- Article published:
- October 25, 2011, 20:45
- Susan Westemeyer
German not welcome at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
Fabian Wegmann has confirmed that he has joined Garmin-Cervélo for the 2012 season. The German rode for Leopard Trek this year, but found that he was surplus to requirements at the squad following its merger with RadioShack.
Speaking to Cyclingnews this week, Wegmann was enthusiastic about his new team. “It is a super team, a top team. I already know many of the riders and know that I can work with them. I have many friends there,” he said. “I can play a key role in many races there.”
Garmin-Cervélo's reputation as a clean team was a factor in his decision to sign with them. “Absolutely, it was very important. The team is a good fit for me, and I am for them, too.”
Wegmann, 31, was told that he was not part of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek's plans for coming season and should seek a new team, even though he had a two-year contract with Leopard Trek. That contract had to be dealt with before Wegmann could move. “It wasn't easy and that's why it all took so long. But we found a solution and I am satisfied,” he said, without going into details.
“As soon as I heard that I should find a new team, I immediately started looking around. I immediately had a good feeling from Garmin.”
Wegmann's name had also been mentioned in connection with Katusha, which now features former Gerolsteiner management, with Hans-Michael Holczer as team manager and Christian Henn as sport director. “I was connected to them because we worked together for so many years and for me it was a very successful time. It would have been nice to work with Henn again. But in this situation, Garmin was the best decision.”
One reason he is looking forward to his new team is that he can again concentrate on his favourite races, the Spring Classics. “Leopard put everything on the Tour. I am more one for the Classics, and I want to keep developing in that direction.”
2011 was the first season since his rookie year of 2002 that the German has not had any wins. “At the end of the season I was doing quite well. I finished third in the GP de la Somme (the middle of September) and was disappointed, as I thought I should have done better.
“The Classics were fun, but I had to support my captain,” he told Cyclingnews. “It is too bad, after my many, many years as a pro, as I had become accustomed to winning, but I am confident that next year things will work out.”
His goals for 2012 start with the Classics, of course, and from there, “the course of the Worlds in Valkenburg is good for me. The Olympic course too is very interesting. Cavendish won the test race there, but it was shorter than it will be in the Olympics.”
Before then, however, he is off on vacation with his wife and infant son for two weeks, to be followed by the first meeting with his new team in Boulder, Colorado, in November.
Wegmann turned pro in 2002 with Team Gerolsteiner, staying with them until the team disbanded after the 2008 season. Following two years with Milram, he joined Leopard Trek in 2011. He won the mountains jersey at the 2004 Giro d'Italia, and is a two-time German national champion. He has twice won the GP Miguel Indurain and Rund um den Henninger Turm/Rund um den Eschborn-Frankfurt Finanzplatz.
- Article published:
- October 25, 2011, 21:36
- Jane Aubrey
Twenty-nine-year-old says he has plenty left to offer
Reigning Australian Criterium Champion Jonathan Cantwell is still on the lookout for a new team for the 2012 season after several of his options "fell over in front of his eyes".
Cantwell has been riding with V Australia since 2009, is off contract at the end of this year and had been hopeful of a return to racing in Europe following his haul of close to 90 race wins over the past three seasons.
"I've been looking elsewhere for a little while now, but it's proving very difficult with teams collapsing all over the place," he told Cyclingnews. "This year I only raced about 60 per cent of what I did last year so there were limited opportunities to show myself."
After winning the Australian criterium championships in January, Cantwell claimed V Australia’s first win of the season at the Sunny King Criterium in April. Another victory followed in the opening stage of Tulsa Tough, a stage of the Tour of America's Dairyland, and then Cantwell went one-two with teammate Ben Kersten at Boise Twilight Criterium before heading back to Australia for the National Road Series via China.
After plenty of occasions on the top step of the podium, Cantwell had hoped to get an opportunity with GreenEdge which appears set to join the ProTour next season, all going to plan, but there was no spot in the squad of 30 available. Cantwell courted interest from another WorldTour team, but that too fell through leaving the Queenslander questioning his next move.
"The worst thing is that I feel like I can't do anything about it," he explained. "You tick every box and it's totally out of your hands. It's very difficult. I've had a fruitful cycling career thus far, but I've still got another six, seven years left in me."
At age 29, Cantwell said that he feels he's starting to really come into his own and most recently claimed a top five result on the second stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. This weekend, he will line up among a typically hot field at the Noosa Grand Prix. He is hoping that the right result will eventuate in a change of fortune.
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 01:00
- Cycling News
Top of the range equipment to help Eclipse continue progression within Australia
Jayco-2XU’s holding company, Eclipse Pro Cycling (EPC), has announced it will be extending its existing partnership with Felt Bicycles until at least the end of the 2012 season.
The deal, which continues Felt’s involvement in the Australian market, will provide the squad with top level Felt models including the AR- and F-series road bikes, along with the wind tunnel-engineered UCI-legal Felt DA time trial bikes.
Doug Martin, Marketing Director for Felt Bicycles USA says that the partnership is one of mutual benefit.
"We are proud to be associated with this emerging Aussie professional program, and we see the EPC project as a perfect compliment to our direction in professional cycling.
"Their presence in the Australian market further reinforces ours, and the added feedback from the Director Sportif Patrick Jonker and team is extremely beneficial in our continued product development," Martin continued. "We welcome the EPC Team to our Felt family."
The move follows Felt's return to European road racing with Project 1t4i beginning in 2012, and compliments its US-based road efforts including the Exergy men’s and women’s professional cycling teams.
Martin's sentiments were echoed by Felt's local distributor, Southcott's Australia who added that the talent within the Eclipse Pro Cycling squad will be "greatly enhanced" by the technologically advanced machines.
"The selection of bikes they will use will give them the perfect bike for every different race type, from time trial to crits, flat stages to hills," explained Nic Eagle, Southcott's National Product Manager. "We look forward to the coming season and are keen to see what these boys can do."
Eclipse Pro Cycling made its debut on the Australian National Road Series for the 2011 season, and after a slow start claimed impressive victories at the Victorian Open Road Championship with Ben Hill, the gruelling Tour of Tasmania team time trial on Mt Wellington and most recently in the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic where Mark Jamieson posted the fastest time in the event's 51-year history.
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 04:40
- Cycling News
Spaniard bows out after 17 years with same team
José Vicente Garcia Acosta has called time on his career after seventeen seasons in the professional ranks. The 39-year-old Movistar rider had already intimated his desire to retire after this year’s Vuelta a España, but delayed making a formal announcement after he crashed out of the race on stage 5.
“This is a choice I had taken some months ago, and I would have liked to have taken it during the Vuelta a España, and on the bike,” Garcia Acosta said a statement issued on Tuesday. “However, an unexpected crash made me choose to wait until recovering from the accident before definitely making my future clear.”
The 39-year-old turned professional with Banesto in 1995 and remarkably he remained with the same structure through its subsequent incarnations as ibanesto.com, Illes Balears, Caisse d’Epargne and Movistar.
His finest hour came on Bastille Day at the 2000 Tour de France, when he captured the stage into Draguignan. The Spaniard also won stages at the Vuelta a España in 1997 and 2002.
A valued domestique to a succession of leaders, starting with Miguel Indurain, Garcia Acosta’s longevity saw him line up in the Tour de France twelve times. He also completed the Vuelta on no fewer than fourteen occasions. His 2011 crash marked the first time that he failed to make it to the finish in Madrid.
“I leave the sport with just a few victories, but they feel like much more,” he said. “[There were also] the victories of Miguel [Indurain], Abraham [Olano], Alex [Zülle], Chava [José Maria Jimenez], Óscar [Pereiro], Alejandro [Valverde]… I worked so much for my team leaders, but got such a big reward for that.”
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 06:20
- Alex Hinds
Former pro hopes to help build the strength of the NRS in years ahead
In his debut year as the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic race director, former professional cyclist Scott Sunderland can rest a happy man. The racing, which many described as among the best in the last 20 years, not only produced a race record, but also managed to match, and arguably improve upon last year’s bumper 50th anniversary event.
For Sunderland, the success of the event comes as a reward for the hard work of the greater community, who volunteer their time to make the race happen, and vindicates the organizing committee’s and his own vision to instill a new level of professionalism into the race.
Unlike many of Australia’s other National Road Series events, the ‘Grafton’ enjoys fully closed roads for the better part of the race route, and in 2011 also debuted the use of a full race convoy following the elite men.
"We had two police cars and four police motorbikes this year, and they’re very happy with the way things have gone today," said Sunderland. "The convoy has been something we’ve been trying to bring in for a few years and I think it’s worked really well."
Sunderland’s other key legacy was the introduction of the climb to Gibson’s Hill which critics had argued made a hard race, at least in some people’s opinion, too hard. Somewhat ironically it was on Gibson’s Hill that the race was decided.
"I think today shows that we can do whatever we want [with the course] but at the end of the day it’s the riders who choose how hard the racing is," said Sunderland. "We’ve got a new race record on what was supposed to be ‘the hardest course ever’.
"That said, overall I think we probably don’t need to make any other changes to the race. I think we’ve got the route and the way it’s organised under control. The next step is focusing on the National calendar as a whole."
An optimistic future for the National Road Series
Sunderland’s grand vision is to push to continue improving upon the current National Road Series architecture. Even small steps he argues could build upon what is becoming a better and better series year-on-year.
"Cycling Australia has done a great job so far in getting the ball rolling," said Sunderland. "In the future I think as a race organizer I’d like to see all NRS teams participating at every race to guarantee all events have a minimum size field.
"Having even four rider minimum per team, with every team represented makes it a lot easier for races to approach sponsors with a substantial product. Things like that will only help to further build on the professionalism of the racing here [at Grafton], and across Australia.
"I think if we work hard we can make this series and races like this a real springboard for riders to make it to the next level in the sport."
The final two races in the National Road Series take place this weekend. Melbourne to Warrnambool takes place on October 29, with the Shipwreck Coast Classic occurring the following day.
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 08:38
- Daniel Benson
French co-sponsor out but Garmin makes WorldTour
Despite last month’s announcement that Garmin had failed to lodge their paperwork with the UCI’s licence commission, the team was on Tuesday included among the sport’s elite 15 teams and guaranteed a WorldTour licence for 2012.
The reason for the initial stumble was down to an issue with French company BigMat. They had agreed to join Garmin and co-sponsor the American team for three years, but pulled out of the deal just as Slipstream were filing for its licence. It meant the team had to backtrack and file under their current title of Garmin-Cervélo.
“We signed a binding letter of intent for BigMat to be the co-title sponsor of our team for next year. So we filed with the UCI under Garmin-BigMat but at that point in time, literally right as we were filing, BigMat told us that they were not going to make good on the agreement,” Slipstream’s Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
The French team had put in for an estimated 3.5-5 million USD in sponsorship, which will now be covered by capital from Slipstream’s backer Doug Ellis, who has financed the team since its inception. His capital will be used to help fill the hole left by BigMat and also help the team build on its current success.
However, the situation also leaves the American team free to chase BigMat for financial compensation, something which the team’s lawyers will decide on in the near future. The binding agreement had stopped Garmin from looking for further French sponsorship. In 2012 the team will continue to operate as Garmin-Cervélo until or if another co-sponsor can be found. Cyclingnews understands that a deal between FDJ and Big Mat could have legs, but as yet nothing has been announced.
According to Vaughters, the loss of a co-sponsor, while disappointing, will not affect the team’s stability or future.
“We’re able to expand and contract like that but it does mean that we need to run a more efficient team. It also means having Doug Ellis contribute more investment dollars and looking for additional equity partners for him as well as potential co-sponsors,” he told Cyclingnews.
"If we had the resources of a Sky or BMC, the results we could put up would be truly amazing. We have the best people in the business on this team, we just need someone with a bit of vision to come in and give us the backing that will push us to number one in the world."
“We’re trying to run this as a business and to just expect your investor to cover shortfalls is just an incorrect way of doing business. Functionally, we’re fine but from a business perspective it’s disappointing. It’s nothing something that I wanted to do.”
“It’s disappointing that we have to ask for further investment capital because I want to be paying money back to him from his initial investment in the team. I don’t want to run a team on daddy’s money.”
When assessing the team’s year and fourth place position in the UCI’s listings, Vaughters is proud of how the squad performed. Despite losing a number of riders in the off-season, the team has strengthened its Classics roster, while also promoting and signing a number of young prospects.
“We’ve had the best results we could have had this year, from a variety of riders and different nationalities, and I’m super proud of how the team performed. We provided value that was incredible for our sponsors but the market out there for global companies looking to sponsor a cycling team is very difficult. We had a co-title and they signed with binding intent so we’ve lost time and effort in assuming that was tied up.”
The loss of French sponsorship hasn’t had an effect on the team’s ambitions in the transfer market, according to Vaughters, and the American told Cyclingnews that he would continue to pick riders based on potential, in some cases giving riders a second chance when other teams have discarded them.
“We were never pushing hard in the transfer market anyway. We were looking at young up and coming riders and guys who were undervalued by other teams. Those were the riders we were focused on. Although I’d love to be in the position of bigger budget teams where they can pick up who they want and pay them whatever they want, it’s gratifying to find an under-appreciated asset like a Wiggins, Vande Velde or Martin. It’s fun to be able to continue to out-perform the big budget teams. I’m very grateful for what we have and what we’ve built as a team.”
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 09:12
- Barry Ryan
Sergeant beat off competition for Iranian's signature
Marc Sergeant has revealed that his new Lotto-Ridley team’s place in the 2012 UCI WorldTour is thanks in no small part to the surprise signing of Iranian Mehdi Sohrabi, winner of the 2011 Asia Tour.
Sohrabi’s impressive haul of UCI points made him a valuable commodity for teams bidding to gain automatic entry to the elite division next season and he had been heavily linked with a move to Ag2r-La Mondiale in recent weeks. The Iranian was also in talks with Geox-TMC, but ultimately plumped for Lotto-Ridley, even though Sergeant did not publicly announce his arrival until this week.
In spite of that delay, Sohrabi was included with André Greipel, Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Jelle Vanendert among the fifteen riders whose points counted towards Lotto-Ridley’s total in the UCI’s assessment of their sporting value, and the team's WorldTour status was confirmed on Tuesday.
“We did well to keep the secret, eh?” Sergeant told Het Nieuwsblad. “Everywhere he was reported as having signed for Geox, for Ag2r and other teams. But eventually, he signed with us.”
The 30-year-old Sohrabi has spent the past three seasons with the Tabriz Petrochemical squad, where he has been a dominant presence on the Asian calendar and topped the Asia Tour rankings in both 2010 and 2011. Lotto made contact with Sohrabi through Ridley, who also supply bikes to Tabriz Petrochemical.
“He was looking towards Geox first, but when the sponsor dropped out, we tried our luck,” Sergeant explained. “We were able to get in touch quickly because Sohrabi has been riding with Ridley for three years. We made him an offer and he accepted it.”
- Article published:
- October 26, 2011, 11:05
- Sarah Connolly
Andrea Guardini has chances to try to beat Mark Cavendish
At the launch of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Cyclingnews asked former sprinter Mario Cipollini for his views of the route, and his thoughts on whether Mark Cavendish will be racing in Italy next year.
In this video interview Cipollini, who won 42 stages of the Giro d’Italia over the course of his career, thinks the race will be confusing, and that there will be no clear leader until the third week. He sees possibilities for riders to take opportunities every day for the first two weeks, and that the fast parcours will suit sprinters – and may offer young Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli rider Andrea Guardini with the chance to beat Mark Cavendish.
Cipollini thinks that Cavendish will ride the Giro, because of the opportunities the course will provide to train for the Tour de France – and thinks it’s possible for sprinters to compete in the Giro, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games Road Race next year.