Latest Cycling News, November 19, 2008
Edited by Bjorn Haake
Pevenage joins Rock Racing
Rock Racing added the illustrious name of Rudy Pevenage to its roster for the 2009 season. He will become directeur sportif, according to a press release from the team. The Belgian has not worked as a director since being suspended from T-Mobile in 2006 for the possible Operación Puerto involvement.
Pevenage will meet up with Oscar Sevilla, who was also suspended from T-Mobile in 2006. Pevenage is best known for being Jan Ullrich's mentor and accompanying the now-retired German rider at Teams Telekom, Coast, Bianchi and T-Mobile, leading to renewed speculation that Ullrich may also join the US-based team.
He confirmed to investigators that Ullrich had met with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in Madrid a number of times, but only for the development of training plans, according to the German news magazine Focus.
It does not appear that Ullrich will be following the Belgian to the team, although "the project interests him. Not as a cyclist, but the overall idea," Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband told Cyclingnews. "I am happy for Pevenage, but the subject has not come up with Jan."
In 2008, Rock Racing, run by Michael Ball, took 45 wins and 104 podium finishes. The sponsor is committed for the next five years. After doing well on the domestic scene in the United States, the team is planning to race more in Europe, even though it decided against taking out a Professional Continental license.
Lampre unites team at first camp
By Gregor Brown
Team Lampre will unite its members next month at Boario Terme, Italy, in the first of its camps for the 2009 season. Damiano Cunego and Alessandro Ballan will meet their new teammates and will plan for the coming year.
"The four days are useful to unite the team and get to know each other; the new guys to get to know the old guard," said the team's Directeur Sportif Maurizio Piovani to Cyclingnews.
The team of Giuseppe Saronni will hold the camp, December 9 to 12, at a wellness resort near Brescia. It is primarily a meeting to fit the new members – like Enrico Gasparotto, Mauro Da Dalto and Pietro Caucchioli – for gear and perform medical checks.
"The new guys are fitted for their bikes. We will have team meetings and look over the materials – like the clothing. There is Gasparotto, Da Dalto and a few neo-professionals; we get together with them and put in place all the pieces for 2009. With the others, who have been with us for years, there is not a lot of work to do."
The cyclists will ride together for the first time as a team on the roads around Lago d'Iseo. Some of them will be further along in their 2009 preparations, though the second and third camps focus more on training.
"Those who are starting early, in Qatar or Australia, will certainly already be training. After the medical visits, et cetera, they will be on their bikes or at the gym. It will not be four days of only eating."
Pino has hopes for Tour de France invitation
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Alvaro Pino, directeur sportif at the Spanish Professional Continental team Xacobeo Galicia, has hopes to race the Tour de France. Pino didn't want to make too much out of the fact the team got invited to the Tour de France presentation, but still has hopes that Xacobeo may be one of the few minor teams invited.
"The invitation by the organisers I interpret solely as a gesture of courtesy. But each year they invite teams that deserve it based on their sportive merits, their ethical [behaviour] and with that in mind I think we clearly enter the pool of selectable teams."
Pino even already drew up a scenario in case the team would get selected. "We would plan our race calendar to make these riders the backbone: Ezequiel [Mosquera], David García, [Gustavo] Veloso, [David] Herrero, [Carlos] Castaño..."
The team has currently no plans to extend on its 18 riders, a number the team has held steady for the last two years. But Pino indicated this would likely change if an invitation to a Grand Tour comes up. "In that case, we will go to 20 riders."
Besides the Tour, Pino was very optimistic to take out a spot in the Giro d'Italia. "I spoke with the organisers, and they are interested in a Spanish team, which in principle should be ours."
The Tour route
Pino has already thoroughly studied the Tour route. "Next year, the route will be different, because the team time trial is back and the mountains are distributed in a distinct way, with that very demanding penultimate stage up the Ventoux. This changes things a bit. If before the race was decided in the final time trial, this time it will be in the mountains."
Pino doesn't have much to complain regarding the riders he has under contract. Asked who he would like to sign, Pino answered confidently. "Contador, Sastre and Mosquera – and the latter we already have."
Pino is happy with his outfit, but wasn't interested making a prediction about the 2009 revelation of the team. "I don't like to individualise things. I have confidence in the new riders and any of those have the quality to become the revelation of the [next] season. But in general, I think any of the riders – older or younger – have some margin for improvement, as they have already shown this season."
Pino was certainly happy that he could bank on a rider like Mosquera, who will give them a better shot at Grand Tours. "Without a doubt, we have riders for the future, but we have to give them time. Among others, those could be [Gonzalo] Rabuñal, Mourón [Doldán], Delio [Fernández Cruz] or Serafín [Martínez Acevedo]."
Pino called all races of 2009 important, but admitted one race stood out. "The Vuelta a España is our priority, and the same for the Giro and the Tour, in case we get invited. Other races, like the País Vasco or Cataluña, we will also tackle with our minds on the task at hand."
Zubeldia's final race for Euskaltel
Haimar Zubeldia will race one final time for Euskaltel Euskadi, when he takes to the start at a criterium organised by Café Baqué. The company celebrates its 30-year sponsorship commitment of the amateur team by organising the criterium in Durango, northern Spain, on Saturday, November 22. Zubeldia will race for Astana next season.
Zubeldia is looking forward to the race. "I have never raced in the Baqué [crit], but when I raced for [Team] Olarra, Baqué was one of the strongest teams in the Spanish amateur scene, like it is today." Zubeldia hoped the sponsor would continue for many more years, as it made a real difference in Spanish racing.
It will be the last time he will wear the orange outfit of Euskaltel Euskadi. "Once more, I want to thank the whole team and wish the best of luck to everyone," Zubeldia said.
His last official races this season were the Deutschland Tour and the Vattenfall Cyclassics. "The last month I was dedicated 100 percent to my family, as since Ane was born [in May - ed.], I did not have time to enjoy that. We were on vacation for nine days in the Canarias in total quietness and with the goal to recharge batteries." Zubeldia stopped riding for an entire month, something which he usually does.
Zubeldia will now undergo some changes, joining a different team. "Everything will be new for me: a new team, new bicycles, new people... The first camp will be at the end of this month and that is where I will get to meet my new teammates." Zubeldia is aware of the fact that on paper Astana is one of the strongest teams in the peloton. "But we will have to demonstrate that in the races."
Zubeldia knows he will be engaged as a helper. "Alberto [Contador] with his youth and Lance [Armstrong] with his palmarès will be our spears. Levi [Leipheimer] and [Andreas] Klöden are also capable of being among the top, and the latest signing, [Yaroslav] Popovych is also a good strengthening of the team."
Knee surgery for Van Impe
Kevin van Impe of Team Quick Step had surgery on his right knee last week, to have a cyst removed. He has already resumed training.
Van Impe, 27, told sportwereld that he injured the knee in the middle of last summer when he rode into an open car door in Spain. "Since then I have always ridden with pain."
He did not expect to lose any time due to the surgery, expecting to be out on the road again by the end of this week. He already started training on the roller Monday.
"I hope that 2009 will at least be a year without incident," he concluded. "It's about time." (SW)
Rhodes to Webcor
By Kirsten Robbins
Alexis Rhodes will move to the Webcor Builders Pro Women's Cycling team, after not receiving a new contract with Team Columbia. Rhodes decided to give American racing a shot, signing with the California-based team upon the conclusion of her two-year jaunt with Columbia. According to Webcor's team director, Karen Brems, Columbia team manager Kristy Scrymgeour contacted her regarding the 24-year-old all rounder.
"High Road [Columbia] didn't renew her contract so they called me," Brems said. "She [Scrymgeour] spoke really highly of Alexis. I know it is hard when you have to let a rider go but Kristy found her a good home with us." Rhodes palmarès includes a third place finish in the Australian national time trial championships, eighth place in the Nürnberger World Cup, double stage wins at the 2007 Jayco Bay Cycling Classics, the best young rider jersey at the 2007 Geelong Women's Tour and numerous criterium national titles.
"I saw how strong she was and how hard she worked for the team so it seemed like she was a great fit for us," Brems said, regarding the team's effort to become more well rounded. "I think the combination of her and our sprinter Gina Grain will give us two cards to play in the crits. Stage races continue to be our priority but this year we will have a criterium team stronger than we ever had before."
Signing alongside Rhodes was her AIS teammate Nikki Egyed. Egyed joins the squad from her former Dutch trade team Vrienden van Het Platteland. She is well known for her lengthy breakaway in this year's Varese World Championship. "Nikki is a really strong rider," said Brems. "An all rounder, good climber and she has some good speed. I think she will make a great breakaway rider and brings a lot to our team."
The team bid adieu to their team leader Dr. Christine Thorburn. After five years of team leadership the three-time Olympian has decided to pursue a career in medicine. However, the squad has hired back the bulk of their 2008 strength to include two Beijing Olympians from Canada Gina Grain and Erinne Willock. Returning riders also include Kathryn Curi-Mattis, 2008 Geelong World Cup winner, along with young talents Rebecca Much, Amy Dombroski and Janelle Holcomb.
"Webcor is strong as a company and is back and committed 100 percent," Brems said. "We have a great team, most of it is continuing from 2008. We had great team chemistry and everyone wants to remain a part of that. The younger riders want to learn and improve based on the feedback they receive. And we have such great mentors who are willing to teach the younger riders and lead our programme."
The sport of cycling is facing some tough economic times and some teams are negatively affected by the financial strap while other teams continue to prosper, like Webcor. The financial hardships have forced several women's teams to fold and others to downsize, forcing riders to spread out and look for other opportunities amongst the women's peloton. "It's always better racing when the talent is spread around a little bit," Brems said optimistically. "I think all the teams were forced to get a little smaller this year but things always work out one way or another. Riders may have had to take pay cuts but everyone can still get to the races for the most part. My worry is that with the Tour de Georgia being cut, some of the other races might get cut too."
UniSA to race Tour Down Under
Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith today announced that the UniSA - Australian National Team will compete in the 2009 Tour Down Under. The race will take place in South Australia from January 18 to 25 2009, and is the first stop on the world cycling calendar. Details of all teams and riders competing in the 2009 Tour Down Under will be announced later this year.
Lomax-Smith was happy with a repeat of last year. "We are delighted that the UniSA team – which will include some of the best Australian road cyclists – is again competing at the Tour Down Under in January. The UniSA team attracts a huge local following and has raced in every Tour Down Under since 2001."
UniSA-Australia was included in the 2008 Tour Down Under following a special permission being granted by the Union Cycliste Internationale's (UCI) ProTour Council. In 2008 the Tour Down Under became the first event outside Europe to join the prestigious UCI ProTour calendar. This guaranteed that the world's elite ProTour teams would compete at the event each year.
Following requests from the South Australian Government, the UCI governing body amended its rules to allow the national team of a race organiser's country to take part in UCI ProTour events.
"It is great news that the national team will again join the elite ProTour teams to battle it out for the Tour Down Under's prestigious ochre jersey," Lomax-Smith said. The University of South Australia has been a sponsor of the Tour Down Under since 2001.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj says the inclusion of the Australian national team is great news for the team, the University and all the local spectators. "The Tour Down Under continues to be a great match for UniSA and we are extremely proud to continue to be part of this world-class event," Høj said.
Team UniSA Supporters' Club Captain Patrick Jonker explained that riders in the UniSA national team have a fantastic opportunity to compete against the legend of cycling, Lance Armstrong. "Being a teammate of Lance's in 2000 for the US Postal Service Pro Cycling team, I can say the riders chosen for the UniSA national team will be looking forward to riding with an absolute professional," Jonker said. "It was a coup for the Tour Down Under organisers to secure Lance who will make his comeback to professional cycling by competing in the 2009 Tour Down Under."
Meares to visit inaugural Victorian Women's Championships
Australia's Olympic track cycling gold medallist Anna Meares will take time out this Sunday, November 23, to visit the inaugural Victorian Women's Omnium Championship being held at the Darebin International Sports Centre Velodrome.
Presented by CycleSport Victoria and the Brunswick Cycling Club, the event will see almost 50 women contest the 'pentathlon or decathlon' of cycling, which features five events – flying 200m, scratch race, individual pursuit, points race and time trial.
As all events must be completed, cyclists will need to be good at sprinting, time trialling and bunch racing in order to give themselves a chance to take the title.
Meares, who is currently in Melbourne for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, said she was thrilled to take time out to visit the Women's Omnium to show her support for women in the sport.
"It's great to see this type of competition being run for the girls," she said. "Cycling events have traditionally been geared towards the men, so it's good to see women being encouraged to race with events organised specifically for them."
CycleSport Victoria's Women's Committee chairperson Lawrence Maskill said this event has received strong interest from female cyclists. "CycleSport Victoria has been working to encourage more women into all competitive cycling, whether track or road, and this is our inaugural Women's Omnium Championship," Maskill said.
"We have a very strong turnout of competitors – some of Victoria's finest across the age ranges – and also have a fantastic bunch of sponsors on board to ensure the competition will be fierce. We expect it to become a major national event for women riders in the coming years."
Races get underway from 10:00.
Races sought for Nature Valley Pro calendar
A national programme is offering race promoters to join Nature Valley Pro calendar. The top riders of the races on the calendar will be invited to the 2009 edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. That race takes place in Minnesota, from June 10-14, 2009.
Entering its second year, the "Nature Valley Pro Ride" will select amateur men and women at regional races around the United States to become part of a pair of Nature Valley composite teams for the 11th annual edition of the five-day stage race.
"This is a chance for a race promoter to raise the participation and visibility of their event at no extra cost," Nature Valley Grand Prix Race Director David LaPorte said. "As for the riders who are selected, they can look forward to racing in front of huge crowds and being treated like a rock star at our event."
Amateur racers (category 1 men and category 1,2 women) who qualify at a Nature Valley Pro Ride event receive a "battlefield promotion" that earns them free entry to the race, travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation and staff support for their composite team.
"We're looking for the top regional races who want to take their game to a higher level," LaPorte said. "We'll consider road races, criteriums and stage races, as long as they get strong fields. And our promotional programmes will make those fields even stronger."
To be considered for the 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride, a race must be permitted through USA Cycling and take place no later than June 7. Preference will be given to races that take place between February and mid-May. Interested promoters must submit their application by Dec. 15. More details and a downloadable application can be found at www.naturevalleyproride.com.
The 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride schedule will be announced Jan. 5, 2009.
Celebrate with Cyclingnews' End of Season Sweepstakes
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the road and mountain-bike seasons are winding down and it's time to plan to get through the off-season blues (and if you live in the Southern hemisphere and your season is just getting started, no worries – your offy will be here in no time so this sweepstakes is for you too). We and our friends at CycleOps and DiNotte Lighting want to help you.
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Our lead prize is a 2009 CycleOps PowerBeam Pro Indoor Trainer. An innovator in power measurement and training tools, CycleOps is bringing power training for cyclists indoors for winter. With their PowerBeam Indoor Trainer, you control the variables of training, you use CycleOps' software tools to plan precise workouts and you measure your power output to compare your effort with your goals.
Dinotte Lighting is offering two sets of their high-powered front and rear LED-based Pro Series light systems. The use of proprietary batteries in lighting systems is a large complaint among cyclists. Too many lights permanently fail after one season due to the chemistry of the proprietary NiMH or NiCad batteries used in value priced lighting systems. DiNotte's Pro Series lights use AA rechargeable batteries. The adoption of standard NiMH rechargeable batteries means customers can replace batteries at a moment's notice.
Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)