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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for December 4, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Jonathan Vaughters represents Slipstream at Giro d'Italia launch

By Gregor Brown in Milan

Jonathan Vaughters believes the time trials bode well for Slipstream invitation to Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Slipstream/Chipotle Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters has been making the rounds this winter in Europe to represent his emerging USA-based team. The former-professional cyclist was in Paris for the unveiling of the 2008 Tour de France in October and returned to Europe – after the presentation of his team – for the launch of next year's Giro d'Italia. His Professional Continental Team has no guarantees of being invited to either Grand Tour, but given its signings over the last months there is a good chance the team could ride one, if not both, races.

"I think there is a good chance of us being invited to the Giro, but you would have to ask [Race Director Angelo] Zomegnan," said the 34 year-old to Cyclingnews Saturday night in Milano, after the unveiling of the Corsa Rosa.

His team will be among other second-tier teams, like Tinkoff, Selle Italia, Barloworld and LPR, as it bids for a wildcard invitation to the three-week race. "I think on an overall level we are stronger than most of the second division teams out there, but I am not so familiar with all the French and Italian teams."

Vaughters secured the signatures of David Millar, Magnus Backstedt, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde in the past months. Millar and Zabriskie have both worn the maillot jaune of the Tour de France thanks to stage wins on the opening day, Backstedt is a stage winner and Vande Velde is a proven Tour domestique. Vaughters confirmed that the riders under contract bode well for an invitation to the French race. "I think our chances are still better for the Tour de France given the riders we have; they have bigger results in France than in Italy," he continued, while eyeing the Giro parcours on the stage of Teatro degli Arcimboldi.

The number of time trials in the Giro will suit Slipstream if it is to race. "The race has a team time trial this year; it has a lot of time trialling kilometres. Zomegnan knows we have Zabriskie who has won time trials in the past, and he knows our team could do well in the team time trial." Zabriskie shocked many when he won the Firenze time trial stage in 2005 and rode in superb support for team leader, Ivan Basso.

"I think we could win that [opening] day really, and probably take the jersey as a result. That would be more than most teams could do in the race. We would bring a team to win the time trial, and maybe a stage or two."

Overall Vaughters believes that, like the Tour, the Giro scaled back the difficulty of the 2008 parcours. "The course has a lot of medium mountain stages, and attacking stages," he continued. "There are definitely some hard mountain stages, but they are not pilling them on. There are less transfers and a lot of time trialling, those are the two points of note."

Backstedt out of Beijing Track World Cup

Backstedt skips Beijing
Photo ©: Slipstream Sports
(Click for larger image)

After going into the Sydney round of the track World Cup with high hopes, a chest infection has forced Magnus Backstedt to withdraw from the second round in Beijing.

"I was flying right up until the morning of the pursuit. When I woke up I just didn't feel 100 percent. During my ride, as soon as my heart rate hit anything close to my max I started coughing, which at full speed in a pursuit is not ideal.

"I was disappointed with my ride, but I then jumped straight up and rode the points race qualification and my legs just had nothing!"

The big Swede has spent the majority of the week in bed trying to recover in time to make the trip to Beijing, but has had to make the agonizing decision to return home instead of heading to China.

"I've been in touch with my coach every day and I cannot risk losing a month or more through this developing into something more sinister. My lungs are not in any condition to make a maximum effort like a 4km pursuit, I'm gutted,” he concluded.

For more on Backstedt read Preparing for Slipstream season.

Sastre returns from CSC's Norway camp

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Carlos Sastre comments on Norway adventures
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Carlos Sastre has returned from his team's camp in Norway, where the riders and staff faced brutal conditions but came away with greater understanding of their co-workers' strengths. The 32 year-old CSC rider reflected on the experience and his upcoming season.

"It has been different, because we have been in Hovden, and the weather was very cold, about 15.5°C below zero, and to survive was a very demanding test for me," said Sastre to press agency EFE. "On arrival [the team] gave us clothes, and the next day, we walked on the mountain with skis and sledges, a tent, food and firewood.

"Not all the people did the same thing, and sometimes you had to pull for those who could not. ... The first day, we [cross-country] skied 11 kilometres uphill; the Swedes and Norwegians are best in that environment, because they have more experience, but the rest of us had to face it with caution."

The little climber realized that there were many positive aspects from the snowy camp. "It is something like how to apply the philosophy of 'one for all and all for one.' The important thing is that the new staff adapts as soon as possible. ... All of these experiences are valuable to better know one another." The cross-country skiing was also a good physical preparation for the year, "It is an activity that gives us strength in the legs and arms."

Sastre commented on his 2008 objectives. "The Tour is my main goal, but this year, I want to go slowly, step by step. ... I trust my team and the team trusts in me. It will go to the Tour to help me, and that is what I need. Other years, I have been at the call of other riders, such as Basso and Hamilton. After the last two years, I have gained maturity."

The 2008 Tour will feature the climbs of Hautacam, Alpe d'Huez and Tourmalet, but there will be less kilometres against the clock. "It is quite good," he continued. "All that is needed is a team time trial stage, in which the CSC is the best."

Giant confirms with Team High Road

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerdemann's 2007 Giant rig
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road will be able to continue riding on Giant bikes. The bike manufacturer announced Monday that it would continue its association with the team, unlike other sponsors (Adidas and Audi) which dropped the team when title sponsor T-Mobile withdrew its backing.

Giant had indicated that it would probably stay, and confirmed its decision to remain as a main sponsor. "Giant and Team High Road share the same commitment to a clean and fair sport, and together we will work to shape the future of cycling," said Tony Lo, President of Giant Manufacturing Co. "We have been collaborating with this young and highly talented group of men and women to develop the world's most advanced bicycles, and we're excited to continue this powerful partnership. We can't wait to unleash this winning formula in the coming season."

Team Owner Bob Stapleton said, "We are very pleased to continue working with one of the most innovative and largest manufacturers of bicycles in the world. Giant was part of our successful season in 2007, and we are excited about our plans for 2008 and beyond. This is a committed partnership and we appreciate the ongoing support of Giant bicycles."

The Giant bikes for High Road will continue to have Shimano components, the company announced yesterday.

Larsson eyeing the Olympics

By Susan Westemeyer

Team CSC newcomer Gustav Larsson has his eyes firmly on the goal of the 2008 Olympics for the coming season. He has already been selected for the Swedish team in both the time trial and the road race.

"I'm definitely doing the time trial, and then I'll decide later whether I'm going to do the road race as well," Larsson said. "I've spoken to the national coach about, whether it's wise to concentrate on just one of them or if I'll be able to focus on both at the same time.

"I'd actually quite like to do the four-kilometre pursuit on track both for teams and individually, but I probably won't have time to prepare myself and to qualify. The team race is already impossibility because we don't have a strong enough team," said Larsson on

Looking to the regular road season, he noted, "First and foremost I'm a stage race rider with time trials as my specialty. I think I'm fairly strong both up and down the mountains. As a time trial specialist you quickly learn that you're constantly racing against time – chasing those extra seconds – and this is something, which you can also use when descending a mountain."

Larsson is coming to the Danish team from He will meet another outstanding time trialler at CSC, namely two-time world champion Fabian Cancellara, but he doesn't expect any rivalry. "We're team-mates now, and we're going to help each other. Of course, I'm not expecting Fabian to reveal his deepest secrets to me, but we're a team now and we'll be working together. We'll support one another and work for the team just like the rest of Team CSC."

The 27 year-old turned pro in 2001 with Team Crescent. He rode with Fassa Bortolo and Française des Jeux before joining this year.

Abakoumov returns to Jartazi

By Susan Westemeyer

Igor Abakoumov will leave Team Astana and return to his former team, Jartazi-Mitsubishi, for 2008, he announced yesterday. The naturalised Belgian citizen, who was born in Ukraine, will join Frank Vandenbroucke at the Belgian Professional Continental team.

On his website, the 26 year-old said that the reached his decision after long discussions and reaching an agreement with Johan Bruyneel, the 2008 Team Manager for Astana.

Abakoumov turned pro with Chocolade Jacques in 2004, and rode for Jartazi for two years before changing to Astana last season. In his career, he has won a stage of the Tour de l'Ain and was on the podium in Nokere Koerse and the GP Wallonie.

Jartazi will hold a training camp in the south of France from January 7 to 16, before opening its season with the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on February 3.

Weissinger extends with Volksbank

By Susan Westemeyer

German Rene Weissinger will stay with Team Volksbank for another year, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced yesterday. The 28 year-old all-rounder hopes to ride the Deutschland Tour and the Tour de Suisse in the coming year.

He did not have any wins this season but had top ten finish stage results in the Deutschland Tour and the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt. "I want to build on these successes," he said, "and finally win a race again." If the team is invited to the two ProTour races next year, which he has set as his goal, "then I trust myself to win a stage. It will be hard, but not impossible. I want to at least get on the podium, which I almost made this year."

Weissinger turned pro in 2002 with Team Rothaus. He rode for Team Vermarc Sportswear for a year before joining Volksbank in 2004. He then passed a year, 2006, with the Dutch Skil-Shimano team before returning to the Austrian team.

Paulo Couto elected CPA vice-president

The President of the Portuguese Professional Cyclists Association (APCP), Paulo Couto, has been elected to the vice-presidency of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA). The election took place during the Management Committee meeting of the CPA, which was last weekend in Porto (Portugal).

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