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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 26, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cyclingnews reader poll: MTB'er of the Year

After revealing our readers' choices of the top male and female cyclo-cross riders of the season yesterday, today we announce the Best Male Mountain Biker and Best Female Mountain Biker of 2003, as chosen by you.

Each day a new category and its winner will be announced, culminating in the Rider of the Year award on January 1, 2004, just in time for a new year to begin and new favourites to emerge. Votes have been tallied for best riders in cycling's various disciplines, the best new products, best bikes, favourite moments of the 2003 season, legends of cycling, and more.

Susanne Ljungskog extends

By Gabriella Ekström

Susanne Ljungskog
Photo: © Russell Standring
Click for larger image

Swedish World Champion Susanne Ljungskog has signed a new contract with number one ranked Bik-Powerplate, the team she joined before the Grand Boucle Feminine 2003. "I had a number of offers, but their determination to build a strong team around me helped me make my selection." Ljungskog told Cyclingnews.

The contract extends to her partner and coach, Klas Johansson too, as it did during this year. "I'm pleased that I will be able to continue riding for the same team, and I'm certain that this will prove to be the best solution for me," added Ljungskog.

Bik-Powerplate will soon present new sponsors for next year, and although the whole team roster is not complete yet, it is already known that Sara Carrigan and Ghita Beltman will stay, and that the runner-up from the Sydney Olympics, Hanka Kupfernagel will join the team for next year.

De Clercq wants another World Championship

From retirement to becoming a fully motivated competitor again, Belgian cyclo-crosser Mario De Clercq says he's not going to finish his last season quietly. "I could freewheel to the end of the season, but that clashes with my character," said De Clercq in an interview with Gazet van Antwerpen. "I read on the internet that the French have built a fast parcours in Pont-Château and that their coach is even thinking of a mass sprint. When I heard that my heart started beating again like a top sportsman. I want more again."

De Clercq was not selected for this weekend's World Cup race in Koksijde, and he and his sponsors are still smarting. "I can't do it against Nys and Wellens, but the rest I can manage, I know for sure," said De Clercq who finished second behind Wellens in today's Superprestige race in Diegem.

Palmans-Collstrop team manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren was quoted in Gazet van Antwerpen as saying "I can't make it clear to my sponsors that someone who is performing very well does not get selected for a World Cup 'cross race. Who can understand that? Apparently the riders themselves make the selection. Not the national coach. They are simply scared to have De Clercq there at the finish. Therein lies the problem.

"In Koksijde will it be ridden without national teams? Is there a Belgian team or are there individuals wearing the same jersey? I think that's it. It's disappointing for Mario that this happens to him. Hopefully De Clercq may still ride the World Championships, certainly with his long service and furthermore because he is strong enough again."

Weigold aiming for German championships

24 year old Steffen Weigold is motivated to try and win the German cyclo-cross championships, which will be held next January 11 in Wadern. Weigold has had a three year break from cyclo-cross, choosing to concentrate on road racing, but has rediscovered his enthusiasm for it this winter.

"It's going better week by week," Weigold told "The gap to the top riders is getting smaller with each race. My goal is to get that title. If I set myself something like that, I'll see it through."

Weigold won a 'cross race last Tuesday in Schmelz, Germany after a month of training. "I didn't have good form on the road at the end of the season and started 'cross training in the middle of November, therefore something else is giving my energy," he said. "With each race the speed is better."

Weigold will be up against Reto Matt, Jens Schwedler and Jens Reuker as his main rivals at the German championships.

Zabel to lead T-Mobile in Ruta del Sol

German sprinter Erik Zabel will lead an eight strong T-Mobile squad in the Vuelta a Andalucia (Ruta Del Sol) which starts on February 15, 2004. Zabel will be looking to get some more racing in his legs for the first part of the season, and will compete alongside Daniele Nardello, Steffen Wesemann, Mario Aerts, Rolf Aldag, Serguei Ivanov, Andreas Klier and Jan Schaffrath.

Nobili Guerciotti complete

The recent signing of Cathy Marsal to the Nobili Guerciotti team has brought the team's roster up to 14 riders. Led by the experienced Zoulfia Zabirova, the team also features Sigrid Corneo, Alison Wright and Kym Shirley. The full roster is as follows:

Lidia Arcangeli (Ita)
Lisa Ardissone (Ita)
Emanuela Azzini (Ita)
Emanuela Brigati (Ita)
Sigrid Corneo (Ita)
Sabrina Emmasi (Ita)
Laura Gamavello (Ita)
Anna Gusmini (Ita)
Cathy Marsal (Fra)
Daniela Fusar Poli (Ita)
Kym Shirley (Aus)
Silvia Valsecchi (Ita)
Alison Wright (Aus)
Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus)

McClung retires

American cyclist Rich McClung has announced his retirement from competitive cycling. An accomplished road cyclist in the late 80's and early 90's, McClung's achievements include winning the 1989 Morgul-Bismark tour in Boulder, CO, wearing the leader's jersey in the Vuelta a Guatemala (1989), and winning a bronze medal in the team time trial at the Pan Am Games in 1992. He rode professionally for Pizza Hut/Pepsi, Schwinn Paramount, Shaklee and Broadmark Capital among other teams, but stopped being a full time professional in 1999.

In the Northwest USA, McClung is known as "Baby Bull," for his resemblance to power hitter Greg "Baby Bull" Luzinski (Philadelphia Phillies baseball player, late 70s). He is a well respected member of the cycling community and has given back to the sport as a coach, mentor and race director.

As for his future plans, McClung told Northwest Race Report that "We've got several projects around the house, and an unruly yard to get in order. I'm not fully going away though. I'll still be active in Lake Washington Velo club, I'm helping promote the state TTT championships, and I'm still going to race 'cross for a few more years, just for fun. I'm also going to do a lot more X-C skiing along with some races over the winter."


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