First Edition Cycling News, January 17, 2008
Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo
Quick Step gets rolling in Spain
By Ben Atkins
Towards the end of last year the Quick Step team got together in Marina di Bibbona, Italy, where riders collected their new kit for 2008 and posed for their official mugshots. It's now time for business in Benicàssim, just north of Valencia on the east coast of Spain. Cyclingnews checked in on a rest day mid-camp to see how the riders were getting on in their preparations for the new season.
Unfortunately, due to the length of time it took me to get through extreme security procedures, I managed to miss my original flight, so I arrived in the Spanish Costa del Azahar resort of Benicàssim too late to join the Quick Stem team's two hour recovery ride and extended coffee stop.
It's been no holiday for these riders, despite the presence of the Mediterranean beaches just metres from their hotel rooms. This is a training camp. Before today, they have been subjected four and five hour rides and everyone has been working – hard.
While today's ride was short – and the coffee stop relaxed – this was to be no easy day. Today was the day when the world's (well, mostly Italy's and Belgium's) media were invited to descend. For many of the riders, particularly the big stars like Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen, today was to be a seemingly endless day of photo shoots and interviews; a day of being positioned by the pool – even climbing trees – for the whims of photographers, and answering the same questions over and over again – in as many languages as they can manage.
A necessary part of any team's public relations machine it may be, but you can bet most of them wish they were out on one of those punishing training rides.
The majority of the team's roster is present; the only ones missing are those that are currently in the southern hemisphere preparing for the Tour Down Under – the first ProTour event of the 2008 season. Those who are here are split broadly in half: one group around Tom Boonen and the other around World Champion Paolo Bettini. This is not done on nationality grounds, nor is it done on rider's ability or status, but merely by what time of year their season will be starting.
The riders in the Boonen group are preparing themselves for the Tour of Qatar at the end of the month, and so they are in an advanced state of form and fitness. The Bettini group is aiming to start its campaign later and so is riding at a lesser pace. Not that anyone in the Bettini group is putting in any less effort than Boonen's Qatar men. Everyone is working hard, but the riders starting their seasons later than the others are at a lower percentage of their maximum condition to avoid peaking too soon.
As well as a chance to speak to and photograph the Quick Step riders as they prepare for the year ahead, this media day also gives a chance to take a good look at its new racing strip for 2008 – ahead of the team's official presentation next week – and to snoop around its bikes to see what's new for this year. Paolo Bettini and Giovanni Visconti look pretty identical to when we last saw them: the former still clad in white with as many rainbows as is possible to squeeze onto one man, and the latter dressed up like the Italian tricolore. It's all change for everyone else though, as the almost entirely blue jersey of last year is replaced by one that is mostly white. Belgian champion Stijn Devolder is wearing similar colours to last year, but featuring a different sponsor. The former Discovery Channel rider still sports his nation's driekleur, but a new Quick Step version.
Read the complete feature on Team Quick Step.
Pedaltech continues despite more bad news
Pedaltech Pro Cycling Team received still more news to add to their already turbulent week during which the team was refused Professional Continental Team license status and lost some key sponsors. On Wednesday morning, team manager and the main sponsor of the team Mike Matts announced that he has secondary cancer and is therefore unable to fulfil his obligation to the team.
"We are all deeply saddened by the news and we all wish Mike Matts a speedy recovery; our thoughts lie with him and his family," said racer David Clarke in an e-mail.
"This is a very difficult situation for everybody involved we are saddened by the news and we are all out of a job with bills to pay," said Clarke. "Some riders have found new teams while the remainder of us would like to set up new team to concentrate on the premier calendar and the race scene in the UK, as well as trips overseas."
The team would comprise of David Clarke, Matt Clinton, Rob Orr and New Zealander Rico Rogers plus possibly some of the other riders from the original line-up who are unable to find other teams. "We feel the new team will be in some way a tribute to Mike's efforts to help us."
"We are confident it will be a strong and competitive team and we expect good results," said Clarke, who highlighted the team's international experience, while also calling for new sponsors and lodging assistance for their New Zealand rider. Those interested in helping the team can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07725359677.
Component innovator dies at 68
LH 'Ronnie' Thomson, president and founder of the eponymous bicycle component manufacturer LH Thomson passed away suddenly on January 12, 2008, less than a week before his 69th birthday. According to The Bicycle Retailer, Thomson had recently recovered from bladder cancer, but his untimely death was unrelated to the illness.
Thomson, a well respected manufacturer of high quality seat posts and stems, was an engineer by trade, and made his career first manufacturing parts for the airline industry. He began the LH Thomson company in 1981, and began making bicycle components in 1995. Through his high quality products and generous sponsorship of area events, teams and causes, Thomson quickly endeared himself to the cycling community.
The parts became so popular amongst the off-road riders that Macon area riders hosted an annual Ronnie Thomson Appreciation day, which is scheduled for this weekend. The event will now include a moment of silence and memorial service.
The Thomson company's website posted a brief message of support, saying "It is the families wish that the festival continue, and it will. Thomson is no longer just a brand, it is a legacy. Ronnie brought so much to cycling as he looked at everything with a different perspective."
"Ronnie was always like a father figure," LH Thomson account manager Karen Glass told The Bicycle Retailer, but added the company would continue. "I know this will be a rough road for the entire Thomson family. The L.H. Thomson company will overcome this. We will continue what you started."
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (www.bcan.org).
MacIntyre memorial fund established
Following the tragic death of Jason MacIntyre on Tuesday, and in response to the grieving cycling community in Scotland and beyond, the Braveheart Cycling Fund launched a Jason MacIntyre Memorial Fund.
As well as being one of Britain's top cyclists, and a national champion and record holder, MacIntyre was also a husband and father to eight-year old twin girls. One of his daughters, Morgan, had a serious medical condition that necessitated constant attention. Jason was her full-time caregiver.
Earlier this week the Braveheart Fund confirmed that it would award MacIntyre £2,000 towards his racing expenses in 2008. That money will now go to his memorial fund, which has been set up to assist his family. The target of the fund is £20,000, which would help to fund a caregiver for Morgan for two years.
For more information, visit www.braveheartfund.com or phone Brian Smith, 07917 033802, or Alan Miller 01563 524255.
Record numbers force earlier start times at World Cup
Record numbers of participants for the Los Angeles round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup have led organizers to move start times earlier for Friday, January 18 and Saturday, January 19. More than double the number of participants from 2007 are expected.
Nearly 400 athletes from over 40 countries, including the United States, have confirmed their participation in the three-day event at the ADT Event Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California from January 18 to 20.
The World Cups are among the most prestigious track events on the UCI calendar and are playing a major role in qualifications for the 2008 Olympic Games in China. After stops in Sydney and Beijing, the Los Angeles event is the third of the four-race World Cup series in the 2007-08 season. Because there is no qualification system for the World Cup series, entries cannot be precisely foreseen.
In addition to the earlier start times for the Friday and Saturday morning schedules, Sunday's final session start time has been delayed by 30 minutes. All listed times are approximate.
Friday, January 18
Saturday, January 19
Sunday, January 20
Read the preview for the Los Angeles World Cup.
Jalabert, Chiappucci to Moroccan MTB marathon
Former road star Laurent Jalabert continues to stay active in his retirement. The winner of two Tour de France green jerseys will tackle the third edition of the Titan Desert mountain bike stage race in Morocco from April 27 to May 1. Jalabert, who has run marathons and done triathlons since retiring in 2002, will join his contemporary, Italian Claudio Chiappucci, winner of the 1991 Milan Sanremo in the endurance off-road event.
The pair will follow upon the successes of two other former road professionals, Spaniards Melchior Mauri, winner of the Titan Desert 2007 edition, and Abraham Olano, who placed fifth last year.
The race will cover nearly 500 miles, including the marathon third stage, where riders will cover 130 kilometres without assistance. The event has already attracted more than 200 registrants in three categories: under-23, elite (23 to 39) and Masters (over 40), who hail from Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The bulk of participants are amateurs.
Swiss Continental Team Hadimec gets new co-sponsor
By Theo Müller
The Italian company Nazionale Elettronica, a producer of slot machines, signed a two-year contract with the oldest Swiss Continental Team in order to make their products more visible via cycling.
The team hopes to earn Professional Continental Status for 2009, based on anticipated good performances in the upcoming season according to Daniel Hirs who has been the Team's Manager since its inception in 1998. Following the departures of Alexander Gufler and double Swiss Champion Elias Schmaeh to the Austrian Volksbank Team, Philippe Schnyder transfers to the squad from Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia. Schnyder, living in Rapperswil by Lake Zürich, has participated twice on the Giro d'Italia with his former team and will serve as a leader on his new team.
Hadimec-Nazionale Elettronica for 2008: Philippe Schnyder, Michael Baer, Christopher Duperrut, Tobias Eggli, Daniel Henggeler, Bernhard Oberholzer, Michael Randin (all Switzerland), Danilo Andrenacci, Armando Camelo, Sante Di Nizio, Marco Ghiselli, Pasquale Iachini, Americo Novembrini (all Italy), Fader Ardila, Julian Munoz (both Columbia), Florian Salzinger (Germany)
The squad's presentation will take place on February 3 in Loreto, Italy. See details of the full roster on Cyclingnews' teams database.
Skil-Shimano trains in Majorca
The Skil-Shimano Team started its preseason training this week in Majorca. Most of its riders are readying for the Tour of Qatar beginning January 27. Ten new riders are learning their way at the Dutch Professional Continental Team including Dutchmen Tom Veelers and Roy Curvers; Germans Sebastian Siedler and Robert Wagner, Frenchman Thierry Hupond, Japanese Fumiyuki Beppu, Yoshiniro Iino, Shinri Suzuki and Yusuke Hatanake and Chinese Ji Jianhua.
As in previous years, Skil-Shimano is split into a European and an Asian arm this season. A select number of riders from Japan and China will ride with the European squad. The Japanese riders will prepare for qualification for the Beijing, Olympics. During the main season, the team will race in Europe, China and Japan.
Team Skil-Shimano 2008
Europe: Fabien Bacquet (Fra), David Deroo (Fra), Clément Lhotellerie (Fra), Maarten den Bakker (Ned), Floris Goesinnen (Ned), Kenny van Hummel (Ned), Piet Rooijakkers (Ned), Albert Timmer (Ned), Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn), Roy Curvers (Ned), Tom Veelers (Ned), Thierry Hupond (Fra), Sebastian Siedler (Ger) and Robert Wagner (Ger)
Asia: Yoshiyuki Abe (Jpn), Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn), Yukihiro Doi (Jpn), Yusuke Hatanaka (Jpn), Yoshimasa Hirose (Jpn), Tomayo Kano (Jpn), Hidenori Nodera (Jpn), Yoshinori Iino (Jpn), Shinri Suzuki (Jpn), Ji Cheng (Chn), Ji Jianhua (Chn)and Jin Long (Chn).
Management: Rudie Kemna and Piet Hoekstra and Hisafumi Imanishi (Sports Directors), Iwan Spekenbrink (General Manager)
Caisse d'Epargne for Tour Down Under
The Caisse d'Epargne team announced its roster for the Tour Down Under events from January 20 through 27. It's riders will be Iván Gutiérrez, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, Mathieu Perget, Nicolas Portal, José Joaquím Rojas and Luis León Sánchez under team director Neil Stephens.
The Tour Down Under will kick off the UCI's ProTour for 2008.
Solvang puts on "Race of Truth" to defray costs of hosting Tour of California
Officials from the Tour of California host city of Solvang are taking a unique approach to fundraising to pay for the race's visit by hosting a "Race of Truth" event. 20 qualified amateur cyclists will have the opportunity to ride the Stage 5 Solvang Individual Time Trial closed course one hour prior to the pros on Friday, February 22, and the net proceeds will help the City of Solvang defray costs for hosting the Stage 5 race.
Riders will get up to 45 minutes to ride the official 15-mile time trial course, and organizers are recommending that they should be able to sustain a 20 mph average speed since those who cannot complete the course in the allotted time may be removed to avoid interference with the professional race. Those who do finish can compare their times to last year's winner, Levi Leipheimer, who completed a similar course in 29 minutes, 40 seconds.
The entry fee comes in the form of a donation package costing US$1,500 or $1,000 depending on the options selected. For details, e-mail email@example.com or call Local Organizing Committee Co-chair Carol Petersen at (805) 688-8617.
New legal problems for Sinkewitz
By Susan Westemeyer
Patrik Sinkewitz is facing more legal problems. One of his former personal sponsors is suing him for damages. Förstina, which produces mineral water and other drinks, had an advertising contract with Sinkewitz since 2004, which it cancelled when the former T-Mobile Team rider tested positive for testosterone.
"Förstina invested money in someone who claimed to ride clean, but didn't do it," the firms' attorney, Christian Schmitt told the dpa press agency. "Because of that, the firm has suffered damages, which must now be paid for."
The company said that it had had to cancel an advertising campaign featuring Sinkewitz which it had only started in April 2007. "We are not trying to prove that he damaged our image. That would be difficult to prove. We just want repayment for the unusable advertising campaign," said Förstina's head of marketing, Peter Seufert. "We have good chances to win our case." Attempts to negotiate a settlement out of court had failed, it was noted.
The 26 year-old Sinkewitz was disappointed by the action. "It is sad that a firm with which I have worked for many years now tries to finish me off publicly." He called the suit "absolute negative publicity for the firm, adding, "I don't know whether that is good for their image."
New spring road racing series forms in California
A new race series is coming to the Central Valley of California to give pros and amateurs alike a chance to set up spring training and racing camp locally. Three consecutive race weekends begin March 1-2 with the MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic presented by McLane Pacific in Merced. It will be followed by the Central Valley Classic March 9 in Fresno and the Sequoia Cycling Classic's Visalia Criterium on March 15-16. Overall prizes totalling US$7,000 will be awarded.
"This series is going to be a great way to get cyclists ready for a long season of racing," said Sheri Clark, race director for the Sequoia Cycling Classic, the final stop in the 99 Series. "The Central Valley offers some of the best training grounds and spring weather for seasoned professionals."
The series was born after organizers of all three events were forced to reconsider pursuit of National Race Calendar status because of increases in minimum prize list requirements. The Sequoia Cycling Classic is now the only NRC event in the Central Valley and is only awarding points to professional women cyclists.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)