(Photo: Roberto Bettini)
Ballan To Join Armstrong At RadioShack?
Despite suffering the curse of the rainbow jersey, Alessandro Ballan, the Italian world champion does not come cheap. And it appears Lampre is not willing to pay. Nevertheless Ballan has no shortage of offers, including one from Team RadioShack, the team of Lance Armstrong. When asked about joining RadioShack Ballan said, ‘being with Armstrong in a team would be fantastic.” Along with RadioShack, Astana, Sky, and Rabobank have all reportedly made offers.
Alessandro Ballan rides since 2004 for the Italian team Lampre. “I always felt at Lampre, but I think our paths will separate,” says the Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have received a proposal to extent my contract for one-year extension, but I cannot agree.”
(Photo: Roberto Bettini)
Napolitano Stays With Katusha
Danilo Napolitano has extended his contract with Team Katusha for two more seasons. Napolitano has won four races this season including a stages at the Ruta del Sol, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen and Tour of Luxembourg.
‘I’m happy to renewal my contract with Katusha,” said Napolitano. “I found a good team and because of it I was be able to get good results. I hope to continue to improve so I can thank them for the confidence they have shown.”
Katusha director Andre Tchmil is equally happy Napolitano staying with the team saying “He showed his quality and he took responsibility when it was needed. We also knew he had good character and we appreciated it.”
Furlan (C) gets the better of Tom Boonen earlier this year
(Photo: Roberto Bettini)
Furlan Scores In Poland
Italian Angelo Furlan of Lampre dominated a sprint finish to win the second stage of the Tour of Poland Monday. Furlan beat Belgian Jurgen Roelandts of Silence and Argentina’s Juan Jose Haedo, of Saxo Bank, to victory in the 219km stage between Serock and Bialystok.
Menzies in action at the Tour of Elk Grove
(Photo: OUCH p/b Maxxis)
With only a final-stage criterium between Karl Menzies and the overall title of the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove, the task facing the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis seemed pretty straightforward. However, throw in the fact that the crit was over 110 km long with strong winds on the long finishing straight, and the fact that the team had done a significant amount of work Saturday to put Menzies in position to take the leader’s jersey, and the job was far from simple.
‘It was a hard race,’ team director Mike Tamayo said simply. ‘The guys worked really hard to hold Karl’s position. With the wind, the length of the crit and yesterday’s effort, the guys were a bit tired. But they did what they had to do to get Karl the win. It was a great team effort.’
In the end, Menzies’ two lead-out men, Andrew Pinfold and John Murphy, delivered the big Tasmanian safely to 11th in the final sprint, which was more than enough to secure his overall title. ‘The boys were amazing again today,’ Menzies said. ‘I think between yesterday and today, I spent maybe a couple minutes total with my nose in the wind. They made things easy on me.’
With time gaps tight within the top 25 overall coming into the crit, the team was going to have its work cut out for it. Early on, a group of nine riders got off the front and threatened Menzies’ lead. ‘That forced us to work a bit earlier than we would’ve like,’ Tamayo said. ‘It took a bit of snap out of the legs later one.
“It’s great having guys like Rory (Sutherland), Floyd (Landis) and Bobby (Lea), who can get on the front and put in the long efforts you need to bring back moves like that,’ Menzies added.
Once the nine-rider move was neutralized, a two-man break formed toward the end of the race that also posed a threat. ‘Fly V wanted to keep things together for a bunch sprint, so we got some help from then bringing back the two-man break,’ Tamayo said. With that break back in the fold and the peloton coming into the final laps, ‘the sprinter’s teams started bunching up at the front,’ Tamayo said. ‘A number of teams wanted a crack at the stage win.’ Fly V wanted to set up Jonathan Cantwell, who took 3rd behind Menzies Saturday. Sebastian Haedo (Colavita/Sutter Home) was in the hunt for his second consecutive stage win.
‘I had Murph and Pinner there protecting me again,’ Menzies. ‘The headwind made the sprint a bit more dangerous. There was a lot of swarming and bunching up. I was just trying to follow the guys.’
The sprint played out similarly to Saturday’s, with Murphy leaving final lead-out duties to Pinfold coming out of the last corner.
‘Pinned took the last corner full gas, but the wind knocked him back a bit,’ Menzies said. ‘Yesterday it worked, today it didn’t. But the main thing was the GC, and if we got a result on top of that, then great. But we got the main result we wanted.’
RadioShack Undergoing Major Rebranding
The cycling world has been rife with rumors and speculation about why Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel would hitch their wagon to a brand that is generally as on the downswing, not the upswing.
It seems RadioShack is about to rebrand itself in a major way. Gone will be the ‘radio’ which hasn’t been modern technology since Jimi Hendrix hit the airwaves. Going forward, stores will simple be called ‘The Shack,’ which, while not exactly cutting edge in sound, will allow for new associations.
At the corporate level the company will still be RadioShack. Executives are positioning it as a major player in the cell phone wars. The company just inked a deal with T-Mobile, which will join the retailer’s growing line of electronics. For those who haven’t entered a RadioShack since they owned a cassette recorder, the company now sells computers, digital cameras, iPods, TVs, DVD players, GPS devices, and yes, they still have radios of the Ham and short-wave variety. Think Best Buy with a much smaller footprint.
We might as well think of ‘The Shack’ as a new company and into those waters will float the RadioShack cycling team. There’s still no word on the look of the team, but we can expect it to reflect this identity, but don’t be surprised if you see a headline here along the lines of ‘The Shack Builds on Tour of California Success.’ We suspect this is one shack that won’t fall down.