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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for April 26, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Anthony Tan

Rebellin triples, takes World Cup lead

A happy Davide Rebellin
Photo ©: Elmar Krings

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) pulled off an unprecedented triple by winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège within the same week as Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne. The Italian won at Amstel Gold one week ago, taking his first World Cup win since 1997 when he won the Championship of Zurich and Clasica San Sebastian classics. This year he has found the winning formula, and with two World Cup wins in the span of a week, the overall series is most certainly an objective.

"Certainly, it's an objective," Rebellin said of the World Cup title. "I'm very, very satisfied with this result. It's a race that suits me and it couldn't have gone better for me in the finale. I felt that Boogerd would attack on Saint-Nicolas so I stayed on his wheel. I wasn't super strong, but the sprint went well for me."

Rebellin takes over the World Cup lead heading into the mid-year break, ahead of Boogerd and Tour of Flanders winner Steffen Wesemann. With the series on hold until after the first two grand tours, his next goal will be stage victories and some time in the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia, which begins in just two weeks time in Genova.

World Cup standings after round 5
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                               200 pts
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                   146
3 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                             131
4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                                      127
5 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                       115
6 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio - Bianchi                         100
7 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Davitamon                        98
8 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto - Domo                              95
9 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto - Domo                                     84
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                   80

Liège-Bastogne-Liège coverage:

Full results & report
Live report

Riis satisfied

Jorg Jaksche (CSC)
Photo ©: Gunnar Mjaugedal

Team CSC director Bjarne Riis has declared himself satisfied with his team's efforts at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the classics season in general, despite not coming up with a victory. CSC Has been a dominant team in the early season stage races, with dramatic victories in the Tour Méditerranéen, Paris-Nice, and Critérium International. Despite a number of top finishes, including second place at Paris-Roubaix with Tristan Hoffman, the team was unable to score a major classic.

"On the whole we've had a good spring season so far," Riis commented on the team's website ( "We've been up front and managed top 10's in almost all of the classics. Of course it would have been fantastic with a win, but at least we have been present on the podium and made our mark on the races."

Riis' full-on team tactics were in play once more at Liège-Bastogne-Liège when he positioned Jörg Jaksche and Kurt-Asle Arvesen in a break prior to the often-decisive La Redoute climb. The duo reached the top and could have been in perfect position to help team leader Michele Bartoli had he been able to force a selection. However a group too big for its own good arrived together at the top of La Redoute and Bartoli was unable to find the form that has taken him to two Liège wins in previous years.

"We tried to be aggressive all day, but unfortunately we didn't have the legs to pull it off in the end," Riis acknowledged. "Bartoli has been very keen to show his worth, but has been lacking that last edge, not to mention the fact, that he has been quite unlucky in some of the decisive moments. I have total confidence in him and that he will manage good results this year."

Ivan Basso did feature in the finale, but the winning move had already gone by the time the Italian flexed his own legs. "The three riders who escaped were in a league of their own," Riis said of the winning move by Alexandre Vinokourov, Michael Boogerd, and eventual winner Davide Rebellin.

Flecha on target for greatness

Juan Antonio Flecha - a future star in spring?
Photo ©: Sirotti

After strong performances in Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix, Juan Antonio Flecha is now the third-best Spanish rider on the World Cup rankings. While his future ambitions in the Ronde and Roubaix remain sky-high, Flecha knows his role as a domestique in races not perfectly suited to him, such as yesterday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he rode at the service of Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke. Story by Hernan Alvarez Macias.

Flecha means arrow in Spanish. Flecha is also the surname of Fassa Bortolo rider Juan Antonio, an extremely capable rider who this year joined Giancarlo Ferretti's super-squadra from His day of glory happened at last year's Tour de France, where he won the eleventh stage to Toulouse, and metres before the finish line that afternoon, he made the gesture of an archer throwing an arrow to the sky as a symbol of his surname and as a symbol of joy.

So far this year, he has been doing rather well in the spring classics, which just happen to be his favourite races on the UCI calendar. He finished 13th in Paris-Roubaix and 12th at the Tour of Flanders, and is currently ranked 30th on the World Cup ranking. As one of the top three Spanish riders in the World Cup, Flecha is in good company; behind him are current and former world champions Oscar Freire (world road champion in 1999 and 2001) and Igor Astarloa (world road champion 2003).

Click here to read the full interview.

Ullrich defends preparation

Facing another round of criticism over his poor spring performances and general delay in preparation as the season churns along, Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) downplayed any notions of panic concerning his eventual readiness for the Tour de France in July. At the same time, the German did acknowledge his own surprise at the difficulty he has faced in recent weeks, particularly at last Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne, where he was in difficulty from the start and eventually abandoned. Ullrich opted to return to Switzerland to train rather than contest Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"I probably underestimated the fact that I'm another year older," Ullrich told Bild am Sonntag. "Or, I overestimated my body. The amount of effort it takes to ride continues to increase. That's what I've learned this spring."

While his arch Tour rival Lance Armstrong was showing fine form in taking two stages and the overall title at the Tour de Georgia, Ullrich was struggling in the Ardennes hills. Observers such as Eddy Merckx pulled no punches, saying the 1997 Tour winner was once more a victim of his own inability to manage his weight and train properly. Ullrich, however, defends himself and insists that he has been working this spring.

"I could be two or three kilos less, but I've trained a lot and added muscle mass," he said, adding that this is "not the first time I've been in this situation."

Ullrich has added the Tour of Germany and Tour of Switzerland to his racing program before the Tour in an effort to make up for what most consider to be lost time at this point in the season.

Simoni back on track

Gilberto Simoni enjoying the sunshine at Trentino
Photo ©: Olympia Photo

True to his word, as the sun shone throughout the 28th Giro del Trentino, Gilberto Simoni came good, with ideal weather conditions during the four days' racing in the region he calls home. The 32 year-old Saeco rider finished the UCI 2.2-ranked race third overall, 53 seconds behind his team-mate and winner Damiano Cunego, who took the biggest win of his career so far, and just four seconds adrift of Slovenian Jure Golcer (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave').

After a series of lacklustre performances at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Vuelta a Aragon, the latter won in a nail-biter by his Italian arch-rival Stefano Garzelli, the diminutive climber proved his worth in what was his final stage race before the upcoming Giro d'Italia, which begins on May 8 in Genova.

On the first stage from Arco to Marcena di Rumo val di Non, Simoni made the final break of 26 riders and finished sixth behind winner Cunego. The next day on another mountain-top finish and easily the hardest day of this year's Giro del Trentino, he finished alone in second place, with his team-mate Cunego once again winning the stage. The Saeco 1-2 finish in Roncone solidified Cunego's lead and moved Simoni in third overall, with both riders holding their overall positions until the finish in Arco last Friday.

"I'm happy because I rode well and I feel good," he said simply. Simoni is scheduled to ride the Gran Premio Industria & Artigianato race in Tuscany this coming Saturday (May 1), but the team has not yet decided if he will ride Sunday's Giro di Toscana on May 2.

Australian track championships

Australia's top track riders will contest the national track championships from April 27-May 2 at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney. The Championships will also act as the selection trial for Australia’s multi-disability cyclists for the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. Australia already boasts five world record holders in multi-disability events and all will be racing at the championships.

Four-time world champion, Shane Kelly, fresh from his World Cup victory in Manchester, will lead the charge for Victoria, while for New South Wales 2002 sprint World Champion Sean Eadie returns after an injury-plagued 2003. Eadie is eager to impress national selectors and secure an Olympic berth.

Queensland’s Anna Meares, a seven time Australian champion, will be the woman to beat in the sprint events. Sydney’s Rochelle Gilmore has returned to Australia from Europe in a bid to secure her third straight Australian title in both the points and scratch race events.

All finals sessions start from 7:00pm Tuesday to Saturday. Sunday’s racing starts at 1:00pm.

Session Times

Tuesday April 27 ­ 7:00pm
Wednesday April 28 - 1:00pm (Qualifying), 7:00pm (Finals)
Thursday April 29 - 1:00pm (Qualifying), 7:00pm (Finals)
Friday April 30 ­ 1:00pm (Qualifying), 7:00pm (Finals)
Saturday May 1st ­ 7:00pm
Sunday May 2nd ­ 1:00pm

Tickets are available at the door (adults: $15, Children 8-14: $5).

Motorist on trial for Otxoa accident

In Spain a trial has begun to try the motorist involved in a fatal collision with brothers Javier and Ricardo Otxoa during a training ride. Ricardo was killed when the driver struck the pair on February 15, 2001, while Javier remained in an extended coma and suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident. Both brothers rode professionally for Kelme at the time. The trial will be conducted in Malaga, Spain.

Lawyers for defendant Sebastián Fernández are requesting a fine and suspension of his driver's license, while the Kelme team, the Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales (ACP) and the Otxoa family are pressing for charges of manslaughter. Fernández maintains that the two riders veered into the opposing lane, thus causing the collision as he rounded a curve from the other direction.

UK helmet bill fails

Last Friday April 23 in the UK House of Commons, the compulsory helmet ruling proposed by MP Eric Martlew was quashed on a technicality. However, according to British cycle trade magazine and website, BicycleBusiness, the MP wants to form an all-party parliamentary group to push for compulsion at a later stage.

Despite strong arguments for and against Martlew's helmet ruling, the proceedings were brought to a halt by Eric Forth MP, Con, who believed there were not enough MPs in the House to vote in the division lobbies. Forth asked for the House to go into private session, a procedural device used to nullify a bill, and with less than the 40 MPs required in the chamber, the topic of discussion was ordered to move to the next item on the agenda.

BicycleBusiness' editor and publisher, Carlton Reid, said that although MP Eric Martlew has another chance to air his bill on June 18, his item sits tenth on the list, and "it's Commons knowledge that he won't get a chance to read his bill". "It's likely the government will take heed of this [anti-compulsion] argument and helmet compulsion legislation in the UK is now unlikely for years to come," said Reid.

For more details, see:

Multicultural line-up for Lincoln GP

Team Under returns to England's shores

2003 winner Mark Lovatt
Photo ©: Gerry McManus

This year's Lincoln International Grand Prix (UCI 1.5), one of England's oldest one-day classics and now in its 49th edition, sees the most diverse international line-up to hit England's shores since the race's inception, with a record number of foreign teams scheduled for the event on Sunday, May 9.

The 2004 race starts at 11.30am from The Yarborough Leisure Centre and covers 13 laps of its usual circuit, taking the riders out through Burton Village and back through the City via the A57, Long Leys Road, Yarborough Road, West Parade, Motherby Lane, Hungate, Michaelgate, Wordsworth Street, Drury Lane, Castle Square, Newport, Yarborough Crescent and Burton Road, a total distance of 102 miles (164 km). The finish line in Castle Square is crossed every 20 minutes on each lap and will see the end of the event at around 3.30pm, where the mayor of Lincoln will present the major awards.

Two teams who have previously never raced in Great Britain include Uganda and Kyrgyzstan. Returning are the Dutch-based BRC Kennermerland team and the multicultural mob from Marco Polo, who will be entering riders from the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium. The French Regional Team, Ile de France, has again been invited, and with four finishers in the top 20 last year, they should provide strong competition for the local teams vying for a home-win.

Great Britain has two national teams entered for the race: the under 23 squad of Richard Sutcliffe, Steven Roach, Matt Brammeier and Ed Clancy and their elite squad of Team Persil members Bruce Edgar, Mark Cavendish, Christian Varley and Tom White. Outside the national squads, the race features other major home-based teams, with last year's winner Mark Lovatt to wear dossard number one. Veteran Malcolm Elliott, who will be 43 this July, continues his major comeback after his third place last year and is a previous winner of the event back in 1983. Also back are previous winners Huw Pritchard (2002), John Tanner (1997 and 2001), Kevin Dawson (1996) and John Charlesworth (1992).

Last but not least, the newly-renamed Team Under squad returns after a year's absence, fielding a strong contingent that includes Britain's Tom Barras and Hamish Haynes. The team finished three riders in the top eight in 2002 and will be one to watch out for (and not just for their clothing now available at the Cyclingnews Online Store!).

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