Here are some more photos from the Team Radio Shack pre-season camp.
The boys coming back from their 100km training ride. Lance is leading the team with Levi to his left and Haimar Zubeldia on his right.
Chris Horner had a very up-and-down season in 2009. He showed signs of brilliance in the mountains during the Giro, but it seemed like everytime he was just about to hit his stride he went down in a crash. Here's hoping that he has much better luck in 2010 including a ride in the Tour de France.
The Trek-Livestrong U23 team was also training in Tucson at the same time as their professional big brothers. Taylor Phinney is the team leader of the squad. He won the U23 Paris-Roubaix and the World Championship in the 4000m pursuit in 2009 while he was still a teenager!
Jani Brajkovic is undoubtedly Slovenia's most talented cyclist. He had a breakthrough year in 2009, his best racing came at the Giro where he was very strong in the second and third weeks.
South African Daryl Impey is probably best know for being taken down in a sprint finish in the Tour of Turkey by Theo Bos. He is recovered and motivated to ride well.
If you are living in Boulder, Colorado (is there any other Boulder?) then the future of cycling looks pretty bright. Sure, 18-year-old Taylor Phinney is from Boulder and he has been lighting the track on fire riding world class times in both the Kilometer and 4000m Pursuit. But, there are a number of other young riders in Boulder and the Colorado Front Range who have been distinguishing themselves as well.
At the recent Excel Sports Boulder North Boulder Park Criterium it was a veritable youth parade in the Senior events. Just to make my point even clearer, riders under the age of 18 have their own special classes in which to compete. This is to allow them to develop slowly and keep them from being beat up on by riders much more physically mature. But, at the North Boulder Park Criterium it was them youngens' who totally stole the show.
In the Senior Men's Category 4 event (novice riders 19-34 years old), Michael Dessau of Jonathan Vaughter's 5280 Team not only won most of the prime sprints, but also took the victory. Michael is only 13-years old. His teammate Zane Godby, all of 14-years-old, took third.
In the Men's Category 3 event (advanced riders 19-34 years old), Yannick Eckmann soled off the front halfway through the 60-minute race and won in convincing fashion. Yannick, who also rides for the 5280 Team is a mere 15-years-old. Yannick's older brother Robin placed 6th in the marquis event the Senior 1/2/Pro race beating Tour de France veterans in the process.
In the Women's Category 4 event, Maddie Godby (Zach's older sister) was victorious. She's 16-year's old.
Whoa! We call these riders "Senior Slayers" because they are winning against riders sometimes twice their age(and older). The future looks pretty bright for cycling if we can keep pumping out young riders who show such potential. Best of luck to Michael, Zach, Yannick, Robin, Maddie and all young riders working their way up to the senior ranks.
There has been some speculation on who the title sponsor will be for Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel's new team. One rumour has it that Livestrong will be prominent on the jersey. It must be rememebered that there are actually two Livestrongs out there.
The first is Livestrong.org which is Lance's very successful cancer charity. Lance and his people have raised millions to help fight the cruel disease. The second is Livestrong.com which was launched about a year ago and is a wellness web site that is dedicated to helping people get answers to basic health questions.
My guess is that if Livestrong is a sponsor of the team, Lance will not divert any of the cancer money, but will instead use the Livestrong.com site as the money source. Only time will tell, but that's my speculation.
On Monday, Lance Armstrong went public with his announcement that he hopes to run his own top-flite European professional team in 2010. This year, Armstrong launched an Under 23(U-23) team, Trek-Livestrong, captained by current World 4000m Pursuit Champion Taylor Phinney, but the plan for next year is to put together a squad that will compete at the highest level of the sport.
Also mentioned in the announcement is that long-time friend and team director Johan Bruyneel will also be part of the program. Bruyneel, who currently runs Team Astana will need to figure out how to sever his ties with the Khazak squad. Given the current rumours surrounding the health of Team Astana that might not prove to be too difficult. It appears that the Astana, which is funded by a conglomerate of Khazak companies, has been hit hard by the economic downturn and has not been able to meet its payroll commitments.
There is some speculation that Astana may not be able to stay afloat long enough to participate in the Tour de France. Also rumoured is that the UCI may step in an revoke the squad's Pro Tour license. Obviously, this is all rumour and speculation, but something appears to be happening. Before we jump to any conclusions let's hope that the team can iron out the difficulties and continue with its dominating season.
Also in the announcement, Armstrong indicated that he would like to be a team director and rider for the new outfit meaning that he would still be on the bike in 2010. It is too far off to get a feeling if he would ride the Tour or other big stage races with his new squad. Let's let him get his 2009 season under his belt before we all start guessing on his racing program for next year.
Just who the title sponsor will be for Armstrong's new squad is a mystery. Some have speculated that Nike will step up. Another possibility might be SRAM, the component manufacturer who has a big enough budget to step up in a major way. Whoever decides to write the checks, the Armstrong/Bruyneel combination combined to form a very potent force. We will have to wait and see if Alberto Contador is recruited for the team, but whoever joins the ranks will be part of an exciting new team.
There was another team training in Santa Rosa besides Astana. Team Trek-Livestrong, Lance's Under-23(U-23) development squad was also in Northern California putting in some quality early season miles. The team is captained by 'Mini-Phinney', Taylor Phinney, the 18-year-old son of cycling greats Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney.
I hung out with the boys and tagged along for a short part of their ride, here are a few photos of the squad preparing for their 107-mile training spin and on the road northwest of Santa Rosa.
Axel Merckx, son of the greatest cyclist ever, Eddy Merckx is the Director Sportif. Axel was a fine professional in his own right and rode with Lance on Team Motorola in 1995 and 1996. When not directing the young bucks, he lives with his wife Jody in Canada.
Long-time Armstrong friend and head honcho at Capital Sports and Entertainment,Bart Knaggs, is helping to oversee the team. A former top amateur racer, Knaggs also rode with the team and looked pretty fit.
Axel and the team during their pre-ride chat.
Mini-Phinney with Bjorn Selander who recently represented the USA at the World Cyclocross championships.