News for December 8, 2002
Edited by Chris Henry
McEwen named BMC Software Australian Cyclist of the Year
Robbie McEwen was named BMC Software Australian Cyclist of the Year on Saturday night, and presented with the coveted Sir Hubert Opperman Medal after a season which saw him claim the most wins (19) of any rider in the professional road cycling ranks. McEwen was also named Menís Road Cyclist of the Year during a celebration of Australian cycling at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.
It has been a watershed year for Australian cycling, with 30 Australians earning the right to wear the jersey of the world champion in 2002. The athletes have figured in all disciplines, from the outstanding juniors who took over the Junior World MTB and Track Championships, the domination of the Commonwealth Games and World Track Championships, the medals won on the road and the success by the professional men in the two largest stage races in the world, it has been an unprecedented year for Australian riders.
When Cycling Australia's head coach, Shayne Bannan, was asked on stage by MC for the evening, SBS television journalist Mike Tomalaris, how he would explain the success of the athletes this year, Bannan said the defining characteristic was "unity". While the year featured many brilliant individual performances, there was the world record in the teams pursuit, the clinical execution of the field in the men's road race in the Commonwealth Games which saw a 1-2-3 for Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans and Baden Cooke.
On the track, Australians also found themselves facing each other in finals of world championship events. This sentiment was echoed by head track coach Martin Barras, recipient of the award for coach of the year. He said the "harmony" among the athletes was one of its strengths, not to mention its depth, as demonstrated the number of riders drafted for the men's pursuit squad.
In receiving the best road cyclist of the year award, Robbie McEwen paid tribute to his team-mates for helping him to his 19 victories this year. Acknowledging the sterling lead-out work throughout the year from his Lotto-Adecco teammates, McEwen said that without them there would only be "10 percent" of the wins.
When receiving the premier Sir Hubert Opperman trophy for best cyclist, McEwen expressed his thanks to his wife Angelique, who gave birth to their son, Ewan, during the Giro. McEwen left the race to be with his wife, but admitted that for most of the year he had been the pro bike rider, while his wife tended to the newborn.
Female road cyclist of the year Sara Carrigan thanked her teammates and the support of the Australian Institute of Sport, which has provided a base for her in Italy, along with coaching and support staff. Next year Carrigan will join Dutch professional squad, Power Plate, and her moving on will open the door for other talented young cyclists to gain experience racing at the highest level.
Male track cyclist of the year Bradley McGee was surprised and humbled to win his award, as he felt he could not go past the world record in the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games, an event where he won his third consecutive individual pursuit gold medal in Commonwealth record time, coming just after he completed the Tour de France.
McGee told how he and FDJeux.com teammate Baden Cooke watched the Australian team win the world pursuit title in a hotel in France, and made so much noise that team DS Marc Madiot came into their room to find out what all the fuss was about.
In between the award presentations, there was also a solid evening of track racing, featuring a host of rainbow jerseys on the track, such as world sprint champion Sean Eadie and pursuiters Stephen Wooldridge, Mark Renshaw and Peter Dawson, while Graeme Brown chose his Panaria strip for the evening, as well as junior world champions such as Mark Jamieson, Wade Cosgrove and Mark French.
Brown was dominant, taking out the main event for the evening, the Sydney Cup on Wheels (SCoW). Prior to that, he had won his heat of the scratch race, a derny race (which saw a blistering final lap) and one of the 8km 'mini-Madisons' with partner Renshaw. His effort on the night was particularly impressive, given his 100km 'training ride' which left at 6.30am the same morning, where he and fellow pursuiter Brett Lancaster blew away a fast bunch of Sydney riders on their own so-called 'training ride'.
In the women's SCoW, it was Sara Carrigan's teammate from the AIS road squad, Rochelle Gilmore, who demonstrated her finishing speed to take out the women's event. Gilmore rode to victory with a last lap effort in the six lap race where she overhauled most of the field with a surge that left rivals gasping. Gilmore thanked Kerrie Meares for her lead-out work to bring back the riders who were given handicaps of up to 165 metres in flat-out six-lap race, which is the format of the SCoW event.
Meares was awarded female track cyclist of the year for her performances at the Commonwealth Games, where she won the sprint and 500m time trial events, as well as her silver medal in the sprint and bronze in the 500m TT at the World Championships.
BMC Software 2002 Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards winners:
Womenís Road Cyclist of the Year
Menís Road Cyclist of the Year
Womenís Track Cyclist of the Year
Menís Track Cyclist of the Year
Womenís Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year
Menís Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year
Womenís BMX Cyclist of the Year
Menís BMX Cyclist of the Year
Athlete with Disabilities Cyclist of the Year
Womenís Masters Cyclist of the Year
Menís Masters Cyclist of the Year
Cycling Australia Coach of the Year
Junior Cyclists of the Year
Cycling Australia Event Recognition Award
Ausport Volunteer Awards
UCI Volunteer Awards
Congratulations to all!
Images by Tom Balks
Museeuw gets Sprint d'Or
Johan Museeuw has been awarded the Sprint d'Or, awarded each year to the best Belgian of the season by Belgian television network RTBF. Museeuw, winner of two World Cup events this year (Paris-Roubaix and HEW Cyclassics) and second in the series overall, won the award ahead of Mario Aerts.
This is Museeuw's fourth Sprint d'Or; he won the award three years in a row from 1995-1997.
Injury ends Graeme Miller's career
A debilitating injury has led to the retirement of New Zealand cyclist Graeme Miller, after more than two decades in the top echelon of the sport. Miller, 42, announced his retirement after major surgery has failed to relieve a back ailment.
The veteran of four Olympic and five Commonwealth Games rushed back to New Zealand in August from his professional Mercury team in the United States for the surgery after the complaint resurfaced. However after three months of painstaking rehabilitation, Miller had decided to pull the pin on his life as a fulltime professional rider.
"It's not the way I wanted to end my career. I would not wish the last three months on anyone. It's been the hardest and most humbling experience of my life," Miller revealed.
"I am still in real pain and have no alternative but to call it quits and move on. Cycling has been everything to me for more than half of my life and now it's over. That's really hard to deal with. I've got no regrets. This is a damn tough sport where many only last a couple of years at the top. I've been there for more than 20 years with lots of highlights to look back on."
Miller first represented New Zealand in 1978 and since then has won two gold medals and two silver medals at five Commonwealth Games from 1982 to 1998. He was flagbearer and team captain of the New Zealand team at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Miller competed in four Olympic Games, highlighted by an eighth place in Seoul in 1988. He has won more than 200 races in his career, mostly on the professional circuit in the United States. He has earned stage wins in the British Milk Race, Sun Tour,Tour of Japan and the high profile Tour DownUnder in Australia. In addition, he has won the Points Jersey in the Tour of Japan twice and in the Tour of Langkawi. He has also won the Tour of Southland on two occasions.
"You can't survive as a professional cyclist for 20 years without a real passion for the sport," he said.
Miller, a builder by trade, has begun a new career in real estate. As coincidence would have it for a company named Unlimited Potential.
Cyclingnews wishes Graeme all the best in his future endeavors.
Sevilla's not asking for Ullrich
Oscar Sevilla's personal fortunes may be looking somewhat better given the departure of Aitor Gonzalez and Santiago Botero from the Kelme team. That is, the young Spaniard appears set to move into an even greater position of leadership in the team. Not surprising then that recent revelations that Kelme is talking to a possible German cosponsor, and also thinking of luring Jan Ullrich to Spain, are not necessarily music to Sevilla's ears. When Spanish sports newspaper Marca asked him to comment on the subject of Ullrich and Kelme, Sevilla provided some guarded responses. Most importantly, is he prepared to share leadership of the team with Ullrich?
"Honestly, that won't necessarily be easy since we'll have the same objectives and compete in the same races," Sevilla commented. "There could be some problems, but, on the other hand, it's always a good thing to have a rider like Ullrich since one can always learn a lot from him."
Sevilla did affirm that riding support for a rider like Ullrich would become a certainty, though plenty of opportunities would exist for shared leadership. He also expressed some dissatisfaction at learning the news from the press rather than his team. "I'm disappointed that the team management didn't talk to me about this," he admitted. "I'm not going to oppose the move, but I would prefer to be kept up to date of ongoing negotiations."
Schleck gets a contract with CSC
Luxembourgeois Frank Schleck, 22, has signed a contract for two years with Team CSC. Schleck rode as a stagiaire with CSC at the end of 2002 and earned a spot in the official team roster.
"Frank Schleck is a young and versatile rider and I believe that he will be able to develop a lot at our team," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis. "His performance in the autumn races convinced us that he was worth holding on to."
Saeco lineup complete
There were no last minute surprises, but the Saeco-Longoni Sport team has finalized its roster for 2003. Contract negotiations and personal sponsorship deals were arranged with sprinter Ivan Quaranta, clearing the way for the Italian to sign with the team. Returning to Saeco for 2003 is Dario Pieri, who rode with the team in 2000 and 2001 but spent 2002 with Alessio. The 25th rider signed, completing the line up, is Giosuè Bonomi, who rode for Colpack-Astro in 2002.
The team will convene December 9 for medical checks and training on the Adriatic coast until the 13th.
The full team roster for 2003 is:
2003 Ofoto-Lombardi Sports Cycling Team
Following on the success of its first year of professional status, the Ofoto-Lombardi Sports Cycling Team continues into 2003 again as a UCI Division III professional team. The team's focus will again be on the US road racing scene, with specific emphasis on the US Pro Cycling Tour, National Racing Calendar events, and the debut Tour de Georgia.
New to the team for 2003 racing will be Switzerland's Roman Peter (ex-Saint-Quentin Oktos), an ex-Junior Cyclo-cross World Champion, Andy Bajadali, who had a breakout year as an amateur in 2002, Jon Erdeyli, Silver Medallist at the 2002 US U23 Road Championships, and Saul Raisin, a talented young member of the US U23 national team.
Ofoto-Lombardi Sports will race exclusively on Litespeed titanium bicycles for the coming racing season. Additional sponsors include Rolf Prima (wheels), FSA (cranks, handlebars, seat posts, and stems), Time (shoes and pedals), Shimano (components), Selle San Marco (saddles), Michelin (tires), Louis Garneau (clothing), Giro (helmets), and Oakley (eyewear).
2003 Team Roster:
Andy Bajadali (USA)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)