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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, December 23, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Bjorn Haake

Rabobank changes tack in '09

By Les Clarke in Sydney, Australia

The Rabobank team of 2008
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

After a 'watershed' year for Rabobank, the Dutch squad will alter its plan of attack in 2009. The fallout surrounding Michael Rasmussen's dismissal in 2007 has continued to frustrate management throughout this year, and as such the lessons learnt from '07 and '08 means they will look to achieve different objectives next season.

That's not to say that Rabobank didn't enjoy a strong season in 2008. Oscar Freire's green jersey win at the Tour de France was an obvious standout, while Juan Antonio Flecha's status as a perennial protagonist in the Spring Classics continued to bolster stocks in the team's future. Underneath this, however, was a 'wind of change' sweeping through the respected Dutch outfit that required a shift in tack from those sailing the good ship Rabobank.

Australian sprinter Graeme Brown is part of that process, and told Cyclingnews that, "There are a lot of changes at Rabobank – a change of bikes, different management and riders... I guess you could say it is just like a new team. It's like a team changing names or re-starting; that's the feeling I get, anyway."

Brown has ridden for Rabobank for the last three seasons; this year shaped up to be his best with them yet after a solid set of performances in 2007, although it didn't quite work out as planned. As team management decided that general classification performances may have been the cause of too much tension – citing various issues around Rasmussen and the departed Thomas Dekker as examples of this – it will focus on strengthening its supply of sprinting talent and support for next season.

The winner of the Madison at the 2004 Athens Olympics will assist in this by becoming Oscar Freire's ally in more races next year. "I've had good discussions with them; Oscar and I always used to race separately and now we'll probably do more together," said Brown. "We'll make it more of a team, rather than a heap of individuals. I know it sounds silly, but Saxo Bank does it perfectly. Quick Step has everyone riding for the one sprinter, so rather than have Oscar or myself do the races individually, we're going to pull together and make sure we win the race, rather than try to win the race.

"With guys like Oscar Freire it's hard not to go wrong, but it helps when you put him in the right spot," he added.

Another change is the arrival of Theo Bos as part of the overall Rabobank team structure. The former sprint world champion on the track will be riding with the Continental arm next year, and Brown doesn't think there will any short cuts taken to get him into the ProTour ranks any sooner. "He's still got to prove himself first, win a few road races. If he gets to finish of any race he's going to kick most guys' arses because he's a sprint world champion but we just need to make sure he's got the legs for the first 200km."

Another change for Brown comes in his private life. His partner Hayley gave birth to their son Andy earlier this year, and he said life with a five-month-old is "unreal". Brown explained that, "He's an active little boy; he's got a lot of me in him – I'm active – and he's got a lot of Hayley – she's relaxed. There are times when he'll just kick back and sit on your lap as you watch TV together, while at other times he's just going bananas."

And judging by his performance in last Saturday's BikeBug 500, Freire may have no better ally than the Australian as he seeks another green jersey in 2009.

Fraser new Team Type 1 director

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Gord Fraser (Health Net)
Photo ©: Doug Gravino
Click for larger image

Team Type 1 announced Monday that former professional Gord Fraser will be joining the management staff of the team as assistant director sportif with current assistant Vassili Davidenko. Davidenko has been promoted to directeur sportif to replace Ed Beamon, who will not be returning for 2009.

"We were very fortunate to have someone with Ed's experience to help guide us down the path of success in our first year," general manager Tom Schuler said in a statement. "With Vassili and Gord, we have two former pros who can also relate well to the challenges a rider faces on and off the bike."

No details as to why Beamon would not be returning were given, and Beamon could not be contacted to comment on the development.

While Davidenko has been working as an assistant director since he retired from the Navigators team (where Beamon was his director) Fraser has been away from cycling for a couple of years since retiring from the Health Net squad. But this year Fraser was seen 'guest directing' at the Tour of Missouri, with many thinking that he would be joining that team as a new DS. But Fraser told Cyclingnews that it was not in the budget. It showed him that directing was something he could see in his future, however.

"It was in a very professional setting it was really nice to get that opportunity. It was an eye to helping in 2009 but it did answer my question as to if I enjoyed it as a profession. It was a hard decision, leaving my alma mater, but they just didn't have the budget to take on a second director. But I had been talking with Tom [Schuler] for a few months and the offer came out of the blue, but I decided to run with it."

The pairing of Fraser and Davidenko is interesting as the two formally knew each other for years as sprinting rivals in the US peloton. "Yeah, we had a lot of good battles, that is for sure. But we always had a good mutual respect for each other. You can't always say that about the sprinters! We never had any arguments... we might have closed the door on each other a couple of times, but on the director side of things I don't see why we can't keep that mutual respect going."

Fraser thinks that his years on the bike will be a strong asset for the team. "Being a racer and not too long ago I think I will relate well to the riders, and draw upon those experiences to make good decisions."

Clarke excited by Down Under start

By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia

Australia's Hilton Clarke managed to secure a contract with Fuji-Servetto
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Hilton Clarke is delighted that his first ProTour event will be on home soil when he lines up at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide next month. Clarke will contest the South Australian race after securing a one-year contract with Fuji-Servetto last week.

"It's just unbelievable," said Clarke. "I was trying to get a spot in the national team at the same time to do Down Under, when I had no team. There's just so many good riders that want to do that, that I crossed my fingers as well, whether I was going to get into that.

"So now not to have to worry and be able to focus my training on the start of the year, especially with how huge Tour Down Under is going to be next year, is great."

Clarke will be amongst a handful of Australians to contest the ProTour's opening round next year. Australian riders have one of two ways to ride their nation's largest tour – either hold a contract with a ProTour team or vie for a national team spot, as it's the only local team permitted in the race.

"I guess now that it is ProTour not so many Australians get to do it anymore, so it really is a thrill," he said.

The contract from Fuji-Servetto came as an early Christmas present for Clarke. Having enjoyed his most successful season to date in 2008, the qualified builder was facing the prospect of returning to the construction industry in 2009 until the former Scott-American Beef team threw him a lifeline.

"From a personal standpoint, I never got this opportunity while I was younger but I can't think of a better time to get this opportunity than now," he said. "I'm more ready now than I would have been then.

Clarke will focus on the Australian Open Road Championships in early January, then the Tour Down Under and February's Tour de Langkawi for the first part of his season. The remainder of Clarke's season is yet to be discussed with the team management, however the rider hopes to spend a bit of time in Europe next year.

"Looking at the team I'm thinking all of the Spanish guys aren't going to want to be in the Northern Classics too much, so I'm hoping maybe to get back into Belgium a little bit, but that's going to be a decision made later between me and the directors," he said.

Clarke's long list of wins for the now defunct team Toyota-United in 2008 included success at Capital Hill Criterium, USA Crits Finals, Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium and Beaufort Memorial Cycling classic to name but a few. The rider also took victory at the Tour of Elk Grove's stage two and Mt. Hood Cycling Classic's stage one.

Chicago adjusts Olympic bid, cycling venues

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Christian Vande Velde rode Beijing and compared the difficulty with the proposed Chicago course
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee said in a press conference recently that the worsening economy, combined with rule changes for hosting the Games, have increased the chances that the city will need to cover any budget shortfalls with its pledged US$500 million guarantee. But committee chair Patrick Ryan said that taxpayers would still not have to absorb any costs.

A side effect means both good and bad news for Chicago's cycling fans, as the changes could see a permanent indoor velodrome constructed. Unfortunately, early plans for the road racing and mountain bike courses within the Chicago metro area seem to have been replaced with a site nearly three hours to the northwest in western Wisconsin.

John Vande Velde, a former US Olympic cyclist and father of current professional Christian Vande Velde, had designed a course close to downtown in the southwest suburbs. But he said an early review by the UCI deemed the courses unsuitable for Olympic competition.

"It's very disappointing to me that the UCI has stepped in and said the courses we had in Lemont and Palos [Hills] were not hard enough," he said. "The rumor is it will be west of Madison [Wisconsin.] 95% of the events will be in Chicago and [the cycling events] will be three hours away. Without even seeing it they made the decision."

The course was proposed near where the Vande Veldes live, in the town of Lemont. A river running past the town was to provide enough climbing to make the course challenging – not quite like the most recent Olympic course but definitely harder than some past courses such as Atlanta.

"Christian said the course in Lemont was not easy at all. We worked hard on it to make it a good technical course. But the UCI wants the Olympics to be a classic race and the hardest race of four years. We would have had a million people on the road and it would have been great for spectators. It would have been difficult – sure, not like Beijing, but great for spectators."

Officials with Chicago 2016 refused to return multiple calls for comment.

One of the cost-saving measures comes in terms of venue location and construction. For example, the planned aquatic facility was moved south to the same location as the proposed Olympic Stadium, and with a change to a temporary competition pool. The committee also announced a change for its track cycling and BMX plans, moving from a site on Chicago's lakefront to semi-permanent plans in an existing park on the city's west side.

Following the conclusion of the Games the proposed velodrome would be converted to a year-round multisport facility to host cycling, as well as indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and other sports. This is a change from the original plan which called for a temporary velodrome to be constructed only for the Games. The track would be the only velodrome in the city and only the second indoor, full-size facility in the US.

If chosen Chicago would be the first Summer Olympics in the United States in two decades. The other finalists are Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

Italian teams for Tour Down Under

Chicchi hopes to win a stage or two for Liquigas
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian ProTour teams Liquigas and Lampre-N.G.C. have confirmed their places on the 2009 Tour Down Under start list. Mike Turtur, Tour Down Under Race Director, reasoned with the 2008 results for the inclusion of the Italian squads.

"Liquigas finished fourth overall in the Team Classification at the 2008 Tour Down Under, so we expect them to be tough competition in 2009." In 2008, Liquigas' Francesco Chicchi won stage seven of Tirreno-Adriatico and stage one-a at the Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali.

"Chicchi's strengths are in the sprints, making him one to watch for SA Lotteries Sprint jersey points," said Turtur.

Lampre-N.G.C.'s Matteo Bono will bring invaluable Grand Tour experience to the Tour Down Under, after competing in the 2008 Tour de France. "Bono turned professional in 2006 and his first pro win was stage six of the 2007 Tirreno-Adriatico," Turtur said.

Both Italian teams have a strong supporter base in Australia, with the South Australian Italian community adopting these teams as their own. "We all know how passionate Italians are, and we have come to expect good performances by both the Lampre-N.G.C. and Liquigas teams," said Turtur.

Lampre-N.G.C. plans to race with Matteo Bono, Emanuele Bindi, Andrew Grendene, Mauro Santambrogio, Vitaliy Buts, Volodymyr Zagorodniy and David Loosli. Bruno Vicino will be the directeur sportif.

Liquigas will travel to Australia with Macieji Bodnar, Claudio Corioni, Gianni Da Ros, Jacopo Gaurnieri, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Francesco Chicchi and Frederik Willems. Directeur sportif is Dario Mariuzzo.

Euskaltel aids in kids' camp

The third annual kids camp for Basque children is presented by Euskaltel
Photo ©: Fundación Ciclista Euskadi
(Click for larger image)

The third edition of the Kirol Kanpusak Euskaraz will take place in the Basque Country in December. The activities are split in two sessions in December. The first takes place December 22 and 23, the second on December 29 and 30. Up to 50 children per camp will be attending.

The presentation of the event was held on the premises of the Fundación Ciclista Euskadi headquarters. Miguel Madariaga, the foundation's president, and Joxean Rodríguez, who heads the Política Lingüística department, hosted a press conference to explain the objective of the camps.

The children are aged eight through 12 and will participate in a variety of activities, including bike maintenance and mechanics, plus some riding, of course. Riders from the professional team will assist with the event, which is held in the Basque language.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fundación Ciclista Euskadi

CSF Group-Navigare holds team camp

CSF Group-Navigare holds its first team concentration for the 2009 season on Monday, December 29, and Tuesday, December 30, 2008. The camp will be held in the Italian province of Reggio Emilia. The riders undergo the routine medical check-ups for the beginning of the season, led by Dr. Benini. The riders also receive their clothing by Giordana and their Colnago training bikes.

All but three riders will participate in the camp. The South American section with Ruben Bongiorno, and Mauro and Maximiliano Richeze is expected back on January 27.

The first proper training camp is scheduled for February 3 to 12, at the resort "Il Cicalino" in Massa Marittima. Even in that camp not all riders will be present, as some head to the first race, the Tour de Langkawi. Those who will race in Langkawi will fly to Malaysia on February 5. Other early season goals for the team are the GP Costa degli Etruschi and the Giro della Provincia di Grosseto.

British Cycling helps members

Useful gifts for the British Cycling members
Photo ©: British Cycling
(Click for larger image)

British Cycling is helping its members to enjoy their cycling for less, thanks to a suite of exclusive new deals and discounts for members. The offers, which are available to all British Cycling and Everyday Cycling members from January 2, help members to save cash for all things bike-related – from tempting new bikes to events to travel.

Special discounts are available from the AA, Alternative Promotions travel, British Cycling Bike Insurance, Chilli Video, Future magazines, Halfords, Ordnance Survey and Wattbike.

In addition, British Cycling and Everyday Cycling have linked up with online retailer Wiggle to create a special online shop for members. Set to launch in during January 2009, the shop will give members 10% off Wiggle's standard prices.

Ian Drake, British Cycling's deputy chief executive, was happy with the news. "All of our members, whether they compete, ride for recreation or commute can now get the best cycling discounts available in one place by joining British Cycling through our Gold, Silver and Bronze or Everyday Cycling membership packages."

Websites for more info are or


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by British Cycling

Specialized teams up with London-Paris

Specialized, a bicycle manufacturer from the USA, has signed a deal to be the official bike sponsors for London-Paris 2009. Specialized is based in California and will become the main jersey sponsor for eight team captains and supply them with helmets, race shoes, gloves and eyewear. Specialized riders will be equipped with Tarmac Expert or Roubaix Expert bicycles.

Sven Thiele, director of the London-Paris '09 Pro-Am Cycle Tour, was looking forward to the partnership. "This is an exciting move for our event. London-Paris has established itself as one of the world's leading cyclosportives and to have endorsement from a big player like Specialized is a key moment in our development."

Former Tour de France winner, Stephen Roche, has announced that he will be riding next year's event and other big names are expected to follow.

London-Paris '09 runs from June 25 to 28, 2009. It is a unique three-day "Tour de France" style endurance event for amateur and cyclosportive riders. Like a pro event it has full support, rolling road closures and covers 550 kilometres in three days followed by a rest day in Paris.

Mad about 'cross: New videos from USGP Portland

For those of you who can't get enough of cyclo-cross, we've just added a whole slew of video interviews of the top racers from the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross from Portland done earlier this month. Tim Johnson, Ryan Trebon, Georgia Gould and more of the best finishers from that weekend give us their thoughts on the race.

Check out the action on the Cyclingnews Video Player!

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