First Edition Cycling News for August 28, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Martinez doesn't miss the road
Defending Olympic mountain bike champion Miguel Martinez of France is ready to tackle the Athens circuit Saturday, having returned to racing exclusively off-road. Martinez tried his hand at road racing in 2002 and 2003, riding for Mapei and Phonak. Aside from a few moments of success, he found the peloton tough going and never managed to challenge as a climber as he and others expected.
"I watched the Tour this year, but aside from a few climbs, when I would have liked to have been with them, I have to be realistic," Martinez said in an AP interview. "I know my capabilities compared to them. I know that it's not possible for me to be there at the end."
Calling his road experience a financial loss, Martinez doesn't have any regrets about his experiment, one which has proven successful for other ex-mountain bikers including Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Floyd Landis (US Postal Service), or Cadel Evans (T-Mobile), to name a few.
"I had the chance to ride the Tour de France," he said. "That was my dream, and that's worth more than money, it's as simple as that.
"What the road gave me was a lot of hard knocks in two years, having finished in gruppettos and sometimes almost outside the time delay," Martinez added. "I couldn't win any races on the road, and that gave me a new desire to win, as if a second career was starting. So something good came from something bad."
Martinez worked hard this winter to return to top condition for the mountain bike events, and ranks among the contenders for Olympic gold on Saturday in Athens. He considers his French teammate Julien Absalon as one of his biggest rivals, along with Swiss Christoph Sauser and Belgian Roel Paulissen.
"I think it's going to a tight race for the podium and there could be at least six riders together with a lap and a half to go," he said.
See also: Men's mountain bike preview
Petacchi out again
Fassa Bortolo's Alessandro Petacchi was forced to abandon the fifth stage of the ENECO Ronde van Nederland (Tour of Holland) after crashing midway through the 221 kilometre march from Düsseldorf, Germany to Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands. Petacchi landed heavily, injuring the same shoulder he injured in the Tour de France. The Tour of Holland was Petacchi's first race since the Tour de France and he found success in winning stage 3 before his untimely exit Friday.
Season over for Bertogliati
Swiss rider Rubens Bertogliati was another victim of the crash-intensive Tour of Holland this week, hitting the deck on two successive days in the bunch finishes. The second crash ended the race for Bertogliati, and has effectively ended his season according to his Saunier Duval-Prodir team. Bertogliati suffered a fractured hip and will be immobile for up to three weeks. He was evacuated to Switzerland after the crash to see a specialist.
Bertogliati's teammate Francesco Ventoso also crashed, injuring his arm, although x-rays appeared to rule out any fractures. Ventoso did not start Thursday afternoon's time trial.
Competition for Tour stages
With the Grand Départ of the 2005 Tour de France set in the Vendée region of western France, organisers of the race are entertaining six international candidatures for the hosting of a stage. Belgium and Denmark are looking to put forth cities, while Utrecht in the Netherlands, Lugano, Switzerland, London, England, and Québec, Canada have also submitted requests. London and Québec have both expressed interest in eventual hosting of the Tour start, Québec notably aiming for 2008 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of its establishment.
While visiting the Tour de Slovaquie, future Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme tipped his hat to a principal sponsor of the Tour, automobile manufacturer Skoda, by suggesting that the Tour could one day visit the Czech Republic or Slovakia.
Dekkers back to Rabobank III
Hans Dekkers, who moved up from the Rabobank Division III team to the Division I ranks this season will return once again in 2005. Dekkers joined Rabobank in 1999 as a junior and rode for the Trade Team III from 2000-2003.
"We believe in the qualities of Hans Dekkers," said team CEO Theo de Rooij. "Therefore, we feel the though program of Trade Team III for next season will offer more possibilities for Hans than the UCI Pro Tour."
Di Grégorio turns pro
The French FDJeux.com team has offered a two year contract to Rémy Di Grégorio, who signed the deal Wednesday to turn professional. Di Grégorio currently rides for the VC La Pomme Marseille amateur team.
Teams for T-Mobile International
A record number of teams will compete in this year's T-Mobile International on September 12 in San Francisco. Twenty-two women's teams and 20 men's teams will tackle the tough San Fran circuit this year, with Lance Armstrong as the notable headliner with US Postal Service, along with fellow Americans Fred Rodriguez (Acqua & Sapone), and Bobby Julich and Levi Leipheimer, who will be riding on a mixed team. Defending champion Chris Horner will be back along with Webcor teammate and 2002 winner Charles Dionne.
Olympic silver medallist Dede Demet-Barry will be at the start with her T-Mobile team, facing off against former world champion Nicole Cooke (Safi Pasta) and Pro Cycling Tour points leader Gina Grain (Victory Brewing), among others.
Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)