Cyclingnews - the world centre of cycling Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recent News

January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008

2007 & earlier

Recently on

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, January 6, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo & Ben Abrahams

Rifts in Rock Racing over controversial big-name signings

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Rock Racing team isn't afraid
to make waves.
Photo ©: Rock Racing
(Click for larger image)

Many rumours, speculation and critical reports have been surfacing over the past month about the American-based Rock Racing team, funded by the outspoken and controversial Michael Ball, owner of the designer jeans company Rock & Republic, which serves as the title sponsor. From the confirmation that Tyler Hamilton signed with the team to speculation that Mario Cipollini was in negotiations, the off-season has been tumultuous for the team - and the latest shoe to drop was the mutual separation between director sportif Frankie Andreu and Ball.

"Before Christmas they made some business strategy decisions with me and other members, and that made it obvious to me where they were heading," Andreu told Cyclingnews regarding his reasons for leaving. "Since then I was left out of the majority decisions."

Andreu's departure is one indication of the perceptive sea change for the team - from a new, alternative team with exciting prospects to one that is pushing boundaries, possibly too far. Andreu himself was singing the company's praises to Cyclingnews just last August - and indicating that the team would only be adding a couple of new key riders in 2008 to compete at a higher level. This is in contrast with what has been subsequently reported in terms of additions to the team.

The names of riders that have been linked with the team include Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero, Oscar Sevilla and Mario Cipollini. The signings of Hamilton and Botero have been confirmed in media reports while Sevilla and Cipollini remain rumours. However, according to multiple sources wishing to remain anonymous, both riders are joining the team. Both Botero and Sevilla have been associated with the Operación Puerto investigation, and Hamilton served a two year ban for blood doping.

'Win at all costs' mentality costly

Ball signed Fred Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Peña
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

But Andreu said the decisions he questioned went beyond riders and covered all aspects of the team. "Rider choices, sponsor choices, the way they were handling the prospective sponsors... they are an aggressive team and everything they do is aggressive. The cycling community is small and to me it is important to keep friends and not win at all costs."

Andreu said that the signings of some riders were not ever discussed with him. "They had talked about the Cipo thing before but that got all shelved," he said. "Once I was off the team I found out he was going to training camp and possibly signing, along with Sevilla and Hamilton.

Andreu continued saying that when he found out when certain riders were being discussed he expressed his concern over possible negative impacts to the team's reputation -- though he would not name specific names.

"I did a lot of speaking with the management guys there regarding at least a couple of riders and how it could affect the reputation of Rock & Republic. But Michael thought otherwise and wants to grow the team and win races."

Andreu also commented to Cyclingnews that Hamilton was not a concern for him. "For me, Tyler is not so much a problem - he has done his time."

The root of the problem could be Michael Ball's management style, which could be best described as unconventional. Cyclingnews was the first to hear the "win or you're fired" mentality from Ball, and Andreu said his dealings with the owner were quite rare. "I've only ever spoken with Michael Ball actually once. We were not allowed to talk to him directly, I speak with [his staff] who passes it on to Michael who tells them what to tell to me."

Landis linked, despite ineligibility?

Landis will appeal to CAS
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Another of the many speculations involving the team came out of Andreu's departure - that Floyd Landis, who is currently appealing his suspension for a positive testosterone test during the 2006 Tour de France, is going to become the new team director. Cyclingnews spoke with Landis directly regarding the idea.

"I don't want to comment... I don't have any agreement with the team," he said. "I know there are a bunch of rumours about it but I don't have any comments." Landis did confirm that he knows the team and Ball, saying that he supports their decisions. "I do know those guys there, the majority of them. I know that Michael Ball has made some very bold statements, but I wish them success. Those guys that they have on the team deserve a second chance."

According to USA Cycling and UCI rules, Landis would be unable to serve in any official capacity as a director, needing a license in order to do so.

For his part, Andreu is not too worried about landing on his feet, having been in a similar position before directing this team. "I'll stick with the television and race announcing. Add for 2009 focus on putting together a team where I can have more control."

"My interest would be to have some younger riders to develop, but to have a good squad to race in the US. The focus wouldn't be completely on the winning. Right now companies want more community involvement to really network the branding for the sponsor to the public. I know how to put a team together, the hard part is finding a sponsor and making it so they get their return. There is more than just winning races for sponsors."

Representatives from the team declined to respond to repeated inquires to comment.

Casper, Moreau boost Agritubel

Christophe Moreau
Photo ©: David Reinhardt
(Click for larger image)

The Agritubel team had its formal presentation on Friday in Loudun, showing off a team which has been bolstered by its new acquisitions, frenchmen Christophe Moreau, winner of the 2007 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, and sprinter Jimmy Casper, formerly of the team.

Moreau, the French champion, moved from AG2r to the Professional Continental team for this season, and is very motivated to help the third year team continue its growth. "Agritubel continues to grow in importance, and the philosophy of its leaders suits me," the 36-year-old told L'Equipe.

Moreau's arrival gave a new focus to the team which was previously centred around single day races and stage wins with the promising young sprinter Romain Feillu. Feillu, the silver medallist at the 2006 U23 World Championships, will benefit from the experience of Jimmy Casper, winner of a stage in the 2006 Tour de France.

Moreau will give the team a GC contender, helped by the addition of Christophe Rinero (ex-Saunier Duval) as his companion for mountain stages, and by Spaniard Moises Duenas Nevada, winner of the 2007 Regio Tour, who comes from Barloworld.

Agritubel will begin its season by the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on February 3.

2008 Agritubel team: Emilien Benoit Bergès (Fra), Freddy Bichot (Fra), Maxime Bouet (Fra) (New Pro - VC La Pomme Marseille), Steven Caethoven (Bel) (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen), Jimmy Casper (Fra) (, Cédric Coutouly (Fra), Romain Feillu (Fra), Mikel Gaztanaga Echeverria (Esp), Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Esp), Cédric Hervé (Fra), Kevin Ista (Bel) (Pôle Continental Wallon Bergasol - Euro Millions), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) (Cofidis), Christophe Moreau (Fra) (Ag2R Prévoyance), Anthony Ravard (Fra), Christophe Rinero (Fra) (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Benoît Salmon (Fra), Benoît Sinner (Fra), Nicolas Vogondy (Fra)

Manager: David Fornes, Sport Directors: Denis Leproux, Assistant sport directors: Emmanuel Hubert and Frederic Mainguenaud.

Valverde to start in Majorca

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: David Reinhardt
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde, whose wife Ángela gave birth to twins on Friday, will start his season at the Trofeo Mallorca (Challenge of Majorca) on February 10 before moving to the Tour du Haut Var on February 24. The Murcian rider will again compete in his home race, the Vuelta a Murcia from March 5-9 but won't ride the Volta a Comunitat Valenciana despite winning it last year.

Valverde is hoping to realise his stage race potential with a Tour de France podium, and also strong rides at the Beijing Olympics and World Championships in Varese, Italy. His preparation will also include the Clásica a Alcobendas and the Dauphiné Libéré.

"2007 was a very special year, very unusual," Valverde told Marca. "I did not perform badly, but not better than 2006. I was there once more, at a high level."

Courtesy of Monika Prell

Power aiming to return to Olympic form

By Shane Stokes

Ciaran Power wins the GP Mengoni, NYC, in 2006
Photo ©: Marco Quezada
(Click for larger image)

Four years after he finished 13th in the Olympic road race in Athens, former Navigators Insurance pro Ciarán Power has targeted a strong participation in Beijing as his big goal for the year. Back in 2004, the Irishman took one of his top career results, landing that top 15 place despite having been away for several laps in a breakaway group and being caught in the closing stages of the race.

His confidence was boosted greatly by the performance, but his aim of building on the result was foiled due to a now-corrected blood-flow problem in his leg. He was further hampered by illness in 2007, but has been working hard over the winter and hopes to once again shine in the Games.

This goal will be helped by his move to the new Pezula Continental team, which should give him and his coach Paddy Doran greater control over planning his training and racing.

"I've been keeping my head down, getting stuck into some good winter miles," Power told Cyclingnews this week. "I'll try and get some form and results early on and take it from there. We start racing in South Africa, doing a new series of races there from the 2nd to the 7th of February [the Intaka Tech World's View Challenge series]. After that we will do the Giro del Capo and then the Tour of South Africa.

"The Olympics are definitely the big goal for the year. To get there I'll have to have a great first half of the season, but I plan on doing that anyway."

Niedersachsen Rundfahrt uncertain

The Niedersachsen Rundfahrt is the latest German stage race to feel the financial pinch which has hit German cycling following the doping scandals revealed last year. "We have a financial hole of about 100,000 Euro," race organiser Otto Pätzold told the Hessisch/Niedersachsen Allgemeine. The race is still scheduled to be held from April 23-27, but it is not certain whether it will be held. A final decision will be taken later this month.

The German state of Niedersachsen has already withdrawn its support, and vehicle supplier Volkswagen is considering whether to continue its sponsorship.

If the race is held, the final stage will end in Göttingen, Pätzold said, which is the race's traditional finale. Milram's Alessandro Petacchi won the event the last two years, taking all five stages in 2006 and three stages in 2007.

German pro cycling has already lost one major race for 2008; the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, whose organisation committee announced its dissolution in early December 2007. Meanwhile, the organisers of the Henninger Turm one-day race in Frankfurt are looking for a new sponsor to back their event in 2009, after the Henninger brewery announced last August that it would discontinue its involvement after the 2008 race.

Grillo's condition improving

Italian sprinter Paride Grillo is expected to leave hospital next week after suffering severe bruising and a broken nose in a car crash on New Year's Day. The 25 year-old, who rides for Professional Continental team CSF Group-Navigare, underwent CAT and MRI scans to determine whether any brain damage had been sustained - fortunately both tests were negative.

"The rider's father told us that Paride has been transferred from the intensive care unit to a more relaxed one," said team director Roberto Reverberi. "Now we must wait for a complete diagnosis to decide a schedule for Paride's recovery. Since there is no serious damage, I hope he can restart training in 20-25 days."

Grillo's BMW Z4 Coupe collided with an electrical box near his home in Como, northern Italy, completely destroying the vehicle. "I saw the pictures of the car and I was really shocked," Grillo said. "The hours between dinner on December 31 and 3pm New Year's Day are like a black hole in my memory. I woke up with a face full of scratches. My parents told me that was due to the firemen who had to cut me out of the car, so I really want to thank them."

He was scheduled to travel to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi on February 9, but will likely remain in Italy and commence racing at a later date.

Deutschland Tour to visit Neuss

The Deutschland Tour will be making a stop and a start in Neuss, Germany this year - and the city hopes for a visit from the Tour de France at some point in the future. On Thursday, September 4, the seventh stage of the Deutschland Tour will end in Neuss, and the eighth stage will start there the next day.

"The contracts have been signed," city spokesman Hans Mietzen told the Neuss-Grevenbroicher Zeitung. The city's financing for the stages has been assured. But there are financial benefits to the city as well - the race organiser has booked 45,000 Euro worth of hotel rooms.

Neuss, a suburb of Düsseldorf, is not content to stop with just the Deutschland Tour. It has its eyes on a future Tour de France, and to that end, TdF race director Christian Prudhomme will be in Neuss this September, to see how the city celebrates cycling.

Seymour aims for number 16 as Aiken challenges

By Shane Stokes

Robin Seymour
Photo ©: Craig Brady
(Click for larger image)

Robin Seymour, the dominant force in Irish cyclo-cross and XC mountain bike racing since the start of the 1990s, will attempt to add to his formidable record on Sunday when he lines out in the 2008 national cyclo-cross championships in Tymon Park, Dublin.

The Wicklow man has won 15 out of the last 16 national cross titles, with a defeat to Roger Aiken back in 2005 the only hiccup to his record. He has also netted the last fourteen consecutive MTB XC gold medals. Last January Seymour finished 22 seconds up on Aiken in the cross nationals held in Banbridge, with bronze medallist Lewis Ferguson a further 3 minutes and 20 seconds back.

The first two of those have shown very strong form in recent events, although they have not yet competed against each other on Irish soil. Seymour won in Corcagh Park at the end of November while Aiken dominated the Ulster championships in Kilbroney Park on December 1st. He also won the Banbridge Academy race on December 15th.

A strong clash therefore looks on the cards this Sunday, with Seymour wishing to add to his fifteen cyclo-cross titles and fourteen consecutive mountain bike XC gold medals, and Aiken looking to return to his giant-killing role of three years ago. It's likely that they will scrap it out for the title, with a number of other challengers then vying for the bronze medal. The race will be run on a course which provides a good blend of fast grass sections, technical singletrack, banks, steps and run-ups.

Cycling and car racing teams join forces in Malaysia

By Jean-François Quénet in Kuala Lumpur

The LeTua cycling team
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Two promising sponsorships accompanied the beginning of a new year for Malaysia's first UCI continental team NPC-LeTua. The 12-man squad has joined forces with car racing team Meritus that operates successfully in GP2, Formula V6 Asia and Formula BMW Asia and will race in partnership with the National Press Club of Malaysia, who hosted the team's launch for the 2008 season in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

NPC-LeTua's roster for the Jelajah Malaysia (UCI 2.2), Asia's first international bike race of the year, running from January 7-13, was also announced. It will consist of top sprinter Anuar Manan, who won a stage in the 2.1 ranked Tour of Hainan in November 2007, Sayuti Zahit, Ahmad Haidar Anuawar, Nor Ridzuan Zainal, and the two Indonesians Tonton Susanto and Ryan Ariehaan.

The LeTua team rose from humble beginnings, registered as a club in 1996 - the year of the birth of Le Tour de Langkawi - and formed by cycling enthusiasts who all contribute financially to support the riders. "We have to change the way we have managed this team for taking it to a further level," team manager Shukor Yassin explained. "That's why we have tied up with the National Press Club of Malaysia for the promotion of cycling and advice. We want to become a top cycling team in Asia and become a top-five finisher on GC at Le Tour de Langkawi in the next three years."

Meritus Racing manager Peter Thompson
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

The presence of Peter Thompson at the launch was highly noted. Together with Firhat Mokhzani, the Irishman owns the motorsports team Meritus Racing. "My best friend in Ireland is Stephen Roche," the Kuala Lumpur-based car racing manager said as an explanation for his passion and investment in cycling. His drivers, including 15 year-old Formula One prospect Jazeman Jaafar, will be invited to cycle for fitness together with the LeTua riders in some specifically organised training camps.

The NPC-LeTua roster for 2008: Anuar Manan, Sayuti Zahit, Ahmad Haidar Anuawar, Nor Ridzuan Zainal, Azrul Hafidz Awang, Mohd Asril Abdul Rahman, Mohd Khairuz Abdul Ghani, Nicklos Minol (all Malaysians), Tonton Susanto, Amin Saryana, Ryan Ariehaan from Indonesia and Low Ji Wen from Singapore.

Ziegler retires and opens bike shop

Former T-Mobile rider Thomas Ziegler has retired from professional cycling at the age of 27. "I had already decided in September not to ride the 2008 season as a pro," he told

Ziegler, who lives in Hannover, Germany, will open a bike shop there to be called 'Saikls', in partnership with Rabobank's Grischa Niermann and Roman Jördens, a former GS-II and GS-III rider. "At first we wanted to run the shop in our spare time, but we quickly found out that wasn't a good idea if you don't have money to burn," he said. The shop is scheduled to open February 1.

Ziegler turned professional in 2002 with Team Wiesenhof. From 2003 to 2005 he rode for Gerolsteiner before joining T-Mobile in 2006. He had one professional victory, winning a stage in the Sachsen Tour in 2005.

Cyclingnews reader poll - Results up soon!

The results have been tallied up, and with more than 10,000 votes cast, this year's poll is one of the biggest ever! The first results, the Best Male and Female Cyclo-crossers of the year will be the first results to be published beginning Monday. Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the Zipp carbon fibre goodies: the 570g VumaQuad crankset, the SLC2 handlebars and Zipp's 145 stem, to be announced at the week's end.

Previous News    Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2007)