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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 30, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Rund um den Henninger Turm

Can Rebellin take another bouquet?

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Gunnar Mjaugedal

This Saturday's 43rd Rund um den Henninger Turm in Germany marks the unofficial end to the one day spring classics season. With three victories in the last three races to his credit, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has risen above the rest of the one day specialists this spring, and will go into the Henninger Turm with top form, hoping to successfully defend his 2003 victory in this race. Last year, Rebellin surprised the field with a last kilometre attack, holding off Erik Zabel by four seconds to win. This year he will be a heavily marked man, but his chances are still very good.

Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) will no doubt be trying to add a third Henninger Turm to his palmares, but he should be wary of Rebellin's teammate Danilo Hondo, who is also in sparkling form, having won four stages of the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt last week. Another sprinter to watch is Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo), while Oscar Freire and Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Mirko Celestino (Saeco) are all danger men.

The race (always held on May 1) is run over 205 kilometres around Frankfurt, starting with a 65 km loop from Frankfurt to Königstein, followed by three laps of a hilly 44 km circuit, with the last lap being cut short and the riders heading back to Frankfurt.

Tour of Belgium interested in expansion

Tour of Belgium organiser Rob Discart has expressed strong interest in gaining entry into the UCI's ProTour by helping to organise a Benelux Tour, which would combine the tours of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. UCI president Hein Verbruggen has already suggested that this would be the only way for these three tours to gain ProTour status, which is seen as important by many organisers.

Discart has the support of Eddy Merckx and the Belgian Cycling Federation, and has started talks with the organisers of the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour of the Netherlands to discuss a possible merger. Discart maintains that he wants to keep the Tour of Belgium running as well, and this year's race will go ahead as normal between May 19-23.

"We kept the same formula that has been successful in the past years, with a stage to the coast, the Flemish stages, a time trial, and a finale through the Ardennes," Discart told La Derniere Heure at yesterday's presentation of the race. The final stage will be between Ans and Eupen, featuring 10 tough Ardennes climbs including La Redoute, Rosier, Stockeu and the Edelstraase in Eupen.

Ballerini rides the World's course

Italian national technical director Franco Ballerini has taken a tour of the road course that will be used at the World Championships in Verona this year. Ballerini rode the course on Thursday in the company of Pietro Caucchioli, Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato (all candidates for the Italian team) as well as Francesco Moser and Claudio Gentile.

"The climb [of Torricelle] is rideable," was his assessment. "Even if the 17 corners will make life hard for everyone. It's a nice layout, a parcours that is suited to the characteristics of a lot of our athletes. It will be a tough, selective World's, and I'm certain it will be a great race."

When the World's were last held in Verona in 1999, Damiano Cunego won the junior men's race. "The main thing is to be able to wear the jersey of the Italian team," commented Cunego. "It's one of my dreams, a big goal of mine."

Fight on to boost Australia's Paralympic team

By Karen Forman in Sydney

Australia looks set to be forced to leave gold medal winners at home unless the International Paralympic Committee (cycling) can be persuaded - through the courts if necessary - to boost the Australian cycling team for the Athens Paralympics.

National Paralympic Program coach Kevin McIntosh says Australia has been dealt a "cruel hand" with the allocation of cycling places for Athens, with only 10 athletes set to represent their country. That, he says, is "devastating" for the number one ranked team in the world.

"In real terms we should have 15 places," he told Cyclingnews at the Track Cycling Australian Championships in Sydney, where the team has already shattered eight world records.

"Australia has been the number one ranked team in the world for the last four years yet it has only been granted 10 places. The United States, which has only been in the top three in the past four years, has been granted 15. This means we will leave gold medal winners at home if it stays that way."

McIntosh says the Paralympic movement was fighting tooth and nail to have the decision altered and had the full support of Cycling Australia. They are currently awaiting the results of an appeal to the IPC's Executive Committee, which sits above the cycling committee, expected sometime over this weekend. If the appeal is not accepted, then the APC and Cycling Australia voted today to jointly appeal to the International Court of Arbitration.

Given that it would probably sit in Europe, most likely Switzerland, this action would cost money - estimated at around $50,000. Where that would come from is, at this stage, anyone's guess, but the APC has vowed not to take it lying down.

"We are on track to retain our number one position in Athens. We have a great team of riders. Already at these national championships we have had eight world records broken - with still two days to go," McIntosh said. "We have to fight."

As to why the anomaly had occurred, McIntosh believes it is "political". "I think that cycling has taken it on themselves to misinterpret the rules and allocate places as they see fit," he said. "But we are fighting against it. We will take it all the way to the Court of Arbitration if we have to."

Team manager Elsa Lepore said that Australia had believed the number of spots handed out would be performance based. "Given that we were ranked number one at the Sydney Olympics (where it had a team of 15), number one at the 2001 European Championships, number two at the 2002 Worlds and number one at the 2003 European Championships, then we consider that means we should get the maximum number of spots," she said.

"But the International Paralympics Committee (cycling) used a ranking system that we do not consider was interpreted in a logical way. They allowed some nations to accrue points from regional competitions, which was contrary to what we believed the interpretation should be."

Australia was initially told it would have nine positions back in February, but was informed it had an extra spot last week.

"It's criminal," Lepore said. "And it's going to cost us a lot to fight it. We don't know where we will get the money from yet. If necessary we will have to find someone to help. We had estimated that we would win between 12 and 15 gold medals in Athens and we've had some surprises at these national championships. We've got at least three tandems in the men's and three in the women's who could win gold medals and yet with just 10 places we will have to leave two of each at home."

Another World Record falls to Shaw and McCombie

West Australians Janet Shaw (37) and pilot Kelly McCombie (25) have taken 0.097 off the world record for the Women's Tandem Flying 200m in the sprint qualifying round at the Track Cycling Australian Championships at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome to reinforce their claim for gold at the Athens Paralympics.

Shaw, who is visually impaired, and McCombie rode 12.029 seconds to beat the previous record of 12.129 seconds set by Shaw and previous pilot Leanne Manderson in Sydney last year. "I knew I had to break my record," said Shaw.

The pair had not been focussed on the sprint instead concentrating on the tandem pursuit. "We're chuffed because we're more endurance than pursuit," said McCombie. "We're chuffed."

It's the pair's second world record as in many days coming 24 hours after they smashed the Tandem Pursuit record.

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