Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

On a weekend away cycling in Rostrevor, six friends, Eric Mason, David Perkins, Jim Doogue, Joe Walsh, Tommy and Leo McManmon decided to form a cycling club and called it the Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club. The year was 1933 at a time when the bicycle was very popular.


Not many people had access to cars and the bicycle was an easy form of escape to the countryside. There were many cycling clubs in Dublin at this time, but it was not long before over a hundred members would meet every Sunday morning outside the Irish Press Offices on Burgh Quay. Continue Reading »

Kuala Lumpur: His fourth straight presence in Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2008 already makes promising Malaysian Ng Yong Li stand out in the crowd of world class riders, as he has never competed in the race with the same team twice.

Having made his debut in Asia’s biggest cycling event with the Proton T-Bikes team in 2005, the rider from Batu Pahat made a return with composite team Equipe Asia in 2006.

In the 12th edition of the race last year, Yong Li was riding historically as Malaysia’s first ever professional cyclist with Portuguese team Vitoria-ASC.

This time around, he has signed for the Japanese Meitan-Hompo GDR, and believes he has a team that shares the same dream and ironically the same target – of earning a ride in the Tour de France by 2010.

The team features two of only three Asian stage winners in LTdL’s history in brothers Shinichi and Koji Fukushima. But as the sole climber in all of the 12 riders in the team’s roster for the 2007-2008 season, Yong Li has a bigger responsibility.

Picture: Koji Fukushima

Known for his climbing ability, Yong Li almost secured a top 10 finish in the Cameron Highlands stage last year, having been positioned sixth in the penultimate climb leading to the finish.

A crash in the final three kilometres not only ruined his chances in that stage, in put him out of contention for the Asian riders’ jersey.

Meitan-Hompo GDR is currently based at their regular pre-season training camp in Chiang Rai, Thailand and will be flying to Malaysia only shortly before the start of LTdL 2008 in Alor Star, Kedah on February 9.

The month spent there has given Yong Li the chance to get to know his new team, although he has raced against them on a number of occasions before.

“I’ve been told by the team manager Akira Asada that I’ve got a bigger responsibility with this team, not just in LTdL, but more importantly in the European calendar, where we’ll spend most of our time this year,” said 22-year old Yong Li.

“As I’m the only climber in the whole team, my plans will be for the mountain top finishes. What is more important is the team and I share the same aspirations. My target since I went to Europe in 2005, was to make it to the Tour de France by 2010. This team wants to be the first Asian team to do so in 2010, so we’ve gelled right from the beginning,” added Yong Li, who started his career in the European peloton with Spanish team Wurth-Liberty Seguros in 2005.

“The first plan is to move up from continental to profesional continental team and the management are working hard on that. Once we’ve done that, we will earn some wildcard entries into Pro Tour races, then establish ourselves from there. So, since LTdL will be the first race of the year for me, I’ll probably be heading there with 80 percent form and build up for the rest of the year from there.”

This team, apart from Giant Asia, are the Asian teams never to be discounted in LTdL as they have proven twice that they are capable of winning stages – Koji did it in the Grik to Tanah Merah stage in 2005 and Shinichi in Stage Seven of the LTdL from Kuantan to Karak last year.

Koji is undoubtedly among the most popular riders each time he makes his way to LTdL. Playing the harmonica for fans and dishing out a few words of Bahasa Malaysia along the way are just part of his repertoire, marked mainly by his neverending eagerness to breakaway during the race.

They also come this year with a proven time-trialist in Thailand’s Sea Games individual time trial gold medal winner Prajak Mahawong, while Japan’s Takashi Miyazawa will again be the fast man the team counts on in bunch sprint finishes.

Taiwan’s Wang Kyi is expected to make his debut in LTdL with the team and at just 19-years old, is expected to be the youngest rider in the field this year. Shinichi at 36-years old, is likely to be one of the oldest.

Equipe Asada (provisional line-up): Shinichi Fukushima (Jap), Koji Fukushima (Jap), Ng Yong Li (Mas), Prajak Mahawong (Tha), Takashi Miyazawa (Jap), Wang Kyi (Tai).

Meanwhile, a total of 25 teams will grace the 13th edition of the prestigious LTdL. With the increased participation and the return of the Pro Tour teams, combined with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, who are the main organizers for the event next year, the LTdL 2008 is set to be the best ever since its inception in 1996.

The Tour is also sanctioned by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Asian Cycling Confederation.

One of the major differences in the forthcoming Tour is the idea of taking it closer to the people. To achieve this, more events will be organised on the ground which means more carnival-like activities at all start and finish venues. One of the side events to be included will be cycling clinics.

One of the priorities for the Tour next year is to promote cycling at the grass root level. This will be done via the Rukun Tetangga and Kampung Baru programmes. One of the other key messages will be to encourage more Malaysians to take up cycling as a means to a healthier lifestyle.

One of Britain’s leading cyclists was killed today while out training near his home in Fort William. Jason MacIntyre, a three-time British champion and Scottish record holder, was training on the A82 road when he was hit by a vehicle, said to be a council vehicle which overtook him and then turned into his path. The 34-year old was airlifted from the scene but died on his way to hospital in Glasgow.

Jason represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, enjoyed arguably his best season in 2007. He beat the national ten-mile record, held by Graeme Obree, with a stunning time of 18 minutes, 47 seconds. He also won the British 25-mile title for the second time and was leading Tour de France star David Millar in the Olympic time trial title race until a puncture ended his challenge.

He was known to be highly motivated for the 2008 season, and had spoken not only of another tilt at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, but also of possible selection for the Beijing Olympics this summer. Last week he was one of the riders selected by the Braveheart Cycling Fund to receive significant financial backing for the coming season.

The long running saga of Floyd Landis who represented the Swiss company Phonak and was stripped of his title as overall winner of the 2006 Tour de France last year (2006) is entering in horse racing parlance as the final furlong if everything we hear and read is too believed!

Reuters News Agency have reported in recent days that the Floyd Landis appeal against a doping ban will be heard in the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] on March 19.

Maurice Suh who represents the American, told Reuters that they are “optimistic” about the appeal.

Floyd’s appeal represents his last chance to end a two year ban for doping that cost him his 2006 Tour de France title. Spaniard Oscar Pereiro was awarded the win when Landis was stripped of victory.

The appeal to CAS is the last piece in the jigsaw if he is to overturn the various verdicts that have been laid against him. Certainly the final episode in a courtroom saga that has electrified the cycling community into the reports that Floyd used synthetic testosterone during the 2006 race.

Who knows there could be more drama yet to unfold as we head for the month of March.


The 2008 UCI ProTour breaks new ground with the Tour Down Under in Australia getting the nod for a January 22 kick off. Unfortunately the ballyhoo about the TDU getting the status at the Congress in Stuttgart in Germany in Septenmber has failed to ignite the top professionals going to Aussie land. They have stayed put in Europe despite the inclement weather.

(Picture from Graham Watson‘s website)

According to the race’s official start list the stars of the peloton will not be in the race and the majority of the 18 ProTour teams on the start line will be supplemented by cyclists who rarely make it into the top events on this side of the globe.

Australian competitors who race regularly in Europe will not abdicate their responsibility to participate in the TDU. Cadel Evans has declared that he will not be starting despite the fact that he was the overall winner of the ProTour last season. Citing that he has the Tour de France as his major objective for the coming season.

Local hero and Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady, rival Robbie McEwen, who leads the Silence-Lotto team and Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert of Francaise des Jeux will be the mainstays of the TDU.

As President of the UCI Pat McQuaid was instrumental in arranging to have Australia included in the Protour. He envisaged that the TDU would add to the UCI’s global plan to make the PRO better known throughout the cycling world. Notwithstanding this minor set back, in years to come Australia and other parts of the globe will be organising ProTour events in countries where cycling at the moment is on the back burner.

(Picture from Graham Watson‘s website)

The TDU is a well-organised race but the 2008 start list clearly falls well short of the status that it occupies in the pecking order in relation to European events.

Quiet rightly the UCI are aware that a child creeps before it walks! There are rest my case.