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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, June 19, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo & Ben Abrahams

Slipstream gears up for Tour with Garmin

By Laura Weislo

The team's new kit will retain its argyle pattern
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

The fact that three major teams have signed new title sponsors to begin at this year's Tour de France demonstrates that neither past doping scandals nor a split with the International Cycling Union has devalued the sport's biggest event. The Slipstream Sports organisation run by Jonathan Vaughters announced Wednesday that it had inked a deal with GPS navigation giant Garmin to back the team through the end of 2010.

The news closely followed similar announcements from Team CSC, who adds Saxo Bank to its jersey in time for the Tour, and Team High Road, who becomes Team Columbia after signing on with Columbia Sportswear through 2010.

Vaughters was looking forward to heading to France with the team re-branded in all new kits and team car decals, the design of which will not be revealed until just before the start of the Grand Boucle.

"The team is going into the Tour with the best preparation in their careers. We've been using our tech from partners like Garmin to prepare the team in a way that hasn't been done before," said Vaughters. "We're looking forward to unveiling the new kits and new branding on July 3 in Brest. We've got to keep that a little secret, but we might give a few hints."

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Buoyed by recent victories at the Giro d'Italia, where the team won the opening team time trial and had Christian Vande Velde in the pink jersey, as well as an overall victory in the Delta Tour by Chris Sutton and a world record by Taylor Phinney in the pursuit, the argyle armada will be keeping its own unique identity even though the strip will change.

"Argyle is definitely going to be part of the uniform. Argyle has become like Kansas City and Garmin is the Chiefs – it symbolizes the spirit of the team, and we're glad Garmin is OK with keeping it," said Vaughters.

Garmin's media representative Jake Jacobson said the company was more than just "OK" with keeping the trademark pattern. "There's some equity in the fact that the team can have a presence [with the argyle] – it marks the team as unique and colourful, but I can tell you the argyle is alive, and I may be biased, but I think it will be the finest looking kit on the Tour."

Doug Ellis, the financial backer of the team before Garmin signed on said that fans can expect the team to race the Tour with its usual flair. "The team's expectations haven't changed from the beginning of the season. We want to bring the most competitive squad we can to the Tour, and ride with as much committment and be an exciting and unpredictable presence. We may be able to snatch the jersey for a while, but expect to see us every day as an aggressive team which wants to make its mark on the race."

David Millar was on hand during the online conference, and added his agreement with Ellis' statement. "We want to race with panache – the whole of Team Garmin wants to leave a mark on the race and be a team the fans want to support. With Christian Vande Velde, Ryder [Hesjedal] and Julian [Dean], we can be a part of the race." Millar also hinted that there may be a chance he can take the jersey in the first week.

When asked who his favourite was to win the Tour, Vaughters tipped the obvious choice, but said he thought the race would be hard to predict. "The rider to beat is Cadel Evans, but that being said, the Tour this year is going to be a much more interesting Tour de France than it has been in years. There isn't any one team in the Tour that is strong enough to control the entire race.

"There will be quite a few stages which lend themselves to breaks getting 5-10 minutes with riders who wil defend well in the mountains and time trials. The results will be fairly unpredictable. Cunego is good at this type of racing, he's good at attacking. Sastre is always in the mix, but I think there will be some new names that I'm not coming up with like a [Thomas] Voeckler who get some time and then almost make it to Paris in yellow."

Vaughters let on to his own dream for the Tour "Maybe David or Christian or Trent [Lowe] will sneak away some time and find themselves performing beyond their expectations in the mountains and wind up with a high place on GC."

The Garmin team's roster will not be finalised until the four team directors gather on June 24 and try to pick the nine riders who will represent the squad in France, but one thing is certain, David Zabriskie will not be one of them. The moustachio'd American was injured in a crash at the Giro d'Italia, and will be out of commission due to a fractured L-1 vertebrae until mid-July, when he might return to racing at the Cascade Classic in Oregon. But Vaughters said his main goals will now be at the end of the season.

"Dave Z will not be at the Tour, but he really wants to go to the Olympics. It may be a blessing in disguise – he could be very good for the Olympic Games and Worlds, if he stays focused and wants it he'll be the world time trial champion this year."

For further reading see Garmin-Chipotle: Cycling's new deal

Schleck counts blessings, not blessures

By Shane Stokes in Caslano, Switzerland

Fränk Schleck (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

CSC team leader Fränk Schleck made his big bid for the yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday but rather than ending up with a race lead he seemed destined for, he wheeled across the line 2'52" behind the stage winner Marcus Fothen in 44th place.

The two had been over 30 seconds clear together until four kilometres to go and, with Schleck starting the day just 16 seconds behind Igor Anton in the general classification, things looked very promising. However the CSC rider misjudged a tight right-hand bend on the descent to the finish in Caslano, slamming into the guardrail, flipping over and falling down the other side. He was miraculously unharmed, apart from scrapes and bruises, and attributed his good fortune to something he carries with him while racing.

"It is a medal of my guardian angel, it brings me luck," he said after crossing the finish line, holding the talisman up for all to see. "It was given to me by my mother when I was born."

For anyone who watched the live coverage, the accident looked certain to have very serious consequences. Fothen said afterwards that he was convinced that the Luxembourg rider would have broken bones, but Schleck looks set to take the start of stage six with only scrapes and bruises.

"I am hurting here [points to his forearm - ed.] and my shoulders and fingers, and I think tomorrow I will be stiff," he said. "I lost the Tour de Suisse today, but the most important thing is that I think I will be all right for the Tour.

"I suppose that I went into the corner too fast," he continued. "I didn't realise that the corner turned so sharply and I was going too quick. I just hit the barriers and went over them. It is a pity because I would have got the yellow jersey today. I definitely felt good on the fact, I wish it had been a little longer.

Voigt benefiting from Giro kilometres

By Shane Stokes in Caslano, Switzerland

Jens Voigt (CSC) at the Giro
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Fränk Schleck's team-mate Jens Voigt was up to his usual tricks today, going clear early on in a break and putting the hurt on the other riders in the move. He said that he has come out of the Giro d'Italia strong, even if he doesn't have a zip in his legs at the start of each stage.

"I feel pretty good after the Giro," he told Cyclingnews. "Obviously after a big Tour you don't have this feeling that you are super fresh, you don't jump out of bed and go 'woohoo, I am so fresh today.' But once the race gets hard you feel it, you realise that you have done the Giro and now you can go again. You never really feel that fresh any more, but you have this 'go-power' after a big race like that."

He gave his reaction to the stage, and also to the unfortunate crash that saw Schleck lose out on the yellow jersey. "The day was hard, it was a very fast start. I made a group as planned. But I didn't ride at my best, I think I was really giving it a little bit more than I should have.

"That said, it is my job, that is what I am here cover these kind of breaks. To go where it hurts. So I kept an eye on the boys, especially the two guys who were well-placed on GC; Caucchioli from Crédit Agricole and Tschopp from Bouygues Telecom. I kept them in my sights and basically waited for my leaders to come back. They did, they attacked and all looked great until it all turned to shit on the last descent."

All is not lost for CSC, however. Schleck's younger brother Andy will start stage six eighth overall, 40 seconds behind race leader Igor Antón. Voigt said that the team will now back him. "I guess Andy is now our next-best chance," he stated. "He is the white knight from the [2007] Giro, so I don't think it looks too bad for him either."

Colombian captures her nation's first cross country world title

By Sue George in Val di Sole, Italy

Colombian Laura Abril
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

Colombian Laura Abril made history Wednesday at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, when she won her country's first-ever cross country gold medal. She defeated Barbara Benko (Hungary) and Mona Eiberweiser (Germany) in the junior women's race.

Throughout the race, Abril looked smooth and pedalled with steady concentration as she powered her way to a win. The 18 year-old has been racing since she was just seven years old, but her coach, Andrea Bianco, who is also the Colombian National Team coach, said he has been careful not to give her too many hours of training per week so she does not burn out after such a young start.

When she was younger, she went with her mother to see a doctor about a two-centimetre discrepancy between the length of her legs. The doctor proposed an operation to help correct the problem, but it was too costly for her family, so he suggested an alternative: start cycling. Abril did just that, and eventually she was winning the Pan American championships and beating the Colombian elite women.

"No, she never had the operation to fix the discrepancy," said Bianco. "But you can keep the problem at bay. For example, we use special soles on her shoes. And we also have her do lots of working her upper body and core. If those are strong, you can deal with the limbs."

Wining the junior world championship demonstrates Abril's potential, but is no guarantee of success as many juniors have struggled to make the transition to the elite ranks. When Abril was asked about her cycling future, she said: "The future is unknown. Whatever life brings, I will do my best."

The 18 year-old is in her final year as a junior and will head to university this autumn to study psychology. "She is very set on studying that," said coach Bianco.

Only time will tell if she will follow in the successful footsteps of the likes of other university-educated young world champions like Marianne Vos.

For more from the MTB World Championships, see Cyclingnews' full coverage of the junior and U23 women's cross country races.

Robic rides into history with fourth RAAM title

Defending Race Across America (RAAM) champion Jure Robic took his fourth win in the event on Tuesday afternoon, becoming the only male rider to win the solo RAAM four times. The Slovenian rolled into Annapolis, Maryland to complete the 3014 mile course in eight days, 23 hours and 23 minutes, at an average speed of 13.98 miles per hour.

Last year Robic denied three-time winner Wolfgang Fasching a fourth title, but nothing could stop Robic from achieving it this time. Asked how he completed the remarkable feat, he replied simply: "I just sit on my bike, start pedaling, and I am here." Robic also revealed that he now listens to his support crew 90 percent of the time, and said the toughest point in the race for him was a headwind section through Kansas.

Starting seven minutes behind Gerhard Gulewicz, Robic caught the Austrian on the first long climb. The pair then rode together all the way across California to Congress Arizona, 345 miles into the race. By this point Gulewicz had become badly dehydrated and was dropped by Robic, who never looked back and pulled away from the rest of the field. Gulewicz crashed out of the race in Kayenta, Arizona after 634 miles.

With Robic's nearest competitor Mark Pattinson over 22 hours behind on the road, the four-time champion could afford to shower, relax, eat a celebration dinner with his support crew and enjoy a full night's sleep before the runner up rolled into the finish.

In the team division, Norwegian squad Byggkjøp/BMC Cycling Team won the title with a new record of five days, nine hours and 56 minutes, beating the old record held by Team Type 1 by five hours, 47 minutes. It was the first RAAM for all eight riders on the team, who collectively averaged 23.20 miles per hour.

"I want to congratulate both Jure Robic and the Byggkjøp/BMC Cycling Team for their record-breaking wins this year," said RAAM race director Terry Zmrhal. "To see such outstanding races from a champion race veteran like Robic, and then the amazing win from the BMC rookie team makes this a spectacular year."

The solo women's division leader is expected to finish the race June 19, with the other solo competitors and teams (two, four, and eight person) completing the race by 5:00 p.m. EDT on June 20.

For more information visit:

Tour de Nez stepping back up in 2008

By Mark Zalewski in Reno, Nevada

The Tour de Nez has held a prominent position in American racing over the better part of 15 years. But after a 2007 edition, which saw a significant decrease in racing with just two criteriums and was not on the NRC calendar, the Tour de Nez is back for 2008 en force. In addition to the two well known criteriums, the Northstar Resort on the north shore of Lake Tahoe comes on as a major sponsor and will host two challenging road races on its ski slopes. Rounding out the racing will be a short but tough 4 mile time trial, with seventy-five percent of it uphill.

The action begins Wednesday with the Reno, Nevada criterium, held in the downtown of the "Biggest Little City in the World" under the entrance of another new sponsor, the Grand Sierra Casino. The race then heads west into California for a double stage – time trial and criterium – on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will be the deciding days, with a 100km road race on Friday with consistent climbing of 8% and sections of 15% around the Northstar Resort. Saturday finishes the race with a shorter circuit race that could still affect a close overall general classification.

In terms of teams, Bissell is the strongest on the preliminary roster with seven riders led by Tour of the Gila final stage winner Burke Swindlehurst. BMC is sending five riders including last year's criterium winner Mike Sayers and Tour de Leelanau winner Taylor Tolleson. Kelly Benefits/Medifast comes off a high from Nature Valley with strong riders like Andrew Bajadali and last year's overall winner Alex Candelario. Two-time overall winner Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics) will also be on hand.

Another addition to the racing this year will be a women's open race on Saturday on the circuit race course. Race director Tim Helion is enthusiastic about the potential of this resurgence. "We are pretty confident that with our new partnerships with Northstar at Tahoe and the Grand Sierra in Reno this race is going to take a significant leap in status this year," he said.

Cyclingnews will have full reports and photos of all the action.

Cañada goes under the knife

Saunier Duval's David Cañada will undergo surgery in Zaragoza, Spain on Thursday after breaking the scaphoid bone in his right wrist during stage one of the Tour de Suisse. The break prevented Cañada from starting stage two although there were no visible signs of bruising after the crash. The Spaniard's hand hit the tarmac and x-rays in Spain confirmed the bone was broken.

Saunier Duval are hoping the surgery will shorten the rider's recovery time, which would otherwise take six weeks. Cañada had not intended to ride the Tour de France, but hopes to resume training in July and gain selection for the Vuelta a España.

Strong field for Fitchburg Longsjo Classic

A host of top riders from across the U.S. and beyond will converge on Fitchburg, Massachusetts for the 49th annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic from July 3-6. The event is dedicated to the memory of Arthur Longsjo, the first American to compete in both Winter and Summer Olympics during the same year. It is the second oldest pro/am cycling competition in the U.S. and the only east coast stage race on the National Race Calendar (NRC).

"The talent and diversity of the racers is a real tribute to Art Longsjo and the hundreds of volunteers who have helped put this race on for nearly 50 years," said Fitchburg Cycling Club president George Gantz.

Several professional squads have confirmed their participation in this year's race, including Bissell Pro Cycling, Kenda / Raleigh Cycling Team, Team Type 1, Team Colavita / Sutter Home, Targetraining and Team Budget Forklifts. Race organisers have also revealed the attendance of an Australian team making the 15-hour plane journey to attend the event.

Jonathan Page (Battley HARLEY-DAVIDSON/Sonoma), Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) and Jacob Rytlewski (Rite Aid) are all past winners set to return, while other big names include 2007 U.S. cyclo-cross champion Tim Johnson (HealthNet-Maxxis), Tour de Georgia stage winner Richard England (Bissell Pro Cycling), local favourite Jesse Anthony (Team Type 1) and U.S. criterium champion Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home).

Nearly 800 riders from will compete across eight different categories, competing for a total of $51,500 in prize money. The racing gets underway on Thursday July 3 with the Royal Plaza Time Trial, a 6.2-mile race against the clock with the pros starting at 3.30 pm.

Friday sees the pro men's field tackle the 104-mile Wachusett Mountain Road Race, a gruelling 11-mile course through Princeton centre with a spectacular finish at the 2,000-foot summit of Wachusett Mountain. The pro riders will start shortly after noon at the ski area.

On Saturday the racing shifts to the Fitchburg State College Circuit Race, a 3.1 mile loop through the hilly streets of Fitchburg, with the pros starting at 2:00 pm.

The race concludes on Sunday July 6, with the Workers' Credit Union Criterium. This fast-paced, exciting race runs right past the Longsjo Memorial, with multiple laps around a 0.9-mile loop through historic downtown Fitchburg, with the pros starting at 2:05 pm.

For more information, please visit

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