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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 11, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Heras confirms at Liberty Seguros

Roberto Heras in the gold of Vuelta leader
Photo: © Unipublic
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Roberto Heras has confirmed that he will ride for the Spanish Liberty Seguros cycling team in 2004. Heras broke his silence about the move from US Postal-Berry Floor to the team run by former ONCE directeur sportif Manolo Saiz yesterday, telling the Spanish press that he was "very happy to return to Spain," after three seasons at US Postal.

"Negotiations have been lengthy, but have ended well," said Heras of the deal that will see him ride for Liberty Seguros for three years. "For me, it is an honour as a rider," said Heras. "I am very happy to return to Spain and to a great team like Liberty [Seguros] that has a director such as Manolo who has given so much to Spanish cycling and continues to do so."

Manolo Saiz expressed his delight at the acquisition of Heras, saying it was "great news for Spanish sport [as] one of the most important Spanish sportsmen returns to Spain, and also for Liberty as his incorporation allows us to form a great squad."

"This is a dream for both of us," said Saiz. "[Heras] is a rider who I have always liked. He escaped from me when he went to US Postal because I felt he should stay in Spain."

Saiz said the 2004 Tour de France would be a major objective for Liberty Seguros and Heras. "We have done very well there in recent years, and before joining US Postal Roberto had a very promising Tour. This year he was not himself because of illness, but last year he arrived at the top of the Tourmalet with Beloki. He always gives his utmost."

Saiz added that he had been very bitter after the demise of his ONCE team, but was happy to have found "a sponsor that provides a great deal of security. We are going to have a solid team and we are still open to new possibilities because you always have to try and go that bit further."

Asked if the team was stronger with Roberto Heras as leader than previous ONCE top rider Joseba Beloki, Saiz said, "I would have been pleased to have them both, as they are not incompatible." Beloki last month signed for French outfit Brioches la Boulangere.

With Heras confirmed as team leader, the Liberty Seguros line-up currently comprises Igor and Alvaro González de Galdeano, Isidro Nozal, Marcos Serrano, Alberto Contador, Angel Vicioso, Rafa Díaz, Rene Adrle, Allan Davis, Jan Hruska, Gianpaolo Caruso, Koldo Gil, Dariusz Baranowski, Luis León Sánchez, Carlos Barredo and Javier Ramírez.

Armstrong wishes Heras well

Meanwhile, in a Q&A on his official website, Heras' former team leader Lance Armstrong said, "I have to say that I wasn't terribly surprised. Roberto's a leader and had the opportunity to go and do that, plus get a longer term deal. I wish him well."

Armstrong also talks about the 2004 Tour de France, saying, "I suspect the competition will be deep," and his other plans for next season which might include a start at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, April 30 - May 4.

Hong Kong aims for first Olympic gold

by Karen Forman

Hong Kong Olympic hopeful Kam Po Wong is one of the riders being coached by Heiko Salzwedel
Photo: © Francis Cerny
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China and Hong Kong coaches are setting themselves a big, golden goal for 2004: their first Olympic gold medal in the 500 metre time trial. And, while they're in Athens, they hope to strut their stuff in the road and points races, being serious enough about it to enlist the assistance of former Australian Institute of Sport men's road coach, German Heiko Salzwedel, who recently completed a contract with the British Olympic Federation.

Salzwedel, who recently launched himself as an international private coach for individuals and organisations, is currently talking with the two countries to set up a formal relationship aimed at attaining Olympic gold. He spent two days last week in Hong Kong en route to Australia, where he is conducting the Heiko Salwedel Coaching Clinic at Runaway Bay on Queensland's Gold Coast this week, giving coaching lectures to coaches and sports scientists in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland and said he had been impressed by their commitment to achieving their dreams.

"It was very interesting to learn about their ambitions," he said. "Hong Kong, for instance, made an agreement with my company SL-sports to help to prepare Kam Po Wong for the Olympic road race and possibly points race. "And the Chinese national coach, Shen Jin Kong, wants me to work with him to aim for the first ever gold medal in the 500m time trial. These guys certainly do not lack of confidence. But the impressive thing is they also have the means to bring this to reality. "I've just joined Kam Po Wong's group of 10 experts, which includes a nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach and psychologist under the leadership of the former chinese national coach and now head coach at the HK Institute of Sport, Shen Jin Kong."

Salzwedel said he was excited about the prospect of working with both coaches and athletes. Hong Kong will start as a separate entity in the Athens Olympics, but Kam Po Wong is its only qualifer. Wong is no stranger to Australia. In 1997 he was invited to the Bank Classic by race director Phill Bates and won the King Of the Mountain and in 1998 was closely beaten by Jay Sweet in the Commonwealth Games in Kualar Lumpar. "He's a very talented rider," Salzwedel said. "I look forward to working with them."

Meanwhile, Salzwedel is busily working at the other end of the cycling scale - with keen amateurs - at the coaching clinic at Runaway Sports Supa Centre at Runaway Bay. He's assisted by some of his charges, Australian professional riders Robbie McEwen, Nick Gates and Nathan O'Neill - who are all on his private international coaching roster - and former Festina sprinter Marcel Wust, who retired two years ago.

Participants in the clinic, which started on Sunday and ends on Friday, go on a training ride at 8am each morning, joined by the pros along with other riders contesting the Brisbane and Surfers Paradise criteriums - then settle down to two coaching lectures at 2.30pm and 5pm and then attend an evening lecture from 7.30pm.

"We have invited some high profile professionals like Robbie to speak in the evenings," Salwedel says, "and I think this should be the highlight of the clinic. Robbie will speak on Wednesday night about his experience with the green jersey and whether it has been a challenge or a curse. Eric Zabel said this year that the green jersey destroyed his career, and there was a lot of discussion about this in Germany.

"Nathan, who broke his neck in a crash, will make a speech on Tuesday night about whether cycling is too dangerous and about overcoming his fears after his accident. And on Sunday and Monday Marcel will talk on things like the rise and fall of Team Coast and Jan Ullrich's worst moments. We will be touching some really controversial areas."

Salzwedel, who began private coaching for individuals and organisations after completing his British Cycling contract earlier this year, said the aim of the clinic was not to make money, but to offer something to Australian riders, for whom he had a deep affection, and to further develop his links here. It is not a profit-making exercise.

"I had the idea from friends from Queensland and said yes I would be happy to come over here and conduct clinics here," he said. "With Robbie, Nick Gates, Nathan, and a couple of others like Jason Phillips, it is going to be more like a reunion here than a coaching clinic."

Wust, who is now a high-profile TV commentator, commentating this year's Tour de France for German television, normally charges 800 Euros a day, but is working just for expenses at the clinic. He will give an insight into this year's Tour from the German prospective and has a couple of crossover stories to tell. Like Salwedel, he loves Australia.

"He wants to get settled in Australia, establish some business here and bring his family here to live," Salzwedel said. "Two years ago he said to me he wants his children going to an Australia school not a German school. We are good friends and share a lot of mutual respect." In addition to the Australians and Chinese, Salzwedel recently signed Rabobank rider, five times Tour de France contender (and top 20 finisher) Grischa Niermann.

"I really enjoy coaching now after being the last five years more or less in several management positions, what I really missed is the direct contact with riders. That's the thing I enjoy mostly at the moment. The most exciting thing is to see riders progressing."

Danielson hands over seven grand

Danielson and a big cheque
Photo: © Cyclingnews
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After the success of an on-line auction over the last couple of weeks, Tom Danielson held a press conference on Monday night in Durango to present the money raised to the Fort Lewis College Cycling Scholarship fund. Danielson, who is only in his third year as a professional cyclist is already giving back in an attempt to help other young hopefuls achieve success in cycling as well as receive a degree.

To date, Danielson's Foundation has raised over $30,000 dollars in total, presenting on Monday a check for $7,000 to Bob Hill of the Fort Lewis College Foundation.

Ljungskog allowed to take own coach to Athens

The Swedish cycling federation and the Swedish Olympic committee will let double world champion Susanne Ljungskog be accompanied by her long time coach and partner Klas Johansson to the Olympics in Athens. Swedish news agency TT SVD writes that Johansson has been suggested as the new trainer by head manager Hans Falk. Earlier this winter Glenn Magnusson left his job as the coach for the women's national team because of what was believed to be a disagreement about who would play the role as Ljungskog's coach. On her website Ljungskog stressed the importance of being surrounded by a well-functioning team when preparing for a race of the calibre of a World Championship or Olympics. After the news, she writes; "It pleases me that my wishes have been taken into account, and I'm glad this problem could be quickly solved. Now we can all focus on what really matters, the preparation for Athens."

US cyclo-cross nationals this weekend

The 2003 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships start on Friday, December 12 at the Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. On the line will be the coveted stars and stripes jersey awarded to the U.S. National Champion in each of 27 categories, culminating with Sunday's elite men's and women's competition.

In the elite men's category, Jonathan Page will be returning to defend his national title from 2002. Page has spent the early part of this season racing on the European circuit and is considered one of the favorites for the title. Todd Wells, currently the highest-ranked US rider on UCI points, and the top-ranked rider on the U.S. circuit is likely to be the strongest challenger to Page. Clif Bar duo of Jackson Stewart and Andy Jacques-Mayne has also enjoyed a successful early season and could pose a threat. Other challengers include Marc Gullickson and relative newcomer Ryan Trebon, while dark horse Mark McCormack can't be discounted. The Saturn pro has ridden a limited 'cross campaign this year, but would like to add a national cyclo-cross jersey to go with the USPRO road jersey he won this summer in Philadelphia.

In the elite women's category, Alison Dunlap has shown strong form with a silver medal effort at the UCI World Cup race in St. Wendel, Germany and a dominating victory at the Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series race in Gloucester, Mass. Dunlap, who won the national title in 2001 will fend off challenges from the defending National Champion, Anne Grande, and the one-two punch of Clif Bar teammates, Carmen D'Alusio and Gina Hall, who hold the top two spots in the national rankings respectively.

Racing begins at 10:00am on Friday, December 12 with the Collegiate Women's category and continues throughout the weekend.

Grafton to Inverell seeks UCI status

After winning the Cycling Australia award for event of the year last week, the Eastmon Camera House Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic has its sights on moving up the ladder to becoming a UCI-sanctioned event.

The 228km race, generally considered to be Australia's hardest one-day event, may move from September to October, according to race director Peter Munday who heads the all-volunteer group that runs the race. Munday said that a change of date would allow the ever-increasing number of top Australian cyclists who compete in Europe to contest the race.

"If we can get a date towards the end of October there will be a fair chance we will see local star rider Scott Sunderland compete in what could be his final road race as a professional" Munday said :"It would be a great thing for the race to have Scott finish such a long and successful career in his hometown." The committee will apply to have the race included on the UCI (International Cyclist Union) Calendar. This means the race will carry points that count to cyclists' world rankings and will attract even more top class riders.

While Scott Sunderland has been home in Inverell he has been assisting the committee by talking on their behalf to the Australian Road Commission board. Scott has been putting forward the positive effects for cycling in Australia that a later date for the classic will have. The committee feels confident that Sunderland's stature as Australia's most experienced international cyclist will be an integral part in helping them achieve their goal.

Grand re-opening for Wellington Velodrome

Two of the all time greats of New Zealand track cycling, Sarah Ulmer and Harry Kent, will be guests of honour at the official re-opening of the Wellington Velodrome next Tuesday, December 16.

Dormant for over a decade, the 333.3m concrete velodrome has been successfully resurrected this summer by the Port Nicholson Poneke Cycling Club (PNP) with support from the Wellington City Council. It will be almost 35 years to the day since the track was first opened on December 14 1968.

PNP has been holding well-attended meets at the velodrome since the beginning of November. Local riders are still coming to grips with the techniques and strategies for successful track cycling but the PNP Track Committee under the leadership of chairman Aaron Stagg and track director Christian Wengler, has set its sights on Wellington becoming one of the top track centres in the country. PNP is taking the opportunity to showcase track cycling to a wide local audience.

An invitation is extended to trackies from other centres to join PNP for the big occasion. Registrations for racing are taken on the night starting at 5:30 pm with the evening's entertainment starting at 6 pm. After the meeting, Sarah - who will not be racing - will be speaking to local women cyclists in the softball clubrooms at the velodrome.

Klostergaard to Glud & Marstrand Horsens

The Glud and Marstrand Horsens team has signed a one year contract with 20 year old Kasper Klostergaard, who represented Denmark at the World's in Hamilton.

Top amateur Kostyuk to Chocolade Jacques

New Belgian formation Chocolade Jacques has signed a key rider for the future, Denys Kostyuk. The Ukrainian has topped the UCI's U23 rankings since mid-season, and at age 21 has been taken under the wing of classics specialist Andrei Tchmil as he begins his professional career.

Belorussian juniors go Italian

Four young riders from the former Soviet republic of Belorussia are getting a chance to sample life on the Italian racing circuit as part of a team sponsored by Italian company Café Jesi Calzature Trabattoni Trony.

Alexei Polushkin, Artur Tarasov, Vladimir Zatonenko and Alexander Sinelnikau will join six riders from Napoli on the team which will be run by Antonio Freschi and former pro Eugeni Seniouchkine. The local riders are Gennaro Maddaluno, Andrea Tessitore, Onofrio Balasco, Armando Minichino Donato and Nacca and Raffaele Saldamarco. The team will also host two riders from Uzbekistan, Azizbek Abdurahimov and Ruslan Karimov.

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