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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 17, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & John Stevenson

Wind likely factor in Olympic time trial

The road races were all about surviving the heat. Tomorrow's time trials will likely add strong winds lashing the riders on the coastal course - and for many riders the time trial is a chance to make up for otherwise lacklustre seasons.

Germany's Jan Ullrich is under immense pressure from the German media to salvage something after his fourth place in the Tour de France and 19th place in Saturday's men's road race. Women's defending champion Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel of the Netherlands will seek to get back to winning ways after crashing in Sunday's road race.

The absence of Lance Armstrong - arguably the best time trialist in the world this year after his performances in the Tour time trials - has improved the chances of Ullrich to go one better than in Sydney, where he finished runner-up to Russia's Viatcheslav Ekimov. At 38, the defending champion is not expected to be the factor he once was.

Ullrich believes the wind on the course by the Saronic Gulf could be a big factor in the 48 kilometre test. "The wind is really blowing here," he said on his team's web site. "We'll have to be prepared for this."

Even in Armstrong's absence, a US rider could still be Ullrich's toughest challenger. Tyler Hamilton, who abandoned the Tour midway through with an injured back, has spent most of the time since working on his time trial. He's hopeful of being among medal contenders and took confidence from his 18th place showing in Saturday's road race through downtown Athens.

"I felt like a fish out of water because it was my first race in a month since the Tour. But I feel good for Wednesday," Hamilton said.

Zijlaard-Van Moorsel: "everything hurts"

Van Moorsel crashes out
Photo ©: AFP

Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel was the most successful cyclist in Sydney four years ago, but a repeat of her triple-gold performance is already impossible after she fell badly in Sunday's road race, the first of her three events.

She heavily bruised her arms, shoulder and hip in the high-speed crash and had a brief blackout minutes after hitting the road. But the pain won't matter on Wednesday. "In a time trial everything hurts anyway so that won't make that much of a difference," she said.

Zijlaard-van Moorsel was racing at high speed with almost 27 kilometres to go when she looked behind her, touched the bike of the rider in front of her and went down, dragging three other riders with her.

"I should not have done that," she joked.

Zijlaard-van Moorsel spent 45 minutes training Monday and planned to explore the time trial course along the scenic, jagged coastline of Vouliagmeni on the outskirts of Athens on Tuesday.

She is looking forward to the time trial, which, along with the 3000m pursuit, is one of her two main goals in these olympics. The largely flat, straight course should suit the style of the one-hour world record holder. "It is beautiful and tough. A power course," she said. "What a luxury."

One thing is sure, the 34-year-old has vowed it will be her last Olympic road event and plans to retire as soon as the games end.

In all likelihood, it will also be the last chance to see the greatest woman cyclist of all time, France's Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, under the Olympic sun.

The 45-year-old finished 10th in Sunday's road race but rode conservatively throughout, making sure not to crash on the twisting, dangerous course. Even though she has lost some of her endurance - highlighted by a rare defeat in the French national championships - Longo-Ciprelli has such mental strength that it would be unwise to count her out.

Among the favourites, Judith Arndt already knows what it is to win a medal. The German finished second behind Australia's Sara Carrigan in the road race on Sunday. She immediately stirred controversy, insisting that bad tactical planning made Germany lose the gold, and it remains to be seen whether this will fire her up even more for Wednesday's race.


No TT replacement for Bäckstedt

Sweden will not replace Magnus Bäckstedt in the Olympic time trial on Wednesday. The big Swede, who featured in a long solo breakaway in the early going of Saturday's men's road race, decided to call it a season, citing recurring back pain, and will not contest the time trial as originally planned.

Gustav Larsson was entered as reserve but his time trial bike wasn't brought to Athens. Thomas Lövkvist, Swedish national time trial champion, will ride as planned.

Pitel suffers fracture

French road rider Edwige Pitel suffered a fractured thumb after her crash in the women's road race in Athens Sunday, but the reigning national time trial champion will be back in action Wednesday for the women's individual time trial.

Hoy crashes in Athens

British track sprinter Chris Hoy nearly saw his Olympic hopes dashed with a crash in training in Athens this week. After posting a new personal best in the velodrome while training for the standing 500m, Hoy and the British track team opted to finish the day's work with a spin around the Olympic village.

A simple ride turned complicated, however, when Hoy slipped on melting tar on the hot roads and fell heavily on his thigh and elbow, losing plenty of skin in the process. Luckily, the first aid headquarters was just around the corner and Hoy was bandaged and on his way quickly.

It seems pre-race injuries are becoming something of a pattern for Hoy, as his personal website ( notes. A broken wrist before Hoy's first U23 world championships didn't stop him from taking silver in the team sprint. A severed tendon in his foot prior to the Commonwealth Games came before gold in the kilometre (and record time), while being hit by a police van prior to this year's world championships in Manchester did nothing to prevent Hoy from taking the world's kilometre crown.

Armstrong varies his outlook

Relaxing at home in Texas after his record-setting sixth victory in the Tour de France, American Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service) has begun to reveal a theme of changes afoot in his plans for the coming seasons. Set to ride at least one more year, and likely two, Armstrong has begun to show consideration of other goals in cycling other than the Tour, which has been his obsession since his first victory in France in 1999, barely a year after returning to the sport from his battle with cancer.

Armstrong has yet to finalise his plans for 2005, which he will discuss in more depth with team director Johan Bruyneel in the coming months, but the Tour may no longer be his sole focus. The six-time winner insists he has at least one more Tour in him, but this may not come in 2005.

"I have widened my perspective and thought about competing in some of the classics, the Giro and going for the hour record, but the Tour is still my main motivation," Armstrong said, speaking via satellite to Trek dealers at the bike manufacturer's dealer show in Madison, Wisconsin last week.

With the UCI Pro Tour requiring the team's participation in all three grand tours in 2005, and the all-time Tour victory record established, the timing could be right for Armstrong to test his legs in Italy at the Giro d'Italia. Make no mistake, however, an attempt for a seventh Tour victory is all but assured.

"I'm going to race either one more year or two more," Armstrong told the Austin American-Statesman. "But I know I'll be back to the Tour."

When the time to retire does come, Armstrong's competitive spirit won't die easily, he confessed to the crowd of dealers in Madison.

"I took my son out to a local go-kart track and the first thing I did was try to find him the fastest kart," he joked. "Then I told him that he should hit the gas before the guy said 'go' and that he shouldn't let anyone come around him on the outside!"

Gentlemen prefer bikes: Fred Mengoni

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Fred and Fred
Photo: © Cyclingnews
Click for larger image

One interested spectator at Saturday's men's Olympic road race was Fred Mengoni, and Mengoni was cheering for the Italian team and also for the Americans, especially his friend George Hincapie, who came up in Mengoni's amateur squad in New York. An incredibly avid cycling fan, Mengoni is always present at all the big races; World's, Olympics and the classics as well as the races he himself sponsors in Italy and America. And even at 80 plus years old, Mengoni is out there almost every morning on his bike, riding his usual 30km with the speed and vitality of a man easily 20 years his junior. The Italian-American real estate investor from New York is a big-time cycling fan and supporter and has been instrumental in the growth of pro cycling in America.

Mengoni's story is the fascinating success story of a man who came to New York on a tourist visa and half a century later is a multi-millionaire through his hard work and shrewd real estate investments.

"I saw that movie with Marilyn Monroe, 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', and I decided to go to New York (in March 1957) to visit some friends," Mengoni told Cyclingnews recently. "I saw Manhattan and all those skyscrapers and realized that's where I wanted to be."

Although Mengoni had raced bicycles as a young man in Italy, and even won some regional races in the Marche region, he didn't see much of a future in his cycling career and hung his bicycle on a peg for almost twenty years.

"I decided to start riding in Central Park," related Mengoni. "I needed to find a way to relax from all the work in my real estate business and so I started riding again."

Click here for the full story

No Vuelta for La Boulangère

With expected team leader Joseba Beloki off the books and riding for Spanish team Saunier Duval-Prodir, the French Brioches La Boulangère team has withdrawn from this year's Vuelta a España in September. The team had planned a first go-round in Spain's national Tour but no longer sees the Vuelta as a target for this season.

According to a Marca report, 21 teams are currently set to contest the Vuelta, although the Milaneza-Maia and Domina Vacanze teams have each requested entry to replace La Boulangère.

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