By Kirsten Robbins in Modesto, California
Vasilli Davidenko, Team Type 1's head directeur sportif, lost his assistant Gord Fraser to a bike crash just before the start of the 2009 Tour of California. According to Davidenko, Fraser is scheduled to arrive to the event before the start of stage 5's road race from Visalia to Paso Robles.
"Gord had a bad crash last week," Davidenko told Cyclingnews. Fraser broke three ribs as a result of a crash during training. "He will be back in two days helping me. I'm not sure yet if he will be able to sit in the car for too long. But he will be coming to help out. He needs to be here. This is a big event and we need his help. It will be great to have him back here because he has a lot of experience."
Russia's Davidenko and Canada's Fraser have joined forces for the first time after a long and successful history as rival sprinters in North America. Davidenko raced for the former Navigators professional cycling team. He retired from competition in 2007 after a 26-year career in professional bike racing. Fraser raced for both Mercury and Health Net before he retired in 2007.
Fraser and Davidenko bumped elbows on many occasions during their North American careers. "Vasilli and I were always on good terms, even though we were always sprinting against each other," said Fraser during the Team Type 1 training camp held in Solvang two weeks ago. "I think there was a good generation of sprinters in our time but Vasilli and I certainly had our fair share of wins. I've always been very respectful of him. We've been able to share stories from the past competitions and have a few laughs about it now.
"Vasilli has impressed me with his directing skill so I think we both bring a high racing IQ to the direction of this team and hopefully that will bring us some good racing results this year," added Fraser.
Vasilli admitted that the weather has negatively affected many of the riders in the peloton and has changed the tactics of the race. "The weather has been really rough on everyone," said Vasilli who noted that most of his riders come from warm climate. "This week they're racing with three rain jackets on and all winter clothes. I have not seen anything like that in US racing so far. It's not just wet, it's also very cold. I think everything after this race will seem much easier."
According to Davidenko the team will continue to focus on stage wins and podiums and spreading awareness of Type 1 diabetes during the remaining five stages. "We are stage hunters now," he continued. " It is also important that we've had so much attention coming for our two Type 1 diabetic riders racing, Phil Southerland and Fabio Calabria. It is great that people are showing so much interest in them racing out there."