Latest Cycling News for August 2, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Mountains await in shortened Vuelta a Burgos
By Martin Hardie
Sixteen teams will fight out the first Spanish week-long vuelta after the Tour de France lull when the 26th Vuelta a Burgos kicks off this Monday. This year, the traditional five day race, because of the tightness of the pre-Olympic calendar, is jammed into four days of the week rather than the usual five. The result is the loss of the team trial but with the retention of its famed mountain top finishes.
Stage 1 over 149 km sees the finish atop the first category Altotero with Stage 3 finishing atop the special category Lagunas de Neila. Tuesday's second stage is far less mountainous, containing only two third category climbs. Wednesday's stage to the special category Lagunas de Neila should, as it usually does, mark the most decisive differences of the race. It is here that those thinking about their ride in September's Spanish Vuelta will be out to test their legs. The final stage on Thursday runs, as is traditional, from Mirando de Ebro to the cathedral city of Burgos and in its course crosses the cat. 2 Busto and the cat. 3 Valmala climbs.
The race in the last years has been dominated by the old Banesto squad - with Lastras, Mancebo, Mercado and Piepoli all winners here in the last four years. They are now all spread throughout different teams including Banesto's successor, Illes Baleares, Quick.Step and Saunier Duval and as such expect these three teams especially to all be out looking for the victory. With Mercado out on the sideline with tendonitis expect Quick Step to be looking to push either José Antonio Pecharroman or Patrik Sinkewitz up the G.C.
Riders to watch, other than the past winners? Valverde, Heras and don't forget Joseba Beloki, who will head off for his second outing in Saunier Duval's director Matxin's magic yellow bus. Quick.Step's Pedro Horrillo and the Silloniz brothers from Euskaltel might be good ones to keep an eye on in the flatter stages.
Stage 1 - August 2: Burgos - Poza de la Sal (Altotero), 149 km
Merckx and Gilbert satisfied at HEW
Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) was satisfied with his performance in yesterday's HEW Cyclassics, where he animated the finale with a number of attacks, but couldn't do anything in a 30 rider bunch sprint. The Belgian explained to Het Nieuwsblad that "At the start my legs didn't feel great, but gradually I started to feel better. After the last climb of the Waseberg I made the lead group. I looked back and saw that there weren't so many riders who were coming back. For me, that was the moment to attack, and I hoped that the others would stay still. I got a small gap, but I quickly realised that I couldn't get away. Thus I sat up and tried again once more. They really didn't want to let me go."
Merckx's compatriot Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) had a similar tale to tell. "In the finale I tried in vain to get away with Bossoni. I'm not slow, but I'm not a match for fast men like O'Grady. Furthermore I was a little blocked in the sprint. I wanted to go through a gap on the left but it didn't work. Otherwise I might have finished further up.
Both riders are now looking forward to the Olympics in Athens in two weeks.
Bergman suspension: Jelly Belly riders react
By Mark Zalewski in New York
Jelly Belly cyclist Adam Bergman's positive test for EPO has already caused him to be fired from his team, and he faces a suspension from racing for up to two years pending the outcome of a hearing later this year. Cyclingnews spoke to Bergman's former teammates at the New York City Cycling Championship on Sunday to gauge their reactions to his sacking.
"Until he has his hearing, he's not really guilty or not-guilty, he's just under suspicion," said Jelly Belly's Kirk Albers. "I think we all were [surprised]. I don't think anyone has [talked] with him."
When asked about the team's zero tolerance policy, Albers replied, "It's something you have to do, not just for the good of the team but for the good of the sport. Cheating is cheating no matter where it happens - in the race or off the bike. It's unfortunate - it doesn't really help anybody."
Albers also commented on the team's likely loss of the National Racing Calendar (NRC) points that were gained by Bergman. "That is ninety nine percent sure going to happen, and that is unfortunate, but the rest of the guys on the team might rise to the occasion and step it up even further. No matter where we finish up I think we are clearly a top five team. Had we known about this before the season, we would have raced quite a bit different."
Cyclingnews also spoke to Jonas Carney, who was fourth in NYC yesterday. "It's my first year racing with Adam and I didn't get to race with him too much because he was doing all the stage races. But I liked Adam and I'm really disappointed in him, and in the sport in general right now," said Carney. "There's not really much else to say about it. Nobody on the team had any idea about it. I'm really happy with [team director] Danny van Haute's reaction to it, that he's been removed from the team and that Danny has stated that he won't put him back on the team when the suspension is over."
Carney commented on the probably loss of NRC points by saying, "I'm just racing hard every weekend, trying to win as many races as I can. It's a shame because we worked really hard this year in a lot of races for Adam - in Georgia, the Redlands - the guys really put a lot of work into it, and to lose those points, it's really a shame. But that's the way it goes. It sucks for the team because I thought we were having a great season. Obviously, had we known it we would have been racing differently the first half of the year. Now we'll just have to play catch-up the rest of the season if we lose all those points."
Rabobank wants to keep Leipheimer
According to De Telegraaf, the Rabobank team is interested in keeping American Levi Leipheimer in its squad for next year when the Pro Tour commences. Rabobank has offered Leipheimer a new contract, while Discovery Channel and T-Mobile are also competing for his signature.
Liberty Seguros for Clasica San Sebastian
Liberty Seguros has named its team for this Saturday's seventh round of the World Cup in San Sebastian, Spain: Carlos Barredo, Giampaolo Caruso, Allan Davis, Alvaro Gonzalez De Galdeano, Isidro Nozal, Javier Ramirez, Luis León Sánchez and Marcos Serrano.
Koldo Gil will replace Allan Davis in Sunday's Subida Urkiola, but the rest of the team remains unchanged.
Tales from the track
A few snippets from the infield at the junior world track championships by Eddie Monnier
Not quite the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team, but...
Kenardo "Ken" Dunn of Jamaica displayed courage and a sense of adventure just to arrive at this year's Junior Worlds. A sponsorship deal with Burger King to help him make the trip fell through at the last minute, leaving the young rider without the resources to complete the trip. But Ken wouldn't think of missing this opportunity to compete in the Scratch and Points Races. So he boarded a plane to Los Angeles without support and without making any LA-based arrangements. Once he arrived, he called the cycling director at home and asked what to do next. A few calls were made, and eventually cycling coach Tim Roach was asked to look after the young rider. Tim was impressed with what Ken went through to get here, accepted the role and even enlisted friend Dave Hansen to supply some backup equipment. When asked what he thought of the ADT Center track, Ken smiled a friendly smile and responded in his cool Jamaican accent, "This track was built by a genius, man!"
Zach Grant's 'game hair' on!
Canadian kilo rider Zach Grant is only in his second year of track racing. Hailing from a mountain bike background, he joined the Edmonton-based Juventes Cycling Club which introduced him to the track. He made the transition quickly last year, demonstrated by his winning the national title in the Scratch Race. He went on to ride a 1.11.170 to finish in 22nd place
Dude, where'd you get that helmet?
German kilo rider Benjamin Wittman's helmet caught everyone's attention and so did his fastest of the night first lap (18.973). That effort took its toll, as he faded badly after the second lap to end with a time of 1.06.786 for fifth place.
Dajka misses deadline to appeal
Australian track cyclist Jobie Dajka has missed the deadline to appeal against being thrown out of the team for the Athens Olympics. The deadline for him to lodge his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for sport (CAS) passed earlier on Monday, a CAS spokesman said. But his appeal could still be held if Dajka can demonstrate extenuating circumstances.
The 22 year-old was forced to leave the Australian team training camp in Buttgen, Germany after admitting lying to an official doping inquiry. He was directed to leave by Cycling Australia because he was no longer in the Games team following his expulsion by the Australian Olympic Committee on Friday.
He is expected to remain in Germany while his lawyers try to regain his place in the team.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)