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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for July 22, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson, Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones

Hamilton survives tough five days

Tyler Hamilton, super-trooper
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

At the start of stage 15 in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, CSC's team captain Tyler Hamilton looked as though he'd been through a living hell in the last few days of the Tour. A tough time trial in the scorching heat last Friday was followed by two even tougher mountain stages in the Pyrenees, and Hamilton started to lose time to his closest rivals, slipping to seventh on GC.

The fact that he has gotten this far is remarkable, after he fractured his collarbone in the first stage of the Tour. Since then he has kept riding his bike through a combination of iron will and his team's physical therapist, who spends hours on him each day to ensure that he gets through each stage in the least possible amount of pain.

Although it could have easily all fallen apart for Hamilton on Stage 15 to Luz Ardiden, the American had a better day, hanging with the lead group until it exploded with Armstrong's attack and Ullrich's high tempo chase. Hamilton eventually finished seventh, losing 1'10 to Armstrong - far better than the three minutes he lost the previous day.

"When I look at the circumstances, I have to be satisfied," said Hamilton on CSC's website. "The stage was very tough and I feel as if I have been racing for five weeks. I am very, very tired. I tried to keep up for as long as I could, but I had to let go, when there was a hard acceleration. The stage was tough on everybody but I believe that the audience saw a good race today in the Tour de France."

When Lance Armstrong crashed near the bottom of Luz Ardiden, Hamilton helped slow the front group down to wait for the Maillot Jaune, even though it was clear that some of the riders were itching to attack. "I saw that Lance went down and all of a sudden the tempo went up in the front group. I wanted to make sure that everyone was aware that the yellow jersey had crashed. You have to show respect in a situation like that."

Top five finish from Rogers by 2005

Michael Rogers, future Tour star
Photo: © Jeff Tse
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Quick Step-Davitamon directeur sportif Patrick Lefevre believes his 23 year old cycling prodigy Michael Rogers will be ready to challenge for overall honours in the Tour de France two years from now.

After a spate of successes in medium-ranked stage races including the tours of Belgium, Germany and the Route du Sud, Rogers came to the Tour in incredible form, and was tipped as a favourite for the prologue. His 19th place, 13 seconds adrift of fellow countryman Bradley McGee's winning time of 7'26.13, was by no means a disaster, but was possibly a result of stage fright in his first Tour outing. But Lefevre says that is exactly why the team brought Rogers to the Centenary Tour - to gain the experience necessary that will mould Rogers into future Tour leader.

"We brought Michael here just to discover the Tour this year," Lefevre told AFP. "He's had a brilliant season and we felt it was time he got to experience the race. Ideally, we'd be looking for him to come to the Tour challenging [for the overall] in 2005 more than in 2004."

So far, Rogers has played a significant role in allowing team-mate Richard Virenque to secure his sixth mountains jersey, most notably on last Sunday's stage to Loudenvielle, where the Canberra rider rode entirely at Virenque's disposal for over 100 kilometres. On other occasions, Rogers has also ridden for Italian Paolo Bettini, aiding the opportunistic Il Grillo during his innumerable breakaway attempts.

"To win here you've got to make a lot of sacrifices," says Rogers. "That's why Lance [Armstrong] wins - because he's prepared to make more sacrifices; he's prepared to train more and prepared to do more work than anyone else in the world. I think this year it's been a great event for me to ride. I'm now seeing what is needed to be competitive or to be able to get a place on the podium."

Having never 'owned' a serious Tour contender in Lefevre's previous role at Mapei, the Belgian struggles to contain his enthusiasm for Rogers' potential as future Tour winner, and mentions that Rogers' preparation in the coming years will most certainly be focused on the Grand Boucle: "We'll adapt his programme to really concentrate on the Tour itself, and we'd hope that by 2005 he'd get a top five finish," he says.

"I don't just go around signing guys because I can," quips Lefevre. "I think Michael has got the tools for the job. If anyone's got the mentality for it, then he has."

Waddell condition worse than previously thought

The condition of Australian mountain bike racer John Waddell, who has been unconscious since a crash at the Mont St Anne round of the World Cup earlier this month, appears to be more serious than originally thought.

According to Derrin Stockton, Waddell's manager at the ITS/Santa Cruz team, Waddell has been examined by neurologist Dr Peter Cassini, and, "There were some things he spotted on the scans that were not previously noticed," said Stockton.

"Some of the injuries to John's brain are on the inside, and are not just limited to the surface. Because of this, his prognosis for recovery is not as positive as we had previously hoped. In short, John will have some permanent damage from his crash that will be with him for life. Exactly how bad it will be is really still up in the air."

Stockton said that it would be six to twelve months before doctors would know how much Waddell's speech, personality and motor skills would return to their previous condition, but it was unlikely Waddell would again race at top level.

Stockton took pains to point out that Waddell had been receiving excellent care and that the previously undiagnosed internal brain injuries would not have affected his condition even if they had been known.

Extending his thanks to many people who have helped John Waddell, Stockton especially mentioned "Kelli at the UCI, Michael Phillips for facilitating Dr Cassini's involvement in John's situation, and Dr. Cassini himself for taking the time to rearrange his schedule and travel on a few days notice. And I can't say enough about Rob at Santa Cruz who has spared no effort or expense at making sure John has had the very best of everything since his crash."

Waddell has now been flown back to his home in Western Australia.

Scarponi motivated for end of season Classics

Domina Vacanze-Elitron rider Michele Scarponi wants to prove his worth as a Classics specialist by winning one of the five remaining rounds of the 2003 World Cup.

As one of six Italians in the top 15 on the World Cup rankings (Peter Van Petegem currently leads Michael Boogerd and Dario Pieri after Liège-Bastogne-Liège), the 23 year-old, second year professional wants to demonstrate that his two top 10 placings in Amstel Gold (7th) and L-B-L (4th) were no fluke.

"I will try and win a World Cup race before the season is over," says Scarponi. "I feel well and very motivated. Sure, I expected more at the Giro (Scarponi finished 16th, 29'24 behind winner Gilberto Simoni) after my performances in Belgium, but I have now regained my physical shape in order to do well in the World Cup and the Vuelta a España.

Speaking about his training for the World Cup and Vuelta, Scarponi says he has been following a period of intense training in the mountain region of Trento with his team-mates Filippo Simeoni and Francesco Secchiari, riding between five to six hours each day.

Milton Wynants signs for UPMC

Uruguayan cyclist Milton Wynants, who famously won silver in the points race at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, has signed to ride for the UPMC cycling team for the remainder of the 2003 season. He will compete with the team in events such as the Mt. Holly Grand Prix and the Mengoni Grand Prix in New York City before traveling to the Dominican Republic to compete in the Pan American Games.

"Adding Wynants to the team brings a new dimension to our squad," said team director Mike Fraysse. "His experience will be as valuable as his speed, and we expect great things of Milton." Wynants, who hails from Pysandu, Uruguay, is a seven-time Uruguayan national champion and has also medaled in previous Pan Am Games.

On the strength of the UPMC team's recent performances, the team will compete in the Tour of Venezuela (UCI 2.5) in September, before finishing the season in October with a pair of races in Australia: the respected Herald-Sun Tour (UCI 2.3) and the Tour of Queensland (UCI 2.5).

New Zealand announces MTB nationals

Mountain Bike NZ has announced the dates for the 2004 New Zealand National MTB Series MTB National Championships.

There will be six rounds of the national series, plus the return of the national hill climb championships, the Oceania mountain bike championships and a series of four-cross races.

To obtain an official series ranking, riders will have to start in three rounds plus the final. Series points will contribute to the new National Ranking system for New Zealand riders that Mountain Bike NZ is working towards implementing from January 1 2004.

2004 New Zealand National MTB Races

January 3-4: DH #1/XC#1 - Hawkes Bay (UCI E2)
January 11: XC #2 - Wanganui
January 23: National Hill Climb Championships - Rotorua
January 24-25: DH #2/XC #3 - Rotorua (Incorporating the 2004 Oceania Championships)
January 26: Oceania 4X - Rotorua
January 31 - February 1: National championships - Wellington
February 13-14: DH #3 & XC #4 - Nelson
February 18: DH #4 - Cardrona
February 21: DH #5 - Cardrona
February 22: XC #5 - Hokitika
February 28-29 - DH & XC #6 (finals)- Dunedin (UCI E2)

Phonak for Sachsen-Tour International

Swiss-based Phonak team has announced the riders that will nip across to Germany for the UCI 2.3 ranked Sachsen-Tour International (International Tour of Saxony), July 23-27. The seven riders on the team are: Niki Aebersold, Michi Albasini, Oscar Camenzind, Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Stefan Kupfernagel and Daniel Schnider.

RONA signs on in support of Hamilton world's

We're not entirely sure what the role is of an Official Home Improvement Retailer for a world championships, but we're pleased to report that any participants at the World Championships in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (October 6-12, 2003) who fancy a quick bit of domestic repair and refurbishment will be supported - er, somehow - by Canadian home improvement giant RONA.

Kidding aside, RONA has long been a significant supporter of cycling in Canada through its support of the RONA-Esker cycling team led by Genevieve Jeanson, so a tie-in with the world's makes plenty of sense.

"We're thrilled to be associated with an event of this magnitude in our own back yard and we're looking forward to this competition," said Mark Hindman, RONA's Ontario Marketing Director.

Tennessee bike license plate deadline extended

Tennessee cycling activists seeking the creation of a 'Share the road' car license plates have had the deadline for the necessary 1000 registrations extended to June 2004, according to Tim Hall who is handling media duties for the ad hoc group of activists campaigning for the plate's creation. The extension, a results of state legislation creating another special license plate, means Tennessee activists now have a far greater chance of reaching the target in time.

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