at the Worlds," predicted Pendrel. Reigning women's World Champion Fullana, from Spain, is a one of the favourites going into the women's race on Saturday morning.

Continue to the full preview.

Karpin-Galicia becomes Xacebeo

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The Spanish team Karpin-Galicia will become Xacobeo-Galicia beginning with the Vuelta a España, and continuing on for the 2009 season. The newly-named squad became the latest in a series of teams to find new sponsorship during the 2008 season. CSC, High Road and Slipstream all secured new title sponsors (Saxo Bank, Columbia Sportswear and Garmin, respectively) prior to the Tour de France.

The UCI Professional Continental squad earned its Vuelta invite with sound results over the past two seasons which included a fifth place overall for Ezequiel Mosquera in last year's race. Since that time, the squad has won the Volta a Cataluñya ProTour race with Gustavo César Veloso, the Presidential Tour of Turkey with David Garcia Dapena, a stage of the Basque Tour with David Herrero Llorente, and the Clasica de Alcobendas with Mosquera.

According to, the businessman Valery Karpin withdrew his support of the team after a conflict with Galician politicians which affected his real estate investment business. The team's press release stated only that Karpin will end its contract with the squad at the end of December.

The Xacobeo-Galicia team will unveil its new jersey at a formal presentation of the new sponsor on Tuesday August 26, coinciding with the introduction of the team members who will participate in the Vuelta.

Cummings escapes to win in Italy

Perhaps buoyed by the success of his countrymen at the Beijing Olympic Games, Team Barloworld's rider Stephen Cummings put in the best performance of his season by winning the Italian summer classic Coppa Bernocchi, the final race of the Trittico Lombardo.

The British rider made the breakaway after just 20 kilometres of racing along with Luca Celli (LPR Brakes), Vladimir Borisov (Amore & Vita), gaining a whopping 12 minutes on the peloton - a gap which would be reduced to only three minutes by the finish.

"They cooperated perfectly," stated Barloworld directeur sportif Alberto Volpi. Despite the race finishing on five laps of 5.6 kilometres around Legnano and a strong chase from several teams, the trio came into the final circuit with an unbeatable advantage. In the final kilometer, Celli tried his luck with an attack, immediately countered by Borisov, but Cummings gave him no room and was able to overpower his fellow escapees at the line. The peloton was led home by Lampre's Alessandro Ballan more than three minutes later.

"Personally, I must admit this win was a little unexpected," said Volpi, "but that's cycling sometimes: a breakaway win today was truly surprising. Nevertheless, Cummings was not a surprise at all: he rode well yesterday, despite not finishing the race, and he attacked in the finale at Tre Valli. He had another chance to show what he is worth, and everyone can see the answer."

Cummings' win added to the team's success in Italy this week which included a third place for Austrian Champion Christian Pfannberger at the Coppa Agostoni. Team Barloworld will now head to Trentino for the Trofeo Melinda on Saturday, where Colombian Mauricio Soler will make his return to racing after a broken hand ended his Tour de France.

Davis joins Quick Step in September

Australian Allan Davis will signed a contract with the Quick Step team for the 2009-2010 seasons, but will join the team as early as September 1. The Belgian team announced that the Australian had reached an agreement with his current team, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, to leave early.

Davis will make his Quick Step debut in the Rik Van Steenbergen-Aaartselaar race on September 3.

"We are very satisfied that Allan can already join the team starting next September," said team manager Patrick Lefevere. "This way he can get right into the swing of the team and start learning its mechanisms. We're counting on Davis in the near future; he's already shown his worth with optimal results, including second place in the 2007 Milano-Sanremo."

"This is a great chance for me," Davis said. "I'd like to thank the manager, the technical staff and my team-mates at team Mitsubishi-Jaartazi for these great months spent together. I'm starting a new adventure. I'm hoping to live up to the faith placed in me by Team Quick Step."

Davis will also ride the Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg in which he finished third in 2005, followed by the Tour of Poland.

The 28 year-old was with Team Astana in 2006, where he was implicated in the Fuentes/Operación Puerto affair. Spanish authorities have since cleared him of any involvement in the matter. (SW)

New team for Sastre and Gerolsteiners?

Will Team Gerolsteiner be "reborn" as a new team under the management of Gerolsteiner's Christian Henn? That is the latest rumour making the rounds, which also puts Canadian bicycle manufacturer Cervelo as title sponsor for this new squad which is reportedly to be registered in Switzerland.

According to, the team could include Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, who has yet to renew his contract with the CSC team. Sastre, whose contract with Team CSC expires the end of this year, recently issued a statement noting that he is bound to CSC through the end of this year and at the moment wants to concentrate his attention on the upcoming Vuelta a España. He did not address the question of where he will ride next year, leaving it open for speculation.

CSC-Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis said after the Tour de France that he would do everything he could to keep Sastre on his team.

The Gerolsteiner team has been actively seeking a replacement title sponsor after it learned that the bottled water company would not be renewing its support in September, 2007. Manager Hans-Michael Holczer has said that he is not optimistic of finding a replacement.

Henn, 44, rode for Team Telekom from 1989 to 1999. He went to Team Gerolsteiner as a Directeur Sportif and he is now assistant team manager and Sport Director.

Reports also link current Gerolsteiner riders Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl with the potential new squad. Kohl, who finished third in the Tour de France, has told Quick Step that he is not interested in signing with them, according to Het Nieuwsblad. The Belgian paper further added that the Austrian has offers from Silence-Lotto, Milram, Columbia and Milram, but that he is delaying his decision to see if there will be a continuation of or follow-up team to Gerolsteiner. (SW)

Gates to retire, start youth foundation

By John Trevorrow

Nick Gates (Predictor-Lotto) strikes a pose at the 2007 TdU
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Silence Lotto professional Nick Gates is hanging up the racing wheels at the end of this season. And to celebrate his 12 year professional career, some of Gates' best friends will be heading down under to Townsville, Queensland, to join him in his final race and to help him launch the Nick Gates Foundation.

A media launch to announce the exciting new event was held in Townsville this week. Organised by Nick's fiancé Belinda Drake, the launch attracted huge interest. "The city of Townsville is excited at the prospect of the world's leading professionals coming to town. Corporate Townsville are ready to embrace the event which will be raced around one of the most stunning circuits overlooking the beautiful Magnetic Island," Drake said. "But this is really about the youngsters. Nick is proud to announce the formation of the Nick Gates Foundation to help budding young cyclists fulfil their dreams," she added.

Some of the world's best and most famous cyclists will race on a 1.6 km circuit around Townsville's Strand on November 8 in the Nick Gates Classic.

The Classic will be preceded by races for the kids plus corporate events and will be followed, later that evening, by the inaugural Nick Gates Foundation Gala fundraising dinner at Jupiter's Casino in Townsville.

"I love this sport. I want to put something back into it, and supporting our young generation is a fantastic way to do that," Gates said. "I came up with the idea to form a Foundation to help aspiring young cyclists who don't quite fit into the national and state institutes. I want to give them a hand to kick start their careers as far as funding them to races and organising coaching clinics," Nick added.

Here are just some of the world class stars who have decided to support the Nick Gates Foundation: Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke, Matt Lloyd, Henk Vogels, Adam Hansen, Matt White, Trent Wilson, Scott Davis, Jason Phillips, John Cantwell, plus his Belgian team-mates Wim Vasavenant and Bert Roesems.

Queensland boys - Nick Gates and Silence-Lotto team-mate Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Gates and Robbie McEwen have been team-mates on and off for a major part of that time and an emotional McEwen was keen to say a few words about his close mate.

"Nick and I first rode together in the national amateur team in Europe for the 1994 season. For the past six years Nick has been there as my right hand man. A team-mate who selflessly, and happily, sacrificed his own chances to help me.

"We've had some great adventures on and off the bike, all over the world. It's been about winning races of course, but just as much about being there for each other. Nick understands his job and role within the team perfectly and takes great pride in doing his job well. His insight and judgment during races have always been very good and that makes it easier for me to concentrate on my part of the job.

"Nick has always been a loyal team-mate and friend whether I've won or lost, and even if he's had to wait for me during mountain stages of the Tour de France or Giro d'Italia and then ride his bum off to pace me to the finish within the time limit. And all that just so he can do it again the next day with the hope of that I may get a stage win when the flat days came.

"It's hard to put into words how much I appreciate the hard work Nick done over the years to help me win bike races.

"Of course, the fact that Nick is a straight talker and a funny b…….d has always kept things interesting, to say the least, and I'll miss him out training and at the races. When you've cycled nearly half a million kilometres with someone and you're still best mates. Well I think that says enough about what a good bloke he is."

Reus hoping to return in 2009

By Susan Westemeyer

Rabobank's Kai Reus is recovering from head wounds suffered in a training crash last July and hopes to return to the peloton in the coming season. After training with the Rabobank Continental team, he is now home again and training full-time.

"I trained well in France and in the Eifel {Germany} where I was with the Continental team of Nico Verhoeven. That went so well that we decided to move on to the next step," he wrote on his website, "I now follow a rather targeted programme, under which I am alternately either in North Holland or in the surroundings of my home in Lanaken, Belgium. I have already trained this week behind the motorbike, which went very well."

Reus was injured in a training crash in France last year. He went out with his helmet, which nearly had deadly consequences for the young Dutch first-year rider, who cannot remember the details of the crash. Reus was held in an induced coma for 12 days.

Rabobank has stood behind the young rider for the whole time of his rehabilitation. "Kai has shown remarkable strength, both physically and mentally," team spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews. "We are taking this step by step, we have coached and followed him closely over the passed year. Kai will return to racing when he is ready for it, we don't have a fixed date for it."

Tour of Ireland set for second edition

Irish countryside
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

The second year of the re-incarnated Tour of Ireland will begin on August 27 for a 900km race beginning at the Grand Canal Square at Hanover Quay, Dublin Docklands. 16 teams will travel across 12 counties on their way to the final city destination of Cork on August 31.

The route of the 2.1 ranked UCI race embraces key towns and cities as well as iconic mountain passes and splendid Irish scenery. Team Columbia, Tinkoff and Garmin Slipstream / Chipotle headline the team list which also includes Karpin Galicia,, CSF Navigare, Team Type 1 and Rabobank.

Quadruple Tour de France winner Mark Cavendish is named in the Columbia team with Bernhard Eisel, Frantisek Rabon and Marco Pinnotti also in the seven man team.

Daniel Martin arrives back in Ireland at the head of the Garmin / Chipotle team with a star studded line up. Martin will wear the Irish road race champions jersey that he won back in June following his earlier victory in the Route Du Sud in France . The Garmin-Chipotle team includes former Tour de France yellow jersey holder David Millar and former Paris- Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt.

The Irish team of An Post/ Sean Kelly has FBD Rás winner Stephen Gallagher (Armagh), Paidi O'Brien (Newmarket, Co Cork) and Mark Cassidy (Meath) challenging for honours on home soil alongside top British riders Daniel Lloyd and Dan Fleeman. Fleeman is a former British road race champion who nailed his credentials as a climber on to the notice board when he won the Tour of the Pyrenees in France this month and he could figure in the tough stages through the counties of Cork and Kerry.

The Irish national team includes top riders Paul Griffin (Tralee) and former multiple Irish champion David McCann (Belfast) who won this year's Tour of Ulster and finished fourth in the tough Tour of Qinghai Lake in China last month. Miceal Concannon (Kerry) justified his Irish team selection when he won the 100-mile stage two of the Surrey League Five Day race in England this weekend, where he beat Tom Southam (Team Halfords) in the sprint after the duo finished over two minutes ahead of the bunch led home by British champion Rob Hayles.

Pezula Racing's team line up includes David O'Loughlin (Cong Co Mayo) who finished 11th in the men's individual pursuit in the Beijing Olympics last Friday and Ciarán Power (Waterford). Pezula have signed two new riders from Sweden ahead of the race run in association of Failte Ireland. Rapha-Condor-Recycling and Pinarello RT are the top British sides making the short trip over the Irish sea.

25th Chris Thater Memorial next stop for USA Crits

USA Crits heads into New York state for the ninth race in the eleven criterium series at the Chris Thater Memorial for that race's 25th anniversary. Held in Binghamton, New York, the race will see the best of the country's criterium racers compete for a $70,000 prize purse.

The event will also benefit the Broome County Stop DWI program - an important charity for the event whose namesake, Chris Thater, was killed by a drunken driver.

The Chris Thater event will be an important step for the overall standings in the USA Crits series. Yosvany Falcon (Toshiba-Santo presented by Herbalife) currently tops the series leaderboard followed by Adam Myerson (Time Pro Cycling), Frank Travieso (Toshiba-Santo), Seth Hansley (Locos Pub & Grill) and Mark Hekman (Toshiba-Santo).

"We’re going to have a really dynamic event this year because we've got 15 teams with six or more riders and 7 squads which have reached their eight-rider limit," said promoter Jim May. "This really creates the kind of team dynamics that allow squads to protect key riders until it's time to make their move. Toyota-United, Colavita/Sutter Home, Kelly Benefits, Rite Aid and Toshiba-Santo are among the teams that really know how to shred a field."

In the women's event, series leader Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine), who took second place in last year's race will need a good result to hold off second placed Jennifer Wilson (Vanderkitten). Taitt Sato (ValueAct Capital) is in third place but likely will find it impossible to make up all the ground between herself and the leaders.

The USA Crits series heads west after Chris Thater for the San Francisco Twilight Criterium on Saturday, September 13 before the climax in Las Vegas, on September 25th.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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