Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

ToC Crew Day -9 Stage 7

And fade to black...........
The end of of the biggest American tour has hit. We had 750+ thousand web viewers each day, 2.5mil. roadside viewers - biggest attended US sports event of all time! We were prime time 9pm in Europe last night live (sun) for 3hrs and the world-feed TV coverage was met with great reviews. This all comes on the heals of the hardest tour I've ever shot. Rain, wind, weather, ice and sand, long transfers, fogged lens, bad com's, freaks and crashes.... it was frickin great (looking back)....
Weird tour issues that don't make air were a-plenty, Cavendish getting squeezed into us as we are trapped in the gutter, and I'm leaning into him to keep him up, Eki making an evasive move into us with the team car and hitting the moto, descending trapped in front and scrapping the thru the corners sending a shower of sparks into the riders at 55mph, and a loosening of the bowels on the moto..., banging into cars thru the traffic jams in the bay, rocks falling off the mtn. sides in ft of us and the riders, tip-toe corners on wet ice downhills, frying my iPhone in the rain, some chick showing her tits to us (and 200 thousand) of her closest friends in PR's last K, and Go Home Lance signs......
The hill top KOM's in the US have reached a fever pitch - Europe has nothing on the US. I really feel this one race put US racing on the world map - good times, good times.....
Thanks for following-

Saturday, February 21, 2009

ToC Crew Day -8 Stage 6

With what we are doing production wise here, our TV compound is huge – a bit of a little village with a ton of stairs leading up to a window-less door… Scott &Terry live in this one and in the next one there are six units, where John and Joel and a bunch of others live, Charlie and some others live in the next one across the walk, a few more Satellite trucks, giant generator trucks and support of all types…. Oh, n a crane for microwave relay from the airplane that picks up out signals while flying above the Helli….. etc….. In all, this little village has over 200 HD monitors! A couch potato’s dream.
After shooting Lance in the TT, I’m walking thru the compound and the Executive Producer grabs my arm as I walk by –oh boy, what now? – “Were you the one on Lance?” “mmmm, ya” insinuating a “why” in my answer… “Great stuff!” he says. Shot of the show! This is coming from a guy who mostly only comments on what you’re doing wrong – and rightly so, as we are here to do it – The shot was the opening of the Lance segment, so I figured I’d like a bit of drama to open his run. We lined up with the crowd on the first hill and I shot it compressed as we went up the hill only showing the crowd – the director was yelling in my ear to make my move and I was just staying on the crowd and then slowly pulled out to revile Lance. It’s weird to see this whole tour in black n white and then see a show and all the color!
For me, this shoot has been a little bit of a struggle, the config of the motos, the rain and the com's - its been hard
I’m writing this as we travel down Hwy 101 next to the ocean thru Santa Barbara and starting to feel a bit queasy, not wanting to barf on my MacBook, I’ll sign off.
The next 2 days should be super hard on Astana as everyone is going to be putting the pressure on them and Levi-

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ToC Crew Day - 7 Stage - 5

If Monday and Tuesday were 0's than yesterday and today were bot 10's! No wind and in the 60's - I've dryed out now and all are very happy with the shots.

I have to say, the fans have been going out of there way to thank and complenent us on the job - It's a bit strange but at the same time feels good to open ones eyes as to why we do it.
You come thru the finish line and everyone has been watching the big screens for the past few hours and then there you are? Knida weird for us, and them, as they've been watching a bike race on TV (albeit a big one) and all of a sudden the whole game ends in your lap?

Today we pulled in to our TV camp and the crew had a giant sushi spread all laid out for us!
These guys and girls are unbeliveable, we pull up and they take the camera and gather the shot disks and get you anything youask for. We cannot lift a finger. They get there 1-hr before us in the morning and when we arrive they have all the cameras laid out and breakfast ready. It makes sooooooo much difference I can't really explain it - thank you guys!

The other front moto guy is a guy who has done 7 Tour de France's - this am the local news crew showed up and I knew they were going to want to do an interview so I slid some distance away knowing they would end up with Greg being forced to do it - he he he, and that gave me an chance o get some pic's of him suffering thru it! - that's Greg in the pic...... the other pic is Al the king of our camera / support crew holding the chart- and Scott Nicol of Ibis Bicycles fame who for whatever works for us each yr as a PA? Great guy-

As I'm writing this Astina (and 100 of their closest friends and 10 cops) are outside my door rebuilding Lance's TT bike for tomorrow in Solvang tomorrow - yes it was found on the streets of Sacramento being sold for the worth of a dime bag- whatever...... Twisted to think dopers would steal from one another? 135mi today and they caught em in the last 4k - that my friends is called team radios......

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ToC Crew Day - 6 Stage - 4

Today was sunny! Everything still seems wet.... and then we climb to 3800ft and hit snow. Not a little snow, a lot of snow, seems that everything that has been pounding us for the last few days, fell as snow a bit higher. I live in the snow, and know the conditions after a storm, and yes, that's what we got... let me explain, winter sun track is still low, and even though they plow there still is wet road and shadows. When we get to the top of climbs, if it is a big downhill with tight turns we will shoot ahead or drop back and follow down the hill. Today the pack was so wide we could not fall back so we went ahead down the hill - when we do this we sometimes go fast (yesterday we hit 100 just to see how fast the new motos will go, some stupid guy thing) anyway, on the way down the hill we went into a turn, in the shadows, wet, and frozen. Both wheels were slipping and we pushed way wide - frickin scary!!! and all I could think of was 100+ guys coming behind us.... one did go down. Speaking of which... Lance, Levi, and Floyd have all hit the deck so far.
One down side of this shoot is we are live on Versus, and the World Feed, which means we shoot from the gun to the finish - today i shot moto-2 which is with the 2nd group, so I spent all day twisted to the right shooting behind us - yes my upper back is on fire!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toc Crew Day- 5 / Stage 3

Well, if you watched the show today you saw it get clipped by the hard start of the NHL game... Welcome to America, had you been in 199 other countries you would have seen the finish. They bumped up the start and killed one of the curcit laps in the end and still did not make the time cutoff. It was super windy and therefore slowed the pace - Thor won, the first win of the new Cervelo team!

The weather was in n out today and we had some com's for part of the day - water makes everything harder! Tomorrow we are supposed to be dry.... fired up!

Monday, February 16, 2009

ToC Crew Day- 4 - Stage 2

Oh...... this is getting old fast. I thought yesterday was the worst day on a moto shoot... Wrong! Today put that one in the books. First off we had 4 hrs sleep for an 8:30 start... I wake up w/ a sore throat and off we go... sitting in our motor home in the dark in a huge rain does not inspire making a day of it. So you just go thru the motions. 17 pieces of clothing to suit up and a camera bag that makes it practically impossible to do anything with the camera, and the new bike with all the mounts in the wrong places keeping you from panning side to side... and then there's the non-working com's.... this alone makes it impossible to do the show. You know nothing of what's going on, you can't talk to the director(s) and you don't know if your on the air... Arrrrrrgh! By hr 3 I lost most of the dexterity in my hands - typing right now (7hrs later) is a bit hard - this comes when the real show hits - in the end of the stage! I shot Levi's attack on the last hill where it rained and hailed so hard it was soooooo hard - Levi is a stud, and he was in his mic yelling "don't chase me!" back to the team.
And then there's Lance getting takin down by his own personal photographer - moto and all in the road. We also had a guy (racer) hit a parked car and went away in an ambulance.....
Tour of Belgum, CA resumes tomorrow........

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ToC crew day-3

Oh boy..... the worst day ever on a camera bike..... 100+ miles and it started raining from the gun. It never stopped the whole day and the wind was hard. We had NO com's, never heard the director and could not talk to the director.... that means when you start shootin you never stop cuz you don't know if you're live or not.... so you switch to your cell phone for com until the day cost you $300 for a shorted iphone - god damn it! Now I have no phone......
Lance went down in a crash, Floyd flatted, and the yellow jersey abandoned the tour.... WTF?

Other news was Astana last night.......

Armstrong's time-trial bike stolen in California

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Lance Armstrong's time-trial bike was stolen from the Team Astana truck during the night before Stage 1 of the Tour of California.

Armstrong rode the bike to a 10th-place finish Saturday in Sacramento during the Tour prologue. The race is his first competitive appearance in his native country since the seven-time Tour de France winner began his cycling comeback last month.

A few hours after the time trial, someone removed four bikes from the Astana truck outside the team hotel in Sacramento. Armstrong's time-trial bike, which was closest to the door because he was delayed by a post-race trip to doping control, was taken along with race bikes belonging to Astana teammates Steve Morabito, Yaroslav Popovych and Janez Brajkovic.

Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed the theft to The Associated Press after it was reported by Armstrong himself on his Twitter feed. Armstrong later posted a picture of the bike, which has distinctive yellow-and-black wheels and the logo of his Livestrong foundation.

"There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off. Reward being offered," Armstrong wrote before jumping on his race bike for the 107-mile ride from Davis to Santa Rosa through a steady rainstorm.

Team Astana manager Johan Bruyneel also mentioned the thefts on his Twitter feed before he began following his riders. The racers all have backup bikes, and two-time defending Tour champion Levi Leipheimer's bike wasn't stolen.

Armstrong won't need his time-trial bike again until Friday in Solvang, where the race holds its second time trial. That segment is crucial to Astana's hopes of winning the overall team title.

....and more rain forcast for tomorrow. 4am we leave SF, can it get any harder?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Prolouge - Crew day - 3

Hey! no rain!
Don't boast too soon.... Tomorrow is supposed to be 35mph head wind thru the plains of Davis, Napa and over the hills to Santa Rosa. Oh, n pounding rain... Welcome to Belgum, Ca.
The world press is here, France, Australia, Italy etc... Correction from yesterday, we are live to over 200 countries! Crazy. The state of cycling is so bad because of all the drug scandals, that only a small group of just under 1 - million fans showed up in 40 degree temperatures... We shot Floyd in the TT today and the crowd went crazy, as they did for Lance, Basso, and Tyler.... I have to wonder what is was like back in the hay-day?

We are working out the small problems with the new camera bikes and the new RF company is driving a super solid signal back to the world!

Tomorrow we'll see how it all works with sideways rain....... This is gonna be ugly

Shimano feature...
Bob Roll, Poor Bobkie. We did this feature on the new Dura Ace yesterday and he had to do 40 takes to get the info correct as Dustin from Shimano directed the content.... not such a tongue twister but, features that had to be spot on and Bob had been doing these all day already... I did so many deep knee bends during this shoot my legs are still feeling it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lance is back....

Yesterday at the press conference....

ToC Log "Prep Day"

As most of you know, I shoot the Pro Cycling events from a moto. This week I'll try to keep a running log of the ups n downs of the race from our seat-

Today we get the new motos that have been getting customized for a few weeks - BMW 800 GS bikes, perhaps not the best choice as the tank is under the seat and becomes very wide w/ sharp edges that dig into your calves when standing..... we used a similar bike in the Tour of PA last yr and I swear I still have tender spots.... the other down side is the Belgum like weather here in Sacramento.... other than that, all is positive - this will be the biggest US tour in the history of cycling in this country- word is, we will be live over 160 channels around the world.....

Yesterday saw Lance slay a UK reporter at the press conference and Floyd hit the deck on a training ride.... he'll start, but no fall is a good one.

So for me, of to do moto RF testing in the rain and then hook up w/ Bob Roll to shoot the Shimano features that will show up in the shows throughout the season on Versus -

Think warmmmmmmmm

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


2009 AToC Preliminary start list

AG2R La Mondiale Astana
Christophe Riblon (Fra) José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa)
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr)
Stéphane Goubert (Fra) Janez Brajkovic (Slo)
Martin Elmiger (Swi) Lance Armstrong (USA)
Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Hubert Dupont (Fra) Steve Morabito (Swi)
Cyril Dessel (Fra) Michael Schär (Swi)
John Gadret (Fra) Chris Horner (USA)

Bissell Pro Cycling BMC Racing Team
Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Jonathan Garcia (USA)
Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Alexandre Moos (Swi)
Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Ian McKissick (USA)
Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Jeff Louder (USA)
Peter Latham (USA) Mathias Frank (Swi)
Kirk O'Bee (USA) Markus Zberg (Swi)
Tom Zirbel (USA) Scott Nydam (USA)
Omer Kem (USA) Thomas Frei (Swi)

Cervélo TestTeam Colavita Sutter Home
Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg)
Dominique Rollin (Can) Anibal Andres Borrajo (Arg)
Brett Lancaster (Aus) Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg)
Hayden Roulston (NZl) Davide Frattini (Ita)
Carlos Sastre (Spa) Anthony Colby (USA)
Serge Pauwels (Bel) Aaron Olson (USA)
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Luis Amaran (Cub)
Ted King (USA) Tyler Wren (USA)

Columbia-Highroad Fly V Australia
George Hincapie (USA) Bernard Sulzberger (Aus)
Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Jonathan Cantwell (Aus)
Mark Cavendish (GBr) Michael Grabinger (USA)
Michael Rogers (Aus) Charles Dionne (Can)
Michael Barry (Can) Phil Zajicek (USA)
Mark Renshaw (Aus) Scott Davis (Aus)
Adam Hansen (Aus) David Kemp (Aus)
Kim Kirchen (Lux) Ben Day (Aus)

Garmin-Slipstream Jelly Belly Cycling Team
Christian Vande Velde (USA) Bernard Van Ulden (USA)
Tom Danielson (USA) Nick Reistad (USA)
David Zabriskie (USA) Phillip Gaimon (USA)
Steven Cozza (USA) Jeremy Powers (USA)
Tyler Farrar (USA) Matthew Crane (USA)
Danny Pate (USA) Brad Huff (USA)
Svein Tuft (Can) Kiel Reijnen (USA)
Trent Lowe (Aus) Will Routley (Can)

Liquigas OUCH p/b Maxxis
Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Floyd Landis (USA)
Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Patrick McCarty (USA)
Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Rory Sutherland (Aus)
Kjell Carlström (Fin) Bradley White (USA)
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Cameron Evans (Can)
Brian Vandborg (Den) Karl Menzies (Aus)
Gianni Da Ros (Ita) John Murphy (USA)
Ivan Basso (Ita) Tim Johnson (USA)

Quick Step Rabobank
Carlos Barredo (Spa) Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col)
Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa)
Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Oscar Freire (Spa)
Kevin De Weert (Bel) Grischa Niermann (Ger)
Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Pieter Weening (Ned)
Addy Engels (Ned) Bauke Mollema (Ned)
Marco Velo (Ita) Robert Gesink (Ned)
Tom Boonen (Bel) Stef Clement (Ned)

Rock Racing Saxo Bank
Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe)
Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Jason McCartney (USA)
Fred Rodriguez (USA) Juan José Haedo (Arg)
Tyler Hamilton (USA) Stuart O'Grady (Aus)
David Vitoria (Swi) Frank Schleck (Lux)
Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Andy Schleck (Lux)
Aaron Kemps (Aus) Jens Voigt (Ger)

Team Type 1
Moises Aldape Chavez (Mex)
Christopher Jones (USA)
Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr)
Phil Southerland (USA)
Ricardo Escuela (Arg)
Fabio Calabria (Aus)
Matthew Wilson (Aus)
Darren Lill (RSA)

I'm Already Dressing Warm.....

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) before stage four last year.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The newly-designed final stage of the Amgen Tour of California has the potential for plenty of drama. If the GC riders are close together on overall time for the 11-mile ascent of Mt. Palomar north of San Diego, coming halfway through the stage, the climbing battle could be fierce. But on top of all that, winter weather has hit the top of the mountain hard, with snow and ice storms over the weekend cutting power to the Palomar Observatory and making the roads impassable.

Scott Kardel, public affairs co-ordinator for the observatory, wrote on the observatory's blog about the conditions. "Yesterday's snow storm was indeed impressive. At times the sleet was coming down with a fury that I have never seen before. The snow and sleet, combined with an intense wind, brought tree limbs and trees down, knocking out the power more than once."

Though southern California is often thought of as a mild climate, weather has always been an issue for the race, being so early in the year. Last year the now-infamous stage down Highway 1 was a torture test that made the freezing rain and sleet on the final stage over Mill Creek Summit pale in comparison.

For that final stage, race organisers were unsure if that pass would even be open as snow was forecasted. But an early morning decision was made to race over the pass and not use an alternative route. "We've gone over an area every year," Chuck Hodge, the race's technical director told Cyclingnews. Mill Creek was pretty bad last year going into Pasadena but it was passable. We sent a crew up there at 4:00am to make a judgment call."

He said that similar procedures are in place for Palomar this year. "We always have a back-up plan. Eric Smith has been working a lot on this stage and we just had an all-agency meeting about it and have great cooperation between everyone. We will asses the weather as it gets closer but it is still a week away, so we are hoping for a LOT of sunshine!"

Hodge said he has seen the conditions the past few days "We've had some pictures from up there. It's too bad Andy Hampsten isn't racing!"

Bloods, Cripts, and Cycling Fanz........

Tour of California:

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Organisers of the Tour of California, the largest cycling event in North America, are asking the thousands of fans that line the roads each year to not paint on the roads as encouragement for their favourite riders. The plea comes after the past three years where residents who live along the roads have complained to the point where the race will not be issued permits in the future if it happens this year.

"Our course director annually has to go to almost 80 government entities each year for permissions, and we have been lucky enough to have some great believers out these among the counties and cities," said Chuck Hodge, technical director.

"The one issue that continues to come up... is fans painting on the road. Although a great tradition in some [parts] of the world it has become a huge issue at our event. We have annually fielded calls from public works departments and it has come to the point on at least two occasions that we have been told we would not be issued a permit the next year unless we address the issue."

Hodge said that alternative methods, such as chalk, would be preferable as long as they are not permanent.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bla Bla Bla..... Maybe drugs make us all dress like this?

Slideshow SacBee today
previous next

    Chad Gerlach, in recovery at age 35 , revisits the place he once slept while living on midtown's scruffy streets, where he gained a reputation as a cocky panhandler.



    Chad Gerlach and Joe "Vito" Accettura cross the Freeport Bridge. Accettura helped put his friend on the comeback trail when he contacted the TV show "Intervention." Gerlach soon agreed to go into rehab.

He raced like the wind – then came 5 years on the streets

Published: Sunday, Feb. 08, 2009 | Page 1A

To the regulars on the Saturday morning River Ride, Chad Gerlach must have seemed like an apparition as he rode away from the pack, leaving 50 of Sacramento's best cyclists gasping for air.

At 35, he was powerful and beautiful and seemingly supernatural, impossibly different from the man who had been eking out a life on the streets of Sacramento, homeless and addicted to drugs.

This was the Chad Gerlach who had been a local cycling legend, who had tussled at 17 with a young and brash Lance Armstrong when the two were pegged as future stars of the sport, who once was supposed to be great the way Armstrong became great.

Now Armstrong, 37, has come out of retirement and will race this Saturday in Sacramento, the starting point for the nine-day Amgen Tour of California.

And Gerlach? His improbable return finds him in Italy, signed to a pro team and racing against some of the sport's toughest competition before returning to the United States in late April for a full season of stateside pro racing.

Few who witnessed Gerlach at his worst imagined this. Even Gerlach himself proceeds cautiously into his sobriety. "I have to still remember I'm an addict," he said.

During his years on the streets, his mother, Michelle Johnson, would repeatedly plead with him to get help, only to return to her Fair Oaks home in tears. His father, Peter Gerlach, says he dreaded that inevitable phone call from a coroner, telling him his son's life had ended the way many expected it would.

Those who have seen him recently on the River Ride, the ones who gave chase to this ghost on a bike after he had turned the corner of his recovery, are already believers in a reborn Chad Gerlach. But no one can explain it.

"Good grief, this guy was in the depths of depravity and panhandling and abusing his body, and he's come back in such a short period of time," said Max Mack, an amateur racer. "That guy has talent like you wouldn't believe. It's a shock. It's amazing."

Stellar talent, bad-boy rep

Part of the Gerlach legend went beyond his natural talent and scrapes with authority. In his racing heyday, it was about how much physical punishment and suffering he could endure in a race.

"He was given a set of tools that most of us don't understand," said longtime Sacramento racer and River Ride stalwart Rich Maile. "I've seen that guy turn himself absolutely inside out racing and go places most of us absolutely cannot imagine."

Gerlach was a hyper, brilliant boy who grew up to be a wunderkind on a bike, winning races but developing a bad-boy reputation. Never mind that he couldn't be coached, he couldn't be tamed.

His peculiar intellect amused and baffled those around him. He could remember minuscule details from races and the names of everyone he'd ever raced against, yet he couldn't sit still in school.

Maile remembers when he worked at City Bicycle Works in midtown years ago, Gerlach would walk into the shop, pick up a cycling magazine, read every word on every page, put it down and walk out.

As the years passed, Armstrong claimed seven Tour de France victories and became a worldwide inspiration after surviving cancer. Gerlach won races, lit up cigarettes to celebrate, experimented with drugs, chased women and was booted off teams.

He was kicked off the mighty U.S. Postal Service squad in 1996, the year Armstrong learned he had cancer. A recovered Armstrong joined the postal service squad two years later and went on to win his first Tour de France in 1999.

"A lot of racers weren't in my corner, probably because of my attitude," Gerlach said. "It wasn't as much cockiness as it was intensity and how I wanted things with my racing."

He also wanted it his way when he wasn't racing.

On one team, he slept with the female team manager. "A lot of people had problems with that," he said, shrugging.

"He couldn't resist anything," said his father, a highly regarded soccer referee. "He had that free-spirit personality and did whatever he wanted to do," Peter Gerlach said.

Sun race report-


Cherry Pie 45+ 1,2,3,4,
Full field. 8min into the race Metcalf and another guy went up the rd. at 11min. Nolan went up to them and the gap then widened...... So that can't stand as we all know, so the next lap I went and had a big bridge which timed out to catching them right at the top of the hill. I kept my momentum and road thru the group in the turn going a good bit faster hoping it would force one of the "S" boys to go w/ - Nolan took the bait (now this is one of those things that falls under the title of "be careful what you ask for" an soon after that "thank you sir, may I have another") So Larry and I work well together for the next 25~30min and the others fall back into the pack... At about 5 laps to go, Metcalf and 5 others are bridging and Larry stops working..... We all come together and Larry goes, I was worked so I stayed knowing if I did go Metcalf would go w/ and it would turn into a tag team of which I would be 3rd at best (we need more team mates in these races!) Had just one of our guys been with the Metcalf's group we could have won the race. Anyway, in the end, Larry was away solo, I jumped at the last turn and got a quick gap for a clean 2nd - Bride's Maid.

In the 35+ race I was cooked from the 45's (321watt avg.) I felt bad as Fairbanks was super gracious in offering a lead out multiple times - thanks John - when really I should have been in that race to provide one for him. All I was able to do was a 1-lap bridge to Chris Phipps an then get caught by the pack soon after w/ 4 to go- I was precooked by then. Maybe John could give us a report from the ft?

All in all, a good day and no one leaked any body fluids-

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bye bye Magpie.....

Magnus Backstedt Steps Down From Top Flight

"Big Swede" will continue to consult with Garmin-Slipstream while focusing on his own development team

February 6, 2009 – Boulder, CO - After 13 years of professional cycling, 34-year old Magnus Backstedt will step down from the highest level of the sport. Backstedt will take his career learnings, combined with what he has gleaned from Garmin-Slipstream's dedication to the next generation of cycling champions, to work with his own development squad and to stay on as a consultant for Garmin's young riders.

To many who have watched the big Swede fight one severe injury after another in recent years, the announcement does not come as a surprise. Backstedt has suffered a career-threatening knee injury, melanoma, a separated shoulder and a broken collarbone.

"Taking a step down from the highest level of the sport I love and from a team I love is the hardest decision I have ever made, but at the same time I am excited for the new challenges ahead," said Backstedt. "At some point you have to realize that the daily punishment you are forcing your body to go through is taking its toll. I've fought my way back many times since winning Paris Roubaix in 2004, but my new fight will be to focus my energy on my own development team."

Backstedt will continue to act as a consultant for Team Garmin-Slipstream where he will mentor younger athletes, and he will also focus on a Swedish team he has created with business partner Martin McCrossan and founder Dennis Nystrand. is a Swedish registered continental team, where Backstedt will have opportunity to teach and train young riders as a rider, director and sponsor.

"We will miss Magnus this year. He's been a tremendous leader and an inspired mentor for the younger athletes," said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO and director sportif of Team Garmin-Slipstream. "But we are happy that Magnus will stay on to play a consulting role with us. We wish him the best of luck with his new team."

Official Statement from Magnus Backstedt:

"I have had a fantastic career. I turned pro at 21; I have raced with some of the best riders and teams in the World. I've won a stage of the Tour de France and the biggest one-day Classic in the World, among others. I can take a step down from the highest level of the sport with my head held high and with the knowledge that I helped bring about a change in the sport by being involved with Garmin-Slipstream. I believe in a NEW clean future for our sport and I can pass this onto my own young riders.

I want to thank Jonathan Vaughters, Doug Ellis, every single person in the team, everyone at Garmin and our other sponsors who have supported me.

Most of all I want to thank my family (wife and 2 daughters especially), friends and all the people who have helped me through the years. I also want to thank my fans. You guys have been a huge contributing factor in helping me get back from each setback.

As they say, as one door closes, another one opens. New beginnings with no regrets. I'm still going to ride my bike, wind down and bring on the future champions.

Thank you all!"

- Magnus Backstedt

Marya Pongrace
Director of Communications
Slipstream Sports, LLC

Oh that Lance, working on a Saturday......

Johan Bruyneel
Johan Bruyneel Arrived in San Diego very late last night from Madrid.. Windtunnel testing with Lance today. Raining here.
32 minutes ago - via Twitter

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ohhhhh boy, Here we go again? -VeloNews

2009 Tour of Qatar: a memorial to Fredereik Nolf at a cermony held Thursday in Qatar.
2009 Tour of Qatar: a memorial to Fredereik Nolf at a cermony held Thursday in Qatar.

Belgian cyclist Frederiek Nolf, competing in the Tour of Qatar, was found dead in his bedroom Thursday morning prior to stage five, one of the race chiefs, Eddy Merckx, announced.

21-year-old Frederiek Nolf apparently died in his sleep in his Doha hotel room.
21-year-old Frederiek Nolf apparently died in his sleep in his Doha hotel room.

Nolf, a member of the Topsport Vlaanderen team, was found dead by teammate Kristof Goddaert in their 14th floor shared room at the Ritz-Carlton.

Organisers of the race, ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) confirmed the death of Nolf and the day's stage — from the Camel Race Track to the Doha Foundation — was preceded by a minute's silence in his memory while the race was to be 'neutralised' out of respect for him.

"Out of respect for Frederiek Nolf, the riders will form a cortege throughout the stage," said Merckx.

Nolf's teammates, in shock at the news, did not start the stage.

The Belgian rider, who turned professional last year, would have celebrated his 22nd birthday on February 10.

Race director Christian Prudhomme said a ceremony in memory of Nolf would be held following the stage at six p.m. (1500 GMT) at the team hotel.

2009 Tour of Qatar: The peloton mourns Nolf at a ceremony Thursday.
2009 Tour of Qatar: The peloton mourns Nolf at a ceremony Thursday.

Goddaert said he found Nolf unconscious and tried, in vain, to wake him before alerting team officials and a team doctor.

"I tried shaking Frederiek's leg and told him to waken up, but I quickly realised that something was wrong. I took his hand but it was cold and there was no pulse," said team manager Jean-Pierre Heynderrickx.

The Belgian cycling legend added: "I spoke to his team manager (Heynderrickx) who told me there was nothing to indicate that something like this could happen. Yesterday (Wednesday) Frederiek seemed in good health."

Nolf's body was to be quickly repatriated to Belgium where his parents and fiancee had been informed of his death, the Belgian ambassador said.

2009 Tour of Qatar: Race leader Tom Boonen prepares for the start of stage 5, after learning of the death of Frederiek Nolf.
2009 Tour of Qatar: Race leader Tom Boonen prepares for the start of stage 5, after learning of the death of Frederiek Nolf.

An autopsy would follow to determine the causes of death.

The last time a professional cyclist died in his sleep was in 2003 when Frenchman Fabrice Salanson, 23, died in similar circumstances at the Tour of Germany.

Qatar race leader Tom Boonen said everyone on his Quick Step team was shocked.

"When something this awful happens, racing becomes a lesser priority. We're all devastated," said Boonen.

"We all knew Frederiek, and we all appreciated him. Today we wanted to remember him. Tomorrow the race will resume, but it won't be the same. The entire team, riders and personnel, feel his family's pain."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Time to Tivo-

Versus to Air Fourth Annual Amgen Tour of California Feb. 14-22

For the First Time Ever, VERSUS will Air Live Weekday Coverage of the United State’s Top Cycling Event and Lance Armstrong’s Second Race of the Season

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 22, 2009)—VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the home of professional cycling in the United States, announced today it will air wall-to-wall coverage of the fourth annual Amgen Tour of California, Lance Armstrong’s second race of the 2009 cycling season. Now in its third year of televising the race, VERSUS will air all nine days of the event, including live coverage of the middle stages for the first time, beginning February 14 at 5 p.m. ET.

The recently expanded 750-mile, nine-day race from Sacramento to San Diego County will feature the world’s top professional cyclists and teams including: Lance Armstrong in his first Amgen Tour of California competition, two-time defending race champion Levi Leipheimer and top U.S.-based teams Garmin-Slipstream and Team Columbia-Highroad. VERSUS’ on-air broadcast team of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, the undisputed voices of cycling, will call all the race action.

“The Amgen Tour of California has become one of cycling’s most prestigious events and we’re excited to offer cycling fans nine straight days of all the intense competition the race usually delivers,” said Jamie Davis, President of VERSUS. “With strong U.S.-based teams and Lance Armstrong competing in the race for the first time, it is undoubtedly a marquee year for the race and we’re extremely proud to be able to showcase each weekday stage live for the first time.”

VERSUS’ on-air schedule for the Amgen Tour of California follows:
February 7
Preview Show
5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)
February 14
Prologue - Sacramento (live/same-day delay)
5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)
February 15
Stage 1, Davis to Santa Rosa (live/same-day delay)
6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT)
February 16
Stage 2, Sausalito to Santa Cruz (live)
12:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. PT)
February 17
Stage 3, San Jose to Modesto (live)
5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)
February 18
Stage 4, Merced to Clovis (live)
4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT)
February 19
Stage 5, Visalia to Paso Robles (live)
4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT)
February 20
Stage 6, Solvang time trial (live)
4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT)
February 21
Stage 7, Santa Clarita to Pasadena (live/same-day delay)
5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)
February 22
Stage 8, Rancho Bernardo to Escondido (live/same-day delay)
5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)
* Times subject to change

"The 4th edition of the Amgen Tour of California will have the greatest collection of riders ever assembled on American soil," said Andrew Messick, President of AEG Sports. "Besides Lance Armstrong, we are expecting a generation's worth of great American riders in Levi Leipheimer, Christian van de Velde, Floyd Landis, current national champion Tyler Hamilton and four-time stage winner George Hincapie. International riders include current Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Thor Hushvold and the fastest man in the world, Mark Cavendish."

VERSUS kicked-off its coverage of the 2009 cycling season this week with the 2009 Tour Down Under. The network will air 30-minute highlight shows of the first race on the UCI ProTour calendar each day from January 20-24. All telecasts will air at 4 p.m. ET except for the January 24 telecast which will air at 3:30 p.m. ET. On January 24, the network will stream the final stage of the race live on and will produce a one-hour hour highlight show of the final stage which will air on VERSUS January 25 at 5 p.m. ET.