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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 4, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

US Postal not happy at Heras departure

By John Stevenson

Roberto Heras
Photo: © Unipublic
Click for larger image

The US Postal Service-Berry Floor team has confirmed that Roberto Heras is seeking to leave the team to join the new Liberty Seguros team run by former ONCE directeur sportif Manolo Saiz.

Cyclingnews spoke this morning to US Postal Service-Berry Floor general manager Dan Osipow. Speaking from the team's office in California, Osipow told Cyclingnews, "I can only echo Johan's sentiments [in the Spanish press] that it's not something we're pleased about but when a rider wants to leave there isn't a great deal we can do about it. You don't want to lose a champion of Roberto's stature, but you want riders on the team who want to be there. How do you stop a rider leaving?"

US Postal directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel told Spanish sports newspaper, "A few days ago his lawyer told us that he wanted to leave the team. Apparently he has received an offer of a three-year contract to lead another team."

Osipow admitted that Heras would be difficult to replace, especially this late in the year, but he expressed confidence in Bruyneel's ability to keep the team up to strength. "Johan is an absolute master at gauging talent," said Osipow, "and everyone is confident that we will sign another rider and the team will be there on the start line next year and will win the races we want to win. I can't say who that rider will be. Obviously it's late in the game to be signing riders."

Heras desire to leave and linking to Liberty Seguros had come as something of a surprise to the team, according to Osipow. "This is all pretty sudden," he said, commenting that matters had been "accelerated" by Spanish press reports from the Liberty Seguros camp.

Heras himself is refusing to discuss the matter. "I can neither deny nor confirm the reports," he told Marca. "I don't want to talk about it."

According to sources in Europe, Heras's contract with US Postal is worth 1.2 million Euros per year; rather less than the 1.5 million Euros per year plus bonuses a two-time Vuelta winner might expect to earn as team leader at a squad such as Liberty Seguros. Typically the 'rescission clause' in a rider's contract, which sets out the terms under which the contract can be terminated so that the rider can move to another team, sets a fee of a year's salary to release the rider.

Kelme wants Vinokourov

According to Spanish sports website, Kelme cycling team manager Pepe Quiles is interested in approaching Telekom rider Alexandre Vinokourov to join the team for 2004.

Kelme's ability to strengthen its roster for 2004 is dependent on the finalization of the team's budget, which is expected to be decided on Friday with the signing of the Comunidad de Valencia as a sponsor.

Kelme directeur sportif Vicente Belda says that the team's current top rider, Alejandro Valverde does not want to ride the Tour de france, so the team is looking for a strong Tour rider. Other riders reportedly talking to Kelme include 2001 Vuelta winner Angel Casero and Mikel Zarrabeitia.

2005 World's unveiled

The circuits to be used for the 2005 World Road Championships in Madrid, Spain were unveiled at a presentation this week. The road race course will feature an unusually long loop of 21.3 kilometres; the UCI typically prefers shorter circuits of 10-15km. Organisers in Madrid were forced to modify their original plans, moving the race out of the congested city center.

Instead of passing by the Plaza de la Cibeles, the Prado museum and the Atocha railway station, the parcours will now be focused on the north of Madrid. It is not expected to be a difficult course, with only two small hills in the long 21km laps.

"It's not a tough World's, but with 200km in the legs everything becomes more difficult," Spanish former world champion Abraham Olano explained at the presentation. "It's not very selective, but in my opinion there won't be a bunch sprint, rather a sprint from a smaller group. It's a circuit similar to Hamilton."

The time trial course will be situated in the Casa de Campo park, west of the city. The elite riders will tackle aa 23.7km course two times, a circuit that should be more challenging than the road race course. Madrid's hosting of the World's is viewed as a possible stepping stone to its bid for the 2012 summer Olympics. The 2004 World's will be held in Verona, Italy.

Postal adds Rincon

The mystery Colombian hinted at by team associate US Postal Service-Berry Floor Frankie Andreu last week has been confirmed as Daniel Rincon Quintana.

VDB impressed with Fassa

After his first meeting with his new Fassa Bortolo team-mates, erratic Belgian star Frank Vandenbroucke is impressed with his new team. Belgian Teletekst quotes Vandenbroucke as saying, "It's no accident that Fassa is the number one team in the world. It's all incredibly professional here. Everything was perfectly organised. It's only December but our clothing and bikes were already in order."

The slick organisation of the Fassa operation impressed Vandenbroucke, with medical tests, group photos, clothing fitting and equipment tests all carried out in a 24-hour period.

Vandenbroucke declined to reveal his program for the 2004 season. "The plan is that we will keep that secret till January," he said. Currently in Tuscany, VDB plans to stay there until the end of the week, mixing riding with weight training.

The shoulder injury that caused him problems in the 2003 season seems to be fixed. "Last week I had another x-ray in Antwerp and everything seems to be in order," he said.

Former pros to Danielson: "Have fun"

New Fassa Bortolo signing Tom Danielson found himself surrounded by former mountain bike superstars at the Cycling with the Legends night at the Smiley Centre in Durango Colorado on Tuesday night. According to a report from the Durango Herald, the event raised $2,000 for Danielson's foundation, which will assist young bike racers at Fort Lewis College in Durango.

The panel included John Tomac, Ruthie Matthes, Bob Roll, Ned Overend and Greg Herbold, plus mountain bike racer Shonny Vanlandingham, filling in for Sara Ballantyne who had to stay home to look after a sick child.

The evening included stories and reminiscences from careers that saw the riders' amass multiple world and NORBA championships and lots of stories about the importance of mountain bike mecca Durango in their careers. At the end of the evening Mathes, Roll, Tomac and Herbold offered Danielson some tips on surviving as a pro rider in Europe.

Tomac, who flirted with road racing in the late 80s and early 90s before returning to mountain biking advised Danielson to be patient, while Matthes suggested he go easy on the gelato. Typically contrary, Bob Roll told Danielson to eat all the gellato he wanted and to learn Italian so he could curse waiters and airport employees when he returned the United States.

Herbold, who was always ready for a beer and accompanying mile-a-minute conversation when he was racing the European downhill circuit in the early 90s, had some simple advice. "It's OK to have fun," he said. "Do whatever you have to have some fun over there."

"And take a mountain bike," herbold added with a grin. "Because you never know. A lot of guys don't make it road racing over there."

Lorian Graham joins AIS women's program

Lorian Graham
Photo: © Desley Graham
Click for larger image

Queensland Women's Road Cyclist of The Year, Lorian Graham will ride for Australia in 2004 following confirmation of her selection in the Australian Institute of Sport women's road cycling team.

The 26 year old received news of her rider scholarship Tuesday morning from National Women's Coach James Victor, who was clearly impressed by Graham's efforts as a development rider in 2003.

"This really is the opportunity of a lifetime," Graham said after receiving her call-up to the national squad. "It makes all the sweat, the pain, the lonely hours on the bike suffering on steep mountains over the past four years worthwhile."

Selection in the Institute team will see the Brisbane-based Q.A.S.-sponsored rider ride in Europe for eight months in 2004, with an Australian team that has enjoyed substantial success in the last couple of years, finishing 2003 ranked number three in the world behind Germany and the Netherlands.

"It's an honour to be part of such a great program," Graham said. "Having twice been a development rider with the national squad, I know what's expected of me and I plan to repay the faith team management has shown in me."

Graham's 2004 program includes the the Tour de l'Aude, Giro d'Italia Femminile and, depending on her form, the world road cycling championships. her immediate priority will be next month's Australian road cycling championships in Ballaratt, Victoria, where a strong performance in the road race will improve her chances of selection in the Australian team for the Athens Olympics.

Hamilton stays with Speedplay

Tyler Hamilton, who will ride for the Phonak cycling team in 2004, will be taking with him one of his favourite pieces of equipment: Speedplay pedals. Hamilton's relationship with the American pedal manufacturer goes back a decade to his win at the 1993 National Collegiate Cycling Association Championships; Speedplay and Hamilton have now inked a deal to keep him on Speedplay "far into the future" according to an announcement from Speedplay.

"All of us at Speedplay are honored and delighted to continue the special relationship we have with Tyler that began in 1993," said Richard Bryne, Speedplay's CEO. "There isn't a rider today that works harder or races with more determination. You don't have to be a cyclist to admire Tyler's sportsmanship. We are proud to associate Speedplay products with Tyler Hamilton."

Cyclingnews reader poll 2003

Every year we give you the chance to vote for your favourite riders and once again it's time for the people's voice to be heard in the 2003 Cyclingnews Reader Poll.

This is your chance to recognise the great riders and races of 2003. What was the best moment of the 2003 season, who was the best rider and what is your dream bike? Tell us who you think deserves to be recognised as a 'Legend of Cycling' and which newcomer improved most this year! It's as simple as filling out a form and clicking 'vote'.

Voting will close on December 15 and results will appear daily from December 24, culminating with the Rider of the Year award on New Year's Eve. For more details and to cast your vote, click here.

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