- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 05:17
- Pat Malach
Julich played key role in landing American U23 standouts
American U23 standouts Ian Boswell and Joe Dombrowski may have independently reached their decisions to sign their first UCI ProTeam contracts with Team Sky, but the Bontrager-Livestrong teammates, who have become fast friends over the past two years on the US-based development team, agree it's a move that should benefit them both.
"It was in a way a happy coincidence that we both had interest from Sky, and that was the case with a couple of other teams, too," Dombrowski told Cyclingnews. "But it just worked out that we both felt on or own that was the best place to go. We also recognized that we could sort of support each other well in making the transition there if we were on the same team, so I suppose it was a little bit of both."
Given the amount of interest that the two riders generated from WorldTour teams, it wasn't really much of coincidence that they shared offers from multiple squads looking to hire their talent and develop their potential. Boswell, who ran second at U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year and finished fifth overall at the Tour of Utah, said he had been talking with eight teams before he finally chose Sky.
"After the Tour of Utah and my ride there I had interest from a lot of ProTour teams," Boswell said. "There are so many good teams out there that it really was a decision where I had to stop and slow down and think about, you know, it's easy to get excited. But there are so many good teams, and it's hard to choose just one, but at the end of the day I had to look at where was the best situation for me and my future."
Dombrowski, who turned heads in May at the Tour of California with a fourth-place stage finish atop Mt. Baldy – and then followed it with an overall win at the Baby Giro and consistent results against some of the best climbers in the world at the Tour of Utah and USA Pro Challenge – said he basically had his pick of which team he wanted to ride for next year.
"Initially I was a little stressed in making my decision," Dombrowski said. "Eventually I just sat down and wrote down a list of things that were important to me in choosing a team. Some of those things were that they were ideally English speaking and that they were progressive in training and nutrition and science and aerodynamics and all of that. I wanted to go to a team that was a clean program. There were a few factors that came into play, and that helped me narrow it down to a few teams that I was really interested in."
In the end, Team Sky's success at this year's Tour de France, and, more importantly, how the relatively new team climbed to the top of the podium of cycling's biggest Grand Tour, had enough draw to convince both riders to climb on board the black-and-blue train. Both Boswell and Dombrowski pointed to Sky's investment in staff and organization, as well as its commitment to remain on the cutting edge of training and equipment, as key factors in their decisions.
"For me, that was really a draw in being with a team that I think is kind of cutting edge with everything," Dombrowski said. "The other big draw for me was the caliber of riders who are the same kind of riders as me that I'll have to learn from there. When I really thought about it, I kind of naturally went to Sky, because I felt for me, even though they're not an American program, I felt like they would be the best fit and the best place for me to learn and develop over the next couple of years."
Beyond its cutting edge reputation and high-profile success at the Tour, Team Sky had a secret weapon in the battle to land Boswell and Dombrowski. Bobby Julich, the team's race coach, also played a key role in each rider's decision. Julich, who finished third overall at the 1998 Tour with Cofidis, forged his own career on European teams from 1995-2008 and was Sky's main contact with the two young Americans.
"Having Bobby Julich there, a guy who was in a similar situation as Joe and I when he came to the ProTour – it's different now, it's easier for Americans to make their way into the European peloton – but to have someone there who's gone the extra mile to make Joe and I get set up and make us feel comfortable with the team, stuff like that makes you feel kind of at home," Boswell said.
Boswell signed a three-year deal with Team Sky, while Dombrowski, who had briefly considered riding for Bontrager-Livestrong for part or all of next season, chose to sign for two years.
"They were pretty much OK with whatever I wanted to do," Dombrowski said. "In the end, I decided that I either wanted to do a whole year with Livestrong – but I felt like maybe I'd be spinning my wheels a little bit – or I just wanted to move straight up. And I decided to make the jump and do two years with Sky."
Julich's guidance came in handy again as the riders considered where they would live next year during their neo-pro season in Europe. Each had been leaning toward Gerona, Spain, already home to many European-based US pros, or Lucca, Italy, where USA Cycling has a house for the national teams that both riders have participated on. But Sky wanted the riders to live in Nice, where several other team riders have taken up residence. Julich, who also lives in the French city, stepped up as persuasive tour guide when Boswell and Dombrowski visited after the recent world championships.
"When they said they wanted us to live in Nice, I wasn't opposed to it, but I had never been there and didn't know anything about it," Dombrowski said. "When I went about a week ago, it was amazing. The weather seems really nice and there are a lot of good things to do off the bike, but it seems like the training is really good, too."
Now both riders will return later this month for a team meet-and-greet and an opportunity to find their first residences in what they hope will be the beginning of long careers in Europe, a continent both of them have visited extensively because of their racing but where they have never before had to put down roots. It will be just one of the challenges they'll face as they transition from a UCI Continental team to the pinnacle of the sport.
"It's different from being a European rider making that step to the pro ranks," Dombrowski said. "Obviously, for everyone making that step there is an adjustment period, but I think it's different for Americans, especially because living in Europe is going to be a change totally aside from the racing aspect of it."
Boswell, who has been chasing his cycling dreams since before he was 15 years old, said he's excited about the challenge of working his way back to the front of the peloton, where he's gotten used to riding in the U23 ranks, but admits he'll likely find it more difficult to pull off next year in the WorldTour.
"It's an interesting point in your career," Boswell said. "Because you're at the top of one level, but with just one signature on a paper your signing yourself to the bottom of the list again. It just goes on from here. In a way you're always working for it and trying to get there; that's you goal. But once it happens it's like, 'Wow! I've reached my goal, now I have to start setting new goals.
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 07:11
- Alex Malone
Long season sees team focus on final race at Tour of Southland
With the Tour of Tasmania entering the final day, the team of PureBlack Racing are close completing a full season of racing which almost didn’t happen. The NZ-based squad, which had signalled its intent on building toward a Tour de France start in 2015, ended up folding before the 2012 season began. But with the assistance of the country’s sporting organisation, Bike NZ, the team was able to rebuild, albeit on a smaller scale to what had been planned.
With a smaller budget, hurried planning and limited managerial support the squad was able to pull together a schedule that would see the tight-knit group race from February at Tour de Lankawai to one of the team’s most important objectives of the year, the Tour of Southland.
The race has an impressive list of former winners including RadioShack-Nissan’s Hayden Roulston, Gordon McCauley and last year’s winner Josh Atkins who races for the Bontrager-Livestrong team. The five-day race will begin on 28 October, three weeks following the demanding Tour of Tasmania.
"Our first race was [Tour de] Langkawi and we’ve been going flat-out on the road since that first race in Malaysia," said the team’s director John Harris to Cyclingnews.
"The problem we had was that we had to try and cover as much ground as we could. We put a huge season together so the guys could get as much exposure as possible. We had a limited budget but we needed the racing.'.
The team began the season with a roster of around 10 riders but with such a heavy schedule of racing, the Harris soon found himself short of healthy and fit riders to undertake the schedule. It’s a lesson which he’ll take into 2012 as the team looks to apply for a Continental license and bolster the team with new recruits.
"We just didn’t have the riders needed to do it. We lost some to accident and injury so we kind of ended up having guys like Roman [Van Uden] and Jimmy [James Williamson], they’ve ridden over eight tours in a short period of time. It’s been tough in that respect but next year we’ll have a bigger roster and improved roster of riders."
"We started with about 10 but we are down to around five or so now. The season has been a little bit frantic because the team stopped and then it restarted. I got the job just a week and a half before the season began. In that regard it’s been hard to have the logistics run smoothly but we’ve managed really well."
While a number of his riders have raced more days than many of the top professionals, Harris adds that the motivation and morale on the team is extremely good. Emphasis was placed on creating a team that was always keen to race, if riders weren’t happy about riding tours back to back then it wasn’t a problem. They were free to leave the squad and return home to find another job.
"I made it really clear at the beginning of the season that I’m willing to really put in for this team but if guys don’t want to race, just be honest and go home. I want guys who want to grow and move on to bigger and better things. If a rider comes to me at the end of the season and says ‘I’ve got a better team to go to’, well then, I’ve done my job," says Harris.
"The motivation has been great because the guys understand that if they win a UCI race they could get noticed and possibly look to a bigger team. It’s something I’ve really pushed throughout the year."
The Asian circuit and races in Canada and Australia may be a long way from the team’s previous incarnation and lofty dreams of riding the Tour de France however, the team has set about achieving results at every race they enter.
"We’ve probably had a better year in terms of results or just as good as last year. We won a [UCI] 2.2 [Tour of Borneo], we’ve won stages at 2.2’s [Tour of Thailand] so in that respect the team has achieved a lot considering the amount of riders we have. We just didn’t have enough bullets."
"The guys have really stepped up this year and the situation has actually been very good. The season began with a very small budget, we worked it well by riding 2.2’s because they offer a lot of support. We went to Canada and then aimed at the Scody Cup. It’s really great localised racing. I’m really wrapped with the ground we’ve covered, what we’ve won and what we have worked for."
Harris would have liked to remain in Australia and have a team entered for the upcoming one-day races including Melbourne to Warrnambool and Grafton to Inverell but with few riders and an upcoming homeland Tour, the team will return to New Zealand before finishing up the season and planning the 2013 season.
"We will go back home and rest up for a couple of weeks before Tour of Southland, that’s a big goal back there."
"Next year we will have a similar programme starting in Asia but we’ll have a little more budget, more riders including one or two Aussies and rotate the guys around. They will likely do three tours before bringing in a fresh group. Then we’ll head to Canada for Tour de Beuce and some North American races before coming to Australia for the Scody Cup."
"It’s going to be about really lifting the level of support to the riders as much as we can and using our resources in the best possible way we can," Harris told Cyclingnews.
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 08:22
- Cycling News
German national champion extends with US-based team
Fabian Wegmann will stay with the Garmin-Sharp team for another two years. The current German national champion announced the contract extension on his website on Friday.
“It was clear to me fairly early in the season that I wanted to continue to ride for this team, and now I am happy that the team management and my management could agreed a two-year contract,” he said.
Wegmann, 32, has only one win this season, taking the German national road title for the third time. However he has a number of top ten finishes and strong performances, including eighth at the Amstel Gold Race.
His most recent race was the Münsterland Giro, where he rode for team captain Heinrich Haussler. He helped keep the tempo high near the end of the race, to set up Haussler for the sprint. However, the Australian was involved in a large crash with about 5km to go, and Wegmann was left to ride for himself. “But I was so used up from by tempo work on the final kilometers, that in the end I could only finish twelfth,” he commented.
Weggmann's final race of the season is the Tour of Beijing, alongside Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hsjedal and Dan Martin.
Wegmann turned professional in 2002 with Gerolsteiner, and rode with Team Milram and Leopard Trek before joining Garmin this year.
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 10:30
- Cycling News
British team down to five riders after losing Swift to injury
Edvald Boasson Hagen will lead a reduced Team Sky line-up at the Tour of Beijing that starts next Tuesday. Injury to sprinter Ben Swift at the end of the season has reduced the British team to only a five-man squad for the year's final UCI WorldTour race.
Boasson Hagen most recently won the GP Ouest France-Plouay, and finished second in the World championship road race. He will be supported by Australia's Chris Sutton, who will look for stage wins for himself, but also work for the Norwegian to take the overall title.
Also there will be Alex Dowsett, who finished eighth in the worlds time trial, and will look to improve on his third place on stage one at the 2011 Tour of Beijing. Two young riders round out the team, neo-pros Salvatore Puccio and Luke Rowe.
Swift is absent after he suffered a fractured vertebra in his lower back at the recent Circuit Franco-Belge. He has resumed training, and the team had hoped he could participate, but it was not to be. “Well my season has come to an end was hoping to make Beijing but this fracture is not allowing me to b race fit.Looking forward to next year,'” Swift tweeted.
"We are short in numbers but hopefully we will show ourselves as a strong team but with five guys we will do the best that we can do," team director Marcus Lungquist said. "Edvald's form is pretty good for the sprints as well as being a contender for the GC."
"We have a fast team with Luke and Alex for the lead outs so we have a strong team. We always go to races looking for a result so coming back from Beijing with a stage win and a place on GC would be a good result from us."
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 10:38
- Cycling News
Italian in action at the Giro dell’Emilia
Vincenzo Nibali will compete in the distinctive green and white Liquigas-Cannondale colours for the last time at today’s Giro dell’Emilia race in Italy, after spending seven years with the team.
The Sicilian will ride for Astana in 2013 after securing a huge contract with the Kazkahstani team to replace Alexandre Vinokourov. Nibali will be in Monaco on Sunday for Vinokourov’s farewell event.
“This team has been a huge part of my career and I’ll never forget the years we’ve spent together. I’ve grown and matured since 2006 and so has the team, and we’ve had achieved some very important results,” Nibali said in a statement from the team.
“It feels like I’m leaving a family, a unique group of people, not just collegues. I wish the team all the best for the future and as much success as we’ve achieved together in the last seven years.”
Nibali turned professional with Fassa Bortolo in 2005 but achieved his major results with Liquigas. He won the GP Ouest France-Plouay in 2006, finished seventh in the 2009 Tour de France and won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010. He was second in the 2011 Giro d’Italia and was third in this year’s Tour de France after trying to unsettle Bradley Wiggins several times in the mountains.
Nibali is expected to target the Giro d’Italia in 2013, where he could again clash with Wiggins.
The Giro dell’Emilia finishes with the San Luca climb overlooking Bologna after four other laps on the climb. Also in the Liquigas-Cannondale line-up are Ivan Basso, Damiano Caruso, Federico Canuti, Kristijan Koren, Josè Sarmiento, Alessandro Vanotti and Matthias Krizek.
Fabio Sabatini and Marco Benfatto will replace Nibali and Basso in the team for Sunday’s GP Beghelli race. It will be the last Italian race for the Liquigas-Cannondale team, which will be sponsored by in 2013 and lead by Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan.
Nibali will ride Vinokourov’s farewell event in Monaco on Sunday alongside Philippe Gilbert, Chris Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez, Roman Kreuziger, Maxim Iglinsky, Jan Ullrich, Richard Virenque and Eddy Merckx.
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 12:41
- Cycling News
Italian manager building team for 2013
Gianni Savio is back at races as team manager of the Androni Giocattoli team after a minor heart attack.
The charming Italian from Turin was at the Coppa Sabatini on Thursday and at the Giro dell’Emilia on Saturday to ensure Androni Giocattoli wins the Coppa Italia team competition for yet another year and so secure an automatic invitation to the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Androni Giocattoli has 714 points, with Colnago-CSF Inox second with 661 points.
“I had a heart attack but it was a little heart attack. Fortunately there wasn’t any heart damage so I’m back at 100%. I had to miss the world championships for the first time in 27 years but the doctors gave me the ok to be at the final races of the Italian season,” he told Cyclingnews.
Savio will travel to Venezuela in November in the hope of securing back-uo for a possible WorldTour team in 2014. He already has 14 riders under contract for 2013 but confirms that sprinter Roberto Ferrari and Tour of Langkawi winner Jose Serpa will both move to Lampre-Merida. Jose Rujano has also moved on yet again and will try his luck with Vacansoleil in 2013.
“Ferrari had a good offer from Lampre and so I agreed to let him go,” Savio said. “I still think we’ve got a good team with Franco Pellizotti, Emanuele Sella as leaders and some other solid riders like Francesco Reda, Riccardo Chiarini, Marco Frapporti and Alessandro Malaguti.”
Italian cycling is struggling to compete at the highest level due to a lack of major sponsors. Savio is in favour of some kind of economical fair play rules, with team budgets limited as they are in some other sports. However he is realistic about the current generation of Italian riders.
“Italian is going through a moment of transition and it’s a very complex picture,” he said. “Italy still has some good riders but Nibali is the only one who is exceptional, even if he can do even better.”
“The lack of sponsors makes it difficult for Italian teams to compete against the likes of Sky, Astana and BMC. We can’t programme our investments or plan for the long term like they can. Look at BMC, they have funding from Andy Rihs – who I’ve read in the media, is the biggest tax contributor in Switzerland. How can we compete with that?
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 15:21
- Cycling News
Former Tour of Flanders winner to bolster Classics squad
Slipstream sports has announced that 2011 Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens will join the Garmin-Sharp squad through 2015.
The Belgian Classics specialist joins after two years with the Saxo Bank team, and will help to fill the void left by the departure of Sep Vanmarcke.
"Nick is a huge talent and we are thrilled that he will be joining Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda next season," said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports. "We have wanted to continue to bolster our Classics team, and Nick is obviously a tremendous addition for us. His talent, experience and deep knowledge of these races will be invaluable. We are very happy he chose Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda and we look forward to an exciting season."
Nuyens, 32, first showed his talents in the spring classics while racing with Quick Step in 2005, when he won Omloop Het Volk. He followed that with a victory in Kuurne - Brussel - Kuurne the following year before moving across to the Cofidis team.
There, he placed second in the Tour of Flanders in 2008 before moving to the Rabobank team, with which the GP de Wallonie was his only one-day success.
A move across to Saxo Bank proved to be a turnaround, and in 2011, he won both the Dwars door Vlaanderen - Waregem and Tour of Flanders, but has had little success this season due to a hip fracture sustained in Paris-Nice.
"I am really happy to join Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda. I have always admired and been charmed by them," said Nuyens. "The team is well structured, has a super team spirit and it's just a really strong squad with a good mix of young talent and a lot of experience. I'm looking forward to being a part of it."
- Article published:
- October 6, 2012, 21:00
- Cycling News
Hansen to end marathon season in China
The Lotto Belisol squad has named its eight-man team for the upcoming WorldTour finale, the Tour of Beijing in China, and is looking for sprinter Greg Henderson to represent the team in what is expected to be a sprint-friendly first stage.
Directeur Sportif Michiel Elijzen said that without the opening time trial and an expected bunch sprint on the first stage, he is counting on the Kiwi.
"Greg Henderson is one of the fast men on the participants list, so hopefully he can play a significant role," Elijzen said.
Also heading up the team will be Australian Adam Hansen, who is at the end of a busy season that included his participation in each of the three Grand Tours, as well as neo-pro Tim Wellens.
"Tim is a good climber and gives us the opportunity to see how far he can get. He is highly motivated and showed a lot of character in Lombardy."
Wellens agreed that the course could suit him. "I like to climb, but it remains to be seen how much I can stand in a WorldTour stage race," he said. "This is the ideal opportunity to see what the relationship is between my level and that of more experienced riders. For me it is very difficult to predict what is possible, but it is a dream to be in a WorldTour race."
The Tour of Beijing kicks off from Tiananmen Square on October 9.
Lotto Belisol for Tour of Beijing: Kenny Dehaes, Gert Dockx, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Maartin Neyens, Mehdi Sohrabi, Joost Van Leijen, Tim Wellens