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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 27, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Medal consolation for team pursuiters

Australian team pursuit qualifiers
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

Following appeals by both the British and Australian Olympic committees, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appears ready to award belated gold and silver medals to members of the two nations' team pursuit squads who rode in the qualifiers but not in the final round of competition. In Olympic cycling team events, only those who ride in the finals normally get medals, unlike swimming, where heat swimmers in relays are also rewarded.

Australia beat Great Britain in the final men's team pursuit on Tuesday, but medals were awarded only to the final round quartets. Australians Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster, Brad McGee and Luke Roberts took gold ahead of Great Britain's Steve Cummings, Rob Hayles, Paul Manning and Bradley Wiggins. Left out of the medal ceremony were Aussies Peter Dawson and Stephen Wooldridge and Britons Chris Newton and Bryan Steel. Bronze medal nation Spain used the same four riders in all heats.

"The decision not to give medals to any team member that progressed the team to the finals is disgraceful," Phill Bates, a former board member of Cycling Australia, told Cyclingnews. "It does not happen in any other sport." (see previous story)

Wooldridge was so distraught at being omitted from the final four that he couldn't bear to go to the velodrome for the gold medal match. Dawson went to the track but described the experience of watching the team win gold without him was the hardest thing he'll ever do in his life.

Wooldridge said Friday that getting a medal was a consolation, but didn't erase the pain of not riding the final.

"It's a bit of a weird thing and hard to explain," said Wooldridge, 26, from Sydney. "I'm really happy, but it's not as if you've crossed the finish line and then been awarded the medal. Don't get me wrong though. Peter and I are really, really happy. We've been recognised for it and it's a great thing."

Medals are expected to be presented to the four riders at the athletes' village in Athens on Sunday.

AAP (Cyclingnews contributed to this story)

Americans on the move

Two of Americans on the European road circuit are on the move as the transfer season for 2005 reaches full swing. Levi Leipheimer, who is expected to leave Rabobank at the end of the year, has been linked with the German Gerolsteiner team, though no deal has been confirmed. Leipheimer would provide Gerolsteiner with an additional man for the general classification in the grand tours, alongside team leader Georg Totschnig, who recently renewed his contract.

US Postal Service's Floyd Landis could be moving to join Tyler Hamilton in the Swiss Phonak Hearing Systems team. Landis' contract with US Postal Service is up at the end of 2004 and team director Johan Bruyneel noted in a Marca report this week that while prepared to match offers from Phonak, he did not want to "force him to stay".

The UCI's Pro Tour, set to debut in 2005, has added a twist to this year's round of transfer negotiations, as the top teams are now forced to consider more seriously their presence in all three grand tours as well as the major classics and one week stage races. New opportunities will emerge for some men to ride as leaders in races not currently at the top of their teams' priority lists.

Rabobank can't afford Valverde

It appears unlikely that Rabobank will be able to buy out Alejandro Valverde from his current contract at Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, even though the Dutch squad is very interested in signing the talented Spaniard. "He is probably too expensive," said Rabobank's manager Theo de Rooij to ANP. "I don't think that it'll go ahead, but we have other options."

Rabobank interested in Bos

World champion and Olympic silver medallist in the sprint, Theo Bos, is interested in riding on the road after next year's World Track Championships in Los Angeles, USA. And the natural choice of a team would be for the tall Dutch rider would be Rabobank.

"We should see if we can do something for each other," said Rabobank's manager Theo De Rooij to ANP. "To ride a limited road program would be pointless, I'd really try to change his mind. It's very premature, but I'm curious to know what he thinks of it."

Bos confirmed that if he made a switch to the road, it would be full time. "Every time I do well on the track, it becomes harder to stop. But I want to know at least once what I can do on the road. I think that a sprinter of my age is interesting for teams."

Saeco stagiaires

Team Saeco has announced the arrival of three young riders who have been offered stagiaire contracts for the remainder of the 2004 season. Italian Enrico Franzoi will reach the big time in his home country, while Australian Gene Bates and Mexican Juan Pablo Magallenes bring new international variety to the Italian team, though both have ridden in Italy as amateurs.

Franzoi has made a name for himself in cyclo-cross as a world U23 champion in 2003 and two-time Italian U23 champion. He also placed fourth in the Italian national time trial championships.

Bates, who spent time riding for the GS Podenzano-Italfine team, was Australian U23 national champion in 2003 and is seen by Saeco as a fast finisher and all-rounder. Magallanes, meanwhile, rode for VCA Pratesi-Saeco-Otc and notched victories in the Tour Van Limburg, a stage at the Giro delle Pesche Nettarine, and the Giro Montalbano.

Vandenbroucke saga continues

A bizarre incident only briefly revealed, Frank Vandenbroucke's domestic dispute which ended in his threatening his wife Sarah with a gun has been confirmed by the Belgian rider in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. Vandenbroucke, distraught over the verdict of a knee injury, apparently became sufficiently enraged as to point the gun at his wife in their Belgium home, eventually being calmed by a special police force and psychiatrist who arrived on the scene.

Vandenbroucke's wife and child are currently in her native Italy, though the two have remained in contact by telephone. For Vandenbroucke, the incident was another tumble from his latest in a series of comeback seasons, this time with the Italian Fassa Bortolo team.

Fassa Bortolo has let it be known that it is no longer interested in retaining Vandenbroucke, and he is free to consult other teams. Vandenbroucke is clear to ride kermis competitions in Belgium, but is unlikely to appear in any major races in Fassa colours in the near future. Vandenbroucke, the "enfant terrible" of Belgian cycling, told the Flemish paper that he has been in touch with other teams, but is first concerned with his mental state and working with his psychologist.

Vermaut's clothing donated

A large quantity of clothing has been donated by Stive Vermaut's widow Vanessa to Andrei Tchmil for use in development projects in Lithuania, Russia, Moldavia and the Ukraine. All the clothing came from Vermaut's bicycle shop in Torhout, Belgium.

"I am moved," said Tchmil to "This is typical Stive. A warm person."

World Journalists Championships in Lake Garda

The fifth edition of the World Journalists Championships will take place this Sunday near Lake Garda, Italy. The races are being organised by the International Association of Cycling Journalists (AIJC) together with the organisers of the World Road Championships, Mondiali Ciclismo 2004 SpA, and it's expected that over 80 journalists from Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Slovenia and Australia will take part.

There are three categories to be decided: The Under 50's will do seven laps of a fairly flat 10 km circuit that starts and finishes at the Veronello Sporting Centre. The Women and Veterans (Over 50) will race over four laps of the circuit. The winner of each category gets a special green-coloured rainbow jersey, the green being the same colour as the press accreditation at the Tour de France and other major races.

The reigning champions in the Under and Over 50 categories will be present: Fassa Bortolo's press officer Andrea Agostini (Under 50) and Michel Querel, not to mention veterans winner in 2000 and 2001, La Republicca's Eugenio Capodacqua. 2002 Under 45 winner Menno Grootjans will be there, along with 2002 Over 45 winner Rik Lintermans, who will be competing in the Under 50 category in 2004. Italian journo champion Claudio Ghisalberti will also be present in the Under 50's.

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