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First Edition Cycling News, December 16, 2008

Date published:
December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Xacobeo-Galicia faces storm en route to Santiago

    The team was looking forward to the breaks and some hot tea
    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Les Clarke

    The riders of Xacobeo Galicia probably would not have imagined that the training camp on the Camino...

    The riders of Xacobeo Galicia probably would not have imagined that the training camp on the Camino de Santiago would be so tough. From the start, the Spaniards encountered wind, rain and even snow.

    When the racers left Burgos to set out for their nine-day trip, snowflakes came down. On the fourth day, the weather was again extremely bad, with wind and rain accompanying the squad. The 82 kilometres between Cid and Carrión de los Condes en Palenciafor were miserable, with temperatures between zero and five degrees centigrade.

    Delio Fernández and Serafín Martínez were excused as a precaution in those conditions, as both are suffering from knee problems. Fernández may return when the weather gets better, but Martínez has an inflammation in one of his knees after falling during the first day.

    Ten riders took the journey on day four, accompanied by directeur sportif Jesús Blanco Villar. The riders improvised in a shop in Burgos, getting clothing that looked appropriate for fishermen than for cyclists. But health goes first and the clothing helped the riders to stay as warm as possible.

    After 15 kilometres the group split in two. One part of the team decided to leave the trail and continue on the paved road.

    The fifth day was even shorter, 71 kilometres, but once again the temperatures were horrible between Carrión de los Condes and Mansilla de las Mulas. (BH)

  • Albert may return in 2008

    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Les Clarke

    Niels Albert may return to racing this year, only six weeks after a crash while warming up put him...

    Niels Albert may return to racing this year, only six weeks after a crash while warming up put him in intensive care. The 22 year-old crashed on November 16, suffering a ruptured spleen. He
    started riding on the road again only last week.

    "Six weeks later, there are no more medical reservations," his manager Christophe Roodhooft told Sporza.be. Albert will most likely ride the race in Loenohut on December 30, but the final decision won't be made "until he can train in the field".

  • White reflects on stellar '08

    It's 12 months since Matt White's last race as a professional
    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Les Clarke

    By Les Clarke A new team, new job and new challenges awaited Matt White this year. After a riding...

    By Les Clarke

    A new team, new job and new challenges awaited Matt White this year. After a riding career that included stints at Cofidis and US Postal, the respected Australian stayed within the fold as a directeur sportif for the Garmin-Chipotle squad.

    His season boasted a host of highlights, with the team time trial win in the Giro, Christian Vande Velde's stirling performance in the Tour de France and the announcement that the outfit would be part of the ProTour in 2009 just a few of the achievements that White had a hand in.

    Cyclingnews spoke to White after the Cronulla International GP (Australian Criterium Championships) last weekend, a race he won last year as a swan song to life on the bike. "It's been a big year for the team and for myself," he began. "We went to the Tour de France, and I was the only member of the staff [for that race] who had been to the Tour before."

    White admitted that he had learnt as much as the young riders he was in charge of, and after the many highs of this season, he knows that the next 12 months may not be as meteoric but rewarding nevertheless. "I've learnt a lot. There are always some problems with teams – a few hiccups – and pro cycling is a very dynamic job," he explained. "Put it this way – 12 months ago we were a very young team without that much experience, and so a year down the track it's going to be a lot easier.

    "We had a super year, and it's going to be hard for us to improve on it in a lot of ways," he continued. "There are only three spots to go up in the Tour, and there are a few big players coming back into the game, with Contador, Leipheimer, and obviously Lance Armstrong." White was team-mates with all three before retiring, and now faces them as a rival directeur sportif, although given the affable nature that made him a favourite with riders and fans during his career, there'll be no hard feelings from either corner.

    "Our big goal...

  • V Australia/Virgin Blue target Aussie titles

    Peter McDonald and Bernard Sulzberger broke away
    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Greg Johnson Australian Continental team V Australia/Virgin Blue presented by Successful Living...

    By Greg Johnson

    Australian Continental team V Australia/Virgin Blue presented by Successful Living Foundation will target next month's Australian Open Road Championship crowns, having wrapped up the criterium title last weekend. The team's Bernard Sulzberger claimed the national criterium title at Cronulla in Sydney on Sunday, after out-sprinting Peter McDonald (Drapac Porsche).

    Team manager Chris White said Sulzberger's victory is the first success to come from its "operation green and gold" and hopes that more fruit will come at next month's road titles. "We've been running operation green and gold internally for six months," said White of the team's focus on the national jerseys.

    V Australia/Virgin Blue presented by Successful Living Foundation will send a number of riders to the national titles, with last year's Under 23 Time Trial Championship runner-up Ben King likely to be one of its contenders. "We are going to put a team of riders in that race which are capable of taking that jersey away," said White.

    Sulzberger is also hoping to get in on the action in Ballarat next month. "It would be awesome to be able to have both the national criterium and road jerseys in the closet at the same time – I think the green and gold stripes look pretty good on me," he laughed.

    After putting its toe in the American cycling waters this year, contesting Superweek, V Australia/Virgin Blue will further push into the market in 2009. Having teamed up with the Successful Living squad, V Australia/Virgin Blue presented by Successful Living Foundation is hoping to get an invite to the Tour of California.

    "2009 will be big year for our team," said Sulzberger. "We are on the way up – we have a great program, a great bunch of guys and we will be doing a lot of criteriums. It will be fantastic to be able to race in the national champion's jersey."

    V...

  • Florence 2013 bid launched

    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Following this year's UCI World Road Championships in Varese, Italy, another Italian city, Florence,...

    Following this year's UCI World Road Championships in Varese, Italy, another Italian city, Florence, has launched its own bid to host the world titles in 2013. 'FI2013' Committee members Eugenio Giani, Michele Bartoli and Gabriele Sola announced their intentions in Dugenta Salone di Palazzo Vecchio, in the heart of Florence.

    Gabriele Sola, director general of the Varese 2008 worlds and the man responsible for marketing and communications at the 2004 event in Verona, has grand visions of Florence as the epicentre of cycling for a week in 2013. "The cycling world championship is, after the Tour de France, the most popular cycling event in the world," said Sola. "The television broadcast of the event reaches over 100 countries to an estimated audience of 450 million.

    "Imagine Piazza della Signoria, the beating heart of social life [in Florence] and the town hall with the majestic Palazzo Vecchio, the ideal location for the opening ceremony that week," he added.

    Former professional Michele Bartoli will act as technical director, a role he's well qualified for. Bartoli provided a few insights into what could be expected from the course. "Florence and Fiesole possess ideal environments to host an event such as this," he said. "If we look at the time trial route, we can see that it has been designed with Paoli Avenue as the departure and arrival point.

    "This will be case for all the races, held on a challenging and spectacular circuit that alternates between extensive technical sections with corners with steep slopes that exceed 10 per cent," he added. "It's an interesting track on a tactical level."

    Having heard from his two fellow committee members, Giani's message was simple. "Today we present a team that has all the credentials to bring to Florence a great sporting event, which is missing from our city for too many years."

    The launch of Florence's bid for the 2013 event has been anticipated for a number of months. The group...

  • Rock Racing to remain, but feeling the pinch

    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Mark Zalewski Many rumours have been circulating over the past week about the Rock Racing team...

    By Mark Zalewski

    Many rumours have been circulating over the past week about the Rock Racing team and its parent designer clothing company Rock & Republic, all stemming from the company's financial position within the worsening global economy. The main rumour that the company will be completely disbanding its cycling team appear to be an exaggeration, though internal company communication has indicated that a downsizing of the parent company's staff overall, including portions of the cycling team's staff, is happening. As such there has been speculation that this could reduce the number of riders on the team.

    "Rock Racing will continue to race in 2009," a statement from the team said. "Tyler Hamilton, Rahsaan Bahati and Justin Williams will defend their U.S. national titles. More important information about the team's plans will follow. We appreciate your interest and continued support of Rock Racing."

    Martine Charles, a spokesperson with the team, would not elaborate on the status of the team other than to say that it is continuing. When asked if the team will be downsizing, especially considering that not all of the riders would be able to race on the UCI roster, the official answer from Charles was: "As of today the team is going to be the same". However, other sources within the team speculated that downsizing is a likely possibility.

    US criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati was snowboarding at Big Bear in California when reached by Cyclingnews. When asked about the rumour he laughed saying, "I hope I still have a job!" Bahati said that he had not heard anything from team owner Michael Ball or the management about the team shutting down.

    Michael Ball had indicated for most of the last year that he had planned on taking the team to Pro Continental status for 2009. However, the team withdrew its application to the UCI before the deadline in order to remain a Continental team. Still the team has signed many...

  • Another Tour champ for Tour Down Under

    Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Mark Zalewski

    Oscar Pereiro will join Lance Armstrong on the list of Tour de France champions that will contest...

    Oscar Pereiro will join Lance Armstrong on the list of Tour de France champions that will contest the 2009 Tour Down Under in South Australia, Australia. Pereiro, who was handed the Tour win after Floyd Landis had his results annulled, will lead his Caisse d'Epargne squad at the ProTour event while Armstrong is making his return to road racing with Astana.

    "The Tour Down Under is honoured to have Pereiro and Armstrong competing at our event," said Mike Turtur, Tour Down Under Race Director. "Spectators in Adelaide will get to see some of the best cycling champions of our time. It's a great coup for the sport in this region and highlights the continued growth of the Tour Down Under."

    Pereiro leads a squad which includes 2003 Tour Down Under winner Luis Leon Sanchez and is managed by Australian Neil Stephens. Turtur believes the Caisse d'Epargne team travelling to the 2009 Tour Down Under is a cycling powerhouse, with a strong history of victories and cycling achievements.

    "A Tour de France winner, a Tour Down Under winner, and stage winners from the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia are all part of the Caisse d'Epargne team heading here next year," said Turtur. "Australians embraced Luis Leon Sanchez as a crowd favourite when he won the Tour Down Under in 2005, and I think he'll put in a strong performance again in 2009."

    The 2008 Tour Down Under Share the Road Young Rider winner, Jose Rojas, will also return to the race.

    Caisse d'Epargne for the 2009 Tour Down Under: Oscar Pereiro, Luis Leon Sanchez, Jose Rojas, Pablo Lastras, Nicolas Portal, Imanol Erviti and Mathieu Drujon.