Latest Cycling News, February 7, 2008
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Klöden worried about racing schedule
After the announcement of Kazakh team Astana's exclusion from this year's Giro d'Italia, one of the squad's captains, Andreas Klöden, has voiced his concern over possible consequences this could have on the 2008 racing programme. On the team's official website, the German Tour de France podium finisher worried that the Giro organiser RCS Sport might not invite Astana to its other races, including Tirreno-Adriatico, a spring stage race which Klöden won last year.
Asked how he felt about perhaps not being able to defend his title at Tirreno if the team was excluded from all RCS-owned events, Klöden said, "It's bad. It makes it hard for the team to plan when we don't know what races we can do. If we have to switch around all of the time some of the younger guys will not get so many opportunities to do good races. There might not be enough races for everyone if this continues. It's a problem."
The 32 year-old couldn't understand Astana's exclusion from the Italian Grand Tour, especially because the team has changed its structure altogether since last year, when it had to leave the Tour de France because of Alexandre Vinokourov's positive blood-doping test. "The team has gone a new way, we have an anti-doping programme in place," Klöden said. "A lot of the teams going to the Giro have no anti-doping programmes and do nothing about it. Johan and the team have put out so much money for this testing."
Moreover, the German was concerned that the decision could have wider consequences on the future of the sport. "Maybe more sponsors and teams are going to end up stopping because of this sort of thing," he added. "I think it is not right to exclude the teams of the ProTour. The problem now is with giving the UCI a lot of money for the ProTour license but they give nothing back. Maybe the teams should say, 'Fine, give us our money back.' How long will the fight keep going on?"
Klöden admitted that he had thought about leaving team Astana last summer after the Tour de France debacle, but finally opted to stay when Johan Bruyneel took over the reigns. "At the very first after the Tour de France, yes, I wanted to leave the team," he said. "It was too much and all the problems with doping were talked about all the time. It was written that maybe all of the riders with Astana could be doping too and I didn't like that. But now we have the medical check programme from [Rasmus] Damsgaard and I think it's very good. So I knew I needed a team and I saw the team Johan was putting together and the riders moving over with him from Discovery Channel. And now I am very glad I stayed with him and with Team Astana."
Teams to meet with Grand Tour bosses
At a conference of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, it was decided to initiate talks with the owning companies of the three Grand Tours in the hope to resolve the issues surrounding the ProTour teams' participation in the races. Last week-end, Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport announced that he wasn't going to invite four of the 18 ProTour teams, preferring Italian Pro Conti outfits instead. According to ANP, nine of the 18 ProTour teams represented in the IPCT voted to arrange a meeting with the race organisers.
"We're going to talk to the bosses of the Grand Tours to come to a solution," said Henri van der Aat, Rabobank's interim manager. "The teams need to know where they're at." It is apprehended that Tour de France organiser ASO might also choose the participating teams according to its own criteria, and not those of the UCI.
The nine teams (Astana, Team High Road, Rabobank, Milram, CSC, Quickstep, Lampre, Liquigas and Saunier Duval) are determined to put some pressure on the organisers. "There could be a situation where we say: 'either you take all of us, or none of us will come'. But we understand and respect the organisers' wish that they don't want any teams that could hurt their image."
Under the new 'special calendar' rules agreed upon by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and national federation representatives in Treviso, Italy, RCS Sport Events Director Angelo Zomegnan was not subject to the ProTour rule that insists that all of its teams be invited.
Zomegnan responds to McQuaid
On Wednesday, UCI president Pat McQuaid criticised the Giro d'Italia team selection and called the organiser's decision "a step back 20 years". One day later, Zomegnan refuted the accusation, saying "McQuaid accuses us of taking a step back 20 years, but who is to say that the selection criteria were worse 20 years ago with respect to all the deviations in the last three years. Incidentally, the quality of some ProTour teams that participated in the Giro in the period of 2005 to 2007 was dismal. Why should we have to invite them again?
"Also, all of the teams invited – to my knowledge – are affiliated with the UCI, and therefore I don't understand how its president can permit to divide its children from step-children," Zomegnan told tuttobiciweb.
"Finally, I remind McQuaid that just at the end of October we communicated to the UCI and WADA to be part of the biological passport [programme] ... and no one ever replied."
Petacchi to debut in Donoratico
Star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi will make his 2008 racing debut in the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Donoratico, Italy, which he has won the last three years in a row. The Milram rider will be accompanied by team-mates Marco Velo, Alberto Ongarato, Fabio Sabatini, Elia Rigotto, Niki Terpstra, Volodymyr Diudia, Matej Jurco and Martin Müller. Australian Brett Lancaster had to cancel the race because of a fever.
"I love the race in Donoratico," said Petacchi ahead of the event taking place this Saturday, February 9. "I won it the last three times and starting with a win always raises morale."
By Greg Johnson
The removal of Le Tour de Langkawi's grueling queen stage to Genting Highlands will re-define the way this year's event is run and won. While the Malaysian event's overall contenders have been limited to a select few climbers in previous years, the climb's one year sabbatical will leave the general classification open to over 20 riders when it gets underway this Saturday, February 9.
Genting Highlands' replacement by the Fraser's Hill stage will come as a disappointment to many in the field, but the climb which replaces it – a 800-metre high rise over 25 kilometres – leaves the general classification door ajar for a much larger number of riders to storm through. The brutal Genting Highlands climb was removed in a second major revision of the 2008 route, when organizers were informed Chinese New Year celebrations would make it near impossible to completely close the road to Malaysia's only casino.
The route change will play into the hands of teams like Italian outfit Tinkoff Credit Systems. The Professional Continental squad returns to Malaysia with a 'super team' of sorts, having combined the best of its 2007 Langkawi roster with its new signings from Gianni Savio's Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli.
Tinkoff, owned by Russian businessmen Oleg Tinkov, returns to the event with riders that claimed six of last year's 10 stages and is well suited to the revised parcours. New signing Alberto Loddo, who won five stages at last year's event, will be the in-form sprinter at this year's race. Loddo, who rode for Savio in 2007, stretched his legs against the world's top sprinter Tom Boonen (Quick Step) at last month's Tour of Qatar, even claiming a stage victory along the way.
To read the full race preview, click here.
Team Type 1 announces Langkawi roster
For its first-ever participation to Le Tour de Langkawi, American Team Type 1 has designated a rider roster with experience in the Malaysian stage race, this year taking place from February 9-17. Under the guidance of team director Edward Beamon, who directed riders on the course for team Navigators-Insurance in 2005, the Team Type 1 includes several riders who have previously been part of Asia's biggest cycling tour.
Australian Matthew Wilson will be the team's captain, with the 30 year-old being assisted by Glen Chadwick, Moises Aldape, Ben Brooks, Fabio Calabria and Ian MacGregor. "We are all anxious to demonstrate just what this team is capable of, especially when we will be part of an important race like Le Tour de Langkawi and in front of the big number of spectators which the tour draws every year," said Beamon.
"Matt Wilson has been in good form in the early season and we all expect him to be a lot more aggressive and competitive in every stage. And we want him to win at least one or two stages with the aim of one of the riders completing the tour on the podium.
"But having said that, we realized that Langkawi is a very competitive cycling race and it will be a hard tour, no doubt."
Another rider on which Team Type 1 will be relying is New Zealander Chadwick, who will be the team's leader for the General Classification. Still, the three ProTour teams competing in Malaysia will begin Le Tour de Langkawi as the firm favourites.
"It is difficult to ascertain who will win as Langkawi has never been known to be an easy cycling tour and even without the climb up Genting Highlands, it is still just as tough," added Beamon.
The full Team Type 1 rider roster for Le Tour de Langkawi is: Matt Wilson (Aus), Moises Aldape (Mex), Ben Brooks (USA), Fabio Calabria (Aus), Glen Chadwick (NZl) and Ian MacGregor (USA).
Deutschland Tour to start in Austria
By Susan Westemeyer
The Deutschland Tour will start in Austria this year. The prologue and start of the first stage will be held in Kitzbühel, Austria, the local tourism association, Kitzbüheler Tourismusverband, announced Wednesday. The Tour starts on August 29, 2008.
In addition, another stage is slated to be held in Mayrhofen, where the Tour of Austria started last year. It had previously been announced that Neuss, Germany, would host the end of the seventh stage and start of the eighth stage on September 4 and 5. The entire course has not yet been officially presented.
'Marathon man' Boogerd
By Susan Westemeyer
Retired pro Michael Boogerd has changed his passion from cycling to running. "I am fanatical for running," he told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. Boogerd is starting his running season with the City Pier City Loop, a half-marathon in Den Haag on March 15, to be followed by the Rotterdam marathon on April 13. His ultimate goal? "I want to run in the New York marathon this year."
He explained his new interest this way: "After my retirement as a cyclist, I needed a new goal. I mean, a cycling race isn't really a challenge for me any more, is it? For this reason, I am running. But I am not training as much as I did for cycling. It has to be fun."
Boogerd is following in the footsteps of other cyclists-turned-runners like Abraham Olano, Laurent Jalabert and Lance Armstrong. Does he think he can beat the seven-time Tour de France champion? "We will see, but I am not really aiming to become the best former cyclist. However, I know that Lance's fastest time in a marathon is about 2 hours and 47 minutes. As a matter of fact, he is not the fastest former cyclist in the marathon. That is Abraham Olano, with a time of 2.35. It will be hard to try and meet that time."
Hincapie Barkley development team launched
A new development squad has been announced in the USA. Hincapie Sportswear Inc., clothing manufacturer, and advertising agency Barkley, have partnered up to create the Hincapie Barkley Development Team, which will consist of eleven 15-23 year-old development riders and four elite racers.
The team based out of Greenville, S.C., has put into place an experienced-rider mentoring programme that allows U23/Junior riders to race and train with experienced Pro/Elite cyclists. The mentors will provide guidance in every aspect of the sport, including training techniques, racing strategy, nutrition and sports psychology. The Hincapie Barkley Development Team will participate in various sanctioned USA Cycling events throughout the year.
"We have promoted cycling on many levels from event promotion to race team management, and this is the next step in our support of the sport," said Rich Hincapie, Hincapie Barkley team leader and president of Hincapie Sportswear. "My brother, George, and I understand how far you can go in this sport when you have quality opportunities, and we're proud to provide support to these talented junior cyclists."
The aim of the Hincapie Barkley Development Team is to provide the missing link between casual competition and racing on the elite pro level. Racers on the Hincapie Barkley Team will be groomed and managed to help them graduate from the amateur ranks into the pro peloton.
"Two-time National Champion Craig Lewis was a rider on our Hincapie Elite Team several years ago," said Rich Hincapie. "He recently signed a professional contract to ride with George on Team High Road (formerly T-Mobile). In addition to Craig's success, our Elite Team has also developed numerous National and World Champions, so we know the programme can succeed."
The Hincapie Barkley development team roster is:
U23 Development Riders
Ben Gabardi - JR Cat 3, Jackson, MS; 2007 13/14 JR National TT and Criterium
Elite Team Mentors
Rich Hincapie - Cat 1, Greenville, SC; over 25 years of experience racing
on the professional and elite amateur levels
Sequoia Cycling Classic needs host families
With professional and elite teams making plans to ride in the Sequoia Cycling Classic in California, USA, from March 15-16, race organisers are looking for families who can open up their homes and host professional cyclists participating in the two-day race. Since the Tulare County event is the only National Race Calendar event in the Central Valley in 2008, and the final leg of the inaugural 99 Series, attendance at this year's event is expected to tower over that of last season.
"This year we are going to have a huge influx of riders that are hoping to stay with local hosts. These cyclists aren't raking in millions of dollars a year," said race director Sheri Clark. "It's a chance to hang out with the pros – see how they live, see how they train and help them out."
Professional and amateur cyclists are expected to head into the area to scout out courses several days before the weekend of racing begins in Exeter and Visalia, Clark said. Most riders will only be looking for housing Friday through Sunday. Those families who choose to host cyclists will be recognised with a free lunch at the VIP Pavilion during Sunday's Visalia Criterium.
For more information on becoming a volunteer host, contact Carol Beers, host housing coordinator for the Sequoia Cycling Classic, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)