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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, January 1, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Gregor Brown

Langkawi route revised

The 2008 route has had its share of twists and turns
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

An ambitious plan by the organising committee of Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 to place the Genting Highlands mountain stage at the early part of the event has been overturned. The committee drew complaints from teams and sponsors, and decided to revise the route for the 13th edition. The dates for the Tour will remain February 9 to 17, 2008, but the finish in Genting Highlands will move to the second to last day.

"The revised route will follow traditional lines and will be a race of the highest quality, befitting its status as the leading Tour in this part of the world," said Datuk Naim Mohamad, the Chief Operating Officer of the Le Tour de Langkawi.

The revision, contrary to the press release, was anything but minor. Each and every stage has been changed, including the addition of some new start and finish towns.

"Our technical team responded very positively and were able to design a new route within a short time. We have spoken to the relevant authorities, including the various state Governments, and sponsors and they are all supportive of the change," said Datuk Naim.

The organizers assure that all preparations for the Tour are on course for the February 9 start in Alor Star where a record 25 teams will be participating, including Pro Tour, professional continental, continental and Asian teams.

"We are currently waiting for the teams to finalise their line-ups and will be announcing them in stages in the weeks leading up to the Tour," said Datuk Naim.

Original and revised routes:

Stage 1: originally Alor Star - Kulim (132.4 km) - now Alor Star to Kepala Batas (182.9km)
Stage 2: originally Tapah - Genting Highlands (125.4km) now Butterworth to Sitiawan (159.7km)
Stage 3: originally Lanchang - Cukai (195 km) now Sitiawan to Banting (209.4km)
Stage 4: originally Kuantan - Kuala Rompin (128 km) now Port Dickson to Batu Pahat (175.5km)
Stage 5: originally Kuala Rompin - Bandar Penawar (185.7 km) now Johor Bharu to Bandar Penawar (143.1km)
Stage 6: originally Bandar Penawar - Johor Baru (183.2 km) now Bandar Penawar to Kuala Rompin (182.0km)
Stage 7: originally Johor Baru - Batu Pahat (128 km) now Kuala Rompin to Kuantan (127.6km)
Stage 8: originally Melaka - Seremban (150 km) now Maran to Genting Highlands (154.8km)
Stage 9: originally Seremban - Kuala Lumpur (153.8 km) now Kuala Lumpur Criterium (80.4km)

Former British under-23 champion passes away

By Gerry McManus

Britain's Peter Bissell
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Talented British rider Peter Bissell died suddenly on December 29 in his home town of Stevenage. The 2006 British Under-23 road race champion collapsed while out with friends and was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Bissell was due to return to France for his third season and was joining the Hennebont team for 2008. He was looking to a step up in category. His 2006 season saw him win support from the Dave Rayner fund which had been extended into 2008.

Bissell also won many Juvenile and Junior titles and awards during his young and all too short cycling career, and he was awarded for his efforts with the Chris Boardman Trophy in 2005.

He had been racing for the Arctic-Shorter-Rochford team in recent years and the news of his death was reported by team manager Rob Finch.

"Peter will be remembered for his sense of fun, will to win and dogged determination," said Finch. The Cyclingnews staff would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family and friends of this talented young rider.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gerry McManus/

2007: A year in review, Part IV: September - December

Shortest retirement ever?
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After the most scandal hit Tour de France since 1998, cycling stumbles its way to the end of the summer, the Vuelta and the World's. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins looks back at the big races and top news stories in the last year in cycling.

The month of September began with an announcement that Johann Bruyneel – who'd announced his retirement with the disbanding of the Discovery team – would take over the reins at Astana. Surely this must be the shortest retirement in history.

The women's World Cup and ProTour continue with the Grand Prix Plouay/Grand Prix Ouest-France double bill in Britanny. In what are often good races for sprinters, both go to breakaway soloists. Italian Noemi Cantele (Bigla) escapes a small group of favourites to take the win, and Nicole Cooke (Raleigh-Lifeforce-Creation) takes the sprint for second over Cantele's countrywoman Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team).

Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) – Cooke's only serious challenger in the season-long competition – can only manage seventh, so it looks like the Welshwoman may well have the title sewn up for another year.

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), mindful that he's not done much since his days in yellow at the Tour in 2004, puts in an attack with less than 3km to go and wins by a couple of seconds. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) leads the bunch home, just pipping Danilo Di Luca who takes a few more points to strengthen his hold over the ProTour's white jersey.

The final Grand Tour of the year begins without last year's winner Alexandre Vinokourov, as the Vuelta a España gets going in Vigo, north east Spain. Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) – who won the previous Grand Tour stage in Paris in July – takes the victory in a Sprint Royale that features most of the world's top fast men.

Read the rest of Part IV here, or begin with Part I.

Napolitano dreaming of Sanremo

By Gregor Brown

Danilo Napolitano (Lampre Fondital) wins
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian Danilo Napolitano is looking forward to a season of record wins, one of which he hopes is the Sprinters' Monument, Milano-Sanremo. The 26 year-old – winner of the Giro d'Italia's Lido di Camaiore stage – will have full support in the sprints from Team Lampre after the departure of Daniele Bennati to Liquigas.

After spending Christmas with his family in Vittoria (Sicily), Italy, where he accumulated 2000 kilometres of training, 'Napo' is currently in Spain where he will pass the new year and build a base for the coming season. He is stationed in Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands with team-mates Fabio Baldato, Mauro Santambrogio and Daniele Righi, and their directeur sportif, Fabio Bontempi.

"It is not a phase of preparation in which the presence of a directeur is detrimental," confirmed Bontempi to Tuttosport. "In the past years some of of our other riders have managed their own training in the Canaries over the New Year." The riders are averaging 120 kilometres a day, and will remain on the island until January 10.

Napolitano will make his season debut with the sprint-friendly Tour of Qatar, January 27. "Cipollini, Boonen and the other great sprinters have won in there in the past years," noted Napolitano of his desire to get going early on. "I am counting on showing soon because I want 2008 to be my record year."

It will be the fifth professional season for the rider who bases himself near Brescia. In 2007 he accumulated eight victories, including his first stage win in the Giro d'Italia. "In 2008 I want to obtain more than 10."

He will not take one of those wins in this year's Giro since Bontempi has other plans. "It will not do it because it is designed for climbers, realistically, with only two stages adapted for the sprinters," explained Bontempi. "It will be a Giro where the sprinters will be useless in the last week. Last year I selected Napolitano for the Giro, and I was criticised. Now they criticise me because I am not selecting him for the Giro, but I can confirm that he will aim for wins in the Tour de France. We will put in place a train that consists of [Massimiliano] Mori, [Alessandro] Ballan, Righi, [Paolo] Fornaciari and Baldato."

"It is the same [train] that was given to Bennati to win the big races, and now it will guide me," chimed in Napolitano with enthusiasm.

After Qatar, he will race the GP Etruschi, Giro di Grosseto and the Milano-Sanremo. "Above all, Sanremo is my objective," he continued. "Then I would like to wear the points jersey in the Tour de France; it would be enough if only for three or four days. To arrive in Paris – at the end of the Tour – would be the best. We will try."

Bettini keeps flying

By Gregor Brown

Paolo Bettini racing to 2008 and possibly 2009
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini will fly into the new year with the intention of defending the rainbow jersey and the Olympic rings from his 2004 victory in Athens, a new interview revealed. The 33 year-old Italian also indicated that he may continue on racing into 2009.

"I will evaluate each race not on the results, but how I arrived. If I did what I wanted to then I am in peace," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Il Grillo Livornese faces up to a challenging 2008 season where he will try to defend both of his prestigious titles, but despite previous assertions he would retire at the end of the season, Bettini now is looking forward to 2009 as well, "It would be beautiful to continue racing so that I can partake in the 2009 Giro d'Italia, which will celebrate 100 years... I can see it now, in Milano, in front of my fans."

Bettini has spent his free time obtaining a pilot's licence, and has even bought a light aircraft. "I bought a Tecnam P92, which is more sophisticated than the one I was using in flight school. A retractile carriage, 100 horsepower, 230 kilometres an hour cruising speed – it will arrive at the end of the spring [costing nearly €50,000 - ed.]. I need to have 35 more hours of solo flying and then I will have the certificate to carry passengers."

The new airplane meant selling one of his cars. "I had two Ferraris, but I sold the Ferrari 360 Challenge; only the F430 remains."

With another Premio Gazzetta in hand, he looks ready to continue to challenge the young guns who have risen up this year. Riccardo "Riccò is one that talks a lot, but also gets the results. He could become the man of the Tours and Classics. Then there is [Filippo] Pozzato ... I am linked to him, but 'Pippo' is not able to live only on one [Milano-] Sanremo. He has so many qualities that he cannot waste these years. If he does not get lost amongst the watches and clothes, he will win all the races there are."

Huge support for the Liptrot appeal

By Paul Verkuylen

Tasmanian locals as well as some of Australia's highest profile cyclists have shown overwhelming generosity for 17-year-old Shamus Liptrot, who is still in the Royal Hobart hospital intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

Liptrot was involved in an mass pileup during the final lap of the men's C grade scratch race on day one of the Devonport Christmas carnival and sustained a broken leg and arm, three broken ribs and a fractured skull after being thrown over the perimeter fence in the fall.

Liptrot was operated on yesterday to remove a blood clot and relieve the pressure on his brain.

Rallying behind Liptrot, riders and spectators at the carnival have donated over $5000 to the appeal. All the riders racing in the UCI events also pitched in by offering a signed skinsuit which was up for auction for the entire night, eventually fetching over $1000.

The men's C grade field donated the prize money of their scratch race towards the appeal, which also drew donations from South Australian cyclist and this year's Paris-Roubaix winner, Stuart O'Grady. O'Grady recovered from multiple broken bones in a horrific crash during Tour de France in July.

In total the appeal has raised over $15,000, which will go towards medical expenses and travel cost for Liptrot's family who arrived in Launceston yesterday to support their son.

Tuft and Premont top Canadian riders awards

Tuft with his first win on US soil
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Svein Tuft of Langley, British Columbia, and Marie-Helene Premont of Chateau Richer, Quebec, were chosen by thousands of cycling enthusiasts as the top Male and Female Canadian Cyclists for 2007. The eleventh edition of the poll was conducted by to recognize the country's best talent.

Premont, who finished second in the World Cup of mountain bike racing, took just over half of first place votes, finishing ahead of Pan Am Games mountain bike gold medalist Catharine Pendrel and national road champion Gina Grain.

Tuft finished the season ranked number one in the international Continental ranking for North and South America, as well as winning the US Open and Tour of Cuba road races. He finished ahead of national mountain bike champion and Pan American cycling champion Geoff Kabush and Dominique Rollin in the poll.

"This year has been the best ever not just for me but for the team," commented the Team Symmetrics rider to "It's a real honour for me to get this award, and the US Open win was one of the best days of my life. I couldn't have done it without the boys so I really gotta share this with them."

Read From survivorman to cyclist for more information on Tuft.

Cyclingnews Reader's Poll - last call!

Polls close at midnight Pacific time - get your votes in NOW!

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As the year draws to a close, it's time for you to review the year in cycling and cast your vote in the annual Cyclingnews Readers' Poll. The polls will close at midnight Pacific Standard Time on December 31st, so get your votes in now!

And as in previous years, we have a wee incentive so you can justify the time and mental exercise: the chance to win a Christmas stocking full of the latest carbon fibre goodies from our friends at Zipp, like the lightest crankset on the market, plus animal-strength handlebars and a classy-looking stem.

So please, contribute to what has become one of the largest global polls of the cycling community and cast your vote. Please try to complete each category and only vote once, as we do a thorough review of the votes and make sure we remove all the duplicates.

Please visit this link to get started.

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