Saturday, 31 December 2011

Loh's yellow streak cut short, time for a change


Loh has just ended his last race of the year. Like a metaphor for a year of ups and downs; he pulled on the race leader’s yellow jersey after the 4th stage of the ADC – THVL Tour; only to pull out of the race the very next day due to a bad case of travelers’ diarrhea. Here, he ponders the future, and discusses the struggles that many pro cyclists are facing in search of a contract for next season:
Loh in yellow (centre).
At year’s end, one cannot help but reflect on the past and wonder about the future. Without a confirmed contract for next season, I am undoubtedly feeling down. With my recent setbacks; I had lost opportunities at results that may have boosted my chances of finding a new team. This has affected my motivation in a way that I have never felt in previous off-seasons.
Growing up with ‘The Blues’ – the Marco Polo Cycling Team has been my home for all the 7 years that I have spent in Europe. Unfortunately, due to a change in the team’s direction and objectives, time has come to part ways. The good times will be remembered; the bad ones have been put aside, and we have moved on.
Last spring with 'The Blues'.
In searching for a new team, several concerns have surfaced. While riders with good seasons have already been snapped-up by teams; the rest have resorted to bombing the inboxes of every team director’s e-mail full of applications. With so many riders and so few places on team rosters, it boils down to ‘who you know’. Contacts are very important in getting into talks with teams.
Another obstacle has to do with a lack of financial backing. And I am referring not only to the team sponsors, but also the riders’ personal backers that follow them from team to team. So in spite of the romantic view that some cycling ‘purists’ take on how money and cycling do not belong together, at this level of sport, it does.
Unless a rider has many winning results, some form of financial backing is necessary in getting a contract signed. It is something not many people realize, especially those outside of Europe where true cycling culture resides. But if you scratch the surface and dig deep, you will find riders who pay for places in teams, even if their participations in races are not guaranteed.
There are also the riders who are on their own; like me. I came into this sport without the backing of a sports academy or cycling organization, and I have raced abroad for many years while being self-funded. While I have enjoyed living in new environments; meeting new people; and learning different cultures, it has been a hard road.
Loh with Leon Van Bon; team mates at MPC.
The net result from my experiences has been that I have developed into the rider I am now. I have become an experienced domestique, having ridden strongly in support of team mates such as Leon Van Bon (Lotto-Domo, Rabobank); Matthe Pronk (Vacansoleil) and Sergey Kudentsov (Marco Polo Cycling) in final bunch sprints; as well as in support of General Classification climbers such as Jai Crawford (Fly-V Australia); FuYu Li (ex-Discovery Channel; yellow jersey in Tour Thailand in 2006), and Rhys Pollock (DFL-Cyclingnews; Drapac Procycling).
While I am not a rider with a sparkling palmares, I had hoped the recognition as a workhorse would come in handy when looking for a contract. But it seems it is much harder compared to sprinters or climbers who are able to bag consistent results. It is ironic, because cycling is a sport that relies heavily on team work.
"Just another day at the office".
It is indeed a shame that team helpers are not getting the type of contracts that they deserve. By this I mean the lesser contracts, and the unwillingness of teams to invest in riders yet expect for them to do what a top professional does. In a way, it looks like there are teams who are relying on developing cyclists to invest in them rather than the other way around. Call it unfair, but it’s just business.
While helping others gives me great satisfaction, it has also proven to be great learning grounds for my own development. When the opportunities presented themselves, my all-rounder abilities have become well-suited to winning from long breakaways. Highlights include my stage win at the UCI 2.2 Tour of Thailand, and near-miss second places in the Tour de Langkawi, and most recently at the Tour of Indonesia.
Lohwin
Loh's stage win in the Tour of Thailand.
For the last 7 years, I have managed to stay focused on my goals, no matter what the obstacles. This time, the setbacks left me with more questions than answers coming into this period of the year. I have been forced to question if my sacrifices have been worth it in reality. Whether seeking my own opportunities will boost chances for future contracts. It is still hard to say exactly what they will be at this point, but rest assured, I will be looking to start the next season with new motivations.
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!


You can follow Loh's trail at http://lohseakeong.posterous.com/

Core training





Oooohhh, crazy ride

Friday, 30 December 2011

Garmin and Saxo for Tour Down Under


Saxo Bank and Garmin Cervelo teams confirmed

The Santos Tour Down Under today confirmed the rider rosters for Team Saxo Bank and Garmin-Cervelo at the 2012 event next month.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said it was always great to welcome a local South Australian rider back to Adelaide to race in front of their home crowd and said he was looking forward to seeing Saxo Bank's Luke Roberts take to the start line.
"Being a South Australian, it is always something special to watch Roberts in the peloton competing for victory in his hometown," Turtur said.
Both Roberts and Jonathan Cantwell join the Saxo Bank team at the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under after riding for the UniSA-Australia national team at the 2011 race.
"It will be great to see Cantwell make his debut with Saxo Bank at our race. With 37 victories in his career, most in Australia and the US, it will be interesting to see the impression he can make on the WorldTour stage in 2012," Turtur said.
Portugal's Sergio Paulinho will bring Grand Tour experience to the team. Paulinho is a two time Tour de France stage winner, Vuelta a Espana stage winner, a silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games and two time Portugese National Champion (2004 and 2008).
New Team Saxo Bank recruit, Takashi Miyazawa, will be the first Japanese rider in the history of the Santos Tour Down Under.
Team Saxo Bank for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager, Bradley McGee (AUS) and include riders:
  • Sergio Paulinho (POR)
  • Anders Lund (DEN)
  • Luke Roberts (AUS)
  • Jaroslaw Marycz (POL)
  • Jonas Jorgensen (DEN)
  • Jonathan Cantwell (AUS)
  • Takashi Miyazawa (JPN)

The previously announced Garmin-Cervelo team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager, Allan Peiper and include riders:

  • Ryder Hesjedal (CAN)
  • Jack Bauer (NZL)
  • Robbie Hunter (RSA)
  • Nathan Haas (AUS)
  • Heinrich Haussler (AUS)
  • Andreas Klier (GER)
  • Martijn Maaskant (NED)
The 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 15-22 January 2012. For more information, race routes and results visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au

Premium Rush, trailer - with Danny McA

French lessons for Terengganu


FRENCH coach Sebastien Duclos has been signed by the Terengganu  Cycling Team as part of a revamped squad that sees former national rider Jasmin  Ruslan playing a bigger part among the coaching staff.
  The UCI Continental team, set to be without the services of top  sprinter Anuar Manan, who has joined Chinese UCI Pro Continental team Champion  System, look bent on improving the level of their local riders with this  signing.
  The Frenchman had previously served as a coach at the International  Cycling Union’s (UCI) World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland and had  been in charge of the Banque Populaire team prior to that.
  In the past two years, Duclos has been in charge of the Thai national  team.
  Though sources close to the coach and several officials within the  team have confirmed that Duclos will begin his duties soon, an official  statement on the signing could not be obtained.
  Efforts to contact chief executive officer Mohd Sophian Abu Bakar  proved futile, while team manager Ahmad Kamarul Idrus said he was aware of the  signing but could not provide a statement as he will be ending his term with the  team on Saturday.
  “I heard of it, but I cannot give any confirmation because I’m no  longer in charge and will be ending my term with the team soon,” said Ahmad  Kamarul.
  The team have already snapped up Zamri Salleh from the Navy squad to  help beef up the lead-out train for younger brother Harrif, who will take the  leading role upon the departure of Anuar.
  Japanese veteran Shinichi Fukushima, who turns 40 next year, is also  said to be set to continue for another year with the team.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Training Grounds

Adiq faces first dilema


Tour of Qatar or the Asian Cycling Championships 

ADIQ Husainie Othman moves to Beijing on Jan 7, with a  dilemma tearing  his mind between becoming the first Malaysian to compete in the Tour of Qatar or  adding to local hopes in the Asian Cycling Championships.
The two meets clash with the Tour of Qatar on Feb 5-10 and the Asian  Championships in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 8-18, where Adiq Husainie would be expected  to compete in both road and track events.
Adiq Husainie will join his new team Champion System on Jan 7 for a short  training camp and team presentation.
He will be alongside compatriot Anuar Manan in the UCI Professional  Continental squad, now effectively the top ranked cycling team in the  continent.
Adiq Husainie's stint with his new team, who he joins from Australia's  Drapac Pro Cycling, will be interrupted by a short switch to the Laoshan  Velodrome in Beijing on Jan 13-15 where he will compete in Round Three of the  UCI World Cup with the national elite track team.
But Adiq Husainie's focus next year will also be on the road as he is touted  as among the best prospects to fill one of the two slots for the country in the  road events at the London Olympics.
"I've only been asked to commit to one day on the track in Beijing for the  points race and I'll rejoin the Champion System training camp right after that,"  said Adiq Husainie.
On his preference between racing in the high profile Tour of Qatar and the  Asian Championships, Adiq Husainie said he will only be making a decision upon  consulting his team management.
"The team's planned first race is the Tour of Qatar, but it clashes with the  Asian Championships, so I'll have to discuss this with our team manager Ed  Beamon before making a decision," said Adiq Husainie.
Having won a silver medal in the points race at the Sea Games in Indonesia  last month, Adiq Husainie will also want to overcome that disappointment with a  performance at Asian level.
But a chance to race amongst a star-studded field in Qatar is also an  opportunity that doesn't come knocking every day.
"Maybe I'll choose Qatar, but we'll have to see. I have to discuss what can  be done, with the team manager first," said Adiq Husainie.

UNI-SA for Tour Down Under


UniSA-Australia team ready to race in 2012

The UniSA-Australia team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under features some of the young guns of Australian road cycling.
South Australian Rohan Dennis returns to the team along with Steele Van Hoff, Jay McCarthy, Lachlan Norris and Tom Palmer, all young riders wanting to make an impression.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said it was great to see young local talent in this year's race.
"There is no better feeling for a cyclist then racing at the highest level in his own country. We look forward to seeing them perform after being awarded such a fantastic opportunity," Turtur said.
Graham Fredericks, CEO, Cycling Australia says this is an outstanding opportunity for talented Australian riders.
"The WorldTour is the pinnacle for professional cyclists and we're pleased to have a national team flying the flag for Australia," Fredericks said.
"Australia continues to punch well above its weight on the world stage and this is a chance for some of our talented younger riders to continue the tradition."
University of South Australia Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said that as one of the Santos Tour Down Under's longest serving sponsors, the University saw great synergy between the event and its own values.
"The Santos Tour Down Under is one of Australia's most accessible sporting events. It showcases both the excellence and teamwork in the performance of the elite athletes, and also promotes broad community participation," Professor Høj said.
"As a university we are committed to excellence in education and research but we also endeavour to make education accessible to people from many different backgrounds – because we believe it changes lives.
"This year 2012 marks our 21st birthday as a university and 12 years association with the Tour – we think that offers a great opportunity to celebrate this marvellous international event and its place in building Australian sporting talent and the health and fitness of the wider community.
"We wish all the riders in Team UniSA-Australia a successful Tour and hope to see lots of support for them at each stage," he said.
The final two riders for the UniSA – Australia team will be selected after the 2012 Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships (5 – 10 January 2012 in Ballarat, Victoria).
The UniSA – Australia team for the 2010 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager, David Sanders (AUS) and includes riders:
  • Steele Van Hoff (VIC)
  • Jay McCarthy (QLD)
  • Rohan Dennis (SA)
  • Lachlan Norris (WA)
  • Tom Palmer (NSW)
The 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 15-22 January 2012. For more information, race routes and results visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Australian Champs looming


Champions abound at Buninyong

Seven former Australian champions, including reigning titleholder Jack Bobridge, are among a classic field of 141 riders set to contest the elite men’s road race at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships on Sunday, 8 January.
Bobridge will be joined by former winners Robbie McEwen (2002), Stuart O’Grady (2003), Matt Wilson (2004), Darren Lapthorne (2005), Matt Lloyd (2008) and Travis Meyer (10) in the 163km race that promises to be one of the most fiercely-contested nationals since Ballarat first hosted the event in 2002.
Championships Director John Craven today described the quality of the field as the best since Cycling Australia instituted the championships in its current form in 1999.
“The depth is amazing,” Craven said. “Any one of 50 riders could win the men’s road race without surprising.”
The elite men's road race is the final event of the six-day championships being staged in and around Ballarat from 5 to 10 January with a mammoth 641 entries in the nine titles to be decided with 376 riders vying for a green and gold national champion's jersey. (165 elite men, 86 elite and U23 women and 125 U23 men).
Defending champion Alexis Rhodes will return to defend her crown in the elite women’s road race that has attracted a top-class field of 79 riders. Her competition includes 2011 Oceania road race and time trial champion Shara Gillow who will also line up to defend her national time trial title. Chloe Hosking, who placed sixth in the road race at this year's world championships, Amanda Spratt and 2011 National Road Series Champion, Grace Sulzberger will also be strong contenders for gold.
West Australian Cameron Meyer has his sights set on a third straight elite men’s time trial title at Learmonth on Tuesday, 10 January, but will be up against some outstanding opposition.
His rivals will include last year’s runner-up Bobridge, three-time world champion Michael Rogers, Tasmanian Richie Porte who placed sixth and fourth respectively at the past two world championships, 2011 U23 world champion Luke Durbridge and 2008 Australian champion Adam Hansen.






Thursday, 5 January (Sturt Street, Ballarat CBD)
  • 5.00pm - Under 23 men's criterium - 33 kms (30 laps)
  • 6.15pm - Elite & under 23 women's criterium - 33 kms (30 laps)
  • 7.30pm - Elite men's criterium - 44kms (40 laps)
Friday, 6 January - Rest Day
Saturday, 7 January (Buninyong)
  • 9.30am - Under 23 men's road race– 122.4 kms
  • 1.30pm - Elite & Under 23 women's road race – 102 kms
Sunday, 8 January (Buninyong)
  • Midday - Elite men's road race– 163.2 kms
Monday, 9 January - Rest Day
Tuesday, 10 January (Learmonth)
  • 10.00am - Men's under 23 time trial– 28 kms
  • Midday - Elite & Under 23 women's time trial – 28 kms
  • 2.00pm - Elite men's time trial - 39 kms

Beijing bike week

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Champion System for Tour de Langkawi


Asia finally has a Pro Continental team with China-registered and Hong Kong-based Champion System Pro Cycling Team. They are considered for a wild card at the Giro d’Italia but for now they’re guaranteed to ride Le Tour de Langkawi with their new status from February 24 to March 4. The recruitment of Malaysian up and coming stars Anuar Manan, previously with Terengganu Pro Asia, and Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman, transferred from Australian outfit Drapac, will make Champion System a very popular team on the road.
“We always love to see Anuar in contention for winning sprints and Adiq is possibly Malaysia’s next big thing in cycling”, commented Le Tour de Langkawi chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal. “Our event will be the first step for them to conquer the world this year.”
“After so many years riding for continental Asian teams, it’s the right time for me to step up and join the Pro Continental level”, said Anuar who rode for Letua, Azad University, Geumsan Ginseng and Terengganu Pro Asia successively. “I’ve opted for Champion System because it’s going to be a very good team and they’ll give me opportunities to race in Europe and in the US as well. I’m attracted by Europe even more than the US because this is only one step for me. I hope it’ll lead me to a Pro Team after one year or two.”
“I’m very proud to be already able to ride at Pro Continental level at the age of only 21”, added Adiq. “I’m happy with that. It’s a great experience. This will be my third time riding LTdL. In my first participation in 2010, I managed to score KOM points and help my team-mate [Peter McDonald] fight for podium and KOM jersey. In 2011, I made some top 10 at stages. I hope I can do better in 2012. With the new team, my motivation is increased.” 
Before riding LTdL with stage finishes in their respective home towns of Cukai and Kuala Terengganu, Adiq and Anuar will get to know their new team-mates at a gathering in Hong Kong, the team presentation in Beijing and a training camp in Hainan in January. “I’m more of a road rider now but I’ll ride the points race at the track world cup in Beijing to give a contribution to my country and qualify for the world championship in Melbourne in April”, Adiq said. Both riders from Champion System are also in contention for representing Malaysia at the London Olympics.
“For the coming Le Tour de Langkawi, I don’t want to win only one stage”, said Anuar who became the first Malaysian to do so in Port-Dickson in 2010. “I want to win more than one and get the blue jersey back. I believe that I’ll have the right team around me to achieve that, with riders like Aaron Kemps and Jaan Kirsipuu who have a great experience in leading out sprinters.”
“We will come to LTdL with a lot of ambition”, confirmed directeur sportif Ed Beamon. “It looks to be a very good field, and of course there will be some pressure on us as an Asian team, but I think we’ll be up for the task. Chris Butler will be anxious to test his legs on Genting for sure and we’ll try very hard to get Anuar a stage win (or two). I think we are bringing a pretty fast team with Kirsipuu, Kemps and Manan, but I’d love to see Adiq have a shot from a small group one day. Craig Lewis’ experience will be a big help and I’m hoping he and Adiq will find some quick chemistry and that will really be a good motivator.”

The 10 day race begins on February 24 with Individual time trial along a 20.3 km course in Putrajaya to kick off the race; followed by stage 2 Putrajaya - Melaka (151.0km); Stage 3 Ayer Keroh - Parit Sulong (187.6km); Batu Pahat - Muar (169.4km); Ayer Keroh - Pandan Indah (187.2km); Proton Shah Alam - Genting Highlands (108km); Bentong - Kuantan (215.8km); Pekan - Chukai (100.8km); Kemasik - Kuala Terengganu (169.4km) dan Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terengganu (116.6km).


THE CHAMPION SYSTEM TEAM FOR THE 2012 LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI:
CHRIS BUTLER (USA), AARON KEMPS (AUS), JAAN KIRSIPUU (EST), CRAIG LEWIS (USA), ANUAR MANAN (MAL) and MOHD ADIQ HUSAINIE OTHMAN (MAL)

Howard Stern talks cycling

Saturday, 24 December 2011

UHC on speed for Langkawi


UNITEDHEALTHCARE COUNTS ON FORSTER AGAIN TO WIN SPRINTS AT LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI

23 December 2011, KUALA LUMPUR - The US-registered Pro Continental team UnitedHealthcare will make their second appearance at Le Tour de Langkawi from February 24 to March 4.

The Malaysian event marked their debut in the second division of world cycling and it was a successful one. “We had a strong showing with a stage win and several podiums”, said team manager Mike Tamayo. German sprinter Robert Forster scored the first success for his new outfit after spending eight seasons on the European top level circuit. With Gerolsteiner and Milram, he rode no less than thirteen Grand Tours: eight Giro d’Italia with a stage win in 2007, three Tour de France and two Vuelta a Espana.

“It was one of the highlights of the past edition of Le Tour de Langkawi when Forster won stage 8 in Jasin”, commented the chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal. “A sprinter with prestigious wins under his belt, he showed the young guns Andrea Guardini and Marcel Kittel that he was still one of the fastest cyclists in the world, so we’re delighted to welcome him and his team back. I’m sure that after their first experience in Malaysia, they’ll be even stronger this time around.”

Tamayo confirmed their increased ambitions. “Team UnitedHealthcare is honored and very motivated about the 2012 Le Tour de Langkawi”, he said. “We are aware of the growth of the race and cycling in Malaysia but we plan on bigger success at the 2012 edition of the race.”

They have put a stronger team at the service of Forster with the expertise of the Australian trio of lead out men Karl Menzies and the Clarke brothers who are no strangers to Le Tour de Langkawi after having ridden the race with different teams in the past.

At the 2011 Le Tour de Langkawi, Team UnitedHealthcare got to know the famous Belgian directeur sportif Hendrik Redant who was the radio Tour officer and they hired him for what is his real job, as they intend to improve their presence on the European scene as well.

LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour. LTdL 2012 is expected to feature 22 professional teams.

The 10 day race begins on February 24 with Individual time trial along a 20.3 km course in Putrajaya to kick off the race; followed by stage 2 Putrajaya - Melaka (151.0km); Stage 3 Ayer Keroh - Parit Sulong (187.6km); Batu Pahat - Muar (169.4km); Ayer Keroh - Pandan Indah (187.2km); Proton Shah Alam - Genting Highlands (108km); Bentong - Kuantan (215.8km); Pekan - Chukai (100.8km); Kemasik - Kuala Terengganu (169.4km) dan Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terengganu (116.6km).

THE UNITEDHEALTHCARE TEAM FOR THE 2012 LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI:

ROBERT FORSTER (GER), HILTON CLARKE (AUS), JONATHAN CLARKE (AUS), ADRIAN HEGYVARI (USA), JAKE KEOUGH (USA) and KARL MENZIES (AUS)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Macaframa fixed

Can wins SPOTY award



Mark Cavendish won BBC Sports Personality of the Year with 50% of the vote.
Sprinter Mark Cavendish was the winner of tonight's BBC Sports Personality of the Year, to become only the third cyclist to win the prestigious annual award. Tom Simpson won in 1965 and Chris Hoy won in 2008.
This year's award had been controversial because not one woman features among the ten names on the shortlist.
The winner was crowned in a live show on BBC1 tonight.
Cavendish has had a stellar year, becoming the world road race champion, winner of five stages at the Tour de France and ending as green jersey winner, too. Cav has won 20 Tour de France stages in the last four years.
The winner of SPOTY was decided by public vote. Cavendish won 49.47 percent of the vote. Golfer Darren Clarke came second with 12.34 percent of the vote.
On receiving the trophy, Cavendish said:
"I had a group of guys who rode in Copenhagen who brought the rainbow jersey back to Britain after nearly half a century and that is a massive thing. Even to be nominated in the top 10 is an incredible thing.
"Now I see so many people out riding bikes, commuting to work or doing it as a hobby, they can see what it's like to ride."
And Cav wasn't the only winner tonight: according to Ladbrookes two punters are to share £100,000 thanks to them placing a bet on the Manxman when the odds on him winning were 66/1.
Thanks to BikeBiz

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Chiang Mai Fixed special



Quick Step for Tour Down Under


Gerald Ciolek to lead Omega Pharma Quick-Step team in January

Gerald Ciolek, Vuelta a España Stage 2 winner (2009) and German National Road Race Champion (2005), will headline the Omega Pharma Quick-Step team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said that Ciolek was an accomplished young rider and a great team leader, taking honours in 2006 as the UCI U23 World Road Race Champion.
"Ciolek is a strong lead out man. This was evident when he rode for Team Columbia in 2008. At the 2008 Tour de France, he was an instrumental figure in all four of Mark Cavendish's stage wins," Turtur said.
Serge Pauwels returns to the Santos Tour Down Under, possibly with a ŠKODA King of the Mountain victory firmly set in his sights.
"We have seen great performances by Pauwels at our race. In 2007, he claimed the overall King of the Mountain victory, making him a contender for ŠKODA King of the Mountain points in January."
Matthew Brammeier will join Omega Pharma Quick-Step for the 2012 season, hot off an impressive 2011 where he claimed both the Irish National Road Race and Time Trial Champion titles.
"Brammeier is a versatile rider on the road and on the track, bringing invaluable experience and ability to adapt to a racing situation to the team," Turtur said.
Gert Steegmans, two time Tour de France and Paris-Nice stage winner, will also have something to contribute with his experience and his ability to lead out for the team, having been Robbie McEwen's Tour de France pilot in the past.
The Omega Pharma Quick-Step team has been targeting young riders in its recruitment and this is evident by the inclusion of team stagiaire, Matteo Trentin, who signed with the team in August and is the current U23 Italian National Road Race Champion.
The Omega Pharma Quick-Step team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager, Rik Van Slycke (BEL) and include riders:
  • Gerald Ciolek (GER)
  • Matthew Brammeier (IRL)
  • Serge Pauwels (BEL)
  • Andrew Fenn (GBR)
  • Gert Steegmans (BEL)
  • Matteo Trentin (ITA)
  • Julien Vermote (BEL)

O'Grady panning for gold in Aussie champs


O'Grady yearns for second Buninyong gold

Stuart O’Grady, arguably Australia’s best ever all-round cyclist, still hungers for a second victory in the blue riband elite men’s road race and he hopes to achieve that at the MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships next month in Ballarat.
The 38-year-old war horse is training up to five hours daily in the renowned Willunga Hill area, about 20kms south of Adelaide, in preparation for his assault on Mt. Buninyong in the 163km race on Sunday, 8 January.
A 160-strong field will climb the mountain 16 times on the spectacular 10.2km circuit, a course that O’Grady knows well, having narrowly defeated Queenslander Allan Davis to win his first national road title in 2003.
“It would be a bloody proud moment to wear the green and gold colours again,” O’Grady said. “It’s been a long time since I had the honour of wearing the Australian jersey in the big European races and I’m sure I would do it justice again.
“It was a really special victory for me when I won the title in 2003.”
The remarkable O’Grady, who has twice worn the Tour de France leader’s jersey for a total of eight days – in 1998 and 2001 – boasts a winning record on track and road that would be beyond the wildest dreams of most cyclists.
On the track, he has won gold, silver and two bronze medals at the Olympic Games, four gold, two silver and a bronze at Commonwealth Games, and two gold and two bronze world championship medals.
His road triumphs are exceptional with the highlight being the 2007 Paris-Roubaix where he became the first Australian to win the historic classic. He has also won three stages of the Tour de France, a stage of the Tour of Spain and overall honours in the 1998 Tour of Britain, 2008 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and has twice caimed the Santos Tour Down Under crown in his home town of Adelaide.
O’Grady’s visits to Buninyong have been sparse since his 2003 triumph - a factor he attributes to lack of preparation
“I have not done it much because I have not had the form or injury-free lead-up to win it,” he said.
You have to have everything going well to win at Buninyong.
“Lately, I have been able to put in some really hard training. It’s probably cram training and I am feeling pretty good.”
O’Grady will go into the event as a member of Australia’s first ProTour registered team, GreenEDGE, and is naturally hopeful that if he cannot win, one of his team-mates can snare the green and gold jersey.
“At the end of the day, it will come down to who has got the best legs,” he said. “Drapac have had the numbers in the past (producing winners Darren Lapthorne in 2007 and Peter McDonald in 2009). Let’s see how we go.”
SBS will screen a three-hour live telecast of the men’s road race, starting at 2pm (AEST).
The six-day championships will run from 5 to 10 January.
Thursday, 5 January (Sturt Street, Ballarat CBD)
  • 5.00pm - Under 23 men's criterium - 33 kms (30 laps)
  • 6.15pm - Elite & under 23 women's criterium - 33 kms (30 laps)
  • 7.30pm - Elite men's criterium - 44kms (40 laps)
Friday, 6 January - Rest Day
Saturday, 7 January (Buninyong)
  • 9.30am - Under 23 men's road race– 122.4 kms
  • 1.30pm - Elite & Under 23 women's road race – 102 kms
Sunday, 8 January (Buninyong)
  • Midday - Elite men's road race– 163.2 kms
Monday, 9 January - Rest Day
Tuesday, 10 January (Learmonth)
  • 10.00am - Men's under 23 time trial– 28 kms
  • Midday - Elite & Under 23 women's time trial – 28 kms
  • 2.00pm - Elite men's time trial - 39 kms
For more information about the championships go to www.cycleballarat.com.au