First Edition Cycling News, November 25, 2008
Edited by Les Clarke
Bruyneel talks Armstrong, Vino and Basso
In early 2007 Johan Bruyneel had hoped Ivan Basso would be contesting the Giro d'Italia as part of the Discovery Channel squad. Almost two years later, both the Belgian and the Italian find themlseves in different corners under very different circumstances.
The former Discovery Channel boss is looking at Italy's former premier stage racer as the main rival for his Astana riders in the first Grand Tour of 2009. According to the Bloomberg news agency, Bruyneel believes that despite time on the sidelines for admitting an involvement with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, Ivan Basso will be the biggest threat to Lance Armstrong's chances of victory – for the first time – in the Giro.
"It's going to be Basso's main goal of the season," began Bruyneel. "He's been busy with his comeback from the moment he was suspended." His seven-time Tour de France winning American star, who retired in 2005, will also be making a well-publicised comeback and thus the two biggest rivals of the 2004 Tour will be reunited in competition once more.
The Texan has been hastily preparing his body and equipment for the rigours of competition next season, and Bruyneel knows that his charge will be ready to take on Basso come next May. "I know Lance is going to be good, he's a competitor."
In addition to the comeback of Armstrong, speculation was rife recently that Alexander Vinokourov, Astana's former captain, was due to make a return to competition for Astana next season. It's now unlikely that this will be the case as the UCI plans to challenge his one-year ban for blood doping as being too lenient.
Bruyneel said that, "When he's done his suspension, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to ride for Astana."
Even without the Kazakh star, Astana's roster reads glowingly and surely enters 2009 as the odds-on favourite to win every Grand Tour of the year. A budget of between 15-20 million euros means that Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloeden continue in blue, with Ukranian Yaroslav Popovych signed to help Chris Horner with domestique duties.
Vino looking for offers
Alexander Vinokourov has begun his 'charm offensive' in the search for a team to join. According to sportwereld.be, the Kazakh veteran is looking to cover his bases in case an appeal by the UCI for his suspension to be extended is not successful.
Cycling's governing body has applied for an extension to Vinkourov's one-year ban with the CAS, suggesting that his misdemeanour constituted an offence punishable by a two-year suspension. As mentioned above, Astana boss Johan Bruyneel has explained that he won't sign the rider until the matter is sorted, knowing that the CAS is likely to see the UCI's reasoning and extend the punishment.
Meanwhile, Vino has joined Katusha manager Andrei Tchmil on a ride around Lake Garda in an attempt to sure up his future. The 45-year-old former pro is reportedly not inclined to take Kazakhstan's best-known cycling figure in the team; the reason being that while Katusha may be financed with Russian money, its license comes from the Swiss federation.
Katusha joins the ProTour train
More ProTour licences renewed
The UCI ProTour Licenses Commission has announced that Russian outfit Katusha will be the newest ProTour team in 2009, having granted it a three-year licence beginning next year.
Katusha has become the first Russian team to secure ProTour status, the result of heavy investment and recruitment over the last 12 months. Similarly to the Astana outfit, which also rides under a ProTour licence, Katusha will be sponsored by national entities such as commodity companies ITERA, Gazprom and Rostehnology.
The ProTour Commission also announced that six teams would be continuing their involvement with the UCI's premier road series, extending the licences of French teams Cofidis (2009) and Française des Jeux (2009-2010), Belgium squads Quick Step (2009-2011) and Silence-Lotto (2009-2011), Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank - IT Factory (2009-2011) and Dutch mainstays Rabobank (2009-2012).
A decision is still pending on applications submitted by Euskaltel-Euskadi and Bouygues Telecom, both of which will be considered at a later date.
The Licences Commission also granted a four-year UCI ProTour licence (2009-2012) to Belgium's Gent-Wevelgem event, whilst licence requests for Belgian Spring Classic Tour of Flanders, Dutch Classic Amstel Gold Race and the Tour of Benelux will all be considered and an announcement made in the coming weeks.
Bos to focus on the road
The road will be 'home' for Theo Bos next season, as the track star focuses his energies on another cycling discipline. The 25-year-old multiple world champion will continue to ride for his current team, Rabobank, and will be a part of the continental team, headed by Nico Verhoeven.
Accoridng to news agency ANP, the Cervelo team, already boasting sprinter Thor Hushovd, was apparently also interested in signing Bos, although the 'fit' of Dutch sprint star and a team from his homeland was too good.
Bos, who took third in the Amstel Curaçao Race earlier this month, officially begins life as a road rider on January 1 to his new adventure. "I've started in a new direction in my life, especially cycling," said Bos. "The good guidance from, among others, team leaders and trainers, made me decide that this opportunity was the one to take."
Bos' days on the track are not completely over, however. The 2012 Olympic Games in London are still a realistic ambition. "I don't think I should have to choose just one or the other; this opportunity has come at the right time for me."
O'Shea to ride Christmas Carnivals
Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnival organisers have announced that national Madison champion Glenn O'Shea will ride in this year's events. O'Shea, who last week won the points race at the Melbourne World Cup, is considered one of the best emerging riders in Australian endurance track cycling, described by observers as the 'next big thing'.
The 19-year-old Bendigo rider recently competed in Europe under the guidance of Tasmanian Institute of Sport coach Matthew Gilmore, where he teamed with fellow Victorian Leigh Howard and was successful in a number of Madison events against strong European competition.
O'Shea joins the likes of Mark Jamieson, Matthew Goss and Nathan Clarke at this year's carnivals, and his explosive style and strength in endurance events should make the competition fierce and the racing entertaining in what event organisers are calling a 'new era' for this Tasmanian Christmas tradition.
Party time after UIV Cup win
By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium
After winning the UIV Cup at the Gent Six Days decisively, Tosh van der Sande and Stijn Steels can enjoy a bit of party time before going back to studying at school and preparing for the road season.
Steels revealed his plans, saying that, "It is Tosh's birthday next week and we will celebrate that." He added that the past week was also a party of sorts. "Many people come to the Gent Six Days not only for the track cycling, but also for partying. There are a lot of students here," said Steels.
The Gent crowd is much more excitable than in other countries. "It is very pleasant to ride here," Steels said. "In Munich there were only around 200 people for the UIV Cup races. But you see here, there are maybe one or two thousand people. That's the difference. You can feel it on the bike also – you can go deeper."
Steels will now take a complete break from riding for two weeks, before picking up running. "I have tough exams coming up in January and I don't have the time to sit for hours on my bike. I will try to go running every day for 40 to 50 minutes." When the exams are over he plans to go to Spain for a week, focusing on long rides. "After that I am OK and I can pick it up with the guys [from the team]."
Van Der Sande goes to school in Gent as well, but he has no major exams in the pipeline. "My next race will be the World Cup in Beijing [January 16-18]." He agreed with Steels about the enthusiastic crowd. "I go to school in Gent and live here during the school year. It's a special feeling." Van der Sande's hometown is Antwerp.
His dream is to become a professional road racer and he has good prerequisites. Van der Sande rides for Beveren 2000, the Quick Step feeder team. He called the win his second best, after taking the points race in the junior world championships in South Africa this year. Despite the successes, he knows that turning professional is not easy. "It's a long way away," he explained.
'Dine with Cadel Evans' in Adelaide
Organisers of the 2009 Tour Down Under Legends' Night dinner have added another cycling legend to the line-up. Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith today announced that Australian Cadel Evans will be honoured at the dinner, alongside Lance Armstrong and Shane Kelly OAM.
"Cadel Evans on stage alongside Lance Armstrong and Shane Kelly will be a major drawcard for all cycling fans," Dr Lomax-Smith said. "Over 1,500 Legends' Night Dinner tickets have sold already and I am delighted to see that this event has created so much interest from the public.
"The Legends' Night Dinner is a great opportunity for cycling fans to get up close and personal with some of the world's most famous cyclists," added Lomax-Smith. "I'm sure cycling fans will be flocking to South Australia to watch the race and see all these legends of the sport take to the stage at the Legends' Night Dinner."
The Legends' Night Dinner will take place at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Saturday 24 January 2009. Tickets are available for $250 per person – for more details, visit www.tourdownunder.com.au.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)