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First Edition Cycling News for January 11, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Milram doesn't "have to win every race"

By Susan Westemeyer

The full Milram team.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"We don't have to win every race," says Team Milram general manager Guinluigi Stanga. "But when we do win, it will be cleanly and honestly." Sprinter Erik Zabel was at first surprised by the new philosophy, but, he said with a grin, "You do what the manager says."

The "Don't-win-at-all-costs" theory was put forth at the team's presentation Wednesday in Bremen, Germany. It will help take some pressure off the riders. "Sometimes second, third or fourth is all you can do, but you can be satisfied with that, too," noted Zabel.

Stanga says that he is "very proud" to work for this "young team, clean team." He is looking forward to better things in the team's second year. "We had some successes, some wins. We have a good team that will bring in victories over the whole season."

Last year the team tried out a two-pronged attack with Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, which was cut short by the Italian's injuries. This year the team is going one number better and has added a third prong, former world champion Igor Astarloa. The quiet-spoken Spaniard is the man for the Spring Classics with "difficult finishes" (as Zabel put it), such as Amstel Gold or LBL. Astarloa said he was accepted "with open arms" by his new teammates and is looking forward to working with his fellow "stars" -- the term the team uses to describe him, Petacchi, and Zabel. "I know the two are good sprinters," Astarloa said in a masterful understatement. "I will concentrate on the Classics, but the most important thing is to get good results for the team."

Zabel, "the most successful active cyclist in the world", doesn't foresee leadership problems for the coming season. "I assume it will work out as well as in 2006," he said, emphasizing the "mutual respect" between himself and Petacchi.

The Italian also anticipates no problems, and explained how easy it is, in fact, to determine for whom the team will prepare a sprint. "Usually near the finish we talk to each other about who is going better, Erik or me. We're both professionals, we can help each other and have no problem with that."

But it makes a difference to the team as to who will go for the sprint, because it prepares differently for the two riders. "For Alessandro we ride a longer sprint. Erik likes a shorter sprint," according to Marco Velo. "Erik has never had a team like us before -- we have shown him how it can be when the whole team works for him."

Helping in the lead-outs for Petacchi and Zabel will be new recuit, two-time world track champion, reigning Olympic team pursuit champion and one of the TP world record-holders, Australian Brett Lancaster, who upstaged all the Italian speedsters when he won the prologue in the 2005 Giro d'Italia while with Ceramiche-Panaria.

Erik Zabel, Alessandro Petacchi and Igor Astarloa
Photo ©: Team Milram
(Click for larger image)

The team lays great worth not only on its three stars, but also on its youngsters, such as newcomer Marcel Sieberg, 24, a man for the "rainy" Belgian races, or Christian Knees. The 26-year-old not only won Rund um Köln last year, but also placed well in the ninth stage of the Tour de France, an experience which, he said, "inspires me for this year. I have seen that is possible to win a Tour stage, and that is now my major goal for this year."

The biggest theme in cycling these days is doping, but Milram is not jumping on the "Anti-doping program" bandwagon. "We're not doing anything special," Stanga said. "There are institutions to deal with that sort of thing." Instead, he will appeal to the riders' sense of honesty and honor. "We try to instill in our riders what our position on doping is. We must present an honest team. I think you can fight doping better by talking to the athletes, so that they understand that wins must be honorably achieved."

In order to promote its goals of communication and development, the team has instituted a new structure in a roughly pyramidal form. At the bottom are the "young and wild ones," topped by the more experienced all rounds, the whole thing topped off by the stars.

This pyramid is to be tended by the three sports directors, Vittorio Algeri, Antonio Bevilacqua, and Oscar Pelllicoli. Each will be assigned nine riders, with whom they will stay in close contact throughout the season. Or, as the team press release put it, "so that they can better monitor the development potential of each individual rider and, if possible, enable the rider to move up to the next level."

Stanga is looking for better results n 2006, noting that "we had no major wins last year but we were on the podium on 90 occasions." The team "depends on Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi. We think these two athletes have earned our trust." More specifically, he said, the team's goals will be the same as last year -- Milan-San Remo, the race in Hamburg, -- and we'll try for good results in the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta." Plus "a special consideration for the World Championships in Stuttgart."

Commercial manager Gerry van Gerwen said proudly that the team "has the image of a gentleman's team -- a good image and a beautiful image." He summed up the team's philosophy for the coming season by saying, "The process is more important than the result. Of course we intend to pursue our objectives more consistently using this system in the future, but we also want to offer more and better support to the individual riders in terms of their development."

Please see the Teams Database for the full Milram roster.

Rabobank extends sponsorship

Freire, Menchov, Boogerd and Thomas Dekker
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank has renewed their team sponsorship, which was set to expire at the end of 2008, through 2012.

Pleased with the €12 million extension, Rabobank's President Piet Van Schijndel said, "For us, cycling is a brilliant sport that can continue growing if we have faith and commitment over a long period." He said Rabobank is not closing its eyes to the problems in the sport, including doping and an ongoing discord between organizers and the UCI. Instead, the team hopes to draw positive attention to the sport through its ongoing support.

The team announced at its presentation that its international ambitions will be increasing, with, of course, the continued support of loyal Dutch fans. Rabobank says a majority of its customers have indicated that that the organization's association with the sport is appropriate and worthy of renewal. The four year renewal period was chosen to coincide with UCI ProTour licenses and the Olympic cycle. Rabobank has sponsored the squad since 1996.

Photography for Milram and Rabobank teams

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Team Milram

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Images by DCP/Bert Geerts

Valverde continues training, talks about teams

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The news buzz surrounding Alejandro Valverde is not disrupting his training, which he undertook yesterday in the company of his Caisse d'Epargné-Illes Balears teammates and compatriots, Fran Perez, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Jose Joaquin Rojas.

Responding to rumours about joining T-Mobile,Valverde replied, "It is certain that T-Mobile has offered to bring along people in whom I have confidence, but not for this season." In fact, Leon Sanchez and Joaquin Rojas recently signed their respective contracts with Caisse d'epargné-Illes Balears for the next two seasons. In the case of Perez, a move would be easier since his contract ends in December of 2007. In addition, there are other riders of interest to Valverde on the Caisse d'Epargné-Illes Balears, such as Constantino Zaballa and Joaquin Rodriguez.

On the other hand, Eusebio Unzúe will be busy. He and Echavárri could look for a greater sponsorship commitment than that of Illes Balears or even of Caisse d'Epargné, although the latter is not so likely.

"I will be very respectful with my current squad, although I assume that a very important sponsorship through T-Mobile exists. For whom will I show a preference? I will listen to Unzúe and Echavárri. I know that they will go to special efforts regarding sponsorship. Furthermore, I have to say that they treat to me very well, and people who are close to me are here," Valverde explained to the Spanish daily news El Faro de Murcia Wednesday.

Valverde's comments could be understood as an intention of continuity with his current team. In this sense, the Spaniard rider could fulfill his effective contract with the Caisse d'Epargné-Illes Balears, and then negotiate for 2008, although Echavárri and Unzúe intend to continue the team.

Echavárri had previously commented about Valverde's possible departure to T-Mobile saying he could not stop his departure, but that Valverde would have to "assume all the responsibilities."

"I do not understand to what responsibilities he is referring. I do not have any," responded Valverde, slightly miffed.

Annual big money stage race set for Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), announced that United Arab Emirates' capital Abu Dhabiwill host a $1 million Cycling Race of Champions in November. They have committed to the race for the next five years. The three-stage, 204 kilometer event will include a challenging mountain stage up Jebal Hafeet, UAE's highest point near 1,219 meters (4,000 feet). Organizers hope to pit cycling's top racers, including perhaps the winners of the three Grand Tours, against each other for the first time in direct competition in the Middle East, according to Gulfnews.

The agency hopes to shine international attention on Abu Dhabi as a sporting destination via the media coverage expected to accompany the event.

Belgians stay atop cyclo-cross rankings; Page jumps up

By Brecht Decaluwé

Sven Nys
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Sven Nys (Rabobank) remains the clear leader in the UCI cyclo-cross rankings with fresh Belgian champion Bart Wellens (Fidea) still in second place. World champion Erwin Vervecken moved one spot forward and is now back in third position before the former Dutch champion Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank). Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) cracked the top-10, he moved himself in front of John Gadret (AG2R) while Kevin Pauwels (Fidea) tumbled out of the top-10. Further down the rankings renewed Czech champion Petr Dlask (Fidea) is finding his best form again and moved from 26th to 17th.

Ryan Trebon (Kona) didn’t compete to his best as he said in his diary but his performances were still good enough to gain three places, he’s now ranked 19th. U23 Niels Albert (Palmans) beat all the professional guys in Loenhout and won ten places to end up at 21st. Tim Johnson loses one spot (31st) while Barry Wicks (Kona) lost seven places (47th); they are placed before Todd Wells (Targetraining) who’s in 50th. The biggest jump forward was made by Jonathan Page (Morgan Blue), Page returned from injury with his new team and immediately competed in the European cross circus; he made a huge jump forward moving from 205th to 56th position ending up right behind his compatriot Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly).

Sánchez: Astana must pay

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Some riders who raced for the Spanish Astana squad are facing a tough situation. For example, the promising young Eladio Sánchez and Carlos Abellán are still looking for a team for 2007. They are suffering fallout from Operación Puerto. "No team is interested in me. I am now racing in cyclo-cross, but I do not know what I am going to do after that," Sánchez said to the daily newspaper El Diario Montañés.

When Astana was dissolved definitively in December and the UCI transferred its ProTour license to Active Bay, riders still under contract were not getting paid.

"Active Bay does not have money, because Astana has still not paid Active Bay. For that reason, we [the riders] cannot receive [our money owed] so far. Manolo Saiz promised me that as soon as he can get some money from Astana, he will compensate us for the debts owed," Sánchez explained.

Saiz's Active Bay reached a sponsorship agreement with Astana when Operación Puerto was underway. Its sponsorship contract was slated to last until 2008, and according to Sánchez, "Astana has not fulfilled its part to Active Bay and its riders."

Predictor-Lotto Camp in Albufeira

Predictor-Lotto boys ride under blue skies
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Predictor-Lotto is based in Albufeira, Portugal, for their second camp from Tuesday, January 9th to Thursday, January 18th.

In Portugal, the Belgium-based team, formerly Davitamon-Lotto, will work on sharpening its pre-season condition, and its general program will be analysed. All riders are in Portugal, apart those who are presently in Australia, like team ace Robbie McEwen, for the upcoming Tour Down Under.

See the entire 2007 Predictor-Lotto roster on Cyclingnews' team database.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner presented

Team Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Tuesday, the Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner team for 2007 was presented in the buildings of its main sponsor Landbouwkrediet. Compared to 2006, there are seven changes.

Johan Verstrepen retired as a cyclist and the British rider Steve Cummings went to a ProTour team. And five others left the team: Jurgen Van Loocke, Mathieu Criquielion, Grégory Habeaux, Jean-Paul Simon and Sven Renders.

New riders filling the slots left vacant are Frenchmen David Boucher and Frédéric Gabriel, Belgians Jan Kuyckx, Bert Scheirlinckx and Wouter Van Mechelen, and the young English talent Edward Clancy.

2007 staff: Manager Gérard Bulens, Director Sportifs Jef De Bilde, Marco Saligari (Ita), Claude Vancoillie and Gino Verhasselt

2007 Riders: Frédéric Amorison, David Boucher (Fra), Andy Cappelle, Edward Clancy (GBr), Bert De Waele, Sjef De Wilde, Frédéric Gabriel (Fra), Steven Kleynen, Jan Kuyckx, Paul Manning (GBr), Filip Meirhaeghe, Kevin Neirynck, Bert Scheirlinckx, Nico Sijmens, Wouter Van Mechelen, James Vanlandschoot, David Verheyen (all Bel).

See the entire 2007 Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner on Cyclingnews' team database.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

USA Cycling changes rules for 2007-2008

USA Cycling President Steve Johnson announced several rule changes that take effect for the 2007 season. During the last weekend in October 2006, the Board of Trustees voted to accept new legislation affecting road, track, and cyclo-cross. Announcements about changes to mountain bike rules are expected soon.

Perhaps the most significant change affects junior racers, who must now ride their junior gears per the defined gear limits in all road and track races, including those with older juniors and seniors. Prior to the rule, juniors often geared up to exceed the junior rollouts when competing against older riders in older junior, senior, or elite races, so they would not be out spun on flats and downhills. According to USA Cycling's website, "The gear limit for a rider is determined by rider age and discipline, and applies in all events in that discipline – even when other entrants may not have the same (or any) limit."

Promoters should note the new rule that prevents them from opening their event to entry, including via the internet, before the race permit has been applied for and the race announcement approved by an administrator. Penalties may include fines, revocation or denial of the permit, or suspension of the organizer.

One equipment-related change will not take effect until 2008, when, all riders 17 and older, including masters, will have to race UCI legal bicycles at all national championship events, NRC calendar events, and international team selection races. The rule was to take effect earlier, but an administrative omission cause a delay in full implementation.

Some more minor changes relate to radio use and definitions. Rules were clarified to prohibit riders from wearing audio playback devices like walkmans, mp3 players, and iPods during races to more clearly define stage races and omniums. Also, Stage races may be run on time or points, but to be a true stage race, per USA Cycling's definition, riders must finish one stage in order to compete in the next one. Thirdly, all Masters national championships will be awarded in five-year age increments although in the event of small fields, multiple divisions may be raced simultaneously.

For a complete list of rule changes and explanations, visit

New Yorkers raise money for Parkinson's research

The Davis Phinney Foundation, in conjunction with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, announced a fundraising three hour spinning session to be led by spin instructor Josh Taylor on January 27, 2007, at the Copacabana night club from 1 to 4 PM. Net proceeds will fund a Parkinson's exercise research project jointly supported by both foundations.

"Preliminary evidence suggests that exercise can be of great value in a Parkinson's treatment regimen," said Todd Sherer, PhD, vice president of research programs for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "We're pleased to collaborate to raise funds for research that will help advance our understanding of the mechanisms that make exercise potentially neuroprotective, and how patients can maximize the beneficial effects of physical activity."

An estimated 1.5 million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder involving the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells deep within the brain. Parkinson's affects one of every 100 people over the age of 60, and 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. There is no cure for Parkinson's at this time, and scientists do not yet know how to slow or halt its progression.

Cycling legend Davis Phinney, who in 1986 became the first American to win a road stage of the Tour de France, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's at age 40. He assumed the role of Parkinson's advocate with the formation of his Foundation in 2004. The team that raises the most money will enjoy a private dinner with Davis Phinney.

For more information or to register for the event, visit

Team Economic Energy receives award

Young members of a local British cycling club were celebrating this week after receiving a windfall from the Jack Petchey Foundation awards scheme. The Jack Petchey Foundation, established in 1999, gives grants to programmes and projects that benefit young people aged 11 to 25.

The South Woodford-based Team Economic Energy held their Jack Petchey presentation Sunday with the club receiving £1,500 to spend on their young riders.

The money will allow the club, which was formed in 2001, and is part of the British Cycling “Go Ride” scheme which encourages youth to take up cycling, to purchase cycling clothing, shoes, helmets and gloves for the youngsters.

British Cycling’s Regional Manager, Nigel Hampton, presented the cheque on behalf of the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Club secretary Leslie Everest said: "This funding will enable us to kit-out our youth riders in our team colours and makes them feel professional. This assistance will encourage young people to prepare for the Olympics, which will be right on our doorstep."

Anyone interested in joining the club should contact Leslie Everest on

Schroeder Iron sponsors team again

After a three-year hiatus, the Schroeder Iron Corporation is sponsoring an elite cycling team. With experience running the successful Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling Team, the company's President and CEO, Frank Schroeder, is approaching this effort with a slightly different emphasis.

The new team will be populated by talented elite masters rather than pro racers. Schroeder's intent is to develop a team that can give back to the sport by mentoring younger, less experienced riders. "There's been so much negativity in the cycling world lately," says Schroeder, "We're really proud to be doing something positive for the sport." The team will also donate all of its winnings to the development of the Southern California Velo Junior Squad.

The Schroeder Iron talent pool includes doctors, business and medical professionals, government officials, and business owners. The roster includes both current and past national and state champions. In other words, this team is comprised of people who are successful both on and off the bike, the kind of people ideally positioned to help young riders find success in the sport of cycling and in life.

To see the complete roster, click here.

Cyclingnews reader poll: Rider of the year

Ahem, drum roll for our final reader poll result. Cyclingnews has tallied up all 11,532 votes in the 2006 readers' poll, our biggest ever survey, and is proud to announce the winner of the Rider of the Year category. Please have a look at the complete results for the 2006 poll.

The winner of the HED Kermesse road wheels will be announced in tomorrow's news. Thanks to everyone who voted.

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Photo ©: Bettini