What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

This week’s EuroTrash has racing on the dirt, the ice, the track and even racing in the back rooms as Xacebo-Galacia race to make a deadline. We also have all the latest on the transfer market plus team preparations for the 2011 road season – only 36 days to go until the Tour Down Under!

Pereiro Hits The Dirt
2006 Tour de France winner and recent retiree, Oscar Pereiro hasn’t quite given away the competitive spirit just yet announcing this last week that he will compete in the ‘Titan Desert’ race next year. What exactly is the Titan Desert? Well, it’s a marathon mountain bike event in May next year which will take place in the Moroccan desert and after just one look at the tough race circuit I can say that it will certainly test not just Oscar’s competitive spirit but his body!

For the ex-Astana rider it will mean a pause of almost 9 months between bike races with his last competition being the Tour of Poland back in August this year. His last year of racing in the Astana colours was full of health and team problems and one that Oscar would probably prefer to forget. For this race Pereiro will ride in the team colours of ‘Tarragona 2017’ which is a village in the south east of Catalonia, Spain who is competing to host the Mediterranean games in 2017.

Pegasus Continues Its Milk Push
New Australian team, Pegasus Sports has announced three more new signings for its team for next year and they have taken a very ‘German milk’ style. Yes, another 3 ex-Milram riders have joined the squad in the form of Markus Eichler, Christian Knees, and Thomas Rohregger. Pegasus boss, Chris White stated on his new signings;

“I am pleased that our team is growing and becoming more international. With these three German-speaking riders, we have gained experienced professionals who have not yet fully realized their potential. All of them, whether climbers or all-rounders, bring skills that will help us achieve our goals for the upcoming season.”

Of course by picking up these 3 riders late in the season White has got himself 3 more experienced riders, most likely at a decent price and they will certainly bolster his new squad’s experience at the top level. What he hasn’t got himself though is proven winners. As talented as these three are their wins in the last few years have been few and far between. 29 year old Knees won the German National Title for the last 2 years so it will be good to have a national jersey in the team but apart from that the wins have simply not arrived. Could a new team with an Australian spirit be the key to igniting Knees’ talent? 16th in the San Sebastian Classic and 11th in Amstel and Gent-Wevelgem demonstrate that he has the talent anyway.

The 2nd new German signing is Markus Eichler and he also has some good classics experience with some solid placings in the smaller classics in his career but no breakthroughs as yet – 14th at the Omloop Het Volk and 16th at the Dwars door Vlaanderen 5th at the Nokere Koerse and 8th overall at the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde are his career highlights.

Meanwhile 27 year old Rohregger, is not another German from Milram – he’s actually an Austrian from Milram but he is very similar to his German teammates – lots of talent and not enough results. In his career he’s taken the mountain’s classification in the 2006 Tour of Austria and Tour of Luxembourg plus the same classification at this year’s Tour Down Under. His only individual victory in the pro ranks was back in 2006 though when he took the overall victory in his country’s national tour, the Tour of Austria, in 2008. Let’s hope for the rider’s sake and Pegasus Sports that their talent can be transferred into results next season as this brand new Pro Continental team tries to win their way into the biggest races. Chris White and his team certainly did great things with their Fly-V team in America and I for one am hoping that they can do the same as they step up into the tough European races next year.

Team Luxembourg To Be Presented
From one new team in Pegasus to another now in the form of ‘The Team Luxembourg Cycling Project’ with news that the first meeting of officials and riders is due to take place for the team next week. The official launch of the team however is on the 6th January at the Sports Centre in Kirchberg, Luxembourg with an estimated 5000 people expected to attend. Not bad for a country with only 500,000 residents!

As mentioned last week this ‘Luxembourg’ project isn’t exactly nationalistic though with the only Luxembourg riders being the Schleck brothers and there being twice as many Germans and Danes on the team than Luxembourgers. Just like Pegasus we are still waiting for a main sponsor to be divulged but perhaps this official presentation on the 6th January will be the time to do that. As of today the only sponsors that have been announced are equipment sponsors in the form of Trek bikes and Mercedes cars.

Xacobeo Galicia Gets Their Money
After a difficult delay of several months the riders and staff of the Xacobeo Galicia team have finally been given the remainder of their salaries with the team paying the salaries just one day before a UCI enforced deadline. If the Galego Cycling Foundation had not paid on time the UCI would have handed over the three month bank guarantee paid at the start of the year to the staff and then started charging the foundation interest.

The foundation released a press statement that confirmed the payments which included the following;

“The Galego Cycling Foundation has today credited the full amount for the contracts for the cyclists and the cycling staff of the Xacobeo Galicia team, to cover the amount corresponding to the four months remaining until the date of the month of December, in which the employment relationship between the parties terminates.”

It has certainly been a difficult last few months for the team after experiencing the heady highs of the sport in the Vuelta Espana with Ezequiel Mosquera’s 2nd place before then crashing down to earth with the announcement that both he and his teammate, David Garcia Da Pena tested positive in the same race. This combined with the unsuccessful search for a new sponsor for the team and the stress of being owed back salaries certainly must have been a tough time for all involved. At least now the riders and staff can appreciate their Christmas a little more – but not too much as unfortunately most riders and staff alike are yet to find a position on a team for next year.

Davis To Lead Astana In Australia
Team Astana version 2011 is currently meeting in Italy planning their assault on the 2011 season but one thing that is already decided is their squad for the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under. The team will be led by the 2009 TDU winner, Australian sprinter Allan Davis, who will once again be a strong favourite for the event. Davis had a strong finish to the 2010 season with a bronze medal in the World Road Titles plus the Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games road race in India so he should be in form in January for the sprinter friendly TDU.

Davis will be joined in his quest for a second TDU title by Aussie newcomer to the team, 24-year-old Simon Clarke, who comes to the team from ISD-Neri. Ex Ag2r rider, Estonian Tanel Kangert and 4 Astana stalwarts in the trio of Kazakhs Valentin Iglinskiy, Maxim Gourov,Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy and Ukrainian Andriy Grivko.

QuickStep Back Chicchi
Belgium team Quick Step has also unveiled their team for the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under, which will see the return of Francesco Chicchi to the team after being with Liquigas the last few seasons. Chicchi was previously a QuickStep rider back in 2006 and QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has put his confidence in Chicchi again to perform in a QuickStep jersey by rehiring him. The last time Chicchi rode in the TDU was in 2009 when he won a stage so confidence is high.

‘The Sheriff’ as he is known had a great start to the year this year with two stage wins at the Tour of Qatar and one in the Tour of California, where he beat sprint king Mark Cavendish. On a sprinter’s friendly course Chicchi could be one of the dark horse favourites for the 2011 TDU title or at least a stage or two as he competes against some of the best sprinters in the world. Those already confirmed for the TDU include defending champ Andre Greipel, his arch rival Mike Cavendish and ‘Mr Nice Guy’, Tyler Farrar. Joining Chicchi in QuickStep colours for the race will be new signing German, Gerald Ciolek plus Julien Vermote (BEL), Marco Bandiera (ITA), Addy Engels (NLD), Francesco Reda (ITA) and Davide Malacarne (ITA).

The 2011 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 16-23 January 2011. Not long to go now!

Boonen Crashes In Own Charity Race
Quickstep’s Tom Boonen put on a Charity Cyclocross race on the weekend to raise money for children and adults with motor disabilities but the race nearly turned into a disaster for Boonen when he crashed heavily in the very first lap in the difficult, icy conditions. Speaking with the press after the race Boonen stated;

“The shock hit me to my heart during my somersault because last year I came here and fell on my right knee. Thinking of my misery of the second half of last year I finished the race gently. The slippery surface sometimes gave me a very bad feeling and so I avoided any further risks.

One man who was at home on a cyclocross bike and comfortable in the conditions was Pieter Vanspeybroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) who won this, the second edition of the Tom Boonen and Friends charity cyclocross in front of Boonen’s Quickstep teammates Maarten Wynants and Wouter Weylandt.

The event which was held in Boonen’s hometown of Mol in Belgium attracted many of the stars of our sport including other QuickStep teammates like 4th placed Jerome Pineau, Carlos Barredo and Italian stars Filippo Pozzato and Luca Paolini.

Result Tom Boonen and friends cyclocross:
1. Pieter Vanspeybroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator)
2. Maarten Wynants (Bel)
3. Wouter Weylandt (Bel)
4. Jйrфme Pineau (Fra)
5. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel)
6. Frederique Robert (Bel)
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel)
8. David Boucher (Fra)
9. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned)
10. Kevin Hulsmans (Bel)
and
29. Tom Boonen (Bel)

The charity race also included a special race for retired riders which was easily won by 3 time World Cyclocross Champion, Erwin Vervecken. Vervecken who ony retired earlier this year was followed onto the podium by ex-roadie Steven de Jongh and Koen Beeckman.

Result Tom Boonen and friends for retired riders:
1. Erwin Vervecken 29:15
2. Steven de Jongh (Ned)
3. Koen Beeckman (Bel)
4. Jan Boven (Ned)
5. Marc Janssens (Bel)
6. Franky Van Oyen (Bel)
7. Johan Verstrepen (Bel)
8. Wim Arras (Bel)
9. Eric Lievens (Bel)
10. Marc Patry (Bel)

Stybar Sidelined By Injury
World cyclo cross champion Zdenek Stybar received some bad news this past week when the doctors examining his injured knee told him that he must take a complete break from racing until at least Christmas. The 24 year old Czech rider has been having problems with his knee for the last month and this in combination with back problems has apparently led to his recent lesser results after a superb start to the season when he was unbeaten.

Speaking in the Belgian press Stybar reluctantly agreed with the doctor’s advice stating,

“I think it’s very sad what is happening, but I realise now that it [complete rest] makes sense. I’m in a vicious circle and I must get out of it. I can only do that by taking a complete rest. I am aware that [the chances of] my final victories in the World Cup, the Gazet van Antwerpen trophy and the Superpresitige are zero, but so be it.

I want the last part of the season to not be compromised, and to get my strength back. I hope that I’m back racing again after Christmas. If that’s successful, I can still have important goals after the New Year.”

I’d suggest that those ‘important goals’ in the New Year would have to include a certain race with Rainbow Stripes which will take place on 30th January. As defending champion Stybar will be desperate to race and be back to his best but a big pause in the short cyclo-cross season like this could be disastrous for his chances.

Two In A Row For Albert!
Niels Albert made it 2 in a row in the cyclocross World Cup yesterday after taking the win in tough, rainy conditions in Spain. After 4 rounds Albert now moves ahead of the injured Stybar in the classification to take the lead with 295 points ahead of his now most serious rival, Kevin Pauwels with 236 points.

Round 4 Cyclocross World Cup results:
1.Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)
2. Francis Mourey (FDJ) +0’17″
3. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) +0’39″
4. Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) +0’55″
5. Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) +1’07″
6. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) +1’33″
7. Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) +1’48″
8. Gerben de Knegt (Rabobank) +1’49″
9. Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) +2’11″
10. Christian Heule +2’17″

World Cup Standings After 4 Rounds :
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 295 Pts
2 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 236
3 Zdenek Љtybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 230
4 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 230
5 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 229
6 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 197
7 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 193
8 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 181
9 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 174
10 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 167

Aussies Win Gold In Track World Cup
On their hometrack in Melbourne the Aussie team pursuit trio of road professionals, Jack Bobridge, Cameron Meyer, Leigh Howard along with Michael Hepburn proved their speed and strength as reigning World Champions with a strong performance to win the gold medal in front of surprise team, Russia.

The Aussies posted a time of 3.56.913 in the gold medal final to easily account for the Russians and which was good enough to be the fourth fastest time in history for an Australian team. In the bronze medal final Great Britain held off New Zealand to take the medal to make up for their disappointment in missing the gold medal final.

The team pursuit result plus a superb 3 Gold medals by the Australian sprinter, Anna Meares in the women’s events puts Australia into the No.1 rankings after this the 1st round of the track World Cup.

Selected Other results;
Mens Sprint:
1st: Shane Perkins (Australia)
2nd: Jason Kenny (Great Britain)
3rd: Teun Mulder (Netherlands)

Men’s Omnium
1st: Shane Archibold (New Zealand)
2nd: Zachary Bell (Canada)
3rd: Edward Clancy (Great Britain)

Men’s Keirin
1st: Chris Hoy (Great Britain)
2nd: Teun Mulder (Netherlands)
3rd: Mickael Bourgain (France)

Men’s Team Pursuit
1st: Australia
2nd: Russia
3: Great Britain

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