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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, December 24, 2008

Edited by Les Clarke

Katusha presented on home soil

Team Katusha presented
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After months of discussion and years of planning, Russia's first ProTour team, Katusha, was presented to the press in the headquarters of oil and gas company Itera yesterday. It came just days after Oleg Tinkov announced he has ceased his relationship with the team.

Guests of honour included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President of the the Republic of Moldavia, Vladimir Voronin. Itera President Igori Makarov announced that, "Finally, Russian cycling has stepped into the professional realm. We have waited a long time for this moment, and it was necessary to overcome a lot of barriers, problems and resistance on the way."

He added that Katusha is "a combination of the social, economic and political components expressed in sports," and that it "is a powerful project supported by serious partners aimed at developing cycling in Russia, creating possibilities for young riders and a representation of the glory of our native land."

Team manager Andrei Tchmil, who enjoyed bountiful success as a professional rider, most notably his overall victory in the 1999 World Cup, spoke of both the sporting and business stability offered in the ProTour's newest squad. "In Katusha we managed to harmoniously combine the skill of riders who have been at the top for a long time and have already shown themselves to be capable at the most prestigious races in the world, with young guys who will take their first steps as professional riders," he said.

The Russian native, who won the 1994 edition of Paris-Roubaix, the 1999 Milano-Sanremo and has most recently been the minister for sports in Moldavia, guaranteed the future of the team at a time when sponsorship has been in decline. "The economic crisis of the world will not be reflected in Katusha. We have reliable partners, who have stability and power and guarantee the future of both the team, and the project as a whole."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Bartoli returning in 2009?

By Gregor Brown

A comeback for Michele Bartoli?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Michele Bartoli may be back to battle in the Ardennes Classics he ruled only seven years ago. The 38 year-old from Pisa said he is strongly considering a return, similar to that of Lance Armstrong.

"Lance Armstrong helped get this idea going in my head, more than it would have otherwise. He found the courage and the motivation to do it, Bartoli told Cyclingnews. "When I won Amstel Gold he finished fourth, and it would be beautiful to find him in the Classics again – it's a motivator," he added.

Bartoli won the 1996 Ronde van Vlaanderen, 1997 and '98 editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, plus the 2002 and 2003 editions of the Giro di Lombardia. He retired after 13 years as a professional in 2004. His biggest wins came when he rode for MG-Technogym, and Team Mapei from 1996 to 2001. He joined Fassa Bortolo for 2002 and 2003 and left the sport whilst riding for Team CSC.

"I stopped in a hurry; I still had a year in my contract," Bartoli explained. "You have to find the courage to return to the fight and, above all, to be a neo-pro at 38 years old."

Bartoli will discuss the decision with his wife and the effect the situation could have on their two children – daughter, age six, and son, age one and a half. He's had talks with some teams on an unofficial level, but would need to find the right team.

"Maybe it is possible to find a team who is willing to put a bet on me – not completely on me, this would be stupid. If there was a situation today like that and I said 'okay' then I could ride one or two years, with a group of young riders, who I would be able to help grow," he said.

Bartoli maintains his fitness with training rides of three to five hours with some of his ex-teammates that live in the Tuscany area. He maintains that it is a "dream" and "crazy" to return to cycling, but that he is encouraged to do so by his friends and family.

Roche settles in at AG2R - La Mondiale

By Stephen McMahon

Irish rider Nicolas Roche
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

After the demise of Crédit Agricole, Nicolas Roche made the move to another French squad, AG2R - La Mondiale. Recently the talented Irishman turned out for his new squad as it prepared for next season in the cold of Le Temple-sur-Lot, in the Lot-et-Garonne region.

Unlike last year, the changes to the team are relatively small in terms of personnel and equipment, and the platform is set for a successful 2009. The same can be said for Roche. After seasons with Cofidis and Crédit Agricole, Roche's reputation as an aggressive all-rounder is well established and 2008 was undoubtedly his most successful season so far, A close-run second place in stage 18 of the Vuelta a España means that much is expected of the 24-year-old in 2009.

According to Roche, he aims to be competitive at Paris-Nice and the Ardennes classics during the early season, while another start in one of the year's Grand Tours should be a certainty. While patiently posing for photographs in the brisk conditions he spoke about his racing schedule for the season ahead and became particularly animated at the prospect of riding with the sun on his back again at the Tour Down Under in January.

Le Temple-sur-Lot is a long way from the summer temperatures on offer at the Tour Down Under next month, although AG2R - La Mondiale's riders have been putting in four and five hour sessions on rolling roads which are, in the majority, well surfaced and quiet. It's a small mercy, as the weather has been consistently cold, wet and completely devoid of sunshine.

While riders and management attend a post-training meeting, the team mechanics clean, service and carry out upgrade work on the riders' BH mounts. As in 2008, the team's bicycles will be equipped with Campagnolo and FSA components for the coming season, with Mavic providing wheels and Michelin supplying the rubber. Elite bottle cages, Time pedals, and Prologo saddles complete the line up.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Stephen McMahon

Riders demand 'valued' jersey

By Gregor Brown

The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) is fighting to make sure that the new world calendar leader's jersey has value. Its president, Cédric Vasseur, wants to ensure prize money for the new classification, awarded to the rider with the most points in the International Cycling Union's 2009 calendar of Historical and ProTour races.

"How can you say to the riders to fight [for the prize] if there is no money, just for honour – it's a professional sport. That is not acceptable when they are using the names and images," Vasseur told Cyclingnews.

Vasseur spoke with the International Cycling Union's Alain Rumpf about the new classification jersey, set to debut in 2009. He said the manager of the ProTour did not have funds allocated for the jersey.

"I cannot imagine people from the UCI working for free. If you put a classification with no money on offer, just a jersey... It's the image rights for free."

The UCI will award the leader's jersey after each Historical Calendar or ProTour race, which includes races like the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Paris-Roubaix. It will replace the white jersey awarded to the ProTour leader from 2005 through 2008 and try to establish an overall 'rider of the year', similar to what the world cup rankings achieved from 1989 to 2004.

The first race on the 2009 calendar is the ProTour-ranked Tour Down Under, January 20 to 25.

Cooke to lead UniSA-Australia

Baden Cooke will return to the Tour Down Under in January as leader of the UniSA-Australia team. He fronts a squad that boasts a combination of youth and experience that should bear fruit in Australia's only ProTour event starting Jaunary 20.

And while the 2003 Tour de France sprint classification winner comes into the event with stage wins to his name, one of his teammates, Jack Bobridge, will be making his Down Under debut.

It caps an exciting year for the young South Australian, who rode at the Beijing Olympics and has won a host of new fans for his exploits in 2008. He'll be joined by Aaron Kemps and Scott Davis, both of whom bring more ProTour experience to the team managed by Victorian Dave Sanders.

The squad is rounded out by Travis Meyer, Simon Clarke and a yet-to-be-confirmed rider, selected after the Australian Open Road Championships in early January.

For more information, see

Perez and Curuchet take award

By Hernan Alvarez

Walter Fernando Perez and Juan Esteban Curuchet (Argentina)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Olympic Games Madison winners Walter Perez and Juan Curuchet won Argentina's Olimpia de Oro on Monday night. Olimpia de Oro is a prize Buenos Aires' Sports Journalists Association [Circulo de Periodistas Deportivos de Buenos Aires] gives every year to the most successful Argentinean sportsman of the year.

Perez and Curuchet won the cycling prize and won the voting for the golden statuette among all winners in every sporting discipline. They defeated field hockey superstar Luciana Aymar and tennis player Juan Martin Del Potro in the final vote.

This is the third time cycling has been rewarded with the biggest prize. The first rider who won the Olimpia de Oro was Jorge Batiz in 1956, while the second was Marcelo Alexandre in 1981.

It was the perfect end to a perfect year for Curuchet, his last as an elite rider. The 43-year-old veteran retired after making the top of the podium in Beijing 2008.

Sydney gets New Year carnivals

As Tasmania prepares for its traditional Christmas track carnivals, Sydney is gearing up for a 'triple crown' track festival of its own. Local promoter and commentator sans pairs, Paul Craft, has organised three nights of track racing to take place on January 1, 2 and 3, 2009 in various Sydney suburbs.

Having secured sponsorship from Peter Bundy Cycles, Avico Electronics and Bont Cycling Shoes, a night of racing will take place at Tempe (Jan 1), Lidcombe (Jan 2) and Dunc Gray (Jan 3) velodromes respectively. Riders can enter for $20 per event or $45 for all three nights.

Craft, who also organises the popular Race All Winter series in Sydney, is renowned for his innovative race formats, developed using the far reaches of his immense imagination. Racing will start at 6pm at each event and cater for four grades, including women. Each night's program includes the following:

Round 1: Warm up scratch
Round 2: Graded wheel race (points double)
Round 3: Sprint event '1 lap screamer'
Round 4: Endurance race - 'Winners Race'
Round 5: A Grade Madison, B, C and Women Miss'n'Out

Series prize money includes a minimum $1500 in sponsors' product and $1000 cash.

Colnago Christmas party

Ernesto Colnago with Fiorenzo Magni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Ernesto Colnago opened the doors of his world-famous bicycle factory Saturday in Cambiago, Italy. The Italian frame builder and his family welcomed guests during annual Christmas party and mass.

Colnago greeted ex-cyclists Felice Gimondi, Gianni Motta and Giuseppe Saronni, along with a long list of supporters who contributed to his brand over the last 54 years.

Father Don Mazzi held mass for Colnago and the guests. Following mass was a pre-Christmas lunch and well wishes for the 2009 year.

Teams Rabobank, Milram, Tinkoff Credit Systems and Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner are some of the teams that used Colnago frames this year.(GB)


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

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