Archive for January, 2009

Well for me it is “Ras Mumhan” and the FBD Insurance Ras.

Thankfully, both events are listed for this season ahead.

The events are institutions in their own right. Naturally it depnds in which part of the country you are standing in! It would be a brave soul not to list both races in the same breadth and believe it or not both have stood the test of time. Not many events in this fair Isle can reminisce about their longevity, but no matter where you go or engage in chit chat, invariably cycling in Munster will inch into  the conversation as will the FBD Ras. Continue Reading »

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A dramatic day of racing on stage three of the 2009 Tour Down Under has ended with Queensland’s Allan Davis (Quickstep) still in the ochre race leader’s jersey but only after a superb chase to regain the race in the wake of an early crash.

Davis also had to wait for a countback by officials after Rabobank’s Graeme Brown (AUS) won the stage and scored a ten second bonus outsprinting Davis who collected a six second time bonus to leave the Australian pair locked on time at the top of the classification.

“Hats off to my team, definitely a team victory there was an awesome break up the road it went early, had everyone in it that should have been in it but I held the boys up a bit and they just rode unreal and put themselves in a line – they’ll be coming in about 30 minutes – I think they were that tired but in the end Matty Hayman did an unreal job,” said Brown. “I’m ecstatic about the win and the team has worked really hard all day. Continue Reading »

Queensland’s Allan Davis (Quickstep) has taken over the lead in the 2009 Tour Down Under after winning the 145km second stage from Hahndorf through the Adelaide Hills to Stirling. Davis is riding in his eleventh Tour Down Under the only rider to have contested the event every year since its inception.

“It’s very special,” said Davis. “You know we came here with an objective of winning a stage and we’ve done that on the second stage so we’re very happy as a team.

“You know the jersey is a bonus on top of that and it’s the first time for me in eleven years to have the jersey so it’s very special,” said Davis. “I’d just like to thank my team Quickstep because they’ve put a lot of respect and trust in me and it’s good to give them something back with a win.” Continue Reading »

Queensland’s Allan Davis (Quickstep) has taken over the lead in the 2009 Tour Down Under after winning the 145km second stage from Hahndorf through the Adelaide Hills to Stirling. Davis is riding in his eleventh Tour Down Under the only rider to have contested the event every year since its inception.

“It’s very special,” said Davis. “You know we came here with an objective of winning a stage and we’ve done that on the second stage so we’re very happy as a team.

“You know the jersey is a bonus on top of that and it’s the first time for me in eleven years to have the jersey so it’s very special,” said Davis. “I’d just like to thank my team Quickstep because they’ve put a lot of respect and trust in me and it’s good to give them something back with a win.” Continue Reading »

Kuala Lumpur – Fuji-Servetto will be one of the most interesting teams to watch at Le Tour de Langkawi from February 9 to 15. This is a Pro Tour team that has no time to lose in order to seduce the organisers of the three Grand Tours (France, Italy and Spain). They have rebuilt their squad on the ashes of Saunier-Duval. With new sponsors and their new team manager Alvaro Crespi, they start everything from scratch. “We have to give a good image of our team right from the beginning of the season”, Crespi said, talking from the Tour Down Under in Adelaide where his Australian recruit William Walker launched a solo counter-attack during stage 1.

fuji-servetto Continue Reading »

KUALA LUMPUR – Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009: Asia’s biggest cycling event, Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) is back this year as a new-look race, inspiring change and a better future under the guidance of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

This 14th edition brings with it a new meaning to the word perseverance as the sport of cycling continues to move forward despite current economic uncertainties on a global scale.  Graded again as a hors class (2.HC) race by the International Cycling Union (UCI), LTdL 2009 maintains its status as one of the most prestigious races in Asia, projecting the vibrant, dynamic, colourful and peaceful nature of host country Malaysia.

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Measures to make the race more compact, in dealing with difficult times has not meant a decline in interest in the race as some 17 world class teams representing each continent will be pitting their strength against three Malaysian teams that are fired up for the challenge set forth right from the start of the race on February 9 to its end on February 15. Continue Reading »

Greipel back in ochre

2008 Tour Down Under champion, Andre Greipel from Columbia-High Road has opened his victory account for 2009 with an impressive sprint win in Mawson Lakes at the end of the 140km first stage from Norwood.

Greipel crossed the line in 3hr45min27sec edging out 2003 Tour de France sprint champion, Baden Cooke (UniSA-Australia) and hometown hero, Stuart O’Grady (Saxo Bank) who finished second and third respectively in a bunch sprint for line honours.

Greipel’s win has put him in the leader’s ochre jersey with a five second buffer to Cooke while Belgian Olivier Kaisen sits in third place overall also at five seconds.

Conditions were very hot and windy today as the race headed from the outskirts of Adelaide but that didn’t stop 88,000 loyal fans setting up camp on the side of the road to cheer on the world class field. Continue Reading »

Nicholas Roche and Kai Reus both former winners of the Martin Donnelly Junior Tour will open their 2009 campaign in the Tour Down Under In Australia next Tuesday.

But the real talk about the eleventh edition of the event is the presence of Lance Armstrong. The American has a remarkable record, winning seven Tour de France. Cyclists all over the globe will be focussing their attention on Adelaide in the southern part of Australia on the progress of the 37-year-old Texan.

Naturally the topic of Armstrong’s fitness will be high on the agenda and the odds are stacked against him winning the event outright. That’s not to say that he’ll be just one of the boys in the peloton.

Making his debut in the ‘tour’ will be Nicholas Roche in the colours of his new team AG2R who have an enviable reord in the event. They have contested each of the 11 editions and have been to the fore on many occasions. Winning it in the millenium year (2000) with Gilles Maignen, Mikel Astarloza (2003), Simon Gerrans (2006) and Martin Elmiger (2007).

This will the fifth season in the pro ranks for the son of Stephen Roche who created a real buzz in the cycling world back in the heady days of 1987.

Last season Roche represented Credit Agricole who since then have bit the dust like a number of teams who were unable to secure sponsorship.

But if Nicholas is able to produce the scintillating form of 2008 then his new paymasters will be very happy wth his signature. The young Roche certainly came out of the shadow of his dad and laid down a marker in his brief cycling career to date.

His performance in the Tour of Spain last September marked him out as one to watch in the future. He finished 13th overall and  only the photofinish camera deprived of a stage victory, but second was a magnficient achievement.
As for the young Dutchman, Kai Reus who won the junior Tour in 2002 in Waterford. In 2006 he had a crash and his future as a professional was in serious doubt. He was out of commission for 2008, but thankfully through the work of the medics and his team Rabobank he is back in the fold and looking forward to Adelaide. Reus came to prominence in Hamilton, Canada when he won the World Junior Road Race Championship.

Like Roche he will be keen to lay a marker in the sand for the season ahead.

The event has generated quite an amount of attention in the last couple of months. In all probability those in contention will have the added burden of hype, not associated with the race in previous years because of the presence of the ‘Texan.’ So, an upset could be on the cards and the future for the overall winer will be a real bonus.

Stages-Tuesday to Sunday

1/Norwood-Mawson Lakes, 140kms;
2/Hahndorf-Stirling. 145kms;
3/Unley-Victor Harbour, 136kms;
4/Burnside Village-Angaston, 143kms;
5/Snapper Point-Willunga, 148kms;
6/Adelaide City Council Circuit,90kms.

A record crowd of 138,000 people flocked to Adelaide’s Rymill Park tonight to welcome back to the peloton, seven time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, in the Cancer Council Classic, a prelude to the 2009 Tour Down Under.

The introduction of the 37 year old Texan was greeted by a deafening roar of support with fans of all ages clamouring for a glimpse of a true legend of sport.

But the 30 lap criterium, which covered a total distance of 51 kilometres, was never going to be one in which Armstrong was expected to shine. Rather it was a race for sprinters as three time Tour de France sprint champion, Queensland’s Robbie McEwen, proved with his first win for his new team Katusha.

McEwen, who had won on this course in 2004, 2005 and 2006 powered over the line to claim the win ahead of Willem Stroetinga (Milram) and Sydney’s Graeme Brown (Rabobank). His finishing time was 1hr04min32sec gave the event an average speed of 47.417km/h. Lance Armstrong crossed the line in 64th place at 23 seconds but was happy to have a race under his belt.

“It was tough,” said Armstrong. “I think the last time I did a criterium of this style it was in 1990.

“It was a tough criterium and I found it safer and a little easier in the back,” said Armstrong who admits he is not yet at full fitness. “It’s fun to get back in there (but) it will probably take a while and I need to get more power and do some more hills.”

“I was a little nervous in the corners, honestly the weirdest thing was the sun – the sun was going down here (points to a corner) you had the sun really in your eyes,” said Armstrong. “But after that, it was fine.

“I felt good, I’ve trained a lot for this comeback, I’ve trained a lot for this race,” he said. “I’m glad the first day is over and now we can get into the race and maybe relax a little bit more.

“There was a lot of anxiety before today,” admitted Armstrong. “It’s not my style (of racing), but I enjoyed it.
But the tight circuit and fast pace was tailor made for McEwen.

“I love a crowd,” said the 36 year old. “This was my first day out with my (new) team and I worked fairly hard during the summer and I wanted to be in good shape for this race.

” I said before, if I get one win when I’m down here this week, it will be fantastic, so we’ve got it … great start to the year, and I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “The guys (team) did a very good job, considering it’s their first race of the season.

“They haven’t got any race fitness, but they came out and gave it everything,” he explained. “We got together and worked out a bit of a tactic. I also just said to them, ‘Listen fellas, there’s no pressure. We’ll do it, and if it works out, great, but if you haven’t got the legs, it’s the first race of the year, there’s plenty to go.’

“We’ve got win number one so we’re the happiest team, here at the moment,” said McEwen who only arrived in Adelaide on Saturday night and took the opportunity early in the race to say hi to Armstrong with whom he shared the podium in 2002 and 2004 when he won the green jersey and Armstrong the yellow in the Tour de France. “He looked OK, I went and said, ‘G’Day’ to him somewhere in the first 10 laps of the race, and he was glad to be there. I said to him, ‘welcome back’ and he was cruising, just trying to stay out of trouble. He said, I’d give you a handshake, but I don’t want to take my hands off the bars… first race back.

“My last big win was in Paris-Brussels in the middle of September but there’s something special to win in your own country, in the biggest race of the country, in front of all these people, is a really special atmosphere.

“I love coming to this race, and when you’ve got all these people cheering for you, it does give you a little bit extra,” said McEwen who some media pundits have said is getting to the end of his career. “It’s been written, ‘Getting old, this and that’… but I’ve just done my thing, done my training and here I am … first, that’s all that matters.”

Meantime 19 year old Jack Bobridge, riding with the UniSA – Australian National Team gave his hometown crowd something to cheer for early in the race when he sprinted clear to win the Skoda Sprint at the end of lap five and the Hindmarsh Sprint at the end of lap ten. Frenchman Jeremy Roy (Francaise de Jeux) attacked mid way through to claim the Cycle Instead Sprint at the end of lap 15 and his team mate Timothy Gudsell of New Zealand collected the SA Lotteries Sprint at the end of lap 20 before the teams of the favourites upped the speed to set up their fast men for the finish.

The 133 riders will tomorrow have their final training rides before lining up in the first UCI ProTour event of the season, the Tour Down Under, which kicks off in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood on Tuesday morning.

Kuala Lumpur – One of the last coups towards the end of the transfer window prior to the Pro Tour teams’ rosters to be finalised for the 2009 season was the recruitment of Japanese Yukiya Arashiro by the newly named Bbox-Bouygues Telecom French outfit. The 24 years old from Okinawa seduced team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau by his continuous attacks. He also proved to be efficient sometimes as he won stage 2 in the 2.1 Tour du Limousin, a race where he finished 3rd overall in 2006.

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Consistency on French soil has earned him the pro contract he dreamt of when he moved to Normandy in 2004 riding for small club EC Aumale after completing his studies and giving up his aims of becoming a professional handball player.

Arashiro’s attacks were also noticed by the staff of Bouygues Telecom at Le Tour de Langkawi, in which they competed together in the past two years. He proved to be a decent sprinter as he came 7th in stage 4 from Gua Musang to Kota Bahru in 2007. “We have different approaches of the sport of cycling and we are very interested to discover his”, Bernaudeau explained. The cycling coach from Vendée was known for giving their chance to French coloured riders from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (Rony Martias and Yohann Gène) and Saïd Haddou who is the first pro cyclist coming from the third generation of Algerian immigrants in France.

For the first time, an Asian integrates a French team. Bernaudeau had looked at such an opportunity since the first time he sent his amateur team Vendée U to Malaysia for Le Tour de Langkawi back in 1996 for the inaugural edition. Bbox-Bouygues Telecom assistant directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit has a long personal history of contribution to Asian cycling. He has worked as DS for Japanese team Nippo-Hodo and he organised a Japanese team to learn the basics of cycling and study languages at the University of Poitiers from 1998 to 2001. From 2002 to 2004, he coached the national woman team of China.

“In China, cycling could get a huge and rapid boost as long as the government wants to do it, but in Japan the development of the sport is limited by the density of the traffic on the roads”, Mauduit explained. “The federation isn’t very proactive at the difference of some cycling enthusiasts who try their best to give Japanese riders exposure in Europe and other Asian countries.”

Akira Asada is the most notable of them. Arashiro hails from his Meitan-GDR team. “It will be strange to see Yukiya riding Le Tour de Langkawi with another team because he has always been with us previously”, Asada said. “I’m also looking forward to be at the same races as him in France. I hope that our new rivalry will help each other to get better. I wish him the best luck anyway.” Asada’s dream of taking a Japanese rider to a Pro Tour outfit has now become concrete and it shows that doors are open in Europe for riders from other Asian countries as well as long as they build solid foundations and produce results overseas.

“I hope to win races for Bbox-Bouygues Telecom, including a stage at the Tour de France”, Arashiro stated. “I also want to grab the Japanese national title again.” Following the good old habits of the Meitan-GDR team, Arashiro has headed off to Thailand in January to gear up for Le Tour de Langkawi. “The hot weather and the climbs are similar to the conditions I’ll face in Malaysia”, he said. “I went to France in December for the training camp of Bbox-Bouygues Telecom. I’ve had the impression this team is a real family. It’s also very open in terms of tactic. There’s no designated captain. Any team member is likely to try and win, also to get a chance to participate to the Tour de France. At Le Tour de Langkawi, I’ll first do my best to gain the confidence of my team-mates, I’ll also try and win stages and GC.”

“We’ll go to Le Tour de Langkawi with the aim of winning GC”, Mauduit confirmed. “Johann Tschopp will be our natural captain. Considering his weight-power ratio, the climb of Genting Highlands will suit him more that Fraser’s Hill last year.” The Swiss climb was on his way to contest the stage win up to Fraser’s Hill in 2008 but he lost all his hopes due to a flat tyre with 2-km to go. “Our concern is the weather conditions that our European riders have had to face recently”, Mauduit mentioned. “The cold and the snow have affected the training of cyclists like Tschopp.” Shall the Europeans reach Malaysia with a bit of a lack of form compared to their initial plans, Bbox-Bouygues Telecom will be able to count on its super motivated Asian recruit.

Bbox-Bouygues Telecom for Le Tour de Langkawi: Yukiya Arashiro (Jap), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra), Yohann Gène (Fra), Arnaud Labbe (Fra), Guillaume Le Floc’h (Fra), Johann Tschopp (Swi). Directeur sportif: Philippe Mauduit.

The Le Tour de Langkawi 2009 will feature 20 teams from February 9 to 15, starting in Putrajaya, the home of Malaysian government, and finishing in the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur with the traditional criterium at Dataran Merdeka.

The Tour is organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) with the support of the Malaysian Government via the Ministry of Youth and Sports and sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC).