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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for September 28, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Saiz confined to team bus

By Hernán Alvarez Macías

Following his ejection from the race Friday for harassing a television camera crew, ONCE-Eroski team director Manolo Saiz was confined to the team bus during Saturday's critical time trial in the Vuelta a España. Cyclingnews spoke with Saiz in San Lorenzo de El Escorial about the sanction he received after his argument with the TVE motorcycle crew. Asked if team leader Isidro Nozal was concerned with the developments, Saiz replied, "he is fine, we are trying not to give much attention to what happened. I'll see everything in my team bus."

With Saiz unable to follow Nozal by car in the time trial, the second team director Marino Lejarreta drove ONCE's number one car.

Frustration with race organisers

Where's Manolo?
Photo: © Unipublic
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Saiz accepted the decision of the race commissaires to exclude him from the remaining stages of the Vuelta on Friday, but spoke openly of his distaste for the Vuelta organisation's 'interference' in the issue. Saiz insisted that the organisers overstepped their bounds by imposing their own sanctions on him following his heated argument with the TVE motorcycle camera crew.

"I feel completely different about the decisions of the commissaires and the race organisers," Saiz explained in a Todociclismo report. "I can accept the decision of the race jury, but not the interference from the people in charge of the race. It is not their function."

Saiz was prevented from following his team leader Isidro Nozal in the team car during the crucial Stage 20 time trial, which saw the ONCE leader fall apart and lose his overall lead to a flying Roberto Heras.

"I have apologized to the driver and cameraman from TVE, because it was a result of the tension in the race," Saiz explained. "But what I do not accept is the race organisers using powers they do not have. That is what the commissaires are for. I don't accept the censure from the organisers. It's important to keep commissaires and organisers separate."

"I've had a very intense Vuelta," Saiz added. "The race itself during the day, and the pressures of the future, of what will happen to the people who make up this team. There are two races in one..."

Luis Pérez content

Luis Pérez hadn't claimed a single stage victory in his professional career until he won in Cangas de Onís on the second day of the Vuelta a España. Cyclingnews spoke with the Cofidis GC leader at the start line of the 20th stage of the Vuelta to hear his impressions on the race as it neared Madrid.

"This is a very, very fast Vuelta," said Pérez. "It must be the fastest Vuelta of all times. We've had to ride our hardest every day; there's not a single day of rest."

Pérez was happy to talk about his Stage 2 victory. "It was very good to obtain my first victory after eight years as a professional," he explained. "Our main objective at the beginning of the race was to obtain stage victories and whatever came after that would be a bonus. So, it's becoming a very good Vuelta for me."

Although some have said that the Vuelta lacked sufficient racing in the mountains to receive more attention from the Spanish media and Spanish public, Pérez was in partial agreement. "[The Vuelta] has many mountains stages (six in total), but perhaps none decisive and tough enough to make big time differences."

Belda bets on Valverde

Alejandro Valverde
Photo: © Unipublic
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Kelme-Costa Blanca team director Vicente Belda may be thinking of putting more of a leadership role on Alejandro Valverde's shoulders after the outstanding performance from the young rider in this year's Vuelta. "He has confirmed from the very beginning of the season that he is progressing very well," Belda told Cyclingnews when asked about his new protégé. "Valverde has also shown that he is very good in the mountains."

Belda likes to say that Valverde has the "killer instinct” that is essential for winning major races. When asked if Valverde could become Kelme's number one rider in a few years- even if Oscar Sevilla remains in the team- Belda replied cautiously.

"They are two different riders," he said. "Alejandro has that instinct which transforms him every time he sees the banners in the final kilometres. He is earning himself a place as leader, but we must have a good plan, make an appropriate program for him and time his progression. He will have more responsibilities little by little, but he has to grow in both age and experience."

Cyclingnews put the same question to Belda as Luis Pérez about the difficulty of this year's Vuelta. "Most of the uphill finishes weren't very tough," Belda commented. "There wasn't a huge mountain high enough to destroy the race. It's true that it's very difficult to hurt one's rival under these circumstances."

Thanks to an outstanding time trial in Saturday's Stage 20 (2nd on the stage, 14" behind Roberto Heras), Valverde continued his march up the general classification and secured a position on the final podium, dislodging ONCE's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who slipped to fourth.

Spanish World's selection

The Spanish national selector Francisco Antequera announced his 12 riders for the elite men's road race at the World Championships in Hamilton. Of the riders chosen, only Rabobank's Oscar Freire is not currently racing in the Vuelta a España. The full selection is as follows:

Marcos Serrano, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski), Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuel Beltran (US Postal Service-Berry Floor), Luis Pérez, Iñigo Cuesta (Cofidis), Aitor Osa, Francisco Mancebo (, Igor Astarloa (Saeco), Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca), and Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

Reserves: José Enrique Gutiérrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca), José Ivan Gutiérrez, Unai Osa (, Santos Gonzalez (Domina Vacanze), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), and Angel Vicioso (ONCE-Eroski)

Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) will only contest the time trial, while Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will do both the time trial and the road race.

Austrian World's selection

The Austrian Cycling Federation (ÖRV) has also announced its selection for the World's road race in Hamilton. Austria will send six men for the elite road race and three women, along with three U23 men and three junior men.

Elite men: Bernhard Eisel (, Gerrit Glomser (Saeco), Peter Luttenberger (Team CSC), Jochen Summer (Volksbank-IDEAL), Gerhard Trampusch, Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner)

Elite women: Andrea Graus, Christiane Soeder, Isabella Wieser

U23 men: Bernhard Kohl, Andreas Matzbacher, Harald Starzengruber

Junior men: Norbert Dürauer, Clemens Fankhauser, Matthias Schröger

Jean Delatour assured

While the official team name has yet to be revealed, a replacement sponsor for Jean Delatour has been secured and the team will continue in the Division I ranks for 2004. The sponsor will be in some fashion a representative of the auto maker MG Rover. According to l'Equipe, Jonrond and the team management received a letter of confirmation from the sponsors Thursday, and the final deal for three years of support should be signed this week.

A number of riders from the team took advantage of other contract offers, however director Jean-Luc Jonrond will be able to keep at least half of the Jean Delatour roster, a necessary condition for maintaining the team's Division I status. The annual budget will decrease slightly, but Jonrond expects to sign eight more riders (for a total of 17) for the coming season.

Uwe Ampler in accident

German Uwe Ampler was involved in an accident while training, suffering serious head injuries after being hit by a car. Ampler, 39, was not wearing a helmet, but is now in less critical condition at a hospital in Leipzig, Germany. Doctors placed Ampler in a medically induced coma to stabilize his condition.

Ampler was a member of East German 100km team time trial team which claimed the gold medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He is also a previous winner of the Peace Race and was amateur world champion in 1986.

USAC Team Selection Race and Elite Nationals

USA Cycling has announced its plans for both the 2004 Elite National Road Championships and the USA Cycling Team Selection Race. Nominations of three athletes to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team will result from the week's competition to be held in Redlands, California and surrounding communities June 16-19, 2004.

Promoted by the Redlands Bicycle Classic Committee, both the USCF National Championships and the USA Cycling Team Selection Race will take advantage of the challenging terrain used for the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The winners of the Elite Women's Time Trial and the Elite Women's Road Race will be nominated to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. Likewise, the winner of the USA Cycling Selection Race will receive a nomination to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.

The USA Cycling Selection Race will be limited to a maximum field of 200 men that will be invited according to the 2004 Olympic Games Selection Procedure Guidelines. The top 150 ranked U.S. athletes in the USCF National Racing Calendar standings as of June 1, 2004, the top 50 ranked U.S. athletes in the UCI road rankings on June 1, 2004, and the top five U.S. finishers in the Armed Forces International Military Cycling Championships will receive invitations to the USA Cycling Selection Race.

2004 USA Cycling Elite Road National Championships and USA Cycling Team Selection Race schedule:

June 16, 2004: USCF Elite Men's Road Race National Championship
June 17, 2004: USCF Men's and Women's Time Trial National Championship
June 19, 2004: USCF Elite Women's Road Race National Championship
June 19, 2004: USA Cycling Selection Race

Final course details and profiles will be released upon course approval.

FFC Creates management committee

The Fédération Française de Cyclisme (FFC) has created a new management committee in conjunction with the Ligue du Cyclisme Professionel Français (LCPF). The committee, which will include five members nominated by the federation and the LCPF, will oversee the financial and structural components of the French professional teams and clubs, working in conjunction with the UCI to assure equity and proper support among the teams.

Six of France's trade teams have registered with the new committee: Ag2R-Prévoyance, Brioches La Boulangère, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole,, and MBK-Oktos. While Jean Delatour director Jean-Luc Jonrond has secured a sponsor for 2004, his team is not yet registered with the management committee. The deadline for registration is the end of October.

All Ireland Criterium finds a home

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Originally scheduled for last July, the All Ireland Criterium has at last found a promoting club to take on the onerous task of delivering the final Irish championships for Cycling Ireland. The race takes to the roads around the Marina in Cork at the stroke of mid-day Sunday for an hour of racing.

Heading up task is none other than Kevin O'Leary of St. Finbarr's CC. Kevin, who participates at Veteran level, recently won the bronze medal in the Veterans Championship.

"No, I will not be on the start line," he insisted. "I'll have too much to do on the day. My priority for the event and the curtain raiser that starts at 10:30am for the under-age, is to have a safe passage for all concerned. Recently, the club ran the Ken O'Keeffe event on the 2 kilometre circuit here on the Marina in Cork city. As you can appreciate the weather has been very good all summer, but on the day of the 'Keeffe' it rained and the roads became very greasy. Thankfully, there were no skirmishes and I was totally satisfied that irrespective of the conditions, the course would be ideal for a race of that stature. Okay, it is late in the season, but at least, the lads have a race."

Paul Doyle of Tilestyle Dee Side is the defending champion. Paul is very much at home in these criteriums. He is a very good track cyclist also and brings his experience into vogue when it comes to stop and go efforts used by the crit competitors.

He can expect stiff competition from the start list, which includes Midleton's Aidan Crowley, representing the Lee Strand/Cycleways outfit. Crowley has been notching up the wins in the carnival events around the country since the beginning of July. His recent elevation as an international cyclist will give him the impetus in front of his home crowd to win an Irish Championship. A real possibility is that many who will have competed in the Time Trial Saturday may head South.

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