Latest: Hammond solid; pro pension scheme; Tour of South Africa; Sean Yates forum chat

T-Mobile's Roger Hammond finished top 10 in his first road race of the season, the GP d'Ouverture La


T-Mobile’s Roger Hammond finished top 10 in his first road race of the season, the GP d’Ouverture La

PIC BY T-MOBILE Hammond solid in La Marseillaise It was a good day for the Brits in Tuesday’s GP d’Ouverture La Marseillaise, with Jeremy Hunt ( winning the race in a two man sprint. Hunt’s compatriot Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) also made the critical breakaway of 16 riders, which escaped after only 11 km. But Hammond found it hard going on the final climb and couldn’t follow the pace of the leaders. He finished ninth at 21 seconds behind Hunt. “Roger is in good form and proved his credentials as a leading figure in the team,” said T-Mobile’s sports director Allan Peiper. “Of course he’s annoyed about today’s bad luck, but he’ll put that behind him over the next days at the Etoile des Bessges where he’ll show his young compatriot Mark Cavendish the way to the front of the peloton.” The race was coloured by a dispute over whether Unibet would be allowed to start, because it is an online betting company. French law doesn’t allow other firms to threaten the stranglehold of state-owned Franaise des Jeux and PMU on the country’s gambling industry. But a lawyer for Unibet pointed out that the team felt disadvantaged, because other teams like Lotto were not affected by the same restrictions. Pension scheme for pros The UCI has introduced a form of pension scheme for professional cyclists. Cycling’s governing body announced that a sum of CHF20,000 (€12,500) will be paid to riders from ProTour or professional continental teams at the end of their careers. The benefit is designed to assist them in training for a new career. To qualify for the scheme, the rider must be at least 30 and have competed at least 30 days per year for a minimum period of five years. The scheme was set up by the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), and has been funded through five percent deductions from racing prize money since 2002. Tour of South Africa launched A new elite stage race, the Tour of South Africa, will be held for the first time later this year. The seven day event will start on November 25th and run through December 2nd, with 20 six-rider teams taking part. The race will be part of the African continental tour, and it’s expected that teams from the UK, Germany, Japan, USA and South Africa will take part. The route has yet to be finalised, but organisers have proposed stages in the Cape Province, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal. “The Tour of South Africa will become a landmark event in the professional cycling calendar,” said Hugh Roberts, CEO of promoter Sweetspot, in a statement. “Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it will be Africa’s premier cycle race encouraging the best teams and riders to take part on the African continent. With its sports orientated culture we believe it is an obvious location for an elite cycling race. “The race will provide South Africa with an opportunity to showcase many areas of the country to the rest of the world. It will also benefit local economies directly. In addition, it will be used to promote cycling and health related activities to the people of South Africa.” More information: Sean Yates forum chat today Today, being Wednesday, February 7th, the Procycling forum will be featuring a ‘live’ chat/Q&A with Discovery Channel directeur sportif Sean Yates. It will take place at 16:00 GMT (11:00 EST/USA East, 08:00 PST/USA West). Forum members will be able to pose questions to Sean, so if you’re a guest lurker and want to participate, then please register. You can get in your questions early on this thread, or wait until this afternoon. We anticipate that this will be the first of regular ‘pro’ forum chats. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.