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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for June 3, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones and John Stevenson

Salanson dies

French Professional Fabrice Salanson (Brioches la Boulangère) was found dead today in his hotel room just hours before the start of the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany), according to German wire reports. The 23 year old was found by his roomate Sebastien Chavanel at 8:30am local time on the floor, with one leg on the bed. He died in his sleep between 2:30 and 4:00am, but according to Tour of Germany director Roland Hofer, the cause of his death is as yet unclear.

Team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau told a press conference that there have been no indications that Salanson was in bad health yesterday. "We can't make any comments about the cause of the death as Fabrice was in great physical shape," said Bernaudeau according to Reuters. "We have to wait for the post-mortem. This is the kind of thing which can sometimes happen but it's a terrible tragedy."

Brioches la Boulangère has decided not to take part in the Tour of Germany as a result of the death, which has shocked the team. Salanson's body has been taken to hospital and German Police are currently investigating the case. Police said that there were no visible injuries on his body.

Salanson was born on November 17, 1979, and was in his fourth year as a pro. He has always ridden for the Bonjour/Brioches la Boulangère teams. He won a stage in the Tour de l'Avenir in 2000, a stage in the Midi Libre in 2002, and last Saturday finished fourth in A travers le Morbihan. He was ranked 978th on the UCI rankings with 27 points, as of June 1, 2003.

Salanson is the third professional road cyclist to die this year, after Denis Zanette (heart attack) and Andrei Kivilev (crash).

US Postal's preliminary Tour team

The US Postal-Berry Floor team has selected 14 riders for the upcoming Tour de France, of which nine will be chosen come race time. According to Het Nieuwsblad, team director Johan Bruyneel named Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras, Jose Luis Rubiera, Manuel Beltran, George Hincapie, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Pavel Padrnos, Guennadi Mikhailov, Victor Peña, Benoît Joachim, Floyd Landis, Max van Heeswijk, Christian Vandevelde and Steffen Kjaergaard.

On paper it looks like a very strong team, especially with the addition of climber Manuel Beltran and the return to form of George Hincapie, who had to miss his favourite spring classics due to a sinus problem. In the mountains, Armstrong will have the choice of Heras, Rubiera, Beltran, Peña, Landis and Vandevelde, while on the flats, strong tempo riders such as Hincapie, Padrnos, Mikhailov, Joachim, Ekimov, Kjaergaard and Van Heeswijk will be more than adequate for keeping Armstrong out of the wind.

Lotto-Domo's preliminary Tour team

The Lotto-Domo team for the Tour will once again be primarily interested in stage wins, with sprinter Robbie McEwen hoping to repeat his performance from last year when he won two stages and the green jersey. Along with McEwen will be Rik Verbrugghe, who has recovered from his crash in the Giro and will aim for a stage win in the Tour. Also Axel Merckx will be there, aiming for a good placing on the general classification. The remaining 10 riders, of which 6 will be selected are: Serge Baguet, Christophe Brandt, Hans De Clercq, Christophe Detilloux, Nick Gates, Leif Hoste, Thierry Marichal, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout, Leon Van Bon and Aart Vierhouten.

Aerts hopes for Tour spot

Telekom's Mario Aerts is hoping that he'll make his team's selection for the Tour de France, which starts on July 5 in Paris. After an injury plagued early season, he believes will be ready for La Grande Boucle. "I'm pretty sure I can ride the Tour, that's what I've been training for the whole spring season," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I know, once I signed a contract with Telekom, the chances for a Tour selection would be smaller than with Lotto. If I reach a good level (a stage win) in the Bicicleta Vasca and the Tour of Catalonia, I can take charge of my selection. Once I've got these two tours in my legs, I'll be in good shape for the Tour."

Aerts' chances were helped by the unfortunate crash of Cadel Evans in the Rund um den Hainleite on Saturday. Evans broke his collarbone for the second time in six weeks, and will almost certainly not contest the Tour. "With Evans not in the Tour, my chances to be selected are greater," said Aerts.

Kathy Watt aims for Athens

By John Stevenson

Kathy Watt at the Tour of Cardinia
Click for larger image

Australian cyclist Kathy Watt, winner of the road race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, is on the comeback trail aiming for a berth in the Aussie team at the 2004 Athens olympic Games.

For the last three years 38-year-old Watt has been making a living as a personal trainer and cycle coach, and as a photographer, but it's the enthusiasm of the riders she's been coaching that has inspired her to try and make a comeback. "Everyone has been going, 'why don't you get back on the bike?'," she told Cyclingnews. "I've been coaching a junior squad that won the state championships recently and their enthusiasm rubbed off."

Then there's the 84-year-old rider who completed a bike tour in Tasmania with Watt's assistance. "She called us and asked if Tasmania had any hills!" said Watt [Ed's note for non-Australians: Australia's island state of Tasmania is hilly the way the Pacific Ocean is wet]. But her client completed the ride and told Watt, "You're never too old." "People like that are inspiring," said Watt.

The junior squad
Click for larger image

Watt's aim is to ride the 3000m individual pursuit on the track and the road time trial at the Athens Olympics in 2004. But she'll have her work cut out to meet the requirements set out by Cycling Australia.

Selection criteria for the track and road teams at Athens are complex, but centre on performances in national and international competition, or the ability, in the case of women's pursuit, to ride under 3.36. In her heyday, Watt was arguably Australia's strongest female road cyclist but she will now have to compete with members of the Australian Institute of Sport team and other Australian women racers such as current World Cup second place-holder and world number six Sara Carrigan, who have been performing very strongly in the last couple of years.

Watt is undaunted, but realistic. "I just have to devote everything to it and train as hard as I can. You can only do as well as you can do," she said.

Watt in glam mode
Click for larger image

Watt's comeback started at Victoria's Tour of Cardinia on Saturday, but she admits it wasn't a great start. "It was no good - I crashed." A group of riders had come down on a wet descent and Watt was unable to avoid them. "I nearly got round but someone's bike slid out in front of me. I was lucky though - some girls got carted off to hospital in an ambulance."

Somewhat shaken, Watt went on to finish ninth overall.

It's no secret that Watt didn't always see eye-to-eye with Australian cycling's authorities, but that was then, and things are rather more harmonious now. Onhearing that Watt was making a comeback, Cycling Australia president Mike Victor said, "We wish her the best of luck. We understand that Kathy has indicated that she wants to try for Athens. Kathy, like any other cyclist, will have to meet the selection criteria in order to be considered."

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)