Second Edition news for November 6, 2002
Edited by John Stevenson & Gerard Knapp
Saturn beefs up men's team, welcomes back Bessette
The Saturn team has announced most of its roster for 2003 with current US number one pro rider Chris Horner (ex-Prime Alliance) and young gun Tom Danielson beefing up the men's squad, while on the women's team top Canadian rider Lyne Bessette returns after a year with her Canadian national squad and Laura Van Gilder bolsters the firepower in the criteriums.
Meanwhile, two spots remain open on both squads and the managment from Team Sports, Inc is continuing discussions with a number of athletes.
This year has been one of mixed fortunes for Team Sports, with its men's and women's road squads both having strong years, yet the principal sponsor of its mountain bike team, Volvo, deciding to withdraw from the sport and concentrate on sponsoring sailing teams and events.
The end of the Volvo-Cannondale team is like the end of an era for MTB racing and comes after eight years of being one of the leading MTB teams, with riders such Cadel Evans, Anne-Caroline Chausson, Christophe Sauser, to name a few, delivering victories at the highest level of the sport over the years.
Team Sports is still hopeful it will field an MTB team in 2003, but admits time is running out. Assistant general manager Giana Roberge said "we have a very keen (potential) sponsor, but they're taking their time". As discussions continue with this company, some of the VC team riders have taken up other opportunities.
The biggest overall change for Saturn is in the women's team, with key riders in 2002 such as Petra Rossner, Judith Arndt and Kimberley Bruckner all leaving, while Anna Millward is back in Australia recovering from a recurring injury. In 2003 the Saturn women's team will not be chasing the number one team status or the World Cup - which it achieved again this year - and will concentrate more on the domestic US season. However, it will enter some rounds of the World Cup (Australia, Holland and Switzerland), as well as some European stage races, such as the Tour de l'Aude.
Roberge said the teams will be operating with a slightly increased budget for 2003, but "with dollars allocated differently". Essentially this means more money for the men's team, and one of the major announcements on that front is the new men's team coach, Andrzej Bek, 51, a former racer and Olympian who holds a degree in coaching from the Polish Cycling Federation and Institute of Sport.
"Andrzej's skills are a perfect complement to the Saturn Cycling Team," said Tom Schuler, Team Saturn general manager. "The athletes and staff alike respect his abilities and look forward to working with him to help field a winning men's program."
Eleven of the men's team's 13 positions have been filled to date, and also joing the team this year - along with Horner and Danielson (who broke Tyler Hamilton's record for the Mt Washington hill climb back in August) - are Viktor Repinski, who gets a promotion from the Saturn Cycling Development Team, as well as emerging US racer Phil Zajicek (ex-Mercury).
Seven riders remain from the 2002 roster: Rahsaan Bahati, Ivan Dominguez, Will Frischkorn, Tim Johnson, Trent Klasna; Mark McCormack, and Eric Wohlberg. "I am looking forward to working with this talented group of bike racers who are truly world-class," said coach Bek.
Returning in Saturn colors in 2003 are Ina Teutenberg and US national road champion Jessica Phillips. New hirings for the women's team include young trackie Sarah Uhl (who won a gold medal in the sprint at the 2001 World Junior Track Cycling Championships), and US women's espoir road champion Megan Elliot. Another important new rider for Saturn in domestic US racing next year will be 2002 Pro Cycling Tour Champion Laura Van Gilder (who wrapped up the title at the San Rafael Classic), while in the overall capabilities area, Saturn has also hired Canadian rider Manon Jutras (ex-RONA), who spent most of this year riding for Genevieve Jeanson. Along with Lyne Bessette, who returns to the team in 2003, Roberge believes that the addition of Jutras and ongoing development of Jessica Philips means that Saturn now has three riders for GC, and is not purely a team able to provide lead-outs and control criteriums for Teutenberg and Van Gilder.
"The athletes form a well-rounded team to tackle both the one-day events and stage races that make up the North American racing scene."
One ongoing issue with Saturn's women's team is still unresolved, and that involves the poaching of Kimberley Bruckner by T-Mobile/USA Cycling. According to Saturn, Bruckner had signed a contract to stay with Saturn until 2004, but the talented rider was offered a substantially higher package from the team, which is run by USA Cycling but underwritten by telco T-Mobile. "T-Mobile threw down a figure which is extraordinary," Roberge said.
While admitting that counter-offers and poaching are part of the game, Roberge is surprised by USA Cycling. "It's still extremely messy, and lawyers are involved."
In this case, USA Cycling's involvement in women's cycling is to run a fully-fledged trade team, rather than being more development-oriented and creating an environment for younger and developing riders to gain experience. "It gets to be very sticky when the national team becomes a full trade team, rather than it being a development squad," she added.
Berry Floor joins US Postal as presenting sponsor
The US Postal Service team today announced the addition of the Berry Group as 'presenting sponsor', the second most significant team supporter after the title sponsor itself.
Berry Group is an integrated floor covering manufacturer with factories in Belgium, France, Norway and the US. The company's Berry Floor brand will appear on the team's clothing in Europe, and its Alloc logo on the clothing worn in US domestic events.
Dan Osipow, vice president of US Postal management company Tailwind Sports told Cyclingnews, "It's common for sporting events such as basketball and baseball games to have a presenting sponsor; it's the second most prominent sponsor after [the US Postal Service] and gets the second largest package of benefits, including logo positions, and hospitality opportunities. Plus Berry will benefit from business opportunities that Tailwind Sports will be working to provide with our other sponsors."
Osipow mentioned that the nominal off-season is still a pretty busy time for the management side of US Postal, with the 2003 team roster close to its final shape and an announcement expected soon; plus team staff are busy arranging training camps, designing the team's 2003 uniform, and planning the year. In addition, Tailwind also runs the San Francisco GP, and the company is busy arranging additional sponsorship for the 2003 addition of that event.
Responding to recent US press criticism of the Postal Service's role as a sponsor of a bike racing team, Osipow said, "The Postal Service's response to the question 'Why do you sponsor a bike racing team?' is 'Why not?' You've got a team that emphasizes teamwork, which is a strong theme for the Postal Service and one of the greatest athletes of our time riding in the Service's colours. What's not to like?"
Tailwind Sports CEO Mark Gorski dealt with that question at rather more length in an interview last year.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)