First Edition Cycling News for December 5, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones
Basso to compete in 2006 Giro and Tour
During Team CSC's gathering in Denmark this week, Italian Ivan Basso had an in-depth discussion of his programme with manager Bjarne Riis. After analysing Basso's performances and progress over the course of his 2005 season, they are now convinced that riding both Giro d'Italia and Tour de France with the highest step on the podium in mind is not an unrealistic goal to set for 2006.
The team communicated this to the press on Sunday afternoon. "I like the Giro parcours; and I had already achieved something important this season, so I want to finish that work," commented Basso in Denmark. The 28 year-old, who is one of the main favourites for the next Tour de France, was forced to let go of the 2005 Giro d'Italia overall lead due to a stomach bug.
Angelo Zomegnan, head of Giro d'Italia organiser RCS, was very happy about the news. "I can only be very satisfied about Bjarne Riis' and Team CSC's decision to send its leader Ivan Basso to the 2006 Giro d'Italia," Zomegnan said in a statement. "His presence will add greatly to the race and contribute to its high ranking. This announcement makes us proud in a special way, because it further increases the already great field of prestigious candidates to the maglia rosa, be they Italian or foreign. We will wait for all of them in Liège."
Liquigas-Bianchi wraps team camp in Salsomaggiore Terme on positive note
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
With its first year concluded, Liquigas-Bianchi finished its team training camp in Salsomaggiore Terme with good vibes from 2005 and high hopes for 2006. With the overall winner of the inagural 2005 ProTour competition, Danilo Di Luca, just back from a relaxing vacation, all eyes at Liquigas-Bianchi turned to 2006, where Di Luca will focus on the Giro d'Italia and his teammate Stefano Garzelli will shoot for success in the Tour De France.
Di Luca had a breakthrough season in 2005, with six wins including Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne, two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia, five days in the maglia rosa and fourth overall. Di Luca will be the main man at Liquigas-Bianchi for '06 and explained, "It's the first time I've ever been a leader; it never happened at Saeco. I realized it right away because of all the attention on me...and after what I've achieved this season, I'm happy with that."
As Liquigas-Bianchi leader, Di Luca is now looking more closely at the details it takes to win. "Now I have to find the best in every way to win. Like the time trial bike; that's where there can be a lot of (time) difference. Look at Basso: this year he became a real beast. Pretty soon, Bianchi will give me a new carbon fibre time trial frame and I'll set it up on the Padova Velodrome with my coach Sandro Callari to know which way is best."
Last year, Di Luca built his early season form via a three week high-altitude training camp in Toluca, Mexico at 2800m altitude and will repeat this program in 2006 from January 29 to late February, along with teammates Stefano Garzelli, Patrick Calcagni, old warhorse Stefano "Zaza" Zanini and training partner Ale Spezialetti, who has come over to Liquigas-Bianchi from Lampre. "I'll bring three bikes with me to Mexico, including my new time trial bike," said Di Luca. "My preparation this winter will be like last year's, but the difference will be that I'll be more relaxed in my build-up to the Giro d'Italia and will only be competitive at Liege-Bastogne-Liege."
Di Luca's Liquigas-Bianchi for the Giro will be strong; with Cioni, Spezialetti, Pellizotti and the experienced Noe', who will start his 13th Giro d'Italia, but no Garzelli. "I'm sorry to miss the Giro d'Italia after the last nine years, but in any case, Danilo is a sure thing," Garzelli explained in Salsomaggiore Terme. "I've always wanted to focus one season just on the the Tour De France and this is my chance." At 32 years old, Garzelli is still a very talented rider who could be a factor in next season's grand boucle.
A new arrival from Quick.Step is Luca Paolini, who will be Liquigas-Bianchi's top rider for the classics. The powerful rider from Lake Como is psyched-up to make his mark away from his former captain Paolo Bettini. "I like being back on an all-Italian team," he said. "Here I'm finding a great organization where I can fullfill my ambitions for next season. I'll start my season at the Tour Down Under in January so I'm in great shape for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo."
On the injury list at Liquigas-Bianchi's get together in Salsomaggiore Terme was Franco Pellizotti, who crashed in training last week and showed up with his right arm in a cast. Not present was Italian champion Enrico Gasparotto, who recently contracted mononucleosis and will be out of action for two months. "Better to have this happen now than in the middle of the season", Gasparotto said after learning of his diagnosis before the Liquigas-Bianchi camp.
Ardila leaves, Baguet welcome back at Lotto
By Sabine Sunderland
Colombian rider Mauricio Ardila only worked for Davitamon-Lotto for one year, but is now en route to Rabobank. Marc Sergeant, manager of the the Davitamon-Lotto ProTour team wasn't happy at all about this move. "Mauricio still had a contract for one year," he said. "In the ProTour ethical charter, it states clearly that teams shouldn't approach riders still under contract somewhere else."
But Ardila defended his decision. Apparently a clause in his contract made it possible to "buy himself out of the team" for €200,000. "I couldn't say no," Ardila told the Belgian press. "I'm 26 years of age and cycling is my profession. It's only logical that I take the financial aspect into consideration."
In the mean time, Cyclingnews confirmed that Davitamon-Lotto has approached Belgian National Champion Serge Baguet, to buy their former TdF stage winner out of his newly signed contract with QuickStep.
The national lottery's sponsoring manager Marc Frederix confirmed in HNB that he contacted Serge on Friday, and told him that he still deserves a place in the team. "He can always return," said Frederix. "It's a shame the team let him go. After all, Serge was one of the strong pillars in the team. Marc Coucke and Marc Sergeant know our point of view, it's up to them to act upon it."
But Baguet told Cyclingnews, "I simply wouldn't consider such a proposition after signing a contract with another team. Besides, they left it a tad late to come up with a decent offer, don't you think?"
Pontoni wraps up brilliant 'cross career
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
After 18 seasons of racing in which 39 year old Daniele Pontoni won two World Championships, one World Cup, two Superprestige and 15 Italian championships among a total of 255 wins, including 215 in cyclocross, Daniele Pontoni has finally finished his career at the GP Mosole-Trofeo Triveneto in Pieve di Soligo, Italy. Last month, Pontoni made a trip to Japan for a final appointment with international mud. After his return to Italy, Pontoni decided to bid his cycling career adieu at the regional Italian race, where he was surrounded by friends like his long-time team manager Armando Zamprogna and other Italian greats like five time World Champion Renato Longo and two time World Champion Vito DiTano.
"Yes, after I came back from Japan it was supposed to be over; it was a good trip and I even won there. But when I came home, they had already organized this goodbye day for me." The diminutive (1m69cm / 56km) Pontoni explained in his distinctive, high piping voice about his long love affair with cyclocross, saying, "the art of cyclocross is to find your balance. It's a fusion between man, bicycle and the terrain... cyclocross is a little bit of all of it. The bicycle is a constant, as for the man, it depends on his form and the terrain is always changing. It can change not only day by day but also lap by lap during the race. You always have to find the right way to go, kind of like a surfer who finds the perfect spot on the wave." After his great career, Pontoni sees Enrico Franzoi as the inheritor of his mantle of top Italian cyclocross rider.
"Franzoi has it all... I've never seen a young rider that was so strong. But he has a lot to learn and have more discipline in the races. But (new coach) Erik DeVlaeminck will be the right coach to help him."
French sprint great Morelon becomes Italian sprint coach
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Starting in mid-January, all-time track sprint great Daniel Morelon will become the Italian men's sprint coach. "My contact is not finalised yet, but it's just a metter of time," explained Morelon, who will be part of the new cycling structure in Italy managed by ex-rider Silvio Martinello. 65 year-old Morelon will join with his former colleague Gérard Quintyn, who together brought the French men's sprinters to be the best in the world.
Morelon is a three time Olympic sprint champion (1968-72-76) with eight World Championships, who is looking forward to the challenge of revitalising the Italian men's sprint program. After being replaced after the 2005 World Track Championships by Florian Rousseau as French men's sprint coach, Morelon said, "I would be out at the track working with the riders rather than being in an office."
Morelon and Quintyn will have a major challenge ahead of them, as the only Italian men's sprinter is the aging Roberto Chiappa, but Morelon realizes the road ahead will be difficult. "I'll be working on the training structure, and a veldrome project. We'll be working with young riders and looking forward, but for the Beijing Olympics, it might be too soon, but we'll be trying to find that diamond in the rough."
Team van Bemmelen AA Drink becomes AA Drink Cyclingteam
Women's cycling team Van Bemmelen AA Drink, directed by Michael Zijlaard and trainer Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, will be known in 2006 as AA Drink Cyclingteam. The Dutch producer of sports drinks has signed a deal lasting until the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 to become the team's main sponsor, whereas Ton van Bemmelen Sports remains with the squad as a co-sponsor.
Next season, AA Drink Cyclingteam will be joined by Dutch cyclist of the year Suzanne de Goede, who has also just inked a three-year contract with the outfit, as well as the daughter of Gerrie Knetemann, Roxanne, young talent Kirsten Wild and Belgian champion Corine Hierckens. Australian rider Sara Carrigan is leaving the team, as well as directeur sportif Ingrid Haringa.
Rujano Venezuelan sportsman of the year
Venezuelan journalists have voted pocket climber José Rujano as their country's sportsman of the year. "Because of a stupendous European campaign, guided by Gianni Savio, he has reinvigorated the national passion for cycling; for climbing onto the podium of the Giro d'Italia in the company of two champions like Paolo Savoldelli and Gilberto Simoni; and for animating the mountain stages and winning the green jersey," said the judges in their announcement of the award.
Rujano was up against other Venezuelan champions like Baseball players Miguel Cabrera (Florida Marlins), Omar Vizquel (San Francisco Giants), Bob Abreu (Philadelphia Phillies) and Johan Santana (Minnesota Twins), as well as against football player Juan Arango (Real Mallorca) amongst others.
Cyclists nominated for Luxembourg sportsman of the year
Next Thursday, December 8, the Luxembourg Sports Press gala will be held to select the country's sportsman of the year. Included among the nominees are three cyclists: Kim Kirchen, Andy and Fränk Schleck. A special tribute will be given to Lull Gillen, vice-champion on the track 50 years ago.
Rasmussen a dad
Michael Rasmussen's girlfriend Cariza gave birth to a baby boy Milo on November 29 at 12:29, CET. Everything is fine with the mother and son. Rasmussen junior weighed 2.95 kg and was 49 centimetres long at birth.
Endurance focus at Manchester World Cup
The Manchester round of the UCI Track World Cup will take placed between December 9 and 11. It's expected to be a quality competition, especially in the endurance stakes, where the world's top riders will be fighting it out for qualifying points ahead of the World Championships next year.
In the women's events, the star attraction will be Britain's Nicole Cooke, who will be racing the scratch and points races. Following her amazing display to destroy the field in the endurance omnium at Revolution 10, she is certainly on track for a podium place in both events and will provide tough competition for the international challengers. In the scratch race, World Championships bronze medalist Lyudmyla Vypyraylo will pose the greatest threat with Katherine Bates of Australia and Olympic silver medalist Belem Guerrero of Mexico the riders to beat in the points race. Cooke will be joined by either Kate Cullen or Nikki Harris from the GB squad with Rachel Heal to race the individual pursuit.
In the men's events, the points race features the three medalists from the Athens Olympics. Olympic Champion Mikhail Ignatiev from Russia, Olympic silver medalist Joan Llaneras from Spain and Olympic Bronze medalist Guido Fulst from Germany will be the riders to beat. They will come up against some young faces from the Great Britain squad with Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Ross Sander and Ian Stannard vying for the place. Add into the mix Ioannis Tamouridis of Greece, who was the 2005 World Championship silver medalist, Sean Finning of Australia, Iljo Keisse of Belgium, Czechoslovakia's Martin Blaha and Sweden's Magnus Backstedt, and this should be one of the highlights of the weekend.
The men's points race final will take place on Saturday, December 10, with the women's points race on Friday, December 9.
More information: www.worldtrackcycling.com
Brindabella Challenge voted a success
The organisers have voted this weekend's Brindabella Challenge in Canberra, Australia, as a big success, with participants and spectators braving Friday, Saturday and Sunday's cool and windy weather to join in the event.
Australian Capital Tourism's general manager of tourism events, Neale Guthrie, said the Brindabella Challenge, which is Australia's largest variety cycling festival, exceeded expectations for participant numbers, with all but one of its 15 events reaching or surpassing entry targets. "The event also attracted world class Australian and international competitors, including Canberra cyclist and world ranked number one, Oenone Wood, local cyclist Michael Rogers who is also the 2005 World Road TT Champion, Australian and European BMX stars Luke Fint, Garrett Byrnes, Ruben Alcantara and Sergio Layos and our own elite cycling team, Team Velo Canberra."
Guthrie added that partnerships with some of Australia's leading cycling clubs and outdoor event organisers had been a foundation of the event's success, and had helped cement Canberra's reputation as one of the country's top cycling destinations. "Australian Capital Tourism is committed to growing the Brindabella Challenge and to making it a permanent fixture on the local and national event calendar," he said.
Troy Glennan (Sutherland Shire) - winner, elite road race
More information: www.brindabellachallenge.com.au
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)