First Edition News for September 18, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
Saturn ends sponsorship
The Saturn car company, sponsor of top US men's and women's teams for the last decade, has decided not to renew its sponsorship of cycling. The team's owner, Tom Schuler of Team Sports, broke the news to riders in a letter yesterday and a full statement is expected from Team Sports later today.
Saturn has sponsored a cycling team since 1992, starting with a men's amateur team, turning pro the following year and adding a women's team in 1994; an unusually long run in the world of US sponsorship. In that time the team has been a dominant force in US domestic racing, perhaps never more so than in 2003 when the trio of Tom Danielson, Nathan O'Neill and Chris Horner have often seemed unstoppable.
In the letter to riders, Schuler hints that he and Saturn's sponsorships and sales promotions coordinator Christine Rivers had been working to secure Saturn's continued support until the final decision was made yesterday, and that "until Saturn definitively said no, it was tough to move ahead with another company. The old adage is the sometimes one door needs to close before another door can open."
Nevertheless, Schuler said, "I believe that we have a very real possibility of selling this team as a turnkey operation to another company and that is what we intend to do next. I can guarantee to you that you will never see a more thorough title sponsorship renewal effort that the one that you will see coming out of Team Sports in the next six weeks."
At the time of posting this bulletin, Tom Schuler was unavailable for further comment but assistant general manager Giana Roberge told Cyclingnews, "When you have a good sponsor like that you know it's not going to last forever. We are trying hard now to bring in some new sponsors."
Update: In a release officially announcing the end of Saturn's involvement with cycling, Tom Schuler said, "Saturn has meant a great deal to the sport of cycling. Through the sponsorship decisions Saturn has made over the years, cycling has grown in a positive way, as have the careers of many great up-and-coming athletes."
But now it's time to move on and Team Sports is looking for new sponsors. "We are actively seeking a company that will benefit from cycling and the healthy lifestyle that our champion athletes represent so well," said Schuler. "On behalf of the 120 professional athletes that have proudly worn the Saturn colors and all of us at Team Sports, my gratitude goes out to Saturn and everything they have done for the sport of cycling."
Virenque won't go to Hamilton
Although disqualified Sunday from the Vuelta a España for hanging onto his Quick.Step-Davitamon team car, Richard Virenque was already at the point of calling it a race when the commissaires made effectively the decision for him. Virenque had set the Vuelta as his preparation for the world championships in Hamilton, Canada, but insisted that he would wait to see how he felt in the first mountain stages before making a decision.
After a long season which began at the Tour of Qatar in January, Virenque was clearly out of the form which took him to his sixth polka dot jersey in the Tour de France, as well as a stage win to Morzine and the yellow jersey for a day. From the beginning of the Vuelta Virenque was unable to follow the rhythm, and on Sunday's Stage 10 Virenque decided to call it quits. Leaving the Vuelta offered the realization that the world championships in October were not a viable option.
"I was already left far behind the leaders Sunday and that summed up my state of mind," Virenque told l'Equipe. "It was time to end my season."
Despite French national selector Charly Bérard leaving a place on the team open if he wants it, the idea of going unprepared does not sit well with Virenque. "I can't take the place of somebody fresher than me," Virenque insisted. "I really wanted to go to Hamilton, but nothing was in place, neither mental nor physical."
"I'm not a machine," he added. "I no doubt tried to do too much with 98 days of racing since January. I feel like I've reached the end of my strength."
Lefevere defends Virenque
Meanwhile, Quick.Step-Davitamon team boss Patrick Lefevere has defended Richard Virenque over the car-grabbing incident.
"Richard never tried to cheat, "Lefevere told l'Equipe, "it was the circumstances of the race that sealed his fate. The moment we asked the Vuelta organisers for a release to authorise Vandenbroucke to race in Belgium, we couldn't let Richard quit the race. We did everything we could to avoid a big misunderstanding. The directeur sportif [Luca Guercilena] who was behind also shares some responsibility, even if it was in the team's interest to act like that, to salvage things."
Apparently Virenque had stopped at the feed zone in Sunday's stage, intending to retire from the race but his team said he had to continue. By the time he got going again he was behind the last grupetto and thus ended up hanging on the car in an attempt to regain contact with the last group.
McCarty to US Postal
US national team rider Patrick McCarty will join US Postal for 2004, according to team DS Johan Bruyneel.
USA Cycling announces world's long teams
USA Cycling has announced the long team for the 2003 Road World Championships to be held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, October 6-12. From this list, the final selections will be made and announced on September 22. The selections for junior categories have been finalized.
Several riders whose performances this year would have gained them automatic selection will not be available. Tom Danielson, automatically selected for the men's road race is injured as is Kim Bruckner, an automatic selection for the women's road race. Amber Neben made the long lists for the women's road race and time trial but has voluntarily suspended herself after a positive doping control.
Elite Men Road Race (twelve start positions): Automatic qualifiers: Mark McCormack, Chris Horner. Long list for remaining ten start positions: George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer, Guido Trenti, Chris Baldwin, John Leiswyn, Michael Sayers, Danny Pate, David Clinger, Christian Vandevelde, Fred Rodriguez, Damon Kluck, Tim Johnson
Elite Men Time Trial (two start positions): Bobby Julich, Floyd Landis, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer
Elite Women Road Race (six start positions): Automatic qualifiers: Kristin Armstrong, Tina Mayolo-Pic. Long list for remaining three start positions: Dede Barry, Mari Holden, Kim Anderson, Christine Thornburn, Dotsie Cowden, Jessica Phillips,
Elite Women Time Trial (two start positions): Kimberly Bruckner, Dede Barry, Kristin Armstrong, Mari Holden, Amber Neben
U23 Road Race (five start positions): Patrick McCarty (automatic selection). Long list for remaining four start positions: Saul Raisin, Michael Creed, Will Frischkorn, Walker Ferguson, Shawn Milne Alternates: Stuart Gillespie, Dane Jankowiak, Timothy Duggan, Jonathan Erdelyi, Michael Voigt
U23 Time Trial (two start positions): Michael Creed (automatic selection). Long list for remaining start position: Timothy Duggan, Saul Raisin, Will Frischkorn
Junior Men Road Race (five start positions): Zak Grabowski, Keith Norris, Steven Cozza, John Devine, Craig Lewis
Junior Men Time Trial (two start positions): Zach Taylor, Steven Cozza
Junior Women Road Race (two start positions): Karen Amundson, Larssyn Staley
Junior Women Time Trial (two start positions): Karen Amundson, Larssyn Staley
Strong field for Univest GP
Saturday's Univest GP will see perhaps its strongest field ever, with top under 23 riders from France and the Netherlands for the sixth edition of the race.
"This may be the best field yet," said John Eustice of Sparta Cycling, organizer of the Univest GP. "There are a number of under 23 champions from the French and Dutch teams who have been choosing races specifically to train for the Univest GP."
The French contingent of five-time French Club champion team, CC Etupes includes: sprinter Xavier Paelie who is coming off a win at this year's International Paris-Troyes and eight other races; Sylvan Lavergne, winner of the Tour de la Creuse; Ludovic Vanhee, winner of the Tour du Loiret.
The Dutch roster includes a pair of strong 19 year olds. Huub Buyn won the U23 Het Volk and the Trofee van Haspengouw, and he has five other wins to his credit while his team-mate Niki Terpstra has been called "one of the biggest talents in Dutch cycling at the moment" and has racked up four victories in his first season of amateur racing .
The Canadians return with Alex Lavallee, Univest GP Champion from 1999, and 2003's Quebec provincial champion Jean-François Laroche who is coming off a second place in this year's Tour du Canton de St-Ciers in France.
The Belgian team is expected to make their mark under the guidance of Michel Pollentier, the cycling great from the early '70's who won the Tour of Flanders and the Giro d'Italia.
But the visitors won't have things all their own way. Americans to watch include Scottie Weiss, the 2002 Elite National Road Champion and the great animator of last year's Univest GP by winning Leidy's Best Sprinter and Rosenberger's Best Climber awards; and Oregon native and 2003 Collegiate National Champion Doug Ollerenshaw, an all-arounder who has four other first places this year adding to his total of 16 top ten finishes.
Australian team for New Zealand junior tour
The five-person Australian team has been named to contest New Zealand's top junior tour later this month.
Based around the Wanganui district from September 26 to 28, the Bike Wise International Junior Tour is in its 23rd year and attracts the cream of New Zealand's U19 talent. Australia is sending its best riders in an attempt to retain the title won by Australian Sam Lee last year.
Current national champion Michael Teggelove (Victoria) will lead the contingent supported by Victorian time trial champion Mitchell Docker. Steven Evans (Western Australia) and Mathew Rex (South Australia) are also the top performers in their respective states and Casey Munro (Victoria) is the state road champion and has a number of top three tour placings to his credit. The team will be managed by Kevin Poulton (Canberra).
New Zealand's challenge will be headed by world championship representatives William Thompson (Auckland) and Luke McCarthy (Pahiatua).
Current junior world triathlon and duathlon champion Terenzo Bozzone who competes for the Wanganui Club will use the event as preparation to defend his world triathlon title in Queenstown in December.
Cycle-thon on schedule for London
By Gerry McManus
A 550-mile charity ride from Glasgow to London is on schedule for the final leg from Buckinghamshire to London on Saturday September 20.
The eight-day Octopus Challenge Fund ride in aid of the CancerBACUP charity was the creation of Greg Scott whose son Sam died from a rare brain cancer when he was only 17 years old. Greg is riding the whole route with five other core cyclists for company and was expecting other riders to join him for individual legs en-route.
The money raised by the Challenge Fund so far has been in excess of £165,000 since it was established two years ago. The money has been used to fund the salaries of three specialist cancer nurses involved with the charity's freephone helpline.
Saturday's ride begins at 7.30 in Buckingham town traveling to Chesham in Buckinghamshire. The Mayor of Chesham and former England cricket captain Mike Atherton will be at the town hall to send off the riders on the final leg to the William IV public house on the Harrow Road in Kensal Rise, NW London.
British Eurosport TV commentator David Duffield is expected to plug the event during his coverage of the 2003 Tour of Spain.
Any riders interested in participating in either of Saturday's legs can find information and a registration form at: www.cancerbacup.org.uk/fund/nf/indiv/octopus2003/Oct-Entry-pack.doc
Bid for Armstrong jersey to help save Northbrook Velodrome
Efforts to save the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook, Illinois have taken a big step forward with the kickoff of a silent auction hosted by Vision Quest Coaching Services, LLC. On offer are two signed United States Postal Service team jerseys: one from five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong; the other from 9-year pro and Vision Quest head coach Robbie Ventura.
Initial bids have been set at $1,000 for the Armstrong jersey and $250 for Ventura's. Additionally, anyone submitting a contribution of $100 or more to the Save the Velodrome fund is eligible to receive a Vision Quest Gift Pack. All proceeds from the auction and all contributions will go directly to the Northbrook Cycle Committee (NCC), a group of volunteers dedicated to supporting the Velodrome.
Information about the auction and further rules are available at the Vision Quest web site, www.visionquestcoaching.com. As it is a silent auction, bidding is by e-mail only in $20 increments directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All bids must be received by 5 p.m. CDT on Monday, Sept. 22, and must include the bidder's name, address, and telephone number, with checks made out to the Northbrook Cycle Committee.
The NCC has announced that more than $25,000 has been pledged to the Save the Velodrome Fund, with more on the way in the coming weeks. "The community has really stepped forward to show that the Velodrome is a valued facility," says NCC President Peter Janunas. "In just six weeks of fundraising, we have been able to show the Park District that we're serious about keeping track racing alive in Northbrook."
The Ed Rudolph Velodrome has endured 14 years of harsh weather since it was last resurfaced, and is in danger of closing after the 2004 season unless improvements are made. The Northbrook Park District, which owns the facility, has offered to fund half the project, charging the Northbrook Cycle Committee (NCC) with raising approximately $150,000 to close the funding gap. The NCC has created a reserve fund for the effort, and CPA Doug Pence has donated his time to overseeing its accounting. More information is available at www.northbrookvelodrome.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)