Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lance Armstrong's 8 Comeback Chronicles

Road Bike Action traveled to Dripping Springs, Texas for the final LiveStrong Challenge of 2008, where Lance Armstrong and thousands of his friends rode in the event. We learned one of Armstrong’s secrets last Sunday, as we rode on the same relentless roads of the Texas Hill Country where Armstrong has trained for almost two decades since he moved to Austin from his original Texas hometown in Plano. These Hill Country roads are twisty, heavy, technical and hilly up and down backcountry tracts, filled with cattle guards and low water crossings that test the legs and the mind at every turn. In the 90-mile LiveStrong Challenge, Armstrong and his 18 year old protégé Taylor Phinney rode away from an elite group of cyclists in the final 10 miles and afterwards, Road Bike Action sat down with Lance Armstrong for his first exclusive interview with a cycling publication since his comeback announcement.

Click on title link to read on....

Oscar Sevilla re-ups with Rock

Oscar Sevilla, fresh off becoming the first non-Colombian to win the Clásico RCN in that event's 48-year history, will ride for at least two more seasons with Rock Racing.

Sevilla confirmed he’ll stay with the California-based team through 2010 and is keen to return to European racing.

The Spanish climber says his Rock Racing team is hopeful of receiving some invitations to compete in an expanded European calendar for 2009, perhaps including the Vuelta a España.

“I’m happy racing here, but it bothers me that I’m not at the Vuelta or the Tour,” said Sevilla in Spain’s Marca sport daily. “I’m still dreaming of returning to the Vuelta. And now that I’ve recovered from my leg problems, I’m sure I could fight for victory.”

Nicknamed “El Niño” for his boyish good looks, Sevilla is now 32, but still believes he has a lot to give in cycling.

Once hailed as the next big thing in Spanish cycling, he twice finished second in the Vuelta a España before joining the T-Mobile team in 2005.

His downfall came when he was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal and was not allowed to start the 2006 Tour de France, along with teammate Jan Ullrich and seven others.

Like all Spanish riders linked to the widespread blood doping ring, Sevilla was “outed” in a series of damaging media links, but has never faced any legal or sport sanctions, in large part because the Spanish cycling federation says it will not open any disciplinary actions against any national riders until a legal investigation is concluded. The Puerto case is currently under appeal.

Sevilla, meanwhile, was allowed to return to racing, but major teams were shy to offer a contract.

He landed at Spanish continental team Relax-GAM in 2007, but his links to Puerto along with new teammate Francisco Mancebo, another rider banned from the 2006 Tour, meant that the team was not invited to the 2007 Vuelta. The team collapsed soon after it was not invited to Spain’s grand tour.

Sevilla found a sanctuary with Rock Racing, where he rides alongside other Puerto “refugees” Santiago Botero and Tyler Hamilton. All three were kept out of the Tour of California this year by race organizers, but Sevilla is optimistic the team will get some invites next year.

So much so, he’s signed a contract extension to keep him in the team’s distinctive jersey through the 2010 season.

“Despite not racing the Vuelta, it’s been a great year,” he said. “This team is great to me. They respect me, they pay me well and they give me affection. The team is making contacts with European races. The boss is very interested in racing in Europe.”

Next year, Sevilla will be joined by new teammates Mancebo and José Enrique Gutierrez, the alleged “Bufálo” from the Puerto list.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dresdner Tri-Team @ Frankfurt Marathon

The athletes of the Dresdner Kleinwort Triathlon Team competed at the Dresdner Kleinwort Frankfurt Marathon and celebrated their end of season together with their fans. Only two weeks after the World Championship in Hawaii, seven of the world’s best triathletes Normann Stadler, Maik Twelsiek, Markus Fachbach, Jan Raphael, Mathias Hecht, Marino Vanhoenacker and Scott Neyedli were taking part in relays - splitted in two groups. The second relay was completed by a fan of the team, Klaus Born from Mainz.

The Team “Dresdner Kleinwort Iron I” finished first with Normann Stadler crossing the finish line after 2:27:25. “It means a lot to us to finish the season at Dresdner Kleinwort Frankfurt Marathon”, says team captain Normann Stadler. “After a long and hard season we meet here in Frankfurt to enjoy the great atmosphere at the track and also at the finishing line. It is amazing to see how much enthusiasm thousands of runners put into this marathon. The support of the fans in Frankfurt is really fantastic.”

The team is looking back on a successful season. Overall, in 2008 the team achieved nine race wins, five second and two third places. In addition to that, the team succeed at the hardest Ironman competition in Hawaii on October 11th with three athletes finishing top 15.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Armstrong - Comeback Begins This Weekend!

Lance Armstrong's return to competitive road cycling will occur nearly three months earlier than expected since the seven-time Tour de France winner has registered for the two-day event in...Gruene, Texas.

The 25th annual event will include a 16-mile individual time trial Saturday (Nov.1) along the Guadalupe River. On Sunday, Armstrong and John Korioth, one of the founders of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will compete in the 27.3-mile team time trial.

Gruene (pronounced GREEN) is located 25 miles north of San Antonio, Texas, and is designated as a historic town. Here’s the description of the race and weekend activities scheduled during its silver anniversary.

“Oompah bands, lederhosen, and abundant Bavarian food and drink. The history, charm, and ambiance of the little town of Gruene, a beautiful bicycle ride along the banks of the sparkling Guadalupe River, antique and classic bicycles, and Gruene Hall - where Texas style boot-scootin’ has polished its wood floors for more than a hundred years. Yep, we’re brewin’ up quite a ride for our 25th Anniversary. Come on down for a great time and lots of GEMUTLICHEIT - good fellowship in the German manner.”

Armstrong registered for the event online last Friday, according to Karen Rotzler, a race organizer and as reported in several Texas daily newspapers and web sites.

For the $30 registration fee, Armstrong will receive a race T-shirt and ticket to the event’s celebration, New Braunfels’ Wurstfest.

Since his recently announced comeback, Armstrong’s pending race itinerary, including his unknown status at next year's Tour de France, has been the topic of myriad articles, internet forums and blogs.

Armstrong’s expected first comeback road race wasn’t scheduled to occur until next Jan. 20 during the five-day Tour Down Under, the initial major event on the international professional circuit. The race beginning in Adelaide will still be Armstrong's first UCI-sanctioned event.

The Tour de Gruene combines family rides with competitive events that attract skilled amateur cyclists — and the occasional Tour de France titlist.

Armstrong previously raced in the Tour de Gruene in 1996, three weeks after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His teammate was five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx.

Viatcheslav Ekimov - Q & A

By: Cathy Mehl

Cathy: How are you, Eki?

Ekimov: Hello Ekaterina. Well, I’ve been busy and am getting ready to go home to St. Petersburg. My brother bought a car in Germany and I have to pick it up, then take a boat to Helsinki and then a two-hour drive. It’s a little bit crazy! I’ll be back just before the camp in Tenerife, and then maybe I’ll go back again for Christmas. We’ll see.

Cathy: Well, before you go let’s talk a little about the season. The Vuelta was your last race of the season and your first Grand Tour win as a Director. Can you talk about what it meant to be part of that?

Ekimov: I didn’t play such a big role there because I was driving the second car. Johan was there with Alain in the first car. But I won two time-trials because I was involved in those. The first one Alain helped me and then the second one I was there alone. Also some of the time Johan asked my opinion on racing situations, asking me what I would do. But really I think he already knew the answer and was just giving me a test! So while I wasn’t the main guy I still feel part of the success. I am always happy when our guy is winning a race, but I feel it’s between me and the rider. I don’t show as much happiness on my face like others might. I’m happy and I’m proud but I’m not doing any super celebrations.

But I’ve been with you at races and I know when our guys win you are very, very proud. You just don’t show it so much.

Yes you have to be. On the bus when everyone is celebrating you feel like you are a rider again and back in the business. It’s a very good feeling. The victory is shared.

Now look back over the season and just share a few highlights for us.

Well of course it was a very successful season. Two Grand Tour wins and almost 40 wins during the year. This was not just a season, this was a super season! It’s a remarkable kind of success that I will keep in my mind forever. But the next step will be based on these results—we cannot go any lower. We have set the bar very high.

Do you feel the team can repeat such success?

Well the main goal for this year was to completely change the image of the Astana team and I think we did that in a perfect way. There is no one at the end of the year saying they still wonder about this team. We have the biggest team, we have the strongest team, we have the biggest budget on the market now and for sure this team is a dream for 95% of the riders in the peloton.

What a big difference from a year ago. A year ago the task to turn the team around looked like such a difficult thing to do but less than a year later it has already happened.

Yep, I think it’s like cooking pancakes. If you take the 2007 Astana team as the first pancake, well that pancake didn’t come out so good. The second one was much more successful and I think from now on we’ll be delivering the good pancakes!

And now Lance is coming on the team. One year ago if you would have said that Lance was coming back to racing and that he was going to ride for a team from Kazakhstan, people would have said in disbelief: “No Way!”

The disbelief we all felt when we first has now turned into a good dream! Everyone knows Lance and everybody likes him except the French guys. So I know that with Lance as a rider on the team the team is going to go much, much higher. Lance is not a guy that plays around. He always has a professional way of working and professional way of having things organized around him.

When did you first find out?

At the Vuelta. We were in the middle of the race and didn’t want to disrupt the guys or interrupt their focus so we tried to stay quiet about it. I knew as soon as the news hit that people would stop talking about the Vuelta and then all the questions would be about Lance.

Were you shocked or surprised?

I was right at the first, but when I started thinking about it…Lance is still a young guy and he still has ambitions for the sport and wants to be in professional races. I understand that.

When Lance made his announcement to come back, Chechu immediately said he might hold off on his own retirement in order to ride with Lance again. Did you have any thoughts about coming out of retirement yourself?

I would love to come back if I could remove 5 or 6 years from my age. But I’ve realized and accepted that my training is gone. And so now I have found a position on the team where I can help other guys and this is perfect. Many of the new guys will be shocked at the beginning the way Lance will take command. But I will share with them my experience of working with Lance and calm them down, telling them that it will elevate the position of the team and themselves.

You will have a different relationship with Lance now. Instead of being his teammate and working for him you will be his director. Do you see a problem with this new role?

I am comfortable. Lance is always careful with the guys on the team and I hope that to Lance I am still Eki. He is the one that first named me Eki so I hope I am still that guy to him. I haven’t talked with him because I don’t want to be one of the guys calling him and leaving a message or email. I will see him at camp and maybe we can sit down and share a glass of wine. I think that will be most comfortable for us.

How about your race program for 2009? Do you know what races you will do?

Well, we have Dirk Demol coming back to the team. I probably won’t do the Tour de France because it will be Johan and Alain and Dirk. But I would like to do some spring classics in Belgium. And the Vuelta for sure. Maybe the Giro but I’m not sure about that because Lance will be there for the first time. And I’ll be at the Tour of California again for sure, that’s one of my races.

Of course we recently had another series of doping scandals with the two Gerolsteiner riders testing positive at the Tour. Despite that bad news, in general how do you think cycling is doing in cleaning up the riders?

Well for sure the fight against doping in the past few years has gotten better and better. But what happened in the past few months has been the ultimate bad thing. This can’t continue. Soon there will be no investors, no teams or the level will be reduced to amateurs. It won’t be professional at all. If there are still guys thinking, “Yeah, maybe I can still do something,” maybe now they know they can’t get away with it. Especially with the the new methods of finding the cheaters. In my opinion there is no room left for cheaters.

It was a big surprise that the Tour of Germany wasn’t going to continue. What did you think about that?

Germany is a big country and cycling is a popular sport there. To make this decision perhaps has something also to do with the world’s financial crisis that is going on. Perhaps that is the real reason they stop but they use doping as an excuse and no one can dispute it. Plus the manager of Gerolsteiner was the most out-spoken person in the peloton, always saying his team was so clean and so perfect. And then look how he was shot down by the positives on his team. I’m not a German guy and I’m not living in Germany so I guess I could say I don’t care what is going on there. But truthfully I am really sad that such a big country has basically banned cycling for now and that should not happen. Germany is still part of Europe and there are potentially good riders there. I think this is a big German panic. I don’t understand how not showing a race in France affects Germany—I could better understand if it were French TV saying they were upset with the race. But for Germany just turn your camera on and show the race! Millions of people will still be watching, they will just go to Eurosport instead of German TV.

It’s too bad they are bailing out on the sport instead of trying to be part of the solution.


So it’s the off season—any vacation plans besides the trip to St. Petersburg? That kind of sounds like work to me!

I don’t know. I travel so much during the year that I like to be home. But maybe I will go to Egypt for a week. What is good there are the hotels and always good weather, but for the rest I don’t care for it so much. Any time I go away I have my phone with me and am always on the phone so it’s still like working!

And you told me (girlfriend) Rasa was going to retire after the World Championships—did that happen?

That’s what she said to me, and since then she hasn’t touched a bike! She says she’s done. She’s tried to quit before but decided to come back. It might be kind of hard for her soon, it’s a little depressing, but I think she will be okay.

And your son Slava? Is he riding his bike much?

He’s so busy with school right now. And his time on the weekends is spent on his scooter with his friends. He finds that more fun than his bike. He likes being with his buddies!

Livestrong Austin Raises 3.6 Million Dollars

On October 26th 2008 Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Austin weekend event raised 3.6 million dollars.

A young man asks Lance a question at the top fundraiser dinner. The question: "What was your worstest bike accident?" When Lance started off with "My worst accident ...", the audience corrected, "WORSTEST!"

Lance opens up the weekends events at the "top fundraisers dinner"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Basso Reaches Podium At Japan Cup

Lampre’s Damiano Cunego won the Japan Cup on Sunday, edging out Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Liquigas’s Ivan Basso who was competing in his first race since being swept up in the Operaćion Puerto doping scandal.

The 30-year-old, now riding for the Liquigas team, finished behind compatriots Damiano Cunego — winner of the Tour of Lombardy — and former national champion Giovanni Visconti in the 151 kilometers Japan Cup.

"Third place in principle is not usually satisfying, but this is different after nearly two years away," said Basso, whose acceleration forced a split in the peloton on the hardest section 2km from the finish, where he only lost out on a sprint.

"On the hilly sections I showed I was at the same level as the winner of the Tour of Lombardy (Cunego). Now, I can look
forward with confidence to next season."

Basso's last race was on March 30, 2007 at the Tour of Castille and Leon in Spain. Subsequently, suspicions of his involvement in the Puerto doping affair in Spain led to him being sanctioned for nearly two years.

Basso, who dominated his rivals to triumph in the 2006 Giro d'Italia, did not test positive for banned substances. It was only after months of pressure and speculation that he finally admitted to having links to the affair.

After resuming his career in Japan Basso would like to race next year's Giro d’Italia, where he is likely to bump into former rival, Lance Armstrong, who is returning to the sport after a three-year hiatus.

"He will be the logical favorite for the Giro," Basso said earlier this month. Basso has promised to kick-start his season in 2009 in South America, at the Tour de San Luis, in Argentina, before heading to the Tour of California in February then the Tirreno-Adriatico in March.

The Giro will then be his first big test.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ivan Basso - Japan Cup 2008

Ivan Basso smiling while training on the rollers on the balcony of the hotel in Utsunumiya before the Japan Cup.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alberto Contador - Happy Just To Be Alive!

He won the Tour, the Giro, and the Vuelta, and if luck holds, more triumphs will be his. But he never forgets that his greatest victory is just being alive, and whole at every level.

“He could use two or three more kilos, he’s very lean,” observes Luis Luengo, a mechanic for the Spanish world championship team who has observed the best riders in the world for the last 30 years. He’s referring to the super-slim Alberto Contador.

The burden of the season, questions about the future, and the character traits Contador has acquired through experience have turned him into a “battery” on a personal level. The wiry-legged cyclist tells about his past, his life, his beginnings,everthing except cycling. Behind the champion, there’s a lad of 25.

What’s behind the cyclist Alberto Contador?

A normal person, who likes to do what anybody my age likes to do. To be with my people, my family, my friends. I have a sister and two brothers, and the whole family is very close. I intend to take every possible advantage of the winter days to see my friends.

During your free time in the winter, what do you do?

I’m very informal. I like to stay home, even now that I’ve moved out from my parents' house and live with my fiancée Macarena. I visit my parents often. I try to enjoy my friends as much as possible.

And what do you like to do with your friends?

We have dinner, or go to the movies, but these days I’d usually rather stay home with friends than go out.

When you’re taking a break from the bike, what do you do to relax?

If I feel like it, I go karting. Sometimes on weekends I go hunting. I enjoy it, and walking in the mountains helps me stay in shape.

What do you hunt?

Whatever’s out there. I don’t get too worked up about it.

Do you like music, reading, television, movies?

I don’t read much. Yes, I like music. I play it in the car but not much outside, except for when I’m warming up on the rollers for a time trial. I’m nothing special. I like El Canto del Loco, Fito & Fittipaldis, Spanish pop. I like going to the movies. I always go with friends.

They say you eat everything, that you don’t have any food problems.

Yes, that’s true. I like everything. The only thing I can’t stand is rice pudding. I know that’s weird, but I don’t like it.

Are you the kind of guy that like to stretch out on the sofa and watch TV after training?

I’m okay with that. Sometimes it makes for a better day. I’m not into a particular show, I watch a little of everything.

What are your plans for the next few months?

Last winter I never stopped to catch my breath, and it went by very fast. In the next three months I only have two or three weekends. I mean, all my time is scheduled, so I only have three weekends without plans. It’s not like before, when I could say no to many things. I need time for myself, I guess, just like anybody else. As I said, I like to enjoy my family. Normally people understand that I can’t possibly go everywhere. Some don’t understand it, but I still can’t do it.

Does winning all three grand tours mean that you’ve got more commitments?

I can’t handle any more! I don’t have time. I’m a person who likes to take care of the fans. I do it wherever I can. I suppose I can’t take care of them all equally well. I’m sorry.

Who organizes your agenda?

My brother Fran, my fiancée and I. We all do it. Don’t think it’s easy, either. Before committing to anything, I have to check the dates.

Who are your friends?

The same ones as always, people from my neighborhood, people from high school. There are some that I ride with, some that I see on the weekends. I’m really proud to have life-long friends.

You’re 25 years old, you’re raking in money, you’re famous. Are you scared that you’ll lose your way? Will success go to your head?

No, no! Why? My fiancée, my family keep me in my place. Whether I get more or fewer victories, I’m still the same person. There are people who analyze you to the millimeter and who might think, “Victory has gone to this guy’s head, he won’t give me his autograph!” Honestly, I do the best I can. If it weren’t for the fans, the ones who enjoy it all, victories wouldn’t be worth much. When I win, my financée doesn’t get jealous or suspicious. In fact, I’m not going to have more opportunities because of winning. At least that’s how I see it.

Are you vain about your appearance? Do you like to dress well?

Yes, I like to dress well. When you have to go so many places you have to be presentable. You can’t go in just any old way. I don’t go hog wild either. You can’t go to all these places the same way, in the same clothes. Going to a prize ceremony isn’t the same as going to a dinner. I’m not obsessive about the subject, either, but I like to be dressed appropriately.

I’ve never met a cyclist who didn’t like speed, cars. Do you like speed, too?

Yes, I do, too. I have an all-terrain vehicle and after the Worlds I bought a sports car. I’m not madly in love with cars, but I don’t deprive myself of something I like. Nor do I buy on a whim.

You won’t be 26 until December, but you often give the impression that you’re 30. Why?

I’ve passed a series of huge milestones in my life, and it has really made me mature. As far as sport goes, I’m ambitious. I’ve gotten results. Yes, I’m capable of the mentality of a 30-year-old person. It allows you to make quick decisions during the races when you’re pushing the limit. It’s an advantage that not everyone can take.

In competition you’re ambitious. Where is your limit?

When I had the accident I matured very quickly. Since then, when anything happens to me, I compare it with that, and laugh.

Pardon this question. You’ve looked death in the face?

I saw it close-up.

What was that like?

My first thought was that I might have some physical or mental disability that wouldn’t allow me to live a normal life.

Did you believe that you would ever race again?

I thought about just being alive! My ability to move my body was in jeopardy. I could’ve been paralyzed. Two days after the accident, I began to move my extremities. I had problems with my vision, with moods. Soon everything healed and I was fine.

What do you think of all this?

What do I think? It shows you that you’re nothing, that you’re excrement (he used a coarser term). You believe that you’re strong, you train to peak form, you think nothing can get to you, that you’re indestructible, but the only truth is that it can all come to an end at any moment.

You collapsed on the highway? Do you remember anything?

No, I don’t remember anything. If I’d been left on the highway in Asturias, I wouldn’t have been aware of anything. If I’d been left in that place on that day I wouldn’t have suffered at all. The ones that would’ve suffered would’ve been my family.

That misfortune, which could’ve cost you your life, has it left a mark?

An enormous mark, for life. Every morning when I see the scar in the mirror, I know what we are, and how precious life is.

Have you forgotten everything that happened?

No. I recovered, and that’s the important thing.

Do you look back?

Yes, in order to know where I was and where I am now. In order to appreciate everything.

I look in the storage room and see the number of Trek bicycles that I own now, all the colors and models. I remind myself that my parents couldn’t afford to give me the 350 pesetas to buy a jacket.

I look at the amount of clothes they give me and remind myself that when I was a cadet and a young rider with a jersey that cost 500 pesetas (three Euros now), I looked so good that I went to the mirror to admire myself. Now they give me so many clothes that I give some of them away so they won’t go to waste.

How can I not look back? How can I not value these things? That’s why my family is so important to me.

And what about your birds?

I still have them, but I can’t look after them like I used to. I don’t have as much time to spend with them, but I still really like that world. I’m still fascinated by animals.

Are you a winner? Have you been wronged?

Yes, I have. I try to put myself in the other guy’s shoes, in order to understand. I try to avoid being negative.

Do you bear grudges?

No, I don’t, not at all. It’s a self-defense mechanism that I have, a way to blot out the negative things that are troubling me. Often I’m much too nice, but that’s just how I am.

You acknowledge that you’re a privileged person. Are you the best cyclist in the world?

I am a privileged person, that’s the reason why I can enjoy things like this. But cycling is full of suffering and sacrifice. I know that on television everything looks easy, it seems that I pedal effortlessly, that I win with ease. Behind those triumphs are many hours of training, throughout many years, a lot of time in hotels away from home. That’s the part people never see. You have to take care of yourself, and live a well-ordered life. This is not a normal sport.

You started as a cyclist in Gipuzkoa, having travelled there from Madrid. What do you remember from those years?

During the first year with Iberdrola, I travelled with Jesús Hernandez, but he wrecked the car. I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license. I often had to to take the train, a seven-hour trip, in a coach filled with big clouds of tobacco smoke. I arrived from Madrid reeking of smoke. Back then, people could smoke anywhere. They used to pick me up at Zumarraga, I think that was the station.

Later I bought a Renault 5. We lived in a flat. They treated me very well. I had to go from Pinto to Atocha and on to Chamartín by train. All the way through the suburbs, on the metro. A car was a luxury we couldn’t afford.

How do you see your future?

In the short term, on a bicycle. In the long term I’ll look for the best situation for my personal life. I’m optimistic. I have a good family, good friends. I’ll certainly look for motivations in life.

And what about vacations?

I need forced vacations, with no cycling talk and no bicycles

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Armstrong Leaves Door Open For Tour

Lance Armstrong left the door open regarding his particpation in the 2009 Tour de France after learning more details about the race on Wednesday. Although he was not in attendance at the race's annual presentation, he offered his comments on the next edition.

"The route of the 2009 Tour de France strikes me as innovative and very interesting," said Armstrong. "From its start in Monte Carlo with a 15km time trial, to the reinstatement of the team time trial, to stages in my old hometown of Girona all the way to another visit to my old friend the Ventoux, I could not have hoped for a different Tour."

"While there has been a fair bit of tension and numerous disagreements with the Tour and its organizers, I am well aware that there is new leadership at [Amary Sport Organization] ASO and I look forward to upcoming conversations and to a mutually beneficial future together," he said. "Whether it's promoting the Livestrong global cancer campaign or making the biggest bike race in the world the gem that it deserves to be, I look forward to next year."

Armstrong addressed leadership concerns and reaffirmed his commitment to his Astana team for next season, regardless of whether he races the Tour de France. "It is illogical to pre-select a leader for any race in October of the previous year. We are blessed at Astana to have the strongest team in the world and I look forward to riding with all of these great riders. I have been around long enough to know that cycling is a team sport and I am fully committed to supporting the strongest rider in any race. Whether that's me, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, or Andreas Kloden."

Armstrong has not committed to racing the Tour de France in 2009, but he is currently scheduled to race the Tour Down Under, the Tour of California and the Giro d'Italia.

Earlier on Wednesday, at the presentation, Astana's team manager Johan Bruyneel had indicated to us that Armstrong's participation would depend upon a good atmosphere for his rider. "I'd like to have a discussion with the new president of the Tour de France," he said, referring to 32 year-old Jean-Etienne Amaury who succeeded Patrice Clerc in that role. "In normal life, I always attend a party if I'm invited and welcome. If I don't feel that I'm welcome, even if I'm invited, I don't go. Here it'll be the same."

2009 Tour de France

After what was widely described as a modest Tour de France parcours in 2008, the 2009 edition – July 4 to 26 – looks to be far more spectacular. Instead of the final weekend coming down to the usual individual race against the clock, the final showdown will be on the slopes of Le Mont Ventoux – the last of four summit finishes – on the day before the race finishes in Paris.

It will also be the most international Tour for many years as – as well as starting in the Principality of Monaco – it will pass through the countries of Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy before finishing on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The race will begin on July 4 with a 15-kilometre time trial around the millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo, which will include several iconic sections of the Monaco Grand Prix motor racing circuit, before heading west along the south coast of France. Despite this longer-than-usual first test though, the time triallists will once again feel slightly short-changed with only 55 individual kilometres against the clock.

The team time trial returns, to replace some of those individual kilometres with a 38-kilometre stage in Montpelier before heading south and – as leaks and rumours over the past months have indicated – venture over the border with Spain for a stage between Girona and Barcelona, where the race will visit for the first time since 1965.

As this will be the first time the Tour has started this far south since San Sebastián, Spain in 1992, the clockwise route will visit the Pyrénées before the Alps. The race will then head back into France via a mountaintop finish at Andorra-Arcalis.

Two more Pyrénéen stages – including one over the Col du Tourmalet come ahead of the first rest day in Limoges. A diagonal dash to Burgundy and Alsace will come before hitting the Alps.

The first Alpine stage will end with an uphill finish to Verbiers in Switzerland, where the race will have its second rest day, before heading back to France via Italy and the Cols de Grand Saint-Bernard and Petit Saint-Bernard.

The final time trial of the race will be 40-kilometre around the lake at Annecy, but this will not be in its usual place on the final Saturday, as there will be one more test for the overall contenders before they reach Paris. The final blows in the battle for the yellow jersey will come on a stage from Montélimar to the legendary Mont Ventoux, where the race returns for the first time since 2002.

Unusually, it will be the time triallists who will need to take time from the climbers before the final weekend instead of the other way around.

July 4, stage 1: Monaco ITT, 15km
July 5, stage 2: Monaco - Brignolles
July 6, stage 3: Marseille - La Grande Motte
July 7, stage 4: Montpellier - Montpellier, TTT 38km
July 8, stage 5: Cap d’Agde - Perpignan
July 9, stage 6: Gerona - Barcelona, 167km (Spain)
July 10, stage 7: Barcelona - Andorra-Arcalis, 224km (uphill finish)
July 11, stage 8: Andorra-la-Vella - St-Girons
July 12, stage 9: St-Gaudens - Tarbes (via the Tourmalet)
July 13, rest day and transfer to Limoges
July 14, stage 10: Limoges - Issoudun, 192km
July 15, stage 11: Vatan - St-Fargeaud, 200km
July 16, stage 12: Tonnerre - Vittel, 200km
July 17, stage 13: Vittel - Colmar (via col de la Schlucht)
July 18, stage 14: Colmar - Besançon
July 19, stage 15: Pontarlier - Verbier (Switzerland)
July 20, rest day
July 21, stage 16: Martigny - Bourg-St-Maurice (via col du Grand-St-Bernard and Petit-St-Bernard)
July 22, stage 17: Bourg-St-Maurice - Le Grand Bornand (via 5 climbs, starting with Cormet de Roselend, finishing with col de la Colombière)
July 23, stage 18: Annecy, ITT 40km
July 24, stage 19: Bourgoin - Jallieu-Aubenas
July 25, stage 20: Montélimar - Le Mont Ventoux
July 26, stage 21: Montereau - Paris/Champs-Elysées

Friday, October 17, 2008

Basso ends suspension and is back with Liquigas

Ivan Basso officially announced his return to racing and contract with Team Liquigas today on the shores of Lago Maggiore, Italy. The Italian cycling federation banned the cyclist, 30, for 16 months for his involvement in Operación Puerto.

"I worked a lot to arrive at this point and in condition," said Basso. "It is important to start over, the first race that is available on the calendar."

Basso will immediately return to racing with the Japan Cup, October 26, two days after his suspension ends. He travels there immediately with four teammates and directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta. His last race was the Vuelta a Castilla y León, which ended on March 30, 2007.

He will start his 2009 season with the Tour de San Luis, Argentina, and the Tour of California. He will then focus on Italian races and the Giro d'Italia, a race he won in 2006. "Certainly, all of the dreams I had in 2006 are still there and certainly I want to take the maglia rosa again."

Basso left on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France when Spanish papers linked him to Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, centre of 2006's Operación Puerto doping investigation. He briefly returned to racing in 2007 before a formal investigation. He was banned from racing on June 15, 2007, for his links with Fuentes. During the hearings, he admitted to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) prosecutor that he gave blood to Fuentes.

"I paid for something, and this gives me serenity," said Basso of his suspension. "I served my two years and I am not concerned about the others."

Liquigas announced in April it signed Basso for two years. Despite his competition ban, Basso is training vigorously for his return.

"He wants to start in the Japan Cup to take the most of his training over this time," said Team Manager Roberto Amadio. "He will start 2009 in Argentina; it is a tranquil place that will help him find himself in the gruppo."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Armstrong Vs. Basso - Giro 2009

The 2009 race programme of Lance Armstrong is becoming clearer, as the American will participate in the Giro d'Italia. The three week-race runs from May 9 through May 31, 2009.

Armstrong told Gazzetta dello Sport that he was looking forward to the Corsa Rosa. "I can't wait until May, I am so excited to be coming to the 2009 Giro d'Italia. I raced a long time professionally and I never did the Giro. It is one of the biggest regrets I ever had."

Armstrong added that 2009 will be a perfect opportunity to change this. "Fortunately for myself, I get to erase this regret and be there at the 100-year anniversary and who knows maybe with a good result." The latter statement indicated that the ambitious American will not just want to finish the race and hope to raise awareness for his global cancer campaign.

With the earlier preparation races in Australia and the United States, Armstrong looks set to do a good Giro. Armstrong then proceeded to greet the Italian tifosi. "I am looking forward to seeing you all and arrivederci."

Angelo Zomegnan, the head of RCS Sport that organises the race, welcomed Armstrong. "The relations between me and Armstrong were intact even when he retired in 2005. This year I sensed there was a possibility that Lance would return. This perception became concrete after his extraordinary performance on August 9, at the Leadville 100."

Zomegnan then took action. "I officially invited Lance to the Giro on September 29, during my trip to Austin, Texas."

Zomegnan was happy that Armstrong un-retired, if just for the track record of the Giro. "No cycling champion has permitted [himself] not to race in the Giro. Armstrong has won the 100-year anniversary Tour de France," Zomegnan explained and was hoping the American could also take out the 100-year anniversary event in Italy.

Armstrong had previously announced that he will ride the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California.

His announcement of racing the Giro may be an indication that Armstrong's teammate, Alberto Contador, will be the protected rider in the Tour de France. The Tour de France is Contador's only objective for the season.

Armstrong made a surprise return to professional racing in September this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Alexander and Wellington run away with Ironman World Championship

In only his second attempt at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship, Australia's Craig Alexander used a blistering run to win by three minutes over Spaniard Eneko Llanos. In a field full of strong cyclists, "Crowie", as Alexander is known, remained patient on the bike and took over the race on the run. Alexander was 13th out of the water, 11th off the bike and first at the finish after a 2:45:00 marathon.

In the women's race, undefeated Iron-woman Chrissie Wellington of Great Britain battled back from a 10-minute stop to fix a flat tire to go on to win by 14:57 over Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands. Wellington's run-split of 2:57:44 was a new course record. Sandra Wallenhorst of Germany also ran under three hours (2:58:35) to finish third.

How the men's race unfolded

Few were surprised to see American Andy Potts, Frenchman Benjamin Sanson and Aussie Pete Jacobs smoke the rest of the field on the swim. Potts was first to exit the water, with Sanson three seconds back and Jacobs another three seconds behind. The group had three minutes on the next pack, which included Kiwi Bryan Rhodes and Spaniard Eneko Llanos.

Twenty miles into the bike Sanson still led and Potts was on the side of the road serving a drafting penalty. Super-bikers Chris Lieto (USA) and Torbjorn Sindballe (DEN) were less than half a mile behind Sanson and making up ground—fast. Also playing catch-up were defending champion Chris McCormack (AUS) and two-time champ Normann Stadler (GER), who were both about two minutes behind.

Flash-forward to the bike turnaround at Hawi and the leaderboard had changed entirely. Lieto Sindballe set the pace, with 2005 champ Faris Al-Sultan (GER) one minute back and Llanos two minutes behind. Shortly after the top athletes made their turn for home, McCormack snapped his front derailieur cable and was in serious trouble. Macca was told by tech support that it would take up to 20 minutes to repair and he decided to drop out of the race.

As the leaders stormed back toward Kailua-Kona, Sindballe dropped the hammer and began to pull away from everyone. Shortly after mile 70, we clocked Torbjorn at 28 mph, pedaling at 70 rpm. Needless to say, he was really grinding.

Sindballe hit T2 with a lead of almost five minutes (after a 4:27 bike-split) over Lieto and six minutes over Stadler. Next off the bike were Eneko Llanos and Al-Sultan, two of the strongest runners in the field.

Sindballe looked strong as he charged out of transition and onto Alii Drive, but Llanos and Stadler looked even better. The Great Dane’s lead quickly diminished and the pair of Llanos and Stadler made quick work of the two leaders (Lieto and Sindballe). At the 10-mile mark, Stadler was in the lead with Llanos only a few seconds behind. Lieto and Sindballe dropped well off the pace and Aussie Craig Alexander surged into third position, 2:30 behind the leaders.

Alexander took over the lead around the 17-mile mark, after running 6:20 per mile to that point. He opened up a small gap on Llanos and easily grew his lead with each passing stride. Shortly after Crowie moved into first, Brown passed Stadler to assume third position.

At the 22-mile mark the race was all but over. Alexander’s lead was at three minutes and growing fast, as Llanos battled to hang onto second over a surging Rutger Beke (BEL).

Alexander crossed the line in 8:17:45 after running a 2:45:00 marathon. Three minutes later, Llanos finished second, barely hold off Beke, who was only 33 seconds back of the runner-up. Two of the biggest surprises of the day came from the fourth and fifth place finishers. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI), who won Ironman Switzerland earlier this year, finished in fourth today, only 23 seconds behind Beke. Fifth place was German Timo Bracht, who may be disqualified pending review of a bike-course infraction. The second, third and fourth place finishers (Llanos, Beke and Schildknecht) were separated by only 56 seconds.

In his first-ever Ironman Potts finished as the top American, in eighth place, after an 8:33:50 effort. Michael Lovato was the next American to finish – 57 seconds behind Potts – in tenth.

How the women's race unfolded

Team TBB athlete Hillary Biscay was out of the water first for the women in 54:35, followed closely by a pack of Gina Ferguson, Gina Kehr and Nina Kraft ten seconds back.

Onto the bike, Kraft made an early move in town and through the ten-mile mark had three seconds on Dede Grisebauer and Kehr, with Chrissie Wellington in fourth at only forty seconds back.

Shortly after fifteen miles Wellington took the lead, pushing a big gear and within thirty miles already was 1:10 up on second-place Leanda Cave and almost two minutes up on a third-place Grisebauer.

Similar to the changing winds blowing the field all over the place, the women’s standings on the bike were all over as Granger moved into second at forty miles, 2:40 back of Wellington. Cave and Grisebauer were only a few seconds back of Granger.

At 55 miles, Wellington flatted and had trouble inflating her spare tube. After going through three cartridges, Rebekah Keat threw another to her and rode off. The Britt, who typically takes the first bike of the bike easy, found herself having to play catch up. Wellington had a lead of five minutes when she flatted and afterward was six minutes behind the new leaders of Cave, Grisebauer and Granger.

Taking no time, Wellington started working through the field of women who passed her while she was stuck on the side of the road. At 59 miles she was only 5:20 back of Granger and at 75 miles she was only 1:17 behind Granger and already ahead of Cave and Grisebauer. Soon after 85 miles, she passed Granger and quickly started gaining time on her.

Into T2, Wellington had over seven minutes on Granger and eight on Yvonne Van Vlerken, who quickly plowed through the field coming back from Hawi.

At a speed as blazing as the heat out on the course, Wellington continued to gain more time on the run, and had 9:34 on Van Vlerken at mile four. Granger was now sitting in third at 11:36 back.

On pace to beat the run record set by Lori Bowden in 1999, Wellington ran 6:30 per mile through the first 8 miles, faster then every male except Craig Alexander, who was happy to know she was running 10-20 seconds per mile slower than him.

The searing temperatures in the Energy Lab didn’t slow the thirty one year old’s pace as she ran a 6:37 mile into the turnaround. Back on the Queen K and through twenty miles, Van Vlerken was over 13 minutes behind and Wallenhorst holding onto third another three minutes.

Onto Alii Drive, Wellington's lead continued as Wallenhorst gained time on Van Vlerken, making a close race for second.

Racing in honor of her grandmother who died of breast cancer six weeks ago and coming across the line doing the “Blazeman Roll”, Wellington won her second Ironman World Championship in 9:06:23, setting a new run course record by almost two minutes. In second in 9:21:20 was Quelle Challenge Roth winner Van Vlerken and in third was Ironman Austria winner Sandra Wallenhorst at 9:22:52.

Ford Ironman World Championship
Kona, Hawaii
October 11, 2008
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:17:45
2. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8:20:50
3. Rutger Beke (BEL) 8:21:23
4. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:21:46
5. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:23:04*
*pending disqualification ruling
6. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:26:17

1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 9:06:23
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 9:21:20
3. Sandra Wallenhorst (GER) 9:22:52
4. Erika Csomor (HUN) 9:24:49
5. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:28:51

Friday, October 10, 2008

Matt Lieto: Fat to Fit

By Matt Lieto

I am sitting on a plane on the way to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, where I will be competing in the 2008 Ironman World Championship. Living in Bend, Oregon suggests that I get to Kona 2 weeks early to get acclimated to the heat and humidity not to mention that it will allow me to spend some quality time with my brother and some friends who are also doing the race. As I got on the plane this morning, I realized something. I am not nervous or anxious about the race at all. It should be the biggest race of my career to date, and an opportunity to show the progress we have made this year. But, still no nerves. As I watch the kid next to me devour a pizza from the airport concessions I realize why- I have already won.

Ten years ago pretty much to the date, I got on a plane to watch my brother Chris race his first Ironman in Kona. A fair bit has changed in my life between that flight and this one. First I had never seen a triathlon before, let alone participated in one, and now I am a professional athlete competing in the Ironman World Championships. Second, I was 245 lbs then and eating that pizza but now I am 170lbs eating a Harvest bar instead. There have been some big changes in the last 10 years, in my lifestyle, my appearance, and me as a person. The unknowing fat kid on the plane 10 years ago had no idea what impact that week's experience on the big island would have on his life.

I had always been an overweight child. Well as far back as I can remember, or as far back as I was in control of my eating habits. I wasn¡¦t a horribly inactive kid, or an absolute pig, I just made poor choices. I was at a manageable weight through grade school, just a victim of the hated "baby fat" (how many babies worth?). Or maybe I was just "big boned" or "husky", which were common theories as well. I attended a small school through junior high where participation in sports was the important thing, not performance or fitness. Just do what made you happy. So participate I did, and found other distractions like the ol' Nintendo and an occasional Ho Ho and Ding Dong.

Once in high school, the situation surrounding my weight seemed to snowball. It is what I like to call "the fat to fatter" cycle. It is vicious. Being overweight during the high school years of your life can be quite an experience. I was just like everyone else at that time - trying to find their way, find friends and people who would accept you for what you are while at the same time trying to discover who you are for yourself. Well, for me it was ¡§round boy¡¨ and for those even less creative hooligans it was "Fat Matt". Sweet, thanks guys, that helps a bunch. I believe I ordered the Double Whopper with Cheese.

Yep, you guessed it, I found quite a delightful companion in food. Yes, food provided comfort. It really was a cycle and kind of ironic that the thing I found comfort in was the root of my problems from the beginning. The good bi-product that developed during this time in my life was this sparkling personality that I now posses. I had to be that "funny fat friend" that everyone seems to want to have. "Oh Matt, he's cool, just give him a candy bar and he'll make you laugh."

My college years were better on the social side of things, less jerks, and I was more content with where I fell into society. Well, sort of. I still had bouts of depression about my physical state, only to be nurtured by the buffets at the dorm's eatery. I managed to steal my roommates freshman fifteen, and quickly got up into what I like to call the "mid two's". Yep, I was now floating far too close to the 250 lb mark, and was busting the buttons off my size 38 pants!! Woof. With no real end in site, I unknowingly got on a plane to Kona to support my big brother in his new pastime - triathlon. Apparently, this triathlon I was going to go watch was kind of a big deal and quite an accomplishment for him. All I knew was that I was somehow getting a family vacation to Hawaii out of it.

Our condo for the week was about a half mile up Alii from the outdoor expo. I spent the days before the race mostly mooching free stuff from the vendors and stocking up on as many free "candy bars" as possible. I did notice a difference in the rest of the people that where frequenting the expo. Unlike me, they were less interested in the food, and more interested in the race and what they could do to prepare. And it showed, I had never been around so many fit people in one place. I have to admit my neck was a bit sore from all the double takes of the coed competitors. Although I loved hanging out down town, in my physical state I remember it being incredibly tiring to walk back and forth to the condo. My insulation created a sauna like situation during each walk.

On race day, I was excited to see what this thing was all about, and stoked and nervous for Chris in this endeavor. If it was hot and tiring for me to walk a half mile -- how was he gonna do this? Are you fricking kidding me? Swim 2.4miles, bike 112 miles, and run a whole damn marathon. Na - not gonna happen.

We decided to volunteer to help out during the race and picked up our volunteer shirts. I somehow finagled myself out on the pier while posing as a photographer, and got an up close view of the swim and its pure chaos. After the swim, I hid out in the air conditioning of the hotel till about an hour to go on the bike. Then we went out to our volunteer spot on the run at the "Cop Shop." This was amazing - handing water to these beasts that had already swam and ridden for hours and now were running by almost too fast for me to get them their much needed water. If it took me longer than 20 feet to get the water in their hands, they where on there own - this rig was not able to run that far at their speed.

We volunteered for a few hours and then scooted to the finish line to watch Chris come across. He did it, came across the line happy as could be and there wasn't a dry eye in the house, well in the Lieto house at least. I was surprised at my emotion and the amount of pride I felt for my big brother. I spent the rest of the day, and up until midnight, right on the finish line watching all makes and models come across. Young, old, fast, slow, skinny, chubby, fresh and worked. Needless to say, I was inspired. If a 78 year old man, bent over by a locked up back can do this, I can at least get off my butt and do something. ANYTHING!

Once back home to school, I decided that I had to try another time to change my lifestyle, and that maybe my weight would respond. I changed the way that I ate, cut out fatty foods and anything that was in a box or packaged. I adopted the "King, Prince, Pauper" mode of eating which means, a lot for breakfast, a good amount for lunch and a sparse dinner. Conveniently at the same time I changed my diet, a neighborhood skate park went in down the street. Let's just say both my waistline and my grades plummeted as a result. I was spending up to 5 hours a day skating around the park, and without me knowing it, I dropped 80 pounds in 5 months! Time to find a new wardrobe, and start training for the sport that inspired me.

Long story short, my first triathlon that I trained for went better than I or anyone that I knew thought it would go, and I decided to put some more effort into this thing and prove that just as I had with my weight, that anyone can do anything they want to, if they put their mind to it. Over the next 7 years I moved up the triathlon ladder by going to several National Championships and a World Championships as an amateur. I went from Olympic distance racing to Half Ironman distance, and eventually got my Pro card and started racing full Ironman events. I stayed on top of my nutrition, and with healthy eating and keeping a close eye on my body composition I have been able to keep light and fit. I really enjoyed the consistent challenge to further myself as an athlete and push my limits physically and emotionally. I found that I raced better in tough conditions and discovered that when the going got tough, all I had to do is remember how hard it was to do ANYTHING with that fat suit on, and remember how lucky I am to do what I do.

Soon after I began racing triathlon at a professional level, it became a reality that Chris and I were able to race alongside each other in the pro field. It happens less then we would both like, but we love it every time it happens.

If you asked me 10 years ago on my flight out to Kona, what my chances were of racing there one day, I would have said one in a million. Now, I am happy to say otherwise. To sweeten the deal even further, I get to race alongside my inspiration in the sport and my pick for an upset, my brother Chris. So, if you see me out there on race day with a big ol' smile on my face, and wonder why I look so happy just being there no matter what position I'm racing in, just remember - I have already won.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stadler And Longree - German Contenders

Two Germans to watch at this years race are of course Normann Stadler the two time Champion and a dark horse Max Longree. Max had a blistering run split last year at 2:44 and won Ironman Louisville in August by a whopping 20 minutes over the second place runner up. We had the chance to meet Max at Interbike a few weeks ago and he has to be the nicest guy who you will ever meet. Recovox wishes both Normann and Max the best of luck on race day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chris Lieto Checks In From "Dig Me Beach"

Terenzo Bozzone is in Kona for his sponsor Specialized bikes. Terenzo is not racing, but look for him later at the 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater Florida.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stadler & Bell - Ironman Course Likes Dislikes

Tim DeBoom: The Kona dream deferred to 2009

Seen at Interbike, America’s best Ironman bet was nearing the twilight of a great career, but his smile looked more like dawn than sunset and happily, comfortably, confidently sat for a wide ranging interview on some folding chairs next to the Felt booth at the Sands Convention Center.

Click on the title link to read the interview.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lance Armstrong - Kicks Off Marathon Kids Program In Austin Texas

Austin Area 2008-2009 Kick Off Celebration!

Marathon Kids is a free, twelve-year-old, trademarked, incremental, school and community based fitness program. It is a six month endurance-building running/walking, nutrition and schoolyard gardening project for K-5th graders and their families.

They are in seven cities and growing “organically” across the world.  We passionately protect the integrity of the free program and work hard to keep it free for our target market:  children most vulnerable to sedentary lives, childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Their mission is to build joyful community around children and be quickly accepted into public, private and home schools as a free, innovative, celebratory fitness and nutrition program, resonating with the child… and with the child’s family. The goal is for the child to develop the love and habit of moving through space and to carry forward the power of muscular, nutritional and psychological well being.

Lava Java - Kona Town Starts To Heat Up

For those of you who have been to Kona to watch or race Ironman Hawaii you know if you want to see or meet any of the top athletes all you need to do is visit Lava Java. As race day approaches next Saturday athletes are beginning to show up. Pictured above is two time Ironman World Champion Normann Stadler with his German teammates.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kelly Slater Wins 9th World Title

Kelly Slater has just won his ninth world surfing championship today in Mundaka, Spain. Dominating five of the season's first eight contests, Slater accrued enough points to clinch the 2008 title with two scheduled Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Tour contests yet to be surfed. Slater's ninth world championship comes 16 years after his first, in 1992, and is his third championship title following a three-year foray into semi-retirement.

Slater's win today solidifies what some say is his best season yet in an eighteen-year career, and reaffirms his unequivocal status as the most prolific surfer of all time.

On what his surfing means to him and others Slater remarked, "The rewards have paid off for a lot of work and commitment to surfing my whole life. I'm stoked, I just try to do the best I can with what I've got."

After winning the 2008 season opener at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Slater built momentum over the next six contests, winning 32 of 35 heats surfed going into the Quiksilver Pro France last week, where he placed second. He arrived at Mundaka on Sunday as the presumptive 2008 World Champion, and needed only a ninth place finish to clinch a ninth world title.
About his 2008 season Kelly said, "I had a great year, and it's nice to be rewarded like this. But besides that it felt like a great year. A lot of good things have happened up to this point on the tour."

Reflecting on winning the title again at Mundaka, Slater said, "It's freezing, but a lot of people showed up to see today, so thanks to everyone who is here. Thanks for being here and being a part of this. It's magic. We have surf and my year is complete."

In 2006, he earned his eighth world title at this same Spanish surf spot. Observers at the time felt it would be his last. But as he was carried today up the rocky Basque country shoreline by friends and cheered by throngs of Spanish supporters on the cliffs above, it was clear that Slater is better than ever.

Asked if he's going to continue surfing Slater said, "Always, surfing is a constant challenge. I'm sure when I'm eighty I'll think I'll be getting better. It is just my life and it never ends."

Slater ascended to surfing's top-spot in the early 1990s, ushering the old guard out with a rare competitive spirit and a never before seen style. He won the world title a record six times between 1992 and 1998. In 2005, seven years after his previous title, Slater made an incredible comeback to win a highly emotional seventh world title in Brazil. Still Slater showed no signs of slowing down. In 2006, Kelly handily won his eighth world title and continued competing, pushing his records further from the reach of second best.

"Kelly Slater is an extraordinary human being, physically and mentally. His talent and accomplishments are unmatched in surfing and perhaps in the history of sports," says Bob McKnight, Quiksilver President, Chairman and CEO.

The nine-time World Champion's victory lap promises to be as action-packed as his 2008 season. This fall, Slater is releasing his second book; a collection of rare interviews and unpublished photos, titled "For the Love" (Chronicle Press). He'll also continue to work on "The Ultimate Wave," a 3D IMAX feature film due out fall 2009. And as surfing's biggest icon and greatest ambassador, Slater will continue to promote a cleaner, safer planet through The Kelly Slater Foundation ( Although he'll likely continue visiting the world's best surf spots, he may also catch a few waves at his homes in Florida, Hawaii and on Australia's Gold Coast.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Faris Al Sultan - Training Camp Palm Springs

Faris Al Sultan had his pre Kona training camp in Palm Springs California. Word has it that he and his training partners had a great camp and are ready for this years Ironman Hawaii. Everyone at Recovox wishes Faris the "best of luck"!

Leipheimer to NorCal CycleFest benefit

Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer will be the celebrity guest host of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League's annual CycleFest dinner on Saturday, November 8, at the Mill Valley Community Center in California. At CycleFest, Leipheimer will recall stories from his most memorable races, talk about the highs and lows of the 2008 season, and speculate on having Lance Armstrong back in the peloton for 2009. The CycleFest benefit weekend with Leipheimer also includes a Friday night cocktail party on November 7 and a Sunday Group Ride on November 9..

In addition, CycleFest will host its own handmade bicycle show, with bicycles on display from 12 of Northern California's most prominent custom frame builders.

Proceeds from CycleFest ticket sales will go to supporting the Northern California Mountain Bike Racing League. Regular tickets are US$150.00, and Patron tickets, which include a cocktail hour with Levi, are $200.00. For more information and tickets, visit