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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, November 11, 2008

Edited by Les Clarke

Contador gains aero advantages

Spain's Alberto Contador
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

After Cyclingnews reported on the wind tunnel tests of Lance Armstrong last week, it seems like the Texan isn't the only one looking to gain some aero advantages for his 2009 season.

His teammate next year, Alberto Contador, has also been in the United States testing in a wind tunnel and analysing his time trial position. Sporza reports that the prodigiously talented Spaniard was happy after the sessions in San Diego. "I have more to get out of my body," he explained.

The winner of this year's Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España built his victories around strong performances in mountain stages and time trials, and said that, "You need to be at the top in both the mountains and the time trial to win a Grand Tour. Small advantages may also decide whether you lose or win."

Retirement "a relief" for Zabel

Soon to be retired, Erik Zabel savors the victory
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Despite still riding professionally as part of the Munich Six-Day, German veteran Erik Zabel has explained that although he feels some "nostalgia" about his imminent retirement, his farewell will be "a relief". The 38-year-old, considered one of the best sprinters of the past decade, has already announced his withdrawal from the traditional Christmas race in Dortmund, held on 26 December.

"Even though I feel this nostalgia, it's certainly also a relief," said Zabel. "When you are not active, you run fewer risks – like flat racing in wet snow and [the risk of] falling... it's just nice to think about these things," added the man who has ridden in the pro peloton for 16 years. Currently leading in Munich with Leif Lampater, Zabel told the German press that the racing is not "more intense, only because it is the last time."

"This is just the end of another stage, and nothing else," said the German. Zabel can count 150 victories in international competition, including several stages of the Vuelta a España, Giro d'Italia and Tour de France; he holds the record for green jerseys, having secured six. However, he noted that Milan-Sanremo was the "the most beautiful and saddest" event of his international career.

Zabel also referred to his relationship with the press in his 16 years as a professional, saying that he'll manage well without "media noise", and that despite repeated cases of doping among the bunch [last year he confessed to having used EPO for a short time in 1996 - ed.] he was optimistic and he continues "to believe in cycling."

Verbrugghe returns home with Quick Step

After spending the twilight years of his career with Cofidis, Rik Verbrugghe will begin his career as a directeur sportif in Belgium with Quick Step. The Belgian tasted success in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, and last rode for Quick Step in 2005 before moving to Cofidis.

Simeoni move still on for H2O

By Kirsten Robbins

Simeoni and world champ Alessandro Ballan
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With a request for a UCI professional continental licence in the works and the subsequent objective of wild card rides in the the Grand Tours, International Team H2O has yet to sign a GC contender, however.

Despite media reports to the contrary, Filippo Simeoni is currently undergoing negotiations with the new squad and the team is progressing in the right direction, according to directeur sportif Francesco Frattini. "I want to make it clear once and for all that our team is alive and well," said Frattini. "And this team is moving into the market in the best way to bring forward our project for the Humanitarian Association H2O."

While the reigning Italian national champion is technically still on the market, Frattini confirmed that discussions remain in good shape. International Team H20 has confirmed 16 riders for the 2009 season. The three latest signings include Jempy Drucker from Luxembourg, Valentin Iglinski from Kazakhstan and two Belgian riders Wim Vanhuffell and Jonas Vangenechten.

While the team is hopeful that Simeoni will fill the leading role, the updated roster does includes former Scott-American Beef sprinter Luciano Pagliarini of Brazil, and Italy's Paolo Bailetti, former LPR-Ballan all-rounder, both of whom have signed one-year contracts.

The team already announced a number signings earlier this month, and it has been confirmed that directeur sportif will be former French national team manager Frédéric Moncassin, plus former Mitsubishi staff members Walter Meas and Roman Lubovyy. Massino Besnati will be team doctor.

Mixed fortunes in Portugal

By Monika Prell

José Azevedo (Benfica)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Portuguese team Liberty Seguros has announced its 13-man squad for 2009, and biciciclismo reports that 11 riders from the 2008 squad extended their contract. Héctor Guerra, Isidro Nozal, Carlos Nozal, Hernani Broco, Filipe Cardoso, Manuel Antonio Cardoso, Antonio Jesús, Nuno Ribiero, Vitor Rodrigues and Rui Sousa will continue to wear the colours of Liberty Seguros in 2009.

New riders include José Mendes and Edgar Pinto, who rode for Benfica this year, and Portuguese national U23 champion Ricardo Vilela. Koldo Gil, Pablo Urtasun, César Quiteiro and José Rodrigues signalled their intentions to ride elsewhere, with Urtasun heading to Euskaltel - Euskadi.

Alternately, Benfica, another mainstay of the Portuguese domestic scene, will most likely disband in 2009, according to Portuguese daily Record. Team manager João Lagos, who has tried to find a new sponsor since the Volta a Portugal, will make any developments official next week. The fact that Cândido Barbosa is looking for a new team indicates that the news will be bad for Benfica's riders.

Barbosa could sign for Tavira, as have Benfica's sporting director Orlando Rodrigues, masseurs Francisco Carvalho and Paulo Roque and José Azevedo already. The latter recently retired from cycling after a season with Benfica, and he'll undoubtedly become an important part of Tavira's support staff.

Record also reported that Benfica has already sold the team bus to Cervélo, while Benfica's manager Justino Curto bought the team's truck as part of his attempt to create a U23 team with Gonçalo Amorim. Only several Benfica riders have sured up their future; the aforementioned José Azevedo, Rui Costa (moving to Caisse d'Epargne), Danail Petrov (joining CC Bourgas), and José Mendes and Edgar Pinto (moving to Liberty Seguros).

Kelly's latest challenge

By Sarah W. Staber

"You have to tense all the muscles in your arms and legs like you're constipated, it's not very dignified, I'll admit" RAF doctor McGrath concedes to the man sitting across from him. Still in his 'civvies', one of the hardest men in cycling history, Sean Kelly, is wearing that 'tell nothing' poker face used so often during his professional career.

As he listens, a slight twitch of his fingers – which dangle from his knees – is the only sign that perhaps Kelly isn't quite as cool as he looks.

Kelly is taking part in the first edition of the SportActive Challenge® in which a well known athlete attempts to do something out of their range. SportActive, which runs walking, triathlon and cycling tours in Majorca, utilises Kelly's experience in its cycling programs. It forms part of the Irishman's life after the bike but enables him to maintain fitness and a connection with the grassroots of cycling.

In April 2007, RAF Flight Lieutenant Marc Peerce was taking part in one of the company's cycling tours and struggling to the top of a climb when all of a sudden Kelly flies by him, gently teasing him about his lack of fitness. It hurts the Flight Lieutenant more than the screaming burn in his legs at that moment. When Peerce realises that it's a legend of Irish cycling, he sums up all his energy to catch him and with Kelly playfully pushing him up to the finish, Peerce shoots back a dare. "Come fly with the RAF in a Tornado jet fighter then we will see how much you can take." Kelly and SportActive, for whom he rides six weeks a year, took the bet on.

Stay tuned for the full news feature, coming soon to Cyclingnews.

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide
Photo ©: Future Publishing
(Click for larger image)

Now is the time of year when many of us start thinking and dreaming of the bikes and gear that we want to buy in time for the start of the season. Bike companies produce a wonderful array of products which we all get excited about owning.

To help you make a more informed buying decision and produced a magazine that gives you an insight into the bikes and gear that'll be available in 2009. The Bikes & Gear 2009 Preview is the essential guide to the newest, coolest and most technologically advanced bikes, wheels and gear for the 2009 season.

Industry insiders attend the yearly unveiling of new products at events such as Eurobike and Interbike. This guide will give you the opportunity to see some of the same wonderful bikes and gear that they viewed there.

The editors assembled a mix of both road and mountain bikes and components. You'll see the bikes the pros ride both on and off roads but also a huge line of bikes encompassing all price ranges in both disciplines and as a bonus, they included women's, kids' and cyclo-cross bikes, too.

It's a must-read. Find out more and order your copy.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)