Archive

Archive for April, 2010

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Kurt Asle Arvesen

27/04/2010 Leave a comment

Norwegian Champion Kurt Asle Arvesen is one of the most experienced and talented riders in the peloton. The 35 year old turned pro in 1998 and joined Team Sky this year after many years with Bjarne Riis. When he’s not busy training or racing he sometimes hold spinning classes and lectures. He recently did this for the employees on an oil rig, but thanks to a certain volcano he got stuck there for 5 days. He’s back on the main land now and I’m very happy he took the time to answer some questions.

What got you interested in cycling, and when did you start?

I started cycling as alternative training during the summer of 1990, at that time I was doing cross-country skiing.

What have you sacrificed for your career?

I feel privileged that I’ve been able to do what I have for the last 20 years, so for that reason I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

The victory in Worlds U23 in 1997 was the  most important one, as that is what got me signed to a pro team. The biggest achievements are stage victories in Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and also the TTT stage in Vuelta a España was important. It was fun winning something together, and to stand on the podium with the whole team.

Do you look up to anyone? Who and why?

I look up to people who keeps going and makes it, doesn’t matter where, being sports or business.

Are there anything you would change about cycling?

I wish the riders were organised better and that our opinions were considered more.

If you could invite 5 people for dinner (dead,alive or fictuos) who would it be?

My wife, grandfather, father, mother and brother.

Which opportunities and challenges are there with being on a brand new team?

We can create something new. The challenges can be small things that will fall in place after a while.

How is it being in Team Sky? Do you get the time to get to know everyone?

There are a lot of new, very nice people. There are so many that it takes a good while to get to know everyone properly.

What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

To ride the Tour de France in top form and do a good job for the team.

Where do you find the motivation to come back after injuries?

I don’t like it when my body doesn’t work as it should.

Would you want to become a DS when your cycling career is over?

I’d like to work with cycling in some way.

Would you rather wear the Maglia Rosa, Worlds or Yellow Jersey?

Worlds

Are there any plans for the team to work for you in any races? Which ones?

The chances will come when I’m in form and I’ll get the teams support.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Steven Cozza

22/04/2010 Leave a comment

This 25-year-old Garmin-Transitions rider is truly something special. And it’s an honour for me to be allowed to portray him as ‘Rider Of The Week’. There might be a lot of you that have never heard of him, and some who only know him for his moustache, but this week we really get to know the person behind the rider. At just 12 years of age Steven took a stand against discrimination within the Boy Scouts, and started an organisation, Scouting For All, to change their policies. From the age of 12 – 15 he spoke all over the USA against discrimination, and still goes to schools during the off season to speak to youth about standing up for what you believe in. When he made it into the professional world of cycling, he decided to start the ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’ where he aims to raise $1 million for children all around the world. It’s not a charity where the money goes just one place; you can choose which childrens charity you want to donate to. ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’ keeps a total of all the money donated to all the different charities. I thought this was such a fantastic initiative by Steven, and decided all the money we raise for Right To Play will go towards the total.

What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

I started off racing BMX. I worked for an old guy taking care of his garden for a year and bought my first racing bike that way. Then my friends got me into mountain biking. I started off by taking my mom’s mountain bike, but then got in trouble for taking it on the trails without permission, so my parents got me own for my 13th birthday. I started racing on the road in ‘99, the year Lance Armstrong won his first TDF. He really inspired me so I got a road bike. Well I had to also ride on the road due to a broken shoulder I sustained in a high school wrestling accident. I never went back to racing mountain bikes or wrestling after that.

What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I have sacrificed a lot. The greatest sacrifice is not being able to live by my family, but instead across the world. For the most part though, the sacrifices have been all totally worth it. Following your dream is the best thing you can do in your life and I want to encourage all kids to continue to follow their childhood dreams.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement is coming back after every time I’ve been knocked down. Breaking through every wall that’s put in my way and never giving up.

Do you look up to anyone? Who, Why?

Yes, I look up to Muhammad Ali. He is the greatest athlete ever – in and out of the ring. What a champion – to not only be the greatest athlete of all time, but also a great human being, always standing up for others and never looking down on people. He is the greatest.

What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

The perfect season would be to race to the best of my ability and to help my team the best I can.

Which 3 things would you change about cycling?

I’d make more races in other parts of the world.

Which 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist? I’m proud to be a clean cyclist. I’m proud to stick to my beliefs. And, it feels good to be a good role model for kids.

If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be and why would you like to invite them?
Muhammad Ali, Ghandi, and the rest would be homeless, starving people and children

What is your favorite race of the season? Paris-Roubaix. I love this race because it’s so different than the rest.

Which race would you most like to win? Paris-Roubaix.

What is the reason you wanted to start Race for Kids Fan Club? Because I like helping others rather than just myself. All children deserve a chance in this life. We can all make a positive difference.

Right To Play already has projects in 23 countries worldwide, but where do you think sport and play could do the most good for young people and society as a whole?

I think it’s important to give all youth in the world these opportunities. Sport is such a great activity. Competition used in a peaceful way. It teaches kids so much and should be available to all. Thanks to Right To Play, they are paving the road to making this happen.

Why do you think it is so important for children to have the opportunity to participate in sport and play?

It’s good for everything: health, teaching responsibility, teamwork, building confidence and self esteem, encourages friendship and so much more. Sport/Play and Education are crucial in the development of a young person’s life.

If you want to support the fundraising, and also become a member of the ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’, you can donate to Right To Play here, or bid for items in the auctions that will be on ebay.

Thanks so much to Steven Cozza for taking the time to answer the questions! Good luck with the season, and of course with the amazing work you do for all the children in the world!

And thanks to Kristof Ramon for the picture.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Svein Erik Vold

21/04/2010 Leave a comment

The 24-year-old Norwegian rides for pro-team Joker Bianchi. Also known as ‘the pro-factory’ as it’s where all the Norwegian pro’s come from. He lives in Stjørdal, about 30 minutes from Trondheim (which is where Mona lives, so obviously being from somewhere so close to her he’s bound to be one of the best riders in the world!?). His siblings and family got him interested in cycling, and also the great environment in the local cycling club, and he started cycling actively when he was 10 years old. When we asked him what he had sacrificed for his career he said; ‘I have sacrificed a lot, but I have been given, learned and experienced a lot more than I have given up.’ He says he absolutely loves being in the team, and everyone in and around the team are great people. They always have fun together, being good times or bad! A perfect 2010 season for him would be a few victories in UCI races, and also gradually increasing results for the team. He’d love to one day be part of a team like HTC-Columbia, Team Sky, Cervèlo Test Team or Garmin-Transitions. Difficult to pick just one favourite team here, but maybe if we tell him that in Team Sky they get blue M&M’s it will make it easier? And if you’re going to be a pro, you can’t stay in Norway, so he’d love to live in Italy or the south of France (where he surely will have the guestroom ready at all times for us to come stay, right?) And for our final question, we asked him which race he’d most like to win during his career: ‘Well, I wouldn’t mind winning Paris-Roubaix…’ So guess we’ll see you there!

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Jonny Bellis

21/04/2010 Leave a comment

The 21-year-old Manxman is on his way to full recovery after a nearly fatal accident in September 2009. He is already back on his bike training, hoping to be ready to race again as soon as June. And we think it will be hard to find a more determined and focused rider than this! We’re really happy he took the time to answer some questions for us.

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

I started when I was 11 but i took it up seriously when I was 15, my dad took me to a local cycling club and it went from there.


-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

Moving away from home at a young age to pursue cycling.

-What is your biggest achievement so far?
I would say getting 3rd in the Under 23 Road World Championships in 2007 as a first year u23.

-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?

I would say Mark Cavendish because we are good friends and we are both from the Isle of Man.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?
Just to get back to the level I was already at. Then gain selection for the road world champs.

-What 3 things would you change about cycling?
More TV exposure in the UK, ProTour event in the UK and the same specification of equipment for track racing.

-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?

Family spirit in the peoloton, feeling of success, to know I am at the best level possible of riders.

– If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be?

Tom Simpson, Muhammed Ali, Jesus, Steve Hawkins, John Lennon.

– How has the accident changed you?

It’s made me more determined to achieve success.

– What’s the best thing about growing up on the Isle of Man?

The terrain and the cycling community.

– Do you have any rituals before a race that you have to do?

Listen to music.

– When did you get your first bike, and what kind of bike was it?

Age 4, a blue mountain bike.

– Are you aiming for London2012?

Yes, I would like to be part of the track team or road team.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Worlds in October!

MINI-RIDER OF THE WEEK – Joe Wilson

21/04/2010 Leave a comment

On Saturday 20th March, 9-year-old Joe Wilson rode 40km on his Mongoose BMX around Windsor Great Park to raise money for Sport Relief. And he managed to raise just short of £700! We thought this was such a great initiative by such a young boy, so we just had to ask him some questions.

– What made you want to raise money for Sport Relief?
I decided to try and raise some money after watching a TV advert for Sport Relief, I could not believe some children have nothing, not even a football to play with.

– Why did you choose to cycle?

I decided to do a bike ride because Daddy rides lots and I like riding with him.

– Was it hard completing the ride?
Yes it was very hard because it was quite far and it rained all day but i wanted it to be a real challenge.

– How long have you been cycling?
I’ve been riding 4, nearly 5 years.

– Do you have a favourite cyclist?
My favourite riders are Bradley Wiggins and Daddy.

– Do you have a favourite cycling team?

My favourite team is Team Sky.

– Would you like to become a professional cyclist when you get older?

I want to be a footballer when I’m older.
– What do you do for fun?
I like watching football, practicing my reading and playing computer games.

– Do you do any other sports?

I play football and cricket for the school and I am just about to get my first proper race bike and start racing. I’m very excited.

I want to wish Joe good luck with everything, and we hope to see him do something like this again one day!

Right To Play in Lebanon

21/04/2010 Leave a comment

Lebanon endured a civil war from 1975 – 1990. To this day there are still conflicts, which leads to violence and political unrest, leaving children and youth particularly at risk. Most of these children have been born and raised in a war zone and/or refugee camp.
However, the majority of children still feel that they can improve their own lives by going to school and developing personally and socially. No matter how hard their lives are, they continue to channel their energy through positive, constructive and non-violent activities.
Schools have become of major importance as a social arena as well as educational. Most children in these circumstances do not feel safe and are scared of attacks and violence. A study shows that almost half of Palestinian children have personally experienced violence due to the ongoing conflict or have witnessed such violence being inflicted on an immediate family member. Nine out of ten parents have reported symptomatic traumatic behaviour amongst their children. This is ranging from nightmares and bedwetting, increased aggressiveness and hyperactivity, as well as a decrease in attention span and concentration capacity. A small number of children have also become fixated on thoughts of death and revenge. Although this is generally accepted as a “normal response” to a stressful environment. Parents don’t feel that it is safe for their children to leave the house, and most don’t encourage this except for going to school, which makes it difficult for children to meet in non-formal and social gatherings. This is obviously frustrating for children, as they are in need of opportunities to enjoy and express themselves, and how to deal with the situation by sharing their views with other children.
Teachers say that the students achievements improve when they are allowed to carry out physical exercise and art, and when they are allowed to confront and deal with their emotions in the context of classroom activities. In the same study as mentioned above, they came up with solutions on how to help children and their caregivers cope with daily stresses and dangers, and in that way helping children develop effective resilience in the face of negative life events. One of three major suggestions was this:

“Programs should be introduced that attempt as much as possible to re-establish a sense of
“normalcy” in the lives of Palestinian children by providing them with greater opportunities to participate in on-going recreational/ cultural/sport and other non-formal activities. Support should be extended to existing community-based initiatives that seek to provide such opportunities.”

And this is exactly what Right To Play does in Lebanon. They have been present since May 2006 and provide critical learning opportunities, psychosocial support and leadership development for Lebanese and Palestinian children and youth traumatized by conflict, poverty and displacement. Initiatives that provide psychosocial support and promote gender inclusion and positive leadership are desperately needed for peace and development in the longer term.

Conflict in the summer of 2006 and 2007 resulted in the destruction of hundreds of schools and community centres, and the displacement of thousands of people. In response to the needs of the displaced, Right To Play helped children experience a sense of normalcy by holding sport and play activities with internally displaced communities and children and youth living in displacement centres, public parks and temporary shelters. Partnerships that were established with local and international organizations during these times of crisis are continuing.
Right To Play’s intervention in Lebanon focuses on providing psychosocial support activities and increasing awareness of healthy lifestyle behaviours through training in, and implementation of, sport and play programs designed with these objectives in mind. Right To Play promotes youth engagement in target beneficiary communities in Lebanon by encouraging youth leadership, empowerment, decision-making and problem solving within the context of their own communities.
The Right To Play project in Lebanon also promotes awareness of child rights and provides opportunities for community capacity building to ensure a safer and healthier environment for the children and youth of Lebanon.


Right To Play – Lebanon

Source

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Ted King

21/04/2010 Leave a comment

Ted King, also known as the King of Style, graduated college in 2005 with an economics degree, and then turned his career to pro cycling (thank god for that!). He rode for Priority Health and Bissel Pro Cycling before joining Cervèlo Test Team in 2009 and making his European debut. He’s currently living in Girona, Spain, where he’s drinking coffee, riding his bike and punishing team mates for wearing ankle socks. He is also regarded as one of the most thoughtful and intelligent riders in the peloton. Make sure you have a look at his blog, and especially the post ‘For Dad’. As part of our ‘Meet the Riders’ series, Ted has been kind enough to answer our mix of set questions and questions you wanted us to ask.

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?My older brother, Robbie, initially got me into cycling, but it took a while. After he went away to prep school and stumbled upon cycling, he raced fairly consistently for two years or more before I found any interest in it. After dabbling in road racing, he brought a mountain bike home from school one summer and then after borrowing that, I was hooked. So there’s my progression into bike racing: recreational mountain biking, mountain bike racing, recreational road riding for mountain bike training, then finally road racing. I didn’t do my first road race until I was 19 or 20.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?Ha! My best answer is “If you only knew…” Probably my second best answer is “Everything.” When cyclists are emotionally down, we often commiserate together about this one. I think it’s enormously different for guys who are traveling across an ocean to race their bikes; among that crowd, we give up seeing family and friends; this is time in my life when my friends are getting married and having children so that’s a hard thing to miss being part of. You give up any sense of normalcy – you don’t go to the movies, you don’t drive a car, you don’t speak your own language, you don’t use your own currency, even trips to the grocery store can be a headache-induced adventure. We give up a lot of fun – go to bed early, no partying, no drinking – all the mischievous things that people my age are engrossed in so that basically we live the life of a monk.That all being said, I love what I’m doing right now and really wouldn’t change it for anything. My philosophy is that life is an adventure. This is one fascinating chapter of my life and I’m really embracing it to the fullest. I have the benefit of living in a great town with a lot of other cycling friends from around the world, so that helps quite a bit. I really can’t imagine what it was like fifteen or twenty years ago when forerunning guys came across the Atlantic and lived in a French closet not speaking a lick of the language, hating life, all in the name of racing a bike…

-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?I do, but not to any extreme. Take George Hincapie, for example. He’s a neighbor and training partner of mine, so as an American myself, he’s a great guy to look up to.  Among other reasons, he’s had a very successful and lengthy career, he has prospered in this tough racing environment, he’s seen in a highly esteemed regard throughout the world, blah blah blah the list goes on and on. So for sure I admire him and would be pleased to have a career vaguely similarly to his, but it’s not like I’m emulating his every move to ensure that happens.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?Great question, but I prefer to play my cards close to my chest. That way if things don’t unfold the way I would like (or if they unexpectedly blow up in my face), I’m not letting those around me down.

-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?Uno. As an athletic kid growing up, I always dreamed of being a professional hockey player. I was skating from the age of two and by the age of twelve I was playing hockey year round – fall and winter is the regular season, spring has a league of it’s own, and summer is full of extremely rigorous hockey camps. I retired that dream around the age of seventeen and found cycling just a few years afterwards. To cut to the chase here, just being a professional athlete is a pretty awesome feather in my cap.Dos. I’m proud to be among this new generation of clean cyclists. There are clearly still people being popped periodically for doping, but by in large it’s a cleaner sport with a more level playing field (that’s an ironic thing to say since we race up viscously steep mountains, but you get the point). I think this generation will be remembered admirably in years to come.Tres. Success in this whacky business of professional cycling really says a lot about the cyclist as a person. You need a concrete mental fortitude continually telling yourself that you can succeed beyond all odds. You need the hardheaded personality that wills you to go outside and slog through countless hours despite the wind, snow, rain, hail all brutalizing your body. You need a mental stamina to keep pushing well beyond you feel your body should have said stop. Yup, just being professional at this level is an enormous accomplishment.

-How is it different living in Girona?See above, the questions about sacrifice. It’s just an entirely different story living overseas while racing your bike, as opposed to living and racing in your home country. If nothing else, it certainly adds to the adventure of it all.Oh, not to mention the difference in racing. I often say that racing in Europe is that much longer, that much more difficult, and that much faster that it’s virtually a different sport. A 60 kilometer crit is not exactly comparable to a 200km mountainous road race.

-Do you have a significant other? How does the lifestyle of a cyclist affect relationships?Nope. Single as it comes. Why, you know anyone in the market?

-How is it being in Cervèlo? Do you get a chance to get to know everyone?This team really is a great atmosphere for me to start my European career. Being that the Cervelo TestTeam itself began in my first year in Europe was perfect because there were no preconceptions and everyone was basically seen in the same light. At camp, the directors really stressed that we ride as a full team every single day, which is rare among pro teams this large. But since camp is generally the only time all twenty-five riders are in the same place, it’s a great way to meet your team.Since my specialties are diversified on the bike, I’m pretty sure that last season I was the first guy on the team to race with everyone – the climbers, the sprinters, the Classics team, and everyone else. So yes, I did get a chance to get to know everyone, staff included.

-How do you relax after a particularly hard race?The physical demands of racing here are obvious. What is often discounted are the mental requirements. The mental fortitude needed to be switchedON for five or six nonstop hours – fighting tooth and nail for position, dodging traffic islands and other miscellaneous obstacles, racing your brains out – are enough to make a mere mortal crack. What I’m alluding to here is that when you’ve finished a particularly tough race, you’re so drained both physically and mentally that you mechanically do things out of habit. Shower, grab a bite to eat, get a massage, go to dinner… and get yourself horizontal as much as you can between activities. Rinse, rest, repeat.
– If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be?In no particular order: Anthony Bourdain, Steve Jobs, Will Ferrell, Barack Obama, and Jesus.