AG2R, Mancebo aims for podium, Naturino - Sapore di Mare 2006, Boonen takes Velo d’Or, Indurain honoured, Forde clear, UAE in winning mood.
Mancebo aims for podium
French Team AG2R look odds on to achieve their ambition of joining the Pro Tour for the next four years.
Vincent Lavenu, the Directeur Sportif of the team, is confident that with the withdrawal of Fassa Bortolo team and other main challenger Comunidad Valenciana not applying that the Team will be accepted.
If this is confirmed then the balance of power in the ProTour will swing very much in favour of France who will have 5 teams, Spain will have 4 and Italy just three.
With an operating budget of 7.3 million Euros, AG2R have been in the peloton since 1992 as a follow on team from previous Chazal and Casino.
"We never lost faith or confidence in our Team. Our commitment has paid dividends. Last year we were disappointed not to gain admission but we continued to build on our previous hard work. This is a tremendous reward," explained Vincent Lavenu.
"It's a big moment. It's a true recognition on the part of the UCI and one of the most satisfying moments of my career”.
The signing of Francisco Mancebo and Christophe Moreau will look to strengthen the squad for the Tour de France. Mancebo will also ride the Vuelta (Espana) while Sylvain Calzati is keen to ride the Giro d’Italia.
Francesco Mancebo is determined that this year he will finally climb onto the podium, and will make a late start to the 2006 season at the Criterium International.
Since 1999, he has finished 28th, 9th, 13th, 7th, 10th, 6th and last year fourth.
Naturino - Sapore di Mare
Naturino - Sapore di Mare has finalised their 2006 roster, the riders are:
Valerio Agnoli (Ita), Luca Ascani (Ita), Stefan Cohnen, Gabriele Colombo (Ita), Antonio Murilo Fischer (Bré), Cristian Gasperoni (Ita), Massimiliano Gentili (Ita), Leonardo Giordani (Ita), Martin Mares (Tch), Sergio Marinangeli (Ita), Antonio Quadranti (Ita), Eddy Ratti (Ita), Emanuele Rizza (Ita-neopro), Luigi Sestili (Ita-neo-pro), Filippo Simeoni (Ita) and Rino Zampilli (Ita-neo-pro).
Boonen takes Vélo d'Or
Lance Armstrong, who has won the Vélo d'Or five times, has been beaten into second place by the young Belgian, Tom Boonen, double Classic winner and Champion of the world.
Although Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for a record seventh Time and Danilo di Luca won the initial ProTour, Tom Boonen got the vote from cycling journalists organised by Vélo Magazine.
Di Luca, winner of Pais Vasco, the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne in 2005, got 35 votes, Lance Armstrong received 65 points but Boonen was a clear 19 points ahead with 84.
Former Spanish cycle champion Miguel Indurain, 5 times winner of the Tour de France (1991-1995), was rewarded for the outstanding fair-play which he displayed during his career. An award was given to him during the 40th Ceremony of the International Committee for Fair-play, which took place on November 26 in Warsaw, Poland, in presence of Irishman Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union.
Every year, the International Committee for Fair-play awards prizes to athletes who have always stood out by their fair-play attitude and who are now retiring from active sports (UCI)
The International Cycling Union is reporting that top Barbadian cyclist Barry Forde has recorded an elevated level of testosterone, but no foul play is suspected.
An increase in this male hormone could be as a result of steroid use, but Forde has been tested for banned substances, and he's clean.
However, the Barbados Cycling Union is reporting that it'll be looking into the matter, in accordance with ICU regulations
Success for UAE
THE UAE cyclists won the junior and senior titles in the individual time-trial races of the Arab Championship yesterday near the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. After winning the team time-trial races in both categories on the first day on Saturday, the UAE continued to dominate the event.
Hamid Muhrab finished first in the seniors race over 35 kms in 47 minutes and seven seconds. He was followed by another UAE entrant Marwan Matar who came second in 48:18 minutes.
Bahrain, who impressed on the first day finishing runners-up in both categories, were unable to maintain their momentum and could only take third position in the seniors race through their ace Mohammed Hussain who finished five seconds behind Matar.
In the junior section, which was over 21 kms, Mohammed Touq of the UAE claimed first position in 29 minutes and 11 seconds after a tough challenge from Egypt's Shareef Abdulla who came second in 30.09 minutes. Qatari Mousa Khalfan was just two seconds behind in third-place.
Bahrain's Mansoor Mohammed and Ali Mansoor finished seventh and eighth respectively.
An 108-km road race for the juniors will take place today, starting at 12.30pm, while the championship is set to conclude tomorrow with a senior road race over 141 kms starting at 9.30am.
Twelve countries - Iraq, the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan and Bahrain - are taking part in the six-day event which is organised in Bahrain for the first time.
Yesterday's races were attended by chief guest General Organisation for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa who honoured the top three members in each category at an awarding ceremony held after each race.
Shaikh Fawaz received a commemorative gift from the UAE and Arab Cycling Associations' (ACA) president Shaikh Faisal bin Hamid Al Qassimi on the occasion.
Other officials who attended the races include Bahrain Cycling Association (BCA) president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, ACA general secretary Jassim Saif and other delegations heads.
Shaikh Hamid praised the organisation of the championship and said he was very happy with the facilities provided by the BCA. (Gulf Daily News)