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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 13, 2008

Edited by Sue George

McGee is back on the road

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Etienne

Bradley McGee (Team CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It's been awhile since Bradley McGee last appeared in the front break of a road race, but in Wednesday's stage three of Paris-Nice, he was off the front with two others for 132 kilometres despite still suffering an injured left knee following a heavy crash the previous day.

"Two years ago, the last time I took part in this race, I pulled out during that same stage to Saint-Etienne because I was ten minutes behind the bunch after 40 kilometres of racing," the Australian recalled. "Today, I was ten minutes ahead of the bunch after 40 kilometres, so you can tell how I'm feeling after doing that."

After experiencing so many physical troubles in the past two years, it was questionable whether or not McGee would be able to come back at the highest level of professional cycling at age 32, for his 11th season. Stage three answered exactly that question. "Just wait until this winter is over and I'll be really dangerous," McGee had said in Saint-Etienne.

"I'm really disappointed that I didn't have the legs at this time of the year to follow [Kjell] Carlström and [Clément] L'Hottelerie to contest the stage win, but with frozen feet and frozen hands, I couldn't go any further. I'm disappointed but it's a positive day as well," said McGee. 2008 being an Olympic year has probably helped him find the motivation for a fresh jump start to his career.

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McGee is determined to defend his title in the team pursuit with his fellow Australian mates. The first step of this new campaign on the track was the World Cup in Los Angeles in January. Right after Paris-Nice, he'll join the Australian team for a specific training camp on the velodrome in Bordeaux. Then comes the second step towards Beijing 2008 - the World Championships in Manchester at the end of March when he race both individual and team pursuits.

McGee will return to the road for the Tour of Georgia in April and the Giro d'Italia in May. Being healthy and motivated again, he's back in contention as a star for the prologues and more.

Kroon's 20-second penalty shuffles Paris-Nice GC

Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) get the yellow after stage three
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC's Karsten Kroon came within two seconds of the leader's jersey during Wednesday's 165.5km Paris-Nice stage three from Fleurie - Saint-Étienne - at least for a little while. When the GC leaders from stage two fell off the pace during stage three, Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Kroon moved up near the top of the leader board by virtue of their stage three performances. However, about one hour after the finish, Kroon was assessed a time penalty of 20 seconds which dropped him to 22 seconds to ninth place behind Chavanel.

On the final climb, a category one climb near the end, Kroon came off the back of the main group which contained the race's favourites who were chasing the lead trio. Kroon lost 40 seconds on the ascent according to, but made almost all of it back up on the descent. However, Kroon was seen to be riding too near the team cars.

"It was okay spotted of the officials. Karsten did get a little bit too close to the cars on the final climb," admitted sports director Kim Andersen.

"I wanted to try and see if I could get the leaders jersey for just one day, which is why I gave everything I had today," said Kroon, "but it's not realistic for me to assume that I'm able to stay in the overall top-10 so my focus is still on building up my form for the April races."

Going into stage four, which will feature the challenge of a finish up Mount Ventoux, Chavanel is in yellow with Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in second and third in the general classification.

León Sánchez, who finished with the first group behind the two leaders on stage three, said after accepting his best young rider award, "I have said that Paris-Nice is my main goal for the beginning of the season. I knew that I was in good condition but I feel even better than what I thought."

"The stage of today gave everybody the possibility to see if he is well or not but tomorrow's stage with the finish on the Mont Ventoux will be another story," he said, adding confidently, "I hope to recover and that my legs will be all right so that I can be ahead with the best riders."

Tirreno-Adriatico opener comes down to a tight sprint

Oscar Freire lifts his arms to celebrate his win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

In a nail-biting stage one finish at the 43rd Tirreno-Adriatico, Oscar Freire (Rabobank) narrowly beat Italian favourite, 34 year-old Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram). The Spaniard finished off a long sprint and, while fading at the end, held off the charging Petacchi. Freire wasn't too sure about his condition before the race, but after it was over, no one had any doubt he was going well as he prepared for Milano-Sanremo. Third was Jose Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne).

"We knew it would be difficult to manage this finale and the nervousness in the group was high in the last kilometres," said Petacchi after the race. "I was at risk of going down about one kilometre from the finish, and [Erik] Zabel only managed to position himself in front of me at the very end. [Robbie] McEwen did another great showing, getting out of the last turn with a few metres on Zabel, Freire and me. Oscar managed to start the sprint a few seconds before me, because I was still in the turn, while he had already straightened his bike. There were only 180m left and catching Freire is not easy."

Third placed Joaquín Rojas said, "I am very happy because I feel strong and I have totally recovered from my crash in the Challenge of Mallorca. I was good position in Freire's wheel but in the last curve I lost some positions and then it was no longer possible to come in front. Anyway I am confident for the next stages where I hope to be able to get a better result than I did today."

Tiziano Dall'Antonia, of CSF Group-Navigare was one man disappointed with his final sprint. "Approaching the last climb I wasn't feeling so good, but during the climb my legs started to roll well and, as Maxi [Richeze] was having some difficulties breathing, I could have a try in the sprint. Just before the last 'S', at 400 metres from the line, I had caught Freire's wheel, but unfortunately Ciolek was able to overtake me and I lost some decisive positions. It's a shame - when I'm working for someone else's sprint I never let anybody pass me; when I have to take the sprint myself, sometimes I'm not aggressive enough."

The sprint came after a 110km long break including Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Ukrainian Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was caught just four kilometres before the finish.

Thursday's stage two will lead the peloton from Civitavecchia to Gubbio over 203 kilometres of winding roads with five kilometres of light climbing, with less than a two percent grade, at the end.

British select World Track Championship team

By Gerry McManus

Victoria Pendleton
Photo ©: Dana Ross
Click for larger image

Host nation Great Britain announced its team for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester on March 26-30. It will be the third time the championships have been held at the recently re-laid velodrome. Most recently, the worlds were in Manchester in 1996 and 2000.

"This team is an exciting mix of experienced World Champions and talented young riders who are breaking through," said Dave Brailsford, Performance Director of Great Britain's Cycling Team. "It will be a special championship for everyone in the team: not only is it the last major event before the Beijing Olympics; it is also taking place on our home track in Manchester, where we will be able to count great crowd support."

The team will be there to defend the seven world crowns it won in Palma last year thanks to Victoria Pendleton taking three (sprint, keirin and team sprint) and Chris Hoy (keirin and kilo) and Bradley Wiggins (team pursuit and individual pursuit) two apiece. All three make up the core of the 2008 worlds team which will also feature a number of riders under the age of 20.

Pendleton was named to the women's sprint squad that will compete for four gold medals in the five-day event. Shanaze Reade is expected to partner with her in the women's team sprint.

After much speculation the men's sprint squad was announced as Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff, Matt Crampton, Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar. The trio who will race the Olympic Sprint event has not yet been announced. Craig MacLean and Jason Queally are the two key names left out of the squad, but both are still expected to be in contention for places for the Olympic team later in the year.

Scotland's MacLean took himself out of consideration for the worlds squad after pelvic injury problems have complicated his season thus far. The 36 year-old told the Guardian, "I missed a lot of training and I've been playing catch-up ever since. It's like the other guys had a head start on me and I could never get them back. I'm optimistic I can go to Beijing. But I've not been at my best and I felt it was best for me to pull out of the World Championships. I made the decision at the weekend and I feel much happier - it's taken a weight off my shoulders.''

Wendy Houvenaghel, Rebecca Romero, Jo Rowsell and Lizzie Armistead will be in contention for places in the three rider women's team pursuit race which debuts as a World Championship event in Manchester. A new world record is expected to be set in this event.

Steve Burke received his first Senior World Championships call up and could be included for the men's team pursuit. The talented youngster debuted for the British senior team in Copenhagen last month. Burke's team recorded the fastest time of the year when they won the final of the World Cup competition. The British team could go even faster if Bradley Wiggins can continue to adapt his road legs over to the track as he has successfully done many times before.

Team High Road professional Mark Cavendish will return home and could have his name down to ride in the men's Madison. Rob Hayles, Gerraint Thomas or Ed Clancy are capable of partnering Cavendish in the high-speed race.

Two surprise names on the list are young sprinters David Daniell and Jessica Varnish. Daniell has won five gold medals in the last two years in the Junior World and European track championships. Varnish is part of British Cycling's Olympic development programme and was second in the women's sprint in last year's Junior World Championships in Mexico.

Great Britain's Team for UCI Track Cycling World Championships: Lizzie Armitstead, Anna Blyth, Steve Burke, Mark Cavendish, Ed Clancy, Matt Crampton, Kate Cullen, Steve Cummings, David Daniell, Ross Edgar, Rob Hayles, Wendy Houvenaghel, Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Paul Manning, Vicky Pendleton, Shanaze Reade, Rebecca Romero, Jo Rowsell, Jamie Staff, Geraint Thomas, Jessica Varnish, Bradley Wiggins.

MacIntyre's family presented with cheque

Caroline MacIntyre, Evan Oliphant, Chloe and Morgan (right)
Photo ©: Evan Oliphant
(Click for larger image)

A cheque for 30,000 pounds was presented by Scotland's leading road cyclist, Evan Oliphant, on behalf of the Braveheart Fund, to the family of Jason MacIntyre, the three-time British time trial champion, who was killed in a collision with a vehicle while training near his home in Fort William in January.

A Jason Macintyre Memorial Fund was established by the Braveheart Fund within 24 hours of the tragedy, and immediately attracted donations from across the world. The fund provides support for Macintyre's widow Caroline and the couple's nine-year old twin daughters, Morgan and Chloe. Morgan has a serious kidney condition; her father, as well as being one of the country's top cyclists and tipped to go to the Beijing Olympics later this year, was her full-time caregiver.

Within a week, 20,000 pounds had been raised, and the fund remains open. Donations can be made via the Braveheart Fund, or directly to the "The Jason Macintyre Memorial Fund" at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fort William Branch, account number: 00712593; sort code: 83-20-16. For more information, visit

Barloworld celebrates invitations

Team Barloworld announced Wednesday that it had received official invitations to race in three Spring Classics. The red and white clad riders will make appearances at the Tour of Flanders on April 6, Gent-Wevelgem on April 9 and the Amstel Gold Race on April 20.

Jittery Joe's trains in Georgia

Cody Stevenson (Jittery Joe's)
Photo ©: Micah Rice
(Click for larger image)

The Jittery Joe's team has been busy logging miles at a training camp in Georgia this week.

"Things are going great here," said Micah Rice on behalf of the team, which was getting set up with its new bikes and clothing. "The weather has been perfect so far."

On Tuesday, the team was fit to their new bikes by Dr. Ross and Dr. Barnett. They were also fitted for custom foot beds for their cycling shoes before heading out for a short ride. The team will head to Madison, Georgia, for some longer and harder rides which will double as a chance to preview the mountainous stages of the Tour de Georgia.

USA Cycling narrows choices for new headquarters

USA Cycling has been considering new headquarters after learning that its current building, which it shares with other Olympic sports, will be torn down by the US Olympic Committee.

Although the national governing body had been looking at sites across the country, its choices appear to have narrowed to two. According to Colorado Springs' The Gazette, USA Cycling Communications Coordinator Andy Lee is deciding between staying in Colorado Springs or moving to Ogden, Utah. "Because of some things that are in play, we can't discuss it yet. Within the next day or two, that could change. There are still some things that need to be finalized before we can make any comments. We're getting pretty close."

USA Cycling has been in Colorado Springs since 1980 and earlier this week, the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported the organization was deeded at a cost of US$0 a transfer of a 1.91 acre parcel of land by NorWood Development. The address of the parcel, which features a two-story building, is 5935 Delmonico Drive.

The Gazette reported the donor's motives. "We knew they were being sought after by other communities. We thought preserving them in Colorado Springs was really important for the community. We had a facility that worked for them and it worked for us, so we were able to make that happen."

Portland Monday night racing set for 12th year

Summertime Monday night racing will resume for its 12th season at the Portland International Raceway (PIR) from May 5 to August 25 (except no racing on July 21).

"Bicycle racing continues to grow at PIR, and we see new racers each year trying it out," said series organizers Jim Anderson, "We are adding clinics for novice women who want to see what the sport is all about, in hopes of seeing a growth in the women's fields. Also, with the addition of the track being repaved, we expect our great bike racing venue to be packed with racers this summer ­ right in Portland's back yard."

The new clinics will run on the second Monday of each month and will focus on the basics of how to get started in racing. There will be a brief intro talk prior to the race start, and followed by debriefing after the race led by experienced female racers. Clinics will run approximately 30 minutes before the race and 30 minutes after the women's race finishes.

All levels and abilities are welcomed and encouraged to attend and novice races will be held for both masters men and women. For more information, visit

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