First Edition Cycling News, December 31, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson
Arise, Sir Chris: Scotsman gets New Year Knighthood
British cyclists honoured by Queen
British cyclist Chris Hoy has been awarded knighthood on the 2009 New Year Honours List by the Queen of the United Kingdom. The Scotsman's honour tops a list of awards handed to the British cycling team, which took an impressive medal haul at this year's Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
The Edinburgh rider won three gold medals in Beijing, becoming Scotland's most successful Olympian, the first Briton in 100 years to secure a hat-trick of gold medals in a single Olympic Games, and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time.
"It's incredible and I'm absolutely delighted," said Hoy. "I still can't quite believe it to be honest. To be given a Knighthood is an enormous honour and it means so much to me and also to my family. I was stunned when I first found out and the news is still sinking in. I'm not sure if I will ever get used to people calling me Sir Chris!
"2008 has been a phenomenal year for British sport and cycling in particular, and it's good to see so many people in the sport being recognised for all their hard work and achievements," he added. "This is an amazing way to start the New Year and a tremendous boost for everyone."
Hoy's mother Carol has also been honoured with a MBE in the New Year honours list, for her contribution to healthcare. The pair join Hoy's grandmother Isa Reid on the list of family receiving honours from the Queen, with Reid made an MBE for her Multiple Sclerosis Society work in 1989.
British Cycling performance director David Brailsford said he was proud to have his riders honoured by the Queen. Brailsford's efforts were also recognised, with him joining double gold medallist Bradley Wiggins as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
"I'm so proud of what everyone in the GB Team has achieved and it is such a privilege to be honoured in this way. 2009 marks 50 years since British Cycling was established and this is a remarkable way to start the organisation's Golden Anniversary year," said Brailsford.
Olympians: Sir Chris Hoy (KBE), Bradley Wiggins (CBE), Victoria
Pendleton (MBE), Rebecca Romero (MBE), Jason Kenny (MBE), Jamie Staff
(MBE), Ed Clancy (MBE), Paul Manning (MBE), Nicole Cooke (MBE) and Geraint
Cunego sides with Simoni in Armstrong-Basso Giro battle
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) will align with rival Gilberto Simoni to break the Lance Armstrong-Ivan Basso front at the 2009 Giro d'Italia. The Italian explained this week that he and his ex-Saeco teammate patched up past differences to confront the 100th anniversary of their home tour.
"With 'Gibo' there are discussions of alliances. A pact to resist Basso and Armstrong," Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The 2009 Giro on May 9 to 31 promises to be one of the most popular editions in recent years, thanks to the participation of seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong. He joins a list of overall contenders that includes Basso, Carlos Sastre, Danilo Di Luca and Denis Menchov.
Cunego and Simoni had been bitter rivals since their inter-team dispute at the 2004 Giro d'Italia. This winter the duo made amends despite now on separate teams, with Gilberto racing for Gianni Savio's Diquigiovanni team.
"Ivan and Lance will work together to block because of their friendship and their style of racing," he said. "We climbers have to try to counteract this. Gilberto knows the roads of the Giro better than anyone does. The 2009 Giro is one of traps and attacks."
Simoni is a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia; having claimed the event in 2001 and 2003. Next season could be his last chance to try to win a third Giro as retirement looms nearer.
Cunego, who is focused on the 2009 Tour de France, is almost certain he will race the Giro. His other objectives are to win the Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring and the World Championships in the fall. (GB)
Cooke rocks on with Vacansoleil
The story behind Rock Racing's 2009 roster has taken another twist, with star rider Baden Cooke being announced to ride with the new Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team. Cooke's move is another blow for Michael Ball's squad, which has been forced to fend off speculation it will close its doors in recent weeks.
"[Vacansoleil] manager Daan Luijkx is very happy," said a release from the team. "Although he is only 30 years old he has already competed in the Tour de France five times. At the moment he is making preparations of joining a new European cycling season in his home country."
Rock Racing had originally planned to register as a Professional Continental team in 2009, signing riders like Cooke to front its European efforts, however it withdrew the application as the international financial crisis worsened. In addition to Cooke, Ivan Dominguez and William Walker had both appeared on the team's original roster for 2009 but both have since been removed and signed with other squads.
Cooke spent 2008 riding for British registered Professional Continental team Barloworld, having spent the previous season largely stranded in the Unibet.com debacle. The Australian is a former Tour de France green jersey winner and has also won such events as Dwars door Vlaanderen.
Hansen takes the plunge
By Susan Westemeyer
Adam Hansen (Team Columbia) is taking his off-season training to new heights, so to speak. The Australian decided to go bungee jumping and ended up going off the roof with a bike.
"I have jumped a few times since I was 17, and I was there and saw the bike while I was on top about to do a normal jump," he told Cyclingnews. "I thought it would be pretty good to ride off the roof with the bike."
The 27-year-old called it "pretty groovy" and "lots of fun".
Kessiakoff joins road squad
Swedish mountain biker Fredrik Kessiakoff signed with ProTour Team Fuji-Servetto. He is one of the world's top mountain bike riders, but is taking his final step towards road cycling by signing with the squad.
In addition to several Swedish mountain biking titles, he has earned World Cup race wins, as well as podium places at European and World Championships. Kessiakoff has finished the last four seasons within the top five riders in the UCI Cross-Country rankings.
The rider's signing takes Fuji-Servetto's team to 24 for the season ahead. Kessiakoff is amongst a handful of late signings by the squad, which inked contracts with both Ivan Dominguez and Hilton Clarke this month.
Robbins wants Olympic ride
Australian sportsperson Sally Robbins has declared her desire to contest the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England as a cyclist. Robbins has contested several cycling events in recent months, including the Track World Cup round in Melbourne, now revealing that her interest in the sport goes beyond recreational boundaries.
The rower took the spotlight during the 2004 Olympic Games when she famously laid down in the boat during the women's eight final race. The incident saw Robbins take heat from Australian media, with leading news organisations dubbing her "Lay-down Sally".
"Getting out of a boat and on to a bike has been a sharp learning curve," Robbins told The Australian. "While I'm already missing rowing a lot and the sport will always be a big part of me, I'm starting to get the hang of cycling."
West Australian Institute of Sport head of cycling Darryl Benson believes Robbins can be successful in her cycling pursuits. Both the late Amy Gillet and Australian Open Road Champion time trialer Bridie O'Donnell have successfully made the switch from the Australian women's rowing program to cycling.
"People have got to understand Sally is wanting to find a fresh direction and deserves a go," said Benson. "Sally is quite serious about her cycling. She's not treating the switch in sport as some novelty. While she was disappointed at missing selection in the rowing team for Beijing this year, she wants to compete at the highest level again.
Cyclingnews reader poll: Best mountain bike racers
Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the 2009 Zipp 808 wheel set with the new 88/188 hub to be announced on January 5.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)