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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 16, 2008

Edited by Paul Verkuylen & Les Clarke

Garcia Galicia's cycling saviour?

By Bjorn Haake in Ponferrada

David Garcia Dapena (Xacobeo Galicia) celebrates
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The current economic climate in professional cycling means that a win can mean the survival of a team. Exposure for sponsors isn't always enough when it's winning that counts the most. David Garcia Dapena's brave victory in stage 15 of the Vuelta could be the tonic Galician cycling is looking for after hard times of its own.

Xacobeo Galicia is one of those rare gems you generally only find in the Vuelta. A Continental team with a very modest budget and riders keen to do more than just sit in the bunch all day, the Galicians enjoy lighting up the action on the road. David Garcia Dapena rode away from his rivals in the final kilometres of stage 15 to score one of the squad's biggest victories.

So precarious in its financial position, Garcia's win and Ezequiel Mosquera's high overall placing (he is fourth after stage 15) may be enough to save the team from falling apart. Garcia emphasised this in the winner's press conference, saying, "It was great that the sponsor took over mid-season [the team changed from Karpin Galicia to Xacobeo Galicia in August]. I hope they will stay with it for many years to come. This would help cycling in Galicia, which is in the process of growing tremendously."

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The squad began 2007 as Karpin-Galicia, a year in which four of the nine Spanish professional cycling teams left the sport. With the withdrawal of Valery Karpin, a construction company based in the Galego region, it appeared as though the squad's riders may have to join the list of those looking for another team to ride for.

That uncertainty has been eased during this year's Vuelta. Xacobeo Galicia has had an outstanding race so far, with stages 14 and 15 the highlights. September 14 was a potentially definitive day as Ezequiel Mosquera dropped Carlos Sastre over the stage's final climb to move within 54 seconds of a podium spot.

The next day it was Garcia's turn. He set out with a plan for the general classification, which he explained after it bore fruit on his trying to make it stick. It was simple: "I wanted to be in the top 15 in Madrid," he said. Thanks to his intelligent ride and some slack from the peloton - it trickled in almost 15 minutes after the stage winner - Garcia moved from 23rd to 13th overall.

Continue to the full feature.

Davis back to winning ways

Allan Davis
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After standing on the bottom step of the all-Australian podium at the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on September 7, Quick Step's new recruit Allan Davis has gone two places better and taken a win in stage two of the Tour of Poland. His victory and moves him into second overall behind Liquigas's Murilo Fischer.

"It was fantastic to win for the first time wearing this jersey," Davis said. "The organization of this team in the stage finals is amazing.

"The final was three laps around a circuit. The team did a great job and in the last kilometre Steven De Jongh, as always, guided me perfectly towards the finish line."

It's the Bundaberg native's first win since taking out stage three of this year's Tour Down Under in January and signals the return of Alby to the spotlight after a torrid two years following his departure from the old Team Astana in the wake of the Operación Puerto affair.

During that time the 28-year-old moved to several teams including Discovery Channel, local squad NSWIS-FRF and Belgian Continental outfit Jartazi. With results such as these it appears as though Davis' wandering may be over and Patrick Lefevre's nest is the place to be.

After signalling his intent to chase Classics wins, Davis' move was particularly pertinent given the recent announcement of Paolo Bettini's departure from the Belgian team in 2009. Keen to impress at the team which hosted him as a stagiare in its previous incarnation as Mapei-Quickstep in 2001 (while countrymen Michael Rogers and Scott McGrory were also riding for the outfit), Davis has put himself in contention to be a leading squad rider next season.

Nuyens outdone by home force

By Bjorn Haake in Ponferrada

Nick Nuyens was beaten by a Spanish armada
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Nick Nuyens had a great stage 15 escape in the Vuelta a España and finished second in the end. His strong moves towards the end were not rewarded and eventually he had to let the relatively unknown David García (Xacobeo Galicia) get away for the solo victory.

Nuyens came really close of forcing the decisive solo move in the end. "When I attacked it seemed to be a good moment. I was almost gone," he said. Nuyens was eventually brought back by an armada of Spaniards all hoping to win a stage of their home Tour. "Three Spaniards against a Belgian, that was impossible."

Another well known secret about the Belgian was also not lost on the lead group. "They knew that I am fast in a small-group sprint; maybe I should have stayed and tried for that [the sprint]." Either way, the attacks from the Spanish riders would have made it unlikely that the group of four would have stayed together until the end.

Both the weather and the terrain didn’t play to the strengths of the Belgian either, who is far more suited to the shorter climbs in the Flemish races which he prefers. "It felt like seven times the Berendries!"

Although it didn't work out, Nuyens took the chance he has been waiting for in this year’s Vuelta. "Today was one of them. Well, it didn't succeed, in the end, [but] I will see how I recover from today..."

Worlds ambitions

Nuyens may still be without a win this season, but that hasn't hampered his ambitions to win the World Championships in Varese on September 28.

"I want to be on the start line for the World Championships, my condition is good; which has now been confirmed," he told Sporza.

The Belgian team has yet to be named, but after strong seasons from many of his countrymen, Nuyens believes that whoever is on the start line will be a threat for the title. "There are five Belgians who can win in Varese."

"I can say that I have ambitions to become World Champion. Whether it comes off is another story," he concluded.

BMC Racing boosts its stocks

Jeff Louder (BMC).
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Swiss-based Continental team BMC Racing has bolstered its lineup for 2009 with the addition of five new riders. Swiss riders Markus Zberg, Mathias Frank, Florian Stalder and Thomas Frei will add a shiny lustre to the team's roster while US rider Chad Beyer is an investment in the squad's future manpower.

Having been a mainstay at Gerolsteiner for six years, Zberg explained that, "Moving to BMC is an exciting challenge for me. I look forward to working with so many young riders and discovering a new series of races in the US." Another of his current Gerolsteiner team-mates, Mathias Frank, who is riding his second season as a professional, will join the Swiss squad as will Team Astana workhorse Thomas Frei.

With experienced directeur sportif John Lelangue at the helm, BMC Racing will feature an effective mix of youth and seasoned campaigners, as the former Phonak boss explained. "Despite their young age they bring a lot of experience to the table and will be instrumental in moving the whole team forward."

In addition to the new signings, bike manufacturer BMC will maintain its relationhip with the squad until 2010, with the goal of once more competing at the world's biggest races. "We have an identical philosophy and dream," said CEO of BMC Group, Andreas Georgiadis. "We want to work our way towards the racing level of the Tour de France."

BMC for 2009: Steve Bovay (Swi), Mathias Frank (Swi), Thomas Frei (Swi), Martin Kohler (Swi), Alexandre Moos (Sswi), Florian Stalder (Swi), Danilo Wyss (Swi), Markus Zberg (Swi), Chad Beyer (USA) Jeff Louder (USA), Scott Nydam (USA), Jackson Stewart (USA), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Jonathan Garcia (USA), Ian McKissick (USA), Taylor Tolleson (USA), Tony Cruz (USA).

Franzoi already thinks about winter in scorching Vuelta

By Bjorn Haake in Ponferrada

The sunny and warm start area at the ocean in Cudillero for the 15th stage of the Vuelta a España had many riders thinking of a well-deserved break at the beach. But Liquigas's Enrico Franzoi's thoughts were further ahead, already thinking about his beloved cyclo-cross racing.

"For me the Vuelta is very important for my cyclo-cross training. It is good preparation for my first races and of course it is very important for me to prepare for the World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands," he explained.

Franzoi has the freedom within his Liquigas team to try and get himself in a break during the Vuelta, but admitted that it may be difficult. "Everybody wants to get into a break," but assured Cyclingnews he will try every stage.

Franzoi is using the Vuelta to prepare himself for the modern speeds of cyclo-cross which has seen an increase in average speeds in the past few years. "Today, cyclo-cross is very technical and very fast," he explained.

Franzoi even found the Angliru beneficial for the upcoming season even if many of the other riders liken it more to mountain biking that road racing or cyclo-cross. "It is a very tough mountain and it is difficult to find your rhythm."

Franzoi’s winter season will begin on October 11 in the traditional home of cyclo-cross, Belgium. "My first race will be in Dottignies, in Wallonnie." He will follow this up the following day with the opening round of the Superprestige in Ruddervoorde before taking a break.

"I take a little break after Ruddervoorde to get married," he explained. "I will return in November." He then plans to do all the World Cup and Superprestige races.

The cyclo-cross world championships will take place from January 31 to February 1.

U.S.O.C. Apologises

A USA rider wearing a face mask to protect against Beijing's smog
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The United States Olympic Committee (U.S.O.C.) has apologised to the four American cyclists who arrived at the Beijing Olympics wearing masks supplied by the U.S.O.C. to protect them against pollution according to the New York Times. Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed, Bobby Lea and Mike Friedman were forced to apologise for embarrassing the Olympic hosts for wearing the masks as they disembarked their airplane in Beijing.

A letter sent to the four riders from Jim Scherr, chief executive of the U.S.O.C., acknowledged that they never intended to offend the hosts or make a political statement. He wrote that there was "confusion or a misunderstanding" between the cyclists and the U.S.O.C.

The committee had developed and issued the carbon-filtration masks to USA's athletes before the Beijing Games. At the Olympics, though, U.S.O.C. officials publicly criticized the cyclists for wearing those masks at the Beijing airport.

"We are acknowledging that some things could have been handled differently," the U.S.O.C. spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "The athletes brought that to our attention in a very constructive way and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that something like this does not happen again."

The four track riders began pursuing an apology from the U.S.O.C. at the conclusion of last month’s Olympics because they had felt humiliated by the incident and that it distracted them from their performances in Beijing.

Hammer, finished fifth in the individual pursuit event, Reed was eighth in the sprint and Lea and Friedman finished last in the Madison.

"My Olympics and my dream were pretty much ruined and they can never be given back to me," Hammer told the New York Times. "They treated us like we were just stupid athletes and like we didn’t matter. They harassed us and threatened to kick us out of the Olympics. There was no support. It was just so sad."

"My name was dragged through the mud and I really wanted my name cleared. None of that ever should have happened," Friedman said.

Grafton - green for go

The 'Australian Classics' season continues this Saturday as riders head to the northern NSW town of Grafton for the 48th edition of the Graton to Inverell Cycling Classic.

Teams to watch in this year's 228km race include Virgin Blue, and Jayco-VIS, in addition to perennial attendees NSWIS-Panasonic and Savings & Loans. And for the first time German Continental outfit LKT-Team-Brandenburg brings an international flavour to proceedings.

Over 700 Grafton school children will get the chance to meet the riders from the Cottbus-based team, which boasts an Olympic gold medalist in Roger Kluge, who recently won his medal at the Beijing Games.

The German team will visit several schools and display their artistic side, judging the finalists of the always-popular 'colouring in competition'.

New boys Team Budget Forklifts will be on the start line on Saturday, and with Michael England taking second at last weekend's Goulburn to Citi Classic, the squad boasts experience and in-form riders capable of featuring in the finish.

Adding prestige to the event is the Jayco-VIS squad, with head coach Dave Sanders bringing a strong complement of riders to tackle the tough Gibraltar Range that often decides the outcome. Track stars Glenn O'Shea and Sean Finning plus Nick Walker - another of the talented Walker family - spearhead the Victorian charge.

"We are hoping that our strong team can have some breakthrough rides in the Grafton to Inverell," said Sanders, adding that, "We are very pleased to be able to include this prestigious NSW event on the Jayco-VIS schedule this year."

Jones dominates journo worlds

After near misses and disappointments, Australian journalist and BikeRadar Editor, Jeff Jones, has finally cracked the nut he's been trying to break for several years. Jones took out both the time trial and road race in the 35-50 years division at the eighth journalist world championships in Lac de Vassiviere, France.

Held on a course in the Limousin region that had hosted three Tour de France time trials during the 1980s and '90s, Jones won Friday's 11.8km test against the clock in less-than-ideal conditions by 46 seconds over Julian Bray and Robert Bauman.

The weather deteriorated for Saturday's 44km road race and Jones' favoured method of winning races - escaping solo - came to the fore. He used his 'big diesel' engine to power to the finish, almost three minutes ahead of Slovenian Miroslav Cveticanin and Frenchman Franck Leroy.

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