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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 11, 2008

Edited by Sue George

US Successful Living merges with Aussie team Virgin Blue

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Bernhard Sulzberger (Virgin Blue)
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

The US-based continental team Successful Living is merging with the Australian national development Virgin Blue team for 2009, and will be an Australian UCI continental team called Team V Australia/Virgin Blue. Current Successful living director sportif Steve Hegg will continue in a co-director role along with the recently retired Henk Vogels. Coming with Vogels are some of his former Toyota-United teammates who were without jobs following that team's implosion to round-out the new squad.

"We put together a Successful Living Foundation and have combined teams with Virgin Blue, an Australian cycling team," Hegg told Cyclingnews. "Right now Virgin Blue is securing some of the riders to the team, many of them from the former Toyota-United team.

The Virgin Blue team is a national development squad based in Queensland, though some of the riders already have experience racing in the US this year in the Superweek series. Hegg said that for 2009 there will be teams racing in both Australia and the US, though the team will race a full North American schedule with hopes of the major races such as Tour of California. "They are going to be racing down there for the rest of their season, but then there will be guys come over here and race the whole American calendar that we will be putting together. We are trying to get into California but have not heard yet."

Henk Vogels (Toyota-United)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Hegg said he is looking forward to working with Vogels, a long-time successful rider in the American peloton, in his new role. "Henk is going to be the director with me, but I am not sure who is going to wear the bigger hat. I have the upmost respect for Henk and I think it is going to be a 50/50 deal. He will bring along a lot of racing experience and I am hoping he brings the hammer of his style of racing. I want to see these guys harden up!"

Vogels surely knows how to race hard, coming back from a near-death crash in 2003 to race at the sport's highest level, starting with the Davitamon-Lotto team in 2005. Vogels directing this team will also see him as a mentor, helping to continue the long tradition of Australian riders finding success racing on the crit-heavy North American calendar.

Tentative racers are Australians Nathan O'Neill, Ben Day, Jonathan Cantwell, Aaron Kemps, David Kemps, Bernard Sulzberger, Ben King, Chris Prior and Darren Roth, along with Italian Alessandro Bazzana and American Michael Grabinger. Three more riders are yet to be announced but are expected to be from the former Toyota team.

Some of the Toyota riders without a confirmed team for 2009 include former US road champ Chris Wherry, Australians Hilton Clarke, Ben Day, Sean Sullivan, Kiwi Heath Blackgrove and American Justin England.

BMC adds five more racers

By Kirsten Robbins

Markus Zberg rode in support
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

The USA-registered professional continental team BMC added five talents to join a seasoned mixture of Swiss-American riders.

New arrivals include former Swiss national champion Markus Zberg from Gerolsteiner along with his fellow countrymen Mattias Frank also from Gerolsteiner, Florian Stalder from Volksbank and Thomas Frei from Astana. Directeur sportif, John Lelangue also confirmed with Cyclingnews that US national team member Chad Beyer will join the team in his first year as a professional.

BMC entered into the professional continental ranks at the beginning of 2008, taking a step that would increase the learning curve of American riders who had never experienced overseas competition.

"Last year we had young riders experiencing the pro level," Lelangue said. "It was a discovery year – to learn to work as a team. We felt the team worked well in the second part of the season with some good performances in Utah, at Nationals and some European tours. This year is a confirmation year, and we will be focusing on good results."

Lelangue kept the majority of the same riders from the previous season to continue the vision of slowly building to a team participating in the Tour de France. "It is an important challenge, and the vision of Andy Riis to grow step-by-step and next year try to have some races on the calendar that weren't on it for 2008," Lelangue said regarding the addition of European events like the Tour of Belgium, Tour of Ireland along with the major American tours in California and Missouri.

"We have a vision for the next five years – to be one of the leading international teams participating in races like the Tour, Flèche-Wallone and Paris-Roubaix. But right now we are happy to have BMC have a step by step vision. We have to grow with the young Swiss and American riders of the future."

The 2009 roster will total 19 riders including eight from Switzerland and eleven from the US. The team will not be split by nationality; instead, the top eight riders will be chosen for each event.

Swiss team members include Zberg, Stalder, Frei, Frank, Martin Kohler, Danilo Wyss, Steve Bovay and Alex Moos. On the American side, Beyer will join his fellow countrymen Jeff Louder, Scott Nydam, Ian McKissick, Brent Bookwalter, Taylor Tolleson, Jackson Stewart, Tony Cruz, Jonathan Garcia and espoirs Cole House and Chris Barton.

Bahati stays calm

By Kirsten Robbins

Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Reigning US national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati had a wrench thrown into his 2009 season plans when he learned recently that he had been removed from the Rock Racing Continental team and placed onto the roster of its amateur counterpart.

"At this point, it means that I won't be able to participate in certain races up until June, and that's hard because I use them to prepare for the end of the season important races," Bahati told Cyclingnews.

"It definitely adds a twist into the season, that's for sure." As an amateur rider, Bahati will be unable to participate in UCI-sanctioned events or races that require the rider to be registered with a UCI trade team, such as the Tour of California or the Tour of Missouri.

More importantly, as an amateur rider he will not be eligible to defend his title in the elite US national criterium championships. USA Cycling released the 2009 Continental team rosters with a regulatory limit of 17 riders maximum per team.

Rock Racing contracted 27 riders for the next year, so jaws dropped when the names of ten riders were found to have been transferred to the amateur team. Riders like Bahati along with heavy hitters Chris Baldwin, Glen Chadwick, Cesar Grajales, Caleb Manion and Michael Creed were all reduced to amateur status.

"At this time there is so much going on that I don't want to speak too much about it yet," Bahati said. "I'm a little out of the loop right now on the subject. I don't know if I'm under reacting or if everyone else is over reacting. I still feel comfortable with Michael [Ball] and my relationship."

Bennati confident leading Liquigas

By Gregor Brown

Italian Daniele Bennati smiles
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Daniele Bennati is confident in his abilities to bring home the wins for Liquigas in 2009. The Italian sprinter from Arezzo will have more attention from Team Liquigas after the departure of Filippo Pozzato to Team Katusha.

"This year, for the races I was in, Pozzato was hardly there, and so the pressure will be the same. ... It is normal there is pressure on someone who starts as the leader," said Bennati to Cyclingnews.

Bennati ended his season with a win in the Giro del Piemonte. It marked win number seven in a year that was up and down for him. He took four stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, but an inflammation of the Achilles tendon forced him to miss the Tour de France.

The Vuelta was one of the few times Pozzato and Bennati raced together. The duo helped Liquigas win the opening team time trial and went on to vie for stage wins. Though Bennati is the fastest sprinter of the two, Pozzato would sometimes have a go of his own in finishes that suited him.

"His non-presence allows me to be calmer, but, certainly, it was, well, how it was last year. This year [2009] the team will be at my calling for the races that are adapted to my characteristics, above all for the sprints."

Bennati will start his season in Spain with the Volta a Mallorca and Volta a Valencia. He will return to Italy and build up to the Milano-Sanremo with the Monte Paschi Eroica and Tirreno-Adriatico. He will race Belgium's Driedaagse De Panne, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem in April and ride both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

"It would be good to confirm what I did this year in the Giro d'Italia." He won three stage wins and the sprinter's maglia ciclamino in the 2008 edition.

The team has Ivan Basso for the Giro's overall classification. Bennati will have at least two men dedicated to his lead-out that can in turn help Basso when needed.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Bisceglia settles with USA Cycling, Ochowicz

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The wrongful termination lawsuit brought by USA Cycling's former CEO Gerard Bisceglia against the organization and the board of directors president at the time, Jim Ochowicz, has been settled out of court, according to court documents obtained by Cyclingnews. In 2006 it was announced by USA Cycling in that Bisceglia "chose to resign" after his annual review. However, a day later Bisceglia contradicted that statement saying, "I was dismissed. No cause given."

Since the filing of the lawsuit in 2006 none of the parties have spoken publicly about the matter. In March of 2007 the court ordered that the parties resolve the matter in third-party arbitration. After a year-and-a-half of arbitration both parties agreed to dismiss the case in October of 2008, with each responsible for their own court costs but no further information regarding the settlement given, such as the monetary compensation asked for in the original lawsuit.

"It is settled to everybody's satisfaction," said N. Dawn Webber, counsel for Ochowicz. "The rest is confidential of course. It was settled out of court in arbitration."

"It was resolved on a mutually agreeable basis," USA Cycling's current CEO Steve Johnson said in a similar fashion.

Bisceglia was not reachable for comment and his lawyer Donna Dell'Olio declined to comment.

The settlement comes around the same time USA Cycling was ordered to pay more than US$300,000 to mountain biker Susan Haywood. USA Cycling is currently appealing the amount of the award in that verdict.

Moletta puts troubles behind, signs with Miche

By Gregor Brown

Andrea Moletta riding in April's Flèche Wallonne
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andrea Moletta took another step in putting the troubles of 2008 behind him last week. The former Gerolsteiner rider signed a one-year contract with Team Miche-Silver Cross.

"I had offers from other teams, but they were the only ones who put faith in me. Others wrongly associated my name with problems," he said to Cyclingnews.

Gerolsteiner cut Moletta from its Giro d'Italia team after the police questioned him. The team placed him on inactive status after it found out that Italian Guardia Finanza stopped his father and questioned him about Viagra tablets and unidentified fluids it had found.

Both father and son denied any knowledge of participation in any doping. A Padova prosecutor finally shelved the case against Moletta in November, though he did not race this year after May 20.

"It is another step ahead, putting the problems of 2007 and 2008 behind. I had the bad crash in Milano-Sanremo in 2007, maybe that was worse than 2008."

He acknowledged that Miche is a Continental, third division, team and that it will not have the opportunities to race the sport's biggest races. The team will race most of the Italian races and some races in France. He intends on having results immediately into the 2009 season.

Besson Chaussures - Sojasun signs Casper

Jimmy Casper
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Frenchman Jimmy Casper reached a deal with directeur sportif Stéphane Heulot to ride for the new Besson Chaussures - Sojasun team in 2009. At age 30, the Tour de France stage winner has been a professional for ten years and previously ridden for Française des Jeux, Cofidis, Unibet and Agritubel.

"I know Jimmy for a long time and we have already been together on the same team," said Heulot. "After a mixed 2008, he accepted the offer to come join us in our project of a new team. He comes with humility and he will share his experience with the rest of the group. It will be obviously valuable to us to have him because of his impact in races that end in a sprint."

"Jimmy has taken a step toward us, and I cannot fail to hear his appeal; friendship and loyalty are values we also share."

Besson Chaussures - Sojasun is a France-based Continental team, or third-division.

With 19 victories, Casper is tied with Sylvain Chavanel for the most victories by a French rider over the past five seasons. He has 37 total career victories. In 2008, Casper won one stage each in the Tour Méditerranéen, the Circuit de Lorraine and the Boucles de la Mayenne.

Casper tested positive for glucocorticoids during the Tour de France, one of seven riders to be found with the drug in his system but the only one who did not carry a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the drug. He was exonerated due to a paperwork error in renewing his TUE.

Besson Chaussures - Sojasun for 2008: Cyril Bessy, Jimmy Casper, Cédric Coutouly, Jimmy Engoulvent, Jérémie Galland, Fabrice Jeandesboz, Laurent Mangel, Jean-Marc Marino, Romain Matheou, Florian Morizot, Julien Simon, Benoît Sinner, Yannick Talabardon

Goin' back to Cali

The Ukrainians have been consistent
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The third round of the UCI Track World Cup heads to the Alcides Nieto Patiño Velodrome in Cali, Colombia, a newly renovated facility which re-opened in 2007. The country last hosted a World Cup in 2002, and this year will see 166 athletes representing 30 different countries descend on the track. In this post-Olympic year, numbers are well under half that of the previous season's World Cup contests.

Because the World Cup has five rounds this year, and due to the first three being scattered around the globe, few riders have participated in all of the rounds. Some of those that did attend the first two have been able to rise to the top of the series standings, giving the leader board a lot of unfamiliar names, many of them from Ukraine.

For example, 20-year-old Lyubov Shulika, a former junior world champion in the sprint, had her previous best performances at the elite level as a member of Ukraine's team pursuit squad. Her best sprint result at the elite level came in Melbourne when she took the gold over German Christian Muche in two races, confirming her ride in Manchester where she got into the finals with the relegation of China's Jinjie Gong, then bested Great Britain's Anna Blyth to take bronze.

Read the complete preview for the Cali round of the UCI Track World Cup.

Criticism for Keisse

Former Olympic Champion Robert Bartko
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake / Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Robert Bartko has criticised his Six Day race partner Iljo Keisse, who tested positive on a doping control, saying the Belgian "didn't do anyone any favors – not himself, not the other riders and certainly not the Six Day races."

Bartko was Keisse's partner at the Gent Six Day race last month, which the two won, but at which Keisse tested positive on the last day. The positive doping control has done a lot of damage to the Six Day scene, but, the German told the dpa agency, "It shows that the system works."

Keisse has asked for the B sample to be tested, but has already been told he is not welcome at the Six Day races in Berlin and Bremen, no matter how the test turns out. He won't ride in Bremen "in any case," said Bremen organiser Frank Minder.

"No rider under suspicion rides for us. A positive 'A' sample is enough for us," said Berlin Six Day organiser Heinz Seesing.

Keisse reportedly tested positive for the stimulant Cathine (norpseudoephedrine) which is banned by the World Anti-doping Agency in competition. In 2005, Belgian Jan Kuyckx tested positive for the same substance, and argued that the decongestant pseudoephedrine had metabolized to the banned drug in his system. He was later cleared of doping charges.

Two other riders, Stefan Schumacher and Phil Zajicek, also previously tested positive for Cathine and avoided suspensions.

Schreck retiring

Stephan Schreck (Germany)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Stephan Schreck is putting an end to his eight-year pro career, being unable to find a new job after the demise of Team Gerolsteiner.

The 30-year-old rode for Team Telekom/T-Mobile from 2000 to 2007 before changing to Gerolsteiner this year, where he was unable to ride in a way to recommend himself to another team.

"It was wonder to have my hobby as my job and to earn money with it," he told the Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper. "I will miss the emotions. It is unique when you force yourself up a mountain and thousands of people cheer you on."

Schreck won a stage in the International Hessen Rundfahrt in 2002, and stages in the Sachsen Tour and the Regio Tour in 2004. In his career he rode the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia once each and the Vuelta a España four times.

British National Championships return to Beverley

British Cycling has decided that the National Elite Circuit Race Championships will be held again in Beverley in 2009. The medieval East Yorkshire market town played host to the 2008 championship, which was watched by thousands of spectators. Following Britain's Olympic Games cycling success in Beijing, British Cycling has been overwhelmed with bids from towns and cities who would like to host future events.

"It is a remarkable achievement that a small market town like Beverley has been awarded this blue riband event. "The support of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Humberside Police and the people of Beverley has been vital in attracting the race to the town again," said Michael Boyle, race media officer and British Cycling Yorkshire board member.

The championship race, which will start and finish in Saturday Market, Beverley, will be held on Friday, July 24, and will be the highlight of an evening of free entertainment. The organisers, Hull Thursday Road Club, will also promote a series of cycle touring events on Saturday, July 25. The top 100 UK road racers will tackle the 98-mile East Yorkshire Classic Road Race on Sunday, July 26.

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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