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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 12, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Women's Road Race: Select band of favourites to make the running

Britain's Nicole Cooke (left) is a hot favourite
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

With the reigning Olympic champion concentrating on the track this year, the women's road race will be a talent-packed battle of the giants. Kristy Scrymgeour looks at the contenders.

The second cycling event of the 2004 Games is the women's road race. Over the same 13.2km course as the men, the women race nine laps for a total of 118.8km and will start at 11am in the hottest part of the day.

This week the riders have been training over the challenging course which is hilly and technical consisting of a short section of uphill pave and lots of tight corners. The days have been hot hitting 40 degrees (100 degrees Fahrenheit) but the predicted smog has not been evident. According to a local who was on the course today, the city does experience some very bad smog occasionally, but this week it has been very clear.

The women's race, like the men's is very likely to produce a small group of the top riders at the end due to the difficulty of the terrain, with attrition likely to split things up over the nine laps. 2000 winner, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is back to defend all three of her titles beginning with the road race and can never be counted out, though with her focus being specifically on the track this year and the road course being very difficult, she is likely to considered less of a favourite. Her teammate however, Mirjam Melchers is in good form this year and is an excellent one day rider.

Click here for the full women's road race preview

German Olympic powerhouse returns

Ullrich looks for repeat in team with several cards to play

By Chris Henry

Andreas Klöden from T-Mobile Team
Photo ©: Christine Schramm

The Olympic road race only comes along once every four years, but if the last edition in Sydney in 2000 can provide any reference point, Germany will be a tough nation to beat. The 2000 Games were good to Jan Ullrich, who avenged defeat in the Tour de France by winning the road race and taking silver in the time trial. In the road race, Ullrich won ahead of breakaway companions Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and fellow German Andreas Klöden. All three rode then - and do today - for the same trade team.

Ullrich and Klöden are back in the German roster this year, along with another T-Mobile man, Erik Zabel. Jens Voigt (Team CSC) and Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) round out the five man team. Four of these five rode together in Sydney, while Michael Rich (who rode in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics) takes the place of Rolf Aldag. Rich is the only rider in the team not to have ridden this year's Tour de France, where Klöden and Ullrich finished second and fourth overall.

"The Olympics are a big event for me," Jan Ullrich said on his trade team's website. "Sydney was a great experience. I am still really proud that Vino, Klödi and myself orchestrated that. Jens Voigt worked damn hard for the first 150 kilometres closing any gaps, then the three of us attacked. We were up the road before Lance Armstrong, or the Italians knew what had happened. It is unlikely that we could pull that off again."

Click here for the full German's men's road team overview

Ullrich to miss opening ceremony

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti

German Olympic road race champion Jan Ullrich will skip the opening ceremony on Friday night in order to rest up for Saturday's road race. "Unfortunately I must forego the experience," he wrote in his diary on "The road race is on August 14, the first day of competition. I have to be fully fit there. I can't permit myself to have a long night."

Ullrich won a gold and a silver medal in Sydney in 2000, and will try to repeat or even better that performance. "I have two chances to make the victory podium," he wrote. "The Olympics is completely special for me. When I won in Sydney and thought that a billion or more people were sitting and watching it in front of the TV, I had goose pimples down my spine."


Dutch ride the course

Erik Dekker (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti

The Dutch road team trained on the Athens course on Wednesday to get a feel for it before the weekend's road races. Erik Dekker did just two laps of the 13 km circuit before dropping out. "This morning, we trained seriously," he joked to ANP. However, Dekker has already done his homework, riding the parcours last winter. "Then, with all the traffic, it was a little bit longer. It's a tough circuit, without any place to rest. It's not the climb that will make it hard, but the whole thing."

Dekker's counterpart in the women's team, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, believes that despite the toughness of the parcours, the men's race will end in a bunch sprint. "But for us, definitely not," she said.

Athens track slow, according to Kiwis

New Zealand's High Performance manager Warren Lister believes that the Athens velodrome will not be conducive to setting world records. Lister commented to that the partially enclosed velodrome will be windy, which will slow things down. However, he pointed out that the conditions would be the same for everyone, thus no-one should be disadvantaged.

The nine members of the New Zealand track team are currently training in France due to the congestion on the Olympic track at the moment. They plan to arrive in Athens early next week to prepare for the track events that start on August 20.

Australian Paralympic team named

A team of 11 cyclists has been chosen to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games in Athens. The Australian Paralympic Committee, following the completion of an appeals process, has announced the squad of four women and seven men. Members of the squad are Janet Shaw (Kellie McCombie, Pilot), Lindy Hou (Toireasa Ryan/Janelle Lindsay, Pilots), Mark LeFlohic, Claire McLean, Greg Ball, Christopher Scott, Peter Homann, Andrew Panazzolo, Peter Brooks, Anthony Biddle (Kial Stewart, Pilot), Lyn Lepore (Jenny McPherson, Pilot).

The APC, in its statement, said some great past and prospective riders had missed an opportunity to participate in Athens because Australia was offered only 11 slots instead of a hopeful 15 for the Games. It said it had written to Cycling Australia seeking reviews of their selection processes and ensuring they fully informed athletes of their rationale for selection.

The APC will conduct a review with Cycling Australia to ensure that for future Games, Australia would be able to maximise the number of positions allocated and that the sports nomination criteria was clearly understood by aspiring team members.


Phonak announces 13

The Phonak team, in the process of renewing its roster for next season, has announced the first 13 riders to have confirmed through 2005 or 2006. Six riders are currently under contract until the end of next year: Tyler Hamilton, Nicolas Jalabert, Alexandre Moos, Oscar Pereiro, Niki Aebersold and Tadej Valjavec. A further six riders have extended their contracts until the end of 2006: José Enrique Gutierrez, Santos Gonzalez, Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Gregory Rast and Daniel Schneider, while neo-pro Sascha Urweider has been signed for two years.

Phonak is still negotiating with some of its existing riders, but has confirmed that Alex Zülle will be retiring.

Team status as of August 12

Name & nationality        Age    Contract until

Tyler Hamilton (USA)      32         2005
Nicolas Jalabert (Fra)    31         2005
Alexandre Moos (Swi)      32         2005
Oscar Pereiro (Spa)       27         2005
Niki Aebersold (Swi)      32         2005
Tadej Valjavec (Slo)      27         2005
Gregory Rast (Swi)        24         2006
Dani Schnider (Swi)       31         2006
Martin Elmiger (Swi)      26         2006
Bert Grabsch (Ger)        29         2006
José Gutierrez (Spa)      30         2006
Santos Gonzalez (Spa)     31         2006
Sascha Urweider (Swi)     24         2006

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