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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 1, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

The Oklahoma Express: An interview with Magen Long

Magen Long
Photo: © Rob Karman
Click for larger image

Since moving up to the senior ranks this year, 18 year-old Oklahoma cycling sensation Magen Long has left many jaws in the road racing world agape with her uncanny sense of timing and a level of endurance and strength bordering on the insane. In her debut season, she clocked up some phenomenal results, including a top 10 placing among the who's who of criterium racing at this year's national championships. With the road season over, this extraordinary teenager finally managed to slow down for an interview with Trudy van der Straaten.

Born to a bike-racing father ("I was riding a bike before I could put an entire sentence together," she says), at age 3, she was already racing BMX. By the time she was 15, Long held the junior national road, criterium, cross-country mountain bike, cyclo-cross and omnium titles - concurrently - and after being noticed by MTB legend Ned Overend, was quickly signed on by the Specialized MTB team.

Since then, she has added six more junior national championships to her staggering resume, as well as fifth place at the 2001 Junior MTB World's cross country race and 2002 junior road championships. Although she could dominate any cycling discipline, Long says these days she prefers to focus on road racing "because it stimulates your mind and your body. I like crits because they are really animated; attacks, primes - it is intense, that is what I like".

This year saw her riding for the two-girl OBRU/The Bicycle Store team. In addition to several big wins including the U23 national championships time trial, the Tour of Kansas and the infamous Snake Alley to name but a few, Long made the NRC podium five times and in 14th place overall, she was the highest-ranked amateur in the final overall NRC standings - all done without the support of a squad full of domestiques. When asked how she manages to hold her own and often outperform some of the best teams in the country, Long smiles and says, "As far as strategy goes, I just race my heart out, try to be smart, watch the key players, and just race my bike."

Click here for the full interview.

Liberty Seguros looking for a big name

Liberty Seguros manager Pablo Antón has confirmed that he hopes to complete his new team roster with the signature of "a very important rider" before the year ends. After the initial recruitment for the team- largely from the existing ONCE roster- Antón and directeur sportif Manolo Saiz decided to begin the new search for a new star rider.

"Most of the team is very young and many have just a one year contract," Saiz said in the Spanish paper Marca. "But we'll remain one of the top teams in the world and we're going to try to make another major addition."

Saiz also insisted that he maintains an excellent relationship with his departed star Joseba Beloki. "There is no resentment and we've been thankful to have worked with him," Saiz said, "as I believe he is with us."

Beloki to open season in France

Joseba Beloki has begun to identify specifics of his 2004 racing schedule, his first season with the French Brioches La Boulangère team after parting company with ONCE director Manolo Saiz. Beloki will begin the season with the traditional French opener, the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on February 4.

"Having signed for a French team, I wanted to start racing in a French event," he said simply.

Planning on a slow and steady build up to the Tour de France in July, Beloki is expected to take part in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Vuelta a Murcia, Critérium International, as well as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Bicicleta Vasca in early May, before taking a break and rebuilding for the Tour in July. Beloki's participation in Paris-Nice, where La Boulangère's team leader will likely be Sylvain Chavanel, appears to have been dropped in favour of the Spanish stage race in Murcia.

Joaquin Rodriguez plans for Vuelta

Joaquin Rodriguez
Photo: © Unipublic
Click for larger image

Ever since he enjoyed the spoils of a stage win and a brief stint in the leader's jersey in the 2003 Vuelta a España, Joaquin Rodriguez has been motivated to tackle 2004 with bigger ambitions. The ONCE-Eroski rider, who next season will join Saunier Duval, has his sights set on the general classification in the Spanish tour, as well as some early season competition to get lay the foundation.

"My immediate goal is to have a quick start to the season and try for some early victories so I can then train in tranquility for the Vuelta and have the strength to do well in the general classification," Rodriguez explained on the team's website.

"Signing for Saunier Duval was easy because it's a new, young team that wants to grow," he added. "In that sense I think we have shared ambitions, and I'm expecting a lot next year."

Spanish federation visits Verona

A delegation from the Spanish Cycling Federation paid a visit to Italy last week to check on the preparations for the 2004 World Championships parcours. Verona, which was the setting for the first of Oscar Freire's two World's titles in 1999, will host the event again next year.

According to Spanish national team manager Paco Antequera, changes since 1999 are not too significant, calling the route for 2004 "a demanding circuit that can be selective in every spot, including the descent if it rains."

Currently the holder of the rainbow jersey thanks to Igor Astarloa's victory in Hamilton, Canada in October, Antequera is already looking ahead to defending the jersey which Astarloa has barely worn.

"Spain has three riders able to win on [the Verona parcours]: Freire, Astarloa and Valverde," Antequera said. "The other teams should work hard to keep us under control."

Petacchi honoured

More than 300 people gathered in Molicciara di Castelnuovo Magra, Italy this weekend to honour the accomplishments of Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) in 2003. On hand for the occasion were national team director Franco Ballerini, national supervisor Alfredo Martini, RAI commentator Auro Bulbarelli, and Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo teammates David Cioni, Francesco Chicchi, and Marco Velo, as well as new recruit Luca De Angeli and para Olympic athlete Lorenzo Ricci. Petacchi watched footage of his numerous victories throughout the season, answered questions and signed autographs for his supporters.

Nigerian champion killed

Nigerian cyclist Ibrahim Musa was killed, along with two others, when he was shot by police in Lokoja. Police said Musa's car failed to stop at a routine checkpoint, at which point officers opened fire. The Nigerian cycling federation, mourning the loss of Musa, speculated that the rider's car was mistaken for that of armed thieves.

UCI Doping news

The UCI has announced that the following riders have been sanctioned for doping offenses:

Wilson Paneluisa Arroba: Sanctioned by the Equadorian Cycling Federation, disqualified from the 2003 Vuelta a Colombia, and suspended six months from August 1, 2003 to January 31, 2004.

Danys Tishchenko: Sanctioned by the Russian Cycling Federation, disqualified from the 2003 Rund um den Henninger Turm, suspended two years from July 30, 2003 to July 30, 2005, and fined 100 Swiss francs.

Barry Forde: Sanctioned by the Barbados Cycling Union, issued a warning, and disqualified from the 2003 World Track Championships and Pan-American Games.

Top MTB World Cup organisers

The UCI has recognised the top race organisers in the mountain bike World Cup for 2003. The Saint-Wendel, Germany event was nominated best organiser of a cross-country World Cup race, while Fort William in Great Britain was named best downhill and 4-cross organiser for the second year in a row.

Last day in Danielson Foundation auction

Today is the last day to bid for items in the online Tom Danielson Scholarship Foundation auction. The new Fassa Bortolo rider is currently in Italy getting to know his new team-mates, but prior to leaving Colorado for the camp, the emerging US professional rider decided to auction equipment and memorabilia in aid of the development of collegiate riders at his alma mater, Fort Lewis College.

Items up for grabs include a never-ridden, titanium Team Saturn LeMond bike (currently standing at a bid of $2,275.00, and one of the LeMond bikes Danielson rode on his way to victory in the 2003 Tour de Langkawi (current bid: $1,500).

Among the more unusual items in the auction is a Tour de Langkawi leader's jersey (current bid: $500.01); the skinsuit Danielson wore in the 2003 Mount Washington Hillclimb, and a rare team T-Mobile women's leather jacket donated by Danielson's girlfriend Kristin Johnson.

For full details see the auction page on Tom Danielson's website.

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