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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, October 30, 2008

Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo

British Cycling launches professional track team

By Neil Pedoe in Manchester

Jamie Staff, Shanaze Reade, Victoria Pendleton, Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar
Photo ©: Tom Morton
(Click for larger image)

On Wednesday, British Cycling and Sky Sports unveiled the new Sky+HD Trade Team kit and the track cyclists that will wear it. The team will be made up of Beijing Olympic Games heroes Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Shanaze Reade, Jamie Staff, Ross Edgar and Jason Kenny. The striking new skinsuits will be seen in competition for the first time in this weekend's UCI World Cup at the Manchester velodrome.

Only four of the six riders will join the rest of the British Cycling squad to secure qualifying points for the World Championships in Poland next March. Hoy will rest his legs for a Six Day event next week, and Reade will attend other cycling commitments.

The jet black suits designed by Sky and Team GB kit suppliers Adidas seem to have taken a leaf out of Italian legend Mario Cipollini's style book, with electric blue muscle tissue graphics in flashes down the sides and backs of the suits. The British team kit does not aim for the same anatomical colour or detail as Cipollini's famous attention-seeking skinsuit.

The new squad within-a-squad seems to like the new kit. "At least it's breathable, unlike that kit we wore in Beijing," said team sprint lead out man Jamie Staff. "But we can't wear that anymore because I think it's been shredded!"

While the British team was already one of the best supported squads in the world, Sky's sponsorship means that top athletes can now train, race and be paid like the professional cyclists they are ­ without having to leave the British Cycling fold.

"Put it this way, it means my cycling can properly support my family now. It's not a football salary ­ but I can pay the mortgage and the bills and put food on the table," said Staff. "At least now the backing's there to make a career of track cycling."

"Cycling's at an all-time high in the UK, and this partnership with Sky will really help the sport go from strength to strength, from the grassroots entry points up to the highest levels," said British Cycling Performance Director David Brailsford, the man who set up the Sky deal. He knows that having a digital television company on board means more exposure for his sport, which will in turn lead to more commercial opportunities.

It's still early days, but the new trade team, which appears to be more a sponsored section of the GB squad than an independent racing team, is an important step in Brailsford's master plan, where elite cycling of all kinds will needed funding for success ­ be it Olympic medals or Tour de France stage wins.

But British Cycling won't just use the money to pay its trade team or even just to fund the academy and development programs ­ although sprint gold medal winner Kenny is ongoing proof of the success of that program. It will also put the money into everyday cycling and leisure riding. Brailsford's job might be only about elite sport but the Sky deal he has brokered will bring, and has already brought, funding to non-competitive areas of cycling too ­ this summer's 55,000 strong London Freewheel mass participation was the first proof of that commitment.

UCI responds to anti-doping criticism from France

Pat McQuaid has defended the sport's image
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) shot back at the French Anti-doping Agency president Pierre Bordry on Wednesday, responding to criticism leveled against the UCI last week. Bordry doubted the UCI's effectiveness in catching dopers, and said that it was "going back in time" by not using targeted testing, the likes of which netted five positives from this year's Tour de France.

UCI president Pat McQuaid countered the Frenchman's comments, saying that his organisation did carry out targeted testing. "Where we have information which indicates a rider could be doping [strange blood results, suspect urine results, unusually good performances, missed tests or other indications] we will target him.

"We've targeted riders for extra blood tests to ensure they have a strong profile for experts to review. For example, targeting led to Emanuele Sella's positive test for CERA earlier this year."

Bordry's agency became the first in the world to implemented a test for the new blood boosting drug Mircera (CERA) when it declared Riccardo Riccò positive for the substance. When the Tour organisation made peace with the UCI and placed the responsibility for conducting controls back to the world body, Bordry refused to attend the 2009 Tour route presentation and claimed that the UCI would run an inferior program. McQuaid, who came under additional criticism last week after refusing to re-test the samples from this year's Giro d'Italia for CERA, disagreed.

McQuaid assured that his agency would be equally diligent about catching dopers. "The AFLD uses the same methods and the same labs as us, and I honestly don't think that the number of riders caught at the Tour this year would have been any different if we had been conducting anti-doping rather than the AFLD," McQuaid said.

He went on to insist that the riders who did test positive during this year's Tour – Riccardo Riccò, Stefan Schumacher, Leonardo Piepoli, and Bernard Kohl (for CERA, the latter three having been caught via blood tests), and Moises Dueñas, Manuel Beltrán (EPO) – would have been caught had the UCI been in charge.

McQuaid acknowledged the importance of the new CERA test. However, the Irishman made a point that the test would have also been available to the UCI had it been conducting the testing. "It is unwarranted and indeed unfair for the AFLD to claim victory for introducing a test which only became available immediately before the event."

Olympians return to Manchester for the weekend

Some of the world's top cyclists are returning to the Northwest UK this weekend as Manchester Velodrome prepares to host the UCI Track Cycling World Cup from Friday October 31 through Sunday, November 2.

British Olympic Games heroes including Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins will take on international cycling stars and 2012 hopefuls in the first major track cycling event since the Beijing Olympic Games. Seventeen different events will be contested over the three action-packed days.

"We are really looking forward to seeing some of the world' top track cyclists in action at the Manchester Velodrome, which is the home of British Cycling," said British Cycling Chief Executive Peter King.

"The World Cup will be a spectacular finish to Manchester's hugely successful Year of Sport," said Head of Regional Major Events at the NWDA, Sheldon Phillips.

It will be the first World Cup since the Olympic Games in August, when British Cyclists took home eight gold, four silver and two bronze medals. Tickets for the event are sold out.

Stay tuned for Cyclingnews' full coverage of the UCI Track World Cup opening round.

Team Saxo Bank–IT Factory signs Mørkøv

Team Saxo Bank - IT Factory signed another talented, young Danish racer for next season. According to, the 23-year-old Michael Mørkøv inked a two year contract with the team on Wednesday, thus putting himself in a position to leap to the top level of professional road racing.

Mørkøv is already known for his abilities on the track. On Tuesday, he won the Six Days of Grenoble with Alex Rasmussen.

Climb to be renamed after Rubiera

José Luis Rubiera (Astana) rolls to the start
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Astana's Chechu Rubiera will be honored when the Coto Bello, a formidable Spanish mountain summit in Aller, south Asturias, is renamed after him. The summit was originally announced as the Stage 14 finish of this year's Vuelta a España (later changed to Fuentes de Invierno). Chechu had recommended the Coto Bello to race organisers as a spectacular climb for fans. It's a climb he knows well as it lies just south of his home.

"Coto Bello is a nice climb, not really steep but perfect to enjoy without suffering. It was a surprise for me when they called to ask me if I would agree to put my name [to the summit]. I really don't think I deserve it, but it is really nice," said Chechu.

The re-naming will take place on October 31, and Cima Chechu Rubiera will make its debut at the Vuelta in 2010.

Rubiera recently extended his contract for another year with Astana. He will focus on the Giro d'Italia where he will support the returning Lance Armstrong.

Sastre awarded

Spaniard Carlos Sastre was awarded another honor to go along with his Tour de France yellow jersey. The Agencia Europa Press named him one of six "Personalities of the Year" for 2008. Sastre joins fellow honorees award winning actress Elena Furiase, Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales, television's Susanna Griso and Roberto Arce and Olympic Canoe champion Saúl Craviotto

Europa Press selects people who received some major prize or whose work proved particularly relevant in the past twelve months. People from the fields like theater, science, art, fashion, communication, history, sports, movies or music are considered.

Volksbank-Corratec changes to Vorarlberg-Corratec

Team Volksbank-Corratec will continue in the 2009 season under the name Vorarlberg-Corratec, the Austrian Professional Continental Team announced Wednesday. Sponsor Volksbank had previously announced that it would withdraw as title sponsor.

The new sponsor is the Austrian province of Vorarlberg, the westernmost in the country, which has been a smaller co-sponsor of the nine year-old team.

The search for a new sponsor wasn't easy, according to manager Thomas Kofler, and he was proud to have found one. "It is not easy at this time and demands a lot of work, but we did it. We will continue, we will fight on for clean cycling."

Kofler said that his search was made even more difficult because of an Austrian cyclist. "The events surrounding Bernhard Kohl hit us head-on, potential sponsors disappeared immediately. I am angry, because we are the ones who have to pay for the stupidity and arrogance of others." Kohl tested positive for EPO CERA after winning the mountains jersey and finishing third at the Tour de France this summer.

The team will continue its fight against doping, as a member of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) and as a participant in the blood passport.

Looking at the sporting aspects, Kofler said that the team would have about 20 riders next year. His goal for the team is "to take the hard work being done back stage and turn into major successes. Even in the highest classes, in the hors catégorie and ProTour races." (SW)

Irish team signs ex-Belgian champion Eeckhout

By Gerard Cromwell

Nico Eeckhout in 2006
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Sean Kelly's Irish registered An Post / M. Donnelly / Grant Thornton squad has pulled off a big name signing for 2009, with the news that former Belgian champion Niko Eeckhout has signed for the green clad squad.

The 38 year-old Classics rider will provide valuable experience and leadership for the Merchtem based squad, made up of mostly young Irish and Belgian riders. Eeckhout has been a consistent winner on the professional scene since turning professional with Collstrop in 1992. Among others, "Rambo" has two victories at Dwars door Vlaanderen and wins at Etoile de Besseges, GP Rik Van Steenberegen as well as three Flemish championships to his name.

"Niko is a very strong classics rider, with a lot of very good wins on his palmarés," said team manager Kurt Bogaerts. "He will be a very good addition to the team. It's going to be his last year and he is really ambitious for the early season races. We have ridden all of those races before, but you need a bit of experience to get results.

"Races like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Dwars door Vlaanderen, Niko has won those type of races before. He's the guy who can make the difference between starting the race to get experience or starting the race to try and win or get on the podium.

"We won some races in France and Spain last year, but it was because we had very good form. In the semi-classics, you need good form and good experience of these races. To bring a former winner like Niko to the start in the team will bring the morale of the whole team up and the motivation to do well in these races. I'm not saying we are going to win, but we will definitely be trying and hope to get on a few podiums next year.

"Our main objectives will be the semi classics in the early season, and signing Niko was the next step up for the team."

The An Post / M. Donnelly / Grant Thornton team had a good season last year, claiming three major stage wins, with Daniel Fleeman winning the Tour of the Pyrenees, Daniel Lloyd winning the Vuelta Extremadura and Stephen Gallagher taking the FBD Insurance Ras. The team also won the team time trial at Extremadura. Lloyd and Fleeman's efforts did not go unnoticed and both will ride for the new Cervelo Test Team in 2009 alongside Tour De France winner Carlos Sastre, while Gallagher is expected to rejoin the Kelly team alongside fellow Irish riders Mark Cassidy, Paidi O'Brien and Ronan McLaughlin.

Copeland pulled back into Lampre fold

Brent Copeland just can't say no to Lampre. He'll be returning full time to play a role in the squad's leadership for 2009.

Copeland joined Lampre as a director sportif in 1999 at age 27. For the next six years, he directed Oscar Camenzind and Igor Astarloa to success. He also directed then neo-pro Alessandro Ballan, who captured the World Championship title last month.

In 2005, Copeland decided to focus his energies on directing a bike shop in Como, Italy, while also helping with the Team Lampre internet shop. He also directed the South African team at the World Championships for three years. Then in 2008, Comobike became an official Team Lampre sponsor and Copeland returned part-time to the director's seat.

For next year, he has accepted manager Giuseppe Saronni's request to return to Lampre full time and serve as a directeur sportif. "I accepted with great pleasure and satisfaction the request by Saronni," said Copeland. "Lampre is my Italian family: in these 10 years, a beautiful relationship with Saronni and Galbusera family has been born."

"Brent is a modern directeur sportif, who can manage a race with perfect control. His international experience will be very important for Lampre, the team of the World Champion," said Saronni.

San Francisco Bay Area Expo and Swap coming next month

The inaugural San Francisco Bay Area Bicycle Expo and Swap, presented by rideSFO, will happen November 29-30 in San Francisco, California. The Expo and Swap will be about everything on human powered two wheel machines and related. Booth space will be available for exhibitors such as bike manufacturers, eco-friendly vendors, bike shops, teams, and advocacy groups. Bike demos, shows and a raffle will be part of the activities.

For more information, visit

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)