First Edition Cycling News for October 15, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
O'Grady's survives first race back
By John Trevorrow in Bendigo
CSC's Stuart O'Grady climbed back on his bike for his first race since his horrific crash in the Tour de France, saddling up for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Bendigo as part of the Australian National team. While he and most of the peloton did not finish the race, just turning the pedals in anger was victory enough for the Paris-Roubaix winner. "I gotta tell you, the heart was pumping pretty hard and fast for the first ten minutes," O'Grady said after the race.
O'Grady took part in the hour long criterium in Bendigo, which is the traditional warm-up for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and does not count toward the overall classification. After a fast and aggressive start to the race, an early breakaway of seven riders went clear. When the peloton was in danger of being lapped by the breakaway, the officials pulled all but the lead seven riders off the course.
O'Grady, after suffering through those furious first ten minutes, was pleased to have made it through the race safely. "This was my first real test since the Tour and I wanted to make sure I stayed out of trouble." O'Grady suffered a horrific wreck in stage eight of the Tour this year, falling on the descent of the Cormet de Roselend, and nearly going off the cliff had a post not stopped him - breaking nine ribs, his shoulder and puncturing his lung.
After months of rehab, it was reasonable that he would want to be even more vigilant than usual, and O'Grady stayed close to the front to be safe. "When you haven't got form you ride smart, and that was what I was trying to do today. Just keeping out of trouble. It was a pretty technical little course, a couple of dangerous corners and the last thing I wanted to do was end up on my backside again."
Just getting back into racing was occasion to celebrate I was very happy about today. "Aaron [Kemps] might have won the race but that was a significant victory for me," O'Grady declared. "I was pretty happy to just be out there and racing."
For the rest of the race, he hopes that his form will continue to improve, and that he will be able to ensure that his team gets a good result. "Today was more speed but it will be different out on the road," he decided. "I definitely haven't got any power in the legs but I'm sure I will be able to do something to help out the boys at some stage."
Wiesenhof leaves the peloton
The team appeared in the ProTour race with only five riders after Olaf Pollack could not start due to a knee injury and Steffen Wesemann fell ill, so that it planned to go with six riders. However, at the last minute, Stefan van Dijk decided to stay at home with his wife who is expecting a child momentarily.
"We didn't have anything to do with the outcome of the race, but we are nevertheless very satisfied with our performance today," said Directeur Sportif Ronny Lauke. "Without a sprinter on the team, of course we didn't have a chance in a mass sprint in such a strong field." He concluded, "All in all, despite everything, it was a good last race for Team Wiesenhof-Felt."
Team Manager Raphael Schweda agreed, saying, "Too bad that we couldn't pull off a surprise. Paris-Tours was a great experience and a worthy end for Team Wiesenhof-Felt."
Boogerd in hospital
Michael Boogerd was taken to a hospital in Amsterdam Sunday with a bacterial infection in his left knee. The Rabobank rider crashed last Friday while training and hurt the knee. A drain was placed in it on Friday but has since been removed. He is now being treated with antibiotics.
According to the team's website, rabobank.nl, he still plans to ride the Giro de Lombardia this coming weekend as his last race. He announced in April that he would retire at the end of the season.
Veneberg to sue Rabobank over contract
Thorwald Veneberg is going to sue Team Rabobank because he has not been offered a new contract for 2008. The Dutch rider claims that under Netherlands law that, since he has had a contract with the team since January 1, 2001, he should be considered under contract for an indefinite period of time.
The 30 year-old Veneberg was a solid member of the Rabobank team, and won the 2005 Grote Scheldeprijs - Vlaanderen before suffering a horrendous 2006 season which saw him sick or injured for most of the year. He recovered and was back racing for the team in January's Tour of Qatar, and put in a full season.
His lawyer, Frank ter Huurne, said that under Dutch law, an employee is considered to be hired for an indefinite period after 36 months or four employment contracts. "The team has not given any grounds for his dismissal in 2008. For this reason we will file a suit in Breda that Thorwald must be included in all activities of the Rabo-Team in 2008," he told De Telegraaf.
Interim team manager Henri van der Aat said that the team would contest the case. "On moral grounds alone I find that Veneberg can't do this," he said. "It is possible that a lot of cyclists could suffer because of his action. In cycling we always work with yearly contracts. In contrast to football, we have no separate collective labour agreement. If Veneberg wins this matter, then managing a team will be impossible. It would mean that you have to keep everyone on until they are old enough to retire."
Talent, confidence and raw ambition; the mark of a champion
Mark Cavendish has made headlines for all the right reasons in 2007. He's taken an astonishing eleven wins in his debut professional season and, as the first signatory of the UCI's Riders' Commitment for a New Cycling, he has shown that he is part of a new generation so vital to the sport. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke recently to the prodigious sprinter about his year, his Olympic ambitions and his goal of winning the Maillot Vert.
With his first pro season done and dusted, and a well-deserved break coming up, T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish has provided three clear signs that he could become the force in world sprinting in the years ahead.
The first of these is the blend of speed and self-confidence which saw him take an outstanding eleven wins in 2007. The second is the ambition which drove him to keep chasing victories right up to his last race of the road season; many other riders might well have eased back and soaked up the success, but the 22 year-old remained focused and hungry for more.
The third is the fact that he exceeded Robbie McEwen's own professional debut tally of eight European victories, beating the mark set by the man who subsequently became one of the world's best sprinters. It bodes well for his future, and suggests that his goal of taking the points jersey in the Tour de France could be within his scope.
Cavendish is very young and only this season gained experience in the world's top races, but he's been showing his speed for quite a while. As an amateur he gathered strong results in many decent events; in 2005 he took gold medals on the track in the Madison world championship title race and the European championship points race event, as well as sprinting to third on a stage of the Tour of Britain.
One year later he netted gold for the Isle of Man at the 2006 Commonwealth Games scratch race while still just 20 years old. His road results included under 23 victories in the Course de la Solidarité Olympique, Thüringen-Rundfahrt and Berliner Rundfahrt [stages 3b and 4], as well as second overall in the classification of the latter event. He fared well against the professionals too, netting top three placings in the Tour of Britain [second on stages four and five plus third on stage six] and the Tour de Langkawi [second on stage eight].
The Manxman had been racing with Team Sparkasse but its close ties with T-Mobile plus his strong season results saw him begin a trial as stagiaire with the German ProTour team. His aforementioned performances in the Tour of Britain secured him a professional contract with the squad, which was in the process of a clear-out and total reconstruction following the Jan Ullrich-Operación Puerto affair. Cavendish's clear anti-doping stance gelled perfectly with what the new general manager, Bob Stapleton, was aiming to achieve and he fitted in well. However, not even Stapleton could have foreseen just how successful 2007 would be.
Elliott's career continues in winning style in 2007
By Gerry McManus in London
Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello RT) may have been one of the elder statesmen of the British pro peloton this year, but age was no barrier for the experienced professional from Sheffield. Elliott finished fifth in the British Cycling national individual ranking tables and fifth in the BC criterium series. The 46-year-old Pinarello rider took his best victory of the year in Britain's only UCI ranked one day event at the Cicle Classic – Rutland to Melton race. Elliott was on the Yellow stand at the London Cycle show in London's fashionable Earls Court talking about his eventful year on the bike.
"To look back on the season now gives me a warn glow now," said Elliott. "At times this year I was quite concerned about my results and I was getting into a bit of a panic. It began with early season building up, getting good form and winning the Shay Elliott and Rutland to Melton within a week of each other and then I went a bit wobbly and off the boil. Then I picked up a chest infection a couple of weeks later which trailed on for a lot longer than I expected. I missed quite a few training sessions and that dragged my form down in June and July and all that torrential rain that we had didn't help either."
"I had to sit back and work on a period of rehabilitation," continued the former Tour de France and Tour of Spain rider. "Gradually I got my act together and I could feel things coming back together at the end of July and the beginning of August although the national road race championship is a race probably best forgotten."
"But generally the trajectory was upward again," said the Yorkshireman as he developed a broad smile. "And then I picked up four consecutive wins which I don't ever remember doing before. There was a race out near Blackpool and before that there was an elite race in Cheshire. Then I won the Newport nocturne criterium race and that's the race which everyone watches and remembers. It was a fantastic one to be able to win."
A bit of what if
Elliott took his fourth consecutive win in the London Grand Prix in front of thousands of people ahead of the prologue of the Tour of Britain at Crystal Palace. He was very thoughtful when asked if he had thought about what it would be like to ride the British tour.
"I admit that I had thought about what it would have been like to ride the Tour of Britain," continued Elliott. "I wonder how I would have got around and how well would I have done. We really don't know and in some ways I wonder if I really want to know. I might have got a right pasting and some things are best left unanswered."
British crowds would have been thrilled to see Elliott bumping shoulders with Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) in the bunch gallops on the British tour.
"Mark's results have been something else this year," said Elliott praising the 22-year-old Manxman. "It would be interesting to compare outright speed but to be honest I would be a little scared in the situations he finds himself in," said Elliott laughing.: "I remember some of the hectic run-ins from years ago. You would be shoulder to shoulder coming downhill at some impossible speed and all going into a corner. No one wanted to be the first to brake and we all knew that we all weren't going to come out the other side. The one who brakes first loses."
Elliott finished off the season with third place in the Warwick Town Centre criterium and third overall in the Bermuda Grand Prix won by fellow Brit Russell Downing. He goes into 2008 with the same passion for the sport as he has always had but with a greater capacity for training.
"I have never been a great one for getting out of bed and going training in the rain but I can face long training rides now which is something I was not very good at before. I can get the work done and handle a big chunk of training. Recovery takes longer. Training can take a lot out of you and you can't be up for every race."
"There are a lot of things being looked at for the Pinarello team next year but nothing has been decided yet. There are a couple of key developments planned with the team and we are awaiting final decisions at the moment."
USOC considering move to Chicago
After nearly 30 years of residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the US Olympic Committee is considering a move to Chicago, according to Crain's Chicago Business news. The 'windy city', which is bidding for the 2016 Summer games, lured in the USOC's real estate consultant, James H. Didion, and he and others toured several downtown Chicago buildings in search of generous office space, according to reports.
The USOC is staying tight-lipped about its potential move from the 'Springs', declining to say if it had considered other cities, but it did publicly state that it is considering a new location. It currently has a 34-acre complex with offices and training facilities in close proximity to many of the offices of the Olympic sports' governing bodies - including USA Cycling in Colorado.
Reports speculate that close proximity to a major airline hub is one major factor in the consideration of Chicago as a site for the USOC headquarters, but the Colorado Springs Gazette questioned why they would consider moving from a place which has "300 days of sunshine a year" and well established training facilities for just about every major sport.
According to the Gazette, the USOC spokesman, Darryl Seibel, gave three reasons for the move: "It's a three-part equation: how to meet the training needs of our athletes, how to best support the administrative needs of some of our national governing bodies and the USOC's own administrative needs."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)