October 4/04 5:09 am - UCI News, Daniele Pontoni to Race in US, T-Mobile Ends Sponsorship
Posted by Editoress on 10/4/04
World's teams Downsized
The UCI will reduce the maximum size of men's teams in the World Championships from 12 to 9 riders starting in 2005. The decision was announced in Verona, with the reason expressed as allowing more countries into the peloton, thus making the World's a more open race (similar to Olympics). The country of the reigning champion will be allowed to start its champion additional to the allotted quota. So Spain will be allowed 10 riders (including Freire) at the start in Madrid.
Pontoni to race Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross
U.S. cyclocross series takes on European flair
Reigning Italian national champion Daniele Pontoni is planning to race all six events in the inaugural U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, bringing all the luster of a former two-time world champion to the series, which kicks off on Saturday Oct. 9th with the Cannondale Stumptown Cyclocross Classic, in Portland, Oregon.
Pontoni, who finished fourth in the World Championship last February, is no stranger to either the American cyclocross scene or the North American favorites. He raced here in Supercup events in 1999 and 2000, and those who competed against him then know what kind of impact the Italian is likely to have in 2004.
"If Pontoni competes in the whole series, he'll be the man to beat from what I've seen of him," said Clif Bar-Colvita Olive Oil rider Mark McCormack, himself a former national champion. "He was untouchable last time."
"I think it will be good for the series," said another former U.S. national champion, Todd Wells, who is riding for GT-Hyundai this year. "The more 'fast guys' in the race, the less tactical it will be. That means the strongest riders will win, and that will make for more exciting races."
Neither McCormack nor Wells appear intimidated by Pontoni's presence in the races. They still expect fierce competition from each other and an exceptional list of favorites, which include Marc Gullickson (Redline), Team Kona's Dale Knapp and Eric Tonkin, Ryan Trebon and the Team Maxxis-Giant trio of Geoff Kabush, Adam Craig and Jonny Sundt.
"All the top guys will be racing the Gran Prix events," Kabush said from his home in Victoria, British Columbia. "With Pontoni coming over, it'll be exciting. Still, with six races, someone will beat him - you can't help but have a bad day."
Kabush's Maxxis-Giant team has already been identified as perhaps the force to be reckoned with in the series. Kabush and Craig - a six time national cyclocross champion in his own right - have posted sterling seasons on the mountain bike circuit and come into the cross season with great legs. Sundt, meanwhile, has already won several early season events this year and is clearly hungry for more.
"The team is super solid and I'm very excited about the U.S Gran Prix of Cyclocross," said team manager Eric Wallace, ticking off his team's successes.
Wallace credits the new series and its title sponsor Crank Brothers with bringing all the top North American riders - and now Pontoni - together to compete head to head. "The past few seasons have been a big shotgun approach with every organizer trying to promote a UCI category event," Wallace notes. "This has just diluted the competition and created false rankings as riders were able to cherry pick events that suited their styles or had fewer competitors. We all remember the days of the Super Cup and the caliber of athletes that followed that series. The USGP will certainly take over the footsteps vacated by Super Cup and reestablish a single series that holds cache value and prestige."
In addition to Crank Brothers, other sponsors of the U.S Gran Prix of Cyclocross include presenting sponsor Velo News, Selle Italia, Mavic, Clif Bar, Adidas, and BikeReg.com.
The Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series schedule for 2004 is as follows:
Race 1: October 9 - Cannondale Stumptown Cyclocross Classic, Portland, OR.
Race 2: October 10 - Clif Bar Grand Prix, Ft. Steilacoom Park, Tacoma, WA.
Race 3: October 30 - Michelob Gran Prix of Gloucester #1, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA.
Race 4: October 31 - Michelob Gran Prix of Gloucester #2, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA.
Race 5: November 20 - Beacon CX, Bridgeton, NJ.
Race 6: November 21 - Highland Park Cyclocross, Donaldson Park, Highland Park, NJ.
All six races will be held under UCI category and competition regulations. U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series leaders will be recognized at the conclusion of each event. Overall winners in the Elite Men, Elite Women, U-23, and Junior Men categories will receive automatic selection to the World Cyclocross Championships in St. Wendel, Germany in February, 2005. Master 35+ Men will also be ranked. Races in Massachusetts and New Jersey are part of the Verge NECCS and Verge MACCS.
For complete U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross details, go to www.usgpcyclocross.com.
T-Mobile Ends MTB Sponsorship
The German telecommunications company T-Mobile will discontinue the sponsorship of its mountain bike team at the end of 2004. The sponsorship started in 2001 with the 2004 Olympics as the long term goal . With the Athens Games now over, the plan is now complete and sponsorship will end.
T-Mobile remains committed to sponsorship of professional road racing. The support extends to the promotion of recreational cycling. "In this sense, T-Mobile will continue to support bike festivals and thus maintain its links with the sport of mountain biking," according to statement.
In 2004, the team included Bart Brentjens, currently number one in the UCI rankings, Olympic bronze medalist and Dutch National champion; Lado Fumic, five time German champion and European championship silver medalist; Manuel Fumic, World, European and German U23 Champion; Jochen Käß, German national league champion; Stefan Sahm, silver medalist in the European championship team relay; and Marc Golz, winner of the final stage of the Steiermark Trophy.