The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
With the none-emergence of Giancarlo Feretti?s Sony-Ericsson squad and the last-minute application withdrawal from the Spanish Comunidad Valenciana team, Ag2R have been awarded the twentieth and final spot in the 2006 ProTour line-up. The French team received a licence to compete the best of the best throughout the next four seasons. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
"This is a great satisfaction ," said Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu. " We've reached our goal after two years of effort from our sponsors and our sporting group. Our tenacity was rewarded today. Ag2r-Pr?voyance will head into the 2006 season with both motivation and optimism, guided by two leaders who are determined to excel at the big events. "
The team will line up in 2006 bolstered by the off-season signing of Francisco Mancebo, and Christophe Moreau. These signings coupled with an increased budget and strong performances throughout 2005 led to the commissions? decision to award the licence to the team.
Lining up in the black and pink livery of T-Mobile next year will be riders from eleven different countries. With language barriers galore, the team this year made the decision that during the off-season, all riders would need to learn at least the very basics of what from 2006 will become the official team language, English. "Nobody has to start learning English from ground zero, " Olaf Ludwig told the Th?ringer Allgemeine newspaper. " Our aim is to speak English over the radio, and the test was more or less just to see where we stood. Everybody found out, what they have to work on ." Australians Michael Rogers and Scott Davis are the noticeable absentees from class.
While busy learning English, team leader, Jan Ullrich, has taken eight of his team mates south to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
The Swiss registered Team Phonak has last week announced a one-year extension to their agreement with title sponsor, Phonak Hearing Systems. Team owner Andy Rihs and General Manager John Lelangue added that BMC would remain as bicycle sponsor and that a presenting sponsor would be announced in the coming weeks.
The team will first meet up for a ten day training camp from January 9 th ? 19 th in
Their full 2006 line-up is: Aur?lien Clerc (Swi), Martin Elmiger (Swi), Gregory Rast (Swi), Johann Tschopp (Swi), Alexandre Moos (Swi), Sascha Urweider (Swi), David Vitoria (Swi), Steve Zampieri (Swi), Florian Stalder (Swi), Steve Morabito (Swi), Axel Merckx (Bel), Koos Moerenhout (Ned), Luis Fernandez Oliveira (Spa), Jos? Enrique Gutierrez (Spa), Ignacio Gutierrez (Spa), Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa), Santiago Botero (Col), Victor Hugo Pe?a (Col), Floyd Landis (USA), Jonathan Patrick