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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, September 3, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Moving on

Tyler Hamilton returned from retirement to join Rock Racing
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Hamilton successfully completed his comeback to top flight racing on Sunday, winning the US Pro Championships. The win in Greenville was his first single day race victory since the 2003 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and signalled that he once again should not be discounted from the possible list of winners, even at the age of 37. Cyclingnews' Paul Verkuylen spoke to Hamilton about what his future holds.

After a turbulent comeback season in 2007, Hamilton decided to retire from cycling, not that anybody knew. There were no major announcements or farewell parties for the Colorado resident. Frustrated and demoralised by his experience at Team Tinkoff, he didn't see a future in cycling. Tinkoff had sidelined him from racing since May that year, and had no intention of racing him.

"If I didn't resign from the team they just wouldn't race me," Hamilton explained. "Sure enough Oleg Tinkov did it [not race me]. So come September I retired. Basically I didn't make a big announcement; I didn't feel I owed the media anything."

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To Hamilton's amazement, controversial Rock Racing team owner, Michael Ball rang and convinced him to once again pick up the pieces and start racing again. Just three months after he retired in September, Hamilton was again on his bike training for the new season ahead. Fast forward nine months and Hamilton has two wins under his belt, the 2.HC ranked Tour of Qinghai Lake in China and the US professional road race, a race he has dreamt of winning many times.

"It is something that I have ridden a few times in my career and American cycling has progressed a lot. There are so many talented riders. Winning the championship means a lot more than it used to."

Hamilton didn't expect to win it this year though, seeing himself more as a support rider for his teammate Fred Rodriguez. "For me it's all about the team. A win for the team is a win for me. If I can help Freddy win then that would be great," he told Cyclingnews during the Tour of Qinghai Lake.

As it turned out, Hamilton was one of the riders who animated the race the most and once he made the final move, put in 100% effort to make it work, while Blake Caldwell was playing the team card for Garmin-Chipotle. His reward was a stars and stripes jersey to wear for the next 12 months.

Great Britain is the next stop for Hamilton, where he will ride the Tour of Great Britain with his Rock Racing team. It will mark his return to European racing, since being sidelined by Tinkoff last year.

Hamilton's career stalled in 2004 shortly after he took gold in the Athens Olympic Games time trial. His medal was then placed in doubt after he failed a blood test for blood doping. He was later exonerated when his B sample was deemed unusable as the Athens lab where it was stored had frozen the sample.

Read the full feature on Tyler Hamilton.

Cunego not down but out

Damiano Cunego was unlucky once again when he was delayed by two crashes in the final phase of the fourth stage in the Vuelta a España. One crash happened with less than 10 kilometres to go and Cunego was close to reentering the bunch. The next crash held up the bunch in the narrow streets of Puertollano. He lost his overall chances, even though he claimed that it was not an objective in the first place.

The second crash happened just outside the three-kilometre zone, denying riders getting the same time as the winner. Cunego arrived 2'16 after stage victor Daniele Bennati.

"I'm happy I could avoid the [first] crash. I could brake and I didn't fall, but I had to stop and then chase the bunch. When I was very close at the end of the group, another crash blocked the street."

Cunego wasn't too concerned with the time loss. "It's always a pity to lose time, but it's not a drama since my target is to try to do well in some stages." In the overall, Cunego is now 3'19 back.

Cunego had to abandon the Tour de France after crashing heavily in stage 18.

First win for Rigotto

By Susan Westemeyer

Elia Rigotto (Team Milram) won his first race of the season
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Elia Rigotto took Team Milram's third win within 10 days, winning the Schaal J.C. Sels Merksem for his first win of the season. After the departure of Alessandro Petacchi and the disqualification of his season victories, the German ProTour team was looking at a bleak year, but has been on the rebound over the summer. Most recently Björn Schröder took the overall title in the Rothaus Regio Tour and Brett Lancaster won the Deutschland Tour prologue.

"That was a very strong performance from Elia today", said Directeur Sportif Antonio Bevilaqua, Milram's Directeur Sportif. "Elia took his chance in the finale and after his attack won quite easily."

A group of 28 riders got away early in the race, with start and finish in Antwerp. After 145 kilometres, the gap was over 12 minutes, and the race jury took the rest of the riders out of the race. When the group got to the closing circuit, which was to be ridden four times, it had shrunk to 20 riders. With about 15km to go, Rigotto and Kristjam Fajt (Perutnina Ptuj) attacked and were able to get away when the rest of the group hesitated. The Italian easily out-sprinted his Slovenian companion to win by one second. Lieuwe Westra of Krolstone Continental Team led the remaining riders over the finish line 10 seconds later.

It was the first season win for the 26-year-old Rigotto, who became the first Italian ever to win the race. He turned pro with Domina Vacanze in 2005 before joining Milram in 2006.

Rigotto made some negative headlines in the Tour down Under and was thrown out of the race after headbutting Mathew Hayman.

Teutenberg takes lead in Holland

By Susan Westemeyer

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Team Columbia) took
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the sprint of the first stage of the Holland Ladies Tour by three bike lengths over Kirsten Wild (AA-Drink Cycling-Team) and Marianne Vos of Team DSB Bank. The German rider took the overall lead in the six-stage race.

"It was very impressive," said Columbia Directeur Sportif Ronny Lauke. "It was a fairly tough finish, too; a little bit uphill in the last kilometre, a few concerns and with some cobbled sections on the run-in. But Ina got into the right position with 800 metres to go, and then just went for it."

Wednesday's stage is a 20.5-kilometre time trial, in which the 33 year-old hoped to defend her leader's jersey. "Ina's not a specialist, but she definitely knows how to turn in a solid ride in a time trial," according to Lauke. "With any luck, she could hold onto the lead - or one of her teammates might take over, who knows? Whatever happens, Ina's not going to throw away this lead lightly. I know that for sure."

See full results and photos here.

Milram will ride on Focus bikes next year

Hanka Kupfernagel during her gold winning ride on a Focus bike
Photo ©: Mike Mc Garry
(Click for larger image)

The German bicycle brand Focus will be the new bike supplier of Team Milram for the 2009 season. Milram with its future headquarter in Dortmund, Germany, will be set up as an international oriented team with German roots. Focus is based in Cloppenburg, in northern Germany.

Herwig Reus, head of marketing at Focus, explained the new collaboration. "The new Milram team bike is very eligible because of its construction. As the first rumours were spreading during the Tour de France the question asked the most by the pros was when they could have a first ride on it."

Focus was founded in 1991 and racing on the top level is one of the major objectives. The founding idea of Focus was that racers would be building bikes for racers. Mike Kluge has done just yet and his partner Hanka Kupfernagel, the current time trial World Champion, has achieved many wins on Focus bikes.

Mathias Seidler, CEO of Derby Cycle Werke GmbH, said that racing is at the heart of Focus. "Some years ago we decided to move Focus, formerly well known as a more mountain bike oriented brand, into the premiere league of the road bike business. At that time the vision was born to enter the top level of road racing." Derby Cycle Werke GmbH owns a string of companies, including Focus.

With many enthusiastic racers and experts at the same table, the vision became concrete. The company went into research, and piled on to its existing know how. Two key areas that were developed were the bike developing technology and sport sponsoring. Still having close ties to the sport helped. "We learned a lot by having a very close partnership with many top level road racers and took all that consequently and strategically into our product development," Seidler added.

Focus is excited to have arrived at the top. "To enter a top level team is a logical step. To work together with Milram as a German team is a commitment and a challenge for us. We want to prove that we are able to offer top quality bikes for a reasonable price. Focus is well known in supporting German offspring racers and we will go on with this as one of our major goals. The partnership with Team Milram will be a catalyst for many other divisions."

Jörg Arenz, German cyclo-cross champion in 1998 and 1999, explained the attention to details in the development process. "For us it is very important that all the constructions are German engineering, done by our in-house engineers." Arenz is now the product manager at Focus. Very sophisticated geometries offer the right mix of agile handling and plush riding, mixed with light weight and stiffness. Team Milram is keen on riding one of the best and lightest bikes of the whole peloton. At the upcoming Eurobike the new team partners will show the first team products out of their product lines.

Most of the other partners of Milram are deriving from Germany as well. It will roll on super light and aerodynamic wheels from Lightweight. Lightweight belongs to Carbon Sports and comes from Friedrichshafen, Germany. Friedrichshafen will host the next Eurobike, starting tomorrow (September 4 - 7).

Continental tyres from Korbach is another German supplier of the team. Even SRAM has German roots. A big part of the development of the new RED high end components has been done in their facility in Schweinfurt. Other high end suppliers are Tacx from the Netherlands, Fizik and Rudy Project from Italy and FSA from the USA.

Introducing cycling school that made Rubiera

José Luis Rubiera (Astana) came from a small cycling scool in Asturia
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Jesús Rodrigo is the director of the Escuela de Ciclismo de las Mestas, a cycling school for young people in Gijón, where José Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera (Astana) trained from the age of 14.

Based in the Velodromo de las Mestas, the school encourages young cyclists to learn through training and competition. Rubiera is a regular visitor to the training sessions, and in a recent press interview, he said that after retiring, he would like to support youth cycling in Asturias, and in particular the cycling school of Las Mestas.

Rodrigo provided some background on the school. "The school was established in the 1980s, I've been president and director since 1986. We don't select the children, we take every one who comes to us. We use fat, tall, small, skinny. We don't care that they are not going to become cyclists."

But some who went through the school did become professional cyclists – and good ones, too. Besides Rubiera, there are Daniel Navarro (Astana), Luis Pasamontes (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) and Andres Avelino Antuña (Burgos Monumental).

However, the school also produces biologists, engineers, physical education teachers, police and others. Developing professional cyclists is not the main goal. "The primary aim is to develop not just cyclists but also good people."

School starts in November with general basic fitness. In January the bike comes into the picture. In April, competitions start with one day each week, except the juniors who take part in three races in four days during the summer. The season ends in September, followed by a break until November.

Rodrigo remembers Rubiera's beginnings very well. "He was not the best of his generation, but on the bike, he showed his skills. Even at this early age, he was known for his kindness and his team spirit." And there were the odd memories, such as Rubiera showing up at a race, having left his entire race kit at home. Or pumping up his tyres so hard, both front and rear wheel exploded. "I could fill a book with those," Rodrigo smiled.

Rodrigo can point back to the race when they knew Rubiera was special, the Memorial Valenciaga in Eibar (Basque Country) in 1995.

Rubiera immediately took Johan Bruyneel up on his offer to join US Postal. 'Chechu' believed that it would be a great chance to learn English, showing that the school doesn't keep the kids single-minded.

Cycle Touring Legend Killed in Greece

Ian Hibell survived many things, such s this ride through the Sahara, but a car driver ended Hibell's life in Greece
Photo ©: Nic Henderson
(Click for larger image)

Ian Hibell, legendary adventurer and rough-stuff cyclist, was knocked off his bike and killed in late August, aged 74, whilst riding on the Athens-Salonika highway. Although reported as a case of hit and run, the car's number was taken and the driver later arrested.

Ian Hibell was best known for his cycle treks to little-visited corners of the world in an age when such places really were the back of beyond for westerners; Antarctica, the Amazon, the Sahara and remote Indonesian islands. This incredible man was credited with one the first (possibly the first) true non-motorised crossing of Colombia's Atrato swamp and Panama's notoriously marsh ridden Darien Gap as part of a Trans-American journey. To this day there remains no road connection between Colombia and Panama.

He left a secure job in Devon in 1963, determined to see more of the world, and spent much of the rest of his life cycle touring, often in extreme climate and terrain. His initial idea of a two-year tour turned into ten-year odyssey. Marathon cross-globe treks included Cape Horn to Alaska and a trans-Amazonian journey. His travel anecdotes included over-curious elephants and lions as well as the more friendly interest of a Dyak headman in Borneo and an Eskimo.

Custom bikes were another reason why the intrepid traveler garnered interest from throughout the cycling community and beyond. Ian didn't rely on retro-fit pannier racks but insisted that racks be welded onto his Argos frames.

He was honoured by the League of American Wheelmen (now League of American Bicyclists) and by the CTC for his 'trail-blazing' tenacity. Invited to address Yale University, he subsequently lectured on both sides of the Atlantic. His book 'Into Remote Places' recounts many of his cycling exploits.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Nic Henderson

BMC names Brent Graves as Chief of Operation

Innovative Swiss bicycle brand BMC announces the addition of Brent Graves to its management team as Head of Operations. Brent joined the company at its Grenchen, Switzerland, headquarters on September 1st.

"Brent brings to BMC a comprehensive set of product management and sourcing skills as well as a clear vision for effective global sourcing. BMC's growth has been matched with significant investment in infrastructure over the last several years," said CEO Andreas Georgiadis.

Among other things Graves's background includes overseeing all aspects of product development for Diamondback bicycles and Avenir accessories.

The latest chapter of the 20-year-old company started in 2001 with the takeover by Andy Rihs. Since then BMC has established itself as a premier brand of road racing, supplying the bicycles for the BMC Racing team in the United States. Phonak was also racing on BMC bikes. BMC bicycles are distributed in 26 countries around the globe.

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