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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 27, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Cyclingnews reader poll: Team Bike and New Product

It's time to change gears and move from men and women to bikes and accessories. For some readers, the bikes of the professional peloton can be as intriguing as the races, so here are your picks for the best Team Bike and Best New Product of 2003.

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.

Pate joins Health Net

Pate digging deep at Redlands
Photo ©: Rob Karman

Top American cyclist Danny Pate will change colours for 2004, joining the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis. Pate's move follows three seasons with Prime Alliance, before which he spent one year in Europe with Saeco in 2000. Professional since 1998, Pate has proven himself one of America's up and coming talents, most notably with a gold medal in the U23 men's time trial at the 2001 World's in Lisbon, Portugal.

"To have a rider of Danny's caliber is a dream come true for any team directeur sportif," Health Net DS Jeff Corbett said. "Clearly, he is one of the marquee riders in North America and for him to have the desire join and to fit into our cycling program is inspiring for our riders."

Pate turned pro in 1998 with Colorado Cyclist and in the years since has accumulated numerous victories including 1998 and '99 national championships, the 2001 Tryptique Ardennais, 2002 Tour de Toona, not to mention a second place in the 2001 U23 Tour of Flanders.

"I am looking forward to racing in a new environment and to working with and helping my new teammates, which include a group of extremely experienced and successful riders on the one hand and several very talented young riders on the other hand," Pate commented after the deal was done. "I hope to begin my season at the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia in February and to meet all of my new teammates at the team's winter training camp in San Diego later in January."

Click here to read an interview with Danny Pate from July this year.

Staley joins Deutsche Weinstrasse

Female rider Larssyn Staley, who rode this season with the Hot Tubes Development Team, has received good news over the holidays, earning a contract with Team Deutsche Weinstrasse to race in Europe. Staley will join the young German team, based in Herheim, in mid to late February, in time for the team's first training camp in the south of France. The team will compete in several World Cup events and smaller stage races.

"I am very excited for this opportunity," Staley commented. "I think it is a good program to get started in Europe, and I like the idea of racing with girls my age."

Staley plans to continue training in Tucson, Arizona through January before heading to Europe. Staley won the gold medal in the women's 20km points race at the 2003 Junior World Track Championships in Moscow.

Belda considers roster for 2004 Tour

Kelme-Costa Blanca directeur sportif Vicente Belda has already started to name names for the team's selection in the 2004 Tour de France. Prior to Kelme even being assured a place in the Tour- and in the midst of concerns over the team's financial stability, Belda has been planning ahead.

According to a report in META 2MIL, Belda has built a Tour team around recent acquisition Angel Casero, winner of the 2001 Vuelta a España. Casero would be supported by David Blanco, Carlos García Quesada, Eladio Jiménez, David Latasa, Jon Odriozola, Ivan Parra, Rubén Plaza, and Javier Pascual Rodríguez.

Mas at odds with Kelme

The continued unrest in the house of Kelme has led to discord between administrator Joan Mas and the other team management. Mas appears set to leave the team at the beginning of the new year, at which time structural changes will also see the government of the Valencia region of Spain take over as a title sponsor ahead of Costa Blanca.

"Maybe we can reach an agreement," Mas told Marca, referring to his rift with team management. "I will do my job one way or another, but after January 1 I won't continue with this craziness."

Mas' role in the team is reported to diminish with the change in sponsorship, something he appears unwilling to accept. Rather than his current management role, Mas would function only as the team's lawyer under the new terms.

"I'm tired of the lies..." Mas said. "I don't want any problems, but they shouldn't put their fingers in my mouth, because I will bite."

Kelme has yet to receive confirmation of its Division I status with the UCI for 2004, but has until January 8, along with four other teams, to supply the necessary documentation.

Mizbani to lead Iran at Langkawi

Reigning Asian champion Iran has confirmed its participation in the 2004 Tour de Langkawi (February 6-15), with a primary goal of defending its Asian competition title from the 2003 Tour. This year's race was Iran's first entry into the Tour de Langkawi.

Leading Iran's assault for the 2004 Tour is former Asian champion and Tour regular Ghader Mizbani. Mizbani, who finished 34th overall in the individual general classification this year and fourth overall in the Asian field, is regarded as one of the region's best climbers. Mizbani won the overall title this year in the Tour of Taiwan with Team Giant Asia in November and finished second overall in Tour of Qinghai in China.

Joining Mizbani will be climber Ahad Kazemi Sarai, Amir Zagari, Hassan Maleki Mirzan, Abas Saeidi Tanha, Mohamad Rajabloo and Chehrzad Saeid.

Teams confirmed thus far for Langkawi include Lampre, MrBookmaker.com Collstrop Palmans, Chocolade Jacques-Wincor-Nixdorf, De Nardi-Colpack, Panaria Margres, and Iran.

Women's Thüringen-Radrundfahrt

The 17th women's Thüringen-Radrundfahrt stage race in Germany has been set for July 20-25, 2004, while the men's U23 edition will take place in May (3-9). The women's race will begin and end in Zeulenroda, with stages planned for Schleiz, Gera, and Schmoelln. Race organisers expect increased stature for the tour in the event of cancellation of the Grande Boucle Féminine (women's Tour de France), traditionally held in August.

The U23 event will visit cities including Mühlhausen, Bad Berka, Nordhausen, and Schleusingen. Its position on the international calendar also appears secure, as organisers have already received 20 applications for the planned 18 team openings.

Tribute planned for Zarrabeitia

Mikel Zarrabeitia (ex-ONCE-Eroski), who recently announced his retirement from professional cycling, will be honoured January 4 in his home town of Abadiño, Spain. The organisers, Abadiñoko Txirrindulari Elkartea, have planned a ride open to the public in Abadiño, and expect a number of Zarrabeitia colleagues from the professional ranks to join the festivities.

Star & Garter Tour de Vineyards

The Star & Garter Tour de Vineyards, raced throughout the TasmanáDistrictáof Nelson, New Zealand, has finalised its start list for the 2004 edition. The race will run from January 1-4, 2004.

A record field, including last year's touráchampion Matt Yates, his brother Jeremy, Fraser MacMaster,áNZ National Road Champion Heath Blackgrove and Robin Reid will be joined by track specialists Jason Allen and Hayden Godfrey, who will help keep the sprint ace category lively. A host of overseas riders will also add depth to the field.

The women's field is headed by Commonwealth games pursuit champion Sarah Ulmer, along with Kirsty Robb, Susie Wood, Alexandra Born, Karen Hopkinson, Judith May, and Catherine Sell.

Stages:

Stage 1 - January 1: Trek Hope Circuit
Stage 2 - January 2: Fifeshire FM Richmond-Lakes
Stage 3 - January 3: Powerade Richmond-Takaka Hill
Stage 4 - January 4: Glovers Vineyard Hill Street Circuit

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