First Edition News for June 22, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Casar on course
Sandy Casar's determined performance in Friday's stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse marked a major goal achieved for the 24 year old French hopeful. Casar, who finished 13th overall in his first Giro d'Italia last month, set a stage victory in Switzerland as his goal during his final preparation phase for the Tour de France. The FDJeux.com rider realised his goal in digging deep to embarrass Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo), engaging in some premature victory celebration on the line.
"I came to Switzerland to win a stage and I decided to try [Friday] since I knew the leaders wouldn't show themselves on a climb so far from the finish," Casar told l'Equipe. Casar spent almost the entire stage out front with breakaway companion Filippo Simeone (Domina Vacanze), who surprisingly stopped working with Casar in the closing kilometres. With the peloton rapidly closing in, Casar's move appeared doomed with just 500 metres to go and Kirchen rocketed past, certain of his own victory.
"I knew Kirchen was coming, but not so quickly," Casar explained. "At first I thought I was beaten. Then I told myself that I didn't do all that work for nothing, and I knew he would raise his arms."
The victory was Casar's second as a pro, and along with his Giro result shows that he has improved steadily since he appeared from nowhere to take second overall in the 2002 Paris-Nice. "This year I've been more relaxed at races, and I've proven that I've progressed. I'm going to the Tour to accomplish something."
Ivanov out with broken collarbone
Fassa Bortolo's Sergeui Ivanov has suffered a broken collarbone after a crash in stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse Saturday. Ivanov abandoned after the crash Friday, and underwent surgery in Belgium. The Russian will miss the Tour de France as a result.
Giro d'Italia Femminile
The 14th Giro d'Italia Femminile (women's Tour of Italy) will run this year from July 4-13. The two week race begins with a very short prologue time trial of 2.2 kilometres in Grumo Nevano, and will end the way it began, with a longer 24 km individual test against the clock.
Along the way the peloton will face plenty of tough racing, including a short stage 3 which features three cat. 2 climbs and one cat. 1 ascension in just 85 km. The next day, riders will tackle the longest stage of the Giro, a 141 km run from Frosolone to San Vito Chietino. A double road stage on July 11 will also keep the women on their toes as the race works its way to the final time trial in Venice on stage 9.
Sixteen teams and an all-star field are expected at the Giro, including defending champion Joanne Somarriba, world champion Susanne Ljungskog, Nicole Brändli, Zinaida Stahurskaia, Edita Pucinskaite, Zoulfia Zabirova, and Nicole Cooke, and four time winner Fabiana Luperini, among others. Last year's Giro was won by Svetlana Boubnenkova ahead of Stahurskaia and Diana Ziliute.
July 4: Prologue - Grumo Nevano ITT, 2.2 km
Total distance: 888.2 km
Garzelli takes a break
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) encountered a small setback in his training plans for the Tour de France, being forced to pull out of the Volta a Catalunya before the third stage due to stomach problems. Garzelli, who finished second in the Giro d'Italia, has taken a short rest period in order to try and recover in time for the Italian national championships next weekend.
Seven Saeco riders for Tour
The Saeco team is close to finalising its roster for the Tour de France, having selected seven of its full contingent of nine riders. Leading the way will be Giro winner Gilberto Simoni, who will have Danilo Di Luca by his side, along with Tour of Austria winner Gerrit Glomser, and Italians Paolo Fornaciari, Fabio Sacchi, Stefano Zanini and Salvatore Commesso.
Operation for Dierckxsens
Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will have to undergo an operation to fix his troublesome left knee, which has prevented him from coming back to top condition following a collarbone break in April. The 38 year old will go under the knife next Tuesday in Herentals, with Dr Toon Claes performing the operation.
"It's terrible that I'll miss the Belgian Championships in Vilvoorde," said Dierckxsens in Het Nieuwsblad. "This is a cursed season. First I was sick, then I broke my collarbone so that I had to miss Paris-Roubaix and now I've fallen again. I hope to be able to train by the end of June in order to ride the Uniqa Classic (July 9-12) in Austria.
Mattan looking for change
Nico Mattan, member of the Cofidis Belgian contingent, continues to weigh his options for next season. Mattan has said openly that he may leave Cofidis after his contract ends at the end of 2003, and while he may be in slightly better standing within the team than compatriots Chris Peers and Jo Planckaert, the open expression of discontent between manager Alain Bondue and the four Belgians (along with Peter Farazijn) prompted Mattan to consider a change of environment.
Mattan has been in contact with the Fassa Bortolo team, following Michele Bartoli's expression of interest in having the Belgian on the team. "Bartoli spoke to Ferretti about me, but I want a Belgian at my side," Mattan said in an interview with La Dernière Heure. "Even if I'm paid well (or better), I don't want to be alone on my island..."
Suffering from fatigue and respiratory problems stemming from allergies, Mattan pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya on stage 4. In light of his current physical condition and his program thus far this season, he has also decided not to do the Tour de France. "I'll certainly have some regrets in July, when I watch it on television," he said.
"Inside, you always hope to be a part of the biggest and most important event in the world," Mattan confessed. "It's been three years now that I've had more than 90 days of competition. To take a break in July, and do some training at altitude, that will do me some good. Just like eventually changing scenery, leaving Cofidis after five years of a good relationship."
Pantani training in seclusion
The Mercatone Uno team of Marco Pantani has denied rumours that the Italian is suffering from depression. Pantani was reported to have checked into the Abano Terme, which is known as a treatment centre for depression and substance abuse. "He is training with some friends with some privacy and away from any pressure," team manager Davide Boifava told Datasport. "He's a motivated rider, and ready for new objectives."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)