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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, November 4, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson and Les Clarke

Solid sponsorship key for Stapleton

By Les Clarke

Team Columbia's Bob Stapleton
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After a year that saw his squad record over 80 wins, Team Columbia boss Bob Stapleton has outlined the importance of securing sponsorship for subsequent seasons. Sporting success is integral to this, although the case of Crédit Agricole is a prime example that nothing can be guaranteed in the current environment surrounding funding.

Stapleton told Cyclingnews that despite Columbia's commitment to supporting cycling at the highest level, the days of guarantees for future seasons are over. "I don't think anybody's all that strong. CSC has brought on two sponsors, we've brought on Columbia, Slipstream brought on Garmin... but these are not the sponsorships of a few years ago," he said. "There's no Rabobank or T-Mobile or Discovery Channel [entering the sport]. These are promising sponsors, and they're making good investments, but these are not the big-budget 'super teams' of a few years ago.

"I don't think there's any big money sponsor that has come in; it's just a series of encouraging and good steps for teams," he said. "I think everybody is trying to run a tight ship."

A successful Tour de France was key to securing the future for Stapleton's team, having just signed Columbia as naming rights sponsor ahead of the la grande boucle. Prior to July the team had been funded by Stapleton himself. "I think they [Columbia] were thrilled," he said. "They got the best possible introduction they could get with the exposure they got at the Tour."

Stapleton pointed out that gaining the sponsor's commitment wasn't a simple process, although the high visibility of the Tour de France worked in his favour. "They came on at the Tour and I started talking with them in April," he explained. "It took a good couple of months. I think it was lucky because I had the Tour [as a selling point] and we got to the right people quickly. We also had the lure of the Tour - there was a real deadline.

"Right now I think cycling has a lot of people's attention but there's so much concern about the global economy and it's the off-season so it's really hard to get people to step into cycling until we're back in the Tour," he added.

Five stage wins and plenty of television time later however, Stapleton discovered that sporting success can have a direct correlation to sponsor commitment. He outlined the returns involved for the large outdoor wear company, although he's not complacent about the organisation's ongoing support, and knows what he's up against.

"We had a third party study it, and what was generated for the full year was something like 70 million Euros of value," said Stapleton. "They saw a huge return on their investment. It's still tough out there. I think we're healthy but we're also looking around to try and strengthen ourselves.

"We're competing against some teams with hellacious budgets - I don't know what the budget is for the government of Kazakhstan, but I'm sure it's well-funded," he said. "The Russians are similar; we're kind of up against the industrial sporting complex!"

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full feature on Team Columbia.

Cervélo bolsters overall stocks

The Cervélo TestTeam has signed another three riders at it assembles its squad for 2009. Roger Hammond, Dan Fleeman and Brett Lancaster have moved to the new formation that already boasts the likes of Carlos Sastre, Thor Hushovd and Simon Gerrans. This news is welcomed after the recent announcement that Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland and the team agreed to part company.

Hammond, a former British national cyclo-cross and road champion, is an experienced campaigner signed to provide support during the team's Spring Classics assault, the team having already signed the likes of Andreas Klier and Serge Pauwels.

Australian track gold medalist Lancaster assisted Alessandro Petacchi for two seasons at Team Milram before the Italian moved squads. He will be a valuable asset to Hushovd, who will appreciate the horsepower of a rider who has tasted Olympic success as a team pursuiter.

Fleeman is a former British national espoirs champion on the road who comes in as an addition with an eye on the future. Having performed well in this year's Tour of Britain, his introduction surrounds the signing of Sastre to the team and the Spaniard requiring help in stage races.

"To go into 2009 as a member of the Cervélo Test Team is a dream come true," said the 26-year-old. "I have always thought I was capable of riding at this level and to think I have the opportunity to work alongside someone like Carlos Sastre is incredible."

Britain swing Salzwedel's services

Former Denmark manager Heiko Salzwedel
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Successful track coach Heiko Salzwedel has been signed to the Great Britain cycling programme, according to an announcement by the German Cycling Federation (BDR). Just one week after declaring his resignation from his post as head coach of the Danish track programme, the 51-year-old German has declined offers from the German federation and will become sports director of the most successful current outfit in the world on January 1.

"This is a delightful task. There are nearly perfect structures," said the man who guided Denmark's team pursuit squad to a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games. His contract will run until the 2012 Olympics in London.

After studying at the Leipzig DHfK, Salzwedel worked for the BDR before heading up Cycling Australia's road programme until 1998. He helped develop the likes of Robbie McEwen through the Australian Institute of Sport and made a name for himself as a tough but effective coach. He also worked with T-Mobile in developing its squad before it was taken over by Bob Stapleton, after which he signed on as Denmark's head coach.

His role within the structure of Danish cycling was one of his biggest challenges and bore fruit with the unprecedented performance of his charges in Beijing.

Larsson lengthens Saxo Bank deal

Gustav Erik Larsson gave Sweden a silver medal
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Sweden's Gustav Larsson will continue to ride for Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank-IT Factory squad in 2009, after renewing his contract with the Danish team. The 28 year-old will ride with the outfit for the next three years under the new contract.

"First of all it's very reassuring for me to know that I'm going to be here for the next three years as well," Larsson told "I've had a perfect year with the team and I get on great with my team-mates and the crew behind. I'm looking forward to develop even further and even though I've had a good season it's important to me not to loose momentum.

"I need to set myself new goals and continue to improve," he added. "Hopefully I'll be good enough to make the Tour line-up next year."

Larsson enjoyed a strong season in 2008 which included claiming victory on the team's home soil at the Post Danmark Rundt's Stage five and also finishing runner-up to team-mate Fabian Cancellara in the Beijing Olympic Games' Individual Time Trial. The rider also took a swag of podium finishes, notably at the Deutschland Tour and Critérium International.

"Gustav has been a valuable asset to our team this year and his results have been great from beginning to end," said Riis. "Besides being a true time trial specialist he's also proven himself to be extremely powerful in the mountains, which he demonstrated with a great effort for the team up front during the toughest climbs in the Giro.

"He's got the potential to go far in the stage races and it's always a pleasure to extend with a rider, who delivers such brilliant results all the way through the season," he added. "It shows great determination, which is why we've chosen to extend Gustav's contract for three years."

Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne announced Gustav's arrival in September, but a deal was never finalised.

Euskaltel - Euskadi signs one for the road

By Monika Prell

Euskaltel - Euskadi has signed the final rider that will make up its 2009 roster, with Sergio de Lis to join the squad next season. De Lis, who rode for the Orbea - Oreka S.D.A continental squad in 2008, will ride for the Basque squad for the next two seasons.

The squad signed the 22 years-old to fulfill the Union Cyclist International's (UCI) clause stating that ProTour teams must employ a minimum of 23 riders. The departure of Haimar Zubeldia left the squad with only 22 riders, following the retirement of Antton Luengo and Lander Aperribay and Dioni Galparsoro, Jon Bru and Beñat Albizuri not having their contracts renewed.

De Lis began his career with Alfus Tedes, where the Fundacion Euskadi (Basque Foundation) supported him, before he changed to Orbea Oreka S.D.A. in 2007. Having begun as a track rider, he is a strong rider and will fit perfectly the ideology of the team to build a strong block with riders that also have time trial skills.

"[It's an] enormous joy to form part of Euskaltel - Euskadi, a dream for every Basque rider," said de Lis. "They helped me when I rode for the team Alfus Tedes, then I went on progressing in Orbea - Oreka and now I have reached the highest level. For me it's an enormous gratification and now I am even keener on going on working. It is a possibility that I have to benefit at the maximum."

The team has only signed two other new riders for 2009. Mikel Nieve will join the squad also from Orbea - Oreka S.D.A while sprinter Pablo Urtasun will also ride for the outfit having spent the past two seasons with Portuguese team Liberty Seguros.

Benetseder extends with Volksbank

Josef Benetseder has extended his contract with Team Volksbank-Corractec for one year, through 2009, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced Monday morning. Benetseder turned professional with Volksbank in 2007.

"I am happy to have another chance," the 25 year-old said. "In the current situation in cycling, it was not a certainty, but this was a sign that my performance has been recognized by the team."

In his fourth professional year the Austrian rider said that he will look to the Belgian Spring Classics, where he wants to "surprise a few people", and hopes to do well in the Austrian national championships. He is still waiting for his first professional win, but this year finished second in the Austrian Time Trial Championship.

"[He's] a talented rider with a healthy attitude," said team manager Thomas Kofler.

The Austrian team will be known as Vorarlberg-Corratec in the coming season.

Pooley signs for Cervélo-Lifeforce

Emma Pooley (Specialized)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Great Britain's Emma Pooley will ride for Cervélo-Lifeforce in 2009 after signing with the squad. The 26 year-old joins the squad after spending much of 2008 with Team Specialized Designs For Women, which will close its doors at season's end.

"I admire the Cervélo-Lifeforce Team because of their professionalism, their tactical strength, and the results they therefore get," said Pooley. "I'm very pleased to have the chance to learn from the riders and the team management to improve my racing and work as an effective part of the team. I'm really looking forward to working together with such a friendly and welcoming team."

Pooley has enjoyed another strong season in 2008, with her work playing a key role in Great Britain's success on the road at August's Beijing Olympic Games. The rider, who is near completing a PhD in geotechnical engineering, claimed a silver medal in the individual time trial.

"We are happy, that Emma Pooley will join our team," said team manager Thomas Campana. "She is an experienced rider and expressed several times in an impressive manner her purposefulness as well her capacity for team work in the past years."

Celebrate with Cyclingnews' End of Season Sweepstakes

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(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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