First Edition Cycling News, December 19, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Eight ProTour teams to Tour of California
A star-studded roster is building for the 2009 Tour of California, as returning champion Levi Leipheimer brings new Astana teammate Lance Armstrong to help defend his title against Ivan Basso (Liquigas), George Hincapie (Team Columbia), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream), among others.
The 750-mile (1207km), nine-day stage race will bring together a world-class field of cycling teams from multiple nations, including eight of the sport's top-rated ProTour teams. Race organizers confirmed today that entries for the fourth annual race will include Quick Step, Rabobank and AG2R-La Mondiale.
"We have a great roster of top athletes, and the Amgen Tour of California delivers a great stage on which to perform," said Bob Stapleton, owner of Team Columbia Highroad. "The Amgen Tour of California is great for the sport of cycling in the U.S. and great for the sport overall."
Several of the ProTour professional cycling teams will hold their pre-season training camps in California, which will give residents throughout the state an opportunity to watch these elite athletes prepare for the top professional cycling race in the United States.
Split between teams who compete on the UCI ProTour and those who race predominately in the United States, the field of athletes competing in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will be one of the most diverse, accomplished groups of cyclists ever assembled for a stage race in the U.S. The full list of teams will be announced in January, with final rosters due in February.
"We have invited the best teams that the world has to offer to compete on an outstanding course," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race."
The fourth running of the race will take the world's top professional cycling teams from Sacramento to San Diego County from February 14 to 22, 2009.
For more information, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
The Ronde returns to its roots
Organisers of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) have announced a route just shy of 260 kilometres for the race's 2009 edition that adds seven kilometres of cobbled roads when compared with the 2008 event. The course will pass through the heart of Gent, the city which hosted the start of the race during its first 63 years, then heads east through Wetteren, which hosted the finish early in the race's history.
The 93rd edition of the race will begin in Brugge for the 12th year and keep the modern finish in Meerbeke. While the race has just 16 climbs, down one from this year's race, all of the climbs are concentrated in the second half of the race, adding to the difficulty of the finale.
The first 24.4 kilometres of the race will be familiar to riders who entered last year's edition, but the race will quickly diverge eastward toward Gent rather than heading south through Kortrijk.
The course then heads south toward the race's first 'berg', the Molenberg at kilometre 130 – the halfway point in the race. Last year's opening hills, the Kluisberg and Nokereberg, which came at the 99km and 118km mark have been omitted due to the northerly approach.
The race will then pick up familiar roads, taking in the Wolvenberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before sending riders up the fearsome climb of the Koppenberg – a 600m ascent that kicks up to 22% grades – with 72 kilometres still left to race. The Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg remain, while the Berg Ter Stene is replaced by the Eikenberg and Varent climbs.
The race will then follow a similar route over the Leberg, Berendries, Valkenberg and Tenbosse before cresting the Eikenmolen – the site of Stijn Devolder's race winning attack before reaching the final two climbs, the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg.
New sponsorship shrinking Philly week races
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The well-known week of racing in Philadelphia, which used to culminate with the USPRO road championships and was most recently known in 2008 as the Commerce Bank Triple Crown, will be undergoing some major changes for 2009 – the biggest of which involves the purchase of its title sponsor by another bank, the Canadian TD Bank. While TD Bank is still interested in title sponsoring the Philadelphia Championship, now in its 25th year, and the women's Liberty Classic, the fates of the other two race venues in Allentown and Reading are in jeopardy.
"TD Bank took over Commerce Bank last summer, and they are committed to title sponsorship for 2009, along with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," race organizer Dave Chauner told Cyclingnews. "They just switched on 1 November so it is still early, they are working on the whole re-branding initiative at the moment – but they have expressed interest in seeing [the race] grow. We met with the president who was at the race [last year] and he loved it."
However, the bank does not have branches in Reading and a smaller presence in Allentown, so sponsorship there is not in their marketing plans. "The bank does not have branches in the Reading footprint, so they cannot justify sponsoring that," said Chauner. "We met with Allentown and the bank does not want to be the title sponsor but will definitely consider a supporting sponsorship, so we are looking to find a new title sponsor to come in there."
Chauner said that with TD Bank providing some resources for the Allentown race a possible scenario with a new title sponsor could see the race still happen, but that Reading is not likely. However, the positive side is that the bank is very keen on seeing the Philadelphia races continue.
"The real good news is that we are discussing a multi-year agreement with TD Bank for the Philadelphia race. We are definitely on for 2009 and are looking at a five year renewal – it looks very promising."
This is good news for the Philly race as it is now going to cost organizers more money to put on the race, with the city in huge debt and facing massive budget shortfalls. "One of the challenges is that the city is in dire financial straits and the mayor said he cannot fund special events. He absolutely loves the race, but he is facing tough times. [The city] has always been a sponsor, in terms of in-kind or capped fees for services. But now we are working out a new relationship with the city and will have to determine what those costs will be."
Roberts to stay in Germany
By Bjorn Haake
Australian Luke Roberts will stay with German team Kuota-Senges for 2009. The team undergoes a slight change, with a new co-sponsor. The squad will be named Kuota-Indeland.
Roberts is currently racing Six Days events. He just completed the Zürich Six Days with Rafal Ratajczyk (Poland). "I plan to race the Six Days of Berlin in January," Roberts said to
His road season will commence in Spain, where the season opener for the team will be the Mallorca Challenge in February. This will give Roberts a good preparation for his season goals. "My major targets for the season will be my 'home' race, Rund um Köln and the Bayern Rundfahrt."
Roberts lives near Cologne and has broken the top 10 in Rund um Köln several times, but not this year. The race had to be canceled due to snow.
Cooke's Vision 1 roster taking shape
The new team of reigning World and Olympic champion road racer Nicole Cooke is taking shape, as the first five riders have joined the British star on the new Vision 1 Racing team for 2009.
According to the team, Welsh rider Katie Curtis had a very successful 2007, where she finished fourth in the U23 national road race Championships, and represented Great Britain at the World Track Championships finishing eighth in the scratch race. Curtis has been recovering from an illness during the 2008 season but with this behind her, is highly motivated to race in 2009 and support fellow Welsh rider Cooke on the road.
"Katie is young, motivated and very talented," Team Director Stefan Wyman said. "I'm really happy to be working with Katie in 2009 as all of my experiences of Katie have been positive. We worked together in 2007 and she can be exception for the team."
Also joining the team will be Australian rider Vicki Whitelaw, who raced her first season in Europe with the National Team. Whitelaw started the season by taking a stage in the Tour de l'Aude in May, and backed this up with a win in the individual time trial in the women's Giro d'Italia.
"We're really pleased to have Vicki on our team in 2009," Wyman added. "She's a very naturally gifted cyclist who has performed so well in 2008. I think a lot of people in cycling sat up and took notice of her performances this year. She's going to a add a great dimension to our team in stage races with her excellent TT ability, but when you add this to her all round ability, we're confident she'll have a major impact for us."
French rider Aurore Verhoeven and British duo Gabby Day and Helen Wyman, well known for their cyclo-cross ability, round out the team roster.
More news on the teams racing calendar will be announced soon, along with the further details of the rider roster for 2009. According to Wyman, the team is still adding sponsors for 2009, and welcomes interested parties.
For more information, visit www.vision1racing.com.
Mauri to lead Andorra-Grandvalira
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Government of Andorra and Grandvalira, a local company that operates one of the largest ski stations of Europe in the Pyrenees, are the main sponsors of a new continental team who will be lead by the former professional cyclist Melchor Mauri and Domènec Carbonell, called Andorra Grandvalira.
A team of 16 riders will be built soon, and will include the neo-professional Egoitz Garcia (Seguros Bilbao) and Francisco Javier Carrasco (SPIUK). The team will be led by Carles Torrent and Jaume Rovira (both Extremadura), Angel Vallejo (Loulé) and Raul Garcia de Mateos (Super Froiz); the latter two are returning to the professional peloton after being part of the defunct Relax GAM squad.
Among the beginners will include Dmitri Chuzdha (Cosaor), Eduard Prades (Aluminis Sant Jordi) Vicente Garcia de Mateos (Aluminis Sant Jordi), Aitor Aznar (Aluminis Sant Jordi) and Arnau Mendez (Aluminis Sant Jordi).
20th Bay Classic launched
By Mal Sawford
The 20th edition of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, which will run from January 2 to 6, was launched in bayside Melbourne today by promoter John Trevorrow. A veritable who's who of Australian road cycling will battle for overall honours in the five race series, and many of the stars were on hand at Williamstown's Gem Pier for the race launch as well as some friendly competition in the form of a novel Aqua Bike Challenge.
Eventually joining Baden Cooke, Simon Gerrans, Graeme Brown, Will Walker, Leigh Howard, Matt Wilson, Belinda Goss and Peta Mullens on the water was three time Tour de France Green Jersey winner Robbie McEwen – who was running almost an hour behind schedule with his watch still set on Queensland time.
The first aqua bike heat saw Baden Cooke team with Belinda Goss against Matt Wilson and Peta Mullens. With much pushing and barging it seemed that the two lifeguards on duty would be needed, but fortunately sanity prevailed and Matt and Peta won through to the final.
McEwen arrived just in time for heat two and jumped out of the cab and onto the Aqua Cycle with Under-23 Six Day sensation Leigh Howard against Graeme Brown and Simon Gerrans. Again the fight was on in full force but once Gerrans and Brown got some clear water, it was all over.
In the final Matt Wilson and Peta Mullens showed that a smooth pedaling style will beat a blatant grab for the back wheel every time.
16 men's teams and a record 11 women's teams will contest five races at Williamstown, Port Arlington and Geelong. The riders present at the launch will be joined by the cream of Australia's best riders including defending champion Mark Renshaw, Stuart O'Grady, Matthew Goss, Aaron Kemps, Bernie Sulzberger, women's defending champion Megan Dunn, Rochelle Gilmore and internationals including Rahsaan Bahati, Jame Carney, Kristian House, Evan Oliphant, Gina Grain and Rachel Heal.
The quality of the riders reflects the growing importance of the race series on the international race calendar. "January is becoming an important part of our preparation for the year and the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic is a great way to begin the season," said McEwen, who is hoping to take a record seventh series win in 2009.
Baden Cooke echoed McEwen's sentiments, saying "They are easily the fastest criteriums in the world. I've been riding the series for many years now and it just keeps getting quicker each year. But the 20th addition has the best field I've ever seen line up for a criterium, anywhere! If any event has a right to be called the World Championship criterium, it's the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic.
Training camps on Cyclingnews
It's that time of year – team training camps and team launches are as frequent as holiday parties and Cyclingnews is here to provide its readers with exclusive looks inside these events. Who's hot? Who's not? Which team will have the worst weather for its camp? To make it easier for you to get your hands on all the inside information, we've created a summary page to hold all the links you'll need.
Keep checking back as the days count down to road season 2009 to find all of the coverage of the ProTour and Professional Continental teams!
Last chance to take the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll!
You've got just hours to complete 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll for your chance to win big! The poll will close this Friday, December 19, at midnight GMT, so hurry up and make your choices. The deadline of Friday, December 19, midnight GMT equals Friday, December 19, 19:00 on USA's east coast. If you are in Australia, it will be December 20, 11:00.
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!
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)