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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 20, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Belda says Kelme is secure

Kelme-Costa Blanca director Vicente Belda has offered assurances that the team's documentation concerning riders' salaries and bank guarantees has been submitted to the UCI. Kelme's finances have been put in question after several riders were not paid for two months, and a Spanish bank froze the team's accounts.

"[Friday] afternoon all of the documentation was faxed to the UCI to show that payments have been made," Belda told Todociclismo. "The same papers have been sent by express mail to provide original documentation as quickly as possible."

Time is of the essence for Kelme, which faces a possible demotion to Division II if it does not adequately reassure the UCI of its fiscal stability. Saturday, December 20 was set as the deadline to provide the assurances and retain the team's place in Division I. The UCI is expected to release the list of 30 teams which will make up the first division for 2004 on Saturday. All teams are required to provide bank guarantees and proper documentation by December 15, although Kelme was offered a few days leeway given its long history in the sport.

Sastre likes Vuelta but focus is Tour

With Tyler Hamilton's departure to Phonak, Team CSC will count even more on Spaniard Carlos Sastre for the grand tours. Sastre will be a co-leader for the 2004 Tour de France, alongside young Italian Ivan Basso, a former winner of the white jersey of best young rider in the Tour. But, being Spanish, Sastre still thinks of the Vuelta a España as a major objective, and was pleased with the route announced this week in Madrid.

"The race will be very tough," Sastre said of the Vuelta on CSC's website. "There will be stages with crosswinds as well as many mountain stages. The final part of the race will be very difficult. That kind of terrain suits me and I am very motivated to do well in the Vuelta."

The Vuelta and the Tour are each major goals for Sastre, but even with Hamilton gone, CSC's focus remains the Tour. The team had a breakout success in 2003 with fourth place overall by Hamilton, along with three stage wins (Hamilton, Sastre, Piil) and first place in the teams competition.

"The [Vuelta] has shorter stages than the Tour de France but more climbs. That is to my liking and I think that I can do well, however, the Tour is still my main goal," Sastre noted.

Bjarne Riis nonetheless expressed confidence for the Vuelta and pledged support to Sastre as team leader in Spain.

"The fact that the Vuelta can be decided in the mountains is clearly to Sastre's advantage," Riis said. "Our team will be very strong next year and we will definitely be able to line up a strong team for the Vuelta. I expect that our team will be there."

Houseman suspended

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Friday that mountain biker Gary Houseman tested positive at the UCI World Cup on July 12, 2003 at Grouse Mountain, Canada. Houseman tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a metabolite of marijuana. Under UCI rules, THC is a prohibited substance tested for during competition.

In accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic Movement Testing, the case was referred to USADA on Oct. 17, 2003 for adjudication from USA Cycling, which received the case from the UCI.

Houseman, 23, accepted a one-year suspension from competition beginning on July 12, 2003. In addition, all results which occurred on or after the date of the positive test are declared invalid, including his win in the downhill competition at the UCI World Cup at Grouse Mountain. Houseman also received a fine of 2,000 Swiss Francs, in accordance with UCI rules. USA Cycling will carry out the sanction.

McEwen takes green at Jayco Bay Classic launch

Cooke suffers mechanical failure

By Karen Forman

Cooke, McEwen and other top pro's star in a series of events down under
Photo ©: James Worrell

Australian Tour de France heroes Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke came face to face in an event that was as far from the Tour as they could get during the official launch of Victoria's premier criterium series, the 2004 Jayco Bay Classic, in Melbourne this week.

In what was a highly comical spectacle at Docklands, the site of the final of five criteriums on January 11, McEwen and Cooke challenged each other on a tight 30-metre course riding mountain bikes and towing four-man Jayco camper trailers attached by special fixtures and tow balls designed by Jayco engineers.

Cooke had mechanical failure and could not reach the finish line, so McEwen was announced the winner and received a green can of beer in lieu of a green jersey for his efforts.

Other guests at the launch of the event, which following the development this month of a partnership between former owner John Trevorrow, Karin Jones, David Robb and Peter McKeddie, will be run by Cycling Events Downunder under Trevorrow's directorship, included previous sprint jersey women's winner Katie Mactier. She spoke of the rivalry between NSW and Victoria and said Victoria hoped to take the winners title back this year.

She also reiterated how much she enjoyed the series, with women from all around the world. "It is great to have an event like this in our home country," she said.

Cooke said he was ahead of his training schedule and unlike previous years would be up to the test, while McEwen said he was looking forward to making it a seventh win in a row.

The battle of the Bay Crits 2004 will start with the appropriately named circuit at Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula on January 7. It will then move onto the grueling Portarlington circuit, then Geelong will play host on January 9 and 10 with late afternoon events on the picturesque waterfront and the magnificent Botanic Gardens. The Jayco Bay Cycling Classic will conclude at Melbourne's spectacular Docklands with its waterfront restaurants and bars, where enthusiasts and tourists alike are sure to be swept up in the euphoria of this spectacular event.

Cycling Events Downunder spokesperson Karin Jones said the 2004 series was shaping up to be "the best of the best".

"We have the full complement of 14 teams and some amazing riders," she said. "It is a pity that Stuart O'Grady can't be there due to commitments with his new team but it will be interesting to see how our two Tour de France heroes go. As well, we have the full professional team, which is absolutely fantastic. Baden, of course, will be racing with his team."

McEwen, meanwhile, has been assigned an up and coming young group of riders for his MAB Mirvac Lend Lease and Vic Urban team - Trent Wilson, David Harrigan from NSW, Kane Oakley from Queensland and Brian Appleyard from NSW.

Ex-members of the now defunct professional team, David McKenzie and Alan Iacuone will line up in the Bicycle Superstore team with Hector Morales and Jorge Libonatti, both from Uruguay. Other notable riders include Graeme Brown who will again ride with the SBR team including Hilton Clarke, former rider Brett Lancaster, Greg Henderson from New Zealand and Jeremy Hunt. Part of the British Olympic squad will be riding for 700C Business Objects (Steve Cummings, Christian House, Russell Downing, brother Dean Downing and Kieran Page).

Past winner, Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken, is riding for the new Drapac cycling team, which is putting also entering a women's team. The elite women will race prior to the main feature each day. Mactier heads an impressive list and although a sprint jersey winner in previous series, she wants overall victory in 2004.

She won't have it all her own way, however, with the New South Wales Institute of Sport sending another strong contingent, including winners for the past two years, Kate Bates and Rochelle Gilmore who won't hear of losing the title to the Victorians.

Inverell carnival needs entries

Anthony Peden challenges: "Come and race with me" as Inverell carnival risks cancellation

By Karen Forman

Flying 200 metre champion and former AIS rider Anthony Peden has issued a challenge: "Come and race with me" amid fears that the Inverell (Australia) Amateur Wheelers Cycling Club may have to cancel its comeback track carnival on December 26 and 27 due to lack of entries.

Newcastle resident Peden, 32, has brought a squad of young juniors from New Zealand to race at the carnival and also intends to break his own record for the flying 200 metres of 10.96 seconds at what he describes as one of his favourite track carnivals.

However, with only 30 starters nominated by Thursday night, organisers are set to decide on Monday whether or not to proceed. President Gary Boggs told Cyclingnews that while there had been a lot of interest from riders, particularly Queenslanders, actual nominations were lean.

"The fields are classy but not big," he said. "We really need 50 to make the carnival a viable proposition. I can't understand what the problem is. The carnival stopped due to lack of interest a few years ago, but people were asking us to get it going again. Now we have, but there aren't too many supporters.

Boggs said only eight men had nominated which was highly disappointing. "Some say that they are sitting on their entries until they see what entries we get, but if there are 100 out there doing that, and we cancel the carnival, then we are missing something that could have been great. We will meet tomorrow (Saturday) to talk about it all and then make a final decision on Monday."

Peden moved back to Newcastle 12 months ago after three years racing and training in New Zealand, which he represented at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Manchester Commonwealth Games and three World Championships. He was also upset when given the news by Cyclingnews.

"If it is called off it would be a real shame," he said. "It's quite a good carnival. They haven't raced it for a couple of years. I'd really like to see it get going again, for the simple reason that New South Wales hasn't got any carnivals at Christmas.

He said he and the juniors he was coaching had in recent years raced in Tasmania and Victoria when Inverell didn't hold a carnival "but once I saw it on the calendar for this year I jumped at the chance." It's my preferred carnival and I have friends there ­ it is well run and the atmosphere and country people make it worthwhile."

He plans to stay in Inverell for a training camp following the carnival. "We won't be doing Tassie. I'll probably stay in Inverell for a couple of days, coaching as well as training myself," he said. "Even if it is called off, it's too late to enter the Tassie carnivals. Late entries aren't allowed to contest the wheel races, which would be what we would be interested in."

Instead, he is urging riders to "get up there to Inverell and come and race with me... Have some fun over the festive season."

Back to break record

Peden is back in full training following back surgery six weeks ago and is keen to give the record a good go. He also believes the carnival will give his junior squad - brothers Nicholas and Christopher Vincent will be joined by Jono Hanlin and promising Newcastle junior Chad Schneider, a member of the Hunter Academy of Sport - the ideal preparation.

After Inverell, he has set his sights on the World Cup series (the first in Moscow in eight weeks' time), then New Zealand for the Oceania championships and National championships, then Mexico for the next World Cup, and back to Australia to prepare for the Sydney World Cup and World's in Melbourne, which is the final qualifying competition for the Olympics.

"Obviously the keirin is my number one event," he said. "I have been consistently in the top six in the medals. "

The Inverell program for the two days includes derbies for all grades, keirins, point scores, the Ashley Brown wheel race (held after the break on the second day), scratch races and the 'piece de resistance': A 100 lap points score for A-graders. If the numbers were up, organisers would consider running a madison.

"The weather's nice, the track's good, as they say in horse racing," said Boggs. For more information about the carnival, call Gary Boggs on 61 2 6722 2163 or 61 2 6722 2260.

GVA Trofee Veldrijden round 4

The fourth round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden cyclo-cross series will be held Saturday in Essen, Belgium. World champion Bart Wellens (Spaar Select) will be shooting for a new series honour as he goes for a fourth consecutive victory. Wellens has won each of the first three rounds of the GVA series and currently leads Arne Daelmans and Erwin Vervecken in the overall standings.

GVA Trofee Veldrijden schedule:

November 1: Koppenberg/Oudenaarde (Bart Wellens)
November 11: Niel (Bart Wellens)
December 14: Kalmthout (Bart Wellens)
December 20: Essen
December 30: Loenhout
January 1, 2004: Baal
February 22: Oostmalle

Return of the Northern Mafia

Great Britain's renowned 'northern mafia', comprised of riders Mark Lovatt, John Tanner and Kevin Dawson, is set to form a new team put together by their long-time sponsor Planet X. The team will be supported by a small but tightly-knit group of sponsors that will see them riding a new range of road bikes being produced by On-one, with components supplied by Planet X. It is expected that they will be joined by the Downing brothers, Russell and Dean, who are currently on racing in Australia, forming a new five man team.

Two more for Auber 93

Two more riders have signed with the Auber 93 (ex-BigMat-Auber 93) team for 2004. The team will ride in Division III after the loss of title sponsor BigMat. Former Saint-Quentin-Oktos rider Lénaïc Olivier will join as the team's top sprinter, along with former French amateur champion Niels Brouzes.

Jaén set for Ruta del Sol finish

The Spanish city of Jaén has been assured its position as the finish for the early season Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol stage race. Race organisers reached an agreement with Jaén's mayor Miguel Sanchez de Alcazar this week to finish the race in the city from 2004-2007.

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