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High Road's Aussies optimistic

By:
Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Published:
November 30, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:22 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News for November 30, 2007
Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)

Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)

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Just two days after getting the news that their team's title sponsor had pulled out, Australian...

Just two days after getting the news that their team's title sponsor had pulled out, Australian riders Adam Hansen and Katherine Bates expressed an upbeat faith in manager Bob Stapleton and in the sport as a whole. Hansen and Bates just completed their first year on the team only to learn of the organisation's woes this week.

Just two days after getting the news that their team's title sponsor had pulled out, Australian riders Adam Hansen and Katherine Bates expressed an upbeat faith in manager Bob Stapleton and in the sport as a whole. Hansen and Bates just completed their first year on the team only to learn of the organisation's woes this week.

"(The team) got an email just before one o'clock in the morning (on Wednesday)," Hansen told Fox Sports. "It was something we all thought could happen." Writing on his website, Hansen said that he could understand why the sponsor left. "But it's not T-Mobile's fault. It's the dopers that did it. They caused the shift. They are to blame. That is why things need to change. Sponsors should not have to go, it's the doped riders that should be shot instead, in the knee caps would be nice!"

He said that he was looking forward to the coming year. "Team High Road is doing everything in the right way. It's been an an honour to ride for such a team that is being run by a man such as Bob Stapleton and it will be an honour again. Let's think for a second about Bob's first year as a Team Manager. He has been faced with problems after problems which have nothing to do with him. But he stood by, and defeated them. He will act again as Team Manager in 2008, and all of us are glad he will be there."

The praise for the team chief continued. "I can only say, thank God he wasn't a cyclist and I didn't have to race him. With a head filled with determination like his to go through everything he did and come back and do it again, he would have been a top cyclist, while a normal pro would have cracked mentally on the first hard hill, which seemed a breeze for Bob."

Both Hansen and Bates see the sport going forward with a new attitude, one which is being fostered by their team. "The sport is cleaning up a lot. You can see a lot of riders that are racing clean this year, so I think it's on its way," said Hansen. "The other teams are starting to have strict anti-doping programs, like the new Astana team – if we had more teams like that I think we would continue to improve."

"I think it's a new era," Bates, a World Champion track racer, told the Associated Press. "Maybe in order to get rid of the past you've also got to get rid of a lot of the connotations that go with that.

Bates, who will wear her magenta kit in the upcoming Sydney track World Cup, thinks the sport is bigger than the controversies which has plagued it in recent years. "I think there's always scandals but at the end of the day the Tour de France is the biggest sporting event in the world.

"Nobody standing on the side (of the road) cares about anything except the bike riders going past. As a sponsor you'd be nuts not to get involved with that, wouldn't you? And if you look at it from that point of view and you're committed to the anti-doping side, there's really a very, very bright future for the sport."

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