First Edition Cycling News, January 16, 2009
Edited by Laura Weislo and Peter Hymas
Rock Racing on notice
By Laura Weislo
The Rock Racing team has 24 hours to get its bank guarantee to the UCI or it will not be given a license, USA Cycling confirmed Thursday. The team was a no-show at the Tour de San Luis, where it was scheduled to race this week, and word surfaced that the team had not been given its license yet.
Chief Operating Officer Sean Petty told Cyclingnews that the reason the license has not been finalized is because Rock Racing has not yet made the required bank guarantee of 10% of the riders' salaries. He said the team now has until 4PM mountain time on Friday to make the deposit or they will not be given a UCI license.
The usual deadline for Continental teams to make the deposit is at the beginning of December, but, Petty said, "for the sake of the riders, we've given them latitude, but the UCI requested that this process be finalized by tomorrow."
Should Rock Racing fail to make the deposit, the team can say goodbye to its hopes of racing the Tour of California. "The riders would still have a contract with Rock Racing, but they would not be part of a UCI registered team, which means they cannot compete in any events ranked 2.1/1.1 or higher." By UCI rules, the Tour of California, a 2.HC event, can only allow UCI teams or National teams.
The lack of a UCI license would also mean US road Champion Tyler Hamilton would not be eligible to defend his title at the US Professional championships as USA Cycling defines a professional rider as "a registered rider of a UCI Team" according to the organisation's rule book.
Regional or club teams can, by the rules, participate in some 2.2 or 1.2 events at the promoter's discretion, but Petty said that US-based UCI race promoters do not generally allow non-professional teams in their events.
Team owner Michael Ball recently dismissed rumors that his team was in imminent danger of folding, adding that he was seeking a cash sponsor, saying, "I am committed to the sport and will underwrite the team. But there is only so much that I am able to do, that I can do."
The team would be able continue without a UCI license as a USA Cycling registered elite team and contest many of the National Racing Calendar events in the USA, such as the Redlands Cycling Classic which Rock Racing won last year with Colombian Santiago Botero.
Boyer and Cofidis ready for ProTour season
By Bjorn Haake
Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer is ready to tackle a ProTour season that almost didn't materialize for the French team. With the ProTour in limbo, Cofidis decided in June it was content with a Pro Continental license, but reversed its course in September. Boyer talked to Cyclingnews about the team's objectives for 2009.
Boyer explained that there were signs the ProTour wasn't going to be as important anymore. "We thought we could go Continental and just ask the organizers to get invited." But in August they realized that things had changed a bit. "The decision was made by Cofidis and myself. We had a dialogue about the inconveniences and the advantages and in the end we decided we will join the ProTour again."
There are a variety of benefits for the French team. "We decided it is better to stay in the ProTour, as there were certain races we wanted to do, like the Tour of Flanders or the Amstel Gold Race."
Despite losing several key players, including Sylvain Chavanel, Nick Nuyens and Maxime Monfort, the team is ready for the challenges ahead and Boyer named the main objectives. "We would like to win the individual and teams classification in the Coupe de France, stages in Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné Libéré, maybe even the overall classification. Races like Quatre Jours de Dunkerque also are very important to us."
Cofidis does not have someone to contend for the win in the Grand Tours, but at least the French team wants to shine and go for stage wins. Distinct jerseys are also within reach. "Last year we won the mountain jersey in the Vuelta [through David Moncoutié]. Maybe we can do the same, even in the Tour de France. Or the green jersey with Duque or Alexandre Usov."
The foundation is laid with solid financial backing by Cofidis, the French company that distributes loans. During these days of the global financial crisis it could be in the middle of the turmoil. But Boyer is content, saying that "Cofidis is here and allows us to have a good budget for 2009, which means they are doing things right." Boyer doesn't have a crystal ball, either. "Nobody knows what is going to happen in 2009 and everybody hopes the economy will re-start."
But he also emphasizes that there isn't much he can do. "We don't have any other sources of revenue - we solely depend on the sponsors and their decisions."
Argentina attracts ProTour riders
By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina
As the world awaits the return of Lance Armstrong at the upcoming Tour Down Under in Australia, Italian Ivan Basso is preparing for his own 2009 comeback in Argentina at the fourth annual Tour de San Luis held January 19-25. It's no wonder the world-class rival GC contenders, who will go head to head for the first time since 2005 at the Tour of California in February, have chosen to visit the Southern Hemisphere for the early season races.
Both countries are prime proving grounds because of the warm summer climate, but Argentina boasts bigger and higher mountains than those in Adelaide and will test the climbers' early season form.
In it's second year with UCI status, the Tour de San Luis has upped its ranking to 2.1, and as a result has drawn 22 teams from around the world, thanks in part to race co-ordinator Giovanni Lombardi. Of the 22 teams, three are ProTour including Liquigas led by Basso, Saxo Bank led by American Jason McCartney and Fuji Servetto led by Spaniard David de la Fuente.
There are also three professional continental teams, six continental teams and ten national amateur teams. The event has grown in length and stature with the addition of two stages and three hill top finishes, changes that cater to a climber compared to last year's sprint-heavy finishes.
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Knee problem for Devolder
Stijn Devolder had some problems with his left knee during team Quick Step's training camp in Spain. The winner of the 2008 Ronde Van Vlaanderen has pain in his left kneecap after a fall he took while training in Belgium last week. Devolder didn't take part in Wednesday's training, and Thursday he only pedaled for about an hour, returning to the hotel in Benicassim by car.
Devolder will return to Belgium, where he will undergo a series of tests. He will also rest for a period of 10 days.
"It's a real pity. This problem is going to slow my preparation," Devolder said. "But in agreement with the medical staff, I don't want to take any risk. I take comfort in the fact that it's better to have this kind of problem at the beginning of the season, rather than when the races are in full swing."
Rund um Köln course presented
The Rund um Köln was snowed out in 2008, but the traditional Easter Monday race in Cologne, Germany is on track for 2009. For the first time in 10 years it will have a new course.
The race will start on the grounds of the Schwalbe – Ralf Bohle GmbH firm, a producer of bike tires, and the race's new sponsor. "Almost a million people are out along the route every year to see the riders," noted Frank Bohle, the company's director. "No sporting events move the people here as much as Rund um Koln."
The race will end along the Rhine River in downtown Cologne.
"After the snow chaos of our 100th anniversary edition last year, we are hoping for lots of sun on Easter Monday," said Artur Tabat, who has organised the race for 37 years, at a press conference Thursday.
Laoshan velodrome hosts returning Olympians
By Laura Weislo
The fourth round of the UCI Track Cycling World cup heads back to the Laoshan velodrome in Beijing: the site of triumph for the British team and a few others this past summer at the Olympic Games.
But the make-up of the field and the atmosphere surrounding the track have done a huge turnabout from the smoggy, humid, oppressive conditions of August. Sub-zero temperatures have replaced sweltering summer days, and riders taking to the track during the pre-race training sessions have found the building to be quite a bit cooler than normal.
The level of competition will not be quite what it was this past summer as many of the gold medallists are still building their fitness after a break and will choose to skip the Beijing event.
For riders heading to China from the warmth of the Southern Hemisphere, the change in temperature was startling. "I knew it would be cold but was not really prepared for the minus 11 temperature that greeted us," said Malaysian Josiah Ng, who is based in Melbourne, Australia. "Luckily we're racing indoors, but I hear that even in the track it's not that warm, about 16 degrees. Hopefully they will turn up the heat come race day."
Continue to the full preview.
Rossner motivated for more
By Shane Stokes
Team Columbia manager and coach Petra Rossner is aiming for another very strong season in 2009, saying that the team will continue to target wins in each of the races it competes in, while also nurturing its young talent and stressing the value of teamwork.
"We had a really good season and we know it is going to be hard to top that, but we will aim to do that," the affable German told Cyclingnews at the team's training camp in Majorca, Spain. "We want to win the bike races, that same goal that remains from last year. We are also focused on developing young riders, giving them the best conditions we can provide. Also, we want to make sure the team is a team – that is also the main focus."
The Columbia women's team had a season to be proud of in 2008, with the squad winning over half of the races it entered, taking four world cup victories plus the overall title in that series. Ina Yoko Teutenberg clocked up 24 victories, more than any other woman, while the team also nabbed four stages in the women's Giro d'Italia, five at the Route de France plus the overall title, three stages and the overall in the Tour of Montreal, six stages and the overall in the Giro della Toscana...the list goes on and on, with a total of 68 victories clocked up.
In addition to that, Luise Keller, Linda Villumsen, Emilia Fahlin and Alex Wrubleski are not only amongst the most talented young riders in the bunch (their ages ranging between 20 and 24 years) but they also won national titles in 2008 and are sporting distinctive jerseys this season.
Rossner is, to be frank, quite proud of what they achieved. And she's hungry for more. "We won four World Cups out of ten and that is a lot," she stated. "We will keep aiming to win and, as I said, to focus on the young riders.
"It was tricky in some ways last year, it being an Olympic year. We had so many nations in the women's team, and the national team requirements for the qualification for the Olympic Games were sometimes in the way. But we will not have that this year and so we will have a good chance to build up young talents so that they can learn from the more experienced competitors.
"As for the more experienced riders, they will get a lot of support from the team. If everybody is racing together well we don't care who is winning, that is the goal. If we can manage that, I believe we can be very successful."
The team has become smaller in 2009 and will feature just eleven riders. Rossner said that good balance is very important and that a lot of thought went into the makeup of the squad.
"We have got two more talents on the team....we have Ellen Van Dijk, only 21 years of age, and Alex Wrubleski, 24, from Canada. That will be the perfect fit. Apart from results, we also choose them by characteristics; it is important that they fit in."
It's a very important consideration when looking for new riders. "I always compare it with a basket of apples. If you have one rotten apple, it can ruin the whole basket. We try to make sure that we don't have a rotten apple in the squad as we know that one can disturb the whole team. This is what we really, really don't need, and this is what would really stop us from winning. As a result, that was the main focus when we picked the riders."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com
2009 Giro del Capo confirmed
After months of uncertainty, the Cape Argus PPA Giro del Capo presented by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust will take place March 4 to March 8 in Cape Town, South Africa.
"Following agonizing negotiations and discussions in last ditch efforts to secure a title sponsor for the Giro, the event has been cast a lifeline by the Pedal Power Association (PPA)" explained David Bellairs, Co-Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust.
PPA is the founder and owner of the Giro del Capo. They, together with the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, will provide the necessary financial and logistical support in order to ensure the event remains on the 2009 cycling calendar.
"We will continue to explore all possible avenues in order to secure a title sponsor for the Giro del Capo in 2010. South Africa found itself at risk of being isolated from international competition on home turf with the cancellation of the Tour of South Africa and the postponement of the 2009 World's View Challenge. It became so important to run the Giro because it's our country's only other internationally recognised stage race," Bellairs said.
Bellairs confirmed that there has already been much interest from foreign teams wishing to participate, including South African Robbie Hunter, winner of the 2008 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, and his Barloworld team.
The fifth and final stage of the 2009 Giro del Capo has been incorporated into the Cycle Tour which will see the Giro del Capo lead 35,000 cyclists around the picturesque Cape Peninsula.
For entry enquiries e-mail Tony Roberts at email@example.com and for general enquiries e-mail Helane Meintjes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sastre, Armstrong in February's Procycling
The February 2009 edition of our sister magazine, Procycling (issue 121), has gone on sale in the UK and will soon be available in the US and the rest of the world. The cover star is Lance Armstrong, who Procycling were given exclusive access to during Astana's December training camp in Tenerife. Rather than asking the questions everyone else has been asking the seven-time Tour champion, Procycling gave their readers the chance to put their own questions to Armstrong, it resulted in an illuminating exchange – and one that's fired up debate on the message boards at bikeradar.com
Also in the February edition of Procycling, 2008 Tour champ Carlos Sastre reveals the story behind the breakdown of his relationship with CSC-Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis before his move to the Cervélo Test Team for 2009. Cyclo-cross's man of the moment, world champion Lars Boom, talks to us about his plans to dominate the road scene in future. Procycling also meets SRM power meter founder Ulrich Schoberer and examines how measuring power output has transformed the sport.
Procycling's series of articles covering Armstrong's seven Tour wins turns to the 2000 race and focuses on the epic stage to Mont Ventoux and the epic struggle the Texan had that year with Marco Pantani. Procycling talks to those close to the Italian climber and the American champion to find out why the relationship between the pair degenerated into accusation and acrimony. Procycling also remembers another of the Tour's great climbers by retracing the route of Robert Millar's classy 1984 Tour ride to Guzet Neige in the Classic Climbs feature. Plus, Frankie Andreu tests Independent Fabrication's custom-built XS.
Also featured are interviews with Yaroslav Popovych and John-Lee Augustyn, plus the regular columns Gianni "The Prince" Savio and Garmin's Dan Martin.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)