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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, November 9, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Nys collects more than just start money at Houtlandcross

By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem, Belgium

Sven Nys concentrates on his way to victory
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

One day before the World Cup race in Pijnacker, The Netherlands, cyclo-crossers had the option to race in Eernegem, Belgium, for the Vlaamse Houtlandcross. None of the big guns were expected to expend much time or energy in West Flanders since the Sunday's World Cup race outstripped the Houtlandcross C2 event in importance. The Houtlandcross is also not part of the Superprestige series or the GvA-trophy.

Nevertheless, organizers in Eernegem wanted some stars in attendance to draw a crowd, so on Friday, Belgian Sven Nys received a desperate phone call from the organizer call during which the Belgian National Champion was convinced to travel northern Belgium to race.

The result was just as positive for the organization as it was for Nys. The crowds came and Nys picked up not only his start money, but also a win - his sixth victory of the season.

Afterward, Nys explained that the unexpected invitation was perfectly timed. "I've got some back pain, and what better way to test your condition than riding a race?" Nys said. "It helped my decision that the course was dry thus making it possible to ride smoothly."

"The organization in Eernegem was in trouble, and I wanted to take my responsibility in supporting the smaller races, but the other big names should do that as well on future occasions." After the event, Nys had no complaints about his decision to race Saturday.

Page goes backwards at first though generally in the right direction

By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem, Belgium

Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) rode a good race
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Jonathan Page was the sole American at the start of the Vlaamse Houtlandcross in Eernegem, Belgium, on Saturday. He finished in a group that battled for victory until the last lap.

Although Page ended up sitting too far back to contest the sprint for the podium, he was still happy with his fifth-place performance. "It would have been nicer [to be] on the podium, of course, but my form is going into the right direction," Page said to Cyclingnews.

Although his form showed forward progress, the American was going backward at one point during the race. After a good start put him in sixth position, the race passed through the local playground, with some tricky uphill corners, one of which caused a local traffic jam. Suddenly, Page found himself going backwards just before crashing down onto Enrico Franzoi.

"I was riding on Nys' wheel when he was forced to slow down in that corner. I was still climbing and couldn't go anywhere but backwards," said Page.

When asked by his daughter Emma about some residual blood on his legs from the incident following the race, Page reassured her that all was well.

"It's just a couple of scratches. I didn't hurt myself too much, but sadly enough the place was packed with itch weed so it was kind of annoying to continue my race," Page said.

Despite losing some positions during the playground incident, Page battled back to the front with Italian star Enrico Franzoi. The pair rejoined the leaders at the halfway mark. Then when Nys accelerated with three laps to go, Page was one of the four riders who bridged up to the Belgian champion.

"I'm happy to see that my form is going into the right direction; I should be ready for the World Cup tomorrow," Page said.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Vlaamse Houtlandcross.

Armstrong racing in Texas again

Lance Armstrong on his way to victory at the 12 hours of Snowmass
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Continuing his journey on the comeback trail, Lance Armstrong will make another racing appearance this weekend - this time on the dirt.

Just one week after contesting the Tour de Gruene in Texas, where he won both the solo time trial event as well as the team event with John Korioth, Armstrong will race the finale of the Texas Fall Cup Mountain Bike Series, The Rocky Hill Roundup, in Smithville, Texas. He'll line up with others in the cross country race on Sunday.

"He pro-rode yesterday," said promoter Scott Schaefer to Cyclingnews. "We're expecting him to race on Sunday." Armstrong was not racing Saturday's short track events.

As Armstrong proved his off-road skills in August at the Leadville 100, where he finished second to Dave Wiens, and in September at the 12 hours of Snowmass, where his three-person team finished first.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of The Rocky Hill Roundup.

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

Boonen uninjured in auto accident

Tom Boonen was uninjured in an auto accident Saturday morning, when his car was forced off the road.

According to the Gazeta van Antwerpen, the 28 year-old was on his way to the airport Saturday morning. In the town of Postel, he swerved to avoid another car, went off the road and hit a tree. He was not injured, and was able to catch his flight.

The Quick Step sprinter has already lost his licence twice this year, for two weeks each time. He was stopped for speeding and drunk driving in June and for speeding in April. In April 2007 he crashed his Lamborghini when he swerved to avoid a cat in the road.

No license upgrade for Rock Racing

Taking a strategic look at its goals for 2009, Rock Racing made the decision to stick with its UCI Continental Team status for next season instead of upgrading to the UCI Professional Continental level.

USA Cycling's Shawn Farrell had confirmed Rock Racing's application to continue its licensing at the same level. Then Team Owner Michael Ball explained why on Saturday.

"After completing the necessary steps, and weighing the pros and cons of acquiring a UCI Pro Continental License... Rock Racing has determined that a UCI Pro Continental status is not central to furthering our goals for racing internationally, and we are choosing to take a different approach."

"The strength of our roster and the excitement we bring to cycling events worldwide will determine our racing calendar," said Ball.

After Garmin-Chipotle decided to step up to the ProTour level and BMC made the move to a Professional Continental license, Rock Racing remains one of just 12 American men's UCI Continental team licenses, two fewer such teams than last year.

Team R.A.C.E. Pro stronger for 2009

Canada's Keven Lacombe will make the move from Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast to Team R.A.C.E. pro
Photo ©: Scott Schaffrick
(Click for larger image)
Canadian Team R.A.C.E. Pro announced continued financial sponsorship support and a stronger roster for its UCI Continental squad going into 2009. Planet Energy and Catalyst Capital Group Inc. have signed on to continue their sponsorship through 2009 while a mix of young and experienced racers will carry the team toward success next season.

"Our message is clear. We are focused on providing the best possible opportunity for Canadian road cyclists," said Josée Larocque, who along with Steve Bauer of Cycle Spot Management Inc. have been building the team over the past year.

For 2009, Francois Parisien, who was the 2005 Canadian Road Champion, and Ryan Roth, who finished second to Svein Tuft in the 2008 Canadian National Time Trial Championship, will return to the team.

New to the team will be 2008 track Olympian and 2007 Pan American Road Race Champion Martin Gilbert and Current Canadian National Criterium Champion Keven Lacombe, both from Kelly Benefit Strategies. Both should help the team in sprint finishes.

Eric Boily, who represented the Canadian National Team at the UCI Road World Championships in Varese, Italy, makes the transfer from Volkswagon and will bring youthful energy and attack power to the team's lineup.

Savvy experience and endurance will be provided by Andrew Randell, coming from Symmetrics and Bruno Langlois, coming from Volkswagen. Langlois finished second in the Canadian National Road Race Championships. Both of these veteran racers will bring strength and stability to the core team for the tough races in the UCI America Tour on which the team plans to focus.

Rounding out the team roster will be Maxime Vives and Charly Vives who will who join returning Team R.A.C.E. Pro teammates Joël Dion-Poitras, Keir Plaice, Andrew Hunt and Mark Batty. Vives, Boily, Dion-Poitras and Batty have all participated in the Canadian National U23 Team projects during 2008. The talented young racers will be looking for opportunities and experience and a chance to showcase their skills in some big races.

"I am very excited to work with all these young men," said Bauer. "Josée and I have worked very hard this first year to build this team in a positive direction. We have made considerable changes for 2009. Step by step, we are aiming to become a Canadian force to be reckoned with at international UCI races.

"Just like those cold weather fronts that descend out of the Canadian North, we want to make an impact and ensure it will be known that the team has arrived."

O'Grady to Launceston

Stuart O'Grady at the Tour de France
Photo ©: Víctor Solís
(Click for larger image)

Launceston Cycling Classic organisers today Saturday that Stuart O'Grady would attend the fifth edition of the event on December 21. O'Grady has historically supported the Tasmanian event except for last year when he missed his early morning flight out of Adelaide last year. That's when his CSC Saxo Bank teammate Matthew Goss stepped up in his absence and won the race.

The annual event traditionally takes the form of a one and a half hour criterium around the streets of Launceston. This year's race attracted almost-local Robbie McEwen, Matthew Lloyd, Simon Gerrans, Mark Renshaw and Baden Cooke while Sun Tour stage winner Goss and future Française de Jeux pro Wes Sulzburger are likely challengers.

Racers will compete for AUS$20,000 with the winner taking home $5,000. Entries will close on December 15. For more information, visit

Olympic rower makes track debut

Ex-Olympic rower Sally Robbins made her track cycling debut in the Western Australian state championship. Although she hit the deck in the points race, she finished the scratch race at Midvale's Speed Dome.

Robbins hung tough to finish near the back of the pack in the scratch race, but in the points race, Robbins crashed into Rebecca Halliday. Robbins was ok, but Halliday was helped from the track.

The rower told PerthNow that her fitness was helping to balance out her inexperience. "The longer the races the better I seem to do," said Robbins. "Any placing will be brilliant."

Copa Chile Jeep round four to Concepción

Cristobal Silva at a Copa Chile round
Photo ©: Cristóbal Sahr
(Click for larger image)

Mountain bikers in South American are contesting round four of the Copa Chila Jeep 2008 series this weekend at the Cerro Caracol, in the heart of Concepción, Southern Chile. Cross country and downhill events were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

"This race is important because we are fighting for points in the overall ranking," said Pan American champion and Chilean Olympic Games representative Cristóbal Silva. Despite being the favorite, Silva lost the last round of the cross country to Javier Püschel. Tour de France VTT racer Javier Gallardo will also be arriving from Europe in time to contest the race.

Juan Cartoni leads the downhill series and will be racing to defend his lead. The series was left open to others after national champion Antonio Leiva crashed and broke his femur earlier this fall. Cartoni and the others will contest a course known for spectacular jumps over a course likely to take about three minutes to cover on race day.

The Concepción tracks are located close to downtown, so organizers are expecting a high spectator turnout.

The Copa Chile includes five races registered on the UCI's calendar. The next and final round is scheduled for November 22 - 23 on the Lo Barnechea circuit in Santiago.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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