First Edition Cycling News for December 7, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Ullrich's sights set on three Tours
Three more Tours?
Photo: © AFP
Jan Ullrich, winner of the 1997 Tour de France, commented Saturday that
he wants not one, but three more Tour victories before his professional
career comes to a close. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,
Ullrich insisted that he wants to make the most of the few years he has
left at the top of the sport.
"I know how many years I still have to race for victory in the Tour de
France: the next three," the German said. "It would be a shame to waste
two out of the three."
Ullrich has most often been seen as Lance Armstrong's number one rival
in the Tour, but has yet to interrupt the American's record-equalling
feat of five victories in a row. This year's Tour was the closest margin
of victory for Armstrong, and Ullrich believes he can once again reach
the top step of the podium.
"On paper, we have one of the strongest teams in the world," he said
of T-Mobile (ex-Telekom), to which he returns in 2004 after a season with
Teams Coast and Bianchi. "I joined the team because I knew with [T-Mobile]
I would have my best chance to win the Tour de France again."
Armstrong recently joked that his US Postal Service team had a homing
device implanted in Ullrich's head so they could track their rival's every
move. Ullrich offered his own good-natured quip, commenting on Armstrong's
"I think he puts a photo of his rival by his mirror and tells himself
every day, you're the one I have to beat," he said.
Since 1996, Ullrich has won one Tour de France and finished second on
five occasions. He has never finished lower than second.
Bettini eyes third World Cup and Olympics
Italian champion Paolo Bettini, winner of a second consecutive World
Cup with an unprecedented three rounds of the prestigious series to his
credit this year, will once again target the trophy in 2004. Nonetheless,
the year-long competition is not Bettini's only objective. As with many
top professionals, the Olympic Games represent a special ambition for
the Quick.Step-Davitamon rider, who indicated that he would trade a gold
medal in Athens for a third World Cup win.
"To win a third World Cup would mean setting a record nobody has achieved
yet," Bettini commented. "The Olympics in Athens, for which I will prepare
by riding the Tour de France, is my top ambition along with the World
Championships in Verona, Italy."
Tonkov to Vini Caldirola
Russian veteran Pavel Tonkov will return to the Italian peloton with
a contract to join Vini Caldirola in 2004. Tonkov, winner of the 1996
Giro d'Italia, makes his fourth team change in four years, after single
seasons spent with Mercury, Lampre, and CCC-Polsat. Plagued by back problems
this season, he never reached his best condition.
Vini Caldirola team management expects Tonkov's experience to provide
a significant boost to team leader Stefano Garzelli, who remains team
manager Enrico Maggioni's main man for the Giro, while the Russian could
have his own cards to play in the Vuelta a España if the season
French nationals head to the Alps
The 2004 French national championships will be held in the Champsaur
valley in France's Hautes-Alpes region. A demanding 22.4 kilometre circuit
has been designed, including a 6 km climb in the early part of the course.
The nationals will be held from June 24-27, with the 224 km elite road
race wrapping up the events.
"It will be even more selective than at Briançon in 2002," said
national technical director Patrick Cluzaud. The Briançon course,
while exciting from a racing perspective, was not sufficiently accessible
to the general public, something organisers hope will improve with another
Alpine test in the Champsaur valley. The course will also serve as a test
case for future bids for international events such as the European Championships.
A New O'Grady
Stuart O'Grady and his wife Anne-Marie became first-time parents with
the arrival of son Seth on Friday, December 5. The baby was born in Adelaide,
Australia and weighed in at a hefty eight pounds 10 ounces, measuring
51cm long. Congratulations to the proud parents.
W.E. Stedman GP postponed
The W.E. Stedman Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross has been postponed due to
the snow storm currently hitting the northeastern United States. In the
interest of safe travel for competitors trying to get to the race, race
organizers, Pavé Productions, in conjunction with the VERGE Series
organizers, have decided to postpone the race.
Round 5 of the VERGE New England Championship Cyclo-cross Series, originally
scheduled for Sunday, December 6th, will now take place on Saturday, December
20, 2003, the day before the final race in the series, the Patterson Construction/NEBC
Cyclo-Cross in Merrimack, NH.
This will make for a very exciting final weekend to the VERGE New England
Championship series with, in essence, triple points up for grab one week
after Nationals. For more information please visit the Pavé Productions
website at www.paveproductions.com or the VERGE New England Series website
Heritage Cyclo-cross Series
For some, December 14th marks the culmination of the American cyclo-cross
season with the U.S. National Championships. However, for those unable
to travel west, December 14th will also mark final race of the inaugural
Heritage Cyclo-cross Series. The Mike Wiley Memorial will be held at the
Trotting Park Fields in Falmouth, Massachussets and will feature races
for all ages and abilities.
Despite a change in venue from 2002, the race will offer up a challenging
course for the riders, including a long set of stairs, tricky off-camber
sections, long riding segments exposed to the wind and some tricky BMX
style double track. Riders can also expect plenty of great food and drinks
for their efforts, while supporting the People Cycle Junior Development
The Mike Wiley Memorial is presented by People Cycle, Inc. with the support
of George Sykes and Corner Cycle of Cape Cod. Stelvio Teamware Champion's
jerseys will be awarded courtesy of Bici-Imports. Other sponsors include
the gracious support of Rudy Project and Honey Stinger. For more information
go to www.peoplecycle.org.
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