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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, January 4, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Laura Weislo, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Olympic MTB selection one step closer

By Sue George

Mountain bikers will now fight for their nation's Olympic slots
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

The UCI's national rankings which determine starting spots for each nation at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, were released on Thursday. The numbers, which were compiled from mountain bike races between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2007 placed France and China atop the men's and women's rankings, respectively.

The overall scores were determined by adding each nation's final 2007 ranking to its 2006 ranking. A nation's ranking for any given season was the result of adding together the point totals of its top-three athletes in individual rankings. The teams within the top five of the men's rankings get to send three men to Beijing while the top eight women's teams are allowed to send two women each to Beijing.

Look for three men to represent France (7864 points), Switzerland (7349 points), Spain (5472 points), Belgium (4364 points) and Germany (4353 points). The United States will not be among the teams sending three men. Due to its sixth-placed ranking (4224 points), it will send only two men.

On the women's side, The People's Republic of China came out at the top - it will send two women based on its ranking (7236 points) to the Olympic Games held on home turf. Other teams eligible to send two women will include Germany (6346 points), the United States (6193 points), Canada (6182 points), Norway (4957 points), Poland (4849 points), Russia (4576 points) and Switzerland (4478 points).

Other nations are not out of the running. For the men, nations ranked from sixth to 13th get to send two riders each and nations ranked from 14th to 24th get to send one rider each. For the women, nations ranked between 9th and 18th get to send one rider each.

The nations' rankings are used in the first criterion for selection, but a second criterion, placement at 2007 Continental Championships for Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania (but not Europe), also plays a role. "The UCI will inform the National Olympic Committees at the beginning of January of the number of qualification places they have obtained according to criterion 1 (UCI ranking by nation) or criterion 2 (2007 Continental Championships)."

The UCI's selection document states that per criterion 2, nations finishing in the top two men's rankings or top of the women's rankings for each Continental Championship (if not otherwise qualified per criterion 1) get to send one male or female rider respectively. The UCI will confirm with the federations how many athletes each can send to the Olympics by January 11.

This 2008 qualification system was unlike that for 2004 because it considered points for nations' rankings not just for the year prior to the Games, but two years prior. The change rewards countries for consistency over a longer period of time and it protects traditional mountain bike powerhouses from a lacklustre pre-Olympic year that could be caused by illness or injury suffered by one of its star riders.

UCI Olympic Nations Ranking Men

Qualified to send three men per criterion 1

1 France                          7864 pts
2 Switzerland                     7349
3 Spain                           5472
4 Belgium                         4364
5 Germany                         4353

Qualified to send two men per criterion 1

6 United States Of America        4224
7 Netherlands                     3724
8 Sweden                          3695
9 Canada                          3462
10 Austria                        3261
11 Denmark                        3218
12 Italy                          3175
13 Great Britain                  2997

Qualified to send one man per criterion 1

14 Czech Republic                 2854
15 New Zealand                    2532
16 Australia                      2276
17 Poland                         2249
18 Russian Federation             1855
19 Colombia                       1773
20 Ukraine                        1754
21 Brazil                         1701
22 Chile                          1652
23 South Africa                   1477
24 Ireland                        1455

UCI Olympic Nations Ranking Women

Qualified to send two women per criterion 1

1 People's Republic of China      7236 pts
2 Germany                         6346
3 United States Of America        6193
4 Canada                          6182
5 Norway                          4957
6 Poland                          4849
7 Russian Federation              4576
8 Switzerland                     4478

Qualified to send one woman per criterion 1

9 France                          3931
10 Czech Republic                 3643
11 Spain                          3574
12 Slovenia                       3412
13 Netherlands                    3311
14 Austria                        3190
15 New Zealand                    2928
16 Italy                          2701
17 Sweden                         1988
18 Brazil                         1944

Slippens suffers through Rotterdam Six

Slippens and Stam
Photo ©: Birke Ulrich
(Click for larger image)

The Rotterdam Six Day kicked off on Thursday with the World Champion pair of Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli taking the win in the first Madison of the night. The Swiss pair was one of five teams on the lead lap, including last year's victors, Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko. Also on the lead lap were Erik Zabel and Peter Schep and the German team of Andreas Beikirch and Leif Lampater. One team which made the lead lap, but whose continued participation is in question is the Dutch pair of Danny Stam and Robert Slippens.

Slippens, who made his comeback to the sport this season after a 2006 road crash left him with severe injuries and forced him to miss the last Six Day season, dropped out before the final night of the Zürich Six Day earlier this week due to a severe bruise to his tailbone.

The 32-year-old hoped that the sore was sufficiently healed to take part in his home event. "Rotterdam is for us a home competition for which we have a special feeling. After consulting with the doctor, I decided to start tonight," Slippens said, hoping that the swelling would go down over the course of the week. "I will not be totally pain-free, but most importantly I hope to go the six days in full. I will have to ice the spot frequently and ride with a double chamois in my shorts."

Slippens took a break during the first round of the Derny event to ice his wounds, and to be sure, much attention will be paid to the integrity of his nether region during the course of the event by his hometown fans.

No Giro for Hushovd

Hushovd was happy to be on the Tour de France podium again in 2007
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Crédit Agricole rider Thor Hushovd is back to previous racing schedules for 2008. The Norwegian decided to scrap the Giro d'Italia from his programme this year, a race in which he participated in 2007 but abandoned after stage 12. Moreover, Hushovd did not win a single stage in the event, having to give in to Robert Förster in stage five and Alessandro Petacchi in stage seven.

"It's not easy to get back to a Grand Tour after a Classics time-out, and I prefer to have more reserves for the Tour de France," Hushovd explained to AFP. The tall sprinter will thus focus solely on the Tour in an effort to seize that Green jersey again that he took home from France in 2005, and add another stage victory to his Tour palmarès which counts five wins until now. "I want a stage win and the Green jersey in the Tour. Further on my calendar also are Milano-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he added.

With 2008 being an Olympic year again, Hushovd is also thinking about heading to Beijing in August, but fears the parcours might be too difficult for his abilities. "I still don't know if I'll ride the Olympic road race, but the Worlds are already included in my programme," he continued. "I really want to do better in 2008 than I did in last year." Hushovd scored only one victory in 2007, which was the fourth stage of the Tour de France, and reckoned he was "a little less strong than in 2006."

Teams announce training camps, TDU line-ups

Astana in New Mexico and Down Under

Huge crowds greet Contador
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The new Astana team will gather for its second pre-season training camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, from January 23 to February 4. Team manager Johan Bruyneel and sports director Alain Gallopin have "scheduled a busy programme" for the team, which is led by Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden.

The team presentation will be held on January 31 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The public is invited to attend, with proceeds going to the American Diabetes Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Tickets can be obtained at and range from US $25-$500.

Seven riders will not be in attendance, as they will be riding in the season's first ProTour race, the Tour Down Under in Australia, which starts on January 22. Koen de Koert, René Haselbacher, Benoit Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Julien Mazet, Steve Morabito and Jose Luis Rubiera will race in Australia under the guidance of directeur sportif Sean Yates.

Silence-Lotto in Australia and Portugal

Team Silence-Lotto is sending four Belgians and three Australians to the Tour Down Under, while the rest of the riders will be preparing for the season at a training camp in Europe.

Wim Vansevenant, Mario Aerts, Olivier Kaisen and Pieter Jacobs will fly from Amsterdam to Adelaide on January 10. They will be joined at the Tour Down Under by directeur sportif Hendrik Redant and Australians Robbie McEwen, Matthew Lloyd and Nick Gates. These three riders will also take part in the national championships on January 13 in Ballarat.

The rest of the squad will meet at a training camp in Albufeira, Portugal, from January 8 to 17.

Lampre to TdU and Qatar

The blue and fuchsia team of Lampre will depart from its native Italy on January 13th for Adelaide, South Australia, where for the first ProTour event of the season, the Tour Down Under. The Lampre team will consist of Fabio Baldato, Emanuele Bindi, Paolo Fornaciari, Mirco Lorenzetto, Massimiliano Mori and Christian Murro, under director Bruno Vicino.

Seven other riders will leave their European base and head to the Middle East for the Tour of Qatar, which begins January 27. The Lampre team for Qatar will be Marco Bandiera, Matteo Bono, Paolo Bossoni, Roberto Longo, Danilo Napolitano, Daniele Righi and Mauro Santambrogio under director Fabrizio Bontempi.

The other nine riders on the Team Lampre roster will be at a training camp in Riva degli Etruschi (San Vincenzo) from January 21 - 31, including 2007 Tour of Flanders winner Alessandro Ballan.

Fewer Continental Teams to be Invited to 2008 Rás

By Shane Stokes

Overall victory
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

The organiser of the 2.2 ranked FBD Insurance Rás has announced plans to readjust the standard of the Irish race by inviting a reduced number of Continental teams to take part from 2008 onwards.

Concerned that the changes which have occurred in recent years have made things very difficult for the amateur riders who enter each season, Dermot Dignam has said that a revision will take place.

"The FBD Insurance Rás has a world-wide reputation as a highly competitive and unpredictable race," he said in a press release. "This is due mostly to the unique mix of international and county riders.

"As it is important we maintain that status, the concern would be that pro teams may gain too much of a controlling effect on the racing, and thus reduce the potential winners to the leaders of the strongest pro teams."

A similar number of countries [at least 10] are expected to be represented as was the case in 2007. However the emphasis will be on national, regional and top-level sponsored amateur teams, hence the planned reduction in numbers of Continental teams.

"For 2008 there will be a greater spread of teams, including pro teams," Dignam continued. "So we are looking forward to a great race where the winner is as likely to come from a county team as from a pro team."

This year's race will take place from May 18th – 25th. The route is currently being finalised and is expected to be unveiled shortly.

German rider Tony Martin triumphed last season. The 22-year-old was competing in the race as part of the Germany Thuringer Energy squad, and will shortly make his professional debut with Team High Road.

Petacchi to Ruta del Sol

Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi will ride the Vuelta a Andalucia/Ruta Ciclista del Sol from February 17-21, the race organisers have announced. The agreement with Team Milram for his participation was reached quickly, according to the EFE news agency. There was mutual interest in the matter, since Deporinter, the organiser, "wanted to count on an exceptional sprinter" and the team has always had the race on its calendar.

Petacchi, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Thursday, has 129 career wins, including 4 Tour de France stages, 19 Vuelta a España stages and 24 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia.

Grillo faces long stop after car crash

By Gregor Brown

Paride Grillo (Panaria)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Paride Grillo started the new year off in the worst of ways when the 25 year-old Italian crashed his BMW Z4 Coupe into an electrical box at eight in the morning on January 1. The incident, which happened a few hundred metres from his home in Appiano Gentile (Como), left the CSF Group Navigare sprinter with numerous wounds according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The BMW was completely destroyed but Grillo was fortunate to escape with only small injuries, while doctors are still reserving the final prognosis. "The worst has passed," noted a family member. Attention is reportedly focused on his left knee, which will be evaluated further in the coming days.

The cause of the crash is unknown, however, streets were icy on that morning in northern Italy, and could have affected the car's control. The impact was such that a local electrical crew had to perform a check on the transfer box that was involved.

Grillo is now expected to face a long stop even though an official CSF Group Navigare (formerly Panaria - ed.) press release on Wednesday had him listed to start in the Tour de Langkawi (likely the team of Bruno and Roberto Reverberi did not yet know of the incident). It comes as another blow the winner of three races in 2007, who had to face a stop of two weeks for an elevated haematocrit value.

Gadret sticks to road and 'cross

John Gadret (AG2R) performed well in the 2006 Giro before crashing out of the race with a broken collarbone
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

AG2R rider John Gadret will continue to combine both road and cyclo-cross racing. The gifted climber, who revealed the extent of his talent at the 2006 Giro d'Italia and discovered the Tour de France last year, is currently getting back into 'cross shape after a rather long pause from the mud trails.

The Frenchman even plans to line up at the national cyclo-cross championships in Pontchâteau this Sunday, but doesn't think of winning the event in view of his rivals who concentrate solely on cyclo-cross and do not have a full road season behind them. "I know I can't win in Pontchâteau," Gadret told L'Equipe on Thursday. "But I'll try to make it onto the podium and if I do, I'll be happy!"

The Frenchman, who became a father to baby boy Andreas a few days ago, may raise his goals a little more once he gets more 'cross kilometres into his legs. "If I go [to the Cyclo-cross Worlds in Treviso, Italy, three weeks from now - ed.], it's true that I can gear up a little. But I haven't been selected yet..."

In any case, Gadret is sure to be back on tarmac once the road season gets going. "Cyclo-cross has become secondary," he admitted. "But I won't leave behind a discipline that made me become a pro. I need it - it is fun, and I can't imagine myself staying at home all winter. It's a balance."

Andrea Tafi makes team management debut

By Gregor Brown

Andrea Tafi
Photo ©: JF Quenet
Click for larger image

Andrea Tafi – winner of the 2002 Ronde van Vlaanderen and 1999 Paris-Roubaix – is making his debut as a team manager this year with GS Mastromarco. The Italian from Lamporecchio (Toscana) retired from racing in 2005, but he will pursue his cycling interests with the under 23 and amateur team, which is currently training in Sicily.

"I am approaching this new experience with my feet on the ground and with humility," said 'The Gladiator' of the new collaboration.

He pointed out the team's link to the Italian company Mapei, which sponsored the professional team for which he raced from 1994 to 2002, and which will appear as Mapecrete on the team's kits. "On our jerseys is a brand name of historical importance, one that has always left his mark in cycling. It will be up to all of the athletes and staff to give them the honour they merit. All of us together will try to show the image of clean cycling where the results are achieved exclusively from love and self sacrifice in this spectacular sport."

The team organized by President Malucchi Bruno is currently in Siracusa (Sicily) for a training camp that is scheduled to end on January 19. The riders are enjoying the warmer weather while trying out some of their new material, such as bicycles from Scott.

The riders will make their season debut with the Firenze-Empoli, February 23.

The riders: Basso Stefano (Elite 01/01/1985), Benito Braconi (Elite 11/12/1984), Salvatore Dorio (Elite 25/08/1985), Gabriele Orizzonte (Elite 27/11/1984), Stefano Borchi (Under 23 09/03/1987), Manuele Caddeo (Under 23 02/03/1986), Damiano Caruso (Under 23 12/10/1987), Mariano Fichera (Under 23 11/04/1986), Fausto Lavore (Under 23 04/07/1988), Matteo Scaroni (Under 23 06/11/1987), Luciano Birindelli (Under 23 23/02/1986), Marco De Castagnori (Under 23 06/02/1986), Alessandro Cantone (Under 23 14/07/1987), Alexander Fadeev (Under 23 14/03/1988), Maicol Bianconi (Under 21 02/06/1989), Matteo Giuntoli (Under 21 20710/89), Mirko Puccioni (Under 21 04/11/1989), Andrea Zanetti (Under 21 29/06/1989) and Gianluca Dorio (Under 21 06/02/1989)

Directeur Sportifs: Giuseppe Di Fresco, Carlo Franceschi and Roberto Boldrini  

CSC invites unsigned youngsters to training camp

Team CSC has invited four young riders without contracts to its training camp this month. Lasse Bochmann of Denmark and Spaniard Joaquin Novoa were stagiaires at the team in 2007, while Jonathan Bellis of Great Britain and Daniel Ossa of Italy have never raced in CSC colours.

Novoa, 25, joined the team for a few races in autumn. He was recommended by his countryman and training partner, Carlos Sastre. Bochmann, 24, also rode for the team late last season, but he crashed heavily in the fourth stage of the Tour of Ireland, ending his season.

Bellis, 19, from the Isle of Man, finished third in the Worlds U23 road race in Stuttgart in September. Ossa, 20, is from Trentino and said to have been recommended by former CSC rider Giovanni Lombardi. The young Italian had a good season as an amateur in 2006 but did not have any wins last year.

Sakonnet Technology U25 announces 2008 line-up

Sakonnet Technology has announced its 2008 rider line-up. The New York City team will have 10 riders for its fifth year as an Under 25 Development team. Two big names from last season will be leading the team: Canadian U23 stand-out Gavi Epstein (22) and Guy East (21), a member of the U23 U.S. National Team.

New riders joining the squad managed by Basil Moutsopoulos are current Trinidadian Elite Road National Champion Adam Alexander (23), multi-time Dominican Junior National Champion Daniel Estevez (19), U.S. U23 National Team member Ryan Bauman (21), 2007 U.S. U23 Criterium Nationals bronze medalist Jacob Keough (21) along with his Junior National Team member brother Nicholas Keough (19), podium finishers at last year's U.S. Junior Nationals Cheyne Hoag (19) & Travis Burandt (19), and one of the most promising young talents coming out of New England, Dylan O'Sullivan (20).

The team had a break-out season in 2007 with thirty wins and a number of top performances, including multiple top ten finishes at U.S. & Canadian U23 Road Nationals, a podium at U.S. Elite Track Nationals in the Madison and a top ten finish at the Univest Grand Prix UCI 1.2 event. Crowning a successful season, team rider David Guttenplan signed a professional contract with the Time Professional Development Team for 2008.

Sakonnet Technology and One Equity Partners will return as title and secondary sponsors. Additionally, Foundation Cycling Charity Ltd has committed to sponsoring the team. "Foundation is very excited to add Sakonnet U25 Cycling Team to the roster of supported causes," said Ric Wolf, spokesperson for the charity and local amateur cycling team. Foundation Cycling Charity Ltd. is a non-profit 501c entity that has raised over a million dollars to support Juvenile Diabetes Research, Alzheimer Research and Transportation Alternatives.

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