What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Thursday!

Who says there’s no more road racing this year? The 2009 Tour route is in and the opinions are out. Check out the latest from Cervйlo, what the Anti Doping inspectors have been up to in Italy, the USA’s next big things and where to buy bike clothes on the cheap this weekend. It’s not normal, but it is EuroTrash!

Tour de France
Here’s what you do. Picture the traditional Tour de France map with the (almost) yearly alternating clock wise/ anti-clockwise line around the Alps and Pyrenees. Then, imagine the last two or three flat transition stages connected to Paris with the smooth curve of the Eurostar line. Now, smash it all up with a hammer and throw the bits back together while wearing a blindfold and you’ll have something that is about as traditional as the 2009 Route.

There were a few things that we already knew before the course was unveiled in Paris on Wednesday, including the Monaco Start (they will be using the GP circuit for the prologue TT) and the possibility of a Mount Ventoux finish on the final weekend.

The presentation proper, gave all that and more, including the return of the team time trial and the continuation of the “no time bonuses” philosophy, meaning the winner will need to gain each and every second of time with attacks out the road.

Of course, the Pez Team were at the official launch , rubbing shoulders with Mr Contador and Mr Sastre and for a brief look at the ’09 route, be sure to check out Ed’s report. (We’ve got our own analysis coming in the next days.)

In the mean-time, from Monaco to Mt Ventoux, here are the vital stats of the next year’s Tour de France:

21 Stages (10 flat, 7 mountain, 1 medium mountain)
20 Category 1, Category 2 and ‘Hors Category’ climbs including three Mountain top finishes
2 individual time-trial stages totalling 55km
1 team time-trial
2 rest days
6 Countries, and
Over 3million Euro in prize money.

Now that the course has been announced, the bookies have Contador as favourite (3-1), Armstrong as second at 5-1 and Schleck at 10.

Astana Reactions
As the team to beat in 2009, just what Alberto Contador thought of the route was just what everyone wanted to know.

“Just like every year, it looks like a Tour for a complete rider,” the 2007 winner said, “I cannot complain about the time trials. The first one in Monaco is quite difficult and that suits me. The last one is not too long with its 40 kilometres. I am happy about that.”

Johan Bruyneel, the man who steers the Tour winning ship with some degree of success, has clearly laid his cards on the table about who will be the number one rider in the 2009 event, saying, “Alberto Contador has only one big goal for 2009 and that is to win the Tour de France. More uphill finishes would have been better, but we’ll take the three and not complain.”

As for the Ventoux instead of a final TT? “The Ventoux at the end of the race is very special. It will provoke suspense until the very end, which is good for the race,” he said.

As for the other Astana man who was thought to be challenging for the title, Bruyneel was less definite when it comes to Armstrong’s plans for next July.

“The decision on Lance’s participation in the Tour de France 2009 is for later. For the moment it is 50-50 whether he will ride the Tour. After the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California we will already know more,” he said.

So, is that the Lance comeback taking shape? Contador stays at Astana and gets 100% support at the Tour, Lance very publicly embraces the Giro and then maybe doest even ride in France? Conflict between the two stars avoided, French media avoided and the possibility of the three grand Tours going to Astana again (Levi can have the Vuelta if Bert is too tired to give it full gas at the end of the season). Who knows?

But wait! Don’t write Lance off just yet (hey, maybe he thinks 5-1 is a good bet) as the seven times winner had a few thoughts of is own about both the route…

“The route of the 2009 Tour de France strikes me as innovative and very interesting… I could not have hoped for a different Tour.”

…about his participation
“While there has been a fair bit of tension and numerous disagreements with the Tour and its organizers, I am well aware that there is new leadership at ASO and I look forward to upcoming conversations and to a mutually beneficial future together.”

And finally, about the leadership question at Astana,

“It is illogical to pre-select a leader for any race in October of the previous year. We are blessed at Astana to have the strongest team in the world… and I am fully committed to supporting the strongest rider in any race. Whether that’s me, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, or Andreas Klцden.”

The Others
Astana are the favourites on a number of fronts, but what of the other teams and riders and their opinions for next year’s Tour?

This year’s number 1, Carlos Sastre, will have a “reinforced” Evans, a “returned” Contador and maybe even some Texan fella to contend with in 2009, provided his new Cervelo Test Team actually gets an invite to the race!

“My top priority,” said Sastre, “is to be on form at the start of the 2009 Tour.”

“Then,” he said, speaking like a true sportsman, “I’ll take it day by day.”

The 2008 runner up, Cadel Evans, is well known for his short, concise (blunt?) answers when asked questions by journalists. His view on the new route? “It is a long, hard and very difficult course.”

The man responsible for guiding Cadel believes that the event is by no means decided at this early stage. “Alberto Contador is the favourite,” said Marc Sergeant, team director at Silence-Lotto, “But I still believe that he can be beaten.”

“I find it a strange Tour,” was Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevre’s assessment of the new route. “Maybe the prologue can be for Devolder but even though Boonen knows the course well, it is too ‘heavy’ for him.”

As for the final Saturday on the slopes of the Ventoux, “It’s good for the ‘spectacle’ but after the finish it will be a long wait until the riders are back in their hotel,” he said.

I guess it’s lucky that the following day is a late start and an easy run into the finish in Paris, but two or more riders who might be capable of going for the stage win, maximising rest after such a hard day will be important.

Cervйlo: Three In One Out
More signings announced this week for the Cervйlo Test Team. The new riders are Marcel Wyss of Switzerland, Joaquin Novoa Mйndez of Spain and Ignas Konovalovas of Lithuania.

Climber Wyss, 22, has raced for Team Atlas Romer’s Hausbдckerei since 2007 and since August this year he has been a stagiare with the ProTour Team Scott American Beef. Joaquin Novoa Mйndez spent the later part of 2008 racing as a stagiare with CSC while Konovalovas started his pro career in the same way with a trial stint in 2007 at Credit Agricole.

Who’s leaving? Sports Director Scott Sunderland and the squad have come to a mutual agreement and the Australian will not now be taking up his role with the team in 2009. Sunderland has been working as a director with CSC and was to have taken a similar role with the new Canadian outfit.

Sunderland told Sporza that he has a new project in the pipeline for 2010 and that he needs a year to get the riders together and to finalise the details. Whether or not this has any links with the push for an Australian sponsored team in the near future remains to be seen. More details on that one as they emerge.

CONI Dishes Out Suspensions
The disiplinary board of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) met on Wednesday to decide the fate of several cyclist who have fallen foul of anti-doping controls over the past weeks.

Paolo Bossoni (ex of Lampre) was handed a 2 year suspension after testing positive for EPO at the Italian championships in June of this year. Also slapped with a suspension was Giovanni Carini (Team Pagnoncelli) after he too tested positive at the championships, in his case, after winning the under 23 title.

The main attention at the hearing was to be centred around Leonardo Piepoli, the former Saunier Duval rider who was thrown off the Tour de France by his team and subsequently tested positive to CERA/epo, but…he failed to show up! I guess that’s one way to protest your innocence.

Kohl Speaks Again
Speaking of positive TdF tests, Bernard Kohl has detailed the when, where and why of his illegal substance use, saying that the team had no idea about what he was up to.

I’ll spare you the details, but one interesting thing was that although he is telling all, he said himself that he is not expecting to get a reduced sentence for his ‘honesty.’ His opinion is that he has done the wrong thing, deserves a two year ban and that the time away from the sport will be good for him.

Saris Raises $100K
Last Friday, the Saris Cycing Group helped raised over $100,000 to support bicycle advocacy in Wisconsin.

Featuring both live and silent auctions and with special gest appearances by Christian VandeVelde and Robbie Ventura, over 400 guests were on hand to help raise funds to promote bicycle advocacy and education.

“The majority of the money raised will support the resources needed to implement educational programming across all users and to work on local and statewide advocacy efforts,” said The Bike Fed of Wisconsin Executive Director Jack Hirt. “We need to continue to build a grass roots lobbying base that is representative of the entire state and build bicycle friendly communities along the way.”

As well as Saris, who are perhaps best know for their Cycleops products, local companies Cannondale and Trek as well as manufacturers from across the US, donated products for the auctions.

Conquer Cancer Is Go
Having a great team behind you is one of the secrets behind cycling success, and so what better method to adopt in the fight to Conquer cancer?

The Princess Margaret, the Jewish General Hospital, the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the BC Cancer Foundation have combined to launch a ground-breaking event in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia as part of a nationwide effort to beat this potentially killer disease.

Lori-Ann Muenzer, (2004 Olympic gold medallist) and Steve Bauer, (Olympic silver medallist and former Tour de France leader) were part of the launch and have signed on to support the efforts, which kicked off in the new locations yesterday.

The 2009 Ride to Conquer Cancer will take place in June next year, with participants covering 200km in a quest to raise funds to help the fight against cancer.

For more information about participating in the Ride, or just to make a donation, visit www.conquercancer.ca

USA Talent Camp Concludes
As part of its overall junior development efforts, USA Cycling recently invited a group of 34 young athletes across both road and MTB disciplines, to its annual National Talent Identification Camp at the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs.

While at the camp, athletes attended instructional seminars on nutrition, anti-doping, training, collegiate cycling and the junior development pipeline.

The Camp participants are all aspiring to become members of the U.S. Junior National Team and to represent their country at international competition. Two-time world champion Taylor Phinney and 22-time national champion Coryn Rivera are both examples of athletes who have received support and direction from USA Cycling and its network of coaches, program directors and resources.

And hey, ‘cause everyone who makes the cut and gets invited to an event like this deserves a mention, here is the full list of road riders who participated in the camp. Let’s see if any of these names pop up in the PEZ pages again in the future.

Katie Antonneau (Racine, Wis.), Colton Barrett (Saint Paul, Minn.), Juan Carmona (Breiginsville, Pa.), Ryan Eastman (Petaluma, Calif.), John Funk (Topeka, Kan.), Tucker Gerald (Amarillo, Texas), Elspeth Huyett (Alburtis, Pa.), Thomas Jondall (Tucson, Ariz.), Jacqueline Kurth (Palm City, Calif.), Cinthia Lehner (Greer, S.C.), Stephen Liguori (Lowell, Ark.), Matt Lipscomb (Decatur, Ga.), Connor O’Leary (Belt, Mont.), Jessica Prinner (South Elgin, Ill.), Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif.), Angelo Roman (Star, Idaho), Neal Shepherd (Palm Coast, Fla.), Benjamin Swedberg (Kent, Wash.), Daniel Tisdell (San Jose, Calif.), Kyle Torres (Laguna Nigel, Calif.), Chris Wallace (Shawnee, Kan.) and Anna Young (Madison, Wis.).

Gear Sell Out
Psst! Hey buddy, wanna buy a bike? Or some clothing, or maybe a massage table? It’s the end of the season and the end of the line for some teams and this week is the time to pick up bargains (if you happen to be over here in Europe, that is).

With Team Gerolsteiner shutting up shop for good, everything that goes into running a bike team is up for sale. If you want to be part of the action and grab your self a bargain, head into Cranach Strasse 15, Gьltstein this Saturday from 9.00am

Can’t make it to Germany? Belgium a bit closer? Team Quick Step are also setting up shop at the Kennedy Hotel in Kortrijk from Friday to Sunday. They will be offloading team clothing, casual clothing and other associated bits and pieces.

Not sure about the whole “last year’s” ProTeam clothing thing? Well, there’s always these ones you can get your hands on. True style never goes out of date!

Garmin 09 Team Launch
If you are looking to snare a bit of cycling history but cant get yourself across to Europe this weekend, start saving up for the Team Garmin-Chipotle H3O! event to be held on November 22 at the Boulder Theatre in Colorado.

As well as having the chance to meet the new 2009 team members, there will be an opportunity to bid on team memorabilia, to check out a preview of the Sundance documentary that features racing and behind the scenes coverage of the 2008 season and to win a 2008 team bike in the raffle.

The program for the evening will be:
5:30 pm VIP cocktail hour & hors d’ouevres with the team ($250 per ticket)
6:00 pm Doors open for general admission ($25 per ticket)
7:00 pm Exclusive preview of Sundance Channel documentary
8:00 pm Open Q&A with the team

Amongst the lots in the Silent Auction, guest can bid on:
Christian Vande Velde’s 2008 Tour de France Felt DA time trial bike, Giro d’Italia maglia rosa, autographed by the team, Garmin-Chipotle jersey signed by all the members of the 2008 Tour de France team and a Zipp time trial wheelset with 808 front wheel and sub-9 disc with PowerTap.

Contador A Shoe-In
OK so sometimes when companies send out press releases the ‘news’ is slightly less than impartial and the content is little more than an advertising blurb. However, when a company has Alberto “Which Grand Tour am I winning this week” Contador and Olympic Champ Sammy Sanchez on the books, you could assume that they must be doing something right.

And so, it was announced this week that both would be continuing to stomp on the pedals in 2009 and beyond, while wearing Sidi cycling shoes.

Both riders dropped into their shoe sponsors HQ near Treviso this week, with Sidi’s Dino Signori, saying, “Alberto and Samuel have earned our esteem, not only as athletes, but as men. Their victories and their clean cut, successful images lend our company important international prestige. This is why we’re proud to announce that these two great athletes will be representing Sidi Sport until the end of the 2010 season.”

There was no word in the announcement of a special pair of gold/white/rainbow edition slippers for Paolo Bettini to wear in his retirement. I’ll check my in box and get back to you on that one.

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