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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for October 6, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Bettini on target

By Chris Henry

Look out for Bettini
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is on track in his quest for two major season objectives. Bettini set two goals for 2003: defend his World Cup series title, and win the World Championships road race in Hamilton, Canada. With a solid 11th place in Sunday's Paris-Tours, including an impressive test of his attacking form in the finale, Bettini effectively clinched his first goal and will win the World Cup after already claiming three rounds of the ten race series. Next stop: Hamilton.

Despite his almost undisputed role as race favourite, Bettini knows the rainbow jersey will not come easily. "There are a lot of adversaries next Sunday," Bettini said after Paris-Tours. "First of all, Oscar Freire, who is a real specialist in this event."

This year Bettini will have the same level of support that Mario Cipollini enjoyed last year in Zolder, with a Squadra Azzurra assembled by team selector Franco Ballerini with the Italian champion's victory in mind. Bettini is ready to shoulder the responsibility, but has faith that his team can succeed on several fronts.

"The parcours [in Hamilton] is long and tough," Bettini acknowledged. "I think Italy is strong and there are also Danilo Di Luca and Francesco Casagrande who will have roles to play."

Bettini has been a dominating force in some of the biggest one day races this season, with victories in Milan-San Remo, the HEW Cyclassics, and Clasica San Sebastian World Cup events, not to mention his national championships in Italy. Though he fell short of a stage victory in the Tour de France, the racing in July set him up for back to back victories in August in Hamburg and San Sebastian. While most riders have trouble maintaining top form as late as October for the World's, Bettini remains confident.

"I probably don't have the same condition as in August, since I had the Tour de France as a base, but everyone's tired after a long season," he said. "I'm not worried about the World's. I've worked all through August and I know my condition is good. I've done everything I can to prepare for Hamilton."

World Cup standings after round 9

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon      365 pts
2 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo            219
3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                204
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner            187
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                 186
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco               140
7 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco              139
8 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom           124
9 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole          124
10 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre            123

Vasseur on target

Cedric Vasseur
Photo: © CN
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One of France's top men for the World Championships, Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), finished 48th in the bunch sprint on Tours' Avenue de Grammont yesterday. Although not an outstanding result, Vasseur was happy with the way things went.

"I was [at Paris-Tours] just to do 250 kilometres, so... Mission accomplished," he told L'Equipe. "Seriously, the race was flat out and to be there in the finale was a great feeling. When you go to a World Championships with condition like I have, you need to be able to finish in the front group even if this wasn't the same sort of race as next Sunday. I would have been really frustrated to have been caught behind a split. So, all is going well."

Zabel regains the lead in UCI rankings

Back to number 1
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Thanks to his victory over Alessandro Petacchi in Paris-Tours, German sprinter Erik Zabel (Telekom) has recaptured the UCI number one ranking from Paolo Bettini. Zabel now has 2113 points while Bettini is close behind him on 2105 and Petacchi is in third place on 2001 points. Although winning fewer races this year than last (11 victories to date), Zabel's incredible consistency has kept him near the top of the rankings all year. However Paolo Bettini is still favoured to finish the year in the top spot, as the World Championships road race this weekend is expected to suit him.

In the division I teams rankings, Fassa Bortolo continues to hold its slender lead at the top, while Team Telekom moved into the number 2 position thanks to Zabel's victory. Next year, with Zabel, Ullrich, Vinokourov and Nardello on the same team (not to mention Botero, Savoldelli and Evans), Telekom, which will be known as T-Mobile, looks to be the super team for 2004.

UCI rankings as of October 5, 2003

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                2,113.75 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon     2,105.75
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo      2,001.00
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco             1,752.00
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner           1,750.00
6 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom      1,693.50
7 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal- Berry Floor 1,521.00
8 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi       1,425.00
9 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre            1,398.00
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1,366.00
11 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC               1,363.20
12 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco             1,259.00
13 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi              1,258.00
14 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo         1,198.50
15 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo             1,181.00
16 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa)  1,179.00
17 Baden Cooke (Aus)                1,161.00
18 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Lotto-Domo              1,151.00
19 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank              1,117.00
20 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski     1,053.00
Men's Division I
1 Fassa Bortolo                                8,096.75 pts
2 Team Telekom                                 7,786.50
3 Quick.Step-Davitamon                         7,778.75
4 Team Saeco                                   7,566.00
5                                 6,294.00
6 Gerolsteiner                                 6,132.00
7 Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone             5,756.00
8 Rabobank                                     5,709.75
9 US Postal presented by Berry Floor           5,534.75
10 O.N.C.E.-Eroski                             5,512.25
Men's Division II
1 Bankgiroloterij Cycling Team                 3,030.00 pts
2 Paternina-Costa de Almeria                   2,058.00
3 De Nardi-Colpack                             2,024.00
4 Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf                        1,860.00
5 Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada                    1,724.00
Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations

Bianchi furious at Ullrich's departure

The sudden departure of Jan Ullrich back to Team Telekom has caused an angry reaction from Team Bianchi, which had counted on keeping the German for 2004. The future of the Dutch registered team without Ullrich is now very much up in the air.

"This has big consequences for us," said team manager Jacques Hanegraaf to AD. "I first have to talk with the sponsors for this changes everything. Ullrich was the reason why they put money into our team. It's a question of how much the team is worth without Jan Ullrich. That must become clear in the coming weeks."

Team Bianchi was formed out of the ashes of Team Coast, which collapsed earlier this year due to financial reasons. The team contested the Tour de France, where a rejuvenated Ullrich came the closest he has since 1997 of winning the Tour, eventually finishing second behind Lance Armstrong. Shortly after the Tour, Telekom renewed its interest in Der Jan, eventually convincing him to sign last weekend.

"I find it at the very least a little strange that Telekom approached Jan for a contract after the Tour," added Hanegraaf. "We had everything ready here for Jan, we have brought him back to the top and then this happens."

From Bianchi, Ullrich is also taking Tobias Steinhauser, Andrea Korff and Rudy Pevenage back to Telekom, although Pevenage will have to play a role as Ullrich's personal advisor rather than as a team director.

Bondue loses bike shop

Cofidis manager Alain Bondue lost his personal business, a bicycle shop in Roubaix, France. A large fire, which also struck adjacent houses, destroyed Bondue's shop Saturday night. A firefighter was severely burned while fighting the blaze, taken to a hospital in Charleroi, Belgium.

Armstrong/Ullrich's World's absence: Verbruggen not worried

UCI president Hein Verbruggen is not concerned about the absence of top riders like Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich at the World Championships. Often criticised for holding the World's in October when many riders have well and truly finished their seasons, Verbruggen believes that you can't please all the people all of the time.

"Every organiser cries out for these two names, but in specialised cycling you can't race the complete calendar," Verbruggen told Het Nieuwsblad. "I couldn't care less that they aren't in Canada. In Colombia eight years ago we barely had a hundred starters but we got a fantastic race in Duitama with Olano a worthy World Champion. I didn't hear anyone say then 'Yes, Olano won certainly, but Armstrong wasn't there."

No contract extension for De Knegt

Rabobank has not extended the contract of cyclo-crosser Gerben De Knegt, after the Dutchman spent most of the year injured. "It's a logical conclusion," De Knegt said to ANP. "But on the other hand I hope that I'll get another chance to prove myself without physical problems. I hope that I can ride now with another team."

De Knegt has had problems with his knees as well as a chronic hernia, and is starting the 2003/2004 season with less than perfect base condition. "I hope that I can build on my condition in the coming weeks. But if it's another season of misery then I have to go and think of my future."

De Knegt finished 14th in Dottignies on Sunday, but importantly his knee held up and he hopes to be able to train at full capacity this week.

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