First Edition Cycling News, December 6, 2008
Edited by Peter Hymas
Rast on life with Armstrong
Life at Team Astana is different now that Lance Armstrong is with the team, according to Gregory Rast. A five-star resort hotel and a noticeable increase in the number of reporters and photographers on the scene are two immediate examples. Armstrong, however, is not being set apart and shares everything that his teammates have.
Rast, 28, said that instead of living alone in a suite, Armstrong shares a room with Levi Leipheimer, and the seven-time Tour de France winner has the same meals as his teammates. The Swiss rider even sat next to the American Thursday night at dinner. "He looked exhausted. The press conference wore him out," he told the Swiss magazine Blick.
Rast also observed his famous teammate when the team went surfing. "It was obviously not Lance's first time on a surfboard. But he got dumped in the water too, and that upset him! I just laughed when it happened to me."
The team was divided into two groups for training, and one day this week Rast trained with the Armstrong-Leipheimer group. "But I'm not crazy. They went too fast for me. I've only been back in training for three weeks, but Lance has been training for months." Otherwise, said Rast, he is in the "more comfortable" group with his roommate, Andreas Klöden. (SW)
Laura van Gilder signs with Juice Plus
By Kirsten Robbins
Laura Van Gilder is pleased to bring her seasoned experience to Team Juice Plus in 2009. The Poconos Mountain native rode for the Cheerwine Women's Professional team in 2007 and 2008. However, when the team dismantled, dead end negotiations with alternative teams left the sprinter in suspense as to which banner she would compete under next year.
She has more than 300 career victories under her belt racing for professional teams Trek, Saturn and Lipton and she hopes to bring ample success to the young team from San Marcos, California. "I'm really happy with Juice Plus," Van Gilder said. "I want to race my bike and whatever program I'm with I want to help them grow. I do my best. I'm happy with the racing schedule that Juice Plus is organizing. The races they are offering are exactly what I was looking for."
According to Van Gilder, finding a new team after Cheerwine folded was not an easy task this fall, given the tough economic times that much of the cycling world is experiencing. "I had no other offers this year," Van Gilder said. "It's very sad and disappointing. I was asking teams to make me an offer because I understand the economy isn't great right now, but nothing came up."
Despite financial hardships, signing a top-notch rider like Van Gilder means that team owner, Bill Short will be taking the squad to the next level. The squad will step up to compete in the majority of events on the North American Race Calendar (NRC). They will also participate in the MS150 events across the United States to help raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, discussing the benefits of healthy living through Juice Plus nutritional supplements.
"Obviously signing a rider like Laura Van Gilder to any team is sure to help that team step it up a notch or two," Short said. "With Juice Plus having a successful 2008 season, I wanted to do something that would help us achieve our goal to grow as a team and win more races. When I found out Laura was still without a team for 2009 I was on the phone with her in minutes. The team is now built around Laura with some very experienced riders and some up and coming riders. She brings such a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team that will be invaluable to help us win races, promote our sponsors and help the sport of women's cycling grow."
Van Gilder is prominently known for her winning 250 meter kick. However, much of her success can be attributed to sustained efforts in lengthy breakaways and tactical smarts from 13 years of race experience for some of the most well-known teams in the nation. "I think that Laura is one of the most talented riders that I have seen in 24 years of racing and I am very excited to have her be a part of our program," Short continued. "I look forward to a great season with her and the whole team."
A complete Team Juice Plus roster and a full list of sponsors will be finalized and announced soon.
Nys looks to consolidate World Cup lead
By Peter Hymas
The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup presented by Safety Jogger leaves behind the sand dunes of Koksijde and travels south to Igorre, Spain for the fifth round of the nine-race series. Only the Elite Men will battle for World Cup supremacy in northern Spain and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), World Cup leader and UCI points leader, hopes to make it three victories in a row at Igorre to put distance between himself and the trio of Fidea Cycling Team riders who trail Nys in the overall standings.
While Nys hasn't been piling up World Cup victories as in previous years, he's been very consistent through the first four rounds with a victory at Kalmthout, two additional podium appearances and a fourth place as his worst placing so far. Nys took over the World Cup lead at the previous weekend's race in Koksijde, Belgium through the combination of a close 2nd place finish behind Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) and the absence of previous World Cup leader Niels Albert, whose ruptured spleen suffered at the Gavere Superprestige race has ended his season.
Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) looks to avenge a disappointing second place finish to Nys at the previous year's World Cup in Igorre due to an untimely mechanical suffered on the final lap. Wellens's rear derailleur snapped off forcing the Belgian to shoulder his bike until he reached the pit giving Nys a comfortable margin of victory. The thick mud responsible for Wellens's plus many other riders' mechanicals last year is expected to once again be a factor on Sunday with steady showers affecting the race venue approximately 20km from Bilbao. Wellens has yet to podium at a World Cup race this season but the Belgian has been showing improving form lately and will have ample motivation to perform well in Igorre.
Backstedt back to basics
After 13 years as a professional one would think it might get tougher each winter to motivate yourself for another season, but Garmin-Slipstreams's Magnus Backstedt has found the solution this off season.
"I've gone back to basics," said Backstedt. "I took a month off the bike completely after the Tour of Britain, which I haven't done in years. I've got back in the gym to try and put some bulk back on my upper body which has been pretty devastated by injuries in recent years. I looked at pictures of myself when I won Paris-Roubaix in 2004 and have decided to beef myself up a bit. I figure that another few kilos of muscle will make a big difference in the sprints and for the Classics."
Backstedt has one overriding goal for the upcoming 2009 season. "Everyone knows its all about the second Sunday in April for me," said Backstedt. "I will give Roubaix a big run again. I'm still confident that if I can get my fitness and equipment dialed in on the day, I can be in the fight again.
"That being said, I just want to win next year," continued Backstedt. "I came close in the 3 Days of De Panne this year. Also, with the team time trial in the Tour de France and listening to Cavendish saying we aren't going to have it our own way - with me, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie and the addition of Bradley Wiggins we'll certainly be there all guns blazing!"
After the Garmin-Slipstream training camp in Boulder, Colorado, Backstedt took a family holiday before embarking on his own personal training camp in France.
"I'm taking myself and the young Swedish team that I'm working with down to France to train," said Backstedt. "It will be good to have some company and really get myself on track for 2009, I'll be there until just before Christmas. I'm super motivated and ready to give it some!"
Xacobeo Galicia rides Camino de Santiago
Spanish Pro Continental team Xacobeo Galicia will have a unique preparation for the 2009 season. They will ride the Camino de Santiago pilgrims path from the Pyrenees to Galicia in northwestern Spain. The start will take place in Saint Jean de Pied de Port in France. The final stage will end in Santiago de Compostella.
The event will be preceded by a presentation on December 9 in Santiago. During the presentation, the individual stages towards Santiago will be detailed. The total distance should be a little more than 900km.
Riders present will be Ezequiel Mosquera, who finished fourth in the Vuelta a España and Iván Raña. Directeur Sportif Álvaro Pino and Marta Souto will also be present. The nine-day adventure will immediately follow the presentation.
Sánchez has a plan for 2009
Samuel Sánchez has made up his mind regarding his race plan next season. He will start out in March, with Paris-Nice from March 8-15, followed by a couple of Spanish one-day races, GP Llodio on March 29 and the GP Miguel Indurain on April 4.
After that he will race at home in the Vuelta al País Vasco (April 6-11) and at the Klasika Primavera (April 12). The Classics season follows, with stops at the Amstel Gold Race (April 19), Flèche Wallonne (April 22) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 26).
The block of the early summer stage races will start with the Vuelta a Asturias (April 28 - May 2). Sánchez is not quite sure about the Volta a Catalunya (May 18-24) yet. The Euskal Bizikleta follows from June 3-7.
Despite having made the plans for the main part of the first part of the season, he is not quite sure where he will debut. He may take part in the Challenge de Mallorca (February 8-12) or in the Vuelta a Andalucia (February 15-19). (AS)
Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Team signs powerhouse sprinters
The Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team has re-signed Tina Pic, the #1 rider on the NRC circuit, who dominated the 2008 season with 12 individual victories and six podium finishes. Adding to its firepower for 2009, Colavita/Sutter Home has recruited Olympians Cath Cheatley and Rachel Heal plus USA Criterium Series Champion Kelly Benjamin.
Managing the team as director sportif will be Jamaican Olympian and veteran Colavita/Sutter Home cyclist Iona Wynter Parks, who retired from competition at the end of the 2008 season after nine years on the pro circuit, where she achieved numerous top-10 finishes in road racing and world rankings on the track.
"What excites me most about working with this squad is that the riders have proven themselves not only as athletes but also as team players," said Wynter Parks. "We've signed a great combination of accomplished North American sprinters and strong, savvy all-arounders. These women all recognize the importance of great teamwork, which we will use to our advantage in stage races and single-day events."
"We're looking forward to kicking off the year at the Amgen Tour of California," Wynter Parks continued. "Criteriums are our strength and we are highly motivated to race hard and well there."
The 2009 roster includes returning riders Tiffany Cromwell (Aus), Andrea Dvorak (USA), Shontell Gauthier (USA), Tina Pic (USA), and Nichole Wangsgard (USA). New signings include Erica Allar (USA), Kelly Benjamin (USA), Cath Cheatley (NZl), Rachel Heal (GBr), Heather Logan (Can), and Stacy Marple (USA).
Rabobank's Stamsnijder breaks ankle
Tom Stamsnijder of Team Rabobank has gotten his preparations for the 2009 season off to a bad start. During a three-day training camp in the Eifel region of Germany, he broke a bone in his ankle while exercising.
Team doctor Dion van Bommel said on the team's website, rabosport.nl, that it was "an unfortunate situation. He stumbled and then it happened. A small bone in his right ankle was broken and he tore ligaments, too. After three days of rest he will have a plaster cast put on."
Stamsnijder, who rode for Team Gerolsteiner this year, will not be allowed back on the bike until after the holidays. Van Bommel said that the young Dutchman would probably still be able to ride his first scheduled race of the season, the Tour of Qatar, February 1-6. (SW)
Former Belgian pro dies at age 80
Former Belgian rider Marcel Verschueren died Tuesday at the age of 80. He rode professionally from 1947 to 1953 for such teams as Elve and Peugeot-Dunlop, but also as an independent rider.
Verschueren finished 15th overall in the Tour de France in 1950 and 18th a year later. He was a small climber who claimed wins in such races as Bruxelles-Liège and Bruxelles-Saint Hubert. He also won a stage in the Dauphiné Libéré in 1948. (SW)
Beijing medallists clash in BikeNZ National Series in Christchurch
New Zealand's Beijing Olympic medallists will go head-to-head in the sixth round of the BikeNZ National Road Series in Christchurch this weekend.
The men's pursuit team of Hayden Roulston, Peter Latham, Jesse Sergent, Wes Gough, Sam Bewley and Mark Ryan will take part in the 80km Harbour ride tomorrow and in the New Zealand Criterium Championships around the central streets of Christchurch on Sunday. The pursuit team won bronze in Beijing while Roulston also won silver in the individual pursuit.
Latham will be the rider to watch after winning the previous round in Rotorua last weekend ahead of Gordon McCauley. This is the first time the Olympic medallists will compete against each other since Beijing.
The two events have drawn the strongest field of the season that also includes series leader Jeremy Yates, world champion Hayden Godfrey, defending national criterium champion McCauley and former Olympian Robin Reid. Tom Findlay, the under 23 series leader, competes along with runner-up Elliot Crowther .
Women's series champion Serena Sheridan will look to extend her lead but will come up against Beijing Olympians Alison Shanks and Catherine Cheatley, who won the last round in Taupo last weekend. Kaytee Boyd will try to extend on her good from from the world championships.
Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll
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 like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer and Antonio J. Salmerón.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)