First Edition Cycling News for November 17, 2004
Edited by Hedwig Kröner & John Stevenson
Verbruggen convinced ProTour will include grand tours
At an official meeting in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, which will next year host a team time trial as part of the ProTour series, UCI president Hein Verbruggen declared that the ProTour calendar would start in January 2005, and that he expected the resisting Grand Tours and other ASO races to be in it.
"I won't talk to them anymore," he said. "I expect everyone to be in our boat by 2005." According to Verbruggen, the background to the power struggle within the cycling community is simple. "Some races don't need the ProTour, others do. In the first category, there's only one competition: the Tour. The rest, including the Giro and the Vuelta, can only benefit from the ProTour."
Verbruggen is also convinced that the basis of the new road cycling calendar is stronger than the Tour de France organisers ASO think. "The UCI is not alone. There are now 19 professional teams backing us. They have invested a lot of money for a four-year commitment with us," the UCI president pointed out. "The teams even offered to negotiate for us. I told them that wasn't necessary: the Grand Tours will come back on their own. In the end, they'll need the ProTour." With just six weeks to go until 2005, when the new schedule is due to begin, one can only speculate about the shape of pro cycling during the coming season.
Armstrong to ride Ronde van Vlaanderen
In an interview with Dutch media NOS at his home in Austin, Texas, Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will be riding the Flemish Classic Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) next year. At a time where the six-times-Tour de France champion is not willing to reveal whether or not he will be at the start in Fromentine on July 2 for the 92nd Grande Boucle, Armstrong is positive about returning to his pre-cancer specialisation. "I want to prove to the world that I can still do it," he said. In the mid-nineties, Armstrong was a spring classic hunter before getting ill with cancer.
Petacchi heads east
After Japan trip, super sprinter ready for 2005
By Tim Maloney, European editor
Although Alessandro Petacchi's bike didn't make it to the Tokyo International Bicycle show (his Pinarello Dogma was stolen last week in transit from Italy to Japan), Fassa Bortolo's super sprinter will be a guest of honor at the cycle expo in the Land of the Rising Sun at the end of this week. This time, his bike sponsor Fausto Pinarello will hand-carry another bike for Petacchi to Japan and once the Tuscan speedster is back in Italy, he'll start his training program for the 2005 season.
Although some people were looking to pressure Ale-Jet to make the transition from pack sprinter to classics champion, it looks like the soon to be 31 year old sprinter (4 January 2005) will be seeking plenty of wins in 2005. With new riders pulling his lead-out train, like ex-Domina Vacanze rider Andrus Aug from Estonia, the return of experienced pro Fabio Baldato, and solid riders like Lorenzo Bernucci and Paolo Bossoni, Ale-Jet should be all systems go to notch at least 15 wins next season.
Other than Petacchi, Juan Antonio Flecha and Dario Frigo will play important roles at Fassa Bortolo next season. Flecha will be the main man for the classics, as the classy Spaniard had a breakout year in 2004 with his Zurich World Cup win and otherwise solid performances in major one-day races. With emerging stage race man Dario Cioni leaving Fassa for Liquigas, Frigo's main job will be to win one-week stage races. With team manager Ferretti unable to bring a major GC rider to Fassa Bortolo and 2002 Vuelta d'Espana winner Aitor Gonzalez departing after an unremarkable season (to say the least), the Silver Team still has no rider who can contend for a major tour win.
Youth is served at Fassa for 2005 with under 23 world champ Kanstantin Siutsou and talented Italian Vincenzo Nibali, bronze medalist in Verona in the under 23 time trial. Big things are expected from Nibali in the pro ranks, but Fassa has a poor track record when it comes to developing young talent. Riders such as Francesco Chicci (2002 under 23 World champion), American Tom Danielson, Tadej Valjavec, and 1999 under 23 world champion Leonardo Giordani have all passed though the team without making much of a mark, though Ivan Basso was riding for Fassa when he won best young rider at the Tour de France in 2002.
Phonak team doctor resigns
According to Spanish Diario Vasco, the doctor of Swiss Phonak Cycling team, Iñaki Arratibel, has officially resigned from his position in a letter to team manager Urs Freuler dated October 31. Phonak has been in the center of a recent doping scandal involving its riders Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez, currently suspended by the team.
"I feel very frustrated at the moment," Arratibel told Diario Vasco. "Not because of a lack of trust towards the riders, that have assured us of their innocence, but because of the behaviour the UCI's medical commission has showed during this whole process." Arratibel says he doubts the validity of the blood transfusion test - doubts that have been repeatedly expressed by Phonak team management - and is critical the way in which the UCI is managing the case.
"Firstly, the UCI continues to use a detection method that is questioned at the moment, said Arratibel, "Secondly, it leaves the cyclists completely defenceless with regard to the controls; thirdly, the UCI suspects everybody since the beginning of this affair, but directly accuses the medical management of our team. Finally, the said commission never intended to co-operate with the medical group, it only asked us for controls without giving us the necessary means to do so," the doctor continued, claiming the innocence of Phonak's medical staff. He also explained that his leave was due to "the pain my family has been going through as the ethics of the medical profession have been questioned publicly."
Latexco boosts Quick-Step
Flemish company Latexco, which makes latex foam mattress stuffing, has increased its involvement with the Quick-Step team for 2005. Quick-Step riders currently carry a small Latexco logo on their jerseys; in 2005 this will be replaced by a the Innergetic brand, Latexco's name for its high-quality latex mattress stuffing.
According to the team, the increased sponsorship from Latexco ensures its continuity for 2005 and beyond.
If you're wondering what mattress stuffings have to do with cycling, the answer, as is almost always the case, is that Latexco manager Luc Maes is a cycling fan, and got the company involved as a sponsor of teams and riders in 1993. The increased commitment to Quick-Step after years of being the team's number three sponsor came about as a result of the ProTour.
"We decided to expand our commitment because the team was looking for more support with the start of the new UCI Pro Tour competition in the coming season," said Maes. "We look forward to supporting the team in the UCI Pro Tour competition, together with Quick-Step and the other sponsors. In this way, we also wish to assure the fans throughout the world that the team will also be there in the new season."
And of course, as the team's announcement of the new deal concludes, "a good night's sleep is crucial for professional cyclists."
Boonen wins "Flandrien" prize
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has been awarded the 2004 "Flandrien" prize, organised by the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Its readers gave 49 percent of their votes to Boonen, 30 percent to Paolo Bettini and 19 percent to Lance Armstrong. The prize is awarded every year to the most popular rider after a first selection made by an international jury.
"It's an honour," said Boonen, "but also an encouragement to do even better next year. My goal is a victory at the Ronde van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix." The name "Flandrien" comes from a time between the two World Wars and designated the Flemish riders competing in French races.
Munich Six successful spectacle
This year's Munich Six has been a big success, according to the organisers. Not only has the racing been high-quality, with a tight finale being played out on the final night as this news bulletin is written, but it's also been a popular success. Organisers say that with 70,000 spectators, the 2004 Six Day has topped last year's edition, marking the end of a decline in spectator numbers. Next year, race director Sigi Renz wants to tighten the racing schedule further in order to finish victory ceremonies before midnight.
On the last night of the event, Dutch pair Robert Slippens and Danny Stam are still holding on to the lead, but will have to fend off rivals Scott McGrory and Matthew Gilmore, who moved up to second place on day five. The Germans Andreas Kappes and Andreas Beikirch are currently placed third, and only one lap behind lurk Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart.
Bartko to replace VDB in Ghent
German rider Robert Bartko will be replacing Frank Vandenbroucke at the Ghent Six Days alongside Matthew Gilmore. The 29 year-old double Olympic champion and world champion was victorious in the last Berlin Six Days with Guido Fulst. VDB has already missed out on the Munich Six for personal reasons.
Newton to Recycling.co.uk team
Former world points champion Chris Newton will line out as part of the expanded Recycling.co.uk / MG X-Power team next season. Newton has an impressive palmarès in cycling, taking an Olympic silver medal in the team pursuit this summer and bronze in Sydney four years ago. The Briton has also earned several medals in the world championships, including that gold in the 2002 points race and silver in the world team pursuit champs this year. He also won the 2003 FBD Milk Rás.
The Recycling.co.uk/MG X-Power team was established at the start of the 2004 season and took over 40 wins. Next year sees an increase in budget and ambitions, with the UK-based team registering as a UCI Continental team and targeting rides in international races around the world, including the Tour of Britain.
Next year's squad will include all of 2004's roster: Russell and Dean Downing, Robin Sharman, Shaun Snodden and Ben Greenwood, plus Newton. The identities of a number of other riders are due to be confirmed shortly.
Emma Davies signs with Vlaanderen
Top British track pursuit rider Emma Davies has signed for women's professional road team, Vlaanderen - T Interim - Focus, for the 2005 road season.
Davies says she's excited at the prospect of riding a full road season, a development that has been made possible by the rescheduling of the track world cup series in the northern hemisphere winter. With the world cups finishing in February and the world championships taking place in March, track riders will be able to enjoy a full road season without interruptions to prepare specifically for track competitions.
"I am very excited by the prospect of a full road season and I believe it can only improve my abilities and take me up to the next level of world class pursuiting and points competition," said Davies. "Prior to this recent change in the calendar by the UCI my season fluctuated as I took periods off the road to prepare for major track competitions. For example I would come off a track event and go to a major stage race where I would suffer like mad for two days and then as the race progressed I would be up there in the major moves. From now on I will be able to concentrate in the summer on the road and this can only be better for me in the long run."
Davies went to Gent to meet with the management of her new team. "I met with Christel Herremans and her husband Rik Van Slycke and I was really impressed with the whole set-up," she said. "I also met the director sportif, Eric De Clerq and I have come away from my meetings with a feeling that I can only benefit from their guidance. It really is very exciting to be working with such an experienced team and I will be basing myself near Gent for the whole year."
About her team-mates, including Dutch rider Debbie Mansveld, who has just re-signed with the team, Davies said, "It really is a very balanced team and we have some very strong riders for the 2005 season. I think we can be really competitive as a team and I know I can make a big contribution to the success of the team whilst at the same time taking my own opportunities when I am able to."
"My big targets for the next 18 months remain on the track with two World Championships and the Commonwealth Games being of paramount importance. I was very happy with my Olympic rides and especially the Points Race but that is in the past and now I am looking forward with confidence," said Davies.
Car manufacturer Subaru will return as the title sponsor of the Subaru-Gary Fisher Professional Mountain Bike Team for 2005 and continue that involvement through to the end of 2007, according to the team.
Subaru has sponsored the team since 2001, supporting riders such as Ryder Hesjedal, Liam Killeen, Alison Sydor, Mary Grigson, and Chrissy Redden. The team has twice finished the season as top American team and Killeen is the 2004 Under 23 World Cup champion. The 2005 team roster is yet to be decided.
Handy sponsor for Trust House Classic
The 2005 edition of one New Zealand's biggest stage races, the Trust House International Cycle Classic (January 26-30), has picked up a useful new sponsor in van hire company Handy Rentals. Handy Rentals will supply the race with team vans and neutral service vehicles.
The support also extends to two major women's events scheduled for early 2005, the the Women's International tour (March 2-4)and the Women's World Cup (March 6).
Handy rentals director Chris Brown says he's happy to be associated with the event. "Cycling's image is a quality one," he said, "clean cut, competitive, active and fair. It is an international sport and one that works equally well for both the individual and the team effort. Cycling's image closely matches Handy Rentals strategy."
For more information see: www.cycletournz.com
Cumberland University wants riders
Cumberland University, located outside of Nashville in Lebanon, Tennessee is looking for racers who want to get an education while racing the collegiate cycling circuit of the south east and get a chance to compete at national championships for both road and mountain biking. The team is fully supported by the school and scholarships are available based on need and experience. Interested riders should contact Levi Olsen at email@example.com.
Racelab Tour raffle raises funds for youngsters
The Racelab under 23 cycling team is raising funds to support its squad of 14-22 year old riders by raffling off a $10,000 trip for two to France to see next year's Tour de France.
The team is a non-profit youth development program that provides support, mentorship and training to talented young cyclists. The raffle offers a grand prize of a trip for two on a 10-day cycling tour of France in conjunction with the 2005 Tour de France provided by Discover France. Winners will get to see stages of the Tour as well as the finale in Paris with a private party on the Champs Elysees. The package is valued at $10,000 and includes coach airfare from the continental US.
Tickets cost US$25 each of $100 for four. Only 2,000 will be available. The drawing will be held at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race on Sunday, February 20, 2005.
Tickets will be available at the Racelab Cycling booth at the Tour de Tucson on November 20 and online at www.racelabraffle.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)