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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 30, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Pros return to fire up the 'Grafton'

Renewed interest in Australia's toughest one-day event

Professional riders such as Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia), Ben Brooks and Caleb Manion (Jelly Belly) have signaled their intention to line up in next month's Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, considered Australia's premier one-day race.

Challenging parcours
Photo ©: Mark Gunter

The 228km route features includes several climbs over the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales and always creates a quality selection for the finale in Inverell. In an effort to introduce team-style racing for many of the younger elite riders who contest the event, some 13 elite men's A grade teams will be among the field, according Cycling NSW State Manager Tom Skulander.

Meanwhile, the women entered in their concurrent national series event will get a change of scenery this year, with the inclusion of the tough 17knm climb of the Gibraltar Range. This year, the women's peloton will leave from Grafton, as will the men, but finish over 140km later in Glenn Innes, the major rural centre along the route to Inverell.

Sponsored by retailer Eastmon Camera House, there is $20,000 in prize money at stake in the 44th edition of the race, to be held on September 18. It has also been included as part of the three-race Trek Series in Australia and this "will further boost the profile and act as a major drawcard for teams contesting the national series," Skulander said.

Aussies at the Giro
Photo ©: Olympia

"It has been encouraging at this point and we can expect some leading names to join the race," Skulander said. Among those confirmed are Brooks and Manion from the USA-based Jelly Belly squad, where both of the Australian riders have made their presence felt in the domestic pro scene in that country. Wilson, meanwhile, this year completed his first Giro d'Italia for the Division II Colombia-Selle Italia squad (see his Cyclingnews diary).

"Trent is a big drawcard, he rode the 22-day Tour of Italy this year," Skulander said.

Brooks is a former winner (1998) and will be looking to improve on his sixth place last year, where he was the dominant rider until the jet lag caught up with him on the outskirts on Inverell.

Encouraging younger riders

Skulander said This year's format will see A grade consist of teams of six riders for the Category 1 race.

"We are taking a direction similar to that in Europe where we can create an environment especially for our young riders to join teams and become familiar with senior racing."

Skulander said many young cyclists tend to head overseas at a young age and burnout, become demoralised and suffer from lack of support. "The team approach is a positive move and Cycling Australia plan to build on that by next year," he said.

Race director Peter Sunderland has confirmed the professionals, coming home for the season, will join a team of domestic riders for the 228km race.

Race organisers are expecting the NSW Institute of Sport, Victorian Institute of Sport and the Queensland Academy as well as trade teams to enter.

This year the women's Category 1 National Series race will start in Grafton and finish in Glen Innes. Prizemoney for this year's race has been increased to $20,000 and there is also $2000 on offer for the first rider to break Englishman's Paul Curran's race record of 6.00.49 set in 1985.

Two veterans depart

Two veterans of the peloton, Alex Zülle and Jean-Cyril Robin, ended their long careers Sunday on their respective home soil. Switzerland's Zülle contested the UCI 1.1 GP Kanton Aargau/Gippingen, having dropped out of the Ronde van Nederland to make the journey home in time for the race. Zülle, 36, rode out his career in the colours of Phonak Hearing Systems, finishing an adventure that began in 1992 with the Spanish ONCE team.

Zülle counts 61 professional victories to his credit. A man for the stage races, Zülle was twice a winner of the Vuelta a España, as well as victor in the Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice, Vuelta a Burgos, Volta ao Algarve, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and Setmana Catalana. The list goes on, including stages and the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the world time trial championship in 1996.

Zülle was also involved in the Festina doping scandal in 1998. He served out a suspension for the use of prohibited substances and returned to competition with Banesto in 1999. His last victory was the Tour de Suisse in 2002 with Team Coast.

Jean-Cyril Robin said au revoir to the peloton at the GP Ouest France in Plouay on Sunday, ending his career with He will move into a directeur sportif role with the team in the near future. Robin turned pro with Castorama in 1991, moved to Festina-Lotus in 1995, to US Postal Service in 1997, and to La Française des Jeux (now in 1999. He spent 2000-2001 with Bonjour before returning to FDJ to finish his career.

With eight victories to his name, Robin worked tirelessly for his teammates over the years, enjoying occasional personal success in races such as the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, the Four Days of Dunkerque, and Grand Prix de Rennes. Robin celebrated his 35th birthday on Friday, on the eve of his farewell race in Plouay, where he placed a respectable 11th place, finishing in the first chase group 2" behind the winning trio.

Vini Caldirola sacks Gili

The Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie team has decided to sack Italian Marco Gili following the rider's failed health check before the Giro del Friuli on Saturday. Gili's hematocrit level was measured in excess of the UCI's 50% limit, at which point he was handed a 15 day suspension from competition. Though not proof of doping, the elevated hematocrit was enough to prompt team manager Enrico Maggioni to fire Gili.

Alternative power source: Ryan Bayley

Pure power!
Photo ©: AFP

Australian track star Ryan Bayley lit up the Olympic Velodrome this week with a pair of legs that generate enough power to light a whole house. Bayley's explosive speed won him gold medals in the sprint and keirin and the title of the fastest cyclist in the world, with legs as powerful as a horse.

He can pedal at 210 revolutions per minute and generate 2100 watts of power - the equivalent of almost three horse power or enough to light up 21 household 100 watt light bulbs. Sit the West Australian on a bike hooked up to a generator and he could get your fridge running.

He has recorded a maximum speed in racing of 74kph but has reached speeds in training up to 88kph, well over the legal limit on most Australian roads. Famously fuelled on junk food, Bayley doesn't physically fit the bill of a powerful, chiseled athlete.

"Nobody wins two Olympic gold medals without a very, very favourable physiology," said Australia's head track coach Martin Barras. "If you look at his physique, I call him chunky. His build is extraordinarily strong, and his dad is like that as well, they have thick ankles, thick wrists.

"Although he doesn't necessarily look the part to the general public, you look at the dead give away signs. He has solid shoulders, solid trunk."

But he had not always put his shoulders into hard work. After winning the 2001 keirin world championship when he was 19, Bayley's obvious talents went missing for a couple of years as he lost the motivation to win.

But he found incredible motivation from his father Wayne, who he calls the most positive person he knows. When Bayley was six, his father fell into a boiling vat of lime and lost one eye and most of the sight in the other. He is now close to 90 per cent blind but can watch his son on television and was home in Perth this week glued to his set.

"The big difference with Ryan is that he worked an awful lot in the last year, and a lot on his strength and that's mostly done in the weight room," Barras said. "Ryan was on a mission since the word go when we started training on September 8.

"Ryan had never been the greatest trainer I had seen but in the last year he has been without fault, he laid it on the line. I asked him what motivated him, why he was so focused.

"And one reason he cried like a baby when he won the race was because of his father. He told me 'Dad hasn't got much longer to see. And I wanted to win a big race while he could still see it.'"


People Cycle seeks juniors

People Cycle is accepting applications for its 2005 junior racing team in the USA. Riding under the banner Coast to Coast Development-Stelvio TEAMWEAR-KAM, the team has proven itself to be one of the top East Coast junior teams. Rather than focus on a one or two riders, or an all expenses paid regional program, the team emphasizes international racing opportunities and cost deferment.

People Cycle plans to add, pending funding, a second tier development team for under 17 riders that will offer training and race instruction, along with help with race transportation. First year riders are strongly encouraged to apply, but all riders should reside in New England. Emphasis will be given to riders under the age of 18 who are strong team players.

Interested riders can download applications from the team's website: Applicants are also encouraged to meet current team members and management at next week's Green Mountain Stage Race.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)