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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, December 4, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

The biggest moments of 2008: Five-to-one

With the podiums stashed away and the riders enjoying their holidays, as the season finally comes to a close, Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson and Les Clarke look back on season 2008 with fond memories and light hearts. Here's their top 10 biggest moments from the year that was 2008.

Rollin', rollin', rollin', CSC keeps on rollin'

It was yellow and white at Le Tour for Team CSC-Saxo Bank
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Big Bjarne Riis' boys did the Dane proud at this year's Tour de France - and it was a spectacle for all those who watched (unfortunately everyone in Germany missed it, as they tuned out in doping anger). While Carlos Sastre was the jewel, we're pushing the Spaniard slightly to one side and acknowledging his crown - Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Fabian Cancellara, Volodimir Gustov, Stuart O'Grady, Andy Schleck, Fršnk Schleck, Nicki SÝrensen and Jens Voigt.

With god only knows how many top 10 Grand Tour finishes to his name, but no victories, it was strategy and a team of solid engines that helped drive Sastre home, making it three Spanish Tour victors on the trot.

CSC-Saxo Bank showed its tactics on Stage 10, with a well-placed Cancellara in the break driving the troops hard towards the final climb up Hautacam after the team's big engines put the pressure on up Tourmalet. The day wound up well for the Danish squad, with Schleck of the Fršnk variety landing second on general classification, one measly second behind Cadel Evans. More importantly Damiano Cunego and Alejandro Valverde had unintentionally given up their overall hopes.

Read the second part of Cyclingnews' 2008 biggest moments.

BMC "honoured" to receive Pro Continental license

Team manager John Lelangue
Click for larger image

BMC is the only American team that has been awarded a Pro Continental license. "It is an honour to be representing the United States on this list and we are proud of our team's American-Swiss structure," directeur sportif John Lelangue said.

The UCI awards the licenses according to multiple criteria including the strength of a team's administrative structure as well as the sporting results from the previous year. "We were hoping to race at this level again in 2009," Lelangue explained. "We can be proud of our organisation and our sporting level and will now concentrate on confirming our progress by having an even stronger roster, additional top level races and better results in 2009."

Having the Pro Continental status will be instrumental in BMC being able to gain admittance to the races which will form the backbone of their season. "The UCI understands that we are serious about all aspects of running a top-notch racing team," Lelangue concluded. "The UCI knows that we have a global view and a clear vision of what we want to accomplish because they recognize our efforts to race ethically and according to the rules, the strength our administrative organization, and our determination to start gaining concrete results."

Belgian awards to Gilbert and Bruyneel

Gilbert won Paris-Tours and now the 'Kristallen Fiets'
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Philippe Gilbert has been named Belgian Cyclist of the year, winning the 'Kristallen Fiets' award for 2008 Wednesday evening. Johan Bruyneel of Team Astana was named best team director, Mario Aerts as best domestique and Jan Bakelants as best young rider.

Gilbert rode for Française des Jeux from 2002 through this season, changing to Silence-Lotto as of 2009. This year the Belgian had five wins, including Paris-Tours and Omloop Het Volk.

The 26-year-old said that he owed the award to "the panache with which I ride, the fact that I can ride the whole season without a break and my availability to the press."

Gilbert was voted the winner ahead of Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen, both of Team Quick Step. Last year, the honours of the 'Kristallen Fiets' went to cyclo-cross 'Cannibal' Sven Nys.

Johan Bruyneel, who led Alberto Contador to victory in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a EspaŮa this year, won the award for the fifth time. He said, "With Astana the 2008 season started out hard, but finished beautifully."

The award for best helper went to Mario Aerts of Silence-Lotto, ahead of Wim Vansevenant and Sebastien Rosseler. He was honoured for his work for captain Cadel Evans in the Tour de France, as well as his eighth place in the Olympic road race in Beijing.

Jan Bakelants, 22, was named best young rider. He will ride for Topsport Vlaanderen in the coming season. This year he won the Tour de l'Avenir, LiŤge-Bastogne-LiŤge Espoirs and Circuit des Ardennes. He narrowly beat out Niels Albert, with Tosh Van der Sande finishing third.

Six Day rider Slippens retires

Robert Slippens has put an end to his pro career
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Dutch track rider Robert Slippens is retiring in the middle of the Six Day season, with immediate effect. At a press conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday, the 33-year-old told reporters, "My body no longer has the power to accomplish such strenuous activities. Because of my physical problems, it is no longer possible to perform at the highest level for the whole winter season."

In August 2006, Slippens crashed in a road race, suffering ten broken ribs, a punctured lung and a triple collarbone fracture, injuries from which he has never been able to fully recover.

On top of his three track world championships medals, Slippens is best known for his successful Six Day racing with Danny Stam, with whom he took the decision to retire. The pair has had 11 victories, including the Six Day of Amsterdam in October and most recently the Zesdaagse van het Noorden.

2009 UK Road and Circuit race calendars revealed

British Cycling has announced the dates for the countryís two leading road race series for 2009 - the Premier Calendar Road Race Series and the Elite Menís Circuit Race Series.

The Premier Calendar Road Race Series comprises 13 events, beginning with the Bikeline 2 Day race in Wales March 14-15. Last year, brothers Russ and Dean Downing topped the standings.

The 11 races in the Elite Menís Circuit Race Series brings out the UK's best criterium riders. Team Rapha Condor took the top three placings in 2008 in a series which saw Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France finisher Geraint Thomas compete. The series begins at the purpose built Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in West London in May.

The Premier Calendar Road Race series lists as follows:

March 14-15: Bikeline 2 Day, Hope, Flintshire
March 29: Tour Of The Reservoir, Co. Durham
April 11-13: Girvan Stage Race, Girvan, Scotland
April 19: Archer Grand Prix, Hazlemere, Bucks
May 2-3: Chas Messenger 2 Day, Long Crendon, Bucks
May 10: Lincoln Grand Prix, Lincoln
May 23-24: Tour of Wessex, Somerset
June 7: Ryedale Grand Prix, Helmsley, North Yorkshire
June 15: Beaumont Trophy, Ponteland, Northumberland
July 5: Tour of Blackpool Grand Prix Road Race, Blackpool
July 26: East Yorkshire Classic, Beverley, E.Yorks
August 9: Tour of Pendle, Barnoldswick, Lancs
August 23: Richmond Grand Prix, Richmond, North Yorkshire

The National Elite Circuit Race Series lists as follows:

May 17: Hillingdon Grand Prix, Hillingdon, W. London
June 17: Stone Criteriums, Stone, Staffs
June 24: Otley Criteriums, Otley, W. Yorks July 1: Rochdale Grand Prix, Rochdale, Lancs
July 3: Tour of Blackpool Grand Prix Circuit Race, Blackpool
July 7: Brighouse Criteriums, Brighouse, Yorks
July 14: Colne Grand Prix, Colne, Lancs
July 22: Blackburn Grand Prix, Blackburn, Lancs
September 5: Newport Nocturne, Newport, Shropshire
September 6: Travelwise Warwick Town Centre Circuit Races, Warwick
September 20: Preston City Centre Grand Prix, Preston, Lancs.

British Stars out in force at Revolution 22

Revolution in Manchester: the November event saw Brad McGee say Goodbye to cycling
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image)

The second Revolution night of track racing of the current season will welcome another sell-out crowd to the Manchester Velodrome on Saturday, December 6. The main attraction will be the return to racing for Chris Hoy, who will line up against his British team mates as well as international challengers Tuen Mulder, Roberto Chiappa and Itmar Esteban.

Complimenting the sprint racing will be a world class endurance field with CSC-Saxo Bank's Luke Roberts taking on the cream of British talent including Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Steve Cummings, Chris Newton and Rob Hayles.

One of the highlights to the programme will once again be a head to head between Team Sprint and Team Pursuit. This time with Chris Hoy back on the team, the sprinters will be looking for retribution after defeat at the last Revolution. Over a longer course of 1km and without the flying start, they are determined to triumph in this unique competition.

In the other racing Lizzie Armistead, Jo Rowsell, Katie Colclough and Alex Greenfield will be taking on some of the best British women. "I'm really looking forward to racing at Revolution. It is a fantastic opportunity to ride with some strong girls and get even more experience to take into World Cup events," said Armistead, who is currently leading the World Cup Scratch and Team Pursuit events.

Completing the line-up will be Bradley Wiggins. Giving his legs a pre- Christmas rest, the double Gold medallist will be in the Track Centre Expo area from 7-9pm signing copies of his new book, "In Pursuit of Glory".

For more information on the event go to www.cyclingrevolution.com.

Midwest Cycling Series takes shape

The new Midwest Cycling Series, a ten-day professional cycling series to be held from June 18-28, 2009, is taking shape. As the series evolves from a two-day event in 2008 to a "professionally-produced 10-day Midwest Cycling Series in 2009 featuring top purses in best-of-class venues," according to U.S. Cycling Team Olympian and Team Sports President Tom Schuler, organisers have just announced the coming of Jack Hirt, former executive director of the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, appointed to be Executive Director.

The complete line-up of race cities, along with major sponsors, is expected to be announced in early 2009. However, the historic Downer Avenue bike race in Milwaukee is a confirmed stop on the Midwest Cycling Series, as are the Wisconsin cities of Fond du Lac, Manitowoc and Sheboygan.

"We will work with our host cities, athletes and sponsors to create fun, safe, family-friendly race days which will include a well-managed schedule of races across all categories, live entertainment and family activities," said Olympic Road Race Trials qualifier and former Nova Cycle Sports Foundation President Bill Ochowicz.

Further updates from the Midwest Cycling Series will be posted on www.midwestcyclingseries.com.

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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