International Cycling News for December 5, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry & John Stevenson
Photo: © Stephen Chang
Jose Azevedo to replace Heras
Portuguese sources are reporting that former ONCE rider Jose Azevedo
will join US Postal-Berry Floor to replace Roberto Heras. According to
a report on the website of Portuguese sports newspaper O Jogo,
Azevedo is in the process of signing a three-year contract with US Postal
after an amicable separation with the Milaneza - MSS team, for whom he
was due to ride in 2004.
Bruyneel named director of the year
At Belgium's Kristallen Fiets awards presentation, hosted by newspaper
Het Laatste Nieuws, US Postal Service-Berry Floor's Johan Bruyneel
was named directeur sportif of the year. It was the second such award
for Bruyneel, who this year guided Lance Armstrong and US Postal to a
fifth consecutive Tour de France victory and victory in the Vuelta a España
with Roberto Heras, among other achievements.
Bruyneel won the prize ahead of Quick.Step-Davitamon director Patrick
"It goes without saying this is a great honour, but honestly, I had expected
this to happen this year," Bruyneel said. "The US Postal-Berry Floor season
was splendid, when you see we both won the Tour and the Vuelta.
"It's still up to the riders to determine the real value of a team leader,"
he added. "What makes me a good directeur sportif is a combination of
many factors. In the first place, I must mention the riders one works
with. If they can't deliver, you can be the most brilliant strategist
there is, but you won't win the Tour."
Belda dispels Vinokourov notions
Kelme-Costa Blanca director Vicente Belda has insisted that reports of
his interest in Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov are not accurate. Belda
explained the report, which stemmed from a broadcast on Efe Radio,
was a misunderstanding.
"The only thing we need to know is what sort of budget the team will
have in order to make necessary adjustments," Belda said in Thursday's
Marca. "But at no time have we been in contact with Vinokourov, who is
under contract with T-Mobile."
A pro contract for Wooldridge
By Karen Forman
After two years of racing solo as an amateur in the United States, talented
Australian rider Steve Wooldridge has finally realised his long-held dream
to turn pro. The 26 year old from Sydney, who was part of the Australian
team which qualified fastest in the team pursuit at this year's World
Track Championships in Stuttgart but not on the track for the gold-medal
winning final, has clinched a professional contract with Division Three
team Comnet for next season.
Comnet is based in Aachen, Germany and already boasts another Australian
member, Wooldridge's fellow team pursuiter Luke Roberts, who will enter
his third year next season. In fact, Wooldridge credits Roberts for "getting
me onto the team".
"The last two years I have raced as an amateur in the US on my own, plus
I did track at the last two Worlds," he says. "Luke was instrumental in
getting me onto Comnet and it's great for me. It will be much better to
be in Europe than the US."
He's no stranger to Germany, given that the Australian track team trains
there every year (and he has been for the past five years). "I have started
to pick up the language for relative day to day stuff," he says. Wooldridge
expects to contest tours in France and Germany and events like the Giro
del Capo in South Africa in his first year with the team.
As well, he hopes to gain Olympic selection for Australia. "The Olympics
is a big goal for me and I am really happy that Comnet has given me the
flexibility to be released to compete at the Olympics for Australia if
I make the team," he says.
Wooldridge, world teams pursuit champion in 2002, started 2003 on a high
note on the domestic scene, with a win at the Bendigo Madison with fellow
NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) rider Rodney McGee. The pair won seven
and placed in most of the rest of the 34 sprints to beat the Daikin/McCaig
Air-conditioning team of Erik Weispfennig (Germany) and Darren Young (Tasmania)
65 points to 60. It was a heart breaker for Weispfennig, who after two
years of finishing second, had hoped 2003 would be his year.
But Wooldridge was jubilant. "I could honestly say that if I retired
now I would be happy. I mean, I'm a track rider and this is really the
icing on the cake," he said on the podium. Of course he didn't retire.
He went to the Worlds with the Australian team and even then had the Athens
Olympics as his "big picture".
And now, with a professional contract and the promise of some European
racing, it seems he is starting right down the barrel of that Olympic
Bak to Bianchi Nordic
Photo: © Bianchi Nordic
Team Bianchi Nordic has signed promising Dane Glenn Bak, who comes from
Danish Team PH and will race his final year as an espoir in 2004. This
season Bak was fifth and fifteenth in the U23 versions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège
and Paris-Roubaix and also won the final stage of Doble ArequipaMollendo
The team has the ambition to have riders from all Nordic nations, but
with high demands on the riders Finland will have to wait another year.
Six riders are now signed: Jonas Holmkvist, Jesper Ingevaldsson, Petter
Renäng, Mikael Segersäll, Martin Vestby and Glenn Bak. Negotiations
with another two cyclists will be finalised within days.
Jonas Ljungblad leaves the team for a return to Amore-Vita, Tomas Lövkvist
goes to FDJeux.com, Tobias Lergård will ride for a new German team
yet to be revealed, and 2002 European TT Champion Jonas Olsson is completing
his first semester for an engineers degree at Chalmers Technical University
With the new signings and those to come the team will meet its fifth
season with the strongest line up ever, says manager Tommy Prim.
Jufre continues with Relax
Josep Jufre has re-signed with the Relax-Bergasol-Fuenlabrada team for
an additional two seasons, according to a Todociclismo report. Considered
the backbone of the team, Jufre's best result was a second place in this
year's Setmana Catalana.
Pontoni in training accident
Italy's two-time cyclo-cross world champion Daniele Pontoni was hit by
a car while training, but did not suffer serious injury. The accident
occurred in Osoppo, where Pontoni was hit from behind by a car and fell
into a ditch at the side of the road. He was taken to the hospital in
Udine for observation.
Penultimate Giro stage to visit Bianchi
The important second-last stage of the 2004 Giro d'Italia will pay tribute
to a bicycle make that has long been associated with great Italian champions.
Stage 19 from Bormio to the Pass of the Presolana will pass thorugh Treviglio
and past the factory where Bianchi next year celebrates 120 years of celeste
The tie-in with Bianchi came at he request of former rider Felice Gimondi,
one of many greats associated with Bianchi over the years, along with
Fausto Coppi, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich.
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