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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, January 5, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Albert resumes his winning ways

By Brecht Decaluwé

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) proved that he is fully recovered from a crash that took him out of competition in mid-November. The 22-year-old Belgian won the final rehearsal, the Vlaamse Witloof Veldrit in Tervuren on Sunday, one week ahead of the national championships. Albert won the race with an impressive solo effort which he initiated during the second of ten laps.

Italian "crossista" Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas) finished twenty seconds behind Albert, and Czech national champion Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) won the sprint for the remaining podium spot ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Projob Cycling Team).

"I felt strong and wanted to make it a hard race. I was joined by Klaas and Enrico and when Klaas crashed behind me, I was able to get a couple of metres. Then one shouldn't delay, of course. It's been awhile since I was able to win. This feels good, especially ahead of the Belgian championships," Albert said to Sporza.

It was clear that not too many riders were keen on going full out during the 'cross in the royal park of Tervuren. They were saving their energy for the national championships next week. Current Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) sat back in the main group and left the initiative to riders like Albert. The latter attacked during the first lap and was joined by Franzoi and Klaas Vantornout.

The race came down to a two-man battle between Albert and Franzoi, but each lap the Belgian managed to add a couple of seconds to his advantage. Halfway through the race, Albert had twenty seconds on Franzoi and from then on, the he eased off and kept his rival at that distance.

"The last few weeks, I saw every race as training, adding additional training sessions before and after. I should be able to battle for the win next week. I can focus on one race. I've been unlucky this season, and hopefully I can make up for that at the championships," Albert said to Sporza.

Albert will do battle with defending Belgian national champion Sven Nys next weekend. Nys said he considered the day's effort a good round of intensive training leading up to the championships.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Vlaamse Witloof Veldrit.

Bodrogi progresses ahead of next Katusha camp

By Gregor Brown

Laszlo Bodrogi
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Laszlo Bodrogi is back on his bike after a three-month break due to a crash in the Tour of Germany last August. The Hungarian time trial specialist rode for the first time with his new team, Katusha, at its camp in Italy last month.

"The others were not able to get out often because there was really bad weather. Everyday it rained. There was one good day where they all got in four hours, but I was only able to do an hour before returning to the hotel," he said to Cyclingnews from his home in Ney, France.

Bodrogi crashed in the final four kilometres of the Deutschland Tour's last stage. He fractured the tibia and fibula in his left leg. Despite the misfortune, Katusha signed Bodrogi in October as his old team, Crédit Agricole, closed operations.

"The colour changes from green to blue and white, but that is about it. After a couple of weeks I will be used to it. ... The team takes care of us so the riders only have to think of the bike and racing."

He will join the other teammates of the Russian ProTour team in Calpe, Spain, next week for the second team camp. The fractures and under-developed muscles limit his riding to one-hour rides.

"For three months I was not able to do anything. The left leg lost a lot of strength and I need to be careful because the fracture is not 100 percent healed. ... It is not something where I can say for certain when I will start to race again."

Bodrogi will re-visit his doctor for x-rays to track the healing progress. It is likely fans will see him racing in late spring, though he remains low-key about his chances.

Barloworld focuses on team time trial

By Gregor Brown

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld will focus on the team time trial in its first camp from February 2 to 11 in Tuscany, Italy. Team Manager Claudio Corti noted the advantages of the discipline in the early season and the first Grand Tour of the year, the Giro d'Italia.

"There is one to start off the Tour Méditerranéen and then it is important for the various team time trials during the season. We have Britons Geraint Tomas and Steve Cummings – both are very strong in the time trial – then Robert Hunter and Mauricio Soler are also good."

The Tour Méditerranéen, February 10 to 15, features a 30-kilometre time trial on the second day of racing. It is slightly longer than the opening day of the Giro d'Italia. The Italian Grand Tour, May 9 to 31, features a 20.5-kilometre team time trial on the shores of Venice. Barloworld finished fifth behind America's Slipstream-Chipotle team in the event in last year's Giro d'Italia.

"We want to do well right away at Méditerranéen. There is the time trial and the mountain stage to Mount Faron, a chance for Soler, even if it is a short climb early in the season. ... [The Giro] is an important objective for us and we need to prepare, hoping we get the invitation."

The team is ready to start the 2009 season. Corti reported that all the bikes and clothing are ready and the team could race immediately, if needed. Its first race is not until February 7 at the GP Etruschi.

The team members are taking advantage of their home countries for training leading up to the first camp. Hunter, John-Lee Augustyn and Chris Froome are training in South Africa. The winner of the 2007 Tour de France mountains competition, Soler, is riding four to five hours a day in his native Colombia.

"Mauricio is taking advantage of the warm climate in Colombia. He's working hard... . He's hardly stopped riding during the winter since he was off the bike last summer because of his injuries," said Corti. Much is expected of Soler as he tries to return to the success of 2007 when he won the climber's jerseys at the Tour de France.

The team has 16 members for 2009. The only new signing is new professional, Italian Michele Merlo.

"He won 10 races last year. He is a sprinter, so there are chances for him to do well in the sprints, whereas climbers – like Froome or Augustin – need time to develop," said Corti.

United Colours of Columbia

By Les Clarke

Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) won a stage in the Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Magenta was the colour associated with the team Bob Stapleton took over in 2007. As Cyclingnews discovers, increasing the diversity of colours within the squad during 2008 has been the recipe for it success.

"We're open to talent, wherever they come from; we're an international team and we have 19 different countries represented in the team next year," says Team Columbia boss Bob Stapleton. "We're looking for people that are committed to the team who will sacrifice their own ambitions - we've got to be really disciplined in how we support the athletes in the team."

And the American knows about discipline. Upon inheriting the old T-Mobile squad in late 2006, Stapleton was confronted with the legacy of a team where ill-discipline prospered, spawning a culture where doping went unreported, riders underperformed and management turned a blind eye to the myriad issues at hand that needed to be addressed.

Something had to be done about the situation, and Stapleton is aware that he managed the situation the best he could - at the time. "We made bigger changes immediately [after the acquisition] than was recognised," he begins. "There are a few things we missed for sure. I was probably too trusting and taking people on their word - saying they would do what they were supposed to do. I think we've moved far beyond that.

"I never really considered it a benchmark, but we moved as far as we could as fast as we could, away from the history and legacy of that team. Unfortunately a lot of it wasn't even known to me - I didn't even realise what a mess it was until, really, a month after we'd taken over. I think we would have done more and done it differently had we known better. I couldn't be happier to be away from that.

Read the complete feature.

Walker achieves the first win of the season

William Walker earned his first victory of the season on Sunday with stage three of the Jayco Bay Classic in Geelong, Australia. Racing in Degani/CBD colours, the Australian Walker outsprinted compatriot Dean Windso (Mazda) after they formed a two-man breakaway halfway through the hilly stage.

Walker, who burst on to the international scene with a win on the same circuit in 2002 at the age of 17, is now an experienced professional in the European peloton. He will ride for the Spain-based Fuji-Servetto ProTour team this season, beginning with the Australian Open Road Cycling Championships in Buninyong on January 11.

Fuji-Servetto for Cancer Council Classic and the Tour Down Under: Ermanno Capelli, Daniele Nardello, Davide Vigano, Hilton Clarke, William Walker, Javier Megias and Ivan Dominguez

Fuji-Servetto for Tour de San Luis: Alberto Benitez, David de la Fuente, Jesus del Nero, Beñat Intxausti, Hector Gonzalez and Ricardo Serrano

Mountain biker Fry surprises on the road

By Malcolm Sawford in Eastern Park

Rowena Fry (TIS) in the bunch.
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Tasmanian mountain biker Rowena Fry took a surprise win on day three of the 2009 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic on Sunday. It was a race marred by crashes that put defending champion Megan Dunn out of the race.

"I'm a bit shocked!" the dual Australian mountain bike champion said. "This is only about my third crit, I'm just here for a training block. I was waiting for people to come past me and they never did. The photo in the paper tomorrow could be pretty funny. I think I'll look pretty shocked."

Fry surprised everyone with her acceleration at the base of the final climb.

The 40-minute women's race had to be drastically shortened after a serious crash involving 2008 series winner Megan Dunn (NSWIS), Kate Finegan, Gina Grain (MB Cycles) and Jenny Macpherson (G Force/Body Torque). Officials had to suspended the race for well over ten minutes while medics assessed Finegan and Dunn's injuries. The medics took both to Geelong Hospital later; Finegan with suspected back injuries and concussion, and Dunn with a fractured collar bone. Officials don't expect either to continue in the series.

Fry is not riding the series as part of a team, but entered as part of her return to full fitness after contracting glandular fever in 2008.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite men's and elite women's stage three races at the Jayco Bay Classic.

No Cinelli OPD Italy for Vuelta al Tachira

The Italian Cinelli OPD team will not be present at the Vuelta al Tachira in Venezuela after all. The team failed to arrive on Friday evening at the Maiquetía International Airport in Caracas as expected by organizers although airfares and other logistical arrangements had been made. Organizers said they did not yet know why the team did not show, but an explanation from the team is expected.

The 44th edition of the UCI category 2.2 race, covering 1396.6km over 12 stages, is scheduled for January 6-17. It has also been known as the "Vuelta Grande de América".

In total, six foreign teams will take part in the event including Arenas Tlax – Mex – Alubike (Mexico), Pro Cycling Team Cosmote (Greece), G.S.Mastromarco (Italy), Acme Cycling Team (Argentina), Selección Nacional de Eslovaquia (Slovakia) and Glover San – Kin (The Netherlands).

Boom hospitalized

Cyclo-cross world champion Lars Boom was hospitalized after an injury to his elbow became inflamed according to L'Equipe. Boom crashed in the Azencross Loenhout on December 30 and received 12 stitches in his elbow. The wound has since become infected although he is still expected to return to training and competition in time to defend his rainbow jersey at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide in early February.

Veloforma/Zym sets goals for 2009 and beyond

The Veloforma/ZYM Women's Professional Cycling Team has set its sights on the US National Racing Calendar (NRC) for 2009 and on UCI registered trade team status longer term.

Based in the Pacific Northwest portion of the US, the Veloforma/ZYM team, which collected 63 wins in 2008, is looking to expand. "We plan to be at bigger races this year in preparations for our future," said team owner Mark Duff. "This has been our goal from the beginning. In 2010, our goal is to add a European sponsor in order to help us set our sights on becoming a UCI team and having Europe on our racing schedule." Veloforma remains as title sponsor and is joined by ZYM Hydration Products as a presenting sponsor.

During its inaugural year, the team collected some notable finishes including the Tour of Willamette Stage Race overall women's title, the Eugene Cycle Celebration and the FIAC National Six Day Championships. Other highlights included a podium finish at the US National Road Championship race, two stage wins at the Elkhorn Cycling Classic and a fourth place finish at the Cascade Classic. The team also swept the top three women's podium spots in the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association's Oregon Cup, the premier series for elite racers in Oregon.

Five Oregon-based riders will return including Rebecka Hartkop, Susan Peithman, Tina Brubaker, Alice Pennington and Miranda Moon. As part of the plan to expand beyond the Pacific Northwest, Robin Secrist of Washington State, Sabrina Savage and Melissa McWhithers from Arizona and Christina Smith from Texas are joining the team. Duff is talking with other riders who may round out the roster.

The team will contest the Tour of the Sun in Arizona, Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic (formerly the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic), Philadelphia's Liberty Classic, the Manhattan Beach Gran Prix, the Cascade Cycling Classic, and the Priority Health Cycling Classic and Ann Arbor Cycling Classic in Michigan in 2009.

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