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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for November 24, 2006

Edited by Sue George & Greg Johnson

Tour de Langkawi confirmed for February 2007

By Shane Stokes

Tour winner David George (South Africa, 4th from L)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Following months of uncertainty, it was confirmed on Thursday that the Tour de Langkawi will take place from February 2 – 11 next season. For over a decade the 2.HC ranked race has been the highlight of the Asian calendar as well as an important early-season event for the European professional peloton, but financial problems dogged the past two editions of the Malaysian tour.

The race is now moving into a new, more certain phase due to financial support from the national government via the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Tourism. The ten-day contest will be organised by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation, who will bring in experts to oversee the running of the event.

A press release issued on Thursday’s confirmed that Alan Rushton of the UK-based Events Group would return after a year’s absence in order to act as Event Director and Technical Consultant. It will be his ninth year working on the race.

“I am very pleased to be invited back to work on the Tour, “said Rushton on Thursday: “We had eight good years building the race before it was sold and it’s great that it has now got the full backing of the Malaysian Government and the MNCF. We are looking forward to contributing towards delivering a high quality event.”

Teams are due to be contacted soon with regards to invitations to take part in the race. Full route details will be issued at the official launch, which is expected to take place in several weeks.

According to Thursday’s press release, the race will tie in with a tourism drive connected to the country. “Le Tour de Langkawi 2007 will be fully supported by the Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Youth & Sports and Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2007,” it stated. “The Government also hopes that long time sponsors and new sponsors will come forward to make Le Tour de Langkawi 2007 a huge success.”

Last year’s event saw South Africa’s David George come out best ahead of Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole) and Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia Diquigiovanni). The other recent winners include Ryan Cox (Barloworld), Freddy Gonzalez (Colombia Selle-Italia) and Tom Danielson (Saturn).

Dad, what's an omnium?

The UCI's decision to re-introduce the 'omnium' to the Track Cycling World Championships has generally met with a positive response, from those who actually know what it is. Gerard Knapp of Cyclingnews reports.

Way back when...
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

What's an omnium? Well, it's not just youngsters who could be forgiven for asking that question, as the combination track cycling event – like the pentathlon in athletics but without any guns* - has not been seen at the world championship level for almost 40 years.

The most 'recent' winner of an omnium at the world's level was none other than Patrick Sercu, the most successful Six Day racer ever and now impresario of many current Six Day events. A UCI executive believed he last won the omnium at the worlds in 1968 – "or it might have 1970," he said.

Sercu has lobbied the UCI for its reinstatement into the track worlds program and the sport's ruling body announced at the world road championships in Salzburg this year that it will be re-introduced at the 2007 track worlds, to be held at the – still to be completed – new velodrome in Palma de Mallorca, the Spanish holiday island destination.

Further, in 2008 the UCI will also introduce the women's team pursuit (see feature), as it continues to develop the track cycling program in an effort to increase its popularity. It's understood that the UCI will allow up to five riders to qualify in the women's team pursuit, but the event itself will feature teams of three riders racing over 3km.

However, it's the re-introduction of the omnium – so far for men only - that has coaches and riders alike wondering how it will be accommodated in this day of specialization. In modern competition, a track cyclist is either a sprinter or an endurance rider, with few having the ability to be competitive in both styles of event.

The modern omnium – and it should be pointed out these are regularly held at regional track racing carnivals in several countries, particularly the UK – will involve five events.

To read the full feature, click here.

Cyclists play football with AlbinoLeffe for charity

By Gregor Brown

Yesterday, cyclists gathered in Albino, Italy, for a charity football match in the stadium of AlbinoLeffe, a Serie B team, to help raise money in a telethon. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, up to five hundred people responded and helped raise €1500 for a research foundation.

Clouds and cold weather near Bergamo did not stop some of the stars from cycling's present and past go head-to-head AlbinoLeffe players. Cyclists who participated and lent there name to a good cause included Claudio Chiappucci, Mariano Piccoli, Mario Scirea, Ivan Gotti, Gian Matteo Fagnini, Eddy Mazzoleni, Wladimir Belli and Mirko Celestino.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Trackies look to next Revolution

Macro Villa in the lead at Gent 6-day
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The next Revolution (#15) will come to Britain's Manchester velodrome on December 9th. World champions Joan Llaneras and Isaac Galvez (madison) and Peter Schep (points race) will attend along with European derny champion Iijo Keisse, UIV Cup leader Danny Stam, and Italian track racer Marco Villa.

"We wanted to bring in the top six day stars for the next event for some pure track racing," said organiser James Pope. “The road stars from the last event [Revolution 14] were great, but they are certainly not track specialists. The riders on December 9th will be on top form from six day racing, so they will provide a really tough challenge for the Brits.”

"We will make the most of the riders by staging a Madison," said Pope. “With the form and determination already on display from the British Cycling Academy and Olympic Development riders, it will be a fast and very exciting race."

A sell-out crowd witnessed an excellent night of racing at Revolution 14, and whilst the road stars adapted well to the track, it was the junior talent who stole the limelight on the evening. Peter Kennaugh and Adam Blythe showed awesome form and speed to win the points and scratch races highlighting the depth of quality in the field.

2007 TransRockies Challenge sold out

Epic scenery and riding
Photo ©: Dan Hudson
(Click for larger image)

Long before 2007 registration opened, promoters expected the TransRockies Challenge to reach its field limit more quickly than ever. After a record-breaking 2006 edition which featured the largest field yet and a brand new course, the race's reputation as challenging, seven-day mountain bike stage race keeps growing.

Andreas Hestler and Seamus McGrath (Rocky Mountain Business Objects/Felt Racing) won the men's division in 2006 while Sue Butler and Anna Vacca (Bear Naked/Cannondale) won the women's race. Racers faced a variety of conditions from hail to baking heat and from dry fast conditions to soupy mud.

Registration for next year opened at 12:01 am (MST) on November 1st, and entries started pouring in from around the world. Within a few days, over 80 percent of the available 275 two-person team spots had been taken. The remaining spots filled quickly, and on Friday November 17th, the field was declared full, two months earlier than last year. 2007 marks the second consecutive year that the race has sold out.

This year's sixth edition of the TransRockies Challenge will draw teams from over 20 countries on five continents. The race starts August 12th and goes for one week throughout the Canadian Rockies. While the bulk of the teams are still from the US and Canada, in 2007, over 50 teams from the United Kingdom will start along with others from Kenya, Hong Kong, and Israel.

"We're really gratified to have reached capacity so quickly and we take it as a testament to the hard work put in by everyone in the TransRockies family," said event director Aaron McConnell. "We'll take a minute to celebrate it and then get back to work making sure that TransRockies VI is the best one yet."

Though the field is full, a waiting list is in place in the event of any withdrawals from the event. Teams who wish to be placed on the waiting list can do so through

French on song for Oceania Championships

By Greg Johnson

French was the fastest
Photo ©: Amy McCann
(Click for larger image)

Mark French has put a lackluster performance at last weekend's UCI Track World Cup in Sydney behind him to dominate the Men's Sprint qualifying at the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Melbourne. French posted a blistering time of 10.168 seconds (70.81 km/h), nearly three-tenths faster than his nearest rival Canada's Travis Smith who crossed the finish line in 10.461 sec (68.83 km/h).

French backed up the performance in the Men's Team Sprint qualifying when he and team-mates Daniel Ellis and Jason Niblett posted the fastest time of 45.880 seconds (58.06 km/h) ahead of fellow Australian's Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Joel Leonard who posted a time of 45.925 (58.01 km/h).

Meanwhile World Champion Mark Jamieson of Tasmania dominated the Individual Pursuit qualifying ahead of New South Wale's Philip Thuax in second.

For full coverage of Oceania Track Cycling Championships click here.

Naturino-Sapore di Mare changes to Aurum Hotels

By Gregor Brown

Murilo Fischer
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

The team managed by Vincenzino Santoni is switching sponsors for 2007. Leaving as title sponsor is the Le Marche-based children's clothing company, Naturino, and joining is Italian tourism company, Aurum Hotels. The Italian pro-continental team has been around for two seasons under the Naturino name, with notable wins by Murilo Fischer in 2005.

Aurum Hotels will take over as the title sponsor in 2007 with an aim at promoting their travel business. Started in 1989, the company offers a wide range of luxurious hotels in southern Italy along with tours on the island Sicilia.

Blanco signed with Duja-Tavira

By Antonio J. Salmerón

In Lisbon, the Portuguese Duja-Tavira team has officially presented 31-year-old David Blanco as its team leader for 2007 and 2008. The Portuguese squad worked hard to sign the Spanish rider, a former Comunitat Valenciana climber. Yielding to persistent pressure from Duja-Tavira, Blanco broke a pre-contract with Karpin-Galicia.

Blanco won the final general classification and two stages of the Volta a Portugal in 2006, and he aims to win again in 2007. Blanco turned pro in 2000.

Aussie Cantwell aims for US deal

By Greg Johnson

Former Australian Institute of Sport rider Jonathan Cantwell is believed to be close to signing a deal with a US-based continental team for 2007. "The goal is America in 2007," Cantwell told the Gold Coast Bulletin. "If I can achieve that then a start in the Tour de France is a distinct possibility."

The Queenslander returned to Australia for a relatively quiet season this year after spending the previous two seasons competing in Europe. "I am still young and still have the desire to race professionally," he explained. "While I raced in Europe it had 21 top-10 finishes in 2004 and 15 top-10s in 2005. I raced in the world titles in France in 2000."

Cantwell, who finished fourth in this year's Noosa International Criterium, will take part in this weekend's Darren Smith Cycle Classic at Tweed Heads on the New South Wales and Queensland border. He hopes a victory in the field led by Robbie McEwen will be the vital ingredient needed to restart his international career. "This would look great on your resume," added Cantwell. "To win a race with the likes of Robbie McEwen in the field would be fantastic. This is not just a club race. It's a tough circuit and a lot of quality riders."

OCA seeks executive director

The Ontario Cycling Association (OCA) is recruiting an executive director to promote, develop, organise and control the operation of the OCA, as outlined in the organisations mission, vision, and values statements. The new executive director would report to the Board of Directors. For more information about the position, contact Applicants should apply before noon on December 14, 2006.

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