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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, December 21, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Promising American cyclo-crossers head to Europe

By Sue George

Gavin Mannion is returning to Euro 'Cross camp for the 2008-9 edition
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The Euro 'Cross camp is headed into its sixth year over the winter holidays. Each year, Camp Director and US National Team Coach Geoff Proctor gives some of America's most promising young cyclo-cross talent the chance to gain European racing experience. Proctor spoke to Cyclingnews about this year's camp.

Euro 'Cross camp has helped create the careers of stars like current US National Champion Ryan Trebon and top riders like Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. A crop of 19 promising racers, the largest ever - including eight juniors, eight U23s and three elite riders - are headed to the Cycling Center in Belgium this year.

Proctor explained why his protégés travel away from their families over the holidays. "The level of competition is much higher there. It will be deeper, too. We have maybe 40 or 50 juniors at nationals, but a week later, our guys will be attending Superprestige and GvA races with 100 riders on the start grid. The courses themselves and the terrain, especially the technical aspects, are significantly more difficult, and so is the weather."

The camp's riders were selected for the camp based on their performances at national-caliber races, such as USGP & NACT events. Proctor whittled his choices down from 35 candidates. "I selected the team earlier this year - in mid-November. I had to get specific names to the European organizers, plus with the economy, I wanted to let the riders know sooner."

"In past years, I waited until the last USGP, but this year, I cut off the selection earlier. Some guys were interested in August, and then they realized they're not interested in November because they're either too fried or have other mountain bike or road goals. Who comes also depends on who has the financial means to do so." Many of his riders get assistance- friends and family donate frequent flier miles and sometimes help pay the costs.

A different world

The riders sit down for dinner
Photo ©: Tristan Schouten
(Click for larger image)

The young talent will have the chance to experience a different culture of racing - both within the race and from the sidelines.

"If you are a cyclist in Europe, it's serious," said Proctor. "You learn young, and it's so competitive. If you don't learn how to shut the door or chop someone at a young age, you're not going to last."

"I think our riders are sometimes too nice. It's more cut-throat over there. I think it takes our riders by surprise. It's tougher and tougher and tougher to get a top 10. The level keeps going up."

Those in the camp who are new to the Euro scene may be surprised by the make-up and size of the crowds. "I'm expecting a massively big crowd at the World Cup we'll do. That will be jaw-dropping for some of our guys. In Belgium, it's beyond over the top - in terms of exposure, the money, etc."

"We have a participatory culture here in the US," said Proctor. "There are 2,000 racers at nationals, and everyone on the sideline has already raced or is going to race. The people who go to the races are participants themselves."

"In Europe, it's more of a spectator sport. Spectators come out and cheer on their favorite rider and they are members of fan clubs for their favorite riders or maybe they are just general sports fans watching," said Proctor.

"There is more of a separation between being a rider and being a pro rider. There is more reverence. The spectators are less presumptuous about their own abilities. They wouldn't dream of riding through the mud like the guys they are cheering."

Read the complete feature.

Jaksche to race for salary of one euro

German Jörg Jaksche will race for a salary of one euro when he returns to competition with the Cinelli-OPD after serving a one-year suspension for doping. Jaksche had previously given up on finding a team and thought about studying law until the Cinelli-OPD squad picked him up.

"I am the first professional cyclist to ride for one euro," sais Jaksche according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "If necessary, I would ride for nothing. It was important to me that I am the one who decides to end my career."

The 32-year-old Jaksche previously raced for Liberty Seguros, CSC, ONCE and Deutsche Telekom. He was tied to the Operación Puerto doping scandal in 2006 and admitted to working with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. He will resume racing at the Tour Méditerranéen in February according to the AFP.

Armstrong to race Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire

American Lance Armstrong is expected to race the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire from April 7 to 10 according to AFP. In his comeback season, he will race, along wit his Astana teammates, the 57th edition of the five-stage race which was presented on Saturday.

Organizers also announced the participation of eight ProTour teams including Astana, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, AG2R-La Mondiale, Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne, Saxo Bank and Columbia. Continental teams have not yet been selected although French teams Bretagne Schuller, Chaussures Besson-Sojasun, Auber-93 and Agritubel are expected to race.

April 7: Stage 1 - Noirmoutier - Ancenis (191.9 km)
April 8: Stage 2 - Ancenis - Angers (93.8 km)
April 8: Stage 3 - Angers - Angers (6.1km) (individual time trial)
April 9: Stage 4 - Angers - Pre-en-Pail (180.8 km)
April 10: Stage 5 - Pre-en-Pail and Le Mans (200 km)

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) won the race in 2008 with American Christian Vande Velde (Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30) just four seconds behind in second place.

Rujano with new team

Former Caisse d'Epargne rider José Rujano has officially signed with Gobernación del Zulia ­ Alcaldía de Maracaibo, a team in Venezuela. Rujano signed the three-year contract on Thursday.

After weeks of negotiating, Rujano will now be able to ride the 2009 Vuelta al Táchira. The 26-year-old is currently in his hometown, in Santa Cruz de Mora. Next week he will join his teammates and receive his training programme.

His debut with the team will be in the Giro Andino.

Duarte's status clarified by UCI

Fabio Andres Duarte (Colombia)
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

The UCI issued a statement Friday clarifying the status of Fabio Andres Arevalo Duarte, who won the Under 23 road World Championship in Varese, Italy, in September.

After conducting a review of results of Duarte's samples, including those taken at the World Championships, the UCI concluded that he has a naturally high testosterone level. Duarte's sample from the 2007 Clasica de Gerardot showed elevated testosterone levels, but a re-test by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at an accredited lab in Cologne, Germany, also showed those results to be consistent with naturally occurring elevated testosterone levels.

"At no stage has has Mr. Duarte been under investigation by the UCI for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation," read a statement from the UCI.

2009 Vuelta al Táchira presented

Representatives present the Vuelta al Tachira
Photo ©: Gennaro Pascale
(Click for larger image)

The 2009 Vuelta al Táchira was presented to the public this week. The 44th edition of the race will take place from January 6 through 17 in Venezuela.

Elio Villamizar, the president of the Asociación Tachirense de Ciclismo, the cycling federation of Táchira, wants to get the Vuelta al Táchira back to its glory days, when it was known as the Vuelta Grande de América.

"For the people of Táchira, we work very hard to offer them the best Vuelta in the past few years. It has not been easy, as there were always some inconveniences, but we believe that with the support of the media and the patrons we can launch the best Vuelta al Táchira en Bicicleta," Villamizar said.

The Vuelta is definitely getting larger, with 10 teams of Venezuela already confirmed. There will also be nine foreign teams and the number of riders at the start line will be between 150 and 170.

The 2009 Vuelta will cover 1,396.6 kilometres over 12 stages. The race is split in six flat stages and six mountain stages.

In 2008, Venezuela's Manuel Medina (Gobernación del Zulia-BOD) won the general classification.

See a complete list of stages.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gennaro Pascale

Brownie makes it two in a row

By John Sunde

Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown loves racing and loves winning. This week he has had a lot of racing, but not as much winning as he would have liked. Fourth in the Australian Criterium Championship in Cronulla last Sunday and a surprise second to Josiah Ng (Malaysia) in the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Thursday night wasn't the way Brown planned to finish his season. Fortunately, he returned to his winning ways when he successfully defended his Big Bug 500 title with an emphatic sprint finish at Sydney's Heffron Park circuit.

"There was no way anyone was going to get past me on the inside," said Brown of his right-hand gutter sprint.

Lining up with Brownie and a collection of locals were two other Sydney-based professionals: Chris Sutton (Garmin-Chipotle) and Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's). The pair are also in the middle of their preparation for the Australian Open Road National titles in January.

See Cyclingnews' complete race coverage of the Bike Bug 500.

Danish pursuiters honored

Danish pursuit team
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The Danish 4,000 meter men's team pursuit squad was awarded the riders of the year prize for 2008. The team set the new national team pursuit record three times in 2008 and won silver at the World Championships and at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The World Championship team consisted of Michael Faerk Christensen, Alex Rasmussen, Jens Erik Madsen and Casper Jorgensen while the Olympic squad included Michael Mørkøv, Jørgensen, Madsen and Rasmussen.

Vos named Dutch sports woman of the year

Marianne Vos was voted 2008 sports woman of the year on Tuesday. In a successful year, she won gold at the Olympic Games in the points race on the track following a disappointing road race. She also won the points race at the UCI Track World Championships and finished second in both the UCI Road and Cyclo-cross World Championships.

Hockey star Minke Booij presented Vos with her trophy.

Vacansoleil signs Löwik and Carrara

Dutchman Gerben Löwik and Italian Matteo Carrara will ride for the Dutch Professional Continental Team Vacansoleil in 2009 according to belga. Both riders have signed a one-year contract. The 31-year-old Löwik recently rode for Rabobank while the 29-year-old Carrara makes the transfer from Quick Step.

Velo Girls honored by USAC

USA Cycling named the Velo Girls club of northern California as the 2008 Women's Club of the Year.

"This honor recognizes us for our contributions to the cycling community as a whole, and especially for our work with women," said Lorri Lee Lown, founder and coach of Velo Girls. The organization was previously named Women's Club of the Year in 2003 & 2006, and in 2004, and Division II Club of the Year in 2004.

(Additional editorial assistance by Bjorn Haake.)

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