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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, November 21, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Peter Hymas

Rock Racing confirms Pevenage

Pevenage takes the 'second chance' offer, but Ullrich will not join him

by Kirsten Robbins

Rock Racing's owner Michael Ball
Photo ©: Emory Ball
(Click for larger image)

Michael Ball, owner of the UCI Continental Team Rock Racing, confirmed the addition of Rudy Pevenage as the Director Sportif for 2009. Pevenage has not worked as a directeur sportif since the 2006 T-Mobile team suspended him after he was implicated in the Operación Puerto scandal.

According to Ball, "He was a part of a situation in the past and he is in the process of coming back into the sport to rectify that," Ball told Cyclingnews. "I'm happy to be the avenue to allow that to happen and happy to have him a part of our organization as the directeur sportif."

Pevenage, 54, was known for mentoring Jan Ullrich on teams Telekom, Coast, Bianchi and T-Mobile. In light of the recent hype surrounding Lance Armstrong's return, Ball met with Ullrich and Pevenage to discuss the possibility of the German rider's return to cycling with the California-based team.

While nothing materialized with Ullrich, Ball's encounter with Pevenage evolved into a working relationship. "This whole thing with Lance started a lot of talk, and I was looking to contact Jan Ullrich," Ball said. "Ullrich will not be racing or involved in the management of this team. But, one of the roads that led to Ullrich was Rudy Pevenage. I was fortunate enough to meet Rudy and I thought 'wow, how serendipitous.' One thing led to another and it ended up being a great opportunity for both of us."

Rock Racing has gambled on providing second chances to individuals who have served suspensions for doping. Pevenage joins a list that includes Oscar Sevilla and Tyler Hamilton. "Pevenage comes to our management humbled by his experiences in the last couple of years and he wants to be a part of cycling again," Ball said.

"I don't think he thought anyone would consider him ever again. We are about giving an individual a break with regards to whether they were, or were not, involved in past scandal. I think this sport is better today than it was yesterday, and it's time to move forward. When you have a love or passion for the sport, like Rudy does, it never goes a way. I think the time is right for everyone involved to take the next step."

Rock to get Belgian base

After a cycling career that included the green sprinter's jersey at the 1980 Tour de France, Pevenage, 54, was a team manager for German Team Telekom. He helped the team when the 1996 and 1997 Tour editions with Bjarne Riis and Ullrich, respectively.

He continued his work with Ullrich until the 2006 Tour de France and the start of the Operación Puerto in Spain. Investigators linked the duo to the doctor at the centre of the affair, Eufemiano Fuentes, and both were suspend from the team then known as T-Mobile.

"He is probably the greatest DS in the last 20 years, his resume speaks volumes of accomplishments, those Belgian directors are unbelievable," Ball said. "From his experience and tactical greatness I am honored to have him be a part of our program. The fact is that he has the ability to manage and turn us into a proper professional team. We weren't the most organized team in 2008, but we looked good! This year we want to look good and be a well managed team."

Joining Pevenage will be assistant director Lorenzo LaPage. LaPage, 42, helped direct Italian Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) to victory at the 2005 Giro d'Italia and he was also part of the Discovery Channel staff when Lance Armstrong won his fifth title in 2003 and sixth title in 2004 Tours de France.

"They are based in Belgium and we are looking for a service course over there for now," Ball said regarding the team's decision to send a full squad to contest events on the European calendar in 2009. "We want to be based over there in the future. We will be racing down in South America, Australia and USA [with] opportunities to get into various races around the world. I hope when the times comes that we will be making the campaign to be in Europe and doing the Grand Tours."

Pevenage will make his first appearance as a director in two years with Rock Racing this January at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina followed by the Tour of California in February.

Rudy Pevenage explains return to cycling with Rock

By Gregor Brown

Ullrich's adviser
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Rudy Pevenage will make his return to cycling with USA's Team Rock Racing after more than two years of being idle. The Belgian, known for his relationship with 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, will act as a point of contact in Europe and directeur sportif for the Continental team of Michael Ball.

Pevenage explained why he decided to return to the sport. "[Ivan] Basso is making his comeback, a lot of riders are making a comeback; If I could not make a comeback then I would not understand that – I did not kill someone, you know," he said to Cyclingnews.

It will be his first job back within a cycling team since the 2006 scandal, and the Belgian explained that he is ready for any of the negative publicity that may come because of his former links to Operación Puerto and the doctor at the center of the scandal, Eufemiano Fuentes.

"You know I was out of my job for two and half years and it [cost] a lot of money on lawyers and problems. I think I paid enough for the phone calls to Fuentes. ... The calls to Fuentes were the reason they, Telekom, put me out."

Pevenage will not only direct the team, but also provide Ball with important contacts in Europe. The American wants to see his team race more in Europe for the 2009 season. The team is barred from entering cycling's top events, like the Tour and Giro d'Italia, because of its third division status.

"I saw the organisation of Rock Racing when I went to LA [Los Angeles]. I saw the way they are working and they are a very organised team. I know the riders that are there, not all of them, but a lot of them.

"For me it is not important that it is a continental team. My goal will be to bring the team up to a higher level. ... I have contacted several race organisations in Spain, Belgium and Germany in the last three to four days, and I am waiting for the answers. ... I am sure that with this team we will go to several races. There are enough races that we can go to prove that we are okay."

Pevenage believes that Ullrich will not follow in his steps and make a cycling comeback. He ruled out his former protégé coming back for 2009, but hesitated to cancel the thought completely for the subsequent seasons.

"Jan and Michael spoke, but it is not my business. ... Michael said, 'I want to meet Jan, he is a very nice man and I was always a fan of his.' They met each other [in Los Angeles] and it was very nice for them. I think that there can be a place for Jan, but I don't know and it is only speculation."

2010 Tour de France to start in Rotterdam

The 97th edition of the Tour de France will kick off on July 3, 2010, in the busy European port city of Rotterdam in the South Holland province of The Netherlands. On Thursday, Tour de France organizers announced that the Dutch city had been awarded the privilege of hosting the opening day of the French Grand Tour.

"Rotterdam is a great metropolis and (as the start venue) is sure to be a big popular success – it does all it can to enable people to get around by bike," said Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme according to the AFP.

Rotterdam won the selection over the Dutch city of Utrecht. Germany's Dusseldorf had previously also expressed interest in hosting.

The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), organizers of the Tour de France, said in a statement on its web site that it chose Rotterdam because in addition to it being another big city, like London, to showcase the use of bikes for urban transportation, it provided a location well positioned considering the rest of the route envisioned for the 2010 edition.

The start in Rotterdam will mark the fifth time The Netherlands kicks off the Tour de France. More details about the Grand Départ will be announced on December 11 in a press conference at the Nieuwe Luxor Theater in Rotterdam.

The next edition of the Tour de France, in 2009, will commence in the Principality of Monaco on July 4.

Reduced GB team bags more medals

By Les Clarke in Melbourne

Joanna Rowsell of Great Britain powers towards a gold medal
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

With only three riders making the trip for the Australian leg of the track World Cup series, the Great Britain team has picked up where it left off in Manchester, with a strong showing on night one in Melbourne.

Joanna Roswell, who took third behind Wendy Houvenaghel and Tara Whitten in the women's individual pursuit during the first round in Manchester, topped the qualification standings and made it into the gold medal race against Australia's Josephine Tomic with a time of 3:38.088.

In the final against last year's multiple junior world champion, Roswell shined, despite this only being her second World Cup. She downed the fast West Australian with an incredible come-from-behind performance that showed just how much potential the 21-year-old possesses.

Great Britain representatives Elizabeth Armistead and Katie Conclough made an appearance in the final of the women's scratch race. The pair performed to perfection and Armistead brought home another gold medal just minutes after Roswell had secured the first.

In a testament to the environment the Great Britain coaching staff has created for younger riders, all three commented that they felt comfortable and privileged to be part of the successful outfit, which has proven 2008 is the year of white, red and blue.

Boom to miss weekend races

The cyclo-cross World Champion, Lars Boom, will miss this weekend's races after suffering from a urinary tract infection, his team announced Thursday. He has developed a fever, and it is not known when he will be able to return to racing.

Boom currently leads the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee series, but will likely lose that advantage with the series' third race in Hasselt being held on Saturday. The next race in the series will be December 13th in Essen.

Melbourne makes World Cup welcome

By Les Clarke in Melbourne

After being held in Sydney for the past three editions, the UCI Track World Cup kicked off its Antipodean leg in the Victorian capital of Melbourne on Thursday night.

It's the first time Melbourne has hosted a World Cup round since the city held the track world championships in 2004. The Hisense Arena, located in the city's Southbank precinct, took on a slight six-day type of appearance; infield dining, dimmed lighting, entertainment breaks and excitable commentary that whipped the spectators into a frenzy all made for a great spectacle.

One of the notable aspects of the night's racing was the promotion of the event, as Melbourne's enthusiastic cycling fans made a statement about the popularity of international track racing. It prompted Cycling Australia President Mike Victor to comment that, "This is a real promotion." This is in stark contrast to previous editions, where public interest was relatively low, despite world record performances and world champions going head-to-head.

Steels with home advantage on Gent track

By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium

Stijn Steels, nephew of sprinter Tom Steels
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Stijn Steels, the nephew of star sprinter Tom Steels, is currently riding in the UIV Talents Cup at the Six Days in Gent. While successful at the track, Steels is hoping to follow the path of his famous uncle with a career as a professional on the road. The 19-year-old and his partner Tosh van der Sande are leading the event halfway through and put an even bigger gap between themselves and their biggest rivals, Americans Austin Carroll and Guy East, on the third night.

Steels was hopeful not much would change until Sunday. "I think the Americans weren't so good today, and I think it probably will stay like that for the remainder of the race. I think we can win this [the overall]."

Steels admitted having the hometown advantage on an unusually short 166-metre track with its very steep corners. "I came here for the first time when I was 15. We used to train here all the time." With a new track only a few kilometres away, this has changed and the Gent track is only used for ten days a year now. Steels felt for his competitors, though. "When you come here for the first time, that can be intimidating."

Adding to the hometown advantage is another fact. "Tosh and I go to school here. There are lots of friends in the audience." College night didn't make a difference, as the physiotherapist in training had fans every night. Doubling up as a student and a bike racer has meant taking a lot of time out of an already busy schedule. "I spread out my three college years over four years, which helps a bit. But it is still tough."

Even though most of his successes have come on the track, Steels has only one goal in mind. "I would like become a professional on the road." The track is not the main focus anymore. "I only do a few of the UIV Cup races. I will stop after this one, as the training camps will start soon."

East and Carroll learn the track ropes in Europe

By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium

Austin Carroll and Guy East
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Austin Carroll and Guy East continued in second place at the Gent UIV talents cup after Thursday's night three. The under-23 event is held before the professionals take to the track. Carroll and East ended the night one lap behind the Belgian duo of Stijn Steels and Tosh van der Sande. The leaders have 60 points, the Americans scored 41 points so far.

The Americans led after night one, but fell to second on the subsequent night and were unable to make up ground on the Belgians on Thursday. Their coach, Clay Worthington, had a simple explanation. "They are tired now. We have been here since October 18." The pair raced the Six Days in Amsterdam, Dortmund and Munich before taking to the boards at 't Kuipke.

The pair's time in Europe is drawing to a close. "It is the end of their block," said Worthington. After Gent, it is straight back to the United States, but Worthington saw a lot of benefits to the long stay abroad. "Last year, they were competing for sixth. Now, they compete for the win."

The track in Gent is only 166 metres and has very steep banking. This can be difficult to get used to, especially when a rider's home track, like East's, is very different. "He only has a flat 400m track to train on," Worthington said. Carroll is off a bit better, coming from Los Angeles, the home of a world class indoor facility. "He trains on the track in Carson a lot," Worthington said. The two can train together only when they get together at a camp.

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(Click for larger image)

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