My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Take a leap of faith into the unknown

Category: Cycling

Money is important in every sport. Few sportsmen are vouchsafed to actually keep on with their sport full time. Athletes who race cross-country equestrianism, for example, almost always have another work too. They can't possibly live on their sport. As a professionel cyclist the money is important too, for there is no time for a full time job. However, there are cyclists who do some work or studying. When the career is over, it can feel good to know that the future is fixed, that there are colleagues who are waiting, or that you have an education that can give you work.

The teams couldn't live without the sponsors, because without them they wouldn't be able to hire cyclists and give them a salary every month, they wouldn't have enough money to travel around to all races and so on. And the cyclists would themselves have to buy equipments (and where would those money come from?).

Many teams have money problems. They haven't found enugh sponsors, and is on the brink of survival. Imagine that a cyclist within this team would dope and a sponsor of the team therefore leaves. This team would have problems directly. Maybe they wouldn't be able to pay for their riders or employees.

Team Quick Step is one of the teams with money problems. The team will have less riders than in 2009, and they won't race as many races either. In May, for example, the Giro, the Tour of Belgium and the Tour of California are all running almost simultaneously. so the team have to skip one of those races. I think they will skip Tour of California, as that's the least important race.

It is a shame for the teams, and surely for the sport, that they have too little money and that sponsors are not interested in being part of the sport. Should we blame doping? Well, the sponsors are afraid of seeing its name in a bad situation, at the same time; I'm rather involved in a sport that works against doping than a sport, working to minimize the number of doping controls. Doping exists in all sports. Few doping tests are carried out in football; therefore no football player is suspended for doping offenses, even though several of them should be.

During financial crisis, it is difficult to tell a company whose shares have shown negative numbers in the newspaper stock quotes to begin sponsor a cycling team. But there are still companies that are doing well. To be a sponsor gives good publicity, but it is true, it requires a lot of money. Major cycling team needs between 6 and 14 million U.S. dollars each year.

You'll see a side of love you've never known

Category: Cycling

Only few days remain of the year 2009. The riders who have not yet found a team must either try to find a team quickly, they can take a year of or they will retire.

Theo Eltink will retire. Skil-Shimano didn't renew his contract and he wasn't able to find a new team for 2010.

Finding a team can be hard. You must believe in yourself. And after a poor season the self-confidence may not be the best. In such cases, it could be nice to have an agent who helps to find a new team. Many cyclists have an agent nowadays. It can help when things are a little complicated... For sure. An agent can't assure you to find a new team, though. Sometimes it is not possible to find a new team, and why be sad about it? That's life. And it gives an opportunity to do something else, and maybe that fits you even better. Maybe it's even more fun.

"I had hoped this last month that something suitable could come along...but to no avail," Eltink said. "I have nothing to regret in my career. I have given it everything and can 100 percent look myself in the mirror."

This little game we play is gonna break us down

Category: Cycling

Garmin-Transition signed Tom Zirbel a short time ago. He finished fourth in the world time trial championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, in September, but less than two months later, before the new season started, the American tested positive for a banned substance, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The team couldn't do much...

"Tom has been upfront with me about this process from the beginning,” the general manager Jonathan Vaughters said. “However, our anti-doping policy is zero tolerance. Tom alerted us to the situation and as a result he will not be riding for us in 2010.”

Zirbel is currently awaiting the results of the B sample. When the A-test is positive the B-test almost always show the same result.

Zirbel says he hope that United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will not give him a full two year ban. He has insisted that he never knowingly took a banned substance, but it could be some kind of supplement.

One thing is for sure though, Zirbel will not race with Garmin next season.