The cyclo-cross world championships take place this weekend in Hooglede-Gits. Can anyone upset the B
PIC BY LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI Cyclo-cross World’s this weekend The Belgian town of Hooglede-Gits is playing host to the cyclo-cross world championships this weekend. As usual, there will be four titles decided: the junior and U23 men on Saturday, and the elite women and men on Sunday. The course is 3000m long, and consists of 35m of sand, 540m of concrete/asphalt, 450m of woods, 1765m of grass, and 210m of bricks. With the weather conditions predicted to be damp but not freezing, the racing should be moderately fast on the technical circuit. As usual, Belgium looks to have a mortgage on the men’s race. Their top man is Sven Nys, who despite his dominance of ‘cross in recent years, has ‘only’ won one world championship. Outgoing world champion Erwin Vervecken, Bart Wellens, and perhaps Sven Vanthourenhout are all in with a great chance at the rainbow jersey. On the Dutch front, Richard Groenendaal and Gerben de Knegt could upset the Belgian applecart, while Czech Petr Dlask is the main hope for his country. France (John Gadret) and Italy (Enrico Franzoi) can also get among the top placings. The women’s race looks to be a battle between Marianne Vos, Daphny Van Den Brand (both Netherlands), Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) and Laurence Leboucher (France). In the U23 men’s race, Lars Boom (Netherlands) and Niels Albert (Belgium) are the two great favourites. Unibet.com officially presented The Unibet.com team was presented to the media in Gent, Belgium on Friday. The Swedish registered team was given a four year ProTour licence at the end of last year, and says it “wants to be a role model in the battle against doping.” “Everyone in the team has subscribed to a medical and ethical statute, and all the riders have approved that their DNA can be tested when necessary,” explained team manager Jacques Hanegraaf. “This proactive policy is the best way to fight the current problems of international cycling.” On the sporting front, Unibet is looking forward to the season. “We want to become better and better every year, by building up a whole structure and strengthening the squad,” said Petter Nylander, Unibet.com’s CEO. “A podium place in one of the three big tours is one of the main ambitions of our long-term project.” The team has strengthened its lineup with the addition of Colombian time trialist Victor Hugo Pe¤a and Venezuelan talent Jos Rujano. These two will lead in the grand tours, while in the classics, “Baden Cooke and Matteo Carrara will be our team leaders … so we believe we have a complete team that will surprise the cycling world,” said Hanegraaf. From 2007 onwards, Unibet.com is also functioning as the main sponsor of the Swedish Cycling Federation. The team’s general manager, Koen Terryn, said, “Unibet.com wants to contribute to the globalisation of international cycling as proposed by the UCI, the International Cycling Union. Supporting Scandinavian and Swedish cycling in particular will be our part of that job.” Team roster: Matteo Carrara, Baden Cooke, Jimmy Casper, Arnaud Coyot, Markus Eichler, Erwin Thys, Laurens ten Dam, Niels Scheuneman, Matthe Pronk, Pieter Jacobs, Stijn Vandenbergh, Gorik Gardeyn, Victor Hugo Pena, Jos Rujano, Rigoberto Uran, Marco Zanotti, Gustav Larsson, Jonas Ljungblad, Troels Vinther, Michal Golas, Matthew Wilson, Jeremy Hunt, Gil Suray, Luis Pasamontes, Sergey Kolesnikov and Andrei Khatuntsev. Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team confirms lineup The American continental Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team has announced its lineup for 2007. The team which dominated the US domestic circuit in 2006, will keep 10 of its riders from last year, as well as adding seven new members. Henk Vogels (ex-Davitamon-Lotto) and Marc Scanlon (ex-Ag2r) and Burke Swindlehurst (Navigators) are the main new names, while past USPRO road champion Chris Wherry, past US time trial champion Chris Baldwin and Cuban fast man Ivan Dominguez will aim to continue the team’s success from last year. “We’re in an extraordinary position,” said team owner Sean Tucker. “I’m excited about the season ahead. Based on our team’s performance last year we received interest from cyclists around the world. We were able to select four new members who best complemented our team and who bring a wealth of experience to the domestic scene. In addition, by aligning with Fuji Bicycles and Bontrager, we’ve improved our road bike. Plus, we’ve increased our offerings to the over 13,000 fan members. We’re ready for 2007.” Also coming on board is team director Kirk Willett who joins Harm Jansen to jointly manage the squad. Willett, a former pro and experienced team director, will handle team logistics, day-to-day operations, race strategy, and overall management of team personnel. “We’ve got a tight roster, and in Kirk an experienced and tactical genius,” said Harm Jansen. “I think we’re well positioned to take on the competition, our team is already riding well. Baldwin had an electric end of season showdown in the national time trials, and recently, Heath Blackgrove took second at the National New Zealand Road Championships. We’ve added some serious firepower and Pro Tour level experience with Mark Scanlon, Henk Vogels and climbing specialist Burke Swindlehurst, plus our wild card Caleb Manion. I think we’ll definitely have an impact on the domestic racing circuit this year.” The team will start its racing schedule with the Tour of California, and will focus its season on the US Pro Cycling Tour and the National Racing Calendar. Team roster: Chris Wherry (USA), Henk Vogels (Aus), Chris Baldwin (USA), Ivan Dominguez (Cub), Mark Scanlon (Irl), Burke Swindlehurst (USA), Bobby Lea (USA), Ivan Stevic (Scg), Justin England (USA), Heath Blackgrove (NZl), Jose Manuel Garcia (Mex), Caleb Manion (Aus), Sean Sullivan (Aus), Stefano Barberi (Bra), Walker Ferguson (USA), Ryan Miller (USA), Nate Mitchell (USA) Kam Po Wong with home team in Langkawi It’s been four years since Kam Po Wong last rode Le Tour de Langkawi, but that doesn’t mean Hong Kong’s top rider has slowed down. Wong comes to the 12th edition of the race as reigning Asian Games road race champion, and after winning a bunch sprint in the recent Jelajah Malaysia, he has shown that he is still versatile. He is also the first and only Asian stage winner in LTdL, after winning on the Cameron Highlands in 2000. This time, Wong will race for the Hong Kong Pro Cycling Team. “Normally, I want to do this race every year, because it is the best in Asia and it is the only one really from Asia that people in Europe focus on,” said Wong. “Usually, European top pro cyclists don’t come and race in Asia, so for Asian riders, it’s very good to do Le Tour de Langkawi. “My team from Hong Kong wasn’t good enough to take part in the race and in recent years, I couldn’t come with a mixed team. But this year, the Hong Kong Pro Cycling team is very happy to be invited. All of my teammates are very young, under 22, but they are improving a lot.” Kam Po spoke about his recent win in the Asian Games road race in Doha: “That win made me very happy. I was very surprised. I only thought I could maybe reach the top three if I could perform well, but I didn’t think about the gold medal before the race. But I had a great day.” In recent years, however, he has focused on the track. “The cycling community knew me mostly for what I’ve done in Le Tour de Langkawi,” he said. “But then I’ve changed my role in cycling and I’ve spent more time and energy on the track. People said I was no good for the road any more. My crucial year was 2000, when I was a climber in LTdL. I won the last sprint of the points race at the Olympics in Sydney in September then finished the professional world championship road race in Plouay, France. “I went racing as an amateur in France last year for three months before the Asian Games. It was difficult because I had to do everything by myself with no support but I enjoyed it. I got four wins. I took some rest after Doha and I built my form step by step in order to be at my best for LTDL, but I can’t ride for GC any more because I can’t go up the mountains very well any more. Probably after all the work I’ve done on the track I turned into kind of a sprinter, but my team will try their best to get a top five in the overall team competition.” The Hong Kong Pro Cycling team for LTDL: Kam Po Wong, King Wai Cheung, Kai Tsun Lam, Wang Yip Tang, Chun Hing Chan, Kin San Wu. More information: www.ltdl.com.my Forum news The Procycling forum continues to grow, with new members joining each day to exchange views on everything relating to professional cycling. Well, nearly everything. We’ll have some interesting guests coming onto the forum in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here’s a snapshot of what’s currently being talked about: In Pro Talk, Jan Ullrich’s future team is being debated, as is your favourite classic. In Training, you can submit your favourite stationary training journeys of pain, which some call workouts. In the popular Coffee Stop section, rrc wants advice on a good deal for a bike. On that theme, in Tech talk, you can let others know what your ride is. Organising a ride? Post it in this forum. Finally, in Pharmacy, there is a discussion on the benefits of salbutamol and the Pereiro decision. Go on, have your say. Do it. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.