Special Edition Cycling News for April 1, 2006
Edited by the Cyclingnews April 1 team
Even more complicated, unfairer system proposed
By Jeff Jones
The UCI, in conjunction with ASO, RCS Sport, Unipublic, the AIGCP and
Dick Pound, has decided to put an end to the ProTour, world cycling's
governing body announced on April 1. After nearly two years of wrangling
between the UCI and the grand tour organisers, it was agreed at a meeting
in Aigle that the ProTour and the road cycling reform was too much, too
soon, and it was best to put it on the backburner.
"It's disappointing, yes, but there was no way forward," a UCI source
told Cyclingnews. "Basically, no-one understood how it worked,
and the big race organisers thought we were treading on their toes. That
wasn't the intention, but you can only lead a horse to water."
The points system caused a fair degree of angst among the riders, who
felt that some races were not given their full worth. Winning 20 stages
of the Tour de France - no mean feat - was barely worth more than a classic.
Combined with this was the system of five continental tour rankings, which
had to be calculated each month and caused major problems if a rider was
retrospectively docked 30 seconds in a race, which moved him three places
down on GC (or worse).
Then there was the whole Oceania jersey disaster, which led to a bizarre
situation whereby the first leader in that tour, i.e. the best placed
Australian rider in the national championships in January, couldn't wear
the jersey for eight months. If indeed he was still racing then.
"Yes, that wasn't one of our best laid plans," said the source, who went
on to explain the new points system that will come into effect today.
"We're doing away with the ProTour and Continental Tour points systems
completely. They're too unequal and they're too hard. Instead, we're introducing
a more egalitarian system whereby each rider gets a point when they receive
a licence. They keep that point throughout the season, unless sanctioned,
and we tally everyone's points up at the end to see who really is the
best cyclist in the world.
"To make it easier for us, and the cycling following public, we have
placed a restriction on the number of points that a rider can score in
races. It's still work in progress, but we decided that it was only fair
that no points be awarded at all, because not all riders have access to
the best races. I like this approach - it's simple and impartial."
The professional teams association (AIGCP) has applauded the move, saying
that it will eliminate intra-team bickering about UCI points and allow
the top riders to focus even more on winning races, which is what they
are paid to do. The grand tour organisers are also happy, as there are
now no restrictions on inviting teams. It is possible - theoretically,
at least - that the Vuelta field will be entirely composed of Spanish
teams of varying talents.
The last word went to WADA president Dick Pound, who in a rare moment
of agreement with the UCI, said, "I think this is a positive step, and
it will eliminate all doping in cycling by 2007."
2007 Tour to Include UK-France Time Trial
By Mark Zalewski
With the 2007 Grand Départ announced for London, as well as subsequent
stages, the organisers of the Tour de France, Amaury Sports Organisation,
have announced an addition to the race -- a 55km time trial from Cheriton
in Kent, the United Kingdom, to Coquelles near Calais in northern France,
utilizing the middle access tunnel of the Channel Tunnel or 'Chunnel.'
"It is really a matter of economics," said an organisation representative.
"It's just a lot easier to move the race back to France this way -- having
the riders race the distance on their bikes instead of loading everything
and everyone onto TGV trains."
Some critics of this move include the television media, which say their
aerial coverage via helicopter will be limited. But organisers responded
saying the intricate network of closed-circuit security cameras along
the 50km section of tunnel will be made available to broadcasters. "Besides,
the time trial is rather boring," said the same representative. "All that
really matters is the start and finish, which will be outside of the tunnel
entrance and exit."
New direction for UCI track racing
By Mark Zalewski
The UCI track cycling commission announced on April 1 a new format for
UCI track races for next year. All races sanctioned by the UCI taking
place in the northern hemisphere will now be run in a clockwise direction,
to negate the Coriolis effect on the riders.
The UCI commissioned a study in 2005 to quantify any positive or negative
effect this phenomenon has on track riders, and found a significant advantage
for track racing in the southern hemisphere, where the rotation effect
is in alignment with the track racing direction.
"We found that this explains why the Aussies are so good at track racing,"
said an unnamed UCI official. "That is really the reason why this study
was commissioned -- to figure out how we can slow them down. They train
in that condition and their times are subsequently faster."
While it will take some time for rider to adjust to turning right instead
of left, the UCI feels that a more level playing field will help track
cycling as a whole.
Armstrong film searching for new star
By Cheyenne Spokes
The heavily-rumoured casting of Hollywood heart-throb Matt Damon as Lance
Armstrong in the forthcoming biopic about the seven time Tour de France
winner has come to nothing after the 35 year old decided to dramatically
quit the project in favour of another screen role.
Damon, star of hit movies such as Ocean's Eleven, the Bourne Identity
and Saving Private Ryan, was long considered the prime choice of Armstrong.
Indeed Armstrong's dramatic recovery from a near-fatal illness seemed
both the ideal Hollywood plot and a perfect vehicle for Damon's talents.
Although the two look nothing alike, the movie star was reportedly in
heavy training for the role, going on long bike rides with Armstrong in
a bid to lose weight, gain fitness and build the technical skill to convincingly
portray the multiple Tour champ on screen.
"Man, I'm even shaving my legs," Damon reportedly said in an as-yet unpublished
interview with celebrity reporter April Fibbs.
Details are still sketchy about what happened to his involvement with
the project, but according to the unrivalled journal of record, National
Enquirer, Damon and Armstrong failed to see eye to eye in a number of
areas. These rumours include reports that:
- Damon INSISTED that Michelle Pfeiffer play Armstrong's mother.
- He DEMANDED that Jessica Alba play Armstrong's former wife Kristin,
- He EXPRESSED A STRONG preference for the casting of Vanessa Paradis
as Sheryl Crow, despite the fact that the singer is not actually French.
Cipo & Hondo introduce hair care product line
By Susan Westemeyer
"Pro Flair Hair Care" is the newest line of products designed especially
fot pro cyclists, and by none other than two well-known examples of well-coiffeured
cyclists, Mario Cipollini and Danilo Hondo.
The two men modeled their products at a fashion show/press conference
on April 1. They hope to expand their "Pro Flair" product line into toothpaste
("For a dazzling winner's smile!"), shaving cream ("especially designed
so you can shave that three-day beard and still have that three-day beard
look!") and skin care ("Smooth as silk for the podium girls to kiss!").
The prices have not yet been announced, but look for them soon at a pharmacy
Tech: HED launches descending special
HED Stalingrad wheels
Wheelmaker HED has announced a new pair of wheels that represents a radical
departure for the aerodynamic and lightweight specialist.
Following on from HED's Bastogne wheels, announced a few weeks ago, the
Stalingrad wheels continue the theme of toughness in battle, but in a
very different vein. The battlefield here is the mountain descents
of the Alps and Dolomites and to help speed you to the bottom, the HED
Stalingrad is the world's first cast iron wheel.
"Ever wish you could soar down a mountain like Paolo (Il Falco) Salvodelli?"
asks HED. "Are your descents as slow as Beloki's and equally as frightful?
Well fear not. Adhering to his philosophy of "optimal wheel choice tailored
for the factors inherent to each particular race" Steve Hed has once again
forged ahead in developing a revolutionary new approach to wheel design.
Forged from iron smelted from finest Minnesota ore, each Stalingrad weighs
almost 47 lbs, allowing you to instantly add as much weight to your bike
as if you'd eaten several thousand Big Mac Happy Meals and spent six months
on the couch. "You'll descend like a Russian submarine" says HED. "And
when riders hear you rumble up behind them - demanding their surrender
- you'll surely hear them mutter "... get the hell out of the way, this
guy is nuts...!"
here for more information.
Tech: SRAM silences environmental critics with new fully biodegradable
By James Huang
Component maker SRAM has developed a wholly new, and ultra eco-friendly,
component group creatively dubbed RE-cycle, partially in response to some
environmentalists who have expressed criticism of the company's decision
to use plastic packaging for some of their high-end componentry. Not surprisingly,
the new group is aimed squarely at the commuter market and will consist
of a single-chainring crankset, front and rear hubs with internal drum
brakes, and a rear derailleur and corresponding shifter.
European automakers have long been praised in heralded in the eco-community
for having long been labeling individual components with universal material
codes that ease recycling upon the end of a product's useful life. However,
SRAM has elected to go one step further with RE-Cycle by actually making
the group 100% biodegradable.
Using similar technology to that found in cornstarch-based packing materials,
SRAM engineers have managed to form all of the individual elements of
the group from a high-density compression-molded version of the material.
According to SRAM engineers, their proprietary molding process imparts
enough mechanical strength and rigidity to the normally weak material
such that highly functional components can be reliably formed.
A SRAM PR and product testing guru, said, "dude, you can also now eat
your bike parts to keep from starving in the event that you get lost or
If RE-cycle actually makes it to production, it certainly may have far-reaching
impact on how other companies develop product and may also set a new standard
for environmental responsibility within the industry.
We at Cyclingnews certainly have high hopes for the new technology, and
stay tuned for a complete road test of the new group as soon as it becomes
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)