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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 15, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Museeuw says goodbye

"It's been wonderful"

By Jeff Jones in Schoten

Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: CN
The long and successful professional career of Johan Museeuw came to an end yesterday in beautiful spring sunshine in Schoten, near Antwerp, as the Lion of Flanders bid his farewell in the 92nd Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, the oldest race in Flanders. Although it was a race suited to pure sprinters rather than the classics riders, Museeuw still showed that he could claw as he placed a powerful attack with 13 km to go. He wasn't allowed much leeway, and the peloton brought him back 5 km later with the race eventually ending in a bunch sprint.

Museeuw had just cause to celebrate at the end, after his protege Tom Boonen took yet another big victory in his blossoming career, holding off Robbie McEwen by just centimetres, the latter being extremely annoyed that he hadn't won himself. Boonen's win was the icing on the cake for Johan's last day, and the Lion was heartily thanked by a huge crowd of people chanting "Johan, Johan, Johan" and bearing placards reading "Bedankt Johan" for all the great moments that he has given them.

"I would have loved to win my last race but in cycling there are no gifts given, nor do I expect any," said Johan in his last post-race press conference as a rider. "It's logical that the other teams took it upon themselves to close the gap to Museeuw. It's a race with important UCI points and you can't expect to be left out in front."

Museeuw has become the best known Belgian cyclist of his time, in a country that has spawned many champions of the two wheeled sport. But despite being immensely popular, Museeuw remains a down to earth West Fleming, and made this clear when he was asked what drove him as an athlete. "I've done everything to win," he said. "To win World Cup races and other big races, to have the feeling of crossing the line first. Not to be well known or popular. Absolutely not."

Museeuw has known many ups and downs throughout his career, but he would not change anything. "I have no regrets. Cycling has given me a lot and I've given back a lot. I think I will miss it a lot. Now I feel that there are young men ready to take over. Tom Boonen for example, to name but one."

Bedankt Johan!
Photo ©: Quick.Step-Davitamon

For his own future, Johan Museeuw intends to experience what it's like behind the wheel of a team car, among other cycling related projects, including having some input into the new Pro Tour. His first appointment as a Quick.Step assistant team director will be in this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. "I will stay in cycling, I don't want to do anything else, it remains my life. And if I can do something to help certain people, that's also a triumph for me. So I'll give it my all."

"It's a beautiful departure for me," Museeuw finished. "In the race, one moment I felt happy and one moment I felt triest. I'm a bit sorry that I'm still riding at a high level and now I have to stop. But I can say now that I'm happy that it's over. To be professional for 16 years is a long time; I'm not young any more. I'm happy that it's really this way, that it's over. I can start a new life. Thanks everyone. It's been wonderful."

Beloki back at Vendee

Joseba Beloki will make another attempt to return to racing at the Tour de Vendée on Sunday. Beloki, who has been recovering from the injuries sustained in the crash that took him out of last year's Tour de France, has hardly raced so far this season. His last outing, at the Tour of the Basque Country, ended when he pulled out on the first stage.

But Beloki's manager at Brioche la Boulangere, Jean-Rene Bernadeau, says the Basque is keen to get back to racing. "He wants to take part in races in France for his team, but also do the races that he has been used to doing," Bernaudeau told AFP.

"But we've had to hold him back," he added, explaining that Beloki's retirement from the Tour of the Basque Country was down to bad timing.

"He was so motivated to compete at home that he forgot how hard the race was. He might have made it past the second stage but straight away on the first day he had to deal with 130km and five climbs. It was just too much," said Bernadeau.

Bernadeau added that Beloki had done "lots of kilometres in training" and seemed to be in good condition, but would not talk about Beloki's Tour de France ambitions until the start of the Tour, though he admitted that a repeat of his previous three podium finishes "is a possibility."

After Vendee Beloki will ride the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, April 28-May 2.

Is Simoni ready to defend Giro title?

Gilberto Simoni is continuing his preparation to defend his Giro d'Italia title with two more stage races over the next month. Yesterday, Simoni started in Spain's Vuelta Aragon, continuing a block of racing in Spain that has included the Tour of the Basque Country and the Klasica Primavera, and next week Simoni returns to Spain for the Giro del Trentino.

The man who is expected to be Simoni's main rival for the Giro, Stefano Garzelli, is also at Aragon, and finished just behind winner Denis Menchov in yesterday's first stage - while Simoni was almost 22 minutes adrift. Nevertheless, according to his team Simoni is aiming to win at the Giro del Trentino, a race he won during his Giro lead-up in 2003, beating Garzelli by just nine seconds.

For the Giro del Trentino, along with Simoni, Saeco will field Damiano Cunego, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Stefano Casagranda, Paolo Fornaciari, Juan Fuentes, Sylwester Szmyd and Andrea Tonti.

Happy event ends Aitken's Olympic goal

Sydney Olympic Madison gold medalist Brett Aitken (and fitness panelist) has decided not to seek Olympic selection this year, for perhaps the best possible reason - his wife Natalie is pregnant with twins.

In a statement on his website, Aitken tells the story of the moment when he realized his life was about to change dramatically.

"What a shock I must say it was when I started seeing double during the ultrasound," write Aitken. "My first thoughts were that I either had too much to drink the night before or I was getting old and needed my eyes checked. Then reality kicked in and I realized what a life changing event it would be. A bigger house, a bigger car and definitely no Olympics were the first things which came to mind."

However, Aitken won't be sorry to miss Athens, saying he has always been ambivalent about trying to make it to his fourth Games. After his gold medal ride in 2000 with Scott McGrory, almost anything else would be an anti-climax.

"The fact is no result is ever going to make Athens a better experience than Sydney for me," he writes. "It simply doesn't get any better than winning in your home country in front of your family and friends in an event I'd dreamed of winning for over 20 years. Three Olympics and three medals is good enough for me so it's time to move on and give some time back to my family who've sacrificed so much for me over the years."

Brett and Natalie already have a five-year-old daughter, Ashli, who suffers from Rett Syndrome, a condition that affects her coordination. Aitken says that given the challenges of looking after Ashli, "the no-go on the Olympics this year wasn't even a hard decision. With Nat due in October, carrying twins is hard enough let alone trying to look after Ashli."

Ng "95 percent confident" of Olympic place

Malaysian track rider Josiah Ng says he is about 95 percent sure of an Olympic place after his performance in the Kierin at the Manchester round of the track World Cup, according to an interview with Malaysia's New Straits Times.

Ng's performance at Manchester moved him up the UCI's sprint rankings from 20th to second, and in the keirin to third. "I just have to maintain my positions in the next round in Sydney and I am quite confident that I can be safely through to the Olympics," Ng told the New Straits Times.

Ng feels he is more of a keirin rider than a match sprinter, but was nevertheless initially disappointed to finish second in Manchester. "That feeling disappeared when I ascended the podium alongside two great champions," he said. "Between Kelly and Rousseau, they have something like 16 world championship titles and three Olympic titles."

Ng is now looking to the final two major events of the track season, the Sydney world cup and the world championships in Melbourne, to qualify for Athens. "I need is a sixth place finish or so in the sprints to confirm my place in the Olympics and about the same in the keirin in Sydney," he said. Afterwards, he will return to the UCI's World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland to prepare for Athens.

He doesn't think he'll podium in the sprint at the Olympics, " But for the Keirin, I can say that I have a good shot at a medal."

Australian cycling reels over death of Mark Carter

By Gerard Knapp

Mark Carter & partner Janelle
Photo: © Jeff Dau
Click for larger image

The Australian cycling community is in shock following the sudden death of Mark Carter, 33, due to head injuries sustained in an accidental fall over the Easter weekend.

Mark, or 'Carts' as he was affectionately known, was a much-loved and admired driving force behind the Canberra Cycling Club, as well as a friend and supporter to many of the professional cyclists from the area - such as Mick Rogers (Quick Step - Davitamon) - who are now based overseas.

"Mark was one of those larger than life characters who had so much enthusiasm. He was always pushing for more racing and put in so much time. At the races you'd find him marshalling, then riding the race, then scoring or time-keeping. He always did so much," said long-time friend Sian McDonald, the partner of Warren McDonald, the current coach of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) women's team.

Carter was a tireless proponent of the sport and worked with the media, police and traffic authorities to organise bike racing in Canberra. The club organised the three-day 'Canberra Milk Race', one of the most challenging and well-organised stage races held by any club in Australia. In addition to his organising efforts, Mark also wrote and distributed his own weekly email newsletter, and was a regular contributor to Ride Cycling Review magazine and this website.

He was well known and liked by many of the professional Australian cyclists who he'd first met in their junior days competing at events organised by the Canberra club. Last year, Mark and his partner spent six months in Italy, where he could indulge his passion for cycling and Italy, staying with Quick.Step's Mick Rogers, as well as Graeme Brown (Panaria) and his fiancée Hayley Rutherford.

According to Ms McDonald, over the Easter holiday weekend Mark and his partner Janelle were attending a relative's wedding in country News South Wales near the town of Gunnedah. At night, Carter slipped and fell in the bathroom of a guesthouse, badly striking his head as he fell. Although he could walk afterwards (Carter raced regularly and was in very good condition), he was taken to a local country hospital and after examination, he was airlifted to a major hospital in Sydney. He underwent a five hour emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain, but then could not be revived after doctors tried to bring him out of his coma. Mark passed away in St George Hospital, Kogarah, on Wednesday evening, April 14.

The sport of cycling - and the world for that matter - can't afford to lose people of Mark Carter's character and enthusiasm. He will be sorely missed. The staff of expresses its deepest sympathies to Mark's family and friends.

The following tribute is from Bernard Meadley, a past vice-president of the Canberra Cycling Club:

What Mark did for cycling in Canberra cannot be described in a few words, but as a former vice President of the Club I know how hard he worked to rejuvenate the Club both financially and in its membership.

Carts is infamous in Canberra. Michael Rogers and Mat Hayman will bear testimony to this. He was an inspiration especially to young cyclists and newcomers to the sport. Carts gave all the goings on cycling in Canberra and on our overseas stars like Matt, Mick, Rory and Marg Hemsley, Alison Wright Oenone Wood and was a regular columnist to cycling publications. His email service to the Canberra region was legendary in both its commentary and its depth.

Carts was instrumental in developing and maintaining the Canberra Crits Summer Series against all the odds of government, And traffic authorities. He could talk his way through any barriers.

I write this as a person who is proud to have known Mark and shared in some way his love of cycling, a passion that he takes with him. I write this with tears in my eyes and sadness for Janelle who has lost her loving husband. Carts you will always be a legend to Canberra cycling.

Knee trouble ends Pryde's Olympic run

New Zealand cyclist Susy Pryde has withdrawn from contention for one of her country's Olympic cycling places because of a tendonitis in her knee, according to a report from the New Zealand Herald.

Pryde, who won silver medals in the Commonwealth Games road race in Kuala Lumpur and mountain bike event at Manchester said riding with her injury was simply too painful. "It is something I can't really control," she added.

Sponsorship boost secures Lincoln GP

The running 2004 edition of the May 9 Lincoln International GP - one of the UK's handful of UCI-ranked one-day races - is assured after a number of new sponsors stepped in with additional funding, according to organiser Ian Emmerson.

The race was faced with increasing costs this year to maintain its international status and meet increased policing costs, Emmerson said in a press statement yesterday. But a Lincoln-based construction company, the Lindum Group, has stepped in along with Lincolnshire Co-operative, to provide enough support to ensure the race's continuation. Existing sponsor National Westminster Bank has also increased its commitment.

This year sees the race's 49th edition, on its usual circuit, starting from Yarborough Leisure Centre at 11.30 am and finishing at around 3.30 pm in Castle Square after 13 laps of the circuit which takes the event out to Burton village and back through Lincoln's historic tourist area.

Rabobank for upcoming races

The Rabobank team has announced the riders it will field for several upcoming races.

Veenendaal - Veenendaal, Netherlands, April 16: Bobbie Traksel, Jan Boven, Mathew Hayman, Roy Sentjens, Ronald Mutsaars, Hans Dekkers, Thorwald Veneberg, Pieter Weening.

Amstel Gold, Netherlands, April 18: Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Oscar Freire Gomez, Marc Wauters, Maarten den Bakker, Steven de Jongh, Marc Lotz, Karsten Kroon.

Waalse Pijl/Flèche Wallonne (Belgium, April 21): Erik Dekker, Levi Leipheimer, Kevin de Weert, Thorwald Veneberg, Ronald Mutsaars, Marc Lotz, Maarten den Bakker, Bram de Groot.

Niedersachsen Rundfahrt, Germany, April 21-25: Robert Bartko, Grischa Niermann, Bobbie Traksel, Hans Dekkers, Jan Boven, Steven de Jongh, Roy Sentjens, Michael Rasmussen.

Ceramiche Panaria Margres for Giro Del Trentino & G.P. Mitsubyshi

The Ceramiche Panaria Margres team has announced the riders it will field for the Giro Del Trentino (Italy, April 20-23) and G.P. Mitsubyshi (Portugal, April 22-25).

Giro del Trentino: Giuliano Figueras, Luca Mazzanti, Paolo Tiralongo, Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, Emanuele Sella, Alejandro Borrajo, Paolo Lanfranchi, and Scott Davis. Directeur sportif: Roberto Reverberi

GP: Claudio Bartoli, Ruben Bongiorno, Graeme Brown, Fabio Gilioli, Brett Lancaster, Sergey Matveyev, Filippo Perfetto, and Fortunato Baliani. Directeur sportif: Bruno Reverberi.

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