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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, December 10, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Superprestige turns into two-man battle

By Brecht Decaluwé

Sven Nys (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Joel Roberts
(Click for larger image)

Round #5 of the Superprestige in Veghel-Eerde, The Netherlands, developed into a two-man battle between Sven Nys (Rabobank) and Niels Albert (Palmans-Cras). The two Belgians were highly motivated after the previous Superprestige round in Gieten where Albert had upset Nys for the day's win and ended Nys' winning streak.

Nys waited one lap and then seemingly without effort rode away to a 20 second gap ahead of all opposition with the help of team-mate Lars Boom, who blocked the chase. The hungry, young Albert then launched a counter-attack and joined Nys half-way through the fourth lap when Nys slipped in a corner. A few moments later the UCI points leader had punctured and was left behind.

Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) would chase for the rest of the day, but he never regained the two leaders.

During the sixth lap, Nys overcame his disadvantage that resulted from his mechanical, and he rejoined Albert. He then launched an effort that would decide the rest of the race on the last lap. Both riders rode the climb most others were running during the final go up the Eerde, but Nys was faster and got away for the win.

Niels Albert
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"I had a very good start and could get a gap thanks to my team-mate Boom. Then I started to make mistakes and Albert could come back," Nys said who took notice that Albert is only getting faster and stronger with every race. "I was surprised that Albert ran so fast," said Nys.

Albert said he only closed the gap "because he [Nys] made a mistake." He then added, "In the last lap Nys could ride away on the hill because I was tired after working so hard to join Nys in front. I had to allow the gap on the climb because Nys is 10 years older... and 10 years stronger."

In the elite women's race, Dutch woman Daphny van den Brand (ZZPR.nl) took her second win of the weekend ahead of compatriots Saskia Elemans (WV de Meteoor) and Mirjam Melchers. Van den Brand won just one day after capturing the UCI World Cup in Milan, Italy.

The next Superprestige will be in Diegem on December 30. That round near Brussels will start at 5:00 pm local start time, just after daylight ends. Floodlights will provide the necessary illumination for the riders and the public.

Beijing track draws praise

The Beijing velodrome
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The UCI Track World Cup in Beijing, China gave track riders and coaches the chance to test the track and facilities. More than 300 riders competed in 17 events over the course of three days. The Australian team had positive words to share about the facility.

"It is a cathedral for cycling," said Cycling Australia's Head Track Coach Martin Barras of the Laoshan Velodrome. "They have done an outstanding job on this venue and it is one of the best tracks I have ever seen.

"Once they complete the additional grandstand seating and fill it with people I think the ambience in here in 2008 will be very, very special."

The Olympic Games for track cycling events are set for August 15-19, 2008.

Australians on track for Beijing

Australians will be paying closer attention to the men's Madison
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian cyclists collected a gold, a silver and two bronze medals at the Laoshan Velodrome during the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing, China. That puts the nation "largely on schedule" in its Olympic Games qualification campaign according to Cycling Australia's Head Track Coach, Martin Barras. In home turf on Sydney last weekend, Australia took home nine medals, topping the count there.

"Despite the fact the medal count is a little lower than last weekend we're pretty much hitting most, not all, but most of the marks we wanted to hit at this point in time," said Barras. "We're slightly ahead of where we thought we would be in some areas but there are a couple of areas of concern that we need to address rather urgently."

At the top of the priority list is the Madison qualification. Australia has won gold in the event at the past two Olympic Games, but it has to gain any points toward qualification in 2008. To earn a start, Australia must be ranked in the top 13 nations.

"We believe we have the riders to run a very successful Madison at the Olympics but in the lead up not everyone is available at the same time because of commitments to professional teams and that puts our qualification in jeopardy," said Barras. "All other areas are on track or close to on track."

In Beijing, duo Luke Roberts and Allan Davis qualified for the final but finished 16th and out of range for ranking points. The pair's efforts weren't helped when Davis crashed during the event badly bruising his right knee.

Australia is well positioned for the pursuit, scratch and points races. "Very clearly Katie Mactier winning the individual pursuit two weeks in a row has set her up as a favourite for the World Championships and has gone a long way to ensuring her qualification for Beijing," said Barras. "I'm also extremely pleased with the performances of Belinda Goss in the scratch (silver medal) and points (fourth place) races.

"She bounced back from a bad first experience at the Worlds earlier this year, has gone from strength to strength since then and put in some impressive performances both here and in Sydney," he said. "Also it's exciting to watch Cameron Meyer who is so full of promise and who week in and week out just keeps delivering the goods." Meyer took bronze in the points race.

For full coverage of the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing, click here.

Route changes for "4 days" of Dunkerque

Mathieu Ladagnous
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Organizers announce changes to the route of the 54th edition of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque race, scheduled for May 6-11, 2008, after resolving issues related to a few start and finish locations along the route. At issue were the start of the second stage, the finish of the third stage and the start of the fourth stage.

The departure of stage two has been sorted out after organizers learned a host hotel in the Lille region would still very likely be under construction at the time. Instead, stage two will leave from the Commercial Center "Maison +" of Hénin-Beaumont in Pas-de-Calais.

Stage three will end in the Department of the Aisne in Saint-Quentin, and the final stage will depart from the village of Wasquehal in the North. The new route implies a long transfer for teams between Saint-Quentin and Wasquehal, the type of transfer organizers always sought to avoid.

The final details of the new route will be sorted out during the next five weeks with a deadline of January 17. In 2007 the May race was won by Frenchman Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux).

Schedule for 4 Days of Dunkerque
Tuesday, May 6, 2008: Stage 1: Dunkerque - Communauté d'Agglo.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008: Stage 2: Centre Commercial "Maison +" d'Henin-Beaumont - Le Cateau Cambrésis
Thursday, May 8, 2008 - Stage 3: Le Cateau-Cambrésis - Saint Quentin
Friday, May 9, 2008: Stage 4: Wasquehal - Calais
Saturday, May 10, Stage 5: Calais - Sangatte "Cap Blanc Nez"
Sunday, May 11, 2008: Stage 6: Dunkerque "Casino" - Dunkerque "Centre" (individual time trial)
Sunday, May 11, 2008: Stage 7: Dunkerque "Kursaal" - Dunkerque "Centre"

US 'Cross nationals head to Kansas next weekend

Kona's Ryan Trebon leads the pack at the 2006 US 'Cross Nationals
Photo ©: Ed Collier
(Click for larger image)

Top American cyclo-cross racers have less than one week to go until their national championships at Wyandotte County Park in Kansas.

The last time nationals were held in the Kansas City area was in December of 2000, in Stoll Park in Overland Park, and conditions were very wintry. Sub-freezing temperatures, a cold wind and several inches of snow atop ice made for "treacherous" racing.

"Those were epic conditions," said Shadd Smith of Overland Park to the Kansas City Star. "When riders get together and talk about nationals, that's the one they always talk about. It was brutal. But that's cyclo-cross racing. You never know what you're going to get in the way of weather."

Next weekend, racers will tackle a 1.91-mile (3.07 km) course on pavement, dirt, and grass, with or without snow and ice on top. Two sections of stairs will complete the challenge in Wyandotte County Park.

Bill Marshall of KLM Marketing Solutions, which is organizing nationals, called the course spectator friendly; two large heated tents will make prime viewing areas a bit more comfortable.

The racers will be left to battle whatever conditions Mother Nature provides. "About the only thing that would postpone a race would a natural disaster like a tornado," Marshall said. "We're ready for whatever might come along." The local county government will have snow removal equipment on hand, too.

Last year's nationals were won by Katie Compton and Ryan Trebon.

MPCC adds a member

The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), which was launched this summer during the Tour de France, signed a new team member, Dutch team Skil to its roster. In a meeting this week, the MPCC said it is working toward "total anti-doping transparency" wants to take part in the development of an ethical code for organizers according to L'Equipe.

In addition, all ten teams will be in full programmatic and financial compliance with the UCI's anti-doping measures as of January 1, 2008.

MPCC Members: AG2R, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux, Rabobank, Skil, Gerolsteiner, High-Road, Slipstream

2007: A year in review

By Ben Atkins

Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After an annus horribilus in 2006 with the biggest doping scandal for many years and the winner of the Tour de France apparently testing positive, surely 2007 could only get better. Or could it? It's time for a look back at the big races and top news stories in the last year in cycling.

Starting off in January, the New Year sadly brings no new progress in any of the issues that plagued much of 2006. We still don't know who won the Tour last year, and the big pre-Tour scandal of Operación Puerto still rumbles along, implicating certain names but still no concrete evidence can be linked to anyone.

The conflict between the UCI and the organisers of the three grand tours continues. No one quite knows if new team Astana (for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan) and expanded former Professional Continental team Unibet.com are actually in the ProTour, and even less if they'll be invited to any races.

Boonen does his thing
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Meanwhile, the nation of Belgium is rocked by the admission from Flemish legend Johann Museeuw that he did indeed use doping products at the end of his career. Suddenly nothing else matters in Flanders.

Out on the road, the Tour Down Under is becoming the traditional season opener, and proving to be way more than just the chance for Italian riders to top up their tans so early in the year that it used to be. There is the usual flurry of success from the domestic peloton, who are in the middle of their season where the Europeans are right at the beginning of theirs. There is bad news for home riders though, as Frenchman Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) takes the overall from Aussie Karl Menzies, by picking up bonus seconds in the last two stages. Will the race be in the ProTour next year? Will it be the only race in the ProTour next year?

The other recently developing tradition sees the peloton stop off in the Gulf for the Tour of Qatar on its way back to Europe. Former World Champion Tom Boonen takes four of the five road stages and his Quick.Step-Innergetic team takes the team time trial as the Belgian super team shows that it's unbeatable on flat roads with crosswinds. Wilfried Cretskens takes overall by virtue of being the Quick.Step-Innergetic rider in the race's only breakaway - which is incidentally the only stage that his team doesn't win.

To read the complete feature, click here.

Flexpoint roster complete for 2008

Team Flexpoint
Photo ©: Team Flexpoint
(Click for larger image)

Team Flexpoint finalized its roster with the signing of Anita Valen announced Saturday. A total of 13 riders will comprise the team, which features several new faces for 2008.

New riders include Dutch women Elise van Hage, Adriëne Snijder, Elisabeth Braam, Jacobien Kanis and German Bianca Knöpfle come from other teams whereas Britt Jochems made the jump up a level. Mirjam Melchers- van Poppel, Amber Neben, and Suzanne van Veen have been on the team since its first year in 2005 while Loes Gunnewijk, Loes Markerink, and Iris Slappendel joined up in 2006.

Despite many changes, Flexpoint is looking toward what it hopes will be a successful 2008 under director Jean-Paul van Poppel. The team will work for the American rider Neben in the stage races, but hopes some of its newer riders will make the jump to the highest level of competition in the coming year.

Team Flexpoint 2008
Mirjam Melchers- van Poppel (Ned)
Elisabeth Braam (Ned)
Loes Gunnewijk (Ned)
Britt Jochems (Ned)
Jacobien Kanis (Ned)
Bianca Knöpfle (Ger)
Loes Markerink (Ned)
Amber Neben (USA)
Iris Slappendel (Ned)
Adriëne Snijder (Ned)
Anita Valen (Nor)
Elise van Hage (Ned)
Suzanne van Veen (Ned)

Cyclo-Cross Team
Tessa van Nieuwpoort (Ned)

Florencio aspires to success in the Classics and Tour

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Xavier Florencio is congratulated
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Xavier Florencio may not considering his 2007 season as successful as his 2006 season, when he won the Clásica de San Sebastian, but as he told Cyclingnews, he would like "to have good health" that will let him fight for success in 2008.

"If good health stays with me, I can aspire to everything I did in 2006," said the Bouygues Telecom rider who was bothered by problems like asthma and anaemia this year. "The second half of the season was not so bad for me, because I won a stage in the Tour of Switzerland and finished second overall."

After two seasons with the French team, Florencio is feeling at home. "At the beginning, it was a bit difficult for me because I was the only Spaniard, but now I feel very integrated." His team contests the Classics, but its major goal is the Tour de France. The same is true for Florencio.

"Last year I had the opportunity to know that I can shine in the classic races," he said. "They like me a lot. But I will try to get to the Tour de France in the best shape possible." Until then, he will start racing in 2008 with the Tour Down Under in Australia. "I will then race the Mediterranean Tour, Vuelta a Valencia, Paris-Nice, Milán-San Remo and the Vuelta al País Vasco." If he doesn't end up racing the Tour de France, he said he will perhaps take part in the Tours of Germany and Poland.

Florencio does not think he will be picked by national selector Francisco Antequera, but said, "I want to be in the World Championships in Varese (Italy) as well as in Beijing, but I know that there are some other important Spanish riders who should be there, such as [Alejandro] Valverde, [Carlos] Sastre, [Alberto] Contador, and [Oscar] Freire."

Neo-pro Canuti aims big

The only new cyclists on the CSF Group - Navigare team for 2008 are neo-pros, one of which is Federico Canuti, a climber who'd like to make his mark in a Grand Tour or Classic.

"I think I'm a good climber," said Canuti, "and my greatest dream would be to win the Giro d'Italia. But I have to admit that I'm also captivated by Milan-Sanremo. Winning there would be wonderful. However, I'm aware that initially it will be very hard, because when you switch from youth category to pro, it's a big change, beginning with race length."

"I'll be satisfied to just show myself in this first year... . I want to demonstrate I deserve the support I have with some good results."

"I've already started training, switching gym and bicycle," said the 22 year-old. "I usually train with other three pro riders of the area of Pesaro: Pierfelici, Giunti and Cardellini. This winter I haven't taken a proper holiday, because I really want to pay off the trust that Reverberi family is giving me."

Canuti credits his father for his support. "For sure it's thanks to my father Enzo. Without his support I would already given up with cycling. So, I want to dedicate this all to him." He also attributed thanks to his trainer Giuseppe Trinci and president of his former Bedogni Monsummanese team Giacomo Pasqui.

Barbot-Siper roster final

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Portuguese continental squad Barbot-Siper, owned by the Gaia Cycling Club has finalized its roster according to ciclismodigital.com. Three Spanish riders will also be part of the team directed by Carlos Pereira: the young promising Francisco Pacheco, the ex-Karpin Galicia rider Luis Fernández and the sprinter Vidal Celis from Camargo-Roper. Pacheco won a stage in the Volta a Portugal in 2007 and logged five other second place finishes.

Barbot-Siper for 2008: António Amorim (from LA-MSS), Vidal Celis (from Camargo-Roper), Ricardo Horta, Hélder Oliveira (from Madeinox-Bric-Loulé) Francisco Pacheco, Carlos Pinho, Celestino Pinho, Bruno Pinto (neo-pro), Luis Fernandez (from Karpin-Galicia) and Samuel Coelho (neo-pro).

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