The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
French national champion and surprise package in this year Tour de France, Thomas Voeckler, has chosen to renew his contract with his present employers, Brioches la Boulangere. Days after signing, team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau confirmed that he had signed a new sponsorship deal to ensure the team would continue in 2005. The new team sponsor is the Bouygues Telecom company. Confirmation of the new deal has come as great relief for Bernaudeau who earlier this year had to deal with Brioches la Boulangere announcing their withdrawal from the peloton due to the added costs of becoming a member of the new UCI Pro Tour followed by the loss of star rider, Joseba Beloki in June. At the same time as Bouygues Telecom was announced as the new title sponsor, former world cyclo-cross champion, Dominique Arnould was confirmed as the new Director Sportif for the team. "Jean-Ren?'s team has an image that I like, with a familial side and an attitude and values towards young riders that I've always appreciated," Arnould told l'Equipe. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
After several seasons of discontent at lack of support from his present employers, Lotto-Domo, Belgian Rik Verbrugghe has announced that he will make a decision as to where his future may lie in the coming seasons. "It's true that I've had sometimes had a big case of the blues. That's only normal when your own team doesn't support you. Last year, when I was having a truly hard time due to crashes and health problems, they made me feel like I didn't deserve the money I was making. But in cycling, you're always paid according to your results from previous years," Verbrugghe told La Derni?re Heure. Verbrugghe added that three teams have made offers for the climber?s services, all of which are potential members of the new Pro Tour, and that a decision would be reached after the Tour de l'Ain.
US Postal climber, Manuel ?Triki? Beltran, has announced that he will remain with the American team for at least one more season. Beltran has been a key member of the Postal team in the past two editions of the Tour de France, and believes that he could "continue to contribute positive things in the course of the next campaign." After supporting Armstrong throughout July, Beltran will aim for a top ten finish in the Vuelta a Espana. Another rider who may be joining the Spaniard is Belgian Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo). In an interview with Gazet van Antwerpen, Merckx said that there was more than one offer on the table at present and that he was, ?carefully weighing everything up. If it's Discovery, it depends on Lance whether I ride the Tour. He has so many outstanding tour riders. But there are still other races of course."
The Swiss Phonak team has confirmed 13 riders so far for 2005, and some into 2006. Tyler Hamilton, Nicolas Jalabert, Alexandre Moos, Oscar Pereiro, Niki Aebersold and Tadej Valjavec are all confirmed through 2005 while Jos? Enrique Gutierrez, Santos Gonzalez, Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Gregory Rast and Daniel Schneider