First Edition Cycling News, November 15, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Six Days thriving in Belgium, hurting in Germany
The European Six Day circuit picks up in Gent, Belgium, this week for the 68th edition of the Zesdaagse van Vlaanderen, and according to Sportwereld.be, tickets for three of the six nights have already sold out. This success is in sharp contrast with reports from recent Six Days in Germany, where flat ticket sales have led promoters to question their events' futures.
German cycling's woes are now spreading beyond road racing, as the traditional Six Day races are feeling the pinch. The Stuttgart race has been cancelled, and organisers are doubtful as to whether they will be able to stage the Munich Six Day race next November.
The decision to cancel the Hofbrau Sechstagerennen in Stuttgart was based on the current situation in professional cycling, according to Andreas Kroll, head of the organising committee. It was scheduled to be held January 15-20, 2009.
A major contributing factor was the positive Tour de France doping test for CERA from Stefan Schumacher, who lives in the Stuttgart area. "Professional cycling has an enormous image problem, which we can't do anything about," Kroll said.
The recent Munich Six Day race, held November 6-11, cost a total of about €1.5 million, and organiser Klaus Cyron is expecting to see a five-figure loss. The problem is the stagnating fan base. The race attracted just over 60,000 spectators, the same as last year, but far below the 65,000 organisers needed.
In Gent, last year's winners Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko will be back to defend that title, but other notables will be absent. Franco Marvulli, who normally pairs with Bruno Risi, will be absent due to an illness which forced him to drop out midway through the Dortmund Six Day earlier this month. Also absent will be Robert Slippens, teammate of Danny Stam.
Stam will instead team up with fellow Dutchman Peter Schep, while Risi will pair with his countryman Alexander Aeschbach.
Dortmund winners Erik Zabel and Leif Lampater should give Keisse and Bartko the strongest competition of the 12-team field. (SW)
Sinkewitz with Czech team in 2009?
Patrik Sinkewitz has finally found a new team for the 2009 season, according to the Czech web site peloton.cz, which reports the German has signed with PSK Whirlpool, a Czech Professional Continental team.
Sinkewitz told Cyclingnews that he was surprised by the report and wouldn't confirm it, but expected to have an announcement on Monday.
Sinkewitz found himself at the center of a storm of doping controversy after it was announced during the 2007 Tour de France that he had tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition doping control prior to the Tour. He was subsequently fired by T-Mobile Team, but the case touched off a cascade of reactions which included German television refusing to broadcast the Tour coverage for the remainder of the race.
Sinkewitz precipitated further controversy when he confessed to using the drug and was a cooperative witness, giving investigators many details about his own doping and those of his former team. Among those is rumored to be details of blood transfusions received by Sinkewitz and other T-Mobile riders at the University of Freiburg Clinic during the 2006 Tour de France. (SW)
Boot camp launches new Saxo Bank - IT Factory team
The now former CSC team will launch its new identity as Team Saxo Bank - IT Factory with its annual military-style survival camp in Denmark this month, the team announced Friday.
"We're a Danish team and both our two new main sponsors are Danish. We're embarking on a whole new chapter with a new name and brand new sponsors so we thought it was the right thing for us to begin this chapter in Denmark, where it all started a long time ago," explained trainer BS Christiansen.
"November in Denmark should mean a really tough and demanding camp, which will get us where we want to be ahead of the 2009 season," he continued.
The camp lasts 10 days with the actual survival challenge taking up three to five days. The remaining time will include the team presentation. The camps are designed as team building exercises, and have been a mainstay of the organisation for several years. This season, Christiansen said, communication will be a major focus of the exercise.
"The program this year contains several elements. First of all we need to get to know one another properly because there's a lot of new faces. Then there are a couple of things from 2008, which we need to improve on. We need to carry on improving the way we work together and also the way we communicate. We've grown into a large organization with a lot of different activities and that sometimes makes communicate a challenge, which is something we need to address."
The riders and sports directors will get a one-day head start on the rest of the team organisation. "We've always got specific issues in mind and we've decided that this year we have some tasks which we want solved in a specific way, and it's a good idea for the riders and the sports directors to be subjected to some physical tests before everyone else gets there," Christiansen explained.
Dahms sues Ullrich for defamation
Jan Ullrich will face another battle in court with his former Team Coast owner Günther Dahms after making what Dahms' attorney considered defamatory comments about his client following a court case this week. After Thursday's ruling in the rider's favour, Ullrich met with reporters and made comments concerning Dahms' character and ability to pay.
Dahms' attorney cited various media reports which repeated these comments, saying "the deed was done publicly and spread by the media."
A German court this week ordered Dahms to pay Ullrich €340,000 plus interest for unpaid wages. Dahms had refused to pay on the grounds that Ullrich had doped during the time in question, in violation of his contract. After Ullrich swore under oath that he had not doped, the court order Dahms to pay. (SW)
Soetens goes pro with Vervecken
Cyclo-crosser Jan Soetens has signed a professional contract with his Revor team which begins January 1, the date three-time World Champion Erwin Vervecken joins the team. Soetens, the Belgian 'elite without contract' champion has had a strong fall campaign, taking 11th in the Superprestige in Ruddervoorde, before cracking the top ten in Ardooie.
Vandenbroucke to Cinelli?
Belgium's troubled former star Frank Vandenbroucke could be making his return to the professional peloton with the new Cinelli-Endeka squad where his friend Nico Mattan is directeur sportif. The pair met Friday with the team leadership, and could be close to inking a deal.
"We will know more on Monday," Vandenbroucke said, according to Belga. VDB, as he is known, was signed to the Mitsubishi-Jartazi team for the 2008 season, but was released from his contract after being named as a customer of a Belgian drug gang. That charge wasn't the only difficulty of the season as one month previous, the UCI made the team's wild card status contingent on Vandenbroucke not racing any ProTour events.
After going through eight teams in as many years, two drugs busts, a published autobiography and an attempted suicide, VDB said that he is serious about making his comeback. "I am currently doing everything to be a racer again."
Olson to Colavita-Sutter Home
By Kirsten Robbins
After three years of racing for European teams Saunier-Duval, T-Mobile and American based team Bissell, Aaron Olson has returned to his roots with the Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking light squad for the 2009 season.
"I am very happy to be back with the team and family at Colavita," Olson told Cyclingnews about signing with the New Jersey-based team upon the conclusion of his one-year contract with Bissell. "I almost signed with them [Colavita] last year returning from T-Mobile, and looking back it would have been the best team for me. So, this year, after riding for Bissell, I decided I wanted a change back to the team I rode for before going over to Saunier Duval and T-Mobile – It's like a family to me, so that was my biggest reason for joining the team."
The Eugene native had a successful season in 2005 competing with the Colavita squad along side former teammates now racing for Garmin-Chipotle, Will Frischkorn, Rock Racing's Ivan Dominguez, CSC-Saxo Bank's Juan Jose Haedo and former US Pro champion Mark McCormack.
"He showed his best years in Colavita, so why not bringing him back?" said director sportif Sebastian Alexandre. "I believe Aaron is a very strong rider, very complete and he will bring us more horsepower to the races. He is very strong, and we needed a rider like him to help the team keep winning races."
Olson made his dream leap over to European racing with team Saunier Duval - Prodir in 2006 followed by one year in magenta with T-Mobile in 2007. His two year stint offered valuable experience as a domestique for top guns of then Saunier-Duval riders Gilberto Simoni and Marco Pinotti along with then T-Mobile riders Michael Rogers and Kim Kirchen.
However, despite his hard-earned experience, the sport's negative image and tough economic times are making it difficult for even the best cyclist to find a home. "Considering the cycling world now, I feel fortunate to be a part of such a great team," said Olson regarding the team, which took second overall in the US National Racing Calendar standings in 2008.
"It will be great to be a part of the success they have had, especially this past season. Sebastian Alexandre believes in my abilities, and was a huge reason for me coming to the team, I believe he can get the most out of me and the team, and I look forward to riding under his direction next season. Colavita isn't only great Olive Oil, but a great team to be a part of."
In addition to Olson, confirmed returning riders include Argentina's Alejandro Borrajo, Anibal Borrajo and Sebastian Haedo along with American riders Kyle Wamsley, Tyler Wren, Andy Guptill, Dan Vaillancourt and Anthony Colby and Italian riders Davide Frattini and Luca Damiani.
Andreu, Proman team up for charity ride weekend
Nine-time Tour de France finisher Frankie Andreu will take part in two charity events this weekend along with the Proman women's racing team. Proceeds from the first event, Saturday's "Ride the World Cups" fundraiser at the Hellyer Park velodrome in San Jose, California, will help pay to send Proman racers Shelly Olds and Nicole Cranmer to the UCI World Cup races.
The second event, a 42-mile fun ride in Marin County, California, will benefit the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.
Olds, who took 6th and 8th in the Scratch and Points races at the recent Manchester World Cup, will return from Europe in time to take part in the third edition of the Ride the World Cups event. Like the first two editions, the event promises to showcase some exciting track racing, as well as spotlight local Hellyer track heroes at the Junior, Elite, Masters National and even World Championship levels.
The Proman team will be introducing four new team riders at the RTWC event, all Juniors: Ruth Winder, Nikka Van Den Dries, Claire Jenson and Christina Noelle Yglesias. "This represents an important milestone in the team’s history," explained Cranmer. "Not only will we be continuing our support of women who are working their way up through the ranks in the form of our development squads, but we will have the opportunity to mentor and support promising young athletes who can follow in the footsteps of Shelley, Cari Higgins, Rachel Lloyd and other 'Proman Girls' who have excelled at the National and International levels."
Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer (SW)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)