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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, February 21, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Nydam uses breakaways to send support to his Dad

By Kirsten Robbins

Scott Nydam (Team BMC) at the Tour of California
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Two weeks prior to the start of the Tour of California, BMC rider Scott Nydam's father, Ron Nydam was diagnosed with acute leukemia, made worse due to a previous low white cell count disorder. Before stage three started Wednesday morning, Nydam was leading two jersey categories as the event's most aggressive rider and king of the mountain thanks to his courageous back-to-back breakaways in stages two and three. Nydam is using his lengthy breakaways as a form of tribute to cancer patients for the strength and survival they must display on a daily basis.

"My breakaway was a statement I was trying to make, [and] even though I didn't make it to the finish by myself, I was out there showing my Dad that I was fighting," said Nydam about his efforts during stage two during which he took over the leader's jersey in the king of the mountains and the most aggressive rider classifications.

"I realized that the most I could do for my Dad was not to go see him and sit next to him but to let him know that we are all fighting with him and for him. As cyclist we are willing to put our nose to the wind and go up the road and go against the odds. There were a couple of times yesterday when I went up the road and got choked up thinking about my Dad. I know he speaks about how weak he feels right now and I think as cyclists we can relate to that because sometimes we just don't have what we feel we need to get through and make it to the end. I think there is a strong correlation here, and that was on my mind going into my break away."

Scott Nydam (BMC) still out front
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

According to Nydam, cancer specialists have said that his father's cancer is in remission after completing a first round of chemo therapy. However, his previous low white blood cell counts are making his Dad's body unable to fight off infections that spread in stressful treatments and during illness. "We seem to have beaten the cancer for now but he will have to go through more chemo treatments," said Nydam. "Right now they are trying to get his white blood cell count up so that he can fight infections."

Before starting the Tour of California, Nydam had a heart to heart discussion with his director Gavin Chilcott about the option of sitting out the race in order to be with his father, but according to Nydam, starting the event seemed like the biggest way he could help his father. "There are still a lot more battles my Dad will have to go through ahead," said a realistic Nydam.

"Gavin and I spoke about cycling and how important it was in the whole grand scheme of life. As far as life and death it's not that important but as far as what cycling brings to my family, my friends and my Dad, it's a very important thing. The biggest thing with my family is that we started calling my Dad Lance because that is the mentality that he needs. He needs a Lance Armstrong mentality to think he can beat this," said Nydam, who then added humbly, "I'm really appreciative about being in this race."

Complimenting the Tour of California race sponsorship, Amgen developed the Break Away from Cancer initiative that will raise funds for the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in America and the Wellness Community, which is dedicated to providing free support, education and hope for cancer patients. "I know that there is strong cancer foundation movement in California and in cycling in general right now," said Nydam.

Tour of California leader abandons

Tyler Farrar (Slipstream/Chipotle)...
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Fans and fellow racers were surprised Wednesday when race leader Tyler Farrar (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30) dropped off the pace on the climb just 72 km into stage three of the Tour of California from Modesto to San José. He made it back to the peloton but was soon off again, this time falling quickly behind the caravan and then pulling out of the race at about 85km.

The promising Farrar was suffering miserably on all of the climbs and was at times seen shaking his head as he could not hold the pace. The 23 year-old complained of a stomach ailment - perhaps due to food poisoning or the flu. The unfortunate Farrar then had to ride the rest of the stage in the broom wagon. Astana's Levi Leipheimer rode into the lead with a decisive performance for the day.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for in depth post-race coverage of the Tour of California stage three.

McQuaid speaks against Astana's Tour de France exclusion

UCI President is unhappy about the Tour de France organizers' decision to exclude the Astana team of last year's winner Alberto Contador. The organizers announced their decision last week, and McQuaid criticized the decision and accused organizers of singling out Astana with the team's non-selection.

"It would be a tragedy if Contador is not allowed to defend his title," said McQuaid to El Pais. "It is a complete disgrace. We will do all we can to ensure Contador rides in the Tour."

What may be next is legal action. "We need to take action, which we'll do as a consequence of their decisions," McQuaid said to the Associated Press by phone. "The reason goes completely against sport. ... There is no way that UCI can allow it. It's up to our legal department to study the situation and then begin discussions with ASO before action can be taken."

Astana seems to have taken over the role previously occupied by Unibet in 2007, as a major pawn in the UCI and Grand Tour organizer power struggle.

"How can you have the best riders in the world not take part? It's a joke. It's absurd," said McQuaid to the Associated Press. He was referring not just to Contador, but also to his team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. Leipheimer finished in third place, on the podium last year after Australia's Cadel Evans. McQuaid also expressed his sympathy for Kazakh people, who hail from the nation that sponsors the Astana team.

2008 Health Net Camp: Quality versus quantity

By Kirsten Robbins

Mike Tamayo introducing his 2008 riders.
Photo ©: Kirsten Robbins
(Click for larger image)

Health Net presented by Maxxis' newly promoted team director Mike Tamayo validated the team's rumoured budget cutbacks at their recent seven-day training camp held in Solvang, California. Stretching a dollar might seem an anomaly for the four-time NRC championship team because they previously supported a lengthy image of high-class status on the American cycling scene. Fortunately, untrue to hearsay, the well oiled 'green machine' has experienced little to no setbacks, especially when it comes down to their high profile athletes, quality equipment and loaded race schedule.

Mike Tamayo noted that his transition into Health Net's director, successor to Jeff Corbett, who headed the team for five years, happened in the midst of the 2007 season, when Corbett began contemplating an unexpected retirement. "My directing role started evolving and progressing last summer," acknowledged Tamayo, regarding his responsibility for the team during several key events. "We talked about it and I took over more responsibilities by the end of the season, to make a smooth transition into being the head director. He was leading the team in the Tour of California and we started the transition from there, so that by the time we finished the last race in the Tour of Missouri, he handed me the car keys and said 'good luck and have a good season.'"

According to Tamayo, his team withstood financial adjustments because of a six-year strong foundation of sponsors, including Health Net insurance, Cannondale and Maxxis equipment. And the riders and staff are not going without the amenities provided when being a part of a professional team. "I say that because last year we were staying at the Ramada and this year we are staying at a winery and spa in Solvang," said Tamayo at his classic team presentation over fine dining and candle-lit ambiance.

"From an equipment perspective our sponsors are solid. How the budget impacted us, yes we had cutbacks, but they are administratively, internally and within marketing. There are ways we were able to tweak here and there, to accommodate for our budget to be able to have the same solid riders and racing schedule – we are still the same Health Net."

The unintended mismanagement of sponsorship dollars in professional cycling happens without notice, especially when the budget only permits the director to be the manager as well. According to Tamayo, what separates himself from the rest is his ability to forecast the season, not necessarily financially, but logistically. "Being able to think ahead about where you need the staff, equipment and riders to go is a big money saver," said Tamayo.

Read the complete feature.

Toyota-United with new faces and new goals

By Kirsten Robbins

Team directors Scott Moninger and Len Pettyjohn.
Photo ©: Kirsten Robbins
(Click for larger image)

Toyota-United finished their third annual training camp held at the Wine Valley Inn in historical downtown Solvang, California. Not even rainy days could dampen the spirit of the revamped squad, outfitted in their rendition of the star spangled banner, symbolic of one of the strongest teams to currently compete on American soil. However, with their traditional kit comes a fresh and inspiring mentality initiated by the team's two latest signings, Director Sportif Len Pettyjohn and his first-hand assistant Scott Moninger.

The dynamic duo spoke about collectively commanding a large-scale team. With over two decades of bike racing experience, they are offering a new approach to the professional team's previous direction, aiming towards the better health and physical well being of each rider to encourage further success.

The high profile team underwent several management changes from its start in 2006 to the end of the 2007 season. Harm Jansen retired and Frankie Andreu was let go by the team. The team's owner, Sean Tucker, is motivated for a fresh start by hiring Len Pettyjohn, who brought with him one of America's most decorated cyclists, Scott Moninger. "Scott and Len have been a duo for about twenty years and they have a great working relationship," said Tucker, touching on the lengthy history between the two directors.

"I've been working with them for the last four months and we are off to a good start. They are both very professional and Scott is doing an excellent job in terms of his transition from being a rider to a director. You'd think he'd worked at IBM before because he's so professional and knows what to say, what not to say and I think the guys have a lot of respect for both of them. I'm watching it all happen closely and it's going smoothly."

Ivan Dominguez is kicking back in Solvang.
Photo ©: Kirsten Robbins
(Click for larger image)

Years of working in the cycling industry, from directing some of the top US-based teams, including the former Coors Light squad in the early 1990's, to managing the CyberBike indoor race program, give Pettyjohn a good background for management. Furthermore, having promoted well known cycling events like the former Saturn Classics equip him with the leadership and marketing skills needed to direct Toyota-United.

The 66 year-old accepted the role under the condition that he would have the right to pick the riders and staff and his first selection included Moninger, a former athlete and long time friend. "Scott, who just finished racing, knows every metre of every course we are going to race on and knows every rider and their characteristics," continued Tucker. "So, we now have Len with his deep knowledge and experience combined with Scott, who is up to date on the racing side – they're like ying and yang."

Read the complete feature.

Lastras keeps his cool

Despite a second consecutive win for Milram's Alessandro Petacchi, Caisse d’Epargne rider Pablo Lastras kept his overall lead after stage four of the Vuelta a Andalucía from La Guardia de Jaén to Écija on Wednesday.

"Things occurred exactly as I hoped and we could reckon on the help of the teams of the sprinters to neutralize the breakaways," said Lastras after he crossed the finishing line.

"The entire team did a great job, as it already did it in the previous stages. Tomorrow will not be an easy day and we will have to be very careful, but I hope to finish this race the best possible way, which means on the first step of the podium," said the Caisse d'Epargne rider.

After his win, Petacchi lauded his team-mates, crediting them for "always maintaining control over the five escapees without giving them too much of a margin." He added happily, "I feel really good to be able to give my team the third win of the year."

Tinkoff happy about selections

Not everyone is upset about the recent selections for the Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo. Astana and Acqua & Sapone were among the teams not invited, but Italian squad Tinkoff Credit Systems made the cut.

"There is great satisfaction among Tinkoff Credit Systems, after its official invitation to the Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo races," said General Manager Stefano Feltrin.

"We are happy to be invited by RCS to dispute these two prestigious competition on the international calendar, and we will make every effort to honor the confidence expressed in our team." Team President Oleg Tinkov indicated the decision showed a great respect for his team in the current racing climate.

Team sprint selection race to highlight Revolution

Great Britain's women's team sprinters Reade and Pendleton.
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

After not winning a medal at the Copenhagen Track World Cup in the team sprint, Great Britain's riders will be feeling the pressure to make the team sprint squad for the upcoming World Championships. British Cycling is using the upcoming Revolution on February 23 to help select the lead-out man for the team.

At the Revolution, Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Craig MacLean will simulate a standing start Team Sprint riding a two man 500m time trial. Staff seems to be the favourite after his lead out ride in Copenhagen, which placed him fastest first man in qualification.

"My form's good at the moment, the standing start at Revolution should be exciting!" said Staff. "In training and prior to Copenhagen I'd been doing some good times on the track. In Copenhagen, I was lucky enough to get two rides and in the first one, did the fastest time out of anyone. The track conditions weren't great so I can only really compare myself to other riders. Going on that beating Gregory Bauge shows my form is really good."

"Now its crunch time for Worlds selection and I'm extremely confident that I'll be chosen to lead out the team," said Staff. "My hard work's been paying off; I beat Jason by three tenths of a second and Craig wasn't on great form either so for the team, Copenhagen was disappointing."

Both Kenny and MacLean know they have to raise their game for the selection event at Revolution. "My form's not too bad at the moment," said Kenny. "I've been resting since getting back from Copenhagen and trying to get fresh for the weekend's competition. My form was really good before I went out to Copenhagen but to be honest I was disappointed with my standing lap. But I'm back now and I'm hoping it'll all come good this weekend."

MacLean will be relying on his experience and motivation from the crowd to help him perform.

"My form's not the best it's ever been. But given the pressure of Worlds selection I can raise my game a little hopefully. Jamie and Jason have been going well so it'll be tough. I'm not a million miles away though so we'll just have to see on the night; with the crowd behind me and a number on my back it can make all the difference."

The special selection event will come first in the race programme, so that the riders can recover and participate in sprint events later in the evening.

In the women's sprint competition, Victoria Pendleton will face Dutch Sprinter Willy Kanis, who dominated at Copenhagen beating Pendleton to win both the sprint and keirin. Kanis and Pendleton will race in a sprint omnium which will also feature Holland's Yvonne Hijgenaar, French sprinters Sandie Clair and Virginie Cueff and Britain's Anna Blyth.

Ponzi out with mono

Brescia rider and U23 Italian champion Simone Ponzi has been forced to take a break from his bike after being diagnosed with the mononucleosis virus.

A disappointed Ponzi said, "I had the condition to be a protagonist at races like the Coppa San Geo, the Trofeo Balestra and the Palio del Recioto and to bring satisfaction to my team. I hope to return to competing and winning soon."

Barloworld for Trofeo Laigueglia

Team Barloworld will face the Trofeo Laigueglia on February 23 in the Liguria region of Italy. Directed by Alberto Volpi, the team will comprise of Enrico Gasparotto, Steven Cummings, John Lee Augustyn, Patrick Calcagni, Gianpaolo Cheula, Marco Corti, Paolo Longo Borghini and Carlo Scognamiglio.

"We are looking forward to seeing how our cyclists perform as this race and the Vuelta Algarve [already in progress - ed.] will serve as a good indication of the shape they are in. We hope these races will prove to be challenging and prepare the team for the upcoming Giro del Capo and Cape Argus which takes place in South Africa in March," said Claudio Corti, Team Barloworld Manager.

Unfortunately, one rider who's having a tough February and will not be racing is Mauricio Soler. He did not start the Vuleta Algarve due to a knee injury.

Fitchburg Longsjo Classic partners with benefactor

The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic (FLC), an American race that draws 900 amateur and pro cyclists annually to its four-day classic stage race in North Central Massachusetts, named the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) as its Charity Sponsor for 2008. The organization's Ride to the Races will serve as a PMC fundraiser.

"We are pleased to be a part of the PMC family," said FLC President George Gantz. "The PMC has done so much for the sport of cycling and for cancer research. Some of our volunteers and racers have ridden the PMC. Now we get a chance to support it as part of our own cycling event."

"There is real symmetry in two long-standing New England traditions, representing two different sides of the wonderful sport of cycling, working together for the good of the sport and humankind," said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC.

PMC attracts 5,000 riders and 2,500 volunteers to central and south-east Massachusetts for a two-day cycling event in August each year. The PMC has raised more than US$200M in support of cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute - $33M in 2007 alone. This year's event is set for August 2-3.

The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic is set for July 3-6 and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2009. The FLC's Ride to the Races program, to be held July 6, was initiated in 2006 and provides an opportunity for recreational cyclists to enjoy watching the racing spectacle and also riding themselves on some of Art Longsjo's training routes.

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