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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, January 17, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Sánchez targets Paris-Nice

By Hedwig Kröner

Luis Leon Sanchez looks ahead to the 2008 season
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

As the season begins in Australia with the Tour Down Under, the first important European races aren't very far away anymore. In France, the cycling year begins with the GP d'Ouverture in Marseille on February 3, followed by the Tour Méditerranéen and the more famous 'race to the sun', Paris-Nice from March 9-16. Last year, the event organised by Tour de France owner ASO was scored by Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), who later won the French Grand Tour.

The young Spaniard's goals now obviously lying later in the season, Contador will be using Paris-Nice for training only this year. But who could then be an overall contender in the South of France this spring? Amongst others, this will be Caisse d'Epargne's Luis León Sánchez, who won a stage in the 2007 race (stage 6 to Cannes) and finished third on General Classification, 42 seconds behind his former Liberty Seguros team-mate.

Sánchez confirmed this at the team Caisse d'Epargne presentation in Paris last week, before flying out to Australia to compete in the Tour Down Under.

"My first objective this season is Paris-Nice," the 24 year-old told Cyclingnews. "I want to have a strong start in the Tour Méditerranéen, continue with Valencia [Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana - ed.] and then Paris-Nice. I hope to be able to use my opportunities there. Later in the season, I hope to do the Tour de France to help Oscar (Pereiro) and Alejandro (Valverde). They told me if everything works out well in Paris-Nice, I'll do the Tour to see what I can do there."

It will not be the first participation in the Tour for Sánchez, as he already raced in the event in 2005 with his former team Liberty Seguros. "A very nice memory," he said. Still, the young Spaniard dreams about Paris-Nice as a realistic goal - one that would make his 2008 season a success. "I would be very satisfied if I won Paris-Nice," Sánchez added. "Having finished third and won a stage there last year, I think I can try for the overall victory. It's a beautiful race; it would be very important to me to win it."

Asked if he thought the victory in the 'race to the sun' could be an indicator for further triumph, as in the case of Contador, Sánchez was reluctant to compare himself to his former team-mate. "Contador is on another level," he said. "Last year, he demonstrated that he can be a great champion. Only very few riders can claim such a bright future for themselves as he can. We get on well; he is one and a half years older than me. With a lot of work, I hope to improve my abilities, too, but reaching his level will be very difficult."

FRF Couriers-NSWIS launch '08 squad

By Greg Johnson

The 2008 FRF Couriers-NSW Institute of Sport squad
Photo ©: TenPoint
(Click for larger image)

Australian Continental squad FRF Couriers-NSW Institute of Sport launched its 2008 team at a function held near Sydney's Harbour Bridge overnight. The 12-man development squad was unveiled at the Harbour View Hotel, with the function hosted by SBS television sports presenter Michael Tomalaris.

The evening commenced with a thank you from Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks, who praised the New South Wales squad for its efforts in helping develop the nation's young cyclists. "This team is a very important development component of where cycling is going in Australia and the role you play is probably underestimated," said Fredericks. "Not just in Sydney, not just in New South Wales; what you're doing has a national impact, so I'd like to thank and congratulate you for that."

The 2008 outfit includes the likes of former Under 23 Australian Time Trial Champion Shaun Higgerson, who has moved to the outfit from "The sky is the limit for Shaun, he's such a talent he actually doesn't realize how good he can be; he will do something very special," said NSWIS coach Gary Sutton, who won Cycling Australia's Coach of the Year title in 2007. "We have got such a great team; we have so many young people here. It does look promising for the season ahead, but nothing comes easy and talk is cheap. It's going to be a great year."

NSWIS coach Gary Sutton
Photo ©: John Stevenson
(Click for larger image)

Another of the team's promising young talents in 2008 is Joe Lewis. Lewis, a new signing to the team in 2008, won the Dutch post-Tour de France criterium Drai Van De Kai's junior race in 2007 and felt honoured to be apart of the FRF-NSWIS squad.

"It's an honour to have been selected for this squad, coming through the Under 19s, I've always aimed to be a part of this team this year," said Lewis. "It's also helped me continue my studies and balance my cycling with the resources available to this team."

The outfit is aiming at strong results on home shores in events such as the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and will again travel abroad to give its young outfit a taste of racing overseas. Among the international events, the team plans to contest in the 2008 Tours of Ireland and Qinghai Lake.

"I'm excited about the year ahead, we've got some pretty good young riders," said FRF Couriers owner Frank Fortuna. "If we can get some good results with young riders, we'll get a sense of achievement from that."

This year will be the Oceania Continental squad's second season, after the outfit was formed at the start of 2007 when New South Wales teams FRF Couriers and New South Wales Institute of Sport, then both smaller individual squads, pooled their resources to former a larger outfit.

The FRF-NSWIS 2008 roster is: John Ebeling, Joe Lewis, Tim Guy, Brendan Brooks, Chris Jory, Robbie Cater, Peter Herzig, Dale Scarfe, Ben Johnson, Shaun Higgerson, Anthony Bennett and Jason Hegert.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by TenPoint

Images by John Stevenson

IPCT supports biological passport

The International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) issued a press release on Thursday, reiterating their support of the new biological passport for the riders, the UCI's latest anti-doping tool. The 17 ProTour teams represented by the association "expressed once more in a unanimous way their commitment to a unified Anti-Doping programme and participation to the establishment of a biological passport for all riders competing in top events."

But the ProTour teams make it clear they do not want to carry the responsibility alone, saying "for all major competitions (being the 2008 ProTour races and all events that were previously part of the ProTour) [the ProTour teams] can only compete with (Pro Continental) teams whose riders have a biological passport as well."

The organisers of the major competitions have been informed of this decision.

Ex-champions race in Hasselt Six Day

The Six Day race in Hasselt, Belgium, will be trying something new - or is it something old? Johan Museeuw (42), Ludo Dierckxsens (43), Marc Wauters (38), Wilfried Peeters (43), Jo Planckaert (37) and Eric Schoefs (41) will form two teams and compete for the Omnium Trophy for (ex-) champions.

The former pros will race for the fastest lap and pursuit, as well as a finale featuring keirin, to see which of them still "has the best condition and track qualities," as the race organiser put it.

CSC signs Bøchman

Lasse Bøchman will join team CSC this spring, the squad announced Thursday. He "has impressed so much during Team CSC's training camp in Mallorca that the young Danish talent will be given a contract with the team."

The 24 year-old rode as a stagiaire for the outfit directed by Bjarne Riis last fall, but only briefly, crashing badly in the Tour of Ireland. Bøchman and three other young riders were invited to the training camp.

"He's a huge talent and he's proved that to us all here in Majorca. He's got the right attitude and it's obvious that he's been eager to prove himself during the camp," said team manager Bjarne Riis. "We weren't actually planning on any more additions to the team this year, but Lasse is simply to big a talent to pass up. He deserves to get a contract, and I think we'll get to see a lot more of him."

Bøchman currently rides for the Danish team Glud &, Marstrand, and will join CSC "some time" this spring. "It's a childhood dream come true," the young Dane commented. "I was determined to be on absolute top form for the first camp. I was and I'm extremely happy to sign as a pro with Team CSC."

No Jaksche for Collstrop - yet

Jörg Jaksche won't be riding for Team Cycle Collstrop. "Our team is full," said sport manager Hilaire Van der Schueren, discarding the transfer rumour. "I really have spoken with Jaksche, but it is not yet clear when he can start racing again. For this reason a transfer is not under discussion," according to team manager Jacques Hanegraaf in Sportwereld.

Earlier this week, the German rider had indicated that he was in negotiations with the new Belgian Professional Continental team. He is currently serving a one-year suspension after having confessed to having used EPO, growth hormones and blood-doping over the course of his career.

Hanegraaf indicated that he might not be opposed to signing Jaksche, but not at this time. "Jaksche himself is in a position which a lot of other riders could be in. Because he confessed under pressure, he is all of a sudden a very large bogeyman, while other riders are untouched or do a staged confession. I simply find that hypocritical," he said.

The Belgian would also be interested in signing Andrey Kashechkin, if the former Astana rider was cleared of blood-doping charges. Hanegraaf already asked the Kazakhstan rider "how it stands with his trial. Kash is still a very talented cyclist and he should have a place in well-structured cycling. If he is cleared, then I will jump directly to sign him. Because I know that other teams will want him, too," he added.

Hanegraaf's team Cycle Collstrop came out of the ashes of team Unibet, whose sponsor bailed out of pro cycling at the end of last year. In 2003, Hanegraaf already rescued a team from disappearing after losing its sponsor: together with Jan Ullrich mentor Rudy Pevenage and the German Tour de France winner, he established Team Bianchi out of the remains of Team Coast. Unfortunately, Bianchi only subsisted for one season.

Saving the team meant a major pay cut for everyone involved, including Ullrich, who announced in early October 2003 that he would be returning to Telekom, then renamed as T-Mobile Team.

The first rumours appeared only weeks later that, without its superstar, the team would not be able to continue. Things fell apart quickly thereafter, as it was disclosed that Ullrich had not been paid since August, when he first started looking for a new employer. Nor was he the only one who was missing salaries.

By the end of November it was clear that the team had basically collapsed. Hanegraaf had to finally pull the plug on the Bianchi squad in the beginning of December.

Driver jailed for hitting British coach

Manchester Crown Court has jailed John Bowman, 20, for the 2006 crash which left British Cycling coach Simon Doughty, 46, in a wheelchair and needing round the clock care, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Judge Iain Hamilton sentenced Bowman to 18 months' jail for dangerous driving, with an additional six months for breaking an anti-social behaviour order. However, Bowman has already served 270 days on remand and so could be free in three months.

Bowman was driving a VW Golf which did not belong to him on the morning of October 29, 2006, when he hit Doughty, who was riding to work at the Manchester Velodrome. The crash threw Doughty's bike 100ft (30 metres) through the air and left him with a broken leg and pelvis and permanent brain damage.

Bowman left the scene and was arrested later. A breath test showed him under the limit at the time of his arrest but he admitted drinking the previous night. Prosecutor Adam Watkins estimated Bowman could have been at least twice the limit when he struck Doughty. Judge Hamilton called Bowman's driving selfish and senseless and said, "No sentence this court can pass could in any way restore the quality of the victim's life which has been destroyed forever."

John Mills, British Cycling's coaching, education and development director and Simon's former director said, "Whilst we welcome the sentence passed today this does not compensate for the effect the accident has had on Simon's life. Simon was a highly valued member of British Cycling's coaching and education team and the author of a number of cycling publications and coaching resources. The fact that Simon is no longer able to work as a result of the accident is a personal tragedy, which has also affected Simon's family, colleagues and friends."

Simon Doughty is the author of "The Long Distance Cyclists' Handbook" and co-author of "The Cyclist's Training Manual". He was a British Cycling Senior Coaching and Education Officer and former manager of the British women's team.

Pliuschin injured

Moldavian rider Alexandr Pliuschin crashed during a training ride in Switzerland on January 14 and fractured his collarbone, as well as suffering a head trauma. The AG2R rider had been scheduled to start racing in the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, but he will be replaced by Cédric Pineau.

Further examinations will show if Pliuschin needs surgery to restore his collarbone. The rider will not be able to return to competition before March, according to his French team. He will therefore not participate in the upcoming AG2R training camp.

CSU Rams Cycling improves support for riders

Colorado State University, which recently earned the USA Cycling Collegiate Club of the Year designation, signed an agreement to be coached by Ainslie MacEachran and his partner and multi-time National Champion, Missy Thompson of Gemini Training Systems for the 2008-2009 academic year.

MacEachran coached the Colorado University at Boulder cycling team to a national championship in 2005 and is excited to return to coaching collegiate racers.

"I've been coaching some of their riders already," said Thompson. "And now getting to work with the whole team is really exciting."

"We were without a coach for the fall mountain bike season," said T.G. Taylor, Rams Cycling president. "And our results suffered." Taylor added that he had high hopes for improving the performances of not only the team's elite riders, but also its beginners.

The school won't have to travel far for the 2008 USA Cycling Collegiate National Road Championships, which will be held in Fort Collins, Colorado, in May.

2007 Team MACK Racing announced

Team MACK, based in Springfield, Illinois, and Pewaukee, Wisconsin, is ready for the 2008 season to begin in the Midwestern United States. Since its inception in 1992, Team MACK has celebrated 700 victories and over 1,800 podium finishes. The team's 70 members will focus on all major Midwest master events, a few NRC events, the national championships.

Elite Masters: Darrell Bratton, Gary Doering, Dan Dungan, John Fleckenstein, Steve Hall, Robert Kron, Don Lowe, Chad Martel, Chris Martel, Mark McGeen, Larry Moore, Ricardo Otero, Clark Priebe, Mike Rummelhart, Aaron Shepley, Darren Sherkat, Mark Tank, Brian Van, Dan Wellman, Jeff Williams.

For the full team roster, click here.

Team CCB/VW plans north eastern racing schedule

Team CCB/ Volkswagen is a 20 year-old elite programme based in New England in the USA. Its racers will be at the newly introduced Tour of Pennsylvania, Tour of Virginia, Longsjo Classic, US National Championships, Tour de Toona and The Univest Classic and many other races in the northeast region. Tyler Hamilton and Tim Johnson are former riders for the well established squad.

Team CCB/VW for 2008: Amos Brumble, Jeffrey Craddock, Matt O'Keefe, Dan Cassidy, Jake Hollenbach, Sasha Bielakawski, Yahor Buben, Ciaran Mangan, Will Dugan, Colin Jaskiewicz, Chris Duggan, Patrik Rostel, and Todd Paoletti.

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