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Latest Cycling News for January 18, 2006

Date published:
January 18, 2006, 0:00 GMT
  • Popham calls it a day

    Article published:
    January 18, 2006, 0:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    By Shane Stokes Irish MTB racing has suffered a big blow with the news that one of its most...

    By Shane Stokes

    Irish MTB racing has suffered a big blow with the news that one of its most promising young downhill racers, Jamie Popham, has announced his retirement.

    In a press release issued earlier this week, Popham listed a number of reasons for the decision. Monetary conditions are a big factor, these including the controversial decision by the Irish Sports Council to exclude non-Olympic athletes from the International Carding scheme in 2006, plus the reduced funding for international teams. The lack of a sponsorship deal has also made things very difficult.

    Popham stated that the lingering effects of a broken ankle suffered in 2004 has also played a part.

    The Bray rider highlighted his talent when he finished an excellent fifth in the 2003 European junior championships. He also became the first non-British rider to win a NPS series in the UK when he took the junior series. In 2004 he started the season as highest ranked junior in the world and repeated his fifth place in the European championships for that category. However, hopes of a strong ride in the world championships was dashed due to the ankle injury he suffered in the run-up to the race. He was 23rd there.

    Despite his promise, Popham was overlooked for a grant last year by the Irish Sports Council. He appealed the decision and was just one of nine Irish sportspeople to succeed in being re-awarded funding. However, while he secured €4,600, this was far less than the amount he needed to ride a full international programme last season.

    "I am disappointed with the result of the appeal as I had applied for an international grant of €11,500, which has been refused," he said at the time. "While the grant of €4,600 will help, the cost of my race season including the eight races of the World Cup Series in 2005 is approximately €20,000. This figure excludes all equipment."

    "Some of the races are in Canada, Brazil and the USA and...

  • Mark French returns with Commonwealth games bid at Sid Patterson GP

    Article published:
    January 18, 2006, 0:00 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Australian track cyclist Mark French, whose allegations that other Australian Institute of Sport...

    Australian track cyclist Mark French, whose allegations that other Australian Institute of Sport riders used his room at the AIS to inject themselves caused a storm of controversy in the run-up to the 2004 Olympic Games, plans to attempt to gain a spot in Australia's team for the Commonwealth games.

    French, who was eventually cleared of charges of using and trafficking in banned substances, will try to set a qualifying time of 10.55 seconds for the flying 200m during the Sid Patterson Grand Prix at the Darebin International Sports Centre on Saturday January 21.

    It will be French's first race since the discovery in his room at the AIS facility in Adelaide, Australia of a bucket containing used syringes, vials of equine growth hormone (eGH) and a homeopathic preparation called Testicomp led to him receiving a two-year suspension from cycling and a life ban from Olympic competition. The Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually found there was insufficient evidence that French had used eGH and that Testicomp, being a homeopathic preparation, actually did not contain banned corticosteroid, despite the claims on the product's label.

    Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, another Australian sprinter, 2004 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Bayley, will also be trying to turn in a Commonwealth Games qualifying performance this weekend. The Commonwealth Games cycling team requires the sprint riders to record a time of 10.55 seconds for the flying 200 metres before 1 February 2006.

    The Sid Patterson Grand Prix meeting will also include a keirin and sprint derby featuring French and current Australian keirin champion, Joel Leonard, among other races. Other competitors include Commonwealth Games cyclists from England, Scotland and New Zealand

    For more information see


  • Gerolsteiner: The future is now!

    The Gerolsteiner team
    Article published:
    January 18, 2006, 0:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein

    By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein Several years ago, at Gerolsteiner's very first team presentation,...

    By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein

    Several years ago, at Gerolsteiner's very first team presentation, Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer proclaimed, "The future belongs to us!" Today he acknowledges that these were big words that he hoped he could live up to. And today he believes he can, saying, "The future is now!" The team presented its mix of talented veterans and hopeful newcomers at its team presentation in Gerolstein, Germany, on Tuesday.

    Holczer points with pride to the team's sixth place in the ProTour team ranking and their 23 victories last season, saying, "We have definitely established ourselves in the world's elite." It's not only the number of victories that are important, but the quality, which, he says, "have reached a new dimension." Among these he counted Georg Totschnig's Tour stage win, Levi Leipheimer's overall victory in the Tour of Germany, and Heinrich Haussler's stage win in the Vuelta, the only German stage victory in one of the Grand Tours in 2005.

    Veterans Davide Rebellin, Leipheimer and Totschnig lead the team, with each filling a different role. The Italian, who notes that "the team has constantly improved" over the years and hopes to stay with it until the end of his career, will concentrate on the spring classics and the Pro Tour individual ranking.

    Leipheimer is looking forward to the Tour de France. "My preparations are going better than in 2005. And like last year I am concentrating on the Tour," the American said. "When everything goes well, a place on the podium ought to be possible. But I have other priorities, too."

    Totschnig was treated as a hero, with the highlights film emphasizing his stage win, and is the team's other man for the three-week tours.

    "I expect a change in the spring classics," said Holczer. "We now have more possibilities for top results here or there." Rebellin is the captain for the "hillier" races, and Frank Hoj is also a candidate. "When my...

  • O'Grady renounces green jersey search; aims for Classics

    Stuart O'Grady
    Article published:
    January 18, 2006, 0:00 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    By Shane Stokes Stuart O'Grady may have finished twice second and once third in the green jersey...

    By Shane Stokes

    Stuart O'Grady may have finished twice second and once third in the green jersey classification in the Tour de France, but he has now decided that he will no longer chase the points jersey for best sprinter in the race.

    O'Grady finished just 12 points behind maillot vert winner Thor Hushovd in the 2005 Tour and finished second on the 13th stage of the race. However his move to CSC has coincided with a change in direction, the Aussie opting henceforth to focus on Classics instead of his familiar Tour bunch sprints.

    "I think if I was going to win the green jersey, it would have happened by now," he told Cyclingnews at the Team CSC training camp in Lido di Camaiore in Italy on Tuesday. "I have had enough close calls. It is just a tiring classification to go for - you put so much energy into it and that takes your edge off winning stages. You kind of become content with seconds, thirds and fourths as they all give you points. You lose that hunger for winning."

    The 32 year old says that his move to CSC is part of a new beginning. "That was my whole reason for moving from Cofidis. With what happened a few years ago with the big scandal and everything, there was a sense of just being content to be bike riders with jobs. But I have been a pro for too long to just ride my bike through the French countryside for fun. And it (racing bikes) isn't fun! So if I do it, I want to do it properly. I want to get that winning feeling back."

    O'Grady is part of a eleven-man provisional squad from which the final Tour de France selection will be made. "I have had big talks with Bjarne and management. I have told them that if it takes sacrificing going for the green jersey, then I will do it. If it means being part of the winning team in the Tour de France, then for me it is a big challenge, a big step."

    "It would obviously be difficult, not being up there getting involved in sprints, but I have never...