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This Week in Pro Cycling – February 8, 2008

Dear Readers,Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from your friends at VeloNews.com.

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Dear Readers,
Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from your friends at VeloNews.com.

Sheldon Brown

We begin this week’s update on a sad note. Longtime tech guru Sheldon Brown died last weekend, after suffering a heart attack. In an era of hi-zoot carbon doo-dads and drivetrains that often require a second mortgage to finance, Brown embraced the inherent simplicity of the bicycle and reminded many of us that the enjoyment of riding isn’t necessarily dependant on how much you might have spent on your ride. Brown had a reputation for generosity, freely sharing a wealth of knowledge about internal hubs, home-built machines and, above all, fixed-gear bikes. Indeed, Brown was a champion of fixies long before they became the essential fashion accessory for hip urbanites they are these days. We’ll miss Sheldon, his generosity and especially his sense of humor.

Out on the road, the season is ramping up, with several top teams now heading to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi. We’ll have Anthony Tan on site to supply us with daily reports and features throughout the week, beginning with the opener in Alor Setar on Saturday and all the way through to the traditional closer, the Kuala Lumpur criterium on Sunday, February 17th.

Of course, Sunday the 17th also marks the start of the third annual Tour of California. Be sure to check in with VeloNews.com all next week as U.S. and ProTour teams head to the left coast for the biggest race on the U.S. calendar.

Many of those teams have already been ramping up for the ToC, as well as the rest of the season, and VeloNews senior writer Neal Rogers spent much of the week visiting training camps to see how those preparations are coming along. Rogers visited several teams, including those of Nealth Net, Kelly Benefit Strategies and Toyota-United each of which will be fielding full rosters for California.

Speaking of U.S. teams, the UCI has approved a request by Team High Road’s Bob Stapleton to shift the registration of the former T-Mobile squad to the United States. That means that High Road, with a very international roster, becomes a U.S. registered ProTour squad, filling the void left by the departure of the old Discovery team. Based in San Luis Obispo, California, High Road will make its domestic debut at the Tour of California next week as well. [More]

Meanwhile, two riders whose seasons have already been put on hold are working to recover their form after breaking their collarbones in a crash at last week’s Tour of Qatar. Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Steve Bovay (BMC) both recently underwent surgery to repair those breaks, a technique that should speed the healing process. Indeed, Backstedt is already on his bike, albeit one firmly affixed to his indoor trainer. [More] Big Maggy says he’ll be ready for the cobbles of Roubaix, hoping to repeat his 2004 win in the “hell of the North.” We wish both men a speedy recovery.

It wouldn’t be a normal week in cycling without at least some news on the doping front (and, yes, we do look forward to the day we won’t be able to say that) and this week is no exception. The UCI and WADA have asked a Spanish appeals court to re-open the Operacion Puerto investigation and that case will be considered on Friday. So far there is no word on when a ruling is expected. [More]

On that same subject, President George W. Bush has asked the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention Against Doping in Sport, an international treaty that would add further muscle to anti-doping efforts in sport. While we’re not certain when the measure will come to the floor, passage is likely, since it has bipartisan support and failure to do so would likely eliminate the U.S.’s chances of hosting the Olympics in the future. [More]

We’ll keep track of those and other stories in the coming week, so be sure to make a habit of checking in with the updated and enhanced VeloNews.com whenever you get the chance.

Have a good week,

Charles Pelkey
Editor, VeloNews.com
CPelkey@insideinc.com