McEwen heads Predictor-Lotto in Tour Down Under; Third Kristallen Fiets for Boonen; Contracts
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM One of the world’s top sprinters, Robbie McEwen, will spearhead the rebadged Predictor-Lotto team attack at the 2007 Tour Down Under. The 34 year-old Queenslander this year won three stages of the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and three stages of the Tour de France as well as the green points jersey. In the eight year history of the Tour Down Under McEwen has won 11 stages, the most of any rider, and is expected to add more to the list in 2007. “This year I won the Down Under Classic and finished third overall in the Tour Down Under despite not being in peak form,” said McEwen. “If I can do that again I’ll be really happy and if I’m going well might do even better.” McEwen says the Predictor-Lotto team for the 2007 Tour Down Under is a strong one that could challenge for overall honours. “I would say our team looks like a ‘GC’ team rather than a sprinter’s team,” said McEwen. “In the finishes I’ll be trying to work with Geert Steurs (new pro) and Fred (Rodriguez) and for the rest of the race we’ll have Matthew Lloyd, who’s a talented climber and Joufre (Josep Joufre Pou) who’s a good climber as well. “Joufre has finished in the top 15 overall in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) but in this year’s Vuelta he crashed out and did a lot of damage cutting the tendons in his arm so the Tour Down Under will be his come back race.” McEwen is one of the most prolific winners in the sport of cycling and acknowledges there is a weight of expectation on him now to deliver every year. “I don’t know if I’ll get better in 2007 but if I can be anywhere near the level I was this year I’ll be very happy,” he said. “Any year you win a grand tour stage is pretty good and the Tour will be one of my major goals again but I also want to have a good go at Milan – San Remo in March without any injury or illness concerns – I had a broken rib this year. “Tour Down Under lets me fine tune everything in good weather and with good racing before I go to Europe and I’ll stay in Australia for an extra two weeks after the race to make sure I have a good base.” Barloworld bringing Hunter The South African registered Barloworld team has also confirmed its line up with South African Robert Hunter, 29, expected to challenge McEwen’s sprint supremacy. Hunter’s career highlights include stage wins in the Vuelta a Espa¤a (Tour of Spain), Tour de Langkawi and Tour of Switzerland, plus overall victory in the 2004 Tour of Qatar. On board with Hunter will be Italian Fabrizio Guidi, 34, whose resume boasts two stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and three stage wins in the Vuelta a Espa¤a. He has also claimed stage victories in Paris-Nice and the tours of Denmark, Austria and Poland. Welsh star, Geraint Thomas, will debut with Barloworld at the Tour Down Under as one of the youngest riders in the race. The courageous 20 year old is forging a career in the sport after fighting back from serious injuries he sustained in an accident in Sydney in May 2004 which forced doctors to remove his spleen. This year he won the European U23 pursuit title and took silver at the track World Championships in Bordeaux as a member of the Great Britain pursuit team. He claimed bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and was the 2004 junior World Champion in the scratch race. Navigators with strong Australian flavour The Navigators Insurance team will return to Adelaide in 2007 with four Australians in the starting eight. Commonwealth Games road time trial silver medallist and Jayco Herald Sun Tour stage winner, Ben Day, joins the team which also boasts sprinter Hilton Clarke. Clarke this year enjoyed great success in America, including victory in the USPro Criterium Championship, while back in Australia he successfully defended his sprinter’s crown in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Ben Brooks and Glen Chadwick are the other two Australians in the line up. Also on the Navigators roster is three time Olympian and former Ukrainian road champion Valeriy Kobzarenko who this year won overall honours in the Tour de Beauce. 2003 U23 World Road Champion and six time Uzbekistan champion, Sergey Lagutin, will also travel to Adelaide. Full team rosters PREDICTOR-LOTTO (BEL) 21. McEWEN Robbie AUS 24.06.197 22. AERTS Mario BEL 31.12.1974 23. RODRIQUEZ Fred USA 03.09.1973 24. JUFRE POU Josep ESP 05.08.1975 25. GATES Nick AUS 01.03.1972 26. STEURS Geert BEL 24.09.1981 27. VANSEVENANT Wim BEL 23.12.1971 28. LLOYD Matthew AUS 24.05.1983 Team Manager: REDANT Hendrik BEL NAVIGATORS INSURANCE (USA) 81. CLARKE Hilton AUS 11.07.1979 82. KOBZARENKO Valeriy UKR 11.12.1978 83. DAY Ben AUS 11.12.1978 84. LAGUTIN Sergey UZB 14.01.1981 85. CHADWICK Glen AUS 17.10.1976 86. RAPINSKI Viktor BLR 17.06.1981 87. BROOKS Ben AUS 21.03.1979 88. LILL Darren RSA 20.08.198 Team Manager: BEAMON Edward USA BARLOWORLD (RSA) 91. HUNTER Robert RSA 22.04.1977 92. GUIDI Fabrizio ITA 13.04.1972 93. CACCIA Diego ITA 31.07.1981 94. CHEULA Gianpaolo ITA 23.05.1979 95. PERRY James RSA 19.11.1979 96. DEGANO Enrico ITA 11.03.1976 97. LONGO BORGHINI Paolo ITA 10.12.1980 98. THOMAS Geraint GBR 25.05.1986 Team Manager: VOLPI Alberto ITA More information: www.tourdownunder.com.au. Third Kristallen Fiets for Boonen Tom Boonen has won Belgium’s Kristallen Fiets trophy for the third year in a row. The Monaco-based sprinter was voted by a team of 75 journalists as the best Belgian cyclist of the 2006 season. He beat cyclo-crosser Sven Nys by a large margin of 74 points, despite the latter’s almost total dominance of his sport. Boonen won his fair share of races too, of course, and had the advantage of being in a high profile sport. In his rainbow jersey, he won the Tour of Flanders among a total of 23 races. He also spent time in the yellow jersey during the Tour de France. “Don’t ask me why, but I had the feeling that Nys would win,” he was quoted on Sporza as saying. “Because of that, this is the nicest of my three wins in this poll. “Still, I expected more of a neck and neck race. Nys is still the best cyclo-crosser in the world. But everything is to do with the length of the season. But OK, my season was also fantastic. I was the most successful road cyclist, very consistent as well. And all that as world champion. This prize is for the team above all. How they rode in front, I’ll never know.” Sven Nys was a little disappointed at missing out again. “I’ll never get a chance like this any more,” he said, while acknowledging that Boonen did have a great season. Contracts Belarusian Alexandre Usov has renewed with AG2R Prevoyance. The 29 year-old sprinter completes Vincent Lavenu’s squad of 27 riders. Unibet.com is reportedly close to signing Venezuelan climber Jos Rujano. Rujano rode for both Selle Italia and Quick.Step this year, but couldn’t live up to the latter’s expectations and parted ways with Lefevere’s squad at the end of October. “But that doesn’t scare us,” said Unibet’s team manager Koen Terryn to Het Nieuwsblad. “We are getting a good deal with Rujano. Rujano is young and has potential, but still he is not the big fish that we had hoped. Actually, we wanted a leader who could finish on the podium of the Tour.” Unibet is currently battling with Barloworld and Astana for a ProTour licence, and believes it has the best chance of the three.