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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 9, 2009

Edited by Les Clarke

Cervélo success leverage for Vroomen

Carlos Sastre and Cervélo owner Gerard Vroomen
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

After the announcement last week of the latest world rankings, Cervélo TestTeam co-owner Gerard Vroomen has expressed his satisfaction with the squad's place on top of the team standings. Vroomen, who established the Cervélo company, took the risk of establishing a 'factory team' at the end of 2008 and the performances thus far have been outstanding; he has used the result as springboard to search for a co-sponsor.

"We didn't set any goals for race performance, but are certainly excited about the success the riders have achieved in the first five months of the team's existence," said Vroomen. "I'm equally happy with the activities around the other two pillars of the TestTeam project; aiding the bike industry in product development and creating fan access opportunities."

With strong performances from the likes of Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Carlos Sastre, the project has been massively successful from a sporting perspective. Vroomen is adamant that the other spheres of operating a team have also been addressed. One of those is rider accessibility. "In the Giro, our riders were available for autographs before most stages, and even after some. In the past, the argument was always that such activities hurt the race performance. We were willing to accept that drawback but that doesn't seem to be an issue."

Teams such as Columbia-Highroad place a heavy emphasis on these types of initiatives as the battle to win the hearts and minds of fans – plus restore a sense of credibility in cycling – are vital to maintaining interest in the sport. It's hoped that it will then translate to sponsorship and guaranteed budgets in a tough economic environment. "The feedback we've received from our original TestTeam partners indicates that the value the team has generated to date far exceeds their expectations," explained Vroomen.

Vroomen's statement was also a chance to pitch to potential sponsors, given the immense success the team has enjoyed. "And though, as we've stated in the past, Cervélo enjoys the enormous brand exposure we get from our name on the uniform, we're a brand that doesn't need the 4-5 billion TV impressions generated at the Tour de France. We believe that other companies can benefit more from such exposure, and we would love to work together with another title sponsor to create even more activities around the team.

"With the world number one status, the defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, sprinter Thor Hushovd and a rising star like Heinrich Haussler, the team offers excellent potential to build a strong brand association in the largest annual sporting event in the world."

Furlan gives Lampre a Tour boost

By Jean-François Quénet in Dijon, France

Angelo Furlan (Lampre-NGC)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Lampre had a relatively quiet Giro d'Italia but Angelo Furlan has given them reason to celebrate with a stage win at the Dauphiné ahead of Tom Boonen. "We've had difficult moments at the Giro but the team has maintained good morale and we've continued to believe that we could win races," said Furlan.

The Italian added that he has learnt patience through his two years experience in France with Crédit Agricole. "I've often said that team saved 10 years of my life because as a sprinter I learnt a new way of riding my bike", he underlined. "The manager [Roger Legeay] was always quiet and the riders were well respected. Their attitude changed my way of thinking. My approach to the sport has become much more relaxed. Crédit Agricole was my dream team."

However, he found it difficult to get another contract at the age of 31. "I had three wins last year," he explained. "Actually, my last win before today's was a ProTour race, a stage at the Tour of Poland. Despite this kind of result, it was hard to find a team. There are two reasons for that – firstly, in Italy, there are many strong riders; if you don't have 10 wins a year, you look like a loser. Secondly, with the general economic difficulties, it's a complex task for the cycling community to find money for the teams."

With Lampre, Furlan retains the chance of riding at the highest level and at the best French races. "I finished 23rd at Paris-Roubaix this year," he said. "But that was with a broken hand at the Tour of Flanders and I was in a breakaway all day. Without the fracture, I could have made the top 10." Now he has an eye on the Tour de France. "This is my next goal. I have to get selected first but maybe after today's win I am... To win a stage at the Tour de France would be a dream come true."

Zberg zooms to second

BMC Racing enjoyed one its best results yesterday as Markus Zberg took second in the second stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, finishing ahead of Tom Boonen. It puts the Swiss national road champion in good stead ahead of his home tour later this month.

BMC took advantage of the work done by bigger teams as they organised themselves for the sprint finish. "In the last 100km or so of the race, Lampre and Quick Step took over the pace making, so all I had to do was watch for their lead," said Zberg. "The team worked extremely well for me getting me in position for the last 20km rush to the line.

"Coming out of the last corner I had a really good spot right on Furlan's wheel," he added. "Furlan had a great lead-out and only started to slow his sprint in the last 50 metres which meant that I didn't have enough time to come over the top of him."

Rogers Tour rumours untrue

Team Columbia-Highroad management has commented on rumours that Michael Rogers would not be selected for the Tour de France after they had fielded enquiries about the Australian's apparent absence at La Grande Boucle.

"This is not true at all," Cyclingnews was informed via e-mail. "We have not yet announced any riders on a short or long list for the Tour. The chances that Rogers rides in the Tour are very high. In fact... the chances that Rogers does not ride are extremely low.

Team Columbia-Highroad will not announce its Tour de France lineup until after the Tour de Suisse.

Tour de France likely for two Japanese riders

By Jean-François Quénet in Dijon, France

Japanese sensation Yukiya Arashiro.
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

It appears increasingly likely that two Japanese riders will take to the Tour de France start line in Monaco on July 4 this year. Yukiya Arashiro has placed himself in contention for selection in Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Tour team after finishing 11th in stage two of the Dauphiné, while compatriot Fumiyuki Beppu has rejoined his Skil-Shimano teammates for a 10-day altitude training camp in Austria.

Both know their deadline: "After the Dauphiné, I'll fly back home to Japan for the first time since Le Tour de Langkawi in February," said Arashiro. "I'll ride the Japanese championship on June 28, the same day as in the European countries and I'll wait for a phone call in the evening. If I make the Tour team, I'll fly back to France for the Tour, otherwise I'll stay in Japan on holiday."

Needless to say, Asahiro prefers the first option. He won't race against Beppu at the national championship, the former Discovery Channel rider opting to stay in Europe until the start of the Tour de France. Beppu has the Route du Sud scheduled as his final preparation. "On June 29, I'll know if I ride the Tour or not," he explained.

In Beppu's case, it's rumoured that the Shimano company insisted the squad includes one Japanese rider – the other option being Yokihiro Doi – although the latter doesn't possess the same experience as Beppu, who rode for Discovery Channel from 2005 to 2007. Last year's Asian champion has enjoyed a good European season thus far, the highlight being a breakaway with Christophe Moreau during Flèche Wallonne. "My directeur sportif says he's happy with my work as a teammate and as a breakaway rider," said Beppu.

At Bbox-Bouygues Telecom meanwhile, team management is delighted with Arashiro's consistent performances: 10th in GP Denain, 10th in the Trophée des Grimpeurs, ninth overall at the Four Days of Dunkirk. "I'm going pretty well", the modest Arashiro, who is in his first year with the French Pro Tour team, admitted. When he joined the squad in December from Meitan-Hompo, he already positioned himself as a potential Tour de France rider.

"Maybe Beppu has more chances to get selected than me because he's one out of 12 in the pre-selection of Skil-Shimano; I'm one out of 15 at Bbox-Bouygues Telecom," he said. It could be a huge media boost for the Tour de France to have Japanese riders lined up in Monaco. At the Dauphiné, a TV station (Cyclo Image) has a crew following Arashiro everywhere while another channel, J-Sport, is broadcasting the entire race.

Shall one or both of them get selected, it wouldn't be a first for Japan. In 1996, Daisuke Imanaka started the Tour for Polti and didn't make the time cut on stage 14, but the pioneer is Kisso Kawamuro, who joined the peloton twice as a touriste-routier (individual without a team). On both occasions in 1926 and 1927, he pulled out during the first stage. Beppu and/or Arashiro are in contention to become the first Japanese rider to finish the Tour, something they are both capable of achieving while doing a good job for their team.

Rabobank announces Tour long list

Rabobank has announced its 'long list' for the Dutch team's Tour de France squad. As expected, the likes of Denis Menchov, Oscar Freire and Juan Antonio Flecha made the cut, although manager Erik Breukink will announce the final selection after the Dauphiné Libéré.

The 12-rider 'long list': Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Garate, Robert Gesink, Denis Menchov, Koos Moerenhout, Grischa Niermann, Joost Posthuma, Bram Tankink and Pieter Weening.

Bauer brings experience to Beauce

By Kirsten Robbins

Canada's Tour de Beauce begins later today in Saint-Georges, Quebec and it's fitting that one of the most decorated cyclists in the nation's history – Steve Bauer – will lead a Planet Energy squad capable of making a mark on home turf during the six-day stage race.

"Bauer is bringing a strong team here," said Francis Rancourt, event general manager. "We are very happy with the teams who are coming and we have two past winners here. We would like to have a couple more teams but I think there will be five or six who can battle for the overall. We have one new stage and the old ones are really challenging, with the same decisive climb over Mont Megantic in stage three."

The Tour de Beauce welcomes a total of 18 teams. American-based squads Team Type 1, with 2006 winner Valery Kobzarenko in its ranks, plus Felt-Hollowesko Partners-Garmin, Kelly Benefit Strategies and DLP Racing are making the trip. Overseas teams include Fly V Australia – with 2007 winner Ben Day – plus British outfits Rapha Condor, Recycling UK and KUK Kinesis. Canadian teams include the aforementioned Planet Energy, the national road squad, the Quebec Provincial Team and Garneau Crocs.

Shelley Olds: New face in American sprinting

By Kirsten Robbins

Shelley Olds (Proman Hit Squad)
Photo ©: Rob Evans
(Click for larger image)

Shelley Olds has quickly become a new face in American sprinting after blasting her way onto the podium at the Liberty Classic held in Philadelphia yesterday. The US Women's National Team has rewarded Olds for her performances by offering her a hard-earned spot on the Giro d' Italia Femminile squad next month.

"I'm so excited to do that [The Giro], it has changed my whole perspective for road racing," said Olds captured third place in Philadelphia. "I'm so honoured to receive the invite to go to Italy. I respect every rider I'm going to be racing with over there. I hope to help them and do what I can to get us results."

The Giro Donne is a ten-day stage race set to begin on July 3 to 12. Olds is one of eight strong American riders that include Katharine Carroll, Amber Rais, Janel Holcomb, Brooke Miller, Lauren Tamayo, Meredith Miller along with alternate riders Rebecca Much, Alison Powers and Amanda Miller.

Olds' road cycling career stems from long winter months on the track. Her main focus is on a full schedule set of track World Cups this winter but she has captured numerous podium places at top-notch road events in North America. She recently won her first two National Racing Calendar (NRC) races back-to-back at the Tulsa Tough and went on to capture the event's overall omnium title.

"Basically I finish my track season in the winter and then take a break," Olds said. "Then I use my road season as preparation for the following winter on the track. My road season is all one big preparation."

Citi sets sights on another Classic

Phil Anderson was one of the special guests in attendance at the launch of the 2009 Pengana Goulburn to Citi Cycle Classic in Sydney yesterday.

Anderson and Hodge launched the latest edition of New South Wales' oldest one-day cycling event, to be held on September 20 this year. "The event appears to be getting bigger each year, which is great to see," said Cycling NSW CEO Kevin Young.

This years corporate charity ride will again be hosted by Race Ambassador Simon Poidevin whose idea to establish this charitable part of the event four years ago, separate to the race has to date raised $500,000 which includes principal charity Odyssey House and includes Kids of Macarthur and Goulburns' St John of God Palliative care and Oncology support unit as recipients.

This year's teams to take part in the corporate charity ride include major sponsor The Campbelltown Catholic Club who will join the challenge with the Simon Poidevin lead team from Citi.

"This year we hope to be able to raise upwards of $200,000. This is an extremely satisfying part of being the race ambassador," said Poidevin.

What's hot on the forum

After Bernard Kohl's doping admissions and the ongoing debate about drugs in cycling, Cyclingnews readers have been busy discussing the merits of professional riders 'coming clean'. Additionally, David Walsh's commentary concerning Lance Armstrong's comeback has prompted plenty of reader feedback.

Why is there no whistle blower protection?

Why not have support, protection, and plea bargains for doping whistle blowers?

You would think UCI and the national federations should have a systematic, coordinated program like this to break omerta and the crucifixion of dopers who come clean. Create a reserved Pro Tour spot for a quasi-official team of former dopers and whistle blowers, publicly supported with the money of UCI, national federations, and wealthy donors/sponsors (e.g. people like Doug Ellis of Garmin).

It might even be cool for companies or sponsors like Amgen, and legal supplement companies, and health food companies, what have you, who want to create a market niche of fair play and healthy living.

Let's see – Jaksche, Heras, Manzano, Kohl, Schumacher, even Riccò (once he's done his time), and there are others, at the entire Pro Tour, with guaranteed spots/salaries. Would be intriguing/hilarious to watch all these guys on one team (a protected one), and a baseline point of comparison versus the omerta stooges who continue undetected. Team should be subject to biological passport thing, new types of dope tests, the whole nine yards. UCI and WADA could use them for testing purposes (new ones or new protocols), whatever. It's fair. – Parrot23

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Armstrong's comeback reasons reviewed by Walsh/Ballester

Go for it; freedom of the press. However, I have a feeling that these two "monkeys" have much more follow through than you do.

With Armstrong's Tour aspirations all but done, he has an amazing chance to put Livestrong at the forefront, but as of yet, the only thing that I've seen has been his yellow and black helmet. Not talking to the press, not posting anything about Livestrong on Twitter; he should be eating this coverage up to promote his organization.

On top of it, he could easily make a living while donating every cent of his publicity earnings and salary to cancer research. I for one am glad someone is questioning his motives for coming back, and they are just saying what I am sure many are thinking. Sure it's controversial and biased, but how many copies would they sell if their message was "Lance came back because he loves cycling?"

Feel free to prove us wrong, Lance, but so far the comeback has been an epic fail on the cycling front and the cancer research front. The only improvement seems to be the size of his wallet. – jmnikricket

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