What's Cool In Road Cycling

German Shorts (Deutsche Lederhosen)

Germany seems to be a hotbed for news these days, as well as a great source of entertainment. The drama mounts daily as former friends feud like vicious curs over the prized piece of meat (who notably turned 30 this week), the UCI Juggernaut is set to roll over the little man, dramatic betrayal, and a surprising new sponsor of German cycling. We’ve got it all this week…

2005 UCI Pro Tour, A Sign Of The Apocalypse?

The new UCI Pro Tour is widely being hailed as a return to cycling’s roots, a purification of sorts. Hmmm, sounds a bit scary to me. Anyhow, the Tour of Luxembourg has often been cited as evidence of what the Pro Tour will hurt, but as would be expected, Germany will be suffering a big hit to all but its star races. The big races like Rund um den Henninger Turm, the National Tour, Rund um Kцln, and probably the Hamburg race (the former HEW Cyclassics World Cup) will all see the spotlight of the Pro Tour, but what of the smaller races? What of the Rheinland-Pfalz Tour? Historically, this has been an opportunity for top amateurs to rub shoulders with big time professionals, as the race usually draws a quality field. What happens though when a Jan Ullrich or Erik Zabel doesn’t show? The sponsors see no real reason to keep lobbing money into the endless pit of wants from every race, and thus the smaller races fall through the cracks and disappear completely. True, this Pro Tour might enhance today’s racing, but what happens to tomorrow’s pro’s?

Jan Ullrich turns 30

On a slightly happier note, Jan Ullrich, the Wunderkind from Rostock has hit the big 3-0. 30? Jeez. He sure gets a lot of criticism for not fulfilling his potential, but the man just hit 30. Look at Museeuw and Cipollini, what are they now, 37ish? What has Der Kaiser done in his first eight years as a pro? ONLY (ha, only) one Tour victory to his credit, multiple bridesmaid placings, a Vuelta title, as well as two World Championship victories in the time trial, a gold and a silver medal at the Olympics along with tons of other prestigious results. Let’s take a moment to give Jan Ullrich a collective break and give him a nice pat on the back for a job well done. In terms of the Tour, the man has at LEAST 3 more years in which he can very well expect a victory, if not 10 years. 🙂

Ullrich celebrated his birthday in his adopted home in Switzerland with his partner Gaby Weis and their new little girl, Sarah-Maria. Of note, he found his way to his bike for some training amidst the festivities. And who says he doesn’t train enough over the winters?

Happy Birthday to you Jan Ullrich.


And The New Title Sponsor Of German Cycling Is…

The former sponsor of the National Team of Germany, as well as the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (the national organization of cycling in Germany), Hamburger Elektrizitaetswerke, better known as HEW, is stepping down (it will continue to sponsor the Cyclassics in Hamburg though). In its place though will be… This is great. STADA Arzneimittel AG, that would be a pharmaceutical company. The BDR is expecting some snide commentary (definitely not from me) pertaining to the title sponsor of the National Team, but that doesn’t bother them they say. Look at soccer, Bayer is a huge sponsor of soccer, that’s just the name of the game. We all know that this doesn’t mean that Germany will have better access to doping products, there are no questions about that, but still, it’s fun to make a little snicker and sly grin to yourself.

T-Mobile Has Absolutely No Love for Poor Pevenage

Well, maybe it’s not so much poor Rudy Pevenage, but still, Pevenage is definitely feeling the backlash from some ill-conceived actions last year. T-Mobile team bosses are once again making it abundantly clear that Pevenage will have absolutely no place on this year’s T-Mobile team, and will most certainly not be driving the T-Mobile car in this year’s Tour de France. T-Mobile team director, Mario Kummer, asserts once again that he will not be associated with the team in any way. He can visit the team hotel, but Pevenage will not be living with the team, nor has he received any kind of invitation to the T-Mobile camp in Mallorca that starts on the 10th of January (hey, I’ll be there at that time!)

Walter Godefroot remains particularly irascible on the topic: “Problems with Pevenage? How can I have problems with a man that I do not speak with?” Ouch. Godefroot is quick to point out as well that it was he, and not Pevenage, that was driving the support car following Ullrich in his 1997 Tour triumph. One wonders though, where was Pevenage? Right next to Godefroot in the passenger seat, and it was Pevenage who became the designer of Ullrich’s career, and also his closest confidant. Seriously Mr. Godefroot, you don’t have to get all jealous that Pevenage is Ullrich’s main man, you’re a big boy now. I’m sorry to encourage this nasty soap opera between Pevenage and Godefroot, with stories about the two popping up like nasty dandelions in spring in every cycling publication around, but it’s good fun to watch grown men act like spoiled toddlers sometimes.

Jaksche Got Cold Feet, And Now He’s In The Land Of Seriously Cold Feet

Reports about the loss of Joerg Jaksche to Danish team CSC from Gerolsteiner are showing a bit more to the story than previously thought. Evidently, Jaksche had guaranteed team manager Hans-Michael Holczer of Gerolsteiner, per SMS, that he would sign the contract, 100% sure (I know, I know, who guarantees via a cell phone?). Then, just hours later, the announcement came that Jaksche had signed with CSC. Ouch! And, as would be expected, a most notable rift has formed between Jaksche and Holczer, who have been acquainted since the early days of Jaksche’s amateur career. Many are saying though that Jaksche has a fear of being an outright leader of a team and the responsibility that comes with; it would seem that Jaksche prefers the role of Uber-Domestique.

Gerolsteiner were pursuing Jaksche to head the team for the Giro d’Italia this year, as Georg Totschnig will be focusing on the Tour de France next year. Team manager of Gerolsteiner, Holczer, was instrumental in helping Jaksche out of his contract with ONCE-Eroski, and Jaksche was likewise very taken by the idea of riding for Gerolsteiner, going so far as to guarantee his signature, but just as the Bubble Boys were making plans to have a press conference, the bomb dropped and Jaksche was gone.

This is all well and good, but it seems that the Mineral Water Troops made off pretty well, as they picked up Swiss talent Sven Montgomery instead. Gerolsteiner seem more than happy with the acquisition of Montgomery. Montgomery has struggled the past two seasons mainly due to sickness and a major injury, but Gerolsteiner are expecting a big year from the young Swiss rider. Udo Bolts, who has transferred from the bike to the team car notes, “I can definitely see Montgomery riding into the top ten of the Giro. Montgomery will not be riding with any great pressures, but he can surely be a super-beautiful surprise for us.”

And Something To Mull Over…

And finally this week, I will leave you with an interesting thought. Let’s take a second to make a few comparisons between Georg Totschnig’s 2003 campaign and Tyler Hamilton’s 2002 season… Totschnig was 5th in the Giro this year, Tyler Hamilton was 2nd last year. Totschnig was 12th in the Tour this year, 21 minutes behind, and Hamilton was 15th in 2002, 28 minutes in arrears. What happened to Tyler Hamilton in 2003? Keep this in mind, and watch for an immense season from Totschnig next year.


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