- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 01:10
- Greg Johnson
Second race and title sponsors added for 2011
Women’s racing during Australia’s Tour Down Under has received a boost with Cycling South Australia announcing the addition of a second race and a two title sponsors. The two events, to be held in the city’s East End and Victoria Park, will form the Rendition Homes-Santos Women’s Cup.
The first race will be held on Sunday, January 16, the same day as the pre-ProTour event criterium, while the second will be held on the ‘rest day’ before the men’s general classification race starts on the Tuesday. Cycling SA Executive Max Stevens has already confirmed some of Australia’s well-known female athletes to contest the Women’s Cup.
“We are hoping to get the biggest names in women’s cycling to South Australia for the women’s cup and at this time we can confirm Amber Halliday, Rachel Neylan and Alexis Rhodes”, said Stevens. “This is going to be a class event and a classic field will be assembled. Interest from interstate teams and competition is high.”
The expanded women’s event is one of four Cycling SA will hold during the Tour Down Under. Other events include the final round of the Rendition Homes Teams Series, an annual series held throughout Adelaide each summer; the Unley Council Challenge, a criterium open to all Cycling Australia members; and an eight stage cyclo-sportif.
Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur praised the Cycling SA events for adding another element to the week of cycling in Adelaide.
“Not many professional sporting events give people the opportunity to participate like the Santos Tour Down Under does”, said Turtur. “The Cycling SA races are another great way that people can enhance their experience of the tour, coming from behind the sidelines to ride the roads of Adelaide.”
Tour Down Under itself used to host a three-event women’s criterium series sponsored by UniSA. Since the closure of that series Cycling SA has done its best to include women’s racing in Adelaide’s week of cycling with a sole criterium until 2010.
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 05:41
- Cycling News
NSW rider aiming to make history
Genesys Wealth Advisers’ Joel Pearson is aiming for a unique piece of Australian cycling history by becoming the first back-to-back winner at this weekend’s Melbourne to Warrnambool. While Pearson admitted good fortune helped him secure last year’s title, this time around the rider has been training specifically for the world’s second oldest race.
Pearson has been training in New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains since winning the Tour of Murray River last month. The 27-year-old has been using his father’s farm at Jindabyne as a base for his training routine.
“I’ve been training up to 700 kilometres a week in the mountains and hopefully I’ll go into the Warrnambool with fresh legs as I haven’t raced since the Murray tour,” Pearson said. “The rides up to Thredbo have been good and the nice weather has made it a bit easier to train properly.”
While nobody has won the race on consecutive occasions, seven riders have won the classic twice: Stan Bonney in 1949 and 1957, Wally O’Brien in 1958 and 1962, Mario Giramondo in 1970 and 1975, Bruce Clark in 1971 and 1973, David Allen in 1979 and 1982, Peter Besanko in 1984 and 1987 and Jamie Drew in 1999 and 2002.
“I got a bit lucky last year because I did not have great form going into the race, but I had a hard-fought battle in the Murray tour and if I’ve looked after myself I’ll be there at the finish on Saturday,” Pearson said.
Pearson will have the support of six Genesys Wealth Advisors teammates including Ben Grenda, Tom Robinson, Dylan Newell and Steele Von Hoff.
Some 207 riders will start the 262 kilometre event, which was founded in 1895. The field will race for $17,000 in prize money, with $2,000 going to the winner.
Since becoming a mass-start race in 1996 just three foreign riders have won Australia’s longest race - Switzerland’s Daniel Schnider in 1997, Belgium’s Bart Heirewegh in 1998 and Sweden’s Jonas Ljungblad in 2005. A fourth could be added to the list this year with riders from New Zealand, Canada and Singapore entered in the event.
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 09:13
- Daniel Benson
Australian aims at week-long stage races
Michael Rogers may have brought down the curtain on his time with HTC-Columbia but the Australian is already looking towards having another successful season in 2011.
Rogers won both the Amgen Tour of California and the Vuelta a Andalucia this season, as well as finishing second overall in the Criterium International and third in the Tour de Romandie, marking him as one of the most successful riders in week-long stage races. Although he would not be drawn on his professional status and possible future team, he pinpointed where his future targets will lie.
“I think I really found my niche as a cyclist. The Tour de France is really only good for a few people who can actually say they can win but I was really good and competitive in week long stage races,” he told Cyclingnews.
Rogers’ fine form at the start of the season deserted him in July and after ten days of racing he was already out of the running for a top-placed finish.
“When I’m in good condition and there’s a week-long race with a time trial, I know I can win them all. I’d be crazy not to concentrate on that.”
One race that Rogers hasn’t ruled out is the Tour of California, a race in which he ended Levi Leipheimer’s three-year domination. The race announced its start and finish cities last week and with harder stages and a longer time trial on the cards, Rogers could well be tempted to take another transatlantic trip in May.
“Obviously it’s a good race and it looks like it’s getting harder and harder. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in May yet, whether it’s the Giro or Tour of California, but I’d like to go back and defend my title.”
“I’ve seen that they’re planning on having a true mountain top finish and that the time trial is back at Solvang. I’ve got some really good memories of that race, especially Solvang where I spent a lot of time on training camps with HTC.”
“It’s a race that I enjoy and I like coming out of traditional racing in Europe to do races like that and the Tour Down Under. However I’ve not sat down with my coach and figured out a plan for next year.”
After closing out his season at the Worlds, where he helped Allan Davis secure bronze on the men’s road race, and finished fifth in the time trial, Rogers will take a break from the bike for the next five weeks.
“We’ve just finished this season and I need to unplug a bit,” he said.
"I didn’t really have a good lead up to the Worlds. I went to Canada and got sick, and only finished one of the races there. It didn’t come together that well but I was happy with my time trial. Cancellara was in his own league and I was just behind the next guys. There were just four guys better than me on the day.”
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 09:29
- Barry Ryan
Controversial Dane complains about sports justice system
Michael Rasmussen has criticised the handling of the Alberto Contador affair and decried the disciplinary systems currently in place in cycling. The controversial Danish rider was removed from the 2007 Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey after it emerged that he had deliberately misled drug testers as to his whereabouts in the build-up to the race. Contador went on to inherit the vacant jersey and win his first Tour.
“[The Contador case] is another example of the failure of the system,” Rasmussen told De Pers. “If you can be suspended and stripped of your yellow jersey by food contamination, then something is wrong. The doping justice system leaves no room for logic and humanity. In normal society, the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty. In sport it’s the opposite: an athlete must prove his innocence.
“I would prefer a system that let a couple of guilty riders slip through rather than run a system that punished the innocent. I am innocent but I still get punished.”
Rasmussen received a two-year suspension after he missed two anti-doping controls carried out by the Danish Cycling Federation and one by the UCI (International Cycling Union) in 2007. He continues to deny that he was involved in any kind of doping practices, saying that the only mistake he made was lying on his whereabouts form.
“I gave the wrong information about my whereabouts, nothing more,” Rasmussen claimed. “But usually you only get a warning for that. They interpreted the rules in their own way for me.”
Under UCI and WADA rules, missing three out-of-competition tests incurs a suspension. In June 2007, Rasmussen informed testers that he was in Mexico, even though he was in fact training in Italy at the time.
Rasmussen returned to racing in July 2009 but has been unable to find a place on a team with an invitation to the Grand Tours. He believes that he is paying a higher price for his past indiscretions than other riders.
“Last year I agreed a contract with Flaminia, but that was torn up and a week later they turned to Riccardo Riccò,” Rasmussen said. “I have letters from the UCI at home saying that I can ride anywhere I want, but it doesn’t happen. It’s extremely frustrating.
“Whether I’ve been right or wrong in the past, I’ve served my sentence. I’ve paid my price. But I’m still not back in a big team.”
Rasmussen is currently competing on the Danish version of Dancing with the Stars but has been rumoured to be on Saxo Bank’s radar for next season. “I want to finish my career like I ought to, in the big races,” the 36-year-old said. “Saxo Bank would be the ideal team for me, but Riis has something else on his mind for now. He has the whole team for next season hanging on one man: Contador.”
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 10:03
- Stephen Farrand
Mother recalls tragic death in Senegal
Exactly one year ago today, Frank Vandenbroucke was found dead in a hotel room in Senegal. He was just 34.
The autopsy indicated he died of a double pulmonary embolism, perhaps sparked by a pre-existent heart problem. Twelve months on, his mother has revealed she is still struggling to come to terms with his tragic death.
"It's as if fate caught up with us and has left a lot questions behind that still spin through my mind," she told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad in an exclusive interview.
"Why? What exactly happened in Senegal? Unfortunately I can't speak to the dead."
Vandenbroucke had traveled to Senegal for a holiday with close friend Fabio Polazzi. A few weeks before he had attended the world road race championships in Mendrisio and seemed to have his life back on track after problems with depression and drug use.
'VDB' was known as the 'enfant terrible' of Belgian cycling and was perhaps one of the most precocious and talented riders in the history of Belgian cycling. The Le Soir newspaper described him as "the James Dean of his generation," saying he "lived too fast, without noticing it, on the inebriety of success."
He turned professional at just 19 with the Lotto team but then moved to Mapei team, going on to win Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Nice. He joined Cofidis in 1999 and won Liege-Bastogne-Liege with a daring attack.
It was the highpoint of his career and tragically marked the start of a downward spiral. He changed teams year-after-year but his personal problems and drug issues persisted.
"When he had his difficult moments, me and Jean-Jacques (Frank's father) often thought that something bad would happen to him but not that day. He was well again and had work, writing for a newspaper," his mother recalls.
"Now. Every day I wake up with Frank on my mind and I go to bed with Frank on my mind. I'm constantly thinking of him. Sometimes I think: Where would Frank be now or what is Frank doing now?"
"On my 58th birthday in June I got maybe perhaps 50 letters but one was missing. I'm still waiting for a text message. Frank never forgot my birthday, in good times and bad."
Last Tuesday Vandenbroucke's parents attended the Binche-Tournai-Binche Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke race.
"I'm glad that Frank has not been forgotten. He won the last edition in 2006. I can still remember him with he bouquet in his hand He was so happy."
Vandenbroucke will be remembered with a special church service in his home town of Ploegsteert on Sunday.
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 11:20
- Barry Ryan
Englishman disappointed to miss Commonwealth Games
Russell Downing has confirmed that he will remain at Team Sky in 2011after penning a new one-year deal with the team. The Englishman had a solid first season at ProTour level after joining Sky from CandiTV Marshalls Pasta.
“Just before the Tour of Britain, I signed a new one-year contract and I think that situation will suit me because it gives me that pressure to continue to ride well,” Downing told his team’s website. “I’m not going to rest on my laurels, I want to keep improving and do my best for Team Sky.”
Downing’s season ended in frustration when he took the decision not to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He was one of a number of riders to withdraw from the event amid concerns over the effects of conditions in India on competitors’ health. Downing explained that he opted not to travel so as not to compromise his preparation for next season.
“Taking that verdict not to travel to India meant the end of my year was a big anti-climax, but it wasn't just the news about the conditions out there, I also had to think about my long-term goals and focuses,” Downing said.
"I know you could say this about any race, but if anything had happened out there then it could have put me out of action for a month or so and that would have impacted massively on my preparations for the start of next season with Team Sky.”
That late-season disappointment was one of the few lows in what was otherwise a very successful debut year for Downing at the highest level of the sport. He impressed in winning a stage and the overall classification at the Tour de Wallonie, but it was his stage victory at the Critérium International that garnered the most column inches.
"My first win for Team Sky at the Critérium International confirmed I was worthy of my place and that probably ranks as my highest point of the season,” Downing said. “I'd had a few chances before then at the Tour of Murcia which I perhaps didn't capitalise on, so it was an incredible feeling to eventually get off the mark.
“Last winter I did worry a bit if I was going to be able to step up psychologically. I've always felt I was capable of riding at ProTour level, and that's always been my goal.”
Among Downing’s aims for next season is to compete in a three-week tour and the 32-year-old believes that Team Sky will also be a stronger outfit in 2011, as a result of the experience of its debut season and first taste of the Tour de France.
"We learned a lot from what happened there, and I think everyone on the team now has a far better understanding of where we need to be, and how we need to approach it next time around,” he explained. “With Rigoberto Urán, Xabier Zandio and Alex Dowsett all coming in, the team is looking good in that respect as well.”
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 12:59
- Stephen Farrand
Bernhard Kohl's agent to publish book about his clients
Stefan Matschiner has revealed details of how he helped his athletes carry out blood doping and has promised further revelations about how he helped them cheat in a book he plans to call 'Borderline'.
The Austrian was the agent for Bernhard Kohl, Michael Rasmussen and 20 other high-level triathletes and runners until 2008. He was given a 15-month sentence for doping on Monday and is no longer involved in sport. Kohl is serving a lifetime ban after having tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Matschiner insisted he had no regrets about helping riders illegally boost their performance by using refined blood doping techniques.
"I don't regret anything because I can't say I put anyone's health in danger," Matschiner reportedly said during his trial, describing doping as important to elite sports "as breakfast."
He explained how he helped Kohl blood dope, giving details of how he removed blood, centrifuged it to isolate the red blood cells before it was re-injected during key moments in the season.
The bags were about as big as a tube of toothpaste but provided a clear increase in performance.
"It's not a lot of blood, but it gives you a lot of boost," Matschiner said. "Usually the effect comes a day later, supplying the muscle cells with oxygen.
"It's like you have 10 percent more inside. There are some athletes that can immediately go out and feel it. Usually on the first day they don't feel so well. You can compare it with altitude training. For two days you feel like s**t, then a boost comes."
Matschiner argues that blood doping is healthier than taking EPO or nothing at all, considering the physical effort required during the Tour de France.
"You're doing your body a service. It's nothing anybody could cry about," he said.
"With the performances they have to bring every day in a three-week race it's really not an issue.
"You go in with 45 and come out with 37. Don't tell me that's healthy. But if you substitute a little blood, you go from 45 and 43."
Matschiner admitted he was not surprised by recent revelations that Alberto Contador had tested positive for Clenbuterol, suggesting the drug was widely used.
"Clenbuterol in general is something that is quite common in the world of cycling. It's usually orally used on a pretty frequent basis. It's just a guess on my side, but hypothetically, if an athlete takes a very small dose it would help him breathe. The half life is so short that my only guess for a positive case for such a small amount is that he took a little too much."
Matschiner plans to publish further revelations his book in January 2011.
"It's going to be a detailed explanation of what I did. I'll explain everything in detail," he said.
- Article published:
- October 12, 2010, 14:55
- Stephen Farrand
Former Anglo-Italian professional to become assistant sports director
The BMC team has announced that Max Sciandri will join the team’s management structure in 2011 as an assistant sports director with a focus on developing the team's younger riders and identifying future talent.
In recent years Sciandri has played a key role in establishing the British Cycling Under 23 Academy, creating their summer base in his home town of Quarrata. He has also helped many of the current crop of British professionals riding for Team Sky and other squads, who are based in Italy.
Sciandri was born in Britain but grew up in Italy and raced as a professional between 1989 and 2004. He won a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He worked with BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz while riding for the Motorola team between 1991 and 1993.
Great Britain has still to finalise plans for the Academy in 2011, with the squad possibly being based in Manchester throughout the year. Sciandri began to consider his options this summer and opted to join BMC where he will work with team leaders Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, and major new signing for 2011, Taylor Phinney.
"I spent three years with Jim when I was riding with Motorola. He's clear, honest, correct and professional. Cycling needs a few more people like him to get things sorted out," Sciandri said in a statement issued by the team.
"The bikes that BMC makes are uniquely designed, with a clear concept of quality and performance. I also like the way the team has come out quietly – not shouting things out that they are going to do."
Ochowicz said Sciandri's 16 years experience as a professional and his work with the Academy makes him well-suited for his role with the BMC Racing Team.
"He'll be working with our younger riders, while scouting for potential new signings that are coming out of the international pool of Under 23 athletes," Ochowicz said.
Sciandri will work with senior sports director John Lelangue and fellow assistant sports directors Fabio Baldato, Michael Sayers and Rik Verbrugghe.
Lelangue said of Sciandri: "He will have a really big mission – first taking care of the younger guys on the team by overseeing their direction."
“He will also take time to go to the Under 23 races and make contact with national coaches and club coaches and young riders. He'll tell us about the guys we should be hiring. We've always been looking to new talent and to the future."