What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

It’s Thanksgiving Week, which means the Holiday Season is very nearly upon us. That’s a good thing, because the weather is worsening everyday it seems, and I need a little something to keep me perky. The racing news is doing a good job at that as well – the cross scene just got a whole lot more interesting this weekend, awards are being doled out, Contador is whining – we’ve got all that and more!

2010 Vuelta Pays Homage To Asturias
According to Spanish press reports, namely AS, the Vuelta will spend some solid time in the northwestern Spanish province of Asturias. It is rumoured that there will be two mountaintop finishes in Asturias, and neither will rhyme with Rangliru.

The 75th Vuelta a Espana looks set to include a mountaintop finish on the famed Lagos de Covadonga and then as a dessert will include the Cotobello as another mountaintop appointment. The Cotobello measures 10.1 kilometers in length and averages an ouch inducing 8.4% The climb has been known as the Cima Rubiera since 2009 as a tip of the hat to local star, Jose Luis ‘Chechu’ Rubiera.

Cadel Evans On Top For The Third Time
Unsurprisingly, considering that he just won the World Championships, Cadel Evans just received his third career Australian Cyclist of the Year award. The award, named after Sir Hubert Opperman and affectionately known as an Oppy, has gone to the enigmatic Aussie a joint record three times now. The other top man? Peter Besanko. Besanko received the award in 1979, 1981, and 1984. Evans took the award in 2006, 2007, then took a year off in 2008, before getting back on the horse in 2009.

Like Video? I Like Video
Sporza is such a great place to catch up on your bike racing news. Google Translator often provides a reasonable if sometimes humorous decoding of Dutch, er, Flemish. Along with the nitty gritty in all things Belgian, Sporza has some great videos. Say for instance, how about the Sporza Year In Review? It’s a two parter, filled to the brim with commentary you most likely won’t understand, but full of, more importantly, awesome footage. Check it out: Part I and Part II.

Devolder Plans For 2010
It looks like two-time Ronde champion, Stijn Devolder, has had enough of the Tour de France – he won’t be gracing the race with his presence in 2010.

Instead, Devolder looks to focus on the stuff that has made him a star: the one-day classics.

Of course, “The fortnight in April with Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde remains the most important, but I will also go for the Brabantse Pijl and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”

Devolder affirms he’s done with the Tour for now: “My experience over the past two years has been too bad. I will just ride the Vuelta.”

Congratulations are in order for Devolder. He’s a great rider, but there’s no need for him to stress over the Grand Tours – there aren’t many that have doubled up at the Tour of Flanders, and there surely aren’t many that can do what he does in Flanders AND climb as well as he does. Why can’t a rider like Devolder win the World Championships someday?

Suspension News, Pt.I: See You Never, Pfannberger
Sometimes you feel like there’s just no end in sight in the war against doping. Sometimes, you get a moment to look back in satisfaction when a rider is sent packing for the ages. I’m usually all about second chances. I think it’s fair, I think it’s right, and that’s just my opinion. I, however, am not keen on third and fourth chances.

Christian Pfannberger was a rider of immense talent and possibilities. The Austrian climber promised much, but he was apparently dirtier than the shoes I wore in a muddy cow pasture yesterday.

Pfannberger previously served a two year suspension for testosterone use from 2004 to 2006. He appaeared to have gotten his career on track though after promising performances in his return landed him back at the top of the sport with Katyusha. It all came crumbling down though after he tested positive for EPO earlier this season. And that, as they say, was that.

Pfannberger was handed a lifelong suspension last week because he was a repeat offender. Austria might have shown that its an eerie hotbed for dirty, but it’s also showing itself as the country where you absolutely do not want to get caught doping – that prison sentence talk from a little while back comes to mind in this as well.

Maybe Pfannberger will go into business with Bernhard Kohl and work at his shop in Vienna.

Cross Compote: Stybar Finally On Top
In a season that has seen Niels Albert and Sven Nys constantly ramming heads with Albert on top nearly every time, there has been another rider, always there, but never on top: Czech Champ, Zdenek Stybar. Stybar has come into his own this year, but in the discipline whose hallmark is domination by a select few, Stybar hasn’t quite managed to get his front wheel to the line first in a long while…until this weekend.

He broke his streak of almosts this weekend in fine fashion, taking both the GVA race AND the Superprestige race.

GVA Trofee: GP Hasselt
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team 0:58:31
2 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
3 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
4 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob
5 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team 0:00:07
6 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 0:00:38

Superprestige: Hamme-Zogge
1 Zdenek Љtybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea 1:03:05
2 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
3 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob 0:00:03
4 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP – Powerplus 0:00:40
5 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob 0:00:43

Suspension News, Pt.II: See You Never, Da Ros
A record suspension of 20 years (I’m guessing a record for Italy, see above) was handed down to former Liquigas rider, Gianni Da Ros. The sentence was issued today by Italy’s national anti-doping agency.

Da Ros, who was previously employed by Liquigas, was nailed in March in a big anti-doping raid in Milano at a training camp with the national team.

Da Ros was picked up by Liquigas in August 2008 as a stagiaire, then officially signed for the 2009 season. The 23-year-old talent’s career came to an early end this Spring when he was arrested along with 11 others – at the same time as this bust, the Italian police executed 64 other raids across Italy.

According to the accusations, Da Ros dealt in all things drugs, namely growth hormone. Not so surprisingly, he was also accused of doping. He apparently purchased the products from Italian amateur rider, Davide Lucato, then sold the stuff himself – namely to his former teammate, Albino Corazzin. All three were sentenced on Monday: Da Ros to 20 years, Lucato for 8 years, and Corazzin to 2 years.

QuickStep And Specialized Part Ways
November 19, 2009 – Specialized and Team Quick Step have enjoyed three successful seasons together, and though their relationship still remains strong, they will end their partnership come the 2010 season.

“It is with mutual respect and appreciation for what we have achieved together that Patrick [Lefevere] and I want to announce that Specialized and Quick Step will part ways in 2010,” Specialized Founder and President Mike Sinyard said today. “I truly appreciate all that Patrick and the team have done for our brand and sport.”

Lefevere added, “Over the three years we have been together, no other team has matched our achievements, and Specialized has been a big part of those results by developing bikes and equipment that give the riders a real edge. I want to thank Mike and the Specialized team for their support.”

Over the past three years, Team Quick Step has won more major races than any other team in professional cycling, from the 2007 UCI World Road Race Championships to back‐to‐back victories at both Paris‐Roubaix and Tour of Flanders in 2008 and 2009.

The impact of the relationship has been just as significant off the race course, with the team and riders contributing directly to the development of bikes like the two‐time Paris‐Roubaix winning Roubaix SL2, the Tarmac SL2, and Tarmac SL3.

“The biggest benefit we get from sponsoring pro racing is the ability to build better products because the best riders push us to continually improve and take on new challenges. Team Quick Step has helped us create bikes and equipment that are now available to every rider, straight from the shop. We are so grateful to the team and riders for these contributions,” Sinyard concluded.

Both Specialized and Team Quick Step will make announcements soon regarding who their respective partners will be for the upcoming 2010 season.

Merckx And QuickStep Join Forces
Starting in the 2010 season, Team Quick Step cyclists will be riding top-class bicycles produced by Eddy Merckx Cycles. An agreement for the next 3 years has been concluded. “We are very happy with the deal reached with Eddy Merckx Cycles Company – explains Patrick Lefevere, Managing Director Team Quick Step.

“It’s a matter of pride for us to have by our side such a prestigious brand and a cycling icon like Eddy. Our relationship is based on mutual respect. Founded 30 years ago as one of Eddy’s ideas, today the company is an international player with Eddy at its heart. We’re sure that this relationship will be mutually beneficial, allowing both the team and the company to grow further and to reach some important common goals in the professional field.”

“We want to grow from being a family SME to an international business. The return of the bicycle brand in the Pro tour is a logical next step within this growth pattern. We have strongly invested in the development of new, high-end racing bikes, the reorganisation of the distribution and the optimisation of logistics. In March 2009 we presented the EMX-3 and EMX-5 models, at Eurobike in September we introduced another 8 new models and this weekend our dealers in Belgium are launching the new EMX-1 and EFX-1. We are convinced that the cooperation with Team Quick Step and their international profile will boost our marketing efforts and support our “Eddy Merckx” brand in its international growth. The fact that a Belgian top team is riding Eddy Merckx bikes in the year of celebrations 2010 has a very special meaning to us. In 2010 Eddy Merckx will be 65 and his bicycle business will have existed for 30 years. One of the highlights will undoubtedly be the Tour de France, which will pass through Meise to celebrate Eddy Merckx. More lustre will be obviously added to the event by the participation of a Belgian top team on his bikes”, says Pieter Vansynghel, CEO of Eddy Merckx Cycles.

“We have had great successes in all the Flemish cycling classics and lots of victories in all great tours. There is no better way to vouch for the top quality of our bikes. Today we are ready again to ride at the front of the pack. In the past I have successfully worked together with Patrick Lefevere with the Domo Farm Frites Team. Therefore, I am very pleased that we are back in a partnership today”, according to Eddy Merckx, honorary president of Eddy Merckx Cycles.

Al’s Spanish Shorts: Contador’s TDF Woes
Every once in awhile, Mr. Alastair Hamilton gets the motivation to put his Spanish to good use and helps me out mightily with EuroTrash. This is one such week, and I’m an appreciative EuroTrasher who has to write a little bit less and who gets to chuckle at the travails of Alberto Contador:

We won’t have to wait long to see the fireworks between Contador and his ex team-mate; Armstrong. I use the term “team-mate” loosely as I’m sure Contador and Armstrong wouldn’t use it after their conflict at the Tour. The two will meet in February in the Volta a Algarve; it’s been on the American’s Tour build-up calendar for years, including introducing a time trial just for him. Alberto now also wants to start his season on the Portuguese coast, it probably won’t prove anything that early in the year, but it will make for some interesting photos.

Alberto said this week in “La Gazzetta dello Sport” that he had to buy his own wheels at the Tour. “Sucediу antes de la contrarreloj de Montecarlo. Para mн no habнa las ruedas mejores. Asн que parece imposible, pero me las tuve que comprar yo”. Basically before the time trial in Montecarlo he didn’t have the best wheels and had to buy his own, Bruyneel didn’t give him the good wheels. This was followed by there being no team car to take him to the time trial in Annecy, they were all being used to ferry Radio Shack VIP’s. Contador was taken in the car of his brother/manager and girlfriend; Macarena. Annecy was close to the funeral!
We will know for sure if Astana gets a Pro-Tour licence on Tuesday.

Al’s Spanish Shorts: No Local Gov For Triki
Manuel “Triki” Beltrбn will not become the sports councillor in Jaйn Town Hall. The executive of the PSOE (Socialist Party) have put the brakes on the move. Triki’s brother; Ascensiуn Beltrбn is a PP (Conservative Party) councillor and behind his brothers job position. It was said that nepotism was flagrant.

If you had forgotten, Manuel Beltrбn was sanctioned for two years when found positive for EPO at the 2008 Tour de France joining the list of positive ex-Armstrong team riders including Heras, Hamilton, Landis…..

Al’s Spanish Shorts: RIP – Agustin Sagasti
Sad news to hear of the death of another cyclist due to depression after the suicide of Belgian Dimitri De Fauw. Basque rider; Agustin Sagasti (now 39 years old) was found by his mother at his house in Munguia (Vizcaya). Sagasti rode for Euskaltel and won a stage of the Vuelta de la Pais Vasco in 1994, but he had had a difficult life. As a child he suffered from Polio and was advised to cycle for his health, then when he was 24 years old he crashed into a car during a stage of the Tour of the Mining Valleys (Asturias) in 1995. At first he was in a coma and had many operations on his arm and leg over a year. He received 70 million pesetas compensation for not being able to continue his occupation as a professional cyclist. It must all have been too much.

Sean Yates Goes To Sky
Sean Yates will join Team Sky in the New Year as Sports Director. He will join Scott Sunderland, Steven De Jongh and Marcus Ljungqvist, the other Sports Directors for Team Sky.

Sean Yates has been a sports director at Astana since 2008 and before that was at Team Discovery Channel and Team CSC.

Dave Brailsford, Team Principal for Team Sky, said: “Sean brings a wealth of experience and we’ve been very keen for a long time to bring him on board. He’s well known as a hard-working sports director with a deep understanding of the sport and good connection to his riders and staff. He will be a true asset to our management team and a great colleague for the other Sports Directors we have signed.

“Our ambition is to have our Sports Directors collaborating with the best available expert knowledge on all the relevant aspects of sport and we believe that it will provide Team Sky with a unique fundament to perform and win. Sean and the other Sports Directors will be working in a performance driven team where I’m convinced we can bring out the very best in the riders.”

Sean Yates said; “I’m extremely excited to join Team Sky. Obviously for me, to be part of a British team at the highest level is something truly special. I have a lot of experience in a winning team and I look forward to helping Team Sky to fulfil its goals. The scope and the ambition of the project is unique and I think we have put together a great team. I really believe we can be contenders on all levels in the future and I’m proud to become part of that.”

The 49-year old Englishman rode for Peugeot, Fagor, 7-Eleven and Motorola in his 14-year pro career and was a team mate of Robert Millar and Lance Armstrong. He became the third Brit to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, in 1994, and rode 12 Tours during his career.

Team Sky will compete from the start of 2010, beginning with the Tour Down Under, and hopes to gain an invitation to next year’s Tour de France. The initial squad of around 25 riders will be supported by a team of coaches, technicians and support staff drawn from across the cycling world, many of whom work throughout the year with British elite and developing riders.

The Team Sky riders announced to date are; Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard, Russell Downing, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lцfkvist, Kurt Arvesen, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kjell Carlstrom, John Lee Augustyn, Greg Henderson, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Morris Possoni, Michael Barry, Serge Pauwels, Chris Sutton, Sylvain Calzati, Nicolas Portal, Mathew Hayman, Dario Cioni and Davide Viagno.

Sutherland Named Top Domestic Road Racer
Press Release From OUCH: Oakland, CA – Rory Sutherland of the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has been honored as 2009 Domestic Male Roadie of the Year in the upcoming issue of VeloNews. Sutherland, who finished third in the NRC individual standings after winning that competition in 2007 and 2008, beat out NRC winner Tom Zirbell (Bissell) and sprinter Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home), second in the NRC.

If awarding him the title, VeloNews said of Sutherland: “(He) possesses much of both of (Zirbell’s and Haedo’s) strengths. The OUCH-Maxxis captain can time trial better than almost every rider in North America, he can climb and he can sprint. Most importantly, he can win stage races, as he did at Joe Martin and Nature Valley, winning the latter on the final day’s tough Stillwater Criterium by catching Zirbel with a surprise attack on the last lap.”

Sutherland also possesses slightly more intangible strengths as well. His strong leadership skills helped contribute to results all season, and whenever the team needed a good result, he was often the rider to step up and deliver.

The VeloNews award caps off another strong season for the organization, which saw 2009 mark its seventh year of racing. This season saw the team collect 16 wins, including the National Criterium Championship, and 61 total podiums.

Those results added to an impressive seven-year total that has seen the team reach the top step of the podium 402 times, with a total of 827 podium appearances. In that time, the team’s riders also collected 12 national championships and one world championship, while four riders made Olympic appearances. And the team will be highly motivated to add to those totals in 2010.

Save The Individual Pursuit
The UCI and IOC are proposing to eliminate the Individual Pursuit from the 2012 Olympic Games and replace it with an omnium. The Individual Pursuit is a classic event with a 70 year history in the Olympics. The proposed replacement is an omnium of five events that has not been supported by athletes at past world track championships.

An online petition has been created to voice support for retaining the Individual Pursuit at the 2012 Olympic Games. The petition that will be delivered to the IOC, UCI, and London Olympics Organizing Committee. Follow this LINK to the petition.

Connie Carpenter, Davis Phinney, Taylor Phinney, Shaun Wallace, Marion Clignet, Jim Copeland, Roger Young, Sheila Young Ochowicz, and Hugh Walton are some of the more notable riders that have already signed the petition.

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