First Edition News for August 11, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Zubeldia sticks with Euskaltel
Haimar Zubeldia, one of the revelations of this year's Tour de France with a 5th place overall ahead of teammate Iban Mayo, has decided to extend his contract with the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Obviously keen on keeping Zubeldia's talent in the fold, Euskaltel offered him a three year contract.
Zubeldia announced his presence with a third place in the opening prologue time trial and rode a very consistent Tour, seldom attacking but seldom losing much time in the mountains. The final time trial was his undoing, however, as Tyler Hamilton (CSC) stormed past to move ahead of both Zubeldia and Mayo on the eve of the Tour's finish in Paris.
Iban Mayo has yet to sign a contract for next season, but aside from Euskaltel, Mayo has received interest from several other teams, including Rabobank and Quick.Step-Davitamon.
25th Vuelta a Burgos
Fine tuning and preparations for the upcoming Vuelta a España (September 6-28) begin this week with the five-day, five-stage Vuelta a Burgos (UCI 2.1). The race begins Monday , August 11 with an opening road stage from Burgos to Miranda de Ebro, and works its way back to Burgos on Friday, August 15th, offering stages for the climbers, sprinters, and fast men against the clock.
Prior to the the 14.4 kilometre individual time trial (stage 4), the time gains will likely be made on the two mountaintop finishes. Stage 2 finishes atop the Cat. 1 Altotero, followed by stage 3 and the hors catégorie finish at Lagunas de Neila.
Last year's race provided a Spanish podium sweep, with top honours taken by iBanesto.com's Francisco Mancebo ahead of José Luis Rubiera (US Postal Service-Berry Floor) and Mikel Zarrabeitia (ONCE-Eroski). This year a similar list of contenders will be present, including US Postal's Roberto Heras, hoping to turn his luck around after a difficult Tour de France, and preparing to tackle the Vuelta a España. Heras will face defending champion Mancebo, as well as fellow Vuelta winners Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) and Angel Casero. Eighteen teams of eight riders each will be present.
Stage 1 - August 11: Burgos - Miranda de Ebro, 175 km
'Tis the season... for Zomercross?
World cyclo-cross champion Bart Wellens (Spaar Select) picked up where he left off last winter, winning the 1st GP Eric De Vlaeminck, aka Zomercross, in Zolder, Belgium. In decidedly atypical conditions- hot and dry summer weather- Wellens beat Ben Berden to claim the Belgian 'cross season opener. Given the heat, the UCI relaxed the feed regulations somewhat, allowing teams to hand bottles to riders on every lap to stay hydrated.
Race organiser Eric De Vlaeminck noted that he wanted to put on a summer 'cross race because he is interested in seeing cyclo-cross become a [summer] Olympic sport.
Bendigo Madison gets a boost
By Karen Forman
Australia's biggest track racing carnival, The Bendigo International Madison, has been given a $20,000 boost with a grant from the Council of City of Greater Bendigo.
The money, which organisers hope will be at least matched by Victorian State Government funds, will be used to put together a major media promotional package, which would see next year's event, set down for March 13-14, beamed onto television screens around the world. The hoped-for spin off from that would be more international riders and an even greater reputation on the international calendar.
The announcement of the grant this week has delighted Bendigo International Madison Committee Chair Robert Cook, whom Cyclingnews quoted in March, at the conclusion of what had been a somewhat controversial 2002 event given the committee's decision to drop German rider Stefan Steinweg following drug issues, as saying he wanted the 55-year-old Bendigo Madison to become the "biggest and best Madison in the world".
"We had always had good support in kind for the council, but no cash," Cook said today. "Now they have agreed to give us some funding as well, having recognised the Madison is Bendigo's second major sporting event (behind a cricket fixture) and brings $1.4 million to the city, and we are really excited and confident that we can really get Bendigo onto the international map."
However, the grant announcement did not escape controversy. The council money had been originally earmarked for a Bendigo team in the Herald Sun Tour. Now, Cook says unhappy Tour organisers have rerouted the 2003 event around Bendigo rather than through it as per normal.
Cook said he didn't deny the Sun Tour was an important event, but suggested Bendigo money was perhaps better spent on an event actually generated within the confines of the city, which brought thousands of people to the city.
"We know we have got an amazing event," he said. "The fact that we draw crowds of $10,000 on average, year after year, and continue to attract big name riders, attests to that. But we know that if we want to make it truly a major international event, we need to spend more on [the corporate aspects] - on media, on a big screen, on better facilities. Hopefully this grant is just the start. SBS has come to us to talk about televising it and packaging it up with the possibility of getting onto Foxtel and Sky in the United Kingdom."
Cook said the committee had recently met with local State Government representative, Jacinta Allen (also Minister for Youth) who was currently in talks with the Minister for Regional Development, John Brumby about the possibility of adding to the council grant.
"Hopefully we will be talking to the State Government in the next couple of weeks," he said. "Last year it gave us $15,000, which came out of the tourism budget given that the event brings $1.4 million to the city of Bendigo. A requirement was that we had to spend it on media, although we had hoped to use it to put an electronic screen up there so we could do the whole presentation in a more professional manner.
"We figure that if we are trying to do an international event, we need it. The whole event would be enhanced by electronic pictures. People enjoy seeing selves on the big screen, and expect to see a replay of the event..and the madison is a fairly complicated event. Unless you know who has got a lap up, and who falls... A lot of people go to see the riders fall off... If people miss it and don't see a replay... not having one is antiquated."
Costs of running the annual carnival, one of the few left which combine athletics with cycling events and are held on an older style outdoor velodrome. vary from year to year but support from local Bendigo businesses has always been positive. This year's revenue was $242,000, with expenses $197,000, leaving a profit of $50,000, which is put straight into the coffers to run next year's event.
A major fundraising initiative introduced recently was the Gold and Opal Club, which provides subscription payment members with VIP privileges during the carnival. Part of making the carnival a success, however, lies with its ability to attract big name riders.
"I think next year will be just incredible," Cook said.
"We had teams from Germany, Japan and America this year and we have been making a bigger effort to get out there to tell people about the carnival. We sent (cycling representative) Rick McCaig up to Sydney for the national track championships and he spoke to a number of riders and their managers who are very interested in coming to Bendigo. Next year we hope to have any many as 10 international teams here."
New sponsor for Spanish cycling?
As Banesto and ONCE end their long runs in the Spanish peloton, a new firm may be preparing to join the fray. Spanish industrial firm Amancio Ortega is reportedly interested in creating a new team with a budget of roughly 3 million euros. The company is looking for a European partner to co-sponsor the effort.
Cycling promoter's conviction hits New Zealand Cycling hard
By Alan Messenger
Shock waves have gone through the ranks of cycling event promoters and organizers of other sporting events in New Zealand following a guilty verdict in a court case this week. Astrid Andersen, organizer of the Christchurch Akaroa Race/Fun Ride was charged with criminal nuisance following the death of a competitor in the 2001 race.
Vanessa Caldwell, two months pregnant was hit by an oncoming car as she descended a winding hill at an estimated 60kph. Andersen was found guilty by a jury and will be sentenced on 29 August. She faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison. The court found that Andersen failed to take reasonable care to avoid danger to human life because of ambiguous race information.The Prosecution centred around a belief by some competitors that the road was closed, but it was not.
Witnesses claimed that pre race information was ambiguous and misleading. Andersen stated that at no time did she tell competitors that the road was closed. While some say that it is too early to know what impact will be felt from the case, others including Andersen are adamant it will stop people from running sporting and community events for fear of criminal liability if anything goes wrong.
It is understood some national sporting events have been cancelled following the conviction and the Christchurch City Council will be seeking legal advice over implications for itís events and others run on Council land. Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt said that he will call an urgent meeting and will seek legal advice. His council is closely involved in the organizing of the Tour of Southland, New Zealandís premier cycling event. "It will have huge ramifications," Shadbolt said. "It's going to be a nightmare."
In the North Island, high profile cycling promoter Stephen Cox said that he also is deeply concerned. "Personally I think itís a real concern and itís changing my thinking rapidly. Unless I have one hundred percent police support I wonít be running anything. If you donít have that and have any sort of accident you're dog tucker," Cox said.
Cox was the promoter of three women's World Cup races in New Zealand and has been the organizer of one of New Zealandís major fun rides, the Hamilton to Whangamata.
2003 Tour du Poitou-Charentes
Another five stage race, this one falling later on the August calendar, is taking shape in France. The 17th edition of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes will this year run from August 26-29, with two stages on the race's final day. Totaling 644 kilometres of racing over four days, the race begins in Pons and concludes in Bruxerolles in the French region of Viennes.
The tour this year will be run in memory of Estonian pro Lauri Aus, who was killed in July after being hit by a truck while training. Aus, who raced for Ag2R-Prévoyance alongside compatriot Jaan Kirsipuu, was a favourite among fans of the French racing circuit and won the Tour du Poitou-Charentes in 1998, along with four stage wins between 1996 and 2001.
This year sprinters such as Kirsipuu, Tom Steels, Thor Hushovd, and Giovanni Lombardi, as well as the Nazon brothers Jean-Patrick and Damien, will line up to tackle the fast finishes in western France.
Stage 1 - August 26: Pons - La Couronne, 180 km
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)