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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for August 13, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Professionals make Olympic cycling "more visible"

More comments from the US road squad

By Rob Jones in Athens

Jim Ochowicz
Photo ©: epicimages.us
Click for larger image

At a press conference in Athens on Thursday, the US men's and women's road teams were grilled about the upcoming Olympic events, where they are expected to do well. US men's road coach Jim Ochowicz commented that, "We have great expectations for the men's race - I expect us to be one of the teams that sets the tone for the race."

Ochowicz also commented on the difference in the Olympic road race since the IOC began allowing professionals in at the Atlanta Games (1996). "Since the pros were allowed in, we have seen an increase in the visibility of cycling at the Olympics. Now you have athletes at the highest level, like Ullrich, Klöden, Ekimov and Lance Armstrong. Contrast that to before 1996 - we never had a chance to see Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault at the Olympics during the height of their careers."

Ochowicz addressed the issue of security for the high profile American riders. "We've had dialogue with security, and have security with us when we go training. But remember that these guys are used to racing with large crowds, and the course will be much more controlled than something like l'Alpe d'Huez."

Women's captain Dede Demet-Barry revealed that they were under constant security supervision. "I think they are Secret Service or Homeland Security, and they stay in the room right next to us. There are security cameras all over the Village."

Click here for the full feature

Also see: US road team confident

Virenque dreams of a medal

The 2004 Games will mark Richard Virenque's third Olympic participation, and the feisty Frenchman is again looking forward to the experience. "It is a completely different race to the ones we normally take part in and for this reason we are stimulated to do well," he said. "Riding wearing my country's national colours is an honour. My dream is that of returning to France with a medal. Our team is certainly very good."

Rogers rates TT as tough

Australian Michael Rogers, the effective World Time Trial Champion, is a favourite for the men's TT next Wednesday. Rogers is familiar with the parcours, having ridden it last year, and rates it as tough. "Last August I was in Athens along with some of the National team's technical staff to view the race route," he said. "It is a difficult route that could have some surprises in store. Even the non-specialists will stand a chance of winning a medal. The wind along the sea front could also be a determining factor. The main opponents will be Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt and Ivan Gutierrez but I am sure, as always happens, some of the others will come to the forefront after having meticulously prepared themselves for the Olympics.

"I am in good condition at the moment. I did well at the Tour. I've been training along with the Australian National Team in Reggio Emilia. I am quite confident," concluded Rogers.

McGee celebrates Games early

Whilst the rest of his teammates put the finishing touches to their preparation for the Athens Olympic Games, cyclist Bradley McGee was hopping back on a plane to be with his wife Sharni for the birth of their second child. But Sharni was too quick - even for Brad - as she gave birth to the couple's first son, Rory John McGee before Brad had even taken off from his Büttgen base.

Rory McGee was very keen to join his mum and dad, taking just two and a half hours in labour and coming in at a very healthy 4.210kgs. Born at 8.35am on the 11th August local Monaco time, the McGees now have two children with eldest daughter Tahlia now 3 years of age.

The happy father said "whilst I was disappointed I did not make it to the hospital in time for the birth, I was delighted that everything had gone well and that both Sharni and Rory were doing extremely well. I'm not sure who he looks like yet but to me he is just one handsome little boy - I think Sharni has produced the first gold medal of these Games. Knowing what Sharni went through I think it makes riding the Alpe d'Huez a little less daunting.

"It's a huge relief. I can now go to the Olympics knowing I have a new baby boy. I will be more at peace knowing the baby has come and Sharni and Tahlia have her parents at home to help out whilst I'm at the Games." McGee hopes to rejoin his wife and family immediately following the conclusion of the track cycling events in Athens.

Petito a dad for the second time

Brad McGee wasn't the only one welcoming a new baby into the world, as Italian Roberto Petito (Fassa Bortolo) became a father for the second time on Thursday. At 2:00pm, his wife Letizia gave birth to a beautiful child named Sara, and both mother and daughter are very well.

Cyclingnews wishes both the McGees and the Petitos all the best. The Fan Club Fratelli Petito Master Team from Civitavecchia also has passed on its best wishes to the Petito clan.

USAC announces MTB World's automatic qualifiers

USA Cycling has named the automatic qualifiers for the 2004 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships to be held in Les Gets, France between September 8-12. The country's three Olympic athletes, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) and Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, Calif.) will head the list of qualifiers in the cross country, joined by Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) on the women's side, and Adam Craig (Bangor, Maine), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) and Travis Brown (Durango, Colo.) on the men's side.

In the gravity disciplines, Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) and Colin Bailey (Big Bear, Calif.) earned automatic nominations, as did Kathy Pruitt (Durango, Colo.), who thanks to her silver medal performance in Calgary, earned the only women's automatic nomination to the downhill team.

Tara Llanes (Newport Beach, Calif.), Jill Kintner (San Jose, Calif.), Marla Streb (Los Osos, Calif.), and Lisa Sher (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) claimed automatic nominations for the women's 4-cross event.

In the men's 4-cross, Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Pa.), Carter, Chris Powell (Atherton, Calif.), Robin Baloochi (Fallbrook, Calif.) Brian Lopes (Murrietta, Calif.), and Mike King (San Diego, Calif.) earned automatic nominations.

Automatic qualifiers list

Junior Men's XC

1 Mitchell Peterson
2 Alex Hodge
3 Sam Jerekovic

Junior Women's XC

1 Hilary Wright
2 Chloe Forsman

Junior Men's Downhill

1 Henry O'Donnel
2 Duncan Riffle
3 Cameron Zink
4 Luke Strobel
5 Garrick Anderson

Junior Women's Downhill

*No automatic qualifiers

U23 XC

1 Nick Waite
2 John Devine

Elite Women XC

1 Alison Dunlap
2 Mary McConneloug
3 Willow Koerber
4 Kelli Emmett
5 Shonny Vanlandingham
6 Sue Haywood

Elite Men XC

1 Adam Craig
2 Jeremiah Bishop
3 Todd Wells
4 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
5 Travis Brown

Elite Men Downhill

1 Colin Bailey
2 Eric Carter

Elite Women Downhill

1 Kathy Pruitt

Elite Men 4-Cross

1 Brian Schmith
2 Eric Carter
3 Chris Powell
4 Robin Baloochi
5 Brian Lopes
6 Mike King

Elite Women's 4-Cross

1 Tara Llanes
2 Jill Kintner
3 Marla Streb
4 Lisa Sher

Wellens has new sponsor

World cyclo-cross champion Bart Wellens has a new sponsor to replace SpaarSelect. His team manager Hans van Kasteren confirmed that Fidea Assurances has signed a letter of intent to take over the sponsorship of the team, which also includes Geert Wellens, Erwin Vervecken, Peter Van Santvliet and Wim Jacobs. It's quite possible that Luxembourger Jempy Drucker will ride for the team this season as well.

Webcor recovers stolen bike

In a sting operation with a twist, the US-based Webcor Team in conjunction with the Dahlonega police managed get the suspect in custody before recovering one of their team bikes that was stolen earlier this year.

This spring, while waiting for the awards ceremony in the small Georgian town of Dahlonega, a spare team bike was snatched off the Webcor team car. Three months later, while randomly surfing Ebay, one of Webcor's team members found a Lemond bicycle for sale advertised as an official Webcor team bike, and that looked remarkably similar (including parts) to the one stolen in GA. Webcor immediately got to work trying to determine if a) the bike was definitely the stolen one, and b) how to get the bike back.

Lemond provided a letter that stated Webcor was the only team provided with frames of that colour/decal scheme. The bike was purchased c.o.d. over Ebay by Karen Scioscia (wife of special team consultant, Frank Scioscia) with the story that she want to purchase the bike for her husband) with the intention of not accepting delivery. Instead the bike was to be identified at UPS with a police officer present, positively ID'd, and then shipped back the Dahlonega police dept. to be held as evidence while Dahlonega police worked on tracking down the suspect.

In researching the case, the Dahlonega police investigator called the suspect's place of work to ask if the suspect indeed worked there. Unfortunately, the suspect was the one who picked up the phone and the investigator quickly made an excuse and hung up. Thinking he botched the case, the investigator apologized to Webcor management, thinking that bringing the suspect to justice might prove challenging. Instead, the next morning found the investigator sitting with the suspect, who had driven all night to the Dahlonega police station, to turn himself in. Suspecting that he was about to get in trouble, the suspect came clean and confessed everything.

In the end, Webcor got its bike back after a creative sting operation and some good investigating on behalf of the Dahlonega police department.

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