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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 22, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Brad beats Brad in friendly pursuit rivalry

Brad vs. Brad
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Former teammates on the road, friendly rivals Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) and Bradley McGee (Australia) squared off in the men's individual pursuit final in Athens Saturday, with Wiggins emerging the winner. The two riders, who were teammates on the French FDJeux.com road team before Wiggins joined Crédit Agricole this season, share an affinity for track racing and time trials, while competing most of the season on the road in Europe.

"This gold medal is something I have wanted since I was 12 years old, since I watched Chris Boardman win in Barcelona," Wiggins said after his win. "This is something you expect to happen to someone else, watching on the telly. When it happens to you it's a bit of a blur."

"This is incredible... Two years ago, Brad sent me a message [from the Commonwealth Games] to tell me his time. Nobody had gone that quickly since 1996. He raised the bar when he did 4:16 and now look: the top seven riders (in qualifying) were under 4:20."

Wiggins' dream of winning gold overcame a nightmare while sleeping the night before. "Last night I had a nightmare that I couldn't finish the pursuit," he said.

For McGee, the disappointment of missing out on gold was perhaps softened by seeing a friend take gold. "During the race, we're rivals," he said. "But afterwards we become friends again. Today Brad was the best.

"Congratulations Wiggo, it is a pleasure to race against you," McGee said. "I like the rivalry we can have on the track and then have a beer afterwards."

See also: Day two wrap up

McGee satisfied

After three bronze medals from the last two Games, Australian Brad McGee was desperate for gold but was soundly beaten by Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins at the Olympic velodrome in the men's individual pursuit final. Wiggins clocked 4 minutes 16.304 seconds with McGee trailing with a time of 4:20.436.

"I'm happy, who couldn't be happy with a silver medal at the Olympics," said McGee, 28, who hails from Sydney. "But if I really look at it, I'm not in my best-ever form and I'm racing a guy in the form of his life. I don't know what to say. It's not often I'm in this position.

"It was hard to get going and just race it from there. But I just didn't have the legs to match the will."

McGee came into the Olympics with a back injury which has required daily treatment for the last six weeks. After a slow start in which he trailed by over a second inside 500m, McGee clawed his way back to within .4 of a second after 800 metres.

But the British 2003 world champion accelerated and pulled away from his predecessor with each lap in the final two kilometres. Spain's world champion Sergi Escobar won the bronze.

McGee took consecutive bronze in the individual pursuit at the Atlanta and Sydney Games and another in the team pursuit in 1996. McGee's Olympic chances seemed to be hit by his pre-Olympic curse again last month when the back injury forced him out of the Tour de France after five stages. He said he felt like he only had one leg when he pulled out but daily treatment from chiropractors and physiotherapists kept him on the bike.

Four years ago, McGee was an early gold medal favourite in Sydney until two weeks before the Games when he fell off his bike and snapped his collarbone. With the collarbone pinned, he jumped back on the bike and won the bronze which he rated as good as a gold medal in the circumstances.

He bounced back to win the world and Commonwealth titles in 2002 but his luck turned on him again last year. Low blood sugar levels which left him completely drained of energy forced him out of the world championships in Stuttgart, where Wiggins took the Australian's title.

© AAP

Olympic MTB course damaged

By Rob Jones in Athens

Putting out fires
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Click for larger image

A major fire occurred at the Olympic mountain bike venue Friday afternoon in Athens. At approximately 3:35pm local time, a fire started which quickly spread through a forested section of the venue. The cause of the fire is under police investigation, but it is believed to have been deliberately set. Thirty fire crews responded, with the first ones on the scene within minutes. Water bombers were also brought in.

Luckily, wind pushed the fire away from the athletes' village and Olympic administrative centre, but approximately 10% (600 metres) of the course was lost, including the primary feed zone and the first climb. Television setups were also affected since cables were destroyed.

Course designer Martin Whiteley was on hand after the fire, and a new section has been laid out, with a replacement climb and feed zone, which was due to be cut Saturday. However, the course will be shorter than as originally designed, and an extra lap may have to be added.

The big push now is to get the replacement trail cut in time for the final UCI site inspection on Sunday, and for riders' training to start Monday.

Ullrich to skip Zurich

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), who finished a surprising seventh in the Olympic time trial Wednesday, has decided to forego the next round of the World Cup in Zurich on Sunday. Ullrich was defending Olympic silver medallist in the time trial, won by American Tyler Hamilton this year in Athens, and despite his status as heavy favourite for gold, he failed to show his best form.

"During the time trial in Athens I was experiencing serious pain while seated on the bike," Ullrich explained. "I thought the pain would go away before [Saturday] so I could start Sunday in Zurich, but unfortunately it isn't possible."

Ullrich will meet with his confidant Rudy Pevenage and T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer to discuss the rest of his season.

USA to Cuba Pan Am Masters

The US Department of the Treasury has given verbal approval to Mike Fraysse, USA Cycling's representative to the UCI Pan American Confederation, to take a small team of masters athletes to compete in the Pan Am Masters Continental Championships, to be held in Havana, Cuba from October 10-17, 2004. Athletes from more than 15 countries are expected to compete in the championships.

A written license is being granted that will authorize the trip, which is one of the first for the purpose of sport to be permitted since the US government greatly restricted legal travel to Cuba by its citizens in late-June of this year.

The championships will include the following road and track events for men and women: 1km individual time trial, 500m individual time trial, individual pursuit, sprint, olympic sprint, points race, scratch race, road race, individual time trial and criterium. Age categories are: 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, and 60+ for men and women.

Only five US riders per age category are authorized to travel to Cuba by the Treasury Department, and the team is in the process of being selected. Riders interested in competing on the US team at the championships will be responsible for their own expenses and should contact Mike Fraysse immediately at mike@mikefrayssesports.com.

Bennati to Saeco

Italian Daniele Bennati will join the Saeco team for 2005. Bennati, a rising star during his time with Domina Vacanze in 2003, has been out of sight much of 2004 during his time with Phonak. Bennati, 24, is in his third year as a professional and has two victories to his credit.

Illiano unfit

Raffaele Illiano (Colombia-Selle Italia) was declared unfit to race following UCI blood tests prior to Saturday's Giro del Veneto in Italy. The Italian rider will be forced to take 15 days out of competition. Thirty two riders from four teams were tested before the race.

Petacchi back in Netherlands

Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will return to competition at the upcoming Eneco Tour (Tour of the Netherlands, August 24-28). Petacchi has been out of action since his crash in stage 5 of the Tour de France between Amiens and Chartres. Petacchi injured his left shoulder in the crash and was forced to withdraw from the Olympic road race in Athens.

Phonak for Eneco Tour

Phonak Hearing Systems has announced its roster for the upcoming Eneco Tour in the Netherlands (August 24-28). Team veteran Alex Zülle will guide the Swiss outfit, along with Michael Albasini, Gonzalo Bayarri, Martin Elmiger, Nicolas Jalabert, Uros Murn, Gregory Rast, and Alexandre Usov.

Cooke becomes spectator

Great Britain's Nicole Cooke will spend a few days in Athens as an Olympic spectator, taking a break after the women's road race and time trial events. Cooke, who finished 5th in the road race and 19th in the time trial, confessed on her website how tough it's been to come to terms with defeat.

"It's been hard for me and difficult for people to understand just how disappointed I feel," she wrote on her site (nicolecooke.com). "The knee injury and the operation three months ago just didn't leave enough time. But I've learned a lot about myself and I will learn from this."

For now, a few days rest and a chance to watch Olympic gymnastics, tennis, and even some track cycling are Cooke's primary concern.

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