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First Edition Cycling News, December 5, 2008

Date published:
December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Ride with Robbie McEwen at Revolution 4

    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Steve Thomas

    Going for a ride and having breakfast with one of the greatest road sprinters of all time is a rare...

    Going for a ride and having breakfast with one of the greatest road sprinters of all time is a rare opportunity, but three-time Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen is giving you that chance.

    All AAA tickets ($49) to Revolution 4, purchased before 4pm on December 4, will go into the drawing for 10 people to join McEwen for a morning ride followed by breakfast at Urban's Curious Restaurant, in St Kilda, on December 17. Prize winners will be advised by 5pm on December 5.

    Last year's pre-Christmas event, Revolution 2, was one of the best displays of track cycling ever seen in Melbourne with notable performances from Stuart O'Grady and Graeme Brown plus a spectacular crash in the "Future Stars" event which attracted more than two million hits on youtube.com.

    This year's pre-Christmas Revolution 4 is expected to be a sell-out. Revolution 4 will take place December 17 at Melbourne's Hisense Arena and tickets can be purchased from Ticketek on 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au.

  • Furlan to Lampre

    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Steve Thomas

    Angelo Furlan, the 31-year-old Italian sprinter, signed a one year agreement with Lampre-NGC for...

    Angelo Furlan, the 31-year-old Italian sprinter, signed a one year agreement with Lampre-NGC for 2009. A professional since 2001, Furlan has 11 career victories, most notably two stages in the 2002 Vuelta a Espana 2002 [stage 17 and stage 20], the 2004 Coppa Bernocchi and one stage of the 2008 Tour of Poland.

    "Joining a top level team such as Lampre-NGC is for me a huge joy," Furlan said. "I think I'm in the right place where I can find satisfaction. I feel good and I'm sure I can obtain important results."

    "We're happy to welcome a powerful sprinter with great finishing speed," said Fabrizio Bontempi, Lampre-NGC sport director. "We noticed Furlan in the 2004 Coppa Bernocchi, now his time to wear the blue and fucsia colors has come."

  • Koji plays his last tune

    Koji Fukushima has decided to hang up his racing wheels
    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Steve Thomas Things will just not be the same at major Asian and many French races in 2009. Why?...

    By Steve Thomas

    Things will just not be the same at major Asian and many French races in 2009. Why? Because Koji Fukushima, the amiable Japanese professional, has decided to hang up his racing wheels for good at the age of 35. For many years Koji has been something of a star attraction at races, where he not only puts on one of the best and most aggressive displays of riding, but also woos and entertains the crowd with his friendly banter, commentary (in many languages) and his all time show stopper – playing the harmonica.

    Originally form Osaka (now living in Nagano) Koji was something of a late comer to cycling, only taking it up under persuasion from his older brother and Mietan Hompo team mate Shinichi. Cycling was seen as a way to get the growingly wayward teenager back on the straight and narrow.

    It didn't take long for Koji to find his legs and in no time at all he followed his brother to race in France. The rest, as they say, is history. The two brothers spent many seasons pioneering Japanese cycling at an international level in France, forging ahead with teams like Bridgestone Anchor and more recently Mietan Hompo, with a great deal of success.

    If there were medals for sheer gutsy aggression then Koji would have been a world champion many times over. Koji's constant attacking became his trade mark. "It's maybe not always the best way, but it's my style – and I like to ride that way," said Fukushima. Sometimes his aggression did pay off with a victory, perhaps most notably when he pulled off a lone stage win and took the yellow jersey in the 2005 Tour de Langkawi, one of his favorite races.

    "For me, personally, I think it was one of the best moments of my career," said Fukushima. "But this year, when the team won the Tour du Limousin, that was also very special, just different.[Yukiya Arashiro (Mietan Hompo) won the

  • Rabobank names TDU squad

    Podium kisses for new Tour leader
    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Steve Thomas

    An Australian and Dutch line-up from the Rabobank team aims to make their mark at the 2009 Tour Down...

    An Australian and Dutch line-up from the Rabobank team aims to make their mark at the 2009 Tour Down Under.

    Lead Rabobank rider Graeme Brown has a long history with the Tour Down Under and Race Director Mike Turtur tips him as a cyclist to look out for in the peloton with his strength as a sprinter.

    "Graeme Brown will be one to watch in the sprints, after finishing fourth overall in the sprint classification in the 2008 Tour Down Under," said Mike Turtur. "He will aggressively chase all the points he can for the SA Lotteries Sprint jersey."

    Fellow Australian Mathew Hayman will return to the Tour Down Under after a crash on stage 4 of the 2008 event left him with a broken collarbone.

    "Graeme and Mathew performed very well at the 2008 event and I am sure they will travel to Adelaide with the aim to win with the Rabobank team," said Turtur.

    The Rabobank team line up for the 2009 Tour Down Under, led by Team Manager Adri Van Houwelingen, is Graeme Brown (Aus), Bram De Groot (Ned), Mathew Hayman (Aus), Jos Van Emden (Ned), Rick Flens (Ned), Tom Leezer (Ned) and Kai Reus (Ned).

  • Tour of California organizers 'pumped'

    Brooke Miller (Tibco) marks
    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor "We think it is the best one we have had yet," is how the...

    By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

    "We think it is the best one we have had yet," is how the president of AEG Sports Andrew Messick, owner of the Amgen Tour of California, described the 2009 edition of the race – which will see an expansion to nine days and feature more climbing than the previous three years, all the way until the final with the toughest climb of the entire tour, Palomar Mountain, more than 1100 km into the tour and just 85 km from the overall finish near San Diego.

    "We are excited that there is a chance the race will be resolved on the last day with two challenging stages on the Saturday and Sunday," Messick told Cyclingnews. "We like that there will be drama right to the finish. Anyone who wants to be champion will have to be fast up Palomar!"

    Messick is referring to the first three tours, which saw the overall all-but-decided before the final stage. The first two years were more of a parade finish with a circuit race, and last year's finish into Pasadena with a climb over Millcreek Summit that was not quite challenging enough to isolate the leaders. But that course will now serve as the penultimate stage to Palomar, reaching 5,123 feet of elevation with a much steeper ascent.

    "That climb into Pasadena isn't really that hard," said the race's technical director Chuck Hodge. "It's a long gradual 20 mile climb; Palomar is a real climb. I'm not sure how we are going to rate it but it will be at least a category 1 or an HC! It's close to a Mt. Hamilton – the descent is not as technical but it is long and fast, and there is still another climb after it before the finish."

    Messick also explained that the expansion of the race was in an attempt to cover more of the state, especially new areas. "We are excited that we are covering the ground that we are. There are some parts of the state we are going that we will not be able to go [in 2009,] like the stage to San Luis Obispo...

  • Vinokourov returns to racing

    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

    Alexander Vinokourov will become the next big name to make a comeback to the sport of cycling when...

    Alexander Vinokourov will become the next big name to make a comeback to the sport of cycling when he tackles the Rabobank Beach Challenge this Saturday. The race organisation for the mountain bike race which takes place in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, confirmed Vinokourov's participation Thursday.

    Vinokourov immediately retired after being given a year's suspension for testing positive for blood transfusion at the 2007 Tour de France. The UCI has promised to fight the Kazakhstan federation's light sentence should Vinokourov return. However, the December 6 Rabobank Beach Challenge is not a UCI sanctioned event.

    The Kazakh rider made his intentions to return to road racing known last month. Whether or not he would return to his former Astana team remains to be seen, although team manager Johan Bruyneel said that he could see no reason why Vinokourov should not be able to ride with the squad.

  • Astana meets the press

    Why is Johan Bruyneel so happy?
    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Peter Cossins in Tenerife

    By Peter Cossins in Tenerife What a difference a year makes. At the end of 2008 the Astana team was...

    By Peter Cossins in Tenerife

    What a difference a year makes. At the end of 2008 the Astana team was presented to a press corps about a dozen-strong. Today's presentation in the swanky setting of the Golf Las Americas country club in Tenerife attracted more than 10 times that number, almost all of them drawn by the second comeback of Lance Armstrong.

    Astana may be a team that is now home to no fewer than five riders who've finished among the leading contenders at the Tour de France, but there's no doubt Armstrong is the man everyone wants to see and speak to. The first indication that the Texan was on the premises was a stampede of photographers as he entered the press conference. For the first couple of minutes photographers jostled, TV cameramen yelled as their view was blocked and no one could restore order.

    When relative calm was brought, this press conference was tame compared to most of those Armstrong attended during the latter years of his seven-year-long run of Tour success. While doping would have been one of the main themes then, now there are new topics for the press to dig over...

    Why is he coming back? What's he expecting when he does start back? Does he think he can win the Tour? And, above all, how are his goals going to mesh with those of Alberto Contador, who Armstrong described as "the strongest cyclist in the world at the moment"?

    He said that he felt "OK for an old guy", and he certainly looks the part. Clearly, the marathon training he's done over the past three years that was more recently honed by his preparation for last August's Leadville 100 has been continued. He looks lean and is reported to be riding hard in a very fast group of Astana riders on this extremely mountainous island.

    He reaffirmed that his two reasons for coming back are to boost the profile of the Livestrong organisation, whose colour he will continue to train in, and to enjoy the new-found passion he has for...

  • Armstrong: Contador is the best

    Armstrong, Contador and Bruyneel
    Article published:
    December 05, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo

    By Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo The second return of Lance Armstrong has attracted the rapt...

    By Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo

    The second return of Lance Armstrong has attracted the rapt attention of the world wide press, and no aspect of the story has been examined closer than the supposed rivalry between the seven-time Tour de France winner and his teammate Alberto Contador, himself a three-time Grand Tour champion in the past two seasons. Both riders appeared in public together for the first time at a press conference in the hotel Las Madrigueras on the island of Tenerife where the Astana team is having its camp.

    When Lance Armstrong announced his comeback, he made it clear he would try for an eighth Tour title, but then backed down to a point where it wasn't clear if he would actually race the July event. He emphatically stated his intentions to compete in the Tour earlier this week, qualifying the announcement by saying that he was committed to racing "for the strongest guy".

    Today, Armstrong dispelled any notion of there being internal strife within the team by unequivocally supporting his young Spanish teammate, Alberto Contador. "I think Alberto has obviously a tremendous amount of natural talent, and can read a race," Armstrong said. "I have a lot of respect for this man. I can't say it any simpler. This guy is the best cyclist in the world."

    "There are certain unwritten laws in cycling – the others ride to support the strongest rider. Weather it means to support Alberto [Contador] or Levi [Leipheimer] or Andreas [Klöden], I'll do that."

    Continue to the full feature.