First Edition Cycling News, January 30, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson
Quick Step to ride Giro stage
ProTour outfit Quick Step has stepped up its training for the Giro d'Italia, with the outfit to ride one of this year's stages later this week. A selection of the outfit's riders are headed to Tuscany with two of the squad's directors for a tough training session. "I'm very satisfied with the work we're doing," said sports director Luca Guercilena.
The selection of riders, which includes dual world champion Paolo Bettini, yesterday carried out a five hour training session that featured five climbs over a distance of 165 kilometres. While the team enjoyed some strong stage finishes at the 2007 Grand Tour, its top rider on classification was Italian Mauro Facci, over an hour behind in 34th spot.
"Tomorrow we're looking at four hours of training with a last hour behind the car," added Guercilena. "It will be an important test, the guys will try the route of the stage of the Giro d'Italia that finishes in San Vincenzo, the one with the San Carlo climb in the final phase."
Joining Bettini at the training session is Carlos Barredo, Matteo Carrara, Stijn Devolder, Alexander Efimkin, Ad Engels, Juan Manuel Garate, Hubert Schwab, Gert Steegmans, Andrea Tonti, Kevin Van Impe and Giovanni Visconti. The riders are training under the guidance of sport directors Guercilena and Davide Bramati.
Meanwhile the Belgian outfit is continuing its successful reign in Qatar. The outfit's star sprinter Tom Boonen continues to lead the Tour of Qatar's general classiciation, having won the two stages run since the outfit won the event-opening Team Time Trial on Sunday.
Boonen holds a 13 second lead over team-mate Steven De Jongh heading into today's fourth stage. Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (Silence - Lotto) is a further 10 seconds down on general classification in third spot with three stages remaining.
Sanremo confirms Lungomare Italo Calvino conclusion
By Gregor Brown
Milano-Sanremo organiser RCS Sport has confirmed that the 99th edition will conclude on Lungomare Italo Calvino and not its normal 2.4-kilometre stretch of Via Roma. The decision for the March 22 race is due to road construction and shop merchants facing a busy Easter weekend.
As normal, the race - won in 2007 by Oscar Freire - will descend the Poggio after 288.3 kilometres, head west on Corso Cavallotti, Via Fiume, Corso Orazio Raimondo. However, it will then avoid Via Roma for the finishing stretch on Lungomare Italo Calvino - closer to the Mar Ligure. The distance of 2008's first Monument, known as La Classicissima or La Primavera, is expected to be 294 kilometres.
Boom receives hero welcome
Dutchman Lars Boom received a hero's welcome upon returning to his home town of Vlijmen last night, after the Rabobank rider claimed the Elite Men's Cyclo-cross World Championship at the weekend. Boom returned to the Netherlands from Treviso in Italy, where he won the world title on Sunday.
Boom was greeted by thousands of adoring fans at the civic reception at the town hall, with hundreds of local children lining to meet their local hero while supporters lit flares. A spokesperson for the municipality announced that Boom would be given a tree to plant at a location of his chosing in his honour. "So men a hundred years from now know who he is," said the spokesman.
The Dutchman is the latest cyclo-cross star to receive a hero's welcome upon returning home, on Monday Under 23 World Cyclo-cross Champion Niels Albert and Sven Nys, who finished third to Boom and Zdenek Stybar in the weekend's Elite Men's race, were honoured in the Belgian province of Tremelo.
Saunier Duval-Scott announce California roster
Saunier Duval-Scott has announced the roster it will return to next month's Tour of California with, after the outfit missed last year's race. The Spanish ProTour squad's bike supplier, Scott USA, has increased its involvement with the outfit this year, becoming a joint title sponsor.
"We are very excited to field a team once again at the Tour of California," said Adrian Montgomery. "This is becoming an important component of the Pro Tour and also serves the needs of the US market."
The Tour of California has gained increasing importance in the cycling world, with the top outfits targeting the North American event as a result of its growing cycling market. The UCI's plans to globalise the ProTour has also put an increased spotlight on the event, which is the most likely candidate for ProTour status if the UCI adds America to the calendar in the near future. This month the ProTour made its debut outside of Europe, with Australia hosting the first non-European round at the Tour Down Under.
This year's race starts on February 17 with an individual time trial in Palo Alto replacing that held in San Francisco last year. The race will again feature eight stages, finishing with a 150 kilometre leg from Santa Clarita - Paseadena on February 24.
Saunier Duval-Scott for Tour of California: Raivis Belohvosciks, Rubens Bertogliati, Iker Camaño, David Cañada, Eros Capecchi, Ermanno Capelli, Ángel 'Litu' Gómez and Luciano Pagliarini.
Leukemans appeals two-year suspension
By Susan Westemeyer
Björn Leukemans is officially appealing the two-year ban handed down to him by the Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Flemish Community) after he tested positive last year to using testosterone. The 30 year-old tested positive shortly before last year's World Championships while riding for the Predictor-Lotto squad and was handed the two year ban - scheduled to commence from February 17 - last week.
"The papers for the disciplinary committee are going out the door today," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
He continued to maintain his innocence, blaming his positive test on a product given him by a team doctor. He tested positive for testosterone in an unannounced out-of-competition control shortly before the World Championships in September.
Internationals confirmed for track worlds warm-up
The last Revolution track meet of the season will take place on February 23 at Manchester velodrome. The British event will be used by international riders as a warmup for the track world championships in March, which will also take place in Manchester.
"The British team are using Revolution as a crucial test event ahead of the world's," said Gordon Harling, the team's technical director. "But it is not just the Brits as the French are sending a strong sprint squad and we will have the strongest pairings from Belgium and Holland in the Madison."
The Madison, which will be named after Isaac Gálvez who died at the Ghent Six in 2006, is attracting some strong teams. Belgium will be sending their in-form pairing of Iljo Keisse and Kenny De Ketele with Holland sending European champions Peter Schep and Jens Mouris. They will be challenged by British pairs Geraint Thomas/Rob Hayles and Peter Kennaugh/Jonny Bellis, both of which will have raced at the Copenhagen World Cup.
Barloworld to race on 'home' soil
Barloworld will race on 'home' soil next month, with the squad of South African origins to contest the World's View Challenge. The five day event, from February 2-7, is a new UCI 1.1 rated series of road events in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.
"It is not often that South African's have the opportunity to watch Team Barloworld in action on home soil," says Chris Fisher, Head of Corporate Marketing at Barloworld. "Some valued customers will have the opportunity to stay with the team and ride in the race cars".
The new series of events will be contested by UCI ProTour, UCI Professional Continental and National Teams, competing over a total of 588km. Confirmed international teams for the Intaka Tech World's View Challenge include Team Milram, Liquigas and Barloworld - a British-registered Professional Continental outfit that is based in Italy, but has strong ties to the South African region.
The series is made up of five one day races with different routes and distances each day, with a rest day between race days three and four. These teams will compete in the professional element of the event for valuable UCI ranking points as well as prize money.
Barloworld for Intaka Tech World's View Challenge: Robbie Hunter (RSA), Daryl Impey (RSA), Christian Pfannberger (SWI), John Lee Augustyn (RSA), Diego Caccia (ITA), Patrick Calcagni (SUI), Christopher Froome (KEN), Enrico Gasparotto (ITA) and Hugo Sabido (POR).
USAC announce Masters Road Nationals location
The 2008-09 USA Cycling Master Road National Championships have been awarded to Louisville, Kentucky, the national governing body has announced. The 2008 edition will be held from June 30 to July 6 and will feature national championship competitions in road race, time trial and criterium events for amateur road cyclists age 30 and up.
Louisville last hosted the USA Cycling Master Road National Championships in 2003. In addition to the announcement of the USA Cycling Master Road National Championships location, USAC has confirmed the complete national championship calendar for the 2008 season.
More information regarding the 2008 championships and how to register is available at the governing body's website: www.usacycling.org
Full USAC 2008 championship calendar:
Wellington gets late lengthening
Tour of Wellington race organizer Jorge Sandoval has announced the addition of an extra 60 kilometres to the third stage of this year's event, which commences in New Zealand's Lower Hutt today. The route addition includes a number of torturous hills, including Te Wharau and Admiral, during five hours of racing.
Sandoval admits he's had to contend with some grumpy cyclists because of the changes but he's unapologetic. "Its music to my ears when a rider curses me for a route they think is too hard," he said.
Friday's third stage has been lengthened from 125km to 185km, and included a cluster of demanding climbs. Between Masterton and Wainuioru in the Wairarapa, riders will have to complete a total of eight hill climbs, amounting to almost 30kms. After climbing the steepest hill in the region, Te Wharau, at the end of 165 km of racing, riders will then face 12kms of Admiral hill winding up in front of them.
"It's my job to make the race as attractive for the riders as possible," explained Sandoval. "I also have a responsibility to the sponsors, the media and the public to make this event as demanding as possible. I can't make this event an easy one, if I do, you will have anyone doing it and that's not real cycling."
"Cycling is all about the individual," he added. " There is only room on the top step of the podium for one rider at the end of the tour and that rider has to be the best, the toughest, the one who everyone involved in the race goes home admiring. That's what makes the Trust House Cycle Classic an epic and captivating spectacle."
The seven stage event starts later today, with a 45 kilometre criterium on the Hutt City circuit.
Mirra swaps two wheels for four
Freestyle BMX legend Dave Mirra has traded in his two-wheeled BMX for a four-wheeled Subaru Impreza rally car, with the announcement that Mirra will contest the majority of the Rally America Championship in 2008. The American finished 18th at the weekend's challenging SnoDrift Rally in Northern Michigan, only the third event Mirra has ever contested.
Mirra's result is a credible finish for the first rider to land a double back flip in competition. In addition to the tough conditions presented by a snow rally, Mirra was also at the wheel of a naturally aspirated vehicle - which series rules prohibiting rookies from driving the turbo-charged All Wheel Drive models the front runners compete with. The X Games medal record holder planning on contesting most round of the 2008 Rally America Championship.
"We had one goal for this rally, and it was to just finish and get some experience," explained Mirra. "The roads were slick everywhere and although we were not pushing hard it was definitely a huge challenge to stay clean and out of the snow banks.
"This was such a good time, now I'm really looking forward to the next rally where we'll be on gravel," he added.
Mirra isn't the only cyclist to trade in his bicycle for a rally car, with multiple downhill world champion Nicolas Vouilloz currently contesting EuroSport's Intercontinental Rally Challenge with some success.
Mirra, who turned professional as a BMX rider in 1992, was turned on to rallying through his friend and Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block - the co-founder of DC Shoes. The BMX rider's vehicle is run by Vermont SportsCar, who operate the Subaru factory team in the USA, where he is team-mates with former Rally America champion and motorcross hotshot Travis Pastrana.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Vermont SportsCar
New domestic squad for South Africa
A new South African domestic squad has been announced, with the outfit backed by German automobile fuel additive producer Liqui Moly. The riders for 2008 include a good mix of experience and youth.
"The small number of professional teams in South Africa means that the racing is dominated by a handful of riders from the teams with the major financial backing," said Roberto Gnudi, the head of Panda cycling club in Johannesburg, which is affiliated with the new outfit. "We aim to change this with the team's combination of gutsy and determined riders. 2008 should see some different faces on the podiums around South Africa."
Team captain Alex Pavlov brings years of experience to the team having ridden for the all-conquering HSBC team alongside the likes of Ian McLeod. Pavlov and the team's sprinter Gary Rabie have represented South Africa in the national squad on numerous occasions. Pavlov joins Liqui Moly from the HI-Q Supercycling Team, along with Jaco Cronje and Gary Rabie. The squad's other riders are Neil Timm, Stephan Oberholzer and Ruan Henegan.
The team's focus for 2008 will be the South African domestic season, targeting all the South African Classics as well as the 2.2 Giro del Capo. The team will also race on the track, focusing on the endurance track events, with some mountain bike races thrown in for good measure in the South African off season. The challenge for 2008 is to achieve good results and exposure for the team's sponsors in South Africa, with a view to taking the team to Europe in 2009.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Liqui Moly
Cycling NSW announce track championships squad
Cycling NSW has announced this year's NSW U19 and Open Track Cycling Team that will contest the 2008 National Track Titles at the Dunc Gray Velodrome on February 4 - 10. With 2008 being an Olympic year, several of the 26 member squad are looking to produce fast times at Nationals to enhance their chances of Olympic selection.
NSW riders in this category include Ben Kersten, Kate Bates and Phil Thuaux - each of whom will be fresh from representing Australia in the L.A round of the Track World Cup. Supporting these Open riders is Robert Lyte and Richard Lang who turned in strong performances at the recent NSW State Track Titles.
"We have a very focused and determined team of athletes competing at this year's Nationals," said team manager Daniel Healey. "We also have outstanding coaching and mentoring support from Garry Sutton, Michael Kejda, Tim Decker and Graham Seers. Plus this event is being held in our home town so not only are we very familiar with the track, but we are sure to receive great support from our home crowd."
The young riders in the Under 19 squad have been drawn from all corners of the State and represent an emerging group of talented Endurance and Sprint based athletes. Paul Fellows, Scott Law, Megan Dunn and Lauren Kitchen will feature in the squad, after all showing excellent form. Together with Luke Davison and Alex Carver these U19 riders should provide some fantastic racing throughout the six day carnival.
NSW Track Cycling Team for National Titles:
Athletes with a Disability
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