First Edition Cycling News, December 30, 2008
Edited by Sue George & Laura Weislo
O'Grady to lead Saxo Bank at Tour Down Under
South Australia's Stuart O'Grady, will lead a strong and competitive Team Saxo Bank at the 2009 Tour Down Under in January. He is the only rider in the race's history to have won the event twice.
"Stuart O'Grady won the inaugural Tour Down Under in 1999 and again in 2001," said Race Director Mike Turtur. "Stuart has had the taste of victory here twice before and I know he will hit the race hard, looking to add a third title.
"It is always great to see Australian cycling champions competing in a UCI ProTour event on home soil."
O'Grady rebounded from serious injuries sustained in a crash at the 2007 Tour de France to have a strong 2008 season. He showed good late-season form by winning the Herald Sun Tour in October.
O'Grady will be joined by fellow Australian rider Matthew Goss and German Jens Voigt.
"Matthew has had an outstanding start to his cycling career since turning professional in 2006," said Turtur. "Germany's Jens Voigt will also be a powerful support to O'Grady, having taken out a stage win in this year's Giro d'Italia. Voigt has the propensity to attack the race and has an extremely positive attitude to cycling."
Frank Hoj will make his return to Team Saxo Bank at the Tour Down Under. He was previously a member of the Danish team in 2004.
Team Saxo Bank for the Tour Down Under: Stuart O'Grady, Jens Voigt, Nicki Sørensen, Kasper Klostergaard, Matthew Goss, Frank Hoj, Anders Lund under Team Manager Kim Andersen.
Nys calls for Belgians to unite against Boom
By Brecht Decaluwé
With the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, coming up in about a month, tension among the stars of the powerhouse cyclo-cross nation Belgium are rising. Examples of inter-squad rivalries have been common in recent races, but UCI leader Sven Nys called for his countrymen to unite against their common foe, the defending World Champion Lars Boom.
The situation was brought to a head at the World Cup round in Zolder on Friday when Boom eased up rather than chase after a breakaway which contained his fellow Dutchman Thijs Al, even though the two are on different trade teams.
The partisan crowd booed Al and Boom, but the top Belgian, Nys, called up his compatriots to form a coalition against the Dutchmen. "Lars made the decision to hold back the riders he didn't want to see win. It was impossible to work together with him today. For us Belgians, he is a mutual enemy so we'd better tackle him all together," Nys said after the race in Zolder.
Belgium has dominated cyclo-cross for the past decade; however, the country lost its first world championship in eight years to Boom last January. Squabbling within the team may have played a part in that race and could be the biggest threat to seeing a Belgian in rainbow bands next year. After the cyclo-cross race on Monday in Middelkerke, Nys tried to play down speculation on problems within the Belgian team, yet he pointed to Lars Boom as the man benefiting from the tension.
"If the course at the world championships is muddy, then tactics aren't important, but it's different if Hoogerheide has a course like the fast ones we had the last couple of days," said Nys. "I expect the Belgian team will get together at one of the next World Cups to talk tactics. All this speculation is only good for one guy and that's Lars Boom. He wants to make everybody nervous, and some guys are eating it."
Trade teams complicate tactics
While most 'cross professionals race under their trade teams, the rider selection for the World Cup races is determined by each country's national team coach. In Belgium, that man is Rudy de Bie. He will also determine the team for the World Championships, where riders will race in the national team clothing.
As if the tension between the top Belgians and the Dutch riders wasn't enough, another important Belgian spoke some potent words. Young Niels Albert, injured during most of the month December with a ruptured spleen, said that if he wasn't able to win the World Championships, he would do all he could to help his teammate Radomir Simunek win instead of one of his own compatriots.
"I'd rather see a teammate win the world championships than three compatriots on the podium," Albert said to VT4 while injured last month. "Everybody knows that teams have become much more important at the world championships. So I'll do all I can to help Radomir Simunek to the title."
De Bie wasn't happy with Albert's remark. "Niels was injured when he said this, and I think since then, his chances for the world championships have been improving.
"For me, there are two possibilities. Niels will be riding for his own chances, and I'm not doubting that, or the federation will have to select somebody who will certainly do all he can to make a Belgian win the world championships," De Bie said to Sporza. With more than a month to go before the race, De Bie will have his hands full to compel his riders toe the national line in Hoogerheide.
Spats during races compound tensions
During this season, cooperation among the Belgians has not been at its peak. A few weeks ago, there was a row between arch rivals Nys and Bart Wellens. The duo rode in front during the World Cup round in Koksijde, but the breakaway didn't succeed. Wellens claimed that Nys didn't want to work in a breakaway with him.
"I thought Nys was always racing to win but that's clearly not the case; Sven doesn't grant me a victory," Wellens said. "Sven said he couldn't do better, but I'm not accepting that. Later on, he was able to attack. For me it's clear. I learned a lot about how Nys thinks. He'll get an answer from me," Wellens said.
One month later, Nys was looking around for support when Czech champion Zdenek Stybar attacked early during the Superprestige race in Diegem, Belgium. The support didn't come, and it resulted in a safe lead for Stybar. After the race, Nys aimed his arrows at compatriot Klaas Vantornout. The Sunweb-Projob rider said he had the stomach flu ahead of the World Cup in Zolder where he pulled out early on.
Nevertheless Vantornout was able to win the cross at his hometown Torhout the next day, adding a second place to that in Diegem where he defended his second place in the Superprestige rankings. "Today I was feeling quite strong, but still Klaas manages to finish ahead of me; that's impressive," Nys said and then referred last year when Vantornout performed poorly in the GvA-trophy yet revived his form the next day. "Last year he pulled off the same trick in the GvA-trophy, so I'm not really surprised by Klaas' behaviour."
Vantornout wasn't distracted by speculation on his illness. "I know how sick I was feeling and I don't give a damn about what other people think about that. From now, I'm focusing on nothing else but the Belgian championships," Vantornout said to Cyclingnews when confronted with Nys' remark after the race in Diegem.
Rolf Aldag: The German Shepherd
By Daniel Benson
Rolf Aldag, the Team Columbia directeur sportif, sat down with Cyclingnews at the squad's camp in Majorca, Spain earlier this month to chat about his history with doping, how Bob Stapleton saved his career and how he's helping to change the culture in the sport.
In the movie "The Shining" there's a moment of chilling cinematic history as the camera slowly focuses on a framed picture of Jack Nicholson. Fixed, sickening grin from ear to ear, it's enough to give you nightmares. What's that got to do with cycling? Well, I'm standing in the Robinson Hotel, Majorca, for Team Columbia's training camp. It's the same location used by the now defunct Telekom team and I'm about to meet Rolf Aldag, who has worked through both regimes – first as a rider and now as a directeur sportif. On a wall in the lobby is a photo of Telekom in its prime. It's a squad shot with familiar faces: Jan Ullrich, Santiago Botero, Alexander Vinokourov and Aldag. Like Nicholson, they're all grinning from ear to ear. For everything it signifies within the world of cycling, it's as scary as Nicholson's portrait.
When I find Aldag he is sitting alongside Erik Zabel, once his Six Day partner and teammate who has joined the camp as an advisor to the team's sprinters, and other Team Columbia riders for dinner. They're laughing, and although I can't make the subject (perhaps it's the photos), the mood seems relaxed. The Columbia director is still as lean as a bean, his gangly frame arched over a table in a restaurant he's probably eaten at for the many of the fifteen years he spent as a rider.
As I join the party and Aldag's friends disperse but his friendly mood remains. It's obvious why the team hold him in such high regard. But before Aldag reinvented himself as a directeur sportif and dived in to help save the team he called home from complete collapse, there was a point when the German came close to throwing in the towel. "If I hadn't had Bob Stapleton and the riders' support it might have been the end for me. I would have still confessed but under very different expectations, and yes, it was still very difficult," he says.
Read the complete interview.
Powers cracks Europe's top-ten
By Gregor Brown in Middelkerke, Belgium
America's Jeremy Powers cracked the top ten in Europe for the first time with his seventh place finish Monday at Noordzeecross in Middelkerke, Belgium. The Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com rider had a perfect start to make the lead group with eventual winner Sven Nys.
"It is a smaller 'cross race and I was hoping for a good result. Not all the big guys are here and it is a good one to go hard for us," Powers said to Cyclingnews on the cold day in West Belgium. "It is good to be up there."
In Middelkerke, Powers lost some ground with the favourites group that also included his compatriot Jonathan Page. When the race split into smaller groups, he kept his rhythm to arrive in the top ten. "It is really hard; trying to make sure you don't slip. It is important to minimise your mistakes, be really smooth and have a fluid race. Those guys are really good at that and that is why they are the best."
Powers had two 12th place finishes in the last two seasons in Europe: in Sint-Niklaas in January, 2007 and Zeddam last December. He had seven wins in the US earlier this season before making the trip to Belgium, where he lives in a rental house with Ryan Trebon.
He will race Tuesday in Loenhout, Belgium before taking a short break from the Belgian cold and travel to Alicante, Spain, with Trebon and then returning north for the World Cup round in Roubaix, France.
Americans' start bloodied in Middelkerke
By Gregor Brown in Middelkerke, Belgium
American duo Ryan Trebon and James Driscoll had the worst possible start to their race Monday in Middelkerke, Belgium. Both riders fell to the asphalt in the first metres of the race when a rider crashed in front of them.
"This idiot tries to squeeze [through on the] left, hits a spectator and crashes right in front of me. I was run over," said Trebon to Cyclingnews of the start. "I was on the front row, but when they go down in front of you, there is not much you can do."
Trebon, riding for Kona, was able to re-enter the race quicker than Driscoll, but they both were far away from the action. One of Driscoll's wheels had four broken spokes and he had to ease it through the course to reach the pits. He closed the day in 32nd after officials pulled him in the final lap.
Trebon improved throughout the race despite a bloodied left knee and a scuffed right shoulder he finished 15th.
"I was dead last and I had to chase all day. ... My elbow is sore. It is cold enough where you can't feel it during the race. That is the good part, I guess, but I will feel it tonight."
Driscoll is afraid that he might not be at the start with Trebon at Tuesday's race in Loenhout. If he does not start, his European campaign including a 26th in the Zolder World Cup could be over.
"It was a bummer; we will have to see what my wrist will do. I am worried about it," said Driscoll. "During the race it did not feel that bad, but think it was because I was amped up."
The 22-year-old will travel home on January 5 for the start of the school year. He will not race the World Championships on February 1 in The Netherlands.
Trebon plans to start in Loenhout, where he finished 21st in 2007. He then will travel to Alicante, Spain, for a warm-weather training camp with American and housemate Jeremy Powers. They will be back north for the World Cup in Roubaix, France, on January 18.
Page awaits first verdict
By Brecht Decaluwé
Jonathan Page gave an update on his situation with the anti-doping authorities after he was informed of a missed doping control at the World Cup in Koksijde last month.
"This morning we sent in the last document, and I think today USADA is looking into the case a first time. We're awaiting the verdict, and I guess that we'll find out shortly whether there's going to be a hearing or not," Page said.
The American left Belgium after the 'cross in Middelkerke. He will race in Switzerland next week.
California Giant/Specialized sets roster for 2009
After the California Giant Cycling Team celebrated a successful 2008 season with two national championship titles and over 70 podium appearances, the team announced its roster for 2009. California Giant Berry Farms, one of America's largest grower-shippers of fresh berries, has sponsored a cycling team for over eight years and said it is committed to "supporting cycling and other organizations that send positive messages about the importance of combining diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle".
New to the team for 2009 will be Jared Barrilleaux from Jittery Joes, Justin England from Toyota-United, and U23 Adam Switters from Rock Racing. They will join team veterans including James Mattis, 2008 Elite Road National Champion Patrick Briggs, John Hunt, two-time Olympian Dirk Copeland, and top US triathlete Chris Lieto. Also new in 2009 will be a U23 development squad.
Three of the team's members have moved up to professional teams for 2009 including Andy Jacques-Maynes, who heads to Bissell Pro Cycling, Ken Hanson, who heads to Team Type 1, and Max Jenkins who moves to the Danish team Glud & Marstrand Horsens.
In January team members and sponsors will gather at the Pajaro Dunes Resort in Watsonville, California, for a training camp and to finalize the race programs for individual riders. Team members will also tour California Giant corporate offices and meet the staff.
Team California Giant / Specialized for 2009
Four collegiate cyclists awarded scholarships
USA Cycling recognized four outstanding student-athletes, two as recipients of the annual John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarship and two as winners of the new Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Kimberly Turner of Seattle Pacific University and Kyle Englund-Krieger of the United States Naval Academy, were each granted US$1,500 John Stenner Collegiate Cycling scholarships based on academic achievements, athletic accomplishments and service to the community with an emphasis on collegiate team involvement and leadership. The annual scholarship program is funded by donations to the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
The Kuck Memorial Scholarships went to Fort Lewis College's Teal Stetson-Lee and Bucknell University's Jeffrey Salvitti, who will each also receive $1,500 based on outstanding achievements in the areas of cycling safety, advocacy and education. The program is funded through the USA Cycling Development Foundation by directed donations from the friends and family of Joshua Kuck, a collegiate cyclist who was killed in 2007.
Burkina Faso cycling federation elects new president
Alassane Ouangraoua was elected the new president of the Burkina Faso Cycling Federation (FBC) by the general assembly on Sunday in Ouagadougou according to the AFP. Ouangraoua won with 47 votes over opponent and now outgoing president Adama Diallo, who collected 25 votes. The 54-year-old Ouangraoua will serve a four-year term.
Cyclingnews Reader Poll: Best 'cross racers
Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the 2009 Zipp 808 wheel set with the new 88/188 hub to be announced on January 5.
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