First Edition Cycling News, February 11, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Brothers in arm warmers
By Steve Thomas
The Japanese Shinichi and Koji Fukushima brothers are virtual cycling legends in Asia. The two riders prepared for the Tour de Langkawi in the north of Thailand and are a regular fixture at many races, including the Tour de Langkawi, one of their favourite races. The King's Cup race was to serve as preparation for this year's Tour de Langkawi.
A few years ago, brother Koji made a name for himself with a memorable solo stage win, but he was a little less optimistic about this year's Tour de Langkawi. "Well, I've done about 30% less training than normal at this time of the year, and I know my form is not good."
"I seem to need more training than the other riders, so it's unlikely that I will perform well," he said, "but I will, of course, try! My plan is to be on top form for the second half of the season in Europe."
Trying is something in Koji's nature. He has always been known for his constant attacking. "Maybe I could get more results by playing it differently, but this is my style, and I want to keep it that way." It's a style that wins much admiration and the hearts of many as does his natural warmth and eccentricity, both of which give him a charm of his own.
The brothers were in Chiang Rai with their entire Meitan Hompo team for a pre-season training camp, largely under the impetus of Shinichi, a part-time resident of the region.
"I came here four years ago," said Shinichi. "My old coach and manager bought a small resort and said it was good for training. I brought Koji over, and then it just grew from there. We've been coming for training ever since. There are 20 of us in all at the moment."
Shinichi's love affair with this part of Thailand runs far deeper than simply training; "It's great here. I got married to a local girl in January and spend a lot of my time here. I hope we can stay here when I finish racing." An end to his racing career is far off; in fact, his involvement with Thai cycling and its development grow every day.
"I'm going to be 37 years-old this year, but I still really want to race at the top level," he said, "so I will not be stopping yet, I think as long as your head is still good you can do it.
"I also really want to help develop Thai and Asian cycling in general," said Shinichi. "There are some great riders here. But the system is as it is with many federations – not great; so I am trying to help Thai riders to develop and get them to Europe. They are very tough and strong.
"If I can get one, then two, then fifty Asian riders to Europe, it will really boost Asian cycling. But all they know about Europe is a two-hour video of the Tour de France. With the current growth rate, I think there is no reason that we cannot build an entire Asian team to compete in the Tour within a few years. That would really set the sport alight here. This is my goal," finished Shinichi.
Read the complete feature.
McCulloch wins keirin after Meares disqualified
Kaarle McCulloch collected her third gold medal at the Australian Track Cycling Championships at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome but her victory in the keirin came at the expense of 2006 Champion Kerrie Meares who crossed the line first but was disqualified.
McCulloch, who won the sprint and 500m time trial earlier this week, controlled the race from the first wheel position and tried to hold on from there. But on the final bend Meares found a way through and overtook her younger opponent on the line. However, officials ruled she had breached the keirin rules and disqualified her.
McCulloch said, regardless of Meares' disqualification, her own tactics worked against her. "I knew my best chance of winning today was riding the front where I could keep building the pace and I really would have liked to have won that on my own merit," said McCulloch. "But I just ran out of gear on the front straight so maybe next year I should try a bigger gear.
"It feels bloody good," said McCulloch, 20, of her medal haul this week. "Better than last year, I mean three golds and one silver, it's great."
Meares although disappointed accepted the officials' decision. "It's an unfortunate thing but I thought I saw an opening and I had too much speed and once you commit you can't really back pedal," said Meares. "But unfortunately for me she (eventual bronze medallist, Cassandra Kell) still had the lane.
"Rules are rules and it's part of racing, you have to cop it. You can't have a sad face about it," said Meares. "You have to learn by your actions and the rules are there to keep racing safe."
2006 Winter Olympic Games short track speed skating quarter finalist Emily Rosemond and Cassandra Kell were awarded second and third places.
See full coverage of the Australian National Track Cycling Championships.
Crashing right in front of the coach spurs on teenagers
By Gerard Knapp
Crashing, as any track cyclist will quickly tell you, is part-and-parcel of the sport. Some but fortunately few are very serious, while most are just plain embarrassing and only ruinous to a rider's chances of winning that event.
However, for a few young riders in the U19 Men's Madison in the Australian Track Cycling Championships, they managed to pull off the double – maximum embarrassment and a race win.
The spot where three riders – all from the same State, and two from the same team – came down was right under the nose of their highly experienced and respected coach, NSW Institute of Sport's head cycling coach, Gary Sutton.
"Mate, I was devastated when they went down," a relieved Sutton told Cyclingnews immediately after the event. "I was just more worried they wouldn't get back up."
With 36 laps left in the 120-lap, 20km Madison, rival NSW riders Alex Carver and Luke Davison came together on the first bend as Davison was making a change with his team-mate Aaron Donnelly.
"Alex and 'Davo' hooked handlebars, then I got tangled up with them and went down, too", explained Donnelly.
At the time, Davison and Donnelly were leading the Madison, while Carver was in second place with his team-mate Scott Law. The heavy clash of bodies and bikes sent the three riders sprawling across and down the embankment. One-by-one they got to the their feet with the help of handlers, and apart from some burns and grazes from the track that ripped their skinsuits, they were OK, and importantly, their bikes were not damaged.
With the adrenaline pumping, the leading team only missed a couple of laps – they are allowed to use up to five – as Donnelly re-mounted and got back into the fray, while Carver stayed attentive at the front of the race.
With the leaders absent, the rest of the field saw an opportunity and attacked, and the Western Australian team of Michael Frieberg and Luke Durbridge put in some hard turns off the front that split the field. Within another lap, both Davison and Carver had re-joined the fray and amazingly, they chased down the WA riders' attack and then proceeded to work together to actually lap the field, along with a team from the ACT.
The crash had impeded the progress of other teams and they never really got back on, but the riders who crashed seemed to be almost stronger and they continued to attack and counter-attack, as well as contesting all the sprints.
After the eventful 120-lap event, Davison and Donnelly won convincingly with 28 points, ahead of Carver and Law on 17, while the ACT team of M Meisel-Dennis and Thomas Palmer secured the bronze with 10 points.
"They showed great character to do that," said Sutton, a proud and relieved coach. "They've trained here (Dunc Gray Velodrome) for four months and they're all great mates."
As the riders filed back to their camp in the infield, it was hard to tell if they were triumphant or embarrassed. Sutton warmly congratulated each rider, even if he did make mention of showing scant disregard for their "new $200 skinsuits".
As the quartet warmed down on their trainers the comments inevitably started to flow, until one used the term "bastard" and they quickly learned – again – who was the boss.
"Hey! Who swore then? That's enough of that," Sutton quickly said. It would appear that his highly successful role as the coach and manager of Australia's national junior track cycling team is not in jeopardy.
Contador and Pereiro to Comunitat Valencia
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Organizers presented the 66th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Friday with a poster of Alberto Contador (Astana) and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne).
The relatively flat five-day Spanish race will be disputed between February 26 and March 1 and is expected to draw a noteworthy roster of sprinters including Daniele Bennati (Lampre), Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel (Team Milram) and locals Ruben Plaza and Javier Benitez (Lisboa e Benficra).
The first stage will take place in Sagunto over 157 kilometres. It includes two climbs: Oronet (third category) and Garb (first category). The second one will be carried out from Alzira to Xàtiva for 178 kilometres, and will have six third category climbs. The third "queen" stage will start and finish in Ibi, with 166.5 kilometres, and four climbs of the third category: Alto de Canali, Port Tudons, the Torremanzana and the Carrasqueta. 175.6 kilometres in Nàquera will mark the penultimate day before the finish in the capital city of Valencia in the 149.4-kilometre final stage.
Seventeen teams have committed including Astana, Euskaltel, Rabobank, Saunier Duval, Cofidis, Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne, Liquigas, Team Milram, Lampre, Orbea, Andalucía-Cajasur, Grupo Deportivo Murcia, Lisboa e Benfica, Slipstream, Karpin Galicia and Extremadura.
Caisse d'Epargne's Antonio Colom won in 2007.
Martínez injured in Mallorca
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The opening stage of the 17th Challenge Volta a Mallorca brought bad news for the Andalucía-Cajasur team. Jose Francisco Martínez fell with just over one kilometre remaining in the stage and fractured his left clavicle. The rider was taken to a hospital in Palma where team doctor Manuel Pueyo took x-rays and confirmed the diagnosis.
"He has a fracture of the middle third of his left clavicle, as well as a bruise to the left hip," said Dr. Pueyo. The rider was scheduled to undergo an operation to put a plate in to repair the fracture. He is expected to remain in the hospital in Mallorca overnight.
Feillu still recovering
Romain Feillu, who suffered from Toxoplasmosis in January, will return to racing in mid-April according to L'Equipe. The Agritubel rider has a strong 2007 with wins at the Tour of Britain and the Paris-Bourges. Toxoplasmosis is caused by the Toxoplasma parasite and is generally considered to be a foodborne illness according to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention
Mended Haymen to California
Rabobank's Mathew Hayman will fly to the US for the Tour of California in just two days. The Australian suffered a broken collarbone in stage four of the Tour Down Under last month. He underwent surgery with plates and screws installed to repair the broken bone and was back on his bike within a week of the crash. He has been training in Brisbane, his Queensland summer base.
Hayman was allegedly head butted by Elia Rigotto (Team Milram) just prior to his crash. Rigotto was disqualified by officials although both riders said afterward the action was unintentional.
Caisse D'Epargne for Mediterranean Tour
Caisse d'Epargne announced its line-up for the upcoming Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professional from February 13-17 in France. The team will be led by directors Yvon Ledanois and Neil Stephens.
Caisse D'Epargne for Mediterranean Tour: Anthony Charteau, Mathieu Drujon, Imanol Erviti, Iván Gutiérrez, Mathieu Perget, Oscar Pereiro, Nicolas Portal and Luis León Sánchez.
New Zealand cycling trio chase Olympic opportunity in Denmark
BikeNZ will send Alison Shanks, Hayden Roulston and Hayden Godfrey to the UCI World Track Cup in Ballerup, near Copenhagen next weekend, to keep their Beijing Olympic hopes alive.
New Zealand has qualified the men's team and individual pursuit and points race for the world championships. However they need further strong performances next weekend to qualify the men's Madison and scratch race to secure a spot at next month's world championships in Manchester. The world championships will be the final selection process for the Beijing Olympics.
Godfrey will ride the scratch race and team up with Roulston in the Madison. Roulston's usual partner Greg Henderson will not compete after suffering a gallbladder ailment after the recent Tour Down Under last month.
"Greg was admitted to hospital at his US training base in Boulder but is fine now and on the road to recovery," BikeNZ High Performance Director Mark Elliott said. "He has sufficient qualifying points to make it to the world championships in the points race where he will need a top performance to qualify for Beijing.
"We are hoping that Hayden Godfrey and Hayden Roulston can pick up some useful points in Denmark to make sure the Madison also qualifies for the world championships," said Elliott. "At the moment it's all about getting enough points across our top three riders to ensure we can make the first step to the Worlds in Manchester and then follow it through to Beijing."
Shanks was on track to qualify for the world championships in the women's individual pursuit after she placed in World Cups sixth in Sydney and ninth in Beijing, but then a crash sidelined her with a broken collarbone. She recovered and competed in the recent national road championships but will probably need to qualify for the medal ride-off in Denmark to secure her place at the Worlds and keep her Olympic dream alive. Shanks is currently ranked 14th in the world.
"The crash has set Alison back because she would have already sewn up her place for Manchester, and possibly even for the Olympics," said Elliott.
Speaking of the challenge of track cycling, Elliott said, "It's a tough ask for our leading cyclists. There's talk in other endurance sports that they have to peak twice in a year, but our riders have to peak four or five times in the space of nine months."
New Zealand National Team for the UCI World Cup in Denmark: Alison Shanks (individual pursuit), Hayden Godfrey (Madison and scratch race), Hayden Roulston (Madison) under coaches William Rastrick and Craig Palmer.
Godfrey joins Team Inferno Pro
Ohio-based Team Inferno Pro Cycling expanded its roster for 2008 by bringing on two more riders, including former multiple New Zealand National Champion Hayden Godfrey, for a total of 18 racers. The growing squad also added a goal – the Tour of Pennsylvania. Young fellow compatriots 2006 New Zealand U23 Road Race Champion Joe Cooper and returning member Joshua England will accompany Godfrey stateside.
"Hayden is a journeyman and experienced leader in the pro peloton, both in the states, as well as international competition," said Team General Manager Chad Thompson. "He has multiple national titles to his name, including the 2006 criterium title and will most likely be in Beijing this summer, representing New Zealand." The addition of Godfrey reunites him with former sprint-ace team-mates Jeff Hopkins and Marco Aledia
2008 Team Inferno Pro Cycling Roster: Marco Aledia (USA), Andy Applegate (USA), Jim Baldesare (USA), Jeff Braumberger (USA), Joe Cooper (NZl), Joshua England (NZl), Ryan Gamm (USA), Jaime Gandara (Mex), Bennet van der Genugten (USA), Hayden Godfrey (NZl), Rich Harper (USA), Jeff Hopkins (Aus), Remi McManus (USA), Christian Parrett (USA), Ryan Rish (USA), Timothy Swain (USA), Chadwick Thompson (USA) and Matt Winstead (USA).
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)