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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for September 14, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

T-Mobile International ready to rock San Francisco

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in San Francisco

Simoni and Willie Brown
Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Formerly known as the San Francisco Grand Prix, mobile phone provider T-Mobile has come in as a major sponsor of the SF race for 2003, with long-time cycling supporter BMC Software also continuing its support for the event. In its third year, the T-Mobile International is run on a spectacular urban course through the streets of San Francisco, and has been the race that Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has chosen for his major racing appearances on U.S. soil.

After three short laps along the Embarcadero at the foot of San Francisco's famous Market Street, the T-Mobile International peloton heads out for eight laps of 17 km through the City, heading west through Fishermans Wharf, the Marina District, looping through the Presidio and up the dreaded ascent of the short, steep Fillmore Street wall. It's a 600 metre stair-step climb that gains 60m with a steepest grade of 18%, and many riders will require a 39x27.

After Fillmore, the T-Mobile International course then heads down Broadway in Pacific Heights to Polk, past Tower Records at Beach and Columbus, up the long drag to North Beach and up the second wall of the day, Taylor St., an 800 metre climb that gains 40m and is as steep as 16% in some sections. Then it's back down again to North Beach along Broadway to the Embarcadero and the start/finish line. For the final segment of the T-Mobile International course, there are four laps of 8 km in North Beach that leave out the Fillmore St. wall but include the Taylor St. climb.

Although Armstrong skipped the press conference due a touch of a stomach bug he picked up from one of his kids, the five time Tour De France winner is reportedly quite motivated to have another good ride in San Francisco after finishing in the break last year. Despite the fact that Lance's USPS-Berry Floor squad has its A-team currently riding the Vuelta a España, Lance will be supported at the T-Mobile International by his loyal teammate Viatcheslav Ekimov, who at almost 40 years of age can still ride at the top level and is in excellent form at the moment. Christian Vandevelde, on the mend from injuries this season, will also be looking to try and put Armstrong in a position to win in San Fran.

Armstrong's Tour de France fellow podium dweller Alexandre Vinokourov, third in the Grand Boucle this year, has made the trek from Europe with his Telekom team to support the race. As Telekom will be called T-Mobile next year, Vino and his boys will be looking to put their fuchsia to the front on Sunday. Although Vino is winding down his season, look out for Kai Hundertmarck, who has notched some solid wins in the last few weeks in Germany.

Domina Vacanze's Massimo Giunti was third last year in San Francisco and the talented Italian has recently showed his form with a win in the overall classification of the Trittico Lombardo. Watch his Domina teammate Lobato too. The strong Spaniard was slated to ride the Vuelta, but was left out at the last minute for Mario Cipollini.

Alexandre Vinokourov
Photo: © Bill Parsons
Click for larger image

Vini Caldirola/Formaggio Pinzolo Fiave' has a mixed team with a lot of talent for San Francisco. Stefano Garzelli is still in good shape and if he is in the final selection, his speed and smarts may bring him the bouquet. Former Mercury man Steve Zampieri is in great shape too. Formaggi's excellent Slovenian rider Uros Murn will go to Phonak in 2004, but before he leaves the small Italian squad, Murn hopes to bring home the 2003 PCT points classification. His teammate Massimiliano Mori is a danger man as well.

Saeco's 2003 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni presented San Fran Mayor Willie Brown his Maglia Rosa today, and Gibo hopes his legs are good enough to make the final in the T-Mobile International. If Gibo isn't great, look to his young teammate Damiano Cunego, winner of the recent Tour of Quinghai Lake in China, to be a factor.

As for U.S. based teams, the lack of long, hard racing in the States since June may disadvantage these teams on Sunday. Saturn's defending champion Charles Dionne has been injured all year due to crashes and is unlikely to be a factor, although the yellow and black boys may burn a lot of matches to try and put strongman Chris Horner in a position to do something. 7Up's John Lieswyn will also try to be active in SF, but the Stateside squads may be stretched to be competitive in the final after 140 km.

Cyclingnews will be covering the T-Mobile International live on Sunday, beginning with the women's race at 7:30 local time [10:30 EDT/16:30 CEST/00:30 AEST (Monday)], with the men's race starting at 11:00 and finishing at approximately 15:00.

Also see: Preview, Map, Start List and Photos.

Sick Tony Cruz forced out of T-Mobile International

Antonio Cruz (US Postal-Berry Floor) will not be riding in tomorrow's T-Mobile International due to a combination of illness and injury. The problems started at last weekend's Manhattan Beach GP, when he woke up with a bad headache in the morning, but chose to race. However he was taken out by a crash on the final lap, hitting his head and cracking his helmet in the fall. He was to hospital, where a C-T scan revealed nothing unusual.

Due to his headache prior to the crash and the fever he was now running, the doctors performed a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to rule out anything serious. The tests revealed spinal meningitis, although it was later confirmed that he had the less dangerous viral form versus the much deadlier bacterial meningitis.

Antonio's headache persisted for the next few days, and doctors suspected that perhaps the lumbar puncture had not healed properly and he might be leaking spinal fluid, this is a somewhat common complication of the procedure. They performed a "blood patch", whereby Antonio's own blood was drawn and injected in the area where the lumbar puncture had been performed so that the blood would coagulate and seal the hole. A few hours later Antonio's headache finally improved. He was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday night.

Cruz will rest at home for two weeks while he fully recuperates, which means that because of the timing of the illness, his season is most likely over. He had more racing on his schedule including Paris-Tours and the World Championships and is particularly disheartened about not to be able to race the T-Mobile International in San Francisco in which he was hoping for a good result. On the other hand, his doctors are confident that he will fully recover and be in top form again next season.

Greek track nationals cancelled due to lack of velodrome

The Hellenic Cycling Federation, organiser of the Greek national championships, was forced to cancel the 2003 track nationals, scheduled for September 25-28. The reason: no velodrome! Just under one year before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece does not have a suitable track for training or racing.

The Athens Olympic Velodrome remains closed since last November and will likely remain closed until March 2004 as it undergoes renovations for the Olympics. Another velodrome exists on the island of Rhodes, but the condition of the track surface and other stadium facilities are not sufficient for competition. The 402 metre track is often used by local clubs for training but never for racing.

Although, the Ministry of Sports knows about that situation, the planning necessary for the track nationals did not take place. Thus Greek track riders will remain homeless for over one year, and the Greek national track team (4th in the Olympic Sprint at the 2000 Sydney games) continues to travel around like refugees, training in neighbouring countries.

The Ministry of Sports recently decided to build a new outdoor track in city of Trikala, reportedly before the Olympics (to be used also as a training venue). However, any new velodrome needs at least 4-5 months to construct, and similar announcements have been made but the velodromes were never built.

The national federation, which also suffers from a lack of sponsorship, does not have the resources to repair the existing velodrome on Rhodes. The federation's technical committee had also planned to organise the 2003 track nationals in Sofia, Bulgaria, but that plan also failed due to high costs.

Courtesy: Dimitris Konstantopoulos

Vuelta news: Plenty of penalties in first mountain stage

No hiding
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

The seventh stage of the Vuelta, the first serious mountain stage, saw a number of riders attract fines and penalties for various infractions of the rules. When the peloton split shortly after the start of the stage, leaving numerous groups facing long flat stretches separated by difficult climbs, some team managers decided to drive ahead of their riders in order to offer them shelter from the wind. This is very much against the rules.

The Cofidis, Rabobank and Telekom team managers were all given 200 Swiss franc fines. Alessio team manager Valerio Tebaldi was expelled from the stage and the team's second car will not be able to participate in the race for the remaining stages, leaving the Italian group with only one vehicle for the rest of the Vuelta.

Two cyclists were also expelled from the race: Italian Davide Frattini (Alessio) and Austrian Gerrit Glomser (Saeco).


40 riders tested

On Friday morning, 40 riders in the Vuelta were given blood tests to determine whether they were fit to continue the race. Lampre, Phonak Hearing Systems, Saeco, Milaneza MSS and Paternina-Costa de Almería were the teams tested. None of the riders were declared unfit to start.

De Cauwer not impressed with VDB

Plenty of questions are being asked about Frank Vandenbroucke following his abandon on Friday from the Vuelta a España. Vandenbroucke cited empty legs and an inability to recover, but his team is eager to get to the root of the problem. The Vuelta was meant to be a race of preparation for Vandenbroucke, thinking ahead to the World Championships in Canada.

"I'd also like to know the reason (for Frank's problems)," Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere commented. "Frank will undergo a series of tests Monday to try to find out what's wrong. However if the blood tests don't reveal anything, we'll be forced to start asking questions."

Vandenbroucke, who has had his share of problems, both physical and emotional, has had full support from Lefevere. In view of the world championships, however, Vandenbroucke's chances to impress the national team directors may be dwindling.

"Frank possesses a lot of talent, but to show up at the start of a grand tour without a real base was a bit of a gamble for him," Belgian selector José De Cauwer told La Dernière Heure. "Just recently he was unable to finish a relatively minor race like the Druivenkoers Overijse. At Quick.Step they left the door open for him to ride the Vuelta. My door for the World's is not completely closed, but the possibility is become very, very limited."

The Belgian long team for the World's consists of 22 riders at the moment, of which 12 will be chosen for the road race: Serge Baguet, Christophe Brandt, Leif Hoste, Axel Merckx, Peter Van Petegem, Wim Vansevenant, Rik Verbrugghe (all Lotto-Domo), Tom Boonen, Johan Museeuw, Frank Vandenbroucke, Jurgen Van Goolen (all Quick.Step-Davitamon), Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Bert Roesems (Palmans-Collstrop), Dave Bruylandts, Geert Verheyen (Marlux), Nico Sijmens (Vlaanderen-T Interim), Peter Farazijn, Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Kevin De Weert, Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Mario Aerts (Telekom), Philippe Gilbert (

Forde hands over Pan Am medals

Barbados cyclist Barry Forde has returned two gold medals won at the Pan American Games, following a positive doping test revealed at the beginning of September. Forde was bronze medallist at the Stuttgart World Track Championships and claimed gold in the individual sprint and keirin events at the Pan Am Games in August.

According to an AP report, the Pan American Sports Organization had not formally decided to strip Forde of his medals following the doping test conducted at the Track World's, where the rider tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine. Forde tested positive twice for ephedrine at the Pan Am Games, but said he had used throat lozenges while purchased in Germany to fight a cold at both Stuttgart and at the Pan Am Games. The Barbados Cycling Federation was still awaiting results of tests on the lozenges to determine the possible presence of ephedrine when Forde returned his medals.

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