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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, January 31, 2008

Edited by Sue George

AG2R-La Mondiale - New name but not much has changed

By Ben Atkins

The AG2R-La Mondiale team
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

AG2R-Prevoyance was presented to the press today in Paris' fashionable Boulevard Hausmann - just a stone's throw from the Grands Magazins, Galerie Lafayette and Printemps - with a new name.

Although the team will be called AG2R-La Mondiale in 2008, there is actually no new sponsor La Mondiale is a new corporate partner to AG2R, and so has been added to the team's name. Because of this, the team has actually changed very little in appearance to that of 2007.

Master of Ceremonies was Daniel Mangeas, the ever present and unmistakeable voice that can be heard at the start and finish of virtually every single French race of note. He first introduced André Renaudin, Director General of the AG2R-La Mondiale group; followed by the group's Director, Yvon Breton; and finally, the team's General Manager, Vincent Lavenu.

Lavenu referred to 2007 as "a satisfying year", that was "rich in success". The team's most successful rider, by far, was Christophe Moreau: winner of the Dauphiné Libéré and the French Championship. Moreau has since moved on to join the Agritubel team, but Lavenu was keen to emphasis that many other riders tasted some real success last season.

Former Swiss champion Elmiger started the team's season off with a bang by winning the overall classification of the Tour Down Under last January. This success was added to by many other riders, most notably Jean-Patrick Nazon, winning a stage of Paris-Nice; Rinaldo Nocentini winning a stage of the Tour of the Mediterranean and the GP Miguel Indurain; and Stéphane Poulhiès was premier Français at Paris-Roubaix (although it should be mentioned that he was 22nd!).

The darling of the 2006 Tour de France, Cyril Dessel had a bad year due to the affects of toxoplasmosis, but he's now fully recovered, and will be expected to have a better season this year.

Lavenu made no bones about the fact that, for a French team with French sponsors, the Tour de France is "Objectif numero un". Another target that was specifically mentioned was the Dauphiné Libéré, raced in region of Chambery, the company and the team's base.

In general though, "the objective is to win races," Lavenu said.

New faces to replace the old

By far the most high profile departure is Christophe Moreau, who took most of the team's high profile victories last year, and has been their leader in the Tour de France for two years, but the core of that team remains. Lavenu is looking to see how the unit built around Moreau can perform without him, "Moreau is gone, but the foundation is still in place", implying that he is expecting one of his other riders to slot into the vacant leader's position without him having to rebuild the entire team, perhaps Dessel or one of the team's new signings.

The 2008 team will comprise 30 riders: 18 French and 12 Foreigners - from 11 different countries, creating a team that is both "homogenous and international". Daniel Mangeas introduced them all with the same notes-free encyclopaedic knowledge that he does as they sign on to the races he's commentating.

Read the complete feature.

Tour of Missouri measures its success, grows by one day

By Sue George

Passing in front of an old church along the course.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The inaugural Tour of Missouri in 2007 generated 26.2 million [US] dollars of economic activity over its six days as announced at a press conference held Wednesday morning. Building upon last year's success, the 2008 event, to be held from September 8 to 14, will grow by one day and stage and keep its spot on the calendar - this year between the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and the World Championships in Italy.

"It was a great opportunity to showcase our state and what we call the 'Show me' state has to offer," said Governor Matt Blunt after announcing the results of an economic study conducted by the University of Missouri in Columbia.

"The Tour started with a simple idea," said Governor Blunt from Jefferson City about the origins of the event. "I had a friend who was an avid cyclist and had seen the Tour of Georgia. Almost 18 months of work paid off when we were awarded status of a sanctioned event." The Governor was excited to have the reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (then of Team Discovery) at the Tour of Missouri last September.

He also estimated that more than 360,000 spectators watched the event and spent 21 million dollars locally in restaurants, shops and other businesses. He emphasized the importance of the world-wide exposure gained by the state.

George Hincapie (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

"What you have is a whole bunch of people around the world who may never have heard of Missouri now do know," said Blunt who said viewers in 73 countries watched the streaming live video and 22 million people watched coverage on television. "It was thanks to the largest sporting event ever held in Missouri, which was free to the visiting public."

Joking about one of the advantages of this year's longer event enabling the race to visit more towns, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder said, "A few less towns will be angry at me this year."

New host cities on the 2008 itinerary include Rolla, Saint James, Hermann and St. Joseph. In total, the 2008 Tour will feature five road races, one individual time trial and one circuit race. The hilliest stages are expected to be stage four from Lebanon to Rolla and stage six from Hermann to Saint Charles.

Both last year's winner George Hincapie and his then team-mate Levi Leipheimer are committed to racing the 2008 edition. Organizers are currently negotiating with various ProTour teams and will announce details of the more than 600 mile (966 kilometers) route in June.

2008 Tour of Missouri Host Cities
Stage 1: St. Joseph to Kansas City (road race)
Stage 2: Clinton to Springfield (road race)
Stage 3: Branson (individual time trial)
Stage 4: Lebanon to Rolla (road race)
Stage 5: Saint James to Jefferson City (road race)
Stage 6: Hermann to Saint Charles (road race)
Stage 7: Saint Louis (circuit race)

Rock Racing questions remain

Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Contrary to other reports this week, the Rock Racing roster for the Tour of California has not been released by the Team according to Sean Weide of Elevation Sports & Entertainment / Rock Racing.

"Per the race regulations for the Tour of California, a list of riders was submitted to the race organizers. The official Rock Racing roster for the event will be released by AEG after it is reviewed and all riders are cleared to start."

One of the team's riders whose general status may be in question is Kayle Leogrande. Former team director Frankie Andreu confirmed to Cyclingnews that Leogrande was a rider under investigation by USADA. He was also identified earlier this week by unnamed sources in an Associated Press report as the 30 year-old as the athlete who sued the agency to block testing of a 'B' sample.

Leogrande's recent troubles have also touched upon his riding. "Last week he hit his head and had to get stitches," said Martine Charles, a press representative for the team. "He was able to get back on the bike and was able to riding this weekend."

Whether Leogrand will get to be team-mates with the legendary Mario Cipollini is another unanswered question about the team. "[We're] still talking," said Charles Michael [Ball] is handling all the negotiations and it is in the process of it."

Germany loses another race

By Susan Westemeyer

Another German regional stage race has called it quits. The Hessen Rundfahrt, also called the 3-Länder Tour, has lost its main sponsor. "So there will be no more 3-Länder Tour," said Wolfgang Treusch, president of the Hessen cycling federation. The Sparkassen Versicherung withdrew its support, estimated to be 200,000 Euros of the total budget of 350,000 Euros.

The end of the race had been expected, since race director Christian Bergemann quit last week, citing personal reasons. According to, the website of the German cycling federation, Bergemann had previously indicated that there were "significant strategic differences" and a "lack of trust" between him and the various regional cycling federations which supported the race.

The race was scheduled to be held September 17 to 21. The last edition of the race was won in September by Rabobank's Thomas Dekker.

The Hessen Rundfahrt is the third German race whose cancellation was announced this week, following Rund um die Hainleite and the Niederschsen Rundfahrt.

Police attribute Wiggins' death to head injuries

By John Stevenson courtesy of Bike Radar

Preliminary post mortem results show that Australian former track cyclist Gary Wiggins died of head injuries, NSW Police have announced. Wiggins, 55, the father of top British track cyclist Bradley Wiggins, was found unconscious in Segenhoe Street, Aberdeen, New South Wales on Friday, January 25 and later died of his injuries.

Police are appealing for public assistance with the investigation into Wiggins' death, which is being treated as suspicious. Anyone who might have seen Wiggins walking from McQueen Street, Aberdeen, towards Segenhoe Street about 9pm on Thursday January 24 is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (Australia-only number).

Several people have already assisted investigators and inquiries are continuing, and anyone who saw a blue motor vehicle that sounded its horn on McQueen Street at the time is also urged to call Crime Stoppers.

Milram youngsters to South Africa

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Milram is starting its youngsters out gently in the season, sending all seven newcomers to open their season at the Intaka Tech World's View Challenge in South Africa, February 2-7. The average age is only 23.5 years old. Under 23 World Champion Peter Velits will lead the team in the race series, which consists of five one-day races in and around Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Milram for South Africa: Luca Barla (Italy), Markus Eichler (Germany), Artur Gajek (Germany), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Christian Kux (Germany), Dominik Roels (Germany), Björn Schröder (Germany), Sebastian Schwager (Germany), Martin Velits (Slovakia), Peter Velits (Slovakia).

Volksbank heading to training camp and first races

By Susan Westemeyer

Austria's Gerrit Glomser (Volksbank) winning in 2007
Photo ©: World of Cycling
(Click for larger image)

Team Volksbank is preparing for its training camp, to run from February 1 to 14 in Follonica, Tuscany, Italy. All 16 riders will be there to prepare for the season, which actually starts during the camp.

"I can't wait to see the new team all together out on its bikes," said Team Manager Thomas Kofler. "The team has conscientiously trained over the last two months. In Italy we will put the final touch on things, the new riders will be integrated into the group, the internal matters coordinated and the racing calendars planned."

The team will boast a third Directeur Sportif this year, as former Volksbank rider Gregor Gut returns to the team, joining Patrick Vetsch and Mario Beccia.

The Austrian Professional Continental will have its first races during the training camp, with the GP Costa degli Etrusci on February 9, the Giro Reggio Calabria on February 11-13 and the Giro di Grosseto, starting February 15.

Dutch get first invitation to inaugural Tour of Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl issued the first invitation to race the Tour of Pennsylvania from June 24 to 29 while at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. The Dutch elite category Global Cycling Team was the lucky recipient for the six-stage race, which will also be the richest for riders under 25 years-old with its US$150,000 in prize money.

The squad now beings its qualifying process to name its team of six riders who will compete in the 450 mile (724 kilometer) inaugural tour which will end in Pittsburgh.

The race is expected to draw 10 international and 10 American teams of six riders each for a field of 120 racers. 40 international teams from Great Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Canada and Mexico, have expressed interest so far.

The Pittsburgh delegation that extended the invitation is in Amsterdam as part of a three-week European tour that is a partnership between the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which is promoting Southwestern Pennsylvania to European business leaders as part of the 250th anniversary celebration of the naming of Pittsburgh.

California racing season opens

By Robert Carr

California's 2008 road racing season gets going in force this Saturday with the 8th Annual Boulevard Road Race hosted by the Univeristy of California San Diego (UCSD) Cycling Team. The event is held on a 22.4-mile loop one hour east of San Diego.

Again this year, UCSD cycling has again attracted several of the top professional teams in the US as they make their racing debuts. Pro teams signed up include Toyota-United, Jelly Belly, Rock Racing, and Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast. However, there will be events for all ages and categories.

USAC sets payouts for local associations

USA Cycling recognized two new Local Associations (LA) Wednesday as well as announced payouts for its existing LAs. The organization also added two new LAs including New Mexico Bicycle Racing Association and a yet-to-be-named group out of Indiana and Kentucky, bringing the total number to 33. In addition, the Alabama Cycling Association, which was originally part of the Alabama/Georgia Bicycle Racing Association, is now recognized as its own LA.

Every year, USA Cycling reinvests a portion of its membership dollars into each Local Association. These investments are allocated and prioritized by each Local Association to support racing-specific programs within their areas. Based on 2007 license sales, USA Cycling will have distributed nearly US$1.4 million in direct funding to its Local Associations since the program's inception five years ago with $335,815 in payouts related to 2007.

In the program's inaugural year, USA Cycling paid out $197,615. Since then, the funding of Local Associations has grown along with nationwide interest and participation in competitive cycling. In 2004, USA Cycling paid out $201,548 followed by investments of $304,161 in 2005 and $320,900 in 2006.

In 2007, the Northern California/Nevada Cycling Association again earned the most from USA Cycling's Rebate Program, qualifying for $36,095 in direct funding from the national governing body. The Southern California/Nevada Cycling Association earned $33,300 while the New England Bicycle Racing Association ($31,920), the Texas Bicycle Racing Association ($20,275) and the Washington State Bicycle Association ($17,370) rounded out the top-five.

CRCA announces 2008 race calendar

One of New York's historic clubs announced its 2008 road racing calendar. The Century Road Club Association (CRCA), which was established in 1898, has been a major force throughout its more than 100 year of operation.

CRCA Calendar for 2008
Saturday, March 15: Columbia University Grant's Tomb Criterium (New York City)
Sunday, May 11: Bear Mountain Spring Classic (Harriman State Park)
Sunday, June 15: Skyscraper Harlem Criterium (New York City)
Saturday, June 28: Lou Maltese Memorial and the NYC Team Championship (Central Park, New York City)
Saturday, August 23: Mengoni Grand Prix (Central Park, New York City)
Sunday, September 14: Nancy Morgenstern Memorial Bear Mountain Fall Classic (Harriman State Park)

Racers who have entered the sport through the club have gone on to win National and World Championships and Olympic medals.

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