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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 20, 2006

Edited By Hedwig Kröner

T-Mobile: It's all about character

The girls listen carefully
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

The T-Mobile women's team has geared up its rider roster and changed its management for the 2007 season, the second year of its existence on European racing territory. The magenta girls gathered for a first meet-and-greet at the shores of beautiful Lake Lugano in Switzerland last week, and the get-together wasn't only intended for bike fittings and photo shoots, as Hedwig Kröner found out.

"Don't you get used to it, it's surely not going to be like this all year round!," joked the new team manager Kristy Scrymgeour as many expressed their positive surprise at the luxury of the four-star hotel 'Villa Sassa' in central Lugano - where T-Mobile held their team meeting event. While high-class accommodation has become more of a standard within the men's peloton - especially at the German squad sponsored by the mobile telephony giant - the women surely still seem powered by their passion for cycling rather than a fancy life style and big pay rolls. But they are part of the T-Mobile family, and therefore backed by one of the most important sponsors in cycling, which got them well-deserved special incentives.

Bob Stapleton, the team's founder in the US and manager during the 2006 season, will be taking over the - much more famous - men's ProTour team next year, which is also in profound reformation. Taking his place within the women's team will be Kristy Scrymgeour, a former cyclist herself, who leaves her position as an advertising manager for Cyclingnews to join the team.

Last season's directeur sportif Andrzej Bek will be replaced by Australian Anna Wilson, a former world ranked number one road rider. A new coach has also been appointed in Petra Rossner, who can look back on an extremely successful career as a pro cyclist herself.

The new roster for next season is - to say the least - a promising one. With three riders staying on from this year (Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Judith Arndt and Kim Anderson), the squad of eleven counts eight newcomers from six nations: Kate Bates, Chantal Beltman, Suzanne de Goede, Emilia Fahlin, Alex Rhodes, Linda Melanie Villumsen, Anke Wichmann and, last but not least, 2004 and 2005 World Cup winner Oenone Wood.

Click here to read the full news feature.

Contract news

Mattan gives himself another week

Nico Mattan of the Davitmon-Lotto squad is not sure whether he will continue to race next year. The Belgian's contract wasn't renewed, and he is considering his options. "I know my value on the market," the 35 year-old told the Gazet van Antwerpen. "I'm not the kind of rider who will race for a a pair of knicks and jersey. On top of that, it has to be a good team, a team in which I can achieve my programme. I give myself another week." Mattan is being linked to Cofidis or the new Italian team Tinkoff Credit System.

Casper signed with Unibet

Cofidis rider Jimmy Casper has finalised his move to Belgian team Unibet. The French sprinter signed a two-year deal with the Continental Pro squad, which hopes for a ProTour license next year. Matthé Pronk, Jeremy Hunt and Luis Pasamontes also renewed their contracts with the team for another year.

"Casper has everything to be a spear head of our squad," Unibet director Jacques Hanegraaf told Sporza. "He's not only a fast sprinter, but can also have a good day in the classics." The 28 year-old won the first 2006 Tour de France field sprint this year.

Garcia Acosta renews with Caisse d'Epargne

José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) has extended his contract with the Spanish team for another year, according to wielernieuws. The 34 year-old, who will be entering his 13th season as a pro in 2007, has been a valuable helper to Oscar Pereiro in the Tour de France, and to Alejandro Valverde in the Vuelta a España this season. In 2000, Garcia Acosta won a Tour stage himself.

HealthCoach sponsors men's team

Austin’s AG Cycling management group this week announced a new men’s squad, HealthCoach/ConexTrain Cycling, in addition to their women’s elite team, HealthCoach-travelgirl Cycling. HealthCoach has signed on as title sponsor for both teams through 2010.

The men's team will be racing the 2007 National Racing Calendar (NRC) and other national criterium, road and time-trial events. For 2007, the team team has secured Dave Wenger, 2005 Texas Cup winner, and Phil Wikoff, 2006 Texas Cup winner and seventh-place finisher at the U.S. Cycling Federation’s (USCF) National Championship Men's Elite Race in Downers Grove, Ill. Negotiations are underway for the team’s third key rider.

According to Tim Pletcher, AG Cycling’s executive director, the organisation will see significant program growth in 2008. "Amateur and professional cycling in the United States has seen consistent growth in terms of participation numbers and lifestyle popularity, despite highly visible issues on the European ProTour. Our teams and athletes will play a great role in outreach for the sport and sponsor." Pletcher noted that AG Cycling’s athletes will be held to the highest standards for conduct and sporting participation.

Burkina riders on road to triple?

Burkina supremacy, established with the victories of Abdul Wahab Sawadogo in 2004 and Jérémie Ouedraogo in 2005, will be severely challenged this year, for the 20th edition of the Tour du Faso which runs from Wednesday, October 25 to Sunday, November 5. In order to retain their position, and achieve the much desired third victory in a row, they must counter fierce opposition from the other African countries present. Even with three teams competing in the race, the Burkina leaders, Sawadogo, Ouedraogo and Rouamba, who represented their country for the first time in the Salzburg World Championships, will have to pool their resources for the national cause.

The Cameroons, who last year upset the standings, will be back with big ambitions - Martinien Tega and Joseph Sanda, brief holders of the yellow jersey in 2005, are riders to be watched. The Senegal with Malick Thiam, best young rider in 2004, and Abdoulaye Thiam, winner of the super combativity award in 2005, will be eager to seize their first stage victory, maybe more. And the Angola team, winners of two stages in 2004 and the white jersey in 2005, will be keen on continuing along the same lines.

Competition from riders back on the Tour after an absence could prove particularly dangerous. Following the withdrawal of the VC Roubaix team, a place was made available for the national team of Morocco. The Burkina riders are already troubled at the idea of competing with their leader, Abdelati Saadoune, winner of the 2002 Tour. The Egyptians, who won the Tour in 1999, will also be present this year. Zimbabwe, a newcomer on the Tour, is an unknown quantity but the team’s sporting manager, Roger De Vlaeminck, incidentally triple winner of Paris-Roubaix (1972-74-75), doesn’t often make a trip without an objective in mind.

The 13 African teams present in Burkina must also contend with the European teams competing. Among the Belgian riders, the multiple stage winners David Verdonck, Karel Pattyn and Christof Roosen, are all capable of victory. The same goes for the line-up from Brittany, which notably includes two members of the Continental team Bretagne Jean Floc’h, Stéphane Bonsergent and Jean-Luc Deplech. Japan, present for the third time on the Tour du Faso, will be hoping for success too.

The 18 teams competing in Burkina Faso will be: Angola, Belgium, Brittany, Burkina Faso (A, B, C), Cameroons, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gabon, Japan, Mali, Morocco, Sarthe, Senegal, Yvelines, Zimbabwe and a mixed team from Benin, Niger and Togo.

Cyclists and athletes in Sydney Thousand

The Sydney Thousand meeting at the new revamped Canterbury Velodrome, Tempe, scheduled on Sunday October 29, not only attracted a world class cycling field but some of Australia top athletes. Dual Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Ryan Bayley and Robbie McEwen head the list of star Australians, but Bayley will be fully tested by former world champion Mark French and National champions Jason Niblett and National keirin champion Joel Leonard. However, the real challenge for Bayley will come through Malaysian sports star of the year Josiah Ng. The Malaysian flyer is fast, an Olympic finalist in the keirin and a world cup star.

Robbie McEwen will also make his only velodrome appearance and will compete in a point score race. It will be a great opportunity for McEwen, three times winner of the green jersey in the Tour de France, to pit his sprinting and endurance ability against some of the nations best track stars.

The Danish national team will be making their first appearance since winning the World Cup in Sydney last year, also competing in a 2000 metres teams pursuit match race. The Danes are quite familiar with the track, having used the facility in preparation for their World Cup victory in Sydney.

The Sydney Gift over 80 metres is being staged for the very first time in conjunction with the Sydney Thousand in over 100 years. The race has attracted a crack field of entries including Stalwell Gift place getters Rod Buchanan and New Zealand champion Rob Hannah, along with Nigerian Commonwealth Games representative Anthony Alozie and female sprint sensation Jane Dike. The NSW Athletic Association was founded the same year as the Sydney Thousand, in 1903, when 54,000 people crammed into the Sydney Cricket Ground to view the action. The Canterbury velodrome has recently been restored to its very best in readiness for the Sydney Thousand, Australia’s most historic track cycling event.

Perras a dad

Former Canadian road champion Dominique Perras became a father on Tuesday to a baby boy named Felix. Perras' wife Elise and the baby are doing well.

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