After a pretty quiet November, things have pepped up again, and as with all things related to Women's cycling, for every bit of good news there's some bad. Well maybe not matching one-for-one, because that would be silly. Let's just say there's a bit of both.
The good news comes on the team front. And it's called stability. And long term plans. Because we know for sure that at least two teams will be around in their current form right until the next Olympics. Now if we can just find another two then we have enough to keep Giorgia Bronzini going until then.
Firstly the ex-Rabobank team will continue to be the Rabobank team. The Rabobank Liv/Giant Team to be precise, run by a foundation set up by Marianne Vos herself with funding guaranteed until 2016, but coming slightly indirectly from Rabobank. No sign of a jersey yet, so fans of teeny vegetables still have plenty of lobbying time. And if rainbow jersies and gold medals on road, track and weren't enough, the lady is planning to dabble a little bit in MTB, just to see if perhaps she might be competitive there too in 2016. Me, I'll remain unimpressed until she masters juggling on a unicycle wearing baggy pants and a red nose.
Then today Rochelle Gilmore announced that the title sponsor for the next three years for her team (because we are trying very hard here not to call it Brad's team) will be on-line bike retailer Wiggle, thus making the official name Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling. OK technically it's a three year deal, but I would be very surprised to see them drop out at the start of an Olympic year, so I'm calling it four. And hitting the ground running, they've got a nice websitewith loads of content, so go and have a little explore.
Not a new team this time, but an old favourite get a new sponsor and enter a brand new era of pronunciability. If you've ever looked at the word MCipollini, and mentally had a couple of practice runs in your head before saying it out loud, then you're not alone. To celebrate the arrival of third sponsor Galassia, that stray M has gone and henceforth they will be Cipollini – Giordana – Galassia. The fluorescent kit, however, is here to stay.
And finally, looking to Belgium, Topsport Vlaanderen also have a new sponsor in the form of insurance company Baloise, and will become Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, accompanied by a sharp change of team colour from black to white and blue.
There's been little transfer news to tell. Matrix Fitness announced the last of their 2013 roster, with 'crosser Gabby Day returning to the fold, Penny Rowson moving on in the hope of finding a few hillier races in a European team, and Melissa Lowther being taken on as the team junior rider. And in the first leak of the 2013 Vanderkitten line-up, Kiwi junior star Sophie Williamson will be spending the next few weeks swotting up on Bridie's 2012 Twitter timeline in an effort to be ready for whatever she may face in six months on the road. I think that bring your own pillow came up quite a lot.
That's the good news. The bad comes when you look at the calendar. Loss number one, the Tour of NZ has been cancelled after a decision of the UCI to step up testing and to do more in house. The consequence of this would have been a bill of $60,000 NZ, and since that couldn't be found the women's race was sacrificed, the contracts for which were easier to get out of.
Loss number two, the Tour de Free State has been suspended by the SA federation after some bills from 2012 remain unpaid. A real shame this, because what other race gave us such spectacular scenery, photo-ops with lion cubs and feather earrings.
Maybe not a cancellation, but another warning sign comes from the Netherlands where the Brainwash chain of hairdressers seems to be cutting back on their cycling sponsorship. They will no longer support the new Rabobank team, nor be title sponsor for the Holland Ladies Tour. We should all for one day wear Daphny van den Brand style braids in mourning/thanks for theor past support.
In Belgium, what was this year the Lotto Decca Tour will in 2013 be the Lotto Belisol Tour. I don't know whether this means anything more significant.
And no news yet on whether this will be a loss or not, but I'm sad to see the end of the Settimane Tricolore, the week long event where all Italian national road cycling titles were determined, men, women, junior and the various para-cycling events. In 2013 the junior and senior women's titles will take place in Varese on the 23rd June, but that festival feeling will be missing.
Let's at least celebrate that the proposed replacement for the much lamented Tour de l'Aude, the Tour Languedoc Roussillon, is still on next year's calendar.
And for a few more last minute Christmas gift ideas, Specialised lululemon still have a couple of jersies up for auction in another of their secret charity auctions. Current prices are $1.80 and $5.50, so if those seem like bargains to you then head here and offer more. At least push it into double figures, after all every cent goes to Right To Play.
Or for those who spend Christmas day having beachside Barbies, Rochelle Gilmore is auctioning her kit from the recent Amy Gillett Foundation Share the Road ride and all money goes to the foundation of the same name. See here
And for that really special gift, a certain Tim Williams, otherwise known as Emma Pooley's coach is running a couple of training camps in March in Mallorca, which are advertised as a chance to Train with Emma Pooley. Now considering that she is meant to be finishing her PhD, not skiving around in the sun on her bike, I don't know how much you'll be sharing the road with the Evil Pixie, but at five hundred quid for a week (plus whatever Ryanair wring out of you), that looks to be a pretty good bargain.