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First Edition Cycling News, January 13, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Steve Medcroft

O'Grady, Goss pull out of Aussie championships

Matt Goss (CSC) at the 2007 Tour of Britain
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC duo Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Goss are late withdrawals from the Australian Open Road Championships' Elite Men's road race in Ballarat, Melbourne Sunday, with the pair deciding to focus their efforts on this year's Tour Down Under. It's believed the pair's Team CSC team-mates will be arriving in Adelaide at some point today, where they will meet up and start preparations for the ProTour's opening round which starts in a week's time.

"Last night both Stuart and Matt decided not to participate. It is too early season for them and it would interfere with their preparation for the TDU and the classics," team sport director Scott Sunderland said.

Sunderland, himself a former professional from Australia, believes that the timing of the Australian nationals always presents an issue for the nation's top riders, as its far too early in the season for the riders to be at the top of their game. "In this part of the season it's much more important to train than race," Sunderland said recently. "It will always be a problem with the Australian championships and I felt the same way back when I was racing myself. Last year they skipped the championships and they were happy about that afterwards."

While the absence of Goss and the 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner will undoubtedly be a blow for the Australian nationals race, it will still feature a quality field of some 110 riders. The 163.2 kilometre championship race will start at 11 AM local time today. Check back on Cyclingnews for full reporting, photos and results.

Aussie Champs road race wide open

By Paul Verkuylen

Simon Gerrans hopes to add the Australian National Championship stripes to his new Credit Agricole kit
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

A national title that, for some, is the first race of a long season is a tough way to begin a season. For many of Australia's top professionals the race is just another test of how their training has progressed during the off-season. Other's have targeted the race and built up their form accordingly. The green and gold jersey of national champion has gone from one of obscurity to one held in very high regard by riders and teams alike in the past ten years.

Once there was a time when, professional teams would not let a rider use the national colours over that of their trade team colours. Now, having the green and gold incorporated into the design is favoured by the team and riders alike. "You get special kit, different socks and different helmet and paintjob on your bike, so it's something special to have," Rabobank's Matt Hayman explained.

This year's title seems to have captivated almost all of Australia's European and American based pro's, and most have turned up prepared for a tough race. Australia's domestic squads, such as Drapac Porsche and FRF couriers have also fielded strong squads that could snatch the title out from under the noses of their more favoured rivals, as Darren Lapthorne did last year.

Many of the top riders have learned from last year's edition and will be keeping tabs on not just the rivals they know from racing in Europe. "A lot of local guys have earmarked this race as the biggest race of the season," Hayman explains.

"It is so hard to tell [who the favourites are], so years you see guys who have been really strong in the Bay Crits, and it turns out they don't do much at the nationals, the racing that we have done, weren't just the sprinters," Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) explained.

Last years winner, Lapthorne along with William Walker and Alan Davis have been earmarked by many of the riders as the ones to watch out for, with Lapthorne the most prominent on everyone's lips after an impressive performance at the Bay Series last week, but with a lack of racing to compare everyone's form, the race could well be a lottery.

"There is probably about ten guys that I think could win," Baden Cooke concluded.

Sastre re-affirms Grand Tour goals

Carlos Sastre under the microscope
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

His career has been one of steady progression and, after finishing an aggressive second in the 2007 Vuelta a España, the obvious question is whether Carlos Sastre can now go on to win a Grand Tour. The 32 year-old Spaniard recently spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes about the season just passed and his goals for the year ahead:

Held back slightly by his time trialling but often one of the most aggressive in the mountains, Carlos Sastre has been one of the most consistent Grand Tour riders of the past few years. Consider his Grand Tour record: he finished 20th overall in his first Tour de France back in 2001, was tenth in 2002, took a stage win and finished ninth overall in 2003, then placed eighth in 2004, 21st in 2005 [while working for Ivan Basso], third in 2006 and fourth in 2007.

His Vuelta record shows a similar spate of top-ten results. In 2000 he won the king of the mountains classification and finished eighth overall. In 2004 he was sixth, in 2005 he was second to Dennis Menchov [following Roberto Heras' disqualification], in 2006 he was fourth and in 2007 he was runner-up, once again behind the Russian.

The CSC rider is clearly a very talented competitor. In 2006 he rode all three Grand Tours, and performed strongly. Other riders have completed the triple in the past, but finishing 43rd in the Giro [he worked for Basso], third in the Tour and fourth in the Vuelta illustrates his endurance, his capacity to work hard and his dedication to the sport. That showing plus his performances this year are things which give him particular satisfaction.

Read the entire Carlos Sastre interview here.

"Safer" Kemmelberg still in Gent-Wevelgem

By Susan Westemeyer

Yowza! That's got to hurt!
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gent-Wevelgem race organizers are doing their best to prevent a repeat of the "Slaughter on Kemmelberg" from 2007, when numerous riders went down on the cobbled descent, resulting in many serious injuries.

The Kemmelberg remains in the race, but the descent will this year be on a paved road instead of the treacherous cobblestones.

"It was never an option to remove the Kemmelberg from the parcours," race director Hans de Clercq said, according to the "Belga" press agency. "Gent-Wevelgem is the Kemmelberg. But we had to make it safer."

This year the race will approach it from the other direction. The descent is longer but not as steep, and the speed is expected to be lower.

Boonen on the track in Beijing?

By Susan Westemeyer

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The pursuit race on the track is generally regarded as an extremely technical discipline for which team must practice for years, in order to get their timing and coordination down pat. But Tom Boonen seems to think that he and three Quick Step team-mates can pick it up in a few weeks in time to ride it in the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.

"We are the most explosive riders in Belgium and Europe," the 2005 World Champion told the Belgian newspaper "Le Derniere Heure". "I am sure that we can pull it off in Beijing." His track team-mates would be Gert Steegmans, Sébastien Rosseler and Wouter Weylandt. Instead of years to work together, they would have about three weeks, because "before August we naturally have other things in mind", like the Tour de France.

Belgian national track racing coach Michel Vaarten didn't reject the idea outright. "When such riders offer themselves, you of course have to listen." Quick Step team manager Wilfried Peeters saw it otherwise. "It all began as an idle idea over the dinner table and all of a sudden it is in the newspaper. On paper it is perhaps a beautiful idea, but it doesn't seem practical to me."

Aussie teams for LA Track World Cup

Belinda Goss was one of those selected for the Australian National Team
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Cycling Australia has announced the members of the Australian National and Team Toshiba outfits that will contest the third round of the 2007-08 UCI Track World Cup series to be raced in Los Angeles from January 18 to 20. The event will mark the return of new Team CSC signing Bradley McGee's return to the track as the New South Welshman prepares for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in August.

In addition to the two national outfits, Drapac Porsche will be sending a sole rider to represent the Victorian team, with Phillip Thuaux of Point Clare in New South Wales to fly the outfit's flag in Los Angeles.

Australian National Team: Katherine Bates, Jack Bobridge, Peter Dawson, Mark French, Belinda Goss, Mark Jamieson, Ben Kersten, Kerrie Meares, Karle McCulloch, Bradley McGee, Cameron Meyer, Jason Niblett and Glenn O'Shea.

Team Toshiba - Australian Professional Track Team: Ryan Bayley, Daniel Ellis, Shane Kelly, Anna Meares, Scott Sunderland.

Commerce Bank Triple Crown announces race dates

J J Haedo (CSC) at the 2007 Commerce Bank International Classic
Photo ©: Dennis Smith
(Click for larger image)

Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling organiser Pro Cycling Tour LLC has announced the 2008 race names and dates for its all Pennsylvanian international pro cycling series. The 2008 series will start off with an all new event, the Lehigh Valley Classic on Tuesday, June 3.

"There's always something new and exciting to look forward to during the Triple Crown Race Series," said David Chauner, Pro Cycling Tour director. "Thanks to our extremely enthusiastic sponsor, Commerce Bank, and the tremendous support of the Commonwealth of PA and the cities of Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown, the 2008 series is shaping up to be one of the most successful series in our event history."

The three Classic events expect to draw over 400,000 spectators, 400 professional cyclists from 23 countries, close to 1,000 amateur cyclists in ancillary events, and over 60 expo exhibitors which will attract more than 50,000 visitors, according to Pro Cycling Tour LLC.

The Philadelphia International Championship will celebrate its 24th year in 2008 and its companion women's race, the Liberty Classic, will celebrate its 15th anniversary.

Triple Crown dates and venues:
Commerce Bank Lehigh Valley Classic: Tuesday, June 3 , 2008
Commerce Bank Reading Classic: Thursday, June 5, 2008
Commerce Bank Liberty Classic: Sunday, June 8, 2008
Commerce Bank Philadelphia International Championship Sunday, June 8, 2008

Saunier Duval-Scott optimistic for 2008

Saunier Duval-Scott Directeur Sportif Joxean 'Matxin' Fernández is optimistic about the season ahead, despite admitting it will be difficult for the Spanish outfit to reach the success it enjoyed in 2007 due to some key losses from its roster. The team, which held its presentation at the Nazaries Hotel in Granada yesterday, has lost top riders like David Millar (Team Slipstream) and Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) this season.

Saunier-Duval-Scott remaining star Riccò takes a second in the '07 Tirreno
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"It won't be easy, because to clinch 29 wins as we did in 2007 means we'll have to work very hard," Matxin said. "Moreover, it'll be complicated for us as we've chosen younger riders, nine of which are under 24."

Matxin is hopefully the young age of his outfit will not result in less victories for the Spanish ProTour squad in 2008, saying that he hopes the lack of big names will motivate the younger riders to come out of the shadows and give their all. "I really believe our team is better than the 2007 squad, with fewer big names but stronger as a group," he said. "We've lost important men like Millar, Simoni or Ventoso, granted, but we'll have a more cohesive group. Above all, we'll have to boost our young guns' confidence. Otherwise, they'd feel overshadowed by the leaders. To be sure, this team includes some of tomorrow's cycling stars."

With the lack of big named riders, Riccardo Riccò aside, to carry the squad through the massive Grand Tours in Italy, France and Spain, Matxin says his outfit will be aiming for victory in any race it enters. "We'll have a couple of riders fighting for victory in each race, starting with the Tour Down Under (Australia), the Tour de San Luis (Argentina), and the Tour of Qatar, our first events of the season, beginning in ten days," he said. "Naturally, the focus will be on the Grand Tours. Although it may seem that our chances are slim because we don't have a clear leader, I trust Gómez Marchante and Cobo for the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España; Piepoli, of course, for the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia; and especially Riccò for the Giro."

Saunier Duval-Scott for 2008: Raúl Alarcón (Spa), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), José Alberto Benítez (Spa), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Iker Camaño (Spa), David Cañada (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Ermanno Capelli (Ita), Juan José Cobo (Spa), David De La Fuente (Spa), Jesús Del Nero (Spa), Arkaitz Durán (Spa), Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Spa), Denis Flahaut (Fra), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa), Ángel Gómez Gómez (Spa), Héctor González (Spa), Beñat Intxausti (Spa), Josep Jufré (Spa), Rubén Lobato (Spa), Javier Mejías (Spa), Manuele Mori (Ita), Luciano Pagliarini (Bra), Aurélien Passeron (Fra), Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) and Riccardo Riccò (Ita).

Wesemann and Kopp to Collstrop

By Susan Westemeyer

David Kopp at the Rund um Köln in 2005
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
Click for larger image

Team Cycle Collstrop has celebrated receiving its Professional Continental license by signing Steffen Wesemann and David Kopp, increasing its chances of wild-card invitations to the Spring Classics.

Team manager Hilaire Van der Schueren said that he hopes to sign additional "big names".

Swiss citizen Wesemann, who finished third in last year's Paris-Roubaix, rode for the now-defunct Team Wiesenhof-Felt in 2007 and had signed with Team Pedaltech-Cyclingnews for this season.

The British team received only a Professional license, and had to allow him to seek a new team. Kopp was with Team Gerolsteiner in 2007, and had been in negotiations with Pedaltech for 2008.

Kashechkin hopes to ride again

By Susan Westemeyer

Andrey Kashechkin (Astana)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Andrey Kashechkin is continuing to train and hopes to find a new employer, according to his attorney. The Kazakh rider tested positive this past summer for blood doping, which charges he continues to deny.

"Andrey is ready to sign a contract with the option for the team to cancel it if he receives a disciplinary sanction," said attorney Luc Misson, according to the Belga press agency. "Andrey continues to train and has an excellent condition."

Kashechkin tested positive in an unannounced out-of-competition test while on vacation in August. He was subsequently dismissed by Team Astana. In November a Belgian court rejected his argument that the doping test violated his human rights, ruling that it has no jurisdiction in the matter, and that Kashechkin had agreed to undergo such testing when he accepted his license.

Misson continued to maintain that the UCI's doping controls violate a rider's human rights, including his right to privacy. He further claimed that Kashechkin's B-sample was tested 22 days after the A-sample, which is later than allowed and therefore was not valid.

The maglia nera returns as a number

By Gregor Brown

The numero nero (black number)
Photo ©: RCS Sport
(Click for larger image)

The short-lived maglia nera ('black jersey') of the Giro d'Italia will make its return this May when the three-week race departs from Palermo according. The honour – this time being awarded as a number instead of a racing jersey – will be bestowed on the rider who finishes last each day in the overall classification.

The maglia nera was awarded from 1946 to 1951, and many riders would fight for the honour of finishing last. The last winner was Giovanni Pinarello, who later founded the famous bicycle company based in Treviso. Oscar Gatto finished last in the 2007 Giro, and half-jokingly noted after the race that "everyone remembers the first and the last, the second and penultimate are remembered by only the actual riders, even if they might want to forget about it, and no one remembers the riders from third to the third to the last. For this reason I fought to arrive last."

The tradition will continue in the 2008 Giro as a white number on a black backdrop – numero nero – for the rider's jersey and bike. "We wanted to offer attention for those who fight and struggle at the back of the classification," explained Angelo Zomegnan, events director of RCS Sport, to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Perna. "However, we are doing this without the same level of attention as the maglia rosa and the other jerseys, and we have thought of a difference solution to the maglia nera." (The International Cycling Union (UCI) limits the number of leaders' jerseys to four, and the Giro already has the rosa, verde, ciclamino and bianca. - ed.)

The jersey was abolished in the past because of its negative connotations, as such RCS Sport (Organisers of the Giro d'Italia) proposed the number concept to the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) to ensure the idea was acceptable.

Gatto will be happy if he is awarded with the numero nero, as he noted "To finish the Giro is always better than abandoning."

Past maglia nera winners: Luigi Malabrocca (1946 - 1947), Aldo Bini (1948), Sante Carollo (1949), Mario Gestri (1950) and Giovanni Pinarello (1951).


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by RCS Sport

  • The numero nero (black number) replaces the short-lived maglia nera ('black jersey') of the Giro d'Italia. The honour – this time being awarded as a number instead of a racing jersey – will be bestowed on the rider who finishes last each day in the overall classification.
  • The numero nero (black number) will be in the 2008 Giro as a white number on a black backdrop for the rider's jersey and bike.

Colavita/Sutter Home women's team names Director Sportif

Colavita standout Dotsie Bausch hammers the field at last year's Geelong Women's Tour
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Jack Seehafer has been named Director Sportif of the Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team for the 2008 season. Seehafer, who has over 15 years experience in road and BMX racing, most recently led Team Einstein's Cycling development program.

"We're pleased to welcome this latest addition to the Colavita/Sutter Home family," said John A. Profaci, Vice President of co-title sponsor Colavita USA. "Jack came highly recommended to us from within cycling where he's recognized for building team environments that encourage athletes to achieve their personal bests."

Seehafer's first initiative as Director Sportif has been developing a joint training program for the Colavita/Sutter Home Men's and Women's Cycling Teams. The squads will gather at Yosemite National Park from March 3-7 for four days of training, team-building workshops, and orientation to the new equipment they will use throughout the season (including Jamis Xenith SL road bikes).

"I'm thrilled to join the Colavita/Sutter Home squad," said Seehafer. "I've been cheering for five-time U.S. National Champion Tina Pic ever since she and my wife [Kori Kelly Seehafer] raced together for Genesis Scuba. I look forward to working with Tina as she aims for her 6th national championship title. With the powerhouse trio of returning cyclists Dotsie Bausch, Alison Powers, and Iona Wynter-Parks and the new talent that we've signed, I expect this will be the best season ever for the Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team."

Colavita/Sutter Home Women's team: Dotsie Bausch (USA), Tiffany Cromwell (AUS), Andrea Dvorak (USA), Shontell Gauthier (USA), Kristin McGrath (USA), Tina Pic (USA), Alison Powers (USA), Nichole Wangsgard (USA), Mackenzie Woodring (USA) and Iona Wynter-Parks (JAM).

O'Grady development squad opens season on solid footing

Stuart O'Grady's development squad CSC Team O'Grady, has had an excellent start to the 2008 season, claiming numerous state and national wins. 20 year old Russell Gill started off the teams excellent run, winning the Australian U23 National criterium championship ahead of a stellar field.

This was followed by a pair of elite state track and road championship titles to Christos Winter and Carlee Taylor during January. Taylor, 18, went one better though this week at the Australian road championships, capping off a stellar month to win her first U23 national road championship.

Tour Down Under extends deadline for Škoda Breakaway Series

South Australians have been given a few extra days to sign up for the Tour Down Under's Škoda Breakaway Series, after a record breaking late surge of entries. Organisers have extended the deadline to 5 PM Monday, January 14, 2008, with entries for one of the series' events – the Mutual Community Challenge Tour – already reaching record levels. More than 3,200 people have signed up to ride the same route as the professionals from Mannum to Strathalbyn on Friday, January 25, over 500 more than the previous record.

Organisers have set another record with more than 3,860 people signing up for the whole Škoda Breakaway Series, which also includes the Mutual Community Fun Tour Mini Tour for Kids, the Mutual Community Challenge Tour presented by The Advertiser (ride on the 134 km stage four route held 25 January) and the Mutual Community Fun Tour presented by The Advertiser (a 20-km fun ride held 20 January).

To register for the Škoda Breakaway Series visit

New partner for women's New Zealand tour

The UCI has granted international status to a five-day women's classic in New Zealand this February, while organisers have announced that New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) has signed on as the event's title sponsor. The event will be run by promoter Jorge Sandoval, who has been working with the UCI to ensure its international status and secure sponsorship for the tour that will start in the Hutt Valley on February 27.

"This is great news for our sport and the region," Sandoval said. "To have NZCT on board is very special as it gives us the confidence to put on a first class event in 2008 and in the years to come."

Sandoval hopes that the new tour will assist the Wellington region to regain a round of the Women's World Cup, which it last hosted in 2006. "We are trying really hard to get the world cup back to Wellington from 2009," he said. "We recently meet with the UCI Vice – President and we have been invited to go to the UCI in Switzerland early in 2008 to do a formal presentation."

"In order to keep the momentum from the two World Cups in 2005 and 2006, we will run a bigger NZCT Women's Tour of New Zealand next year in the Wellington and Wairarapa area and one of the stages will take place in the proposed new circuit for the 2009 women's world cup." Sandoval added.

Riders in next year's NZCT funded event will race up the steepest hill climbs in the Wairarapa – Admiral hill and Te Wharau hill – previously used only by their male counterparts. This will be a testing introduction to the tour as it will happen on the second day of racing. This will prove particularly gruelling for the European riders who come to New Zealand early in their season.

Over the five days of racing riders will complete six stages for a total of 470 kilometres. The race starts with a circuit in Hutt City on Wednesday 27th February at 2.00pm, and finishes with a criterium race in downtown Wellington on Sunday March 2.

ZteaM announces US elite team

ZteaM Cycling announced its entry into the US professional circuit this week. The team will providing Category 1 riders the ability to compete at the national level against some of the nation's top professionals. Added to the roster for 2008 is Dave McCook, the current Points Race National Champion and 1994 National Criterium Champion. McCook will help manage the race team along with veteran rider Christian Kearney.

Also bringing added experience and horsepower to the squad is Uthman Ray IV, Chris Swan, Stephen Dey and one-time Swedish junior national champion Martin Erlandsson. Five of the sqauds riders come from the now defunct SugarCRM team. ZteaM also includes newer riders Nathan English and Justin Laue.

"Professional cycling is something we have been planning for our club from day one and it is coming a year earlier than planned with the fallout of SugarCRM's funding," said the team's founder, Hunter Ziesing. "We are sorry these boys lost their funding but it is an opportunity for us to experience racing with the Pro's before we launch our full D3 continental team effort in 2009. With six Cat 1 riders we should be able to participate in most of the 50 or so NRC races in the US this year."

ZteaM's race captain, Hans Gouwens, said that additional funding will be needed in 2008, but since the club is a charitable organization that supports cycling, he thinks he can count on sponsors as well as ZteaM members to fund this year's initial Pro development effort. "Last year we brought in cycling legend Eddie Merckx from Belgium who helped raise over $20,000 for the Oak Hill School for autism," said Gouwens. "This year with the help of Bob Roll, we helped raise close to $10,000 for the Nor Cal High School MTB Cycling League and Trips for Kids."

ZteaM has scheduled its winter training camp in Mendocino, California, for late February and will begin racing locally in California in March. If funding allows, the team will enter all of the US NRC races it is eligible for.

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