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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, September 1, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Katusha's Tinkov confirms sprinter McEwen and other big names

Tour champ Carlos Sastre in the mix?

By Gregor Brown

Robbie McEwen will leave Silence Lotto for Katusha
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Oleg Tinkov, Team President of Tinkoff Credit Systems and its Katusha incarnation, confirmed the signing of sprinting star Robbie McEwen for the 2009 and 2010 seasons today. Italian Filippo Pozzato, Belgian Gert Steegmans and Russians Vladimir Karpets and Alexandre Botcharov will join the 36-year-old Australian, winner of 12 Tour de France stages, in the Russian team for next year.

"We signed him [McEwen] for two years. He is a great sprinter and I want him to be a mentor in the team. He is very professional – perfect with his age and experience. He is a great person, as well as a cyclist," Tinkov said to Cyclingnews.

"I'm looking forward to the new experience with this very international team," McEwen confirmed to Cyclingnews of Team Katusha. "While remaining motivated to gain results in the big races, I also see myself as a mentor to the other sprinters in the team like Steegmans and [Kenny] Dehaes, and also passing on my experience to the younger riders – I'm sure we can form a very good sprint train."

Tinkov impressed McEwen with his love of the sport. "His passion for cycling and winner's mentality convinced me to sign with Katusha."

Tinkov is pleased with how Katusha formed, backed on the two-year Tinkoff experience. Though it signed Karpets, winner of the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Suisse in 2007, Katusha still would like a well-established general classification contender.

"We are still talking to [Tour de France winner Carlos] Sastre; I hope we can persuade him to be a member of our team," Tinkov said. "Budget? We have the budget to sign two riders like Sastre."

Sastre, 33-year-old from Spain, is without a contract for 2009. He is linked with Cervélo TestTeam for the coming season.

Newly announced directeur sportif, Serge Parsani, will help guide McEwen, Pozzato, Steegmans, Karpets and Botcharov.

The roster now contains the following riders (current team in parentheses):
Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole), Antonio Colom (Astana), Kenny Dehaes (Topsport Vlaanderen), Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne), Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) and Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R La Mondiale)

Hamilton moves on with national title

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Greenville, South Carolina

Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) takes the victory in a close sprint
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) took a step towards putting his darkened past behind him on Sunday when he narrowly edged out Blake Caldwell (Garmin-Chipotle) to win the US professional road championship. Hamilton is making the most of a second chance in his cycling career, like many of his teammates, when the owner of Rock & Republic clothing, Michael Ball, gave him a spot on his squad – even as he pondered hanging up his wheels.

"Last year I thought the race in Greenville was the last of my career," he said. "Fortunately for me I got another chance. Michael Ball gave me another chance with Rock Racing and here I am. It's really special and a pretty emotional feeling for me."

But even that chance was a challenge at first, as he and some of his embattled teammates found racing difficult when they were not allowed to start the Tour of California. Hamilton's name was involved with the Operación Puerto investigation. Hamilton also served a two year suspension for a positive test at the 2004 Vuelta a España, though he still professes his innocence in the matter.

Though not allowed to race in California he kept riding and racing, eventually finding success at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July. He kept enough of that form rolling into Greenville, and saving himself for the road race.

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"I knew I had a chance, that's why I took yesterday off with the time trial," he said. "I am an Olympic champion in time trial but I decided to save my energy for today. I wanted to be a strong helper for Fred Rodriguez who has won this before or take a chance myself."

"I thought I could be in the mix, and once you are it just takes a little luck."

Continue to the full coverage of the race.

Another USPRO podium for Pate, but not the top

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Greenville, South Carolina

Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle) launches
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle) has a love-hate relationship with the USPRO championships. Seven times before he has been in the final selection for the stars and stripes and each time he has come up just short. In 2002 he finished third, just behind Mark Walters and Chann McRae. Since then he has finished third two more times (2004, 2006) and second once (2005). On Sunday he found himself once again in the right spot, and with the best chance he has ever seen. But some late race cramping in his legs put the top prize out of reach, and he once again settled for third.

"Today is most frustrating of all because it seems today would have been the easiest for me to win of all the times I have been top five," he said, referring to his team having a clear numbers advantage with three of the final five. "Like in Philly, when Chann won... and was basically pulled to the finish line! [Ed. Chann McRae is now assistant director for Garmin-Chipotle.] I had no choice but to pull all the way to the line. But this time I really had a chance to try to win."

"All of a sudden with two laps to go I had horrible cramps which I normally don't get. Then it switched to [my teammates] racing for themselves instead of them racing for me."

The cramping was so bad he was pounding his legs with his fist to get the muscles to release. "At one point I thought I was going to have to stop."

His teammates, Blake Caldwell and Lucas Euser, were part of the five riders in the final selection. Caldwell ended up attacking the group and battling Tyler Hamilton for the win, with the photo finish going to Hamilton. Pate recovered enough in the meantime to win the sprint for third. "It ended up that I was able to get back and then get third in the sprint. It's a bummer but in my head it was the right choice to send those two guys. The other guys were keying off me the most."

There has been some criticism in recent years that his team has an unfair advantage putting so many riders on the start line – this year with fourteen registered and ten actually starting.

"Maybe we do but we're giving jobs to Americans so we should have the advantage at nationals!" he said. "We brought a good team but I think other teams brought big teams too, unlike previous years where we would have more guys than anyone. If other teams want to hire Americans then they can do that too. Finally teams like BMC are doing that and have ten good guys here, which is doing a lot for cycling in the US."

Pate himself turned some criticism around, pointing out the fact that he has never been tested at a USPRO race. "I've been in the top five seven times, and I've never been tested," said Pate. "I'm not making an implication about anyone racing here today, but I am disappointed."

Saxo Bank to ride Specialized in 2009


Riis and Saxo Bank have signed a three-year deal to ride Specialized bikes.
Photo ©: Specialized
(Click for larger image)

Bjarne Riis has chosen Specialized Bicycles to be the official supplier of complete bikes and shoes to Riis Cycling/Team Saxo Bank for at least three years.

“Bjarne (Riis) and I have been talking about working together for years," Specialized founder and president Mike Sinyard said Sunday. "It's a natural relationship based on parallel visions and values. Both Specialized and Team Saxo Bank are extremely driven and aim to be the best in our respective fields. Our cooperation will enable each of us to achieve more than ever before.”

Riis Cycling had been working with Cervélo since the 2003 season. His 2008 team won the Tour de France with 33-year-old Spaniard Carlos Sastre, while 23-year-old Andy Schleck won the best young rider's white jersey. Sastre has not commented on where he'll ride in 2009.

“I am really excited to start this new partnership, and I think that we can create great things together with Specialized," Riis said. "We have had a lot of different possibilities in terms of equipment for the coming years, including working together with our existing partners, but we have chosen to embark on a new project, and we are ready to take the next step with Specialized. There has been a clear mutual understanding and a good business fit between the two companies from day one, and I am convinced that it will become clear to everyone that these are two highly ambitious organizations that are going to collaborate closely in this deal.

"I chose Specialized based on our common vision, their excellent bikes and equipment, combined with their ability to develop future materials that will help us win," he added.

“For my team, the bikes and equipment must be perfect. During my visits to Specialized, I have met with the engineering team and ridden the materials personally. I am very impressed with Specialized bikes, equipment and the Specialized development process overall. I know we will push Specialized to constantly improve, and I know Specialized will make the materials that will help us win races,” Riis said.

Specialized continues as the bike, helmet and optics supplier to Team Quick Step and supplies multiple pro and development teams with helmets and optics. In 2009, over 100 top European pro riders will ride Specialized Body Geometry shoes

CSC-Saxo Bank signs Bellis

Team CSC-Saxo Bank has added Jonathan Bellis to its roster. Bellis was riding for the British National Team the past few days, but will begin his assignment with the Danish squad in the Tour of Britain (September 7-14).

Bellis won the bronze medal at the World Championships in the junior road race. The young Manxman turned 20 just a couple of weeks ago.

It's Miller's time

Brooke Miller (TIBCO) is the double national champion
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

TIBCO's Brooke Miller is enjoying a record breaking season after claiming the United States of America criterium and road national championships. Miller spoke with Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski about the changes to (most) of her racing wardrobe for the next year.

At first glance one might think there is a new wave of young talent taking hold for US women's cycling. Perhaps, as there is a new and first time ever champion in both the elite road and elite criterium disciplines - and for the first time ever it is the same person - Brooke Miller (TIBCO). But like much of the women's peloton, Miller came to cycling later in life. So while she is a 'newer' racer, she is mature in terms of life experience, something that translates well into her racing.

When looking for differences along gender lines among professional cyclists, at least in North America, a few consistencies usually emerge. These seem to stem from one variable - the men often start racing at a younger age than the women. This translates into different age windows, with the average age of a female racer older than a male. As well the education level is also higher for the women as the men often bypass or put on hold higher education. Both cases are true for TIBCO's Miller.

Excuse me, that is Dr. Brooke Miller, Ph.D. As the always-affable Miller put it, the joke that around the women's peloton goes, "I am hardly the only Ph.D. in the peloton! The women are just generally older and more educated." Okay, she is only 32, but for many professional men retirement might begin to loom large around that age. However Miller is just now entering the prime of her cycling career, with sights set on some big milestones. And her age... ahem, maturity is a large part of that. Miller can see the differences clearly when comparing her cycling to when she was a scholarship division one college volleyball player.

"I think [my age] is really good," she said. "When I was younger and played volleyball I didn't have any perspective. My weakest aspect was my head. A lot of it was I didn't have my maturity. And now with cycling my biggest strength without question is my head. I've seen riders who are better athletes than me who aren't as headstrong. Cycling is very psychological and I think I am better because I am older and mature."

Still, there are younger riders in the women's peloton too, and that only motivates her more in terms of training and racing. "I do see a sense of mortality more than younger riders and that transfers over to my training," she said. "I don't have the luxury of missing a training session, of missing an interval, or of throwing away a season. At 32 I don't have the time to lose focus like a 25-year-old. So I have a more focused approach because of it."

Find the full feature here.

Castaño signs with Kec Pro Sport management company

Carlos Castaño dreams of a Vuelta stage win
Photo ©: Freddy Guérin
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Castaño (Xacobeo-Galicia) has signed a contract with Kec Pro Sport, represented by Angel Edo. Kec Pro Sport manages professional athletes and has under contract riders like Haimar Zubeldia, José Joaquín Rojas, Pablo Lastras, Manuel Vázquez and Tino Zaballa.

Castaño, who hails from Madrid, is currently in his second season with Xacobeo-Galicia. He previously rode for Kaiku (2006) and Andalucía-Paul Versan (2005).

As an amateur Castaño raced both the track and on the road. His biggest success was the bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in the team pursuit. In 2005 he became Spanish champion in the individual pursuit.

He turned professional in 2005 and had a promising start, winning two stages in the Vuelta a Burgos and finishing third in the overall classification. His switch to Kaiku in 2006 saw him achieve further wins, notably in the Volta a Catalunya, a ProTour race.

Castaño had some health problems this year, but is now racing his second Vuelta a España and is hoping to take out a stage win.

British Columbia Cyclo-cross starting

The unofficial end of the summer in British Columbia is nearing, but the end of the summer cycling events rings in the cyclo-cross season. On Labour Day everybody will venture across the border for the first cross race in Seattle. One of the first races will be on Vancouver Island. The six-race "Cross on the Rock" series will run from September 14 to November 22.

2008 Cross on the Rock Schedule

September 14: Diver Lake Park, Nanaimo
October 5:  Juan De Fuca Recreation Center, Victoria
October 19: Duncan
November 1: Cumberland
November 2: Fletchers Farm, Errington
November 22: Beban Park, Nanaimo (Island Championships and Series Final)

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