First Edition Cycling News, January 19, 2008
Edited by Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Team Quick Step on the eve of a crucial season
By Brecht Decaluwé in Kortrijk
The Belgian Pro Tour team Quick Step Innergetic officially presented their squad to the attending press on Friday, and just a few hours later they repeated the presentation for the visitors of the Velofollies exhibition in Kortrijk, Belgium. Rather than focusing on today's rumors circulating about Tom Boonen's romantic life, Team manager Patrick Lefevre started off by telling members of the press about his decision to step down as president of the AIGCP, the difficulties of finding a new sponsor and, of course, about his 2008 line-up.
The Belgian manager reviewed all of his riders, taking a final look back at the 2007 season. "It wasn't an easy year, and for the first time in fourteen years we didn't win a Spring Classic," said Lefevre, who admitted the team had also been troubled with doping allegations.
Lefevre had led the cycling team's union, but stepped down after the Tour de France. "Everybody was blaming the teams and the riders for the doping perils. Then again, when you see that the organizers and federations are keeping mud fights, then it's obvious that the value of cycling is brought down; just like in Belgium there's no government in the cycling world," said Lefevre who was referring to local political problems.
After thanking members of the press who stayed calm and engaged throughout the tumultuous 2007 season, he said, "With the ARD case people could see how you shouldn't practice journalism. With the whereabouts system and the bio-passports the riders are giving up on a major part of their private life. Hopefully we still have some credit left," Lefevre asked for faith in his racers. "Hopefully the sporting aspects [of cycling] will win over non-sporting troubles [like doping]."
Looking at the 2008 season, Lefevre declined to show much enthusiasm. He failed to find a new main sponsor last year, and time is running out. "2008 will be a very important year. Everybody in the team is at the end of their term riders, sponsors, mechanics, managers... which is the result of the ProTour system which obliged us to work in terms of four year," said Lefevre with regard to the effects of the UCI's ProTour structure.
Lefevre said that a new main sponsor had been expected to take over from Quick Step and Innergetic, but due to the doping problems in the sport, it decided not to support the team. Luckily for the managers and riders, current sponsors decided to extend their support for another year.
"Normally we would've stopped, but when the new main sponsor pulled out we took responsibility and stayed together, with Frans [De Cock from Quick Step]," said Luc Maes from Latexco of Innergetic. Quick Step has supported Lefevre for a decade, while Innergetic has been a faithful co-sponsor for four years.
The team's line-up for this critical season bears a strong resemblance to the 2007 squad, with only Matteo Carrara (Unibet), Alexander Efimkin (Barloworld) and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) being new names and veterans Serge Baguet, Peter Van Petegem and Cedric Vasseur gone after ending their careers.
With the defending Tour de France's green jersey of Tom Boonen and the double World Champion Paolo Bettini on the team, it is obvious that Quick Step will be there in the bunch sprints and the big one-day races. For the Grand Tours the team has plenty of talent, although it is lacking a clear leader who has proven he has a chance for a podium finish in Paris.
Read the complete feature.
No Olympics for Boonen
Despite recent suggestions to the contrary, Belgian Tom Boonen (Team Quick Step) said he will not race the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing due to its close proximity on the race calendar to the Tour de France.
"It is not so bad for those trying to win the Tour as they are in good shape at the end, but not for riders like me. Also the course is very difficult, it is not a good course for me. It is just too early after the Tour," Boonen said to Reuters. The Tour is Boonen's number one focus - to him it is a higher priority than the world championships or the Olympics. In particular, Boonen hopes to claim the green jersey again.
The 27 year-old Boonen still has some time left to go to other Olympic Games and he left the door open. "I want to go at least once and yes, I would like to win a gold medal for Belgium."
Boonen's told Reuters his strategy is to win an early season classic to take some of the pressure off for the rest of the year. "I have a better chance of winning when I am relaxed."
Tour of Prince Edward Island wins CCA award
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The Tour of Prince Edward Island, a women's stage race event first run in 2007, earned the Road Event Organizer of the Year award from the Canadian Cycling Association.
The event's lead promoter, Daniel Manibal, who also organizes the Montreal world cup and the Tour of Montreal, said that the fact that the race won this award in its inaugural year is due to the hard work of the volunteers. "Islanders welcomed our event, and all of the volunteers worked very hard to make it shine on a global stage. In just one year, Tour de PEI has already become known as an event that is not to be missed by elite women cyclists."
One of the key elements to the event was the use of the Confederation Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland. The event's time trial was run on this bridge thanks to the help of Michel Le Chasseur, the general manager of the bridge. "The Confederation Bridge initiated this venture, but the award belongs to everyone on Prince Edward Island who helped make it successful," said Le Chasseur. "Daniel introduced me to the excitement of world cycling competitions, and I returned the favour by introducing him to Prince Edward Island."
Organizers told Cyclingnews that the event is planned for July 8 to 12, just after the Tour of Montreal.
Relaxing with Lloyd
By Paul Verkuylen
The newly crowned Australian champion Matthew Lloyd is about to embark on his second season in the ProTour ranks. After taking a surprise win in the nationals in a race he wasn't targeting, Lloyd is looking forward to bigger and better things in the upcoming season.
Going into the Australian championships as his first race of the season, Matthew Lloyd wasn't expecting to be pulling on the green and gold jersey on the podium at the end of the day. Instead, he was hoping to go into the early season with a more relaxed attitude, knowing there would be plenty of time for suffering later in the season. However, the plans for a low-key entry to racing were set aside when Lloyd bridged up to the winning move and then rode away to win the rights to wear the Australian colours for the next twelve months.
"It's a bit bogus having today's race and winning, because I didn't expect it. But when you're out there and you win it, I'm not going to pass that up," he said shortly after the race. Lloyd snuck away from a constantly changing lead group, and when the rest of the players realized he was gone, it was too late. To win without intending to was a nice bonus, but Lloyd will take a more tempered approach to racing in the coming months.
"I have been trying to be a bit more relaxed in the lead up to the season as opposed to in the past, because in the past I have been trying to be a professional, whereas now that I am [one], it's more a matter of targeting races or bigger races overseas," he explained of his build up to the event. "Having seen what it is like overseas, and getting a grasp, I understand how deep you have to go later on."
Lloyd is just beginning his second season with the Belgian ProTour team, Silence – Lotto, which he joined after graduating from the South Australia – AIS squad in 2006. He gained noticed after making the podium in the '06 'Baby' Giro d'Italia, and is hoping to work his way up to proving he is one of the biggest climbing talents Australia has ever produced.
With a 100% record so far in 2008, he has proven himself worthy of the team's investment, but Lloyd hasn't felt extraordinary pressure from his team to perform. Rather, he had ample opportunity to find his strengths in 2007. "[It was] really good, they have been very supportive. They were really flexible about the race schedule and tailoring it to not kill me. They also allowed me to experience a wide variety of racing, giving me a little sample of each type," he explained.
After enjoying a "few drinks" on Sunday night to celebrate his victory, Lloyd, a former ice hockey player, will refocus his energies on the first ProTour event of the season, the Tour Down Under, where Silence-Lotto will be expecting some similar performances of the rider who finished fourth overall last year, just 13 seconds behind winner Martin Elminger. "Being Australian and having a good result there last year, the team and a few other people want to see the same sort of thing," Lloyd continued. "Just being there and knowing the race and feeling stronger, having another year under the belt probably holds me in good stead to hopefully do something good there. But I am not really aiming for it to be a specific pinpoint of the season."
The recent upgrade in status to the ProTour for the Tour Down Under will see the best ever field assembled in Adelaide, but Lloyd believes that although there is more at stake, the position on the calendar doesn't lend itself to extraordinary performances, as the majority of riders will come from the Europeans winter with no racing since late October last year.
Read the complete feature.
Top Spanish pros to race in Murcia
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Vuelta a Murcia 2008, which was presented officially in San Pedro del Pinatar will draw top riders from ProTour squads for five days beginning March 4. The race will start and finish in the capital city of Murcia as usual.
The first stage will be disputed between San Pedro del Pinatar and Lorca over 198 kms. The queen stage comes next with 152 km from Calasparra to Totana with first category climbs up the Alto de Espuna and Collado Bermejo. The third stage will be carried out between Puerto Lumbreras and San Pedro del Pintar for 146 kms. The time trial stage in Alhama and Aledo), with its last 10km of climbing, will likely decide who will be the winner determined on the final 134km day linking La Manga (San Javier) to Murcia.
Organizer Francisco Gúzman, was "very satisfied" with the level of participation he has come to expect for his race. To Cyclingnews, he cited good weather and short transfers as "very good reasons to join the race".
"The majority of the participating squads will spend the five competitions days here, in the same hotel and in the same city, San Pedro del Pinatar, next to the Mediterranean Sea," added Gúzman.
On the list to race are last year's winner Alejandro Valverde and Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Denis Menchov and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), Samuel Sanchez and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Carlos Sastre and Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Koldo Gil and Hector Guerra (Liberty), and Adrián Palomares and Julián Sánchez Pimienta (Grupo Nicolás Mateos-Murcia).
Schumacher to stay with Gerolsteiner, manager says
Stefan Schumacher doesn't have to worry about losing his job, according to his manager. Hein Betz told the German press agency dpa that there is no question of a separation from Team Gerolsteiner and that it "was never a theme" in discussions with team manager Hans-Michael Holczer.
Schumacher has a contract with Holczer through 2009, although at the moment the team has no sponsor for the 2009 season.
The 26 year-old has made a number of negative headlines throughout his career with the most recent being the disclosure earlier this month that traces of amphetamine were discovered in his blood in a police control. It is not considered a doping case, because amphetamine use is banned only during competition.
However, at the recent team presentation, Holczer showed himself less than thrilled with his young star. Although repeating that he had been told by his lawyers to consider it Schumacher's private matter and not to comment on it, he indicated that there would be some sort of team sanction imposed.
"There is no need to discuss Schumacher's contract. There is no doping case here which would justify breaking his contract," Betz said. The discussions with Holczer concerned rather than that a campaign to improve Schumacher's image.
Team Barloworld trains in Tuscany
Team Barloworld is logging some pre-season miles in Tuscany at the coastal resort of Marina di Bibbona.
Under the guidance of team manager Claudio Corti, 18 riders are conducting their camp which runs through January 26. Only Columbia's Mauricio Soler is missing. His arrival has been delayed due to visa problems, but he is expected at the camp on Tuesday.
Considering the busy schedule of races the team planning to ride in 2008, Claudio Corti has included Flavio Miozzo as a third directeur sportif. He will join Alberto Volpi and Valerio Tebaldi for the season. The 55 year-old is from Padova in northeast Italy and has a lot of experience in professional cycling, including several seasons with Corti at the Saeco team.
Team rosters for Tour Down Under
The ProTour teams are all bringing their Australian riders to the upcoming Tour Down Under, the first ProTour race of the season. Team Milram will feature Brett Lancaster, while Heinrich Haussler will be with Team Gerolsteiner, and Team Astana has Aaron Kemps.
Haussler was born in Inverall, Australia, and lived there until he moved to Germany at age 13. He will be co-captain at the race, sharing duties with sprinter Robert Förster, who will turn 30 on the last day of the race.
Milram will face its first competition as a German team. Lancaster, of Shepparton, Australia, will be joined by former world champion Igor Astarloa, as well as Italian Elia Rigotto, who last year finished the race as 14th overall.
Sprinter Aaron Kemps will look for a stage win in his homeland tour. Chechu Ribiero will be the team captain, but the team is looking more to sprinters Kemps, Rene Haselbacher and Koen de Kort for results.
Gerolsteiner for Tour Down Under: Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Heinrich Haussler, Volker Ordowski, Matthias Russ, Carlo Westphal and Peter Wrolich.
Milram for Tour Down Under: Brett Lancaster, Igor Astarloa, Sergio Ghisalberti, Elia Rigotto, Martin Müller, Enrico Poitschke and Dennis Haueisen.
Astana for Tour Down Under: Koen de Kort, René Haselbacher, Benoit Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Julien Mazet, Steve Morabito, and Chechu Rubiera.
Kashechkin with Kazakh Continental team
Andrey Kashechkin has a team for the 2008 season. The former Astana rider, who was fired from the team this summer after testing positive for blood-doping, is registered with the Kazakh Team Oelan, reported sporza.be. Oelan is a continental team with riders from Kazakhstan and Lithuania.
Kashechkin had earlier said that he would be willing to sign a contract giving the team an option to cancel it if he were given disciplinary sanctions. Jacques Hanegraaf, manager of Team Cycle-Collstrop, said that he would be interested in signing the 27 year-old if he is cleared of doping charges. Kashechkin announced this week that he had fired his attorney, Luc Misson, who had filed a suit claiming doping controls violate basic human rights. A Belgian court ruled that it had no jurisdiction in the matter.
Vuelta a Cuba attracts five foreign teams
Set to begin in a just a few weeks, the 33rd Vuelta a Cuba has drawn five foreign teams for its 13 stages over 1,797 kilometers. The race is scheduled from February 5 to 17.
According to the Cuban News Agency ACN, the Venezuelan national team, the Perutnina Ptuj of Slovenia, Volvo of Germany and Tecos Uga and Canels-Turbo of Mexico will compete. Domestically, Cuba's national team and trade teams from the Manuel Fajardo Superior Institute of Physical Culture and from the Technical Center in Cienfuegos will also attend. They will be joined by almost a dozen provincial squads.
Last year's race was won by Canadian Svein Tuft riding for the Symmetrics Cycling Team. Pedro Pablo Perez was the top Cuban finisher riding for his national team.
Bikes for Kids Utah moves fundraising events to new date
Bikes for Kids Utah moved up its annual bike giveaway and fundraising ride to May 31 to give recipients more time to ride their new bikes during the summer months following the giveaway. The group also hopes to guarantee warmer weather for its 5km, 50km and 100km fundraising rides.
"We have had two extremely successful events and each year we learn something new about making the next event better than the last." said Debbie Reid, founder and director of Bikes for Kids Utah. "It didn't seem right to give a child a brand new bike in the fall when he or she may only have a few weeks left to enjoy it. The new dates give these kids at least three to four warm months to really get a feel for and enjoy their bikes."
With the new date, Salt Lake City native and Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Dave Zabriskie will not be able to attend this year's event due to conflicts with his race schedule.
This event marks the third year Bikes for Kids Utah will give 1,000 new bicycles to pre-qualified, underprivileged first-grade students from Salt Lake Valley elementary schools. Helmets, t-shirts and locks come along with the bikes.
For more information, visit www.bikesforkidsutah.org or call 801-523-3730.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)