Univega Pro Cycling - 2006 Team Launch
Relaxed, enjoyable and professional
Team Launch 2006
Karen Thürig - rides into the room to applause from the audience and smiles from her team-mates
Karin Thürig; World Time Trial Champion Priska Doppmann Sarah Grab Nicole Cooke Sarah Duster Joanne Kiesanowski Emma Rickards Sereina Trachsel Pascal Schnider Franziska Rothlin Christiane Soeder
Pro Team Univega was launched on 24th April, in a small picturesque Swiss town not far from Zurich. Although well into the season for many of the riders, the launch took place the day after the Swiss World Cup race, the Tour of Berne and close to the team's HQ.
May 2006 - A couple of weeks later, they are the team of the moment! Nicole Cooke is currently leading the road World Cup series and has won 2 World Cup races in the past month, the latest was on Sunday 7th May in the Gran Premio Castilla y Leon in Spain. Despite the individual glory falling upon Cooke, her victory was one which the whole team worked for and delighted in.
This team started the year in Australia, on a training camp in the Melbourne area. They rode the 2 Australasian World Cups and also regularly competed in local events, where they practised team tactics and tested their fitness. In fact, on February 19th, at the Carnegie Caulfield CC's Sunday morning criterium, Emma Rickards sprinted to victory in the mixed men's and women's "B" Grade race. She became the first woman since Anna Wilson (possibly longer than 10 years prior) to take outright victory in "B" Grade. (Click here for the CCCC race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
Christiane Soeder opened the account for the team by taking the time trial in the Geelong Tour in February. She then successfully defended her race leader's jersey in the second stage before the sprinters got going on stages 3 and 4. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
The team came close to its first road race victory in the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand. Jo Kiesanowski took second on the third stage, a criterium in Masterton on the South Island. She did not have the legs to go past on-form Ina Teutenberg from T-Mobile in the sprint. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
It wasn't until the pro-racing season opened in Europe that the long-awaited win came. On the third stage of the Dutch Rond van Drenthe race, despite some horrible conditions during the race, Jo Kiesanowski outsprinted Judith Arndt (T-Mobile) to seal the win. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
Ten days after the Drenthe win on April 19th, Nicole Cooke equalled the record number of wins in the World Cup race, Fleche Wallone. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here). Her third win in four years in the Belgian classic also put her within three points of the jersey of the World Cup series leader.
She took the jersey in the World Cup in Berne four days later with a fifth place in the sprint. The effort put into the race by the team in Berne was tremendous, the race was the fastest World Cup of the year and the team pushed the pace from the start, where a rare road race performance by World Time Trial Champion, Karin Thürig, saw her leading the huge bunch. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
A 1-2 by Nicole Cooke and Priska Doppmann in the Swiss Magali Pache - a time trial showed the versatility of these riders. Thürig was forced to miss the event through illness. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
On Sunday May 7th, Nicole Cooke successfully defended her World Cup series lead in the best possible way - she won. Delighted with the result, she was quick to point out the team effort which had gone into getting her to the front for the (almost) made-to-measure uphill finishing sprint. (Click here for the race write-up use your browser's BACK button to return here).
The team spent the first few races of the year as 'bridesmaids' - trying hard but somehow not quite getting the big win. Now, in this part of the season, they are successful. More than that, though, they are obviously a team; they are more than a group of riders in the same outfits. Pro Team Univega are a squad dedicated to gaining the result for the nominated rider on the day. Speaking with several of them during the team launch, it was clear that the group gets on well, they have team spirit and do not recognise any one rider as the 'prima donne' of the squad. In fact, Directeur Sportif Thomas Campona is quick to point out that such an attitude by any of the riders will not be tolerated. They are a happy, friendly group, but they can 'turn it on' when required.
Look out for the distinctive black, red and grey kit during the year. You're going to be seeing much more of it!
2006 Univega Pro Team
Photos Click on any image to enlarge
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