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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, November 28, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Trek-Livestrong coming into focus

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Axel Merckx will have plenty of his own professional experience to share with his riders
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
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Since the hustle and bustle surrounding the announcement of a new US-based developmental squad supported by Lance Armstrong and captained by Taylor Phinney, not a lot of additional information has surfaced. What was revealed was that the team would be sponsored by Armstrong's charity, Livestrong, and by Trek bicycles, with the director sportif position going to former Armstrong teammate Axel Merckx. So we went to the man who will be in charge on the ground for an update.

Merckx said that the start-up process is going a little slow, but that is to be expected building from nothing. "Things are coming along," Merckx told Cyclingnews from his home in Canada. "It's a brand new team so everything has to be set-up. But we have a lot of great sponsor support and the roster is finished now.

"I have a great support with the management group so it has been really smooth with me." Merckx is working closely with Armstrong's long-time friend Bart Knaggs is a partner in the company that formed out of the management of the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams, Capital Sports & Entertainment.

Merckx said that he has had the pick of the litter in finalizing the roster. "There has been a lot of rider interest which has been great. It was hard, you have to make decisions and it's too bad we can't hire everybody. We will release the names pretty soon, and then do a press conference in February at training camp." Former US Junior National Road Champion Ben King is one rider already signed by the squad.

As for the racing plans for the first year, Merckx is taking a very teacher-student approach to the team. "We will do a stage race a month and some training camps over the year. I want to teach them to be ready to become great riders and help them adapt and make the step-up to that level. The riders can also choose to do some local racing as well. But training is a major part of racing. It used to be all about racing, but there is much more to it than that."

The team is going to do the majority of its racing in North America, hitting the major stage races on the NRC calendar as well as some UCI races, but will also be making some ventures onto European soil to get a well-rounded racing education. "We are starting with the Vuelta Mexico Telmex, and will race Redlands, Nature Valley, Gila and such. I didn't think it was good for young riders to be thrown at the Tour of California, especially in the first year. A lot of big teams with great riders, so we will start smaller."

But the team could be racing with the big boys by the end of the year, with Merckx looking at the Tour of Missouri as a nice capstone on the season. "That would be great, we can definitely be ready by September I think, and it would be great preparation for riders going to Worlds. As well it will be great to see how the riders progressed throughout the year, to measure the evolution."

Schumacher to "fight for his rights"

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) at the 2008 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
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Stefan Schumacher has a "clear conscience" and continued to claim that he has not doped. He announced that he will sue the French National Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) for slander and apply for his licence from the German federation, saying, "I will fight for my rights!"

Schumacher said that he was tested 14 times at the Tour 2008, with 10 urine tests and 4 blood tests. "All results were negative. All of them!"

All of them, that is, except for two, according to the AFLD. But that is not possible, for any number of reasons, Schumacher said. For each doping control the A sample was analyzed and found negative. But then these A samples were tested again and found to be positive. "I ask myself: What A samples? They were sealed and analzyed. There were no second A samples from the same days."

In addition, he noted, an A sample, once it has been evaluated, can only be re-examined for research purposes. For those reasons, Schumacher noted, he wants a full and complete protocol of the testing, as he questions the whole procedure.

He will also apply for his 2009 license from the German cycling federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), because "there is so far nothing against me at the relevant federations. Neither the international federation UCI nor my home federation, the BDR."

Schumacher's attorney, Michael Lehner, said that there is no reason for the BDR to deny the license. "If there is an application for a license, we will then have the facts examined and then make a decision," BDR general secretary Martin Wolf told the dpa press agency.

Lehner also indicated that he was prepared to go to court to force Team Quick Step to honour its 2009 contract with Schumacher. The Belgian team announced his signing in September but declared the contract void after the announcement of the positive tests.

Schumacher also criticised his former team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, who he says took credit for the rider's successes at the Tour. "But after the announcement of the charges, he has not once personally contacted me. Quite the opposite: he sent the prosecutors after me, including a search of my house."

McEwen to participate in Revolution

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Three-time Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen will return to the velodrome on Wednesday December 17 in Melbourne for the Revolution 4. McEwen will ride the derny race, which was won by Stuart O'Grady last year, and he is likely to line-up in the 25km Madison. It will be the first time McEwen has raced on the track for three years.

"The last time I raced the track was in 2005 at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney where I got paced out of the derny race because my pacer wanted to win but I couldn't keep up behind the motorbike," McEwen said. "But in 2005, I also rode at the Tempe velodrome and won the points race and finished second in the scratch race after leading out a little too early."

The 12-time Tour de France stage winner won't have it all his own way when he lines up against a world class field including dual Athens Olympic gold medallist Graeme Brown and rising track star Cameron Meyer, who finished fourth in the points race at the Beijing Games.

Known for his competitive spirit McEwen plans on coming to Melbourne well prepared. "I enjoy getting on the track now and then and I don't want to come down to Melbourne and make a fool of myself," McEwen said. "I've just been sent a brand spanking Ridley Piste for the event so I'm going to get out and train on the track at least once a week, maybe even twice a week before I come to Melbourne." McEwen thinks the Revolution will be good preparation for some upcoming European Six Days that he is considering racing.

"Last year Revolution didn't fit into my program. This time around I've had a good solid off-season without any injury interruptions plus it fits in fine with preparation for next season," said McEwen, who is from Queensland.

The 36-year-old signed a two-year contract beginning in 2009 with Katusha and said riding the track event in Melbourne will play an important part in helping him achieve his objectives for 2009. "I want to get off to a good start at the Tour Down Under," he said. "I'm not saying that I can win it but I would like to win some stages and the track intensity helps get me ready for that.

With his eye on 2009, he said, "I'd really like to focus on getting a stage at the Giro and the Tour, where it will be good to have team support, and I'll play it by ear for another green jersey at the Tour de France. Although this year I had some good team support, with Jurgen Roelandts and Greg Vanavermaet, they weren't with me at the bigger tours and rightly so because the team put everything around Cadel.

"Next year (at Katusha) it will be a different situation. We'll have more focus on the sprints at the important times, which doesn't add any extra pressure. In fact it takes some off because I'll have someone to lead me out rather than having to lead myself out. Plus I want to have another crack at Milan-San Remo (Italy's biggest one day race) where I finished fourth a couple of years ago after getting boxed in the sprint."

Last year's Revolution 2, held just prior to the end of December, was a sell-out – something expected again for this year's edition.

For more information on the Revolution 4, visit www.cyclingrevolution.com.au.

Vande Velde's fitting process captured on film

Christian Vande Velde works on his time trial bike set up
Photo ©: James Huang
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Team Garmin - Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde has been busy finding his position on his time trial bike for 2009. Although the team is sticking with its current bike sponsor Felt, the riders will have to get used to riding aerobars from a different sponsor. At the recent team training camp in Boulder, Colorado, Vande Velde, who finished fifth at the Tour de France this summer, spent some time making the transition. Cyclingnews was there to document his fitting session on video.

With a long history of back and hip issues, Vande Velde needs to get his position with the new 3T Brezza aerobars just right. He and his technical support team used Retül's novel 3-D motion and spatial capture system to fine-tune his positions to accommodate the different shape of the new bars.

Check out Cyclingnews' video coverage or read our tech feature for more background on Vande Velde's fitting.

New Zealand sending team to U.C.I Sprint Series

New Zealand will be sending a four-man team to compete in this year's Skilled U.C.I. Sprint series at the Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals. Last year New Zealand did not contest the sprint series – withdrawing at the last moment because they did not consider their sprint riders were of a high enough calibre for world sprinting.

Since then, New Zealand Olympic Cycling Coach Wil Rastrick has formed a new sprint group that competed admirably at the recent World Cup event in Melbourne. Riders Eddy Dawkins, Sam Webster and Regan Sheath will compete in the sprint series whilst Penny Day will ride in the women's points event.

Olympic & Paralympic Cyclists converge for celebration in Quebec

Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain) descends
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
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Members of Canada's Olympic and Paralympic cycling teams will be coming to Quebec City for the Canadian Olympic & Paralympic Cycling Celebration on Saturday, November 29. Members of the cycling community and the media will have the opportunity to meet and honour members of Canada's Beijing Olympic & Paralympic cycling team in the relaxed environment of the Boudoir Lounge restaurant between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm.

Athletes who have confirmed their attendance include bronze medal winning Paralympians Mathilde Hupin Debeurne (road race), Genevieve Ouellet (road race) and Jean Quevillon (individual pursuit). Mountain bike pro Marie-Helene Premont, who won the 2008 UCI World Cup title, will also be there along with pro road and track rider Martin Gilbert. Eric Bourgault, Stephane Cote, Brayden McDougall, and Rico Morneau round out the list of attending Olympians.

A CAN$20 cover charge will raise funds for Canada's national team development program. Entry will be limited to 200 people, with 100 spots available through pre-registration. The remaining spots will be allocated at the door on a first come-first served basis.

For more information or to pre-register, contact rjones@canadiancyclist.com.

Yates faces strong challenges in annual Lake Taupo Challenge

New Zealand National Points Series leader Jeremy Yates will have to overcome a strong field if he is to continue his winning run in the fifth round at the Wattyl Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge on Saturday. Yates (Napier) is chasing his fourth straight win in the series after victories in the Taupo-Napier, Around Taranaki and K2 races. A win would add to an already successful season for him including a national club title and the King of the Mountains honours in the Tour of Southland.

Yates will need to be at his best to hold off a quality line-up in the 160km Avanti Classic Race chasing the winner's purse of NZL$5,000. The 100-strong field includes Beijing Olympic medallists Sam Bewley and Wes Gough, fellow squad member Peter Latham and World Omnium Champion Hayden Godfrey.

First round winner Karl Murray, second on points, is racing along with talented Taranaki rider Tom Findlay who heads off Morrinsville's Eliot Crother on the elite points table as well as in the under-23 honours. Experienced Gordon McCauley, runner-up in the Tour of Southland, will also pose a major threat.

Meanwhile the women's road series will be decided with the Hotdog Criterium around the streets of Taupo, racing for 30 minutes plus three laps of a 1.7km circuit. Former Wanganui rider Catherine Cheatley, now based in Southland, will be having her first competitive ride since the Beijing Olympics where she campaigned on the road and the track. The 2007 world championship bronze medallist will pose a strong threat against a solid field including Toni Bradshaw, Marine Duvnjak and Rachel Mercer.

The team battle is also heating up with leaders Torpedo 7 likely to come under real threat from Pro-Velo and Kiwi Velo. Torpedo 7 have Bevan Manson and Wayne McConachy to lead their way but will be chased by the six-strong Team Pro-Velo squad consisting of riders all 20 years and under, led by junior international Alex Cull. The big threat is the Kiwi Velo combination, bolstered with addition of professional Jeremy Vennell, Crowther and Alex Meenhorst to join Latham, who leaves shortly to ride for Team Bissell in the US pro circuit, and others.

The two races are part of the weekend of cycling festivities in Taupo including a men's criterium on Friday night and elite road races and amateur events on Saturday.

Bikes Belong distributes grants

In its latest round, Bikes Belong awarded five grants worth US$40,000 to communities in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina. The grant awards will help construct paths, trails and parks that will encourage active commuting and recreational riding.

Greenville County Recreation District in South Carolina received $10,000 to develop the 10-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, a multi-use path to create a safe and accessible route for cyclists between downtown Greenville and a trail system in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Funding will complement the Recreational Trails Program funds, a grant from Newman's Own, and individual donations as well as support from Hincapie Sports.

Raccoon River Valley Trail Association in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro area received $10,000 to help pave their namesake trail in west-central Iowa. The 33-mile loop will connect to 23 miles of existing trail spanning many counties—all of which have contributed funds to the project. RRVTA, which has been an active steward of this trail system trail since 1994, also secured a Vision Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism grant for the expansion project.

The Wamego Community Foundation in Kansas will use their $10,000 award to pave the Wam-Sag-Man Trail connecting the towns of Wamego, St. George, and Manhattan, as well as the local school, to 26 miles of existing multi-use path. The grant matches funding from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks grant, joining a National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance grant and local funding for the project.

The city of Lancaster, Ohio received $5,000 to build a 9.6-mile multi-use loop around the town to encourage bike commuting on the route that links two much longer pathways on either side of the city.

Finally, Mayville, Michigan will use $5,000 to build bike elements at their new BMX/Skate park. The facility is part of a community recreation plan that includes a pathway linking it to the bike-path network and areas schools. Tony Hawk Foundation and local donations are contributing to project funding.

Fifth annual Tour de Tryptophan

Riders in Southern California may burn off some post-Thanksgiving turkey while raising funds for a good cause at the Fifth Annual Tour de Tryptophan/24 Hours of the Fullerton Loop. The event will commence at noon on Friday and will finish at noon on Saturday. With no rules, riders can start or finish any time, do one lap or go home for the evening and do another in the morning. Seventeen laps is the reigning record.

The Fullerton Loop is an 11-mile network of suburban trails that pass through city parks, horse trails, hidden pathways and creekside wilderness. Originally pieced together by Richard Cunningham in 1983, hundreds of people ride and train on the famed loop every week. The ride will start and end in the upper parking lot of the Courthouse in Fullerton at Harbor and Berkeley. Participants can show up any time, donate US$30 and receive a T-shirt until supplies run out.

This year's proceeds will benefit the SoCal High School Cycling League, which will bring cycling to Southern California High Schools in 2009. Former beneficiaries of the Tour de Tryp have included the Tara Llanes Recovery Fund, CHOC Hospitals, and various other charities.

Renegade hosting women's cycling event

Renegade Cycles in Lane Cove, NSW, Australia will host its annual Wine, Women & Wheels event Friday evening from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and to promote women's cycling. An Olympic team jersey signed by Kate Bates will be given away, and a representative from the NBCF, Janelle Lindsay and Natalie Bates will be guest speakers on the night.

For more information, visit www.renegadecycles.com.au.

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

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It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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