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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

*Special Edition* Cycling News for April 1, 2009

Edited by the CN équipe Avril Imbécile

ASO in velodrome dilemma for Roubaix

By Maurice Garin

This year's Roubaix might not finish in the famed velodrome
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Major race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has stumbled upon a major hurdle for this month's Paris-Roubaix, with the famed Roubaix velodrome unavailable for the historic Spring Classic. ASO, which also organises the Tour de France, is currently trying to negotiate an alternative with the velodrome's owners who have double booked the venue with a local Easter carnival, the Roubaix Poisson d'Avril, on April 12.

This year's event is the first time Paris-Roubaix has clashed with Easter weekend since the 2004 edition, when Magnus Backstedt claimed victory. Over the past five years a local Easter festival has grown to such a degree, that in 2007 it started using the velodrome site in order to cater for increased attendance.

"It's an embarrassing oversight by the velodrome owners," an ASO insider told Cyclingnews. "They simply didn't realise that our event fell on Easter Sunday this year. It only happens every once in a while, so it's an understandable mistake to make."

ASO hopes to have a resolution to the issue by week's end. Several options are being considered, with negotiations between it and the Easter carnival organisers underway which would see the festival moved to the neighbouring football grounds.

Should a deal between the two organisations fail to materialise, ASO will consider asphalting the old running track that surrounds the football field next door and erecting a temporary grand stand for the event. While it's considered an extreme measure, ASO wants to ensure the event stays close to its roots.

"We are working with both organisers and the velodrome owners," said a local council member. "If ASO must resort to its back-up measure, the local government will offer its resources to help lay the asphalt in time. Roubaix is proud of this event and doesn't want to see the finish moved to another province, not even as a one off."

An ASO official admitted that while paving the running track next door wasn't ideal, it was the most attractive alternative. It wishes to stay close to the site where race founders Théodore Vienne and Maurice Perez held the first event in 1886, ruling out a one-off move to a nearby city.

The organisation had also considered postponing the event for one week, but has since decided that's not an option. With a temporary alternative in place, the organiser didn't want to upset fans or teams who have all booked accommodation and travel for the existing date, in addition to athletes timing their condition specifically to that date.

Brailsford punishes Brits for poor track showing

By Peter Ramone

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

After a huge medal haul in the 2008 Track World Championships and Olympic Games, the British trackies did not live up to the world's expectations in last weekend's championships in Pruszkow, Poland. Word on the street is that the team did not live up to the expectations of British Cycling's performance director, Dave Brailsford, either, and he has taken an especially hard line with the squad's male riders.

Brailsford had set the team a target of 10 medals in the championships, but the Great Britain could only come up with nine medals, only two of them gold. Seven of the medals were won by the women, including both world titles. The men could only manage a bronze in the points race and silver in the team sprint.

In response, Brailsford gathered the men together at the end of the championships and made a blunt announcement – all those riders who had failed to come up with a medal would be making a two-wheeled return to Britain from Poland.

After missing out on medals in both the scratch and Madison, Mr. Milan-Sanremo, Mark Cavendish found himself involved in a frantic dash from Saturday night, Sunday and Monday riding from Warsaw across half of Poland, the breadth of Germany and Holland, plus half of Belgium to reach the start of the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday morning.

Despite receiving help from the men's team pursuiters, it is little wonder that he trailed in more than 13 minutes down on stage-winner Filippo Pozzato on Tuesday.

Armstrong perfects aero position with surgery

By Lorne Wisely

Was this Lance's only operation?
Photo ©: Astana
(Click for larger image)

During the height of his career Lance Armstrong was famous for taking every possible step to perfect his aerodynamic position on the bike because, during the Tour de France, "every second counts". Since his return to the sport, he has yet to dominate in the race against the clock. Insider sources have revealed to Cyclingnews that the American recently underwent a radical, secret surgery to alter his physique to help cheat the wind.

Following his crash in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, where Armstrong fractured his right collarbone, he flew back to his Austin, Texas home. Once back in Texas he had surgery – supposedly to repair the clavicle which, doctors insisted, was broken into four pieces.

Sources within the Armstrong camp explained that initial reports that the break was a single, clean fracture were true. But the seven-time Tour winner had been told he could shave seconds per kilometre off of his time trials if only his shoulders weren't so broad. The American decided that, since he faced several weeks of recovery from the broken bone anyhow, he might as well go through with a plan which would shorten both clavicles and narrow the width of his upper body.

Doctors cut out a section of the right clavicle before putting the bone back together with a plate and screws, then moved over to the previously intact left collarbone to duplicate the procedure. The surgery marks the first time an athlete has undergone such a radical surgery to gain a performance boost.

The extreme measure was taken with a view toward the Giro d'Italia's stage 12 time trial from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore which, at 61.7km, is the longest individual test of Armstrong's career and could well be the decisive stage of the tour.

"We did everything we could in the wind tunnel to shave fractions of seconds off of Lance's times – Trek invented new technology to cheat the wind on the bike, Nike used space-age technology to create the world's most aerodynamic skinsuit... but there was no getting around the fact that Lance's frontal area was just bigger than other riders," a spokesman said.

"The surgeons took two centimetres off of both collarbones and then screwed the bones back together," he added. "With the titanium plates holding the bones in place, Lance is already cleared to get back on the trainer. He was so eager to find out how much more aerodynamic he is that we flew straight away to San Diego to do some tests in the wind tunnel. And boy, oh boy, all I can say is watch out!"

'Special' training camp for Rock Racing

By Cheyenne Spokes

Tyler Hamilton and his Rock Racing teammates
Photo ©: Luis Barbosa
(Click for larger image)

CSC/Saxo Bank has, until now, been the team reputed for having the toughest training camps. But their ordeals trudging around frozen tundra or crawling in rank, sticky mud for days on end pale in comparison to the character-building plans unveiled by Rock Racing at a team press conference today.

From its inception, the American continental squad has had one big belief. "We are bigger, better and, most of all, badder than all the others," said tattooed and pierced team spokesman Mitchell Batt, pausing for effect. "Other teams are making a big deal about what they do during the off season but, frankly, they are a pack of yellow-bellied wimps.

"When we do something, we do it in style. What we are planning will blow those other teams away."

The team devised a plan for his riders to spend one whole month during its off-season in a very special location. "San Quentin," said Batt, savouring each syllable of that feared name. "And I don't mean that little town in France."

According to Batt, the team has negotiated a deal with the Californian penitentiary for each rider on his team to be incarcerated for 30 days. During that time, they will not be given any special privileges. They will be treated exactly like the other inmates, and will not be assisted or protected in any way.

"It's like Survivor, only a bit more literally," he grinned, raising his first and fourth fingers in the air and sticking out his tongue. "Sure, it's dangerous, but think of the benefits. Plenty of upper body gym work. Neat tattoos. Character-honing conditions. Oh, and a real good way to ensure the guys don't pile on the weight during the off-season."

Show me the Cash, Johnny

The Rock Racing plan is more than just an attempt to further toughen up its riders, it's a survival mechanism for the squad which faced extinction unless it could find additional sponsorship. Under the plan unveiled today, the team's progress inside the walls and bars will be secretly filmed, using hundreds of mechanically operated cameras secretly hidden around the prison. The revenue from a reality show to be shown weekly on a cable television network would fun the squad for three seasons.

"Think American Idol. Think Top Model. Think Survivor," Batt beamed, winking at one of his stunning Rock & Republic hostesses. "This will out perform all of them. We'll send the whole team in, see how they stand up to life on the inside. That's prime time TV material. That's big bucks.

"We've got 17 riders. We'll keep… ah… let's say 12 for 2010. Maybe 13. If you ain't bad ass enough, you are out. Period. If you can't survive the showers, you won't be on my team."

"Of course, I will do something really rad to mark the occasion," Batt continued, toying with an outrageously oversized pair of sunglasses. "Rock & Republic is going to design some bad ass jump suits for the guys. We are bringing style to San Quentin and, next year, bringing some extra whoop-ass to the peloton."

Stiamo Mentendo arrives in Britain to shake up staid world of cycling

By Rupert Elkington Cole

Rosetto per Cani: an urban style attack on the cycling jersey UrbfreeXtremeXIVai
Photo ©: Stiamo Mentendo
(Click for larger image)

Straight out of Portland, United States of America, with a zeitgeist defining agenda for the prosumer and an Italian flava, Stiamo Mentendo is the hottest new bike brand to hit the United Kingdom.

Britain's urban cyclists are to receive a wake up call this April 1 thanks to the exclusive arrival on these shores of the USA's most wickedest new biking apparel brand – Stiamo Mentendo and its awe-inspiring Malato del Sidro range. Malato del Sidro combines modern fabric technology and corresponds to consumer demand-led sensibility yet retains a stylistically modern urban aesthetic.

Founded in Portland, Oregon, the uber-cool heartland of US cycling chic, by renowned BMX stunts world record holder Erik van Mees Stiamo Mentendo is the brand that: "British cyclists fed up with me-too Lycra, try-hard baggy shorts or faux-revisionist nostalgia-toss retro fashion have been waiting for."

The brand's mission statement is thus: 'Since the dawn of the bicycle, fashions have passed. The bicycle is not fashion – as they say in Italy the bicycle is "assurdità assoluta " – the very essence of man's being."

"Portland reminds me of England," explains Erik. "I was a cycle courier in Stoke-on-Trent for three months during my freshman year and the scene there was so sick. I just know the s*** I've got going down here is going to rock places like Stoke and London."

See the full story in our special tech news edition.

'Cross to add tandem class

By Lorne Wisely

Crazy or what? Tandems will now be in 'cross racing
Photo ©: Sportzpics
(Click for larger image)

The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced April 1 that it would add a new class to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and World Championships for elite tandems. The class, which is already part of the Coupe de France mountain bike races, will help fuel the rapid-fire growth of the cyclo-cross market, a UCI spokesman explained.

"It adds a whole new facet to the bicycle manufacturing industry that hasn't existed in the past," he said. "With the harsh economic times, the new class will allow tandem manufacturers to target the growing legions of cyclo-cross fanatics."

'Cross promoters in the Pacific Northwestern United States are already preparing for next year's World Championships by setting up clinics on the intricate dance which must occur for a tandem pair to dismount and cross barricades.

"We think this can be just the niche the American riders need to take home a gold medal at Worlds," said singlespeed 'cross championship promoter Bart Haze. "We have plenty of pairs raring to go, and medics standing by ready to clean up the carnage."

UCI adopts new formats for MTB World Cup

By Suzanne Jorge, MTB Editor

In response to the ever-increasing popularity of endurance racing, the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced on Wednesday sweeping changes to the cross country UCI Mountain Bike World Cup format. In 2010, the Olympic-distance cross country will be eliminated and replaced by the marathon-distance cross country, which will return to the spotlight after a year's hiatus. In addition, the UCI will add a few World Cup stage race rounds beginning in 2011.

"We can't help but notice the trend toward racing longer single-day events and more days in a row, and we think these changes will reflect the interests of more mountain bikers, including more potential World Cup competitors," said a spokesperson for the UCI.

"Year after year, the racers have been competing on shorter and shorter World Cup cross country courses. Now they are just a few kilometres per lap," said the UCI spokesperson. "Should this trend keep up, we would have soon seen our cross country racers competing on something more like a pump track."

"With more racers extending their careers into their mid and late 30s, some of the elite men and women have expressed to us how tired they are of racing around and around small circles. It's not real mountain biking," he continued.

The minimum distance of 60km takes mountain biking back closer to its single-lap, old-school roots, and would benefit riders like current world cross country champion Christoph Sauser, who was the 2007 marathon World Champion, and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa. the reigning marathon World Champion.

Cyclingnews technical editor launches carbon componentry company

By James Huang

Is this logo going to find your way on to your bike parts in the near future?
Photo ©: Pam Dobrowolski
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews' very own technical editor, James Huang, has decided to branch out beyond the world of journalism by launching his own carbon fiber bicycle componentry company called cc: (say 'carbon copy').

According to Huang, cc: will exclusively sell direct to consumers online via the company web site and will offer the most comprehensive range of real carbon fiber components – not wrapped carbon or ‘faux' carbon – of any current entity. Regularly in-stock items will include the usual suspects such as handlebars, stems, seatposts, saddles and rims but also more cutting-edge items such as cables and housing, brake pads, handlebar tape, and even bearings.

"I wanted to include the bread-and-butter stuff but also decided to take the risk on some unproven bits that could potentially offer big performance advantages," he said. "The bearings are especially intriguing as they replace one of the last bastions of heavy steel on a bicycle. They're not super round and roll a little rough, but the weight savings should more than make up for the increase in friction."

Interestingly, Huang plans to do no engineering work or independent testing whatsoever. Instead, he plans to source all of the items straight from established Asian manufacturers using ready-made designs and molds and will rely on the manufacturer's own in-house testing to ensure safety.

See the full story in our special tech news edition.

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