Latest Cycling News for April 14, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Museeuw's Roubaix reality
Photo ©: CN
Before, during, and after his final participation in Paris-Roubaix Sunday,
Johan Museeuw experienced a series of moments which marked the turning
point of a man leaving the sport in one of the races which brought him
his greatest success. Up until the final phases of the race, Museeuw was
among the strongest riders and in with a chance of a fairy tale fourth
win, until a rear wheel puncture knocked him out of contention. Finishing
in Roubaix arm in arm with compatriot Peter Van Petegem, Museeuw was in
tears, hit with the emotion of an excellent performance, crushing bad
luck, and an emotional final farewell to the pavé.
"It was too much for me," Museeuw told l'Equipe after the race.
"My fourth win was so close, and I heard the psss of my puncture. Right
then I knew that this time my career was over."
Museeuw still figured among the leaders, but his motivation to fight
to the final metre alongside Van Petegem was gone. He admitted his head
was elsewhere, that it was over.
"I believed that in my final Paris-Roubaix, luck was going to be on my
side," he said. "That would have been too beautiful."
Museeuw enters his final race Wednesday, the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen,
and he knows that important changes are just around the corner. Some things
are bound to stay the same, however, and Museeuw isn't about to hang up
his bike the day after his last race.
"I'm going to do a training ride of two hours, as usual," he said. "There
will be a bit of nostalgia. The hardest thing will be to get in the car
with Wilfried Peeters next Sunday at Amstel Gold Race. Then I'll realise
quickly that I'm no longer a rider."
Van Petegem's gesture
Friends and rivals
Photo ©: Sirotti
After what he described as a super day at Paris-Roubaix, marked by the
same bad luck as his rival Johan Museeuw, defending champion Peter Van
Petegem had no problem offering a small gesture to Museeuw as they entered
the Roubaix velodrome together, just 17 seconds behind the winning quartet.
The two riders finished arm in arm in a display of solidarity for Museeuw's
last appearance at Roubaix.
"It's too bad, because I was super and I still had plenty of reserves,"
Van Petegem said of the moment he punctured in the finale. "At the Carrefour
de l'Arbre I was even stronger than last year.
"When I came up to Museeuw, I thought I still had a chance to win, but
Museeuw had a problem with his derailleur and couldn't get on my wheel,"
Van Petegem added. "In the finale I attacked again to save my honour,
but it was too late. Then in the velodrome, Johan asked me if we could
finish together. Fifth or sixth, it didn't make a difference any more,
and it was important to honour his last big race."
After a storied career and highlights including a world championship
and Belgian national titles, as well as 11 World Cup victories, Johan
Museeuw himself offered his thoughts on the highlights and lowlights of
his sixteen years in the professional ranks. It's hard to pick out highlights
from a career such as Museeuw's, but when pressed, the Lion did rate his
best achievements in the following order, as told to Het Nieuwsblad.
1. World Championships in Lugano, 1996: "The high point of my career.
I've now taken out everything."
2. Ronde van Vlaanderen, 1995 (Museeuw's second Ronde win): "To finish
solo is nicer. Today I was even better than two years ago."
3. Paris-Roubaix, 2002: "The attack was an inspiration of the moment.
Once the decision is taken, it's a fight between life and death, but I
4. Ronde van Vlaanderen, 1998 (Museeuw's third Ronde win): "After this
Ronde van Vlaanderen I'm again the greatest. It is a declaration that
I make without wryness."
5. Belgian Championships, 1996: "I feel more of a Belgian with the tricolore
than with a normal team jersey."
6. Yellow in the Tour (1993, 1994): "How many chances does a rider like
me ever get to wear the yellow jersey? It was an enormous experience."
7. Two Tour stage wins, 1990: "A stage win was the big dream. I immediately
8. GP Eddy Merckx, 1995 (where he beat Tony Rominger): "I'm certainly
proud of this win. It will stand nicely in my palmarès."
9. Riding the 1989 Tour with Greg Lemond and helping to bridge a dangerous
eight minute gap one day: "An unforgettable moment. I had thought of doing
something myself on that day, but I was the only one at the side of Greg.
He asked me to increase the tempo. Mottet and Fignon both tried to crack
him on the way to Marseille, but it didn't work."
10. Amstel Gold Race, 1994. "Of course, I'm enormously happy that I could
set things right after my defeat in the Ronde and the blackout in Paris-Roubaix.
Life can be beautiful."
Museeuw's career has marked by incredible highs and incredible lows,
including several career and even life-threatening injuries. Each time,
Museeuw bounced back, something he attributes largely to the support of
his faithful team director Patrick Lefevere.
"[Each injury] got me started again, as if I wanted to set myself up
for a new challenge," Museeuw said of his various comebacks. "But behind
all of that there was also Patrick Lefevere. Without him, without our
collaboration, I wouldn't have earned this palmarès."
So what were Museeuw's worst moments? He offers his list:
1. Crash in Paris-Roubaix, 1998: "It was destiny, nothing else. But the
pain I will never forget. It was like a thousand needles had been stuck
into my body.
2. Motorbike crash, 2000: "I was afraid that I would never be satisfied
with the level that I could get back to."
3. Broken thighbone at World Championships, 1992: "Everything shoots
through you in a flash. The worst first: career finished, a permanent
handicap. I was finally put at ease in Belgium when doctor Martens cheered
4. Puncture in Paris-Roubaix, 2004: "It was going so well. I cried like
a child. As a sportsman I have a big heart, but as a human being, I'm
a simple Fleming of flesh and blood. With a small heart."
5. Beaten by Gianni Bugno in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, 1994: "The first
time in my life that I lost sleep over cycling, for three nights."
Praise from the sport
Johan Museeuw earned his share of victories, establishing himself as
the classics rider of his generation, and one of the best of all time.
As he enters his final race, what do his rivals and peers think of the
Lion of Flanders' career? Praise and admiration all around, as collected
in Het Nieuwsblad.
Rik Van Steenbergen
"I admire Museeuw. He is so completely Flemish. A man of wind and cobbles."
Rik Van Looy
"He is without doubt the best classics rider of the last 10 years."
"Museeuw certainly belongs with Van Steenbergen and Van Looy."
"I've won the Ronde three times, but the real Lion of Flanders is Museeuw."
Roger De Vlaeminck
"What he could bring to his profession in his lifetime, I couldn't. For
that I admire him."
"He collected more podium places in the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix than
Merckx and Van Looy. That says enough."
Savoldelli could ride Tour
Former Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli (T-Mobile), who suffered
another serious crash at last weekend's Rund um Köln, may still have
a chance to take part in this year's Tour de France. Savoldelli missed
his first chance to ride the Tour with T-Mobile last year after a collision
with a motorcycle forced him out of competition for several months, followed
by an intestinal infection before July. The Italian suffered more head
and facial injuries, as well as a broken arm in Sunday's crash.
"For now, it seems things are still possible," T-Mobile directeur sportif
Mario Kummer said of Savoldelli's condition. "As for his participation
in the Tour, I'm optimistic."
Savoldelli's arm should be healed in four to six weeks, and further examinations
revealed that he has not fractured his clavicle as initially feared.
Rest for Omloop
Belgian champion Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker-Palmans) will not race any
more until May. The winner of the GP Rudy Dhaenens has had health problems
since the Driedaagse van De Panne, and requires some rest.
Van Hyfte back soon
Paul Van Hyfte (Vlaanderen-T Interim) will return to racing in the Vuelta
a Rioja on April 22. Van Hyfte broke his elbow in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
on March 27.
Kerry Youth Tour
The 5th Kerry Youth Tour will be held in Killorglin, Ireland (Co. Kerry)
from July 31-August 2, 2004. Race directors Miceal Concannon and Michael
Carolan announced that the race would use the now traditional routes for
this the 5th Kerry Youth Tour.
The opening stage will start in Beaufort on the fast Churchtown Stage,
followed by a double stage on August 1, including a time trial in the
morning and the Sunhill stage in the afternoon. The final stage will be
run on the classic Donal McKenna circuit.
The 2004 Kerry Youth Tour will introduce some changes, including a separate
prize category for the under 15, under 13 and under 11 riders. There will
be separate stage end prizes for the riders in these categories and a
jersey for the overall winner in each of age group.
The original purpose of the race was to allow all of our youth riders
the opportunity to compete at an international competition. Composite
teams will be allowed as usual. Entry forms and further details will be
available after May 1.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)