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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for August 15, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Mercado blames doping for Spanish downturn

Juan Miguel Mercado
Photo: © J.Devich
Click for larger image

Juan Miguel Mercado was one of the first riders from to find a new team after iBanesto announced it was pulling its sponsorship earlier this season. The talented climber signed with Patrick Lefevere's Quick.Step-Davitamon team, which will also sign riders such as Mercado's teammate Juan Antonio Flecha, Paternina's Jose Antonio Pecharroman and Alessio's Laurent Dufaux.

In an interview with AS, Mercado voiced his concerns about the Spanish peloton, which is facing a big downturn with the end of division I teams iBanesto and ONCE. "I'm very worried about everything and the Spanish peloton," said Mercado. "In Spain there are many good riders who will have to leave the country and others who will have to stop."

Mercado added that he didn't know what the problem was, but "the principal fault is doping and the repercussions it has in the media, when it exists in other sports which don't have so much scrutiny in the press...Businesses are possibly afraid that a doping case in the team that they sponsor could harm their image."

Mercado finished by saying that the situation in Spain looks grim for the near future, despite rumours of new teams being created. "There will still be a delay and many riders cannot afford to wait, like in my case. I hope that they do well and that the majority of riders can compete next season."

Phonak interested in Beloki

Joseba Beloki, who is still recovering from his season ending crash in Stage 9 of the Tour de France, is being courted by Swiss team Phonak for next season, according to Spanish daily AS. Beloki is one of the biggest names on the market due to the end of the ONCE-Eroski team this year. Phonak team director Alvaro Pino (formerly Kelme) wants to increase his team's chances of gaining selection in the Tour de France next year, and Beloki's presence would certainly help.

ONCE and Phonak for Zurich

The ONCE-Eroski team will head to the Championship of Zurich with the following riders: René Andrle (Cze), David Arroyo (Spa), Ángel Castresana (Spa), Allan Davis (Aus), Rafael Díaz (Spa), Xabier Florencio (Spa), Ángel Vicioso (Spa) and Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa).

Phonak Hearing Systems has chosen an all Swiss line up for its home race, with Oscar Camenzind and Alex Zülle headlining the team. The full team is: Niki Aebersold (Swi), Michael Albasini (Swi), Oscar Camenzind (Swi), Martin Elmiger (Swi), Alexandre Moos (Swi), Gregory Rast (Swi), Daniel Schnider (Swi) and Alex Zülle (Swi).

Ullrich to ride Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt

Jan Ullrich (Team Bianchi) has given his confirmation to ride in the 13th Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, which takes place on August 31. Ullrich won the race in 1998, and gave his promise to the organisers on Wednesday evening that he would be at the start in 2003. Ullrich will be lining up alongside former teammate and 2002 winner Erik Zabel (Telekom) in the 180 km event, with Zabel again considered to be the big favourite. Gerolsteiner's Olaf Pollack will be the third previous winner at the race, having won in 2001.


World champs confirmed for Tasmanian track races

By Gerard Knapp

Bound for Tassie
Photo: © Roth
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Two of the Australian world record-breaking pursuit riders from the world championships in Stuttgart, Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster, have confirmed as starters in the upcoming track racing 'carnivals' set down for the final week of 2003 in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian track carnivals are a Christmas tradition in the island State, situated off the mainland of Australia. The first carnivals were held in the late 19th century and have only been interrupted by the world wars. The carnivals are held in a variety of Tasmanian centres and feature a program of track cycling, athletics and wood-chopping. The cycling events regularly feature a selection of current and former world and Olympic champion cyclists from around the world.

Tucked among the track carnivals on December 27 is the emerging Launceston Criterium, first held in 2002. Now known as the Doherty Hotels Classic, this year's criterium - held on the streets of Launceston - is set to feature some of the stars of the centenary Tour de France. But unlike the post-Tour criteriums in Aalst, Chaam, and Boxmeer, the Launceston race will once again be run in December.

Launceston comes to life
Photo: © CN
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Already signed for the event are green jersey overall winner and stage winner Baden Cooke, stage winner and yellow jersey wearer Brad McGee, Centenary classification winner Stuart O'Grady and former green jersey winner Robbie McEwen. The 2002 race was a who's who of Australian cycling and this year, organisers have indicated that the race may have more of an international flavour with team mates of Cooke and McGee and Crédit Agricole team mates of O'Grady, expressing interest in participating in the race. At the 2003 launch, race director Dr. Stan Siejka spoke of his aim to double last years 10,000 strong crowd by introducing some exciting new aspects to the event (see 2002 race report and background feature ).

Boost for track racing

The organiser of the track carnivals, the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT), is negotiating to bring out other leading track cyclists as momentum builds behind this long-standing series of events. SCAT chairman Mr Grant Atkins said, "The securing of Brown and Lancaster offers another dimension to the 2003-04 Carnivals, a series which is already shaping as one of the best on record."

Brown (24) and Lancaster (23) should prove to be drawcards for the Tasmanian Carnivals as cycling enjoys increased popularity in Australia. Brown and Lancaster were part of the Australian 4000 m pursuit team, which broke the world record at the recent World Track Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, with a time of 3.57.185.

'Brownie' is one of the more controversial riders in world cycling, with numerous scrapes in sprint finishes on the track and road. He and Lancaster make a formidable sprint team in world road cycling as they both ride for the Italian Ceramiche Panaria Fiordo team. Brown, born in Darwin, splits his time between Sydney and Italy. He turned professional in 1996 and his career so far has included two Commonwealth Games gold medals and a Junior World Championship. This year 'Brownie' won the sprint competition in this year's Tour of Langkawi as well as a stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.

His lead-out man, Lancaster, is originally from Shepparton in North-West Victoria and has been a regular Australian representative since first winning selection in 1995 at 15. He is both a former World Junior Champion, as well as 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Boost for series

Jame Carney - a regular in Tasmania
Photo: © Gerard Knapp
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In other news for SCAT, its four affiliated clubs have agreed to a five year plan which will lock in Carnivals to at least the end of the 2008-09 series. In recent years, the Launceston City Cycling Club and Devonport Athletic Club have alternated their dates, but this latest agreement gives SCAT and its clubs some forward planning. Atkins also said the decision by the SCAT clubs was a sign of confidence in the Christmas Carnivals and how they are all operating.

SCAT's Christmas Carnival dates will now be locked into the following: December 26 - Latrobe Carnival, December 27 - Launceston Criterium, December 28 -Launceston Carnival (Silverdome), December 29-30 - Devonport Carnival, January 1 - Burnie Carnival.

For further reading, see our race reports, results and pictures from last year's Tasmanian Christmas carnivals.

Jamieson, Manion to join pro teams?

While on the topic of Tasmania, two of the State's brightest cycling prospects, Mark Jamieson and Caleb Manion, are setting their goals for the future with Jamieson already pursued by European trade teams.

According to a recent column by Matthew Conn, published in Launceston's The Examiner newspaper, Tasmanian Institute of Sport rider, Mark Jamieson, "has been offered a pre-contract by a high profile professional team and is currently in discussion with AIS and TIS officials". Jamieson is a junior world champion on the track and silver medallist in the junior men's individual time trial at last year's world road championships.

According to the report, a 'pre-contract' will allow the teenager to remain an amateur for up to two more years, with the professional team having first option on his services at the end of this period. Manion, meanwhile, currently racing in Italy, is aiming at securing a ride in the Australian under 23 team for the World Road championships in Canada. "His top ten stage placings in both the Baby Giro and Regioni tour have brought him to the attention of a number of smaller Italian professional squads," according to Conn.

Danielson and Jeanson star at Mt. Washington Hill Climb

A full field of 600 cyclists will be tackling the annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb this Saturday, August 16. All eyes will be on two competitors, Tom Danielson (Saturn) and Genevičve Jeanson (RONA/Esker), as they look to surpass their own record breaking performances of twelve months ago. It was then that under near perfect conditions, a rarity for the mountain infamous for having terrible weather, Danielson and Jeanson shattered the course records held by Tour de France hero Tyler Hamilton and Jeannie Longo, the most decorated woman in the history of bicycle racing. Danielson was the first to ever dip below the 50 minute barrier, ascending the 7.6 mile [12.2 km] course in 49 minutes, 24 seconds; Jeanson, meanwhile, knocked nearly five minutes off of Longo's mark with an astonishing 54:02.

However, neither one expects success to come easily this time, as both Danielson and Jeanson look to have some new competition in the 2003 edition. Danielson can expect a stiff challenge from Trek/VW racer Drew Miller. Winner this year of such 'climb-fests' as La Vuelta de Bisbee and the Tour of the Gila, Miller may not be able to match Danielson's raw power, but he is a wily veteran who knows how to pace himself and capitalize on mistakes by the opposition. And, while Jeanson is expected to dominate after her past performances on the mountain, the quartet of T-Mobile's Kristin Johnson (3rd overall in July's Cascade Classic), Independent Fabrication/Wheelworks up-and-comer Aimee Vasse (2nd to RONA's Karen Bockel in the 2001 Mt. Washington Hill Climb), and the duo of Johanna Buick and recent Mt. Evans Hillclimb winner Allison Lusby, should help make it the deepest, most competitive women's field at Mt. Washington in years.

Should anyone break the current records, the winner shall receive a special $5,000 cash prize; otherwise, $1500 will be awarded to both the top male and top female finishers. For more information about the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb, please visit the Mt. Washington website at

2003 NORBA series showdown in Durango

The Colorado mining town of Durango will host the grand finale of the 2003 NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series, August 14-17, where both the Series and National champions will be crowned.

In the battle for the men's overall Cross Country title, which will be run over the 1990 World Champion Course at altitude, Ryder Hesjedal (Victoria, BC - Subaru-Gary Fisher) has a good lead in the series, with 748 points from four rounds, ahead of the USA's top male Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder - RLX Ralph Lauren), second with 680. Third is Seamus McGrath (Millgrove, Ontario - Haro Lee Dungarees) with Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va. - Trek Volkswagen) sitting in fourth and the second placed American. Hesjedal will be looking for a top seven place to secure the title, while Horgan-Kobelski will need to watch Bishop, who recently won gold at the Pan Am Games, in order to defend his national championship lead.

Pan Am Games gold medal winner Jimena Florit (San Diego, RLX Ralph Lauren) is sitting comfortably in the lead with 738 points, needing a top-seven finish to secure the women's title from Chrissy Redden (Campbellville, Ontario - Subaru-Gary Fisher), who has 670 points. Mary McConnelloug (Fairfax, Ca. - Seven Cycles), the silver medallist at the Pan Am Games, lies third with 624 points, and is leading the national championship race from Susan Haywood (Davis, W.Va. - Trek Volkswagen) who has 574 points.

In the Short Track series, Horgan-Kobelski holds the top overall spot with a point total of 762 over second place McGrath who has 716 points and Paul Rowney (Sydney, AUS, Sobe Cannondale) in third with 656 points. To win the National title, Horgan-Kobelski needs only to finish in 40th place or better so he should remain the top American in the series ahead of Todd Wells (Durango, Co., Mongoose/Hyundai) who sits in fifth overall with 584 points. For the overall series championship if McGrath should have a super day and win then Horgan-Kobelski must finish in at least fourth place or better. Otherwise, Horgan-Kobelski should be a favourite to clinch both titles at Durango.

In women's pro Short Track Haywood leads the series with 756 points and is also the top American. Katerina Hanusova (Truckee, Ca., Luna Women MTB) lies in second overall with 712 points ahead of Redden with 702 points. For Haywood to win the overall she must not give up more than 44 points to Hanusova. If Hanusova were to win at Durango then Haywood needs at least a third place finish. In the National championship race Haywood has a comfortable lead of 114 points over McConneloug, who is the second place American with 642 points.

In the Mountain Cross, Eric Carter (Temecula, Ca., Mongoose/Hyundai) leads the pro men's series and is also the top American with 610 points. In second is veteran Mike King (San Diego, Ca., Haro Lee Dungaree) with 565 points. Australian Chris Kovarik (Intense/Fox) sits in third with 485 points and Gary Houseman (Temecula, Ca., Intense Tire Systems Santa Cruz) is in fourth with 360 points. Unless elimination comes in the early rounds, look for the overall title clinched by either Carter or King. Should either be eliminated early, which is unlikely, Kovarik may have a chance to take the title. The National title should come down to either of the top two Americans with a slight advantage going to Carter because of the 45 point advantage he has.

The women's pro Mountain Cross overall series is led by BMX crossover Jill Kintner (San Jose, Ca., Fox Shox) with 610 points ahead of second place Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, Intense) who has 550 points. Katrina Miller (AUS, Jamis Bicycles) is in third with 540 points and Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Az., KHS) is in fourth with 380 points. The overall champion will come from the top trio of Kintner, Jonnier and Miller with the advantage to Kintner who leads by 60 points. For either Jonnier or Miller to take the top spot ahead of Kintner, they would most likely need to take first or second place at Durango. Kintner has already locked up the National Championship over Buhl with an insurmountable points lead.

Chris Kovarik leads the men's Downhill overall series with 646 points while Greg Minnar (RSA, Haro Lee Dungaree) is only 12 points back with 634. Australian Sam Hill (Iron Horse) sits in third with 608 points. Although Kovarik has been one of the most consistent riders this season, the overall series title is still fairly wide open as Downhill athletes must endure many variables during each run ranging from the conditions of the course (which may change throughout the day) to the particular tires a rider chooses.

The National title will be a close battle between Temecula, Ca. neighbours Carter and the Houseman brothers (Intense Tire Systems Santa Cruz), Gary and Rich. Top placed American Carter sits in eighth overall with 528 points with a slight lead over the siblings with Gary in ninth overall with 494 points and Rich in tenth overall and 480 points. Shaums March (Anaheim, Ca., Red Bull/Chumba Wumba) and Colin Bailey (Yucaipa, Ca., Maxxis Tires) are the next top placed Americans in eleventh and fourteenth place respectively.

Marla Streb (Los Osos, Ca., Luna Women MTB) is experiencing one of her best years and leads the women's overall Downhill Series with 714 points ahead of Fionn Griffiths (GBR, Foes Azonic) who has 668 points. In third place for the series is Tracy Moseley (GBR, Kona-Clarks) with 646 points. Streb has shown consistency and is the only rider to win two events this year. Her Luna Women MTB team continues to show momentum with teammate (and the third highest placed American with 540 points) Kathy Pruitt (Berkeley, Ca.) taking the recent victory at Idaho. Barring any mishaps, look for Streb to take the overall and the National title ahead of the second highest placed American Dawn Bourque (Campton, N.H., Dried Plums/Orbitz), sixth overall with 556 points.

Irish Cycling gets a welcome bonus

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Mark Scanlon and David O'Loughlin, both from the Province of Connacht, have certainly lit up Irish cycling with their performances during the week. O'Loughlin won a stage in the Tour of Namur in Belgium, but Mark Scanlon's performance to win the first stage of the Tour of Denmark and hold the leader's jersey for two days was very impressive indeed. In the last three days, he has proved that he is heading in the direction of future success.

Maybe the rub of the green will descend on the Under-23 Hibernian team Ireland that is scheduled to compete in Athens, Greece in the European Championships on Sunday. According to manager Martin O'Loughlin, "there is a good blend in the team and it has been decided that we'll forego the time trial. It is our intention to focus all our energies on the road race because of the above average temperatures that the Greeks are enduring at the moment," said Martin.

Two of last season's juniors who have graduated to under-23 level, Andrew McQuaid and Nicholas Roche who won the last season's M. Donnelly Junior Tour, have got the nod. Alongside that duo will be Brian Ahern, Denis Lynch and Philip Deignan, who a year ago were members of the Irish team that won the team event in the inaugural Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia which was cancelled this season because of the SARS epidemic four months ago. The sixth member is John O'Shea from the Carrick Cidona Club, who since the national championships has been figuring very well in events.

Philip Deignan, who is based France, will be the anchor man and the support that he'll inevitably receive from his colleagues could be the difference between success and failure. Philip is highly rated because his form of late for his club VC la Pomme has been very impressive.

Last week in the Junior Tour, M. Donnelly was front-of-house name with his sponsorship of the event. On Sunday the Stamullan Road Club, which also has the support of said company, is staging the Brendan Campbell Memorial event.

No doubt, the Cycleways-Lee Strand team will be present and with Aidan Crowley in good form, he'll be the one to watch. Of late the promoting club have been performing very well, so the promoting club are not out of it by any means.

Also on the card is under-age racing and with their championships next weekend in Enniskillen, it will be interesting to see how the form will carry forward for the next seven days. No doubt, the Cycleways-Lee Strand team will be present and with Aidan Crowley in good form, he'll the one to watch. Of late the promoting club have been performing very well, so the promoting club are not out of it by any means.

The Jim O'Leary Memorial event goes ahead in Cork also on Sunday. Unfortunately, many who were anticipated to do well in the southern capital are on duty in the Evans Cycles Revolutions five-day event based in Surrey, which starts today (Friday).

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)