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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 31, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Liberty Seguros for the Vuelta

Featuring defending champion Roberto Heras, Liberty Seguros should be one of the major forces in the Vuelta a España which starts this Saturday. Besides Heras, the team contains Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Rene Andrle, Dariusz Baranowski, Giampaolo Caruso, Koldo Gil, Jan Hruska, Marcos Serrano and last year's runner up Isidro Nozal.

US Postal for ToB and Vuelta

US Postal-Berry Floor team manager Johan Bruyneel has named his riders for the upcoming Tour of Britain and Vuelta a España. Jose Azevedo will be in action in Britain together with Jose Luis Rubiera, Benjamin Noval, Pavel Padrnos, Mike Creed and Jurgen Van den Broeck. In the Vuelta, USPS will have Manuel Beltran and Floyd Landis in the front line along with sprinter Max van Heeswijk, Michael Barry, Antonio Cruz, Benoît Joachim, Guennadi Mikhailov, Victor Hugo Peña and Dave Zabriskie.

Lampre for the Vuelta

Team Lampre has selected Francesco Casagrande to lead its squad for the Vuelta a España, which runs between September 4-26. After Casagrande's forced absence from the Giro d'Italia this year, the Vuelta will be his most important stage race of the season. His best result in two participations was sixth in 2002.

I will start with the ambition of doing better," said Casagrande. "I hope to get as close as possible to the podium, hopefully even to climb onto it! The team is all for me, Lampre won't have sprinters at the start and I feel I can do well. There are four time trials of which one is uphill on the Sierra Nevada. There are six mountain stages with six finishes at altitude, which lead me to believe I can do really well."

Along with Casagrande, World Champion Igor Astarloa will be part of the Lampre squad at the Vuelta, as well as Juan Manuel Garate, Mariano Piccoli, Simone Bertoletti, Alessandro Cortinovis, Manuel Quinziato, Michele Scotto d'Abusco and Daniele Righi.

Lampre has also named its squad for the Trofeo Melinda on September 2, which was won by Casagrande last year. The team is Alessandro Ballan, Sergio Barbero, Wladimir Belli, Matteo Carrara, Marco Marzano, Olexandr Kvachuk, and Romans Vainsteins.

Rebellin decides for Argentina

Italian Davide Rebellin has confirmed that he intends to race for Argentina in the upcoming World Championships in Verona, as he does not believe that he will be selected for the Italian team. "I chose to ride for Argentina in Verona because I am not respected in blue (Italy)," said Rebellin to Datasport. "National coach Ballerini said that I would have been chosen among the 12 for the World's, but it's just an excuse now that my passage to the Argentinean team is certain."

Ballerini called Rebellin's move to Argentina a "big an Italian his decision displeases me, if it's confirmed. However, everyone is free to make their own choices."

Steels confirms with Omega Pharma-Lotto

Belgian champion Tom Steels will ride for Omega Pharma-Lotto for the next three years, his current team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago confirmed today. "I've had two nice years with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago," said Steels in a statement. "I didn't know Gérard Bulens before the start of my contract but I have a lot to thank him for. I hope that I can count Gérard among my friends in future. Also the relationship with head sponsor Luc Versele from Landbouwkrediet and Ernesto Colnago was warm and cordial. I really had the feel of being taken into a family. Landbouwkrediet-Colonago gave me the chance to come back in a fantastic way. They let me choose my program freely, left me to rest when necessary and I certainly needed that in the last few years."

Steels added that his choice to move to Omega Pharma-Lotto was "not easy" saying that, "The financial aspects were not as important as the sporting reasons. Landbouwkrediet couldn't guarantee me the opportunity to come back to the absolute top level. I think that I'm ready to take that step again. Thus I chose for a new employer."

Murro to Domina Vacanze

Domina Vacanze has signed 26 year old Italian Cristian Murro for next season. Currently riding for Miche, Murro won the GP Industria-Artigianato in Carnago this year, his first as a professional.

Ronde van Nederland no more

Erik Dekker's overall victory in the 44th Eneco Ronde van Nederland last Saturday was his third in the event and also his last, as the race will undergo a transformation next year into the Benelux tour. This new race will be part of the UCI's Pro Tour and will be co-organised by the Dutch and the Belgian national tour organisers. The aim, according to Eneco Tour president Ed Nijpels, is to have four stages in the Netherlands, four in Belgium, and one in Luxembourg. It will not affect the Tour of Belgium, which will be held in May 2005.

Australian athletes hoping to turn gold into dollars

The all-round success of the Australian team (not just the cyclists) at the Olympic Games may work against its gold medal winners who will now be on the hunt for endorsement contracts. For many of the team which won an unprecedented 17 gold medals in Athens, their Olympic fame is likely to be short-lived outside their home towns or sporting groups.

Australian celebrity agent Max Markson believes some stars of the Athens Games will be forgotten in a matter of weeks. "We've won so many gold medals that it dilutes their value," Markson told AAP. "It just becomes a retention wise."

Markson pointed to swimming stars Jodie Henry, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, who are expected to cash in on their success, while others noted dual track cycling gold medalist Ryan Bayley. "Ryan Bayley is a natural and there's a degree of spontaneity about him", said Paul Smith, managing director of Repucom, which compiles an annual list of the top 40 most marketable athletes. "He appears to be the simple guy from Perth, but I think there's more to him. He just needs a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makeover."

Markson said Bayley's declared love of junk food and Coca Cola would make him appealing. "If KFC picked him up that would be great for him. (He's) got something that stands apart from the rest of the marketplace," he said.

Athletes from less glamorous sports, such as shooting gold medallist Suzanne Balogh, are not expected to have wide sponsorship appeal. "People don't really want to associate with shooters because of the image of guns," Markson said. "It's not an easy sport to get sponsorship. It's got to be in the right sport. If you're going to win a gold medal, you want to do it in swimming or track and field."

But Smith disagreed, suggesting that each athlete would determine their own fate in the corporate world. "Athletes are only forgotten if they want to be forgotten or if they are try hards," he said.


Cancer charity races in Sydney raise $50K

By Gerard Knapp

Ride for Life
Photo ©: Karen Forman
Click for larger image

The inaugural Ride For Life races in Sydney's Centennial Park generated a profit of AUS$50K for the Prince of Wales Hospital's oncology department, race organiser Rick Christie told a luncheon at the New South Wales Parliament House today.

Held on August 14, the same day as the men's road race at the Athens 2004 Olympics - and in the same location as part of the road race used for the 2000 Sydney Olympics - the first 'Ride For Life' (see site was considered a resounding success by the organisers and the hospital. Some 300 cyclists entered the races, ranging from an 80km event for elite senior and U19 men through to a 7.5km handicap for the U13s (Results. One of the most popular races on the day was the teams and corporate event, featuring squads of first-timers entered from some of Australia's largest companies.

Professor Michael Friedlander, from the PoW's oncology department, told the luncheon that the funds would go towards a "cancer survivor program" that would provide advice to cancer survivors who'd overcome the illness and been discharged from hospital. He said the programs - currently lacking in the NSW public health system - form an important part of rehabilitation, offering support and advice on nutrition, exercise and re-integration into everyday life.

Overall, the event was organised, marketed and held at a time when Australian cycling was withering under a barrage of negative publicity, with the mass media obsessed with repeating the highly defamatory and "implausible" claims of suspended teenage track sprinter, Mark French. Consequently, organisers found it difficult to obtain support from the mass media to promote a charity cycling event in Sydney.

But despite the constant stream of negative and inaccurate stories in the Australian media about cycling, organisers were said to be delighted with the turn-out, as it was a rare opportunity to race on 2000 Olympics road course under sterile conditions.

As for cycling's image in Australia, it would appear a haul of six gold medals in Athens has gone some way to addressing its wholly undeserved reputation.

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