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Photo ©: Schaaf

International Cycling News for November 28, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Illes Balears-Banesto is go

The new Spanish team Illes Balears-Banesto is now official, with the Balearic government and Spanish bank Banesto signing their respective contracts on Thursday. The team will exist for at least the next three years, and will be managed and directed by José Miguel Echávarri and Eusebio Unzúe.

At the signing were the president of the Balearic government, Juame Matas, and the president and vice president of Banesto, Ana Patricio Botín and Víctor Menéndez Milá, as well as Majorcan cyclists Toni Colom, Vicente Reynés, Toni Tauler and Joan Horrach, who will all form part of the team.

"From today, a wealth of commercial possibilities has been opened and the exposure will contribute to the prestige of the Balearic islands," said Juame Matas, who added that Illes Balears-Banesto will be the "team of all the citizens in this community."

Valverde will continue in Kelme

The latest panic surrounding a Kelme cyclist seems to have been averted, with Alejandro Valverde confirming his four year contract with the team. Team boss Pepe Quiles met with Valverde and his agent Gorka Arrinda on Wednesday, and the three parties came to an agreement whereby Valverde will remain with the team, for an estimated salary of €1 million per year. There are still some details to be worked out, such as Valverde's rescission clause which currently stands at €2.5 million, however this is expected to be finalised early next week.

Valverde had been courted by Manolo Saiz's new Liberty Seguros team, and his manager had also expressed doubts about whether Angel Casero should be signed by Kelme. But earlier this week, Kelme's co-sponsor Generalitat Valenciana stepped up its involvement in the team, which gave the squad more money to keep Valverde on board.

Lampre takes Leblanc to court

The Lampre team is taking Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc to court, over his comments relating to the Raimondas Rumsas affair that broke at the end of the 2002 Tour. The affair started on the last day of the Tour when Rumsas' wife Edita was stopped and searched by French customs officers while trying to leave the country. A search of her car uncovered illegal drugs, and she was imprisoned for over two months under suspicion of drug trafficking and related charges. Edita was finally freed and no charges were laid against her husband.

In an interview with L'Equipe on March 27 this year, Jean-Marie Leblanc was quoted as saying, "The behaviour of the Lampre team in 2002 [Rumsas was riding for Lampre in 2002] was a great discredit to the end of the race."

Lampre maintains that it had nothing to do with the affair and believes that Leblanc has damaged its image. Lampre has taken its case to the Tribunale civile di Monza, seeking compensation, and Leblanc has been convened to appear on February 10, 2004.

Magnusson stops coaching Swedish women

By Gabriella Ekström

Swedish newspaper Göteborgsposten reported on Wednesday that ex-pro Glenn Magnusson will quit his job coaching the Swedish national women's team, a team that has won two World Championships medals in two years. Magnusson joined the team in 2001 and was then a welcome addition to the team.

Magnusson commented on the situation in Göteborgsposten, "There have been a lot of good times in this job, but certain disagreements are now preventing us from working 100 percent as a team. It's very sad, and I don't want to go into details. I'm sure there are things I could have done differently, and maybe you cannot blame a single person when things go wrong, but I have decided to step back to prevent further problems arising."

Although no official explanation has been given to his decision, statements on Susanne Ljungskog's website suggest that one of the issues is the fact that Ljungskog's coach and longtime partner, Klas Johansson, has not been offered a place in the Swedish Olympic team.

Ljungskog writes that she regrets the fact that Magnusson is quitting, and that it is sad, not only for himself, but for the sport as a whole. Further she writes that her recent successes have come from the close working relationship between her and Klas, and that it is of greatest importance to her to have a working team during races like the World Championships and the Olympics.

No announcement has been made as to who will take over the coaching job, but one name mentioned is another ex-pro Michel Lafis. That suggestion is supported by Ljungskog, who says that Lafis is a respected name in the sport, and that he would surely do a great job as a coach before and during the Olympics.

Chechu Rubiera crashes

Spanish rider Jose Luis Rubiera (US Postal) has crashed in training and broken his hand. Early reports say that he will not be able to ride for at least a month, but this is not expected to impact on his chances of competing in the 2004 Tour de France.

Peña and Cardenas named among Colombian sportsmen of the year

Colombians Víctor Hugo Peña and Félix Cárdenas have been named by the weekly El Espectador as some of the top Colombian sportsmen of the year, at a ceremony carried out on Thursday in Bogota. Peña (US Postal), became the first Colombian to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, and was part of the team that won the team time trial. He was the runner up in the Best Sportsman of the Year award, which was won by baseball player Edgar Rentería.

Félix Cárdenas won the mountains jersey in the Vuelta España, as well as winning a stage and finishing eighth on the general classification. He was also honoured at the awards.

Wanted: top rider for Palmans

The MrBookmaker-Palmans-Collstrop team is looking for a top rider to lead its squad in 2004. The Belgian team wishes to cement its place in Division I next season and wants a rider with UCI points. "It's very urgent," team manager Charles Palmans was quoted in the Belgian RUG newspapers. "The money is there. The problem is that there is no-one available with a lot of UCI points. Even Paul de Geyter from SEM can't help us...It would be a shame if it comes down to 100 UCI points whether we end up in first or second class."

Kupfernagel leaves Equipe Nürnberger

29 year old German cyclist Hanka Kupfernagel will leave Equipe Nürnberger at the end of this season, reports Kupfernagel cited differences with the management, in particular team director Jens Zemke, as the reason for her departure.

"Cycling is a team sport...Despite not being afraid of rivalry from my own camp, I would like to prevent any wrangling for precious [Olympic] qualification points," said Kupfernagel in a statement. She added that she will decide on her new team in January or February, and in the meantime will concentrate on cyclo-cross, where she is aiming to win her third World Championship next year.

Steve De Wolf retires

28 year old Belgian Steve De Wolf is retiring from cycling. A pro for the past eight years, De Wolf has ridden for Lotto, Cofidis, Domo-Farm Frites and Palmans-Collstrop. He has just one pro win to his credit, a kermesse in Vilvoorde-Houtem in 2003.

Source: VRT Teletekst

Lampre signs Samuele Marzoli

Italian team Lampre has signed U23 European track champion (scratch race) Samuele Marzoli to its squad for the second half of 2004. Marzoli will make his full professional debut for Lampre in July 2004 in the Brixia Tour, riding for his amateur club Bottoli Artoni-Zoccorinese prior to that.

FC Barcelona announces cycling team

Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona has announced the creation of a cycling team that will start in Division III but aims to become fully professional in future, with the ultimate goal of competing in the Tour de France. The team will be directed by Melchor Mauri and with Antoni Pineda as directeur sportif, and will include 26 year old track rider Sergi Escobar in its ranks.

Barca has previously supported a cycling team, between 1925 and 1943, when it folded due to financial reasons. The idea for the current project came from FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who asked Melchor Mauri to direct the team and he agreed.

The team will comprise 10 elite/amateur riders as well as a masters team, and will compete in the Copa España events in 2004. Joan Laporta hopes that one day there will be sufficient sponsorship support to compete in the Tour de France, although he has not named a date for this ambition yet.

B.H.: A new German Division III team

A new German Division III team will come into existence next year, sponsored by Spanish wheel maker "B.H." which is looking at expanding its interests into Germany. The team will be led by Renzo Wernicke and will consist of 14 riders, including Nico Wernicke, Tilo Schüler, Kai Kermer (Marco Polo), Enrico Zinn, Denny Schewe (KED Berlin) and a few young riders.

Based in Dessau, team B.H. hopes to gain invitations to some of the bigger German races, such as the Sachsen-Tour and the Peace Race, and will have the help of ex-pro Uwe Raab to establish itself. Its first race will be the GP Istria in Croatia next February.


39th Vuelta al Táchira

The first UCI race of 2004 will be the 39th edition of the Vuelta al Táchira en Bicicleta, which takes place in Venezuela between January 10-23. The race is classified as UCI 2.5, and consists of 14 stages covering 1830 kilometres, starting in Maracaibo and finishing on the Velódromo de J.J. Mora in San Cristóbal. Riders will contest a total of 26 bonification sprints, 27 points sprints and 18 mountain sprints.

The stages

Stage 1 - January 10: Maracaibo Circuito Av. 5 de Julio, 136.5 km
Stage 2 - January 11: Maracaibo - Mene Grande, 139.5 km
Stage 3 - January 12: Cabimas - Valera, 178.1 km
Stage 4 - January 13: El Dividive - Santa. Cruz de Mora, 198.1 km
Stage 5 - January 14: El Vigía circuito Av Bolívar - Mérida, 121.2 km
Stage 6 - January 15: Tovar - La Grita, 137.3 km
Stage 7 - January 16: Seboruco - Michelena, 139.9 km
Stage 8 - January 17: Táriba - Cerro del Cristo Rey, 129.4 km
Stage 9 - January 18: San Cristóbal circuito Av. España y 19 de Abril, 115.2 km
Stage 10 - January 19: San Cristóbal - Pregonero, 134.3 km
Stage 11 - January 20: Fundación - San Rafael de El Piñal, 163.7 km
Stage 12 - January 21: Palmira- Rubio, 111.1 km
Stage 13 - January 22: San Cristóbal - Chorro del Indio ITT, 22 km
Stage 14 - January 23: Peribeca - San Cristóbal, 103.2 km

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