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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 14, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

CSC stops sponsorship at season's end

Courtesy BikeRadar.com

The CSC guys compare gear
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

California-based Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has announced its intention to end its sponsorship of Bjarne Riis' ProTour team, Team CSC, once its contract expires at the end of 2008. The company cited "a shift in priorities" in its business' growth strategy as its reason for ending the eight year partnership with the squad.

"Our involvement in the sport of cycling has been a positive and productive experience," said Henrik Bo Pedersen, the CSC executive responsible for overseeing the sponsorship. "We will continue to support the team and exercise our sponsorship rights during the 2008 race season. At the same time, we are committed to helping the team secure a new title sponsor.

Riis was appreciative of the support the software company had given the team over the years. "We've had a long and excellent collaboration with CSC and when it comes to an end after this season we can look back upon eight years that have been very fruitful for both partners," Riis said. "CSC has made it possible for us to reach the highest heights in professional cycling and at the same time we have inspired their 91,000 employees and helped them to develop their client relationships in a very unique way. We're very proud of all we've done together in the past and look forward to sharing a lot of great experiences with CSC this season."

From Fabian Cancellara's 2007 Tour de France prologue and stage two victories and back-to-back world time trial championships, Team CSC's world number one ranking the past few years has certainly returned dividends for CSC. Cancellara and team-mate Stuart O'Grady also won Paris-Roubaix back-to-back in 2006 and '07.

Bjarne Riis
Photo ©: Emory Ball
(Click for larger image)

"Our company and employees have enjoyed our relationship with the riders, staff and management of Team CSC," Pedersen added. "We especially wish to thank each member of Riis Cycling for their dedication and commitment to making professional cycling a healthy and safe sport."

Riis made a revelation before the 2007 Tour when he admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1996 Tour. CSC officials supported Riis's confession and current efforts to maintain a doping-free program with Team CSC.

"This marks the beginning of something new for us and I know that we are ready to go out and show the world that we are here to stay," Riis said about CSC's announcement to end its sponsorship of his racing team. "We have an exceptional product with worldwide exposure that we can offer to a new sponsor. We believe we have the best team in the world, both the riders on their bikes and the staff supporting them behind the scenes.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

"Over the years, this exceptional group of people have proven that they know how to deliver value to their sponsors. I'm optimistic about the future, even though cycling has its challenges. We have a team that is a ready to lead the way and an organisation that is up for the task at hand," Riis added.

Evans "same as last year"

By Hedwig Kröner

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) on the podium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian Cadel Evans made up for his difficult start into this year's Paris-Nice on stage four atop the mythical Mont Ventoux, and showed everyone he had still to be reckoned with – not only in these first few weeks of the European season, but also later on, in July. The 2007 Tour de France runner-up was satisfied with his performance after crossing the line on the Giant of Provence, and it was no wonder – he just out-sprinted Rabobank's new star on the horizon, 21 year-old Robert Gesink, and scored his second victory so far this year.

"It's great not riding for GC!," Evans told Cyclingnews, trying to catch his breath after the violent effort of climbing 15 kilometres at 7 percent average. He hadn't actually expected to win, but wanted to give his team-mate Yaroslav Popovych a hand in securing his spot on the general classification. "I wanted to be there for Popo – it's the first time we worked together so this is where we're actually getting to know each other a bit."

Evans had a 'bad' day on Wednesday's stage to Saint Etienne, finishing over five minutes back, while his Ukrainian team-mate remained in contention. "Yesterday, he was better than me – maybe yesterday made the difference with today...," he added. "Whew. Well, it's not too bad, eh! So far... but it's in July that everyone's going to be watching, I think!"

Evans has shown good form rather early in the season, also winning the mountain stage of the Ruta del Sol in February. But in his view, his level of fitness is not better than in previous years. "I've never had such a good team and environment around me before, supporting me. Otherwise I'm the same or less than last year," he commented, riding off to receive the honours of the day in bright sunshine. It is the 'race to the sun', finally – and maybe Evans' victory could be a good sign for the French summer?

Voigt: hungry as ever

By Hedwig Kröner

German Jens Voigt (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Florian & Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

A freshly-showered Jens Voigt, came out of his team bus late following Thursday's stage four finish of Paris-Nice, after having again put in one of the solo kamikaze attacks the tall German is famous for. He told Cyclingnews, "Well, you know, I have to do something for my image!" The CSC rider was part of the day's four-man breakaway, but went on his own with 16 kilometres to go, just at the foot of the Mont Ventoux climb in Malaucčne.

"We had a real chance for winning – just one minute more and it could have ended differently," he said, not too disappointed with himself after finishing 15th on the line. The equally famous mountain ate away his lead of three and a half minutes, until the general classification riders and pure climbers overtook him with two kilometres to go.

"When I attacked the group at the foot of the climb, I believed I could make it. I only lost 30 seconds in the first five kilometres of the ascent. So I told myself I could possibly do it, just looking at it mathematically. But with five kilometres to go, I just couldn't resist anymore, and the guys behind put down the hammer for the finale..." By then, Voigt almost seemed to pedal backwards, as they say, but still gave his bike a ferociously stubborn grind to finish a very respectable 1'47" behind the winner, Cadel Evans.

Today was the first "satisfying" test of the season for the German all rounder, who takes pride in still being able to pull off these kind of stunts. "I mean, I'm 36 years old, but I still have what it takes to get in the right break, and the power to push through to the end. If the GC riders had waited a bit longer for their final moves I could have made it. Of course I'm a bit disappointed, but I had enough time to get over that as I knew with five clicks to go that this would be a slow death... Now, I see it as a positive unfolding of my form."

Speaking of which – with one of Voigt's dearest races coming up, the Critérium International, the CSC rider will do everything he needs to defend his 2007 title. "That race will be shorter than Paris-Nice, so that's more my cup of tea!," he added, looking forward to the event he has won already three times. "I really like Critérium International, it's short but sharp, exactly my kind of thing."

French secretary vows to protect French riders

The French Sports Secretary, Bernard Laporte, visited Paris-Nice on Thursday to offer up his support of French riders who face possible bans from the Olympic Games or World Championships for participating in the rogue event, which was been sanctioned by the French Cycling Federation (FFC) against the rules of the International Cycling Union (UCI). The UCI announced last week that it would pursue sanctions for any rider who started the event, and began disciplinary action against the FFC and its president Jean Pitallier.

"My concern is to protect the French Cycling Federation, its president Jean Pitallier, which has done and is still doing an excellent job, and the riders," Laporte said at the finish of the fourth stage on the Mont Ventoux, according to AFP.

Laporte still kept open the prospect of mediation between the warring UCI and Amaury Sport Organisation, the organiser of Paris-Nice and the Tour de France. "I want to be the mediator in these quarrels, which had long existed, but on the condition that we listen to each other – that we discuss and find agreements that can be held to."

The Frenchman assured the riders from his country that they would participate at the World Championships, including the upcoming track championships at end of this month in Manchester.

McQuaid: Riders are the victims

UCI president Pat McQuaid clarified his stance on sanctions against riders who are participating in Paris-Nice while visiting Spain to discuss the re-opening of Operación Puerto this week. He gave one of the first interviews since the beginning of the non-UCI sanctioned edition of the race to the Spanish news agency EFE, where he called the riders "the victims" of the battle between Paris-Nice and Tour de France organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

McQuaid, who prior to Paris-Nice had sent letters and made statements threatening riders with fines and suspensions if they participated in the event outside the UCI's rules backed off from that firm stance a bit this week. "I said what I had to say. The race is taking place outside of the rules of the UCI," he said. "When it finishes we will sit down and look at all the circumstances and consider the data that we have. The riders have asked for a meeting. They are victims and have been forced to take a stand, they are employees of teams that cannot be denied participation because it is their livelihood. The UCI will take this into account in determining sanctions."

The Irishman described feeling alone in the fight to uphold his organisation's rules before Paris-Nice, but explained, "Then I started receiving a large number of letters, e-mails and messages from the world of cycling giving us support and saying that the UCI should draw a line in the sand and defend the law. "

In the days before Paris-Nice, McQuaid told the press that he would kick teams who raced the event out of the UCI, and he refused to say whether or not he would go through on that threat, but clarified, "There is a difference between those starting the rebellion – the ASO and the French Federation – and the riders, who do not have any choice but to give in to the situation."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Txurruka renews until 2010

By Monika Prell

Euskaltel-Euskadi's promising young Basque rider Amets Txurruka has extended his contract with the squad until 2010. The contract of the 25 year-old 2007 Tour de France most aggressive rider award was due to end this year. Txurruka said he is proud that "the team has confidence in my abilities, and I hope to answer with a great performance. Euskaltel Euskadi is my home team and has a philosophy that makes it very special. Being a part of this project is great and I want to thank Miguel Madariaga and Igor González de Galdeano for their confidence in me."

After suffering a crash in second stage of the Challenge de Mallorca where he broke his collarbone, Txurruka is already back to training. "I am very motivated to come back to competition," he said, "and the extension of my contract motivates me even more."

Miguel Madariaga, the team manager expressed his satisfaction with the extension of Txurruka's contract. "We reached an agreement and extended the cooperation for two more years. The project I initiated with Igor González de Galdeano is growing progressively. The renewal of Txurruka integrates itself in this route."

Madariaga thinks a great deal of Txurruka. "We believe that he is a rider of the present and the future. The fact that he won the combativity ranking of last year's Tour de France shows his quality. We believe that he is a rider who is able make us happy and so we are content to continue the work with him until 2010."

Team Type 1 scores in Taiwan

Shawn Milne cuts off the goatee of Team Type 1 director Ed Beamon
Photo ©: Greg Chang
(Click for larger image)

American Shawn Milne handed the new U.S. squad Team Type I its first professional victory in the Tour de Taiwan on Thursday. The 26-year-old took the field sprint on stage five, the 92-mile (148 km) Hsinchu City Circuit Race, nabbing his first personal win in two years. With the 10-second bonus, Milne also pulled himself into second place overall behind his former team-mate, John Murphy (Health Net presented by Maxxis) with three stages left in the eight-day race. Last year, Milne won the Tour de Taiwan while racing for Health Net.

"As they have done so well all week, the Merida squad took control of the final 10 kilometers to set up the sprint, but our guys played it nearly perfectly at the end," Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said. "This win will certainly be one for Shawn and the entire team to remember."

Team Type 1 is in its first season as a professional cycling team. It was founded in 2004 by racers Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge to inspire people living with diabetes to take a proactive approach to managing their health and overcoming obstacles often associated with the condition. The past two years, Team Type 1 has won the eight-rider corporate division of the Race Across America (RAAM). All 11 racers on its elite/developmental team have Type 1 diabetes, as do four of its 15 pro riders.

"This victory is definitely a big day – not only for all of us on the team – but for everyone who is affected by diabetes," Southerland said. "It shows that people with diabetes can compete on the highest of levels and also be a part of a winning team. We could not have accomplished today's win without the tremendous support of all of our friends and sponsors along the way. This victory takes us one step closer to our ultimate goal of someday racing in the Tour de France."

Friday's stage is a 79-mile (127.7 km) circuit race through Taipei County.

Largest one-day US race set for April

The 2008 Tour of the Battenkill Cycling Race in Salem, New York has become the largest one-day race in the United States, organisers announced Thursday. With 1200 current registrants, the race has already surpassed Monterey California's Sea Otter Classic, and more than 1600 racers from across the US and Canada are expected to race on April 19.

The event, which is hosted in cooperation with the Towns & Villages of the Battenkill Valley will benefit Farm Team Cycling of Cambridge – an area Junior-level cycling team, and the Public Libraries of Southern Washington County, NY. Starting and finishing in the rural village of Salem, New York the race features one of the most challenging and unique race courses on the North American calendar with a single 55 mile loop, rolling countryside, direct passes through small villages, covered bridges, and the un-paved roads that have become the race's trademark.

Challenging sections of the course include Juniper Swamp Road in the Town of Salem – a 1/4 mile un-paved climb with a 15% grade, Meeting House and Becker Roads in Easton – four very difficult un-paved climbs that come late in the course, and the challenging climb up Willard Mountain at mile 30.

The Elite and Professional Men will race on an extended 82 mile course that will feature the rarely-traveled McKie Hollow Road in the Town of White Creek – a half-mile unpaved climb that averages 12-15% in grade, and a final seven mile circuit in the Town of Salem. Along the way, racers will pass directly through the Villages of Cambridge and Greenwich giving spectators several opportunities to see the race.

There are 17 separate races from Junior to Professional Men's & Women's races. Among the Professional teams attending are the Advil/Chapstick Women's Professional Cycling Team, Kenda/Raleigh Men's Cycling Team, Calyon-Litespeed Professional Cycling of Montreal, Target Training Elite Development Team, Team RACE Professional Cycling of Ontario, Fitness Together / IF pb Lionette's Men's Elite Cycling, MetLife Pro-Am Cycling, and VW/Trek of Quebec.

Many volunteers are needed for the safe hosting of the race. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Christine Hoffer at volunteers@battenkillroubaix.com or 518-677-5741 for details, or visit www.tourofthebattenkill.com for more information.

Lance Armstrong to open bike shop

By Rosee Woodland, BikeRadar.com

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has plans in the works to open a bike shop in his home town of Austin, Texas. Dubbed Mellow Johnny's, after Armstrong's nickname for the leader's jersey he wore seven times, the 18,000 sq foot store is aimed at getting more people riding Austin.

Armstrong will cater to serious road racers with top end Trek bikes, similar to those Armstrong rode on his seven consecutive Tour de France victories, but also wants the shop to have wide appeal. He has plans to sell mountain bikes, commuter bikes, fixed wheels, low riders, handmade one-offs, and triathlon bikes.

With an eye on helping to turn Austin into a cycling city, in the same vein as Portland, Oregon, Armstrong says the shop will provide lockers and showers for Austin's bike commuters, and offer coffee as well as the usual gear and repair services. In fact, Armstrong predicts that Mellow Johnny's will be "the coolest bike shop in the world".

But, despite his mammoth plans, he insists he doesn't want to see off Austin's smaller bike shops. "It's not us versus them," he told the Austin American Statesman. "We're all about the cycling culture."

But he admits there's a lot of work to be done first on improving conditions for the area's cyclists. "There are times I ride in Austin, and I'm afraid of cars," Armstrong admitted. "Imagine what the beginner cyclist must feel like? I think (Mayor) Will Wynn's dream was this whole revitalization of downtown, which we're getting, but it's going to make it a lot easier if people can get around on bikes."

Although it's some way from opening, a vacant 1950s building has been earmarked for the project and local architect Michael Hsu has created a master plan. Work on site started in February and is expected to go on through the summer.

The store is just north of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a path that will cut east-west through downtown Austin.

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