Archive for September, 2008

Le’ts call them the three amigos of cycling fame!

Earlier this week we had the announcement that seven times winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong will return to the peloton in 2009.

Fresh on his wheel came the news that disgraced Floyd Landis, winner of the tour in 2006 is also making a return!

Jan Ullrich a winner of the tour in 1997, whilst avoiding the press is thought to be also making a return!
Admittedly Ullrich and Landis have age on their side, but Mr. Armstrong at 38-years of age will be pushing the boundaries.

Of the trio, only Landis had his title taken away because of a doping offence in the tour of ’06.

But that is not stopping Floyd from making a return when his two year suspension ends early next year.

Of the trio, Landis is far advaced in a planned return for a team currently called Health Net-Maxxis which is run by Momentum Sports Group.

“We are in negotiations with Floyd Landis to ride for the team in 2009,” said team director Mike Tamayo at the Tour of Missouri in the USA this week, where incidentally Mark Cavendish and Michael Barry are competing. Both were in the recent Tour of Ireland supported by Failte Ireland. Also both have won stages, so the form continues unabated paricularly for the Cavendish. “The Manx Turbo-Express.”

Sources have indicated the new sponsor is from the health care industry. There is a distinct possibility that Smith & Nephew, makers of Landis’ artificial hip and sponsor of his mountain bike endurance racing will make up the jig-saw and end the speculation.

Of course! Today, Landis denies all charges of doping. He lost his final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in June  of this year, but CAS did uphold that his suspension should run from when he officially stated his voluntary non-compete status – meaning that Landis will be free to race again as of January 30, 2009.

Of course will the Tour de France organisation admit them? That’s the $64,000 question?
My belief is NO because of their baggage!

AUSTIN, Texas – September 9, 2008 – Today, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and cycling champion, released the following statement regarding his return to professional sports:

“I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden. This year alone, nearly eight million people will die of cancer worldwide. Millions more will suffer in isolation, victims not only of the disease but of social stigma. After the passage of Proposition 15 in Texas, a $3 billion investment in the fight against cancer which is helping to make this disease part of the national dialogue in America, it’s now time to address cancer on a global level.”

Mr. Armstrong will discuss his cycling program and an international LIVESTRONG strategy on September 24th in New York City at the Clinton Global Initiative.


An expert in the field, Professor José Luis Algarra is directing the current UCI course. This former cyclist has a vast experience in coaching. During his career so far he has been responsible for the physical preparation of the Spanish Olympic team and a professional team, coach for the national Spanish squad as well as numerous professional cyclists and Director of the Spanish Cycling Federation’s National Coaching School. He is the author of numerous books and papers treating all aspects of cycling.

Also lending his expertise during the course is physiology expert Dr José Antonio De Paz, who works with Professor Algarra in the preparation of a Portuguese professional team, Paredes-Rota Dos Moveis.

The Master Coach course is just one of numerous courses for coaches and athletes that are organized by the International Cycling Union’s Training Department.

Thirteen South American cycling coaches are currently on an advanced training course (Master Coach) at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.

The course, for Spanish-speaking coaches lasts from 25th August until 24th September. The participants represent 10 different South American countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru) and include coaches specializing in road, track, mountain bike and BMX.

The UCI Master Coach course is for coaches who have advanced levels of experience in the field of athlete coaching and race preparation. These coaches have already reached the highest possible level in their own countries.

Theory and practical sessions are included in the training course. It deals with coaching techniques and studies in greater depth the subjects touched on in the UCI courses for beginners, at level 1 and at level 2.

Based on the applications received, the Licenses Commission, which met in Geneva on August 25th, has granted a four-year UCI ProTour license, from 1st January 2009 until 31 December 2012, to the following five events: 

• Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (ESP) 
• Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (ESP) 
• Clasica Cicista San Sebastian – San Sebastian (ESP) 
• GP Ouest France-Plouay (FRA) 
• Tour de Pologne (POL) 

These races join the 2009 UCI ProTour calendar alongside the Tour Down Under (AUS) and the Tour de Romandie (SUI), which already have a license for the next season.  Continue Reading »

CYCLING-Marco Pinotti the 32-year-old Italian riding for Team Columbia, left it late to launch a bid for overall glory in the Tour of Ireland yesterday.

On the final ascent of Cork’s famed St Patrick’s Hill, Pinotti bolted away from overnight leader Russell Downing, whom he trailed by 15 seconds leaving Killarney on the final stage. Calling on his vast experience and proven form – he won the final stage of the Giro d’Italia this year – Pinotti pedalled like fury for the final 12km as he wore down Downing’s advantage and became race leader on the road.

At the finish, Pinotti had put over half a minute into Downing to finish third on the stage and snatch the yellow jersey as Tour winner by a slender 19 seconds – the blink of an eye after 900 kilometres of cut and thrust racing.

Pinotti had been a loyal lieutenant for Manx machine Mark Cavendish who sprinted to victory for the first three stages of the race. But the complexion of the race changed on the roads to Dingle on Saturday where the Manxman lost his way over the Conor Pass and Mount Eagle to slip out contention.

As Cavendish capitulated, unheralded Downing of Pinarelo CandiTV took the stage honours in Dingle and, with it, the golden fleece of race leader. For most of the final 144km stage to Cork, Downing covered the bases as his rivals, all bunched close behind up on general classification, tested his strength.

And then, just when it seemed as if Downing had done enough, Pinotti took a calculated gamble on St Patrick’s Hill that paid a rich dividend. Yet again, Team Columbia illustrated their strength on the final leg of a hugely successful Tour.

Measuring the opposition, they allowed the Czech Frantisek Rabon a free hand to move ahead after Baile Bhuine. Rabon was partnered by Ilya Chemietskily (Tinkoff Systems), Mauro Richeze (CSF Group Navigare) and Fredrik Ericsson (Pezula Racing), who kept clear of the bunch that was being patrolled by an increasingly wary Pinarelo CandiTV team.

The leading quartet held their advantage until they arrived into the streets of Cork where, after one lap, Rabon and Ericsson were left in front.

The duo continued their private duel before Rabon grabbed stage honours. Once again, it was a great day for Team Columbia who ended up with four stage wins and overall victory.

While he joined in the celebrations at the finish, Cavendish was caught out by St Patrick’s Hill and climbed off with one lap to go, just as his colleague Pinotti was making his decisive push for glory.

Roger Aiken of the Irish National proved best in 22nd position overall. Fair play to him as he has a regular job outside the professional regime.

Overall were very pleased and promised that they would build on this year’s event.

1 F. Rabon (Team Columbia), 3hrs.27mins.4secs;

2 F. Ericsson (Team Pezula), @15secs;

3 M. Pinnoti (Team Columbia), @1.04;

4 R. Downing (Pinarello CandiTV), @1.37;

5 L. Nordhaug (Joker Bianchi Team), @st;

6 J. Dean (Garmin Chipotle H30), st;

7 M. Barry (Team Columbia), st;

8 S. Clarke (South, @1.40;

9 M. Graziato (Tinkoff-Credit Systems), st;

10 M. Wilson (Team Type 1), st.

20 R. Aiken (Ireland), @1.59.

Final Overall:

1 Pinnoti, 21.43.16;

2 Downing, @19;

3 Dean, @21;

4 Wilson,. @33;

5 Barry, @36;

6 Clarke, @37;

7 Nordhaug, st;

8 G. Rabunal (Karpin Galicia Cycling Team), @38;

9 N. Maes (Topsport Vlaanderen), @44;

10 K. Evans (MTN Energade), st.

22 Aiken, @6.09.

Team-Team Columbia. Under 25-Clarke. Mountains-Wilson.

Russell Downing certainly shook up the leaderboard of the Tour of Ireland yesterday when he upstaged the favourites to land the stage win and the overall lead in Dingle on the penultimate day of the event. The current Premier Calendar Champion in England  put a stop to Mark Cavendish the turbo-charged Manxman who led the ‘tour’  supported by Failte Ireland for the opening three days.

Downing’s team Pinarello CandidTV have certainly upstaged the big hitters in the event with his double whammy!

On the run in to Dingle he experienced difficulties with his bike in the last 10kms. It looked as though he was not going to figure in the shake up, but he clawed his way back up to the lead group. In the dash to the line  it all came right when he unleashed an explosive sprint which netted him not only the stage win but the overall lead.

The foundations were laid as early as the second hour of racing prior to the An Post Sprint at Athea on the Limerick Kerry border when his t Sweden’s Magnus Backstedt moved forward to finally snap the elastic from the razor sharp peloton who were honing in all the moves. Up to that point they were ever so vigilant.
Backstedt a former winner of a stage in the Tour de France had Downing’s team mate, Peter Wiiliams (Pinarello CandidTV) and Wesly Sulzberger (South in tow as they forged ahead. The trio at one time had an advantage of over five minutes before there was a reaction from the peloton.
Their advantage was nullified on the approach to the Conor Pass when the climbers started to show their mettle.

But, it took the Conor Pass climb to snuff out the hopes of Cavendish the hero of the race to date.
Today’s stage with four climbs of the infamous Patrick’s Hill in Cork after the run from Killarney will ultimately decide the outcome of the ‘tour.’ Downing’s lead is a mere two seconds from New Zealand’s Julian Dean who has the backing of a superior team to the English man who has come under the radar screen to be in front.

Tour of Ireland
Stage four-Limerick/Dingle, 186kms


1 R. Downing (Pinarello CandiTV) 4hrs19mins56 secs;
2 G. Rabunal (Karpin Galicia) st;
3 M. Wilson (Team Type 1), st;
4 S. Clarke (, st;
5 L. Mazzanti (Tinkoff Credit Systems), st;
6 D. (An Post/Sean Kelly), st;
7 J. Coenen (Topsport Vlaanderen), st;
8 N. Maes (Topsport Vlaanderen), st;
9 J. Dean (Garmin Chipotle), st;
10 L. Nordhaug (Joker Bianchi), st.

General classification after 4 stages:

1 Downing 18.14.54;
2 Dean, @2;
3 Wilson, @11;
4 Rabunal, @12;
5 K. Hovelijnck (Topsport Vlaanderen), @13;
6 Maes, 14.

What if the Tour of Ireland were a soccer match, hat-trick hero Mark Cavendish would have the match ball tucked under his race leader’s yellow jersey. First Waterford, then Loughrea and yesterday Seapoint in Galway have witnessed the scintillating sprinting exploits of the turbo-charged Team Columbia rider.

Pictures by
John Pierce, PhotoSport International:

On the flat, Cavendish is to his rivals what the Premier League is to the Conference, in a different stratosphere, never mind league. For the last three days, the magic marker for Cavendish’s Team Columbia repertoire has come with 10km left.

Then, they ratchet up the revs, hunt down any escapees and set up a platform for Cavendish to unleash a mind-blowing sprint. From the onset of the race, they have allowed the hares to race into a
commanding lead but then they muster the troops for a chase from which their can only be one outcome.

Yesterday was no different. Straight from the off, the action came thick and fast inside the first 20km before, true to form, a Pezula rider forged clear. This time it was Kieran Page who, together with Kurt Hovelinjnick (Topsport Vlaanderen) went ahead at the first King of the Hills prime at Finny.
On the approach to Tourmakeady their advantage had stretched to over two minutes as they sped along at 47kph.

In Westport (70kms), the Belgian edged out Page for the An Post Sprint prime. For no apparent reason, with 90kms on the clock the Belgian opted to wait for the bunch, but Page hadn’t read the script and continued on alone. Going over the second mountain of the day at Leenane, Page looked
comfortable after 128kms, but in the space of the 14 minutes the picture of the stage changed as dramatically as the scenery.

Page was caught and passed by Simon Clarke (South and Daniel Lloyd (An Post/Sean Kelly) who both came over the top of the final KOM at Keeagh, only for Lloyd to crash on the descent. Back in the bunch Team Columbia put the pedal to the metal and as sure as day follows night, Clarke’s foray at the head of the race went west with the bunch in full flight.

In the dash to the line at Seapoint, with the wind whistling in off the Atlantic, the golden fleece of Cavendish powered to victory for a third straight stage win.

Cíaran  Power of the Pezula team is best of the Irish in 12th place overall at 34 secondsafter his fine seventh place on the longest staghe of the tour.

Today’s tough penultimate stage from Limerick to Dingle which includes the  Conor Pass and Mam Clasach could well spell the end of Mark’s aspirations of retaining the yellow jersey. But, that golden fleece brings out the best in a competitor when the road rises above them!

CYCLING-Another gruelling day through the Irish countryside and another tour de force from sprint king Mark Cavendish.

The Isle of Man competitor and four times Tour de France stage winner has carved a niche for himself  in the Irish equivalent with stage  victory number two after yesterday’s cycle from Thurles to Loughrea over 158kms. Not since Sean Kelly in his prime has a sprinter dominated the Irish roads like Cavendish who stole the thunder to strengthen his grip on the leader’s jersey.

Pictures by John Pierce, PhotoSport International:

If it was about Cavendish at the line, spare a thought for gutsy Frederik Ericsson of the Irish-run Pezula team. The Swede soloed in front for all but 25kms of racing and claimed all the An Post sprints at ilvermines, Portumna and Loughrea before being snared.

Earlier, the Pezula colours were in evidence after leaving Thurles with Kieran Page, a former Martin Donnely Junior Tour winner stirred up the action before Ericsson made his escape from the main bunch after 12k.

As Chris Sutton (Garmin Chipotle) and Waylon Woolcock (MTN Energade) quit through illness, Erikisson stretched his advantage to over five minutes. At Silvermines, one of the pre-race favourites, Irish champion Daniel Martin (Garmin Chipotle) abandoned – by coincidence his cousin Nicolas Roche abandoned last year.
With the bunch showing a lack of interest in the Swede’s efforts, the margin grew to six minutes, despite a puncture between Dolla and Silvermines.

Eriksson duly took full advantage of the lucrative An Post Sprint primes to pocket a few useful euro for the Pezula team who have been taking over by David McQuaid but the hard grind started to its toll after Portumna when the wind became a factor.

Suddenly, the current Swedish time trial champion ran out of gas and the Pezula lone star raider was reeled in on the final 16km circuit of Loughrea He had led the stage on his own for over 130kms. A crash highlighted the intensity of the chase after which a counter attack was mounted by Kristian House a former winner of the FBD Ras, who broke away with 5kms left.

That was the cue for the Team Colombia blue train to hit the gears and provide the platform for Cavendish, the wonder boy of sprinting, to surge clear and claim his 15th success of the year. Whilst Cíaran Power was pleased with his team mate Eriksson’s performance, he can feel justifiably proud of his achievement being the first Irish man home in eight place. In the overall standings he is in 12th place at 23 seconds, behind
Cavendish who also leads in the under-25 category and the points.

Could he make it number three tomorrow as the race moves on from Ballinrobe to Galway with an anticipated arrival time of 14.30 in Seapoint.