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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, February 6, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

43rd Tirreno-Adriatico route announced

By Gregor Brown

The peloton heads uphill at last year's race
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

RCS Sport has announced the parcours of the 43rd edition of the Corsa dei Due Mari, Tirreno-Adriatico. The race, organised by the same company that handles the Giro d'Italia and Milano-Sanremo, will consist of seven stages as it travels from west to east across Italy March 12 - 18.

The 2008 edition of the race will follow the traditional parcours, going from Mar Tirreno to Mar Adriatico, clocking 1123 kilometres along the way. Tirreno-Adriatico – won in 2007 by Andreas Klöden – offers an alternative to those not riding in the Paris-Nice, March 9 to 16, and a 'warm-up' to the Milano-Sanremo, March 22. Overall, it is a race that respects the riders' early season form, with stages for sprinters and all-arounders.

Stage one kicks off in Civitavecchia and the finale is the traditional lungomare sprint stage in San Benedetto del Tronto. The organisers included an individual time trial for the third year in a row on stage five, previously the 'race of truth' had been absent from the event for some time. This year's test will run 26 kilometres from Macerata to Recanati.

Full stage details and the much anticipated list of invited teams will be revealed on February 21 in Civitavecchia (Lazio)

43rd Tirreno-Adriatico stages:
Stage 1 - March 12, Civitavecchia - Civitavecchia, 160km   
Stage 2 - March 13, Civitavecchia - Gubbio, 203km   
Stage 3 - March 14, Gubbio - Montelupone, 195km   
Stage 4 - March 15, Porto Recanati - Civitanova Marche, 167km   
Stage 5 - March 16, Macerata - Recanati TT, 26km   
Stage 6 - March 17, Civitanova Marche - Castelfidardo, 196km   
Stage 7 - March 18, San Benedetto del Tronto - San Benedetto del Tronto, 176km

Paris-Nice to name teams

French race organiser ASO has announced it will release the names of the teams that will take part in this year's Paris-Nice, which starts on March 9, on February 13. The official team presentation will take place on February 19 in Amilly, the start town of the 2008 edition.

Paris-Nice, along with all the other races organised by the ASO, no longer form part of the ProTour calendar, meaning the organisers are free to invite teams of any level to compete. Always seen as a good indicator as to who the ASO would like to see at the Tour de France later in the year, the selection for Paris-Nice is sure to be highly anticipated by many teams.

Last week, RCS Sport announced the teams that had been selected for the Giro, leaving high profile ProTour teams like Astana, High Road, Crédit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom out, while lesser known teams like NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte will be included in the race.

Sulzberger joins LeTua

By Jean-François Quénet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bernard Sulzberger, the older brother of Wesley, will ride for LeTua
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Australian cyclist Bernard Sulzberger thought his cycling career was going nowhere when the Pro Continental team Pedaltech he was contracted to folded three weeks ago. But on Saturday, while riding the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand, he received a phone call offering him to join the Malaysian continental team LeTua.

By Tuesday morning Sulzberger was already training nearby Kuala Lumpur with his new team-mates Anuar Manan, Sayuti Zahit and Ahmad Haidar Anuwar who have claimed most of the titles including the overall victory with their Indonesian partners Tonton Susanto and Ryan Ariehaan at the 2.2 Jelajah Malaysia last month.

"It's a great opportunity for me to join this team for Le Tour de Langkawi," the 24-year-old Tasmanian said during a launch at the National Press Club of Malaysia. "My role will be to assist the team in the lead out for Anuar Manan, who I have seen is a powerful sprinter."

Shukor Yassin, the team manager of LeTua, was very enthusiastic to welcome his first "mat salleh" [white man in Bahasa Malaysia] rider who was also the King of the Mountains at the Herald Sun Tour in October last year. "We needed that strength," he said. "Bernard is probably that missing link we require to give the best European sprinters' teams a run for their money."

Therefore, there will be two Sulzbergers on the start line in Alor Setar on Saturday, with Bernard's younger brother Wesley also in the picture with Australia will be the country with the highest number of participants in Le Tour de Langkawi, which runs from February 9-17, starting with no fewer than 18 riders.

Langkawi not bothered about ProTour

By Jeff Jones,

Langkawi not worried about decline in ProTour teams
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Malaysia's Le Tour de Langkawi says that it isn't worried about not being a part of the ProTour and therefore not attracting all the top teams. Organisers claim the reduction in ProTour teams contesting the event is a reflection on happenings within the sport on an international scale rather than a reflection on the event itself.

This year's race, which runs from February 9-17, will feature just three ProTour squads: Credit Agricole, Bouygues Telecom and Ag2r-La Mondiale. But the race organisers say that's not a problem, instead pointing to the number of teams coming that will be riding at least one of the three grand tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España). CSF-Navigare, Tinkoff, NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli and Karpin-Galicia all fall into this group.

"For those who follow cycling, it will be a subjective matter in deciding what the pinnacle of cycling is," said Datuk Naim Mohamad, the race's chief operating officer in a statement. "For most, the three grand tours - Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España - are incomparable, the best of the best in stage race cycling.

"Besides the committee, we had evaluated input from contacts in Europe and dealt directly with teams which were interested. Finally we realised that it didn't really matter, in fact we went for the option of pursuing teams with better followings, which are those that compete in the grand tours."

The approach of Le Tour de Langkawi is in contrast to that taken by Australia's Tour Down Under, which has been pursuing ProTour status for several years. It was finally awarded it in 2008 meaning that local fans could see the world's top 18 teams in action. But that was a two-edged sword as for the first time ever, each stage was decided in a bunch sprint. And the most aggressive team in the race was the non-ProTour team, UniSA. Le Tour de Langkawi has taken this on board:

"At this stage, to identify the level of a team is not necessarily by which tier of the league they belong to, but by how good their teams are," said Datuk Naim. "And to most of us, the best teams are those who compete in the big three races. On top of that, we want the teams who come here to perform, not just be here because they are ProTour teams.

"This doesn't necessarily mean that we'll always stick to this format in our selection, but this can be quite interesting as well ... We always think of the European teams as the strongest, but if you look at what happened last year, it was Asia's best team - Giant Asia - who bagged the overall team title. This is why I believe we need to keep up to date and be able to provide a nice balance of teams in order to have an interesting race."

The race starts on February 9 with a 182km stage from Alor Star, Kedah to Kepala Batas, Penang. It finishes nine days and 1,377km later in Kuala Lumpur. Due to logistical problems, the main climbing stage has been moved from Genting Highlands to Fraser's Hill.

Cycle-Collstrop start season at Bessèges

Cycle-Collstrop will make it's debut at the French race de Ster van Bessèges from January 6-10. The new squad is run by Hilaire Van Der Schueren, who founded the outfit after folded at the end of last season following a year of political termoil.

"We will just have to wait and see what my riders can do," Van Der Schueren said. "All of them had their own program, we didn't have a team training camp. Each of the guys were able work through their training programs over the last few months thanks to the good weather. We will ride at Bessèges just to get back into the rhythm of racing. I won't be putting any pressure on the guys at all."

Van Der Schueren's former ProTour outfit collapsed after it was sidelined from many races, with major organisers claiming that allowing an online gambling sponsored squad to compete on certain nation's soil would be illegal. The claims, which left the team losing court battles for its right to compete for much of the year, were widely believed to be a guise for the ongoing UCI Vs. Grand Tour organisers battle.

"Steffen Wesemann has made the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix his target," Van Der Schueren said. "After Bessèges we will take a selection to the Ruta del Sol and the Tour of Algarve before returning for Omloop Het Volk, Kuurne and the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen."

Teams taking part in the Ster van Bessèges:
Silence-Lotto, Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Ag2r, Bouygues Telecom, Française des Jeux, Slipstream, Agritubel, Elk Haus, Auber 93, Team Sean Kelly, Bretagne, Apiflo Vacances, Roubaix-Lille Metropole, Miche-Silver Cross, Differdange and Cycle Collstrop

Women's Omloop Het Volk popular with teams

The third edition of the Omloop Het Volk for women will be held on Sunday, March 16, and it has proven its popularity. A massive 44 teams applied to take part, forcing the race managment to make some tough choices to come up with the allowed 25 teams.

The selected UCI teams, listed below, will be joined by the Belgian national team and Blegian teams De Sprinters Malderen, KSV Deerlikj, Squadra Ciclista Feminile Liederkerke, and Royal Antwerp BC.

20 UCI teams will race: Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team (Belgium), Lotto-Belisol (Belgium), Vrienden van het Platteland (Netherlands), AA Drink Cycling Team (Netherlands), Team Flexpoint (Netherlands), Team DSB Bank (Netherlands), Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung (Germany), Swift Racing (Great Britain), Team Pro Féminin Les Carroz (France), Vienne Futuroscope (France), Team Cmax Dila (Italy), Menikini-Selle Italia (Italy), Top Girls Fassa Bortolo (Italy), Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan (Italy), Team Specialized (Switzerland), Cervélo Lifeforce Cycling Team (Switzerland), Bigla Team (Switzerland), Bizkaia-Durango (Spain), Giant Pro Cycling Team (Hong Kong) and Pol Aqua Professional Women Road Team (Poland).

Vandenbroucke tries again

Frank Vandenbroucke started his first race of the season this past Sunday, the GP La Marseillaise, and had to end it after only 50 km. "In the first hour we average 48km/hour," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I immediately went into the red and couldn't breathe."

The Mitsubishi-Jartazi rider denied any new physical problems. "I am totally healthy, and I had a good feeling from training. But then, I'm not 20 any more, right? And maybe my legs need the racing."

Vandenbroucke's next race will be the Etoile de Bessèges, a five-day race in southern France which starts on Wednesday. He will take it easy, "not force anything and ride it out. With me you never know, within two days everything can change," he said.

ProTour council adds four

The ProTour Council officially welcomed four news members at its meeting on Monday in Geneva, including newly elected Association of Professional Cyclists president Cédric Vasseur (France). In addition to the Frenchman Italy's Dario David Cioni, a rider on the Silence-Lotto team; Eric Boyer (France), President of AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Teams), and Cofidis le Crédit par Téléphone team manager; and Henri Van Der Aat (the Netherlands), General Manager of the Rabobank team were appointed to the Council.

Vasseur and Cioni will act as the new riders' representatives while Boyer and Van Der Aat are the new team representatives on the Council.

One issue discussed at Monday's meeting was the further globalisation of the ProTour, after it successful held its first non-European round in Australia last month. The Council said discussions to hold events in both China and Russia are "progressing".

"The UPTC is also delighted with the success of the first event of the 2008 UCI ProTour, the Tour Down Under, which was held in Australia from 22-27 January," said a post-meeting release from the ProTour Council.

In addition to discussing the biological passport system, the Council also approved the concept of Wild Card status, which ensures that all UCI Professional Continental Teams that may be invited to UCI ProTour races meet the same sporting, ethical, legal and financial requirements that apply to UCI ProTour teams. Riders from teams with this status will also be required to have biological passports, the Council announced.

Bicycling encyclopedia Brown passes away

By Gary Boulanger,

Sheldon Brown, the human encyclopedia of bicycling knowledge and a famous employee of Harris Cyclery in Massachusetts, died of a massive heart attack Sunday evening, February 3, according to his wife Harriet.

The 63-year-old bicycle expert was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in August 2007, limiting his prior upright bicycling and workload. His many trademarks include a longish gray leprechaun beard and shaved head. He was also well-known for patiently and thoroughly answering his 500 - 1000 daily e-mails.

Our thoughts are with Brown's family during their time of loss. His contributions to the bicycle industry were great, and his enduring legacy shall be greater.

Redlands gets new stage in Beaumont

The 24th Annual Redlands Bicycle Classic will host its first circuit race through the city of Beaumont in 2008, organisers have announced. The rolling 17 mile course will take racers around the perimeter of the city. Men will complete five laps, and women four laps of the challenging course featuring approximately 1200 feet of climbing per lap, as well as KOM and sprint points.

"The city of Beaumont is honoured and excited to be a part of this year's Redlands Bicycle Classic," said Beaumont Mayor Brian DeForge. "We look forward to working with the organizers, competitors, and viewing public to showcase our beautiful community."

The 24th Annual Redlands Bicycle Classic will continue its four day format under the guidance of race director Dan Rendler, and the all volunteer organizing committee. "The city of Beaumont is an excellent venue for the first stage of our 2008 race," said Rendler. "We are confident that the racers will find the new circuit course challenging and look forward to a long term partnership with the city."

This year's event begins with a torturous prologue Time Trial on April 3, the Beaumont Circuit Race April 4, the downtown Redlands figure-eight Criterium April 5, and finishing with the final stage on April 6, the famous Sunset Road Race through the hills of Redlands.

"We are excited the Redlands Bicycle Classic race committee has selected the city of Beaumont for their Circuit Race," said Beaumont Police Chief Frank Coe. "We look forward to welcoming the racers to our community and hope to develop a continuing relationship hosting future stages as well."

Grandview date announced

The Germain Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic will celebrate 16 years in central Ohio when the event returns to Grandview Heights on June 28 and 29 this year. The event features two days of bicycle racing through the streets of suburban Grandview, as well as a number events and activities for spectators and cyclists alike.

"The Germain Tour de Grandview is a wonderful tradition and one of the great summer events in central Ohio," said Grandview Heights Mayor Ray DeGraw. "We're pleased to be bringing the race back for the 16th time in 2008 and look forward to another star-studded field, some incredible racing, and a great time for all those who come out to enjoy and support it."

Among the events scheduled for this year's race are a Kids' Sprints competition and Ohio Series Criterium race on Saturday afternoon; a Saturday night street party with food, drinks, live entertainment and children's activities; and a final set of criterium races on Sunday afternoon.

The races will feature both men and women cyclists in multiple professional categories. The criterium courses will cover a number of the hilly, tree-lined streets on either side of Grandview Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare.

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