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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for February 11, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Alessio-Bianchi problems being resolved

By Jeff Jones

It has been a rocky start for the "Scandinavian arm" of the Alessio-Bianchi squad, which has had to cope with one new sponsor in breach of contract before the season has even started. Rumours have surfaced in recent days about the team's financial problems, however in latest developments, the situation appears to have been rectified and an agreement between all parties will be reached by the end of the week.

The "Scandinavian" arm of the team comprises seven riders: Allan Bo Andresen, Magnus Bäckstedt, René Jørgensen, Marcus Ljungqvist, Claus Michael Möller, Michael Skelde and Australian Scott Sunderland, all of whom were brought on board by ex-Team fakta manager Peter Sejer. Mr Sejer had lined up Danish PR company Hall & Andersen to cover their salaries. Unfortunately the company couldn't fulfil its contract, and in mid-January Sejer suddenly found himself without a sponsor to pay his riders.

Enter another, this time a Belgian company that was interested in filling the gap. The only catch was that they wanted their logo on the shoulders of the jerseys - something that wasn't in the original deal negotiated with Hall & Andersen. The negotiations fell through, and the seven riders were faced with the prospect of riding for a quarter of their salaries.

The latest development is that one of Sejer's other sponsors, Memory Corp (which is responsible for supplying seven of the team's vehicles), has agreed to save the day and underwrite the salaries of the riders until another sponsor can be found. It's expected that an agreement will be reached by the end of the week, and Memory Corp's General Manager John Rasmussen told Cyclingnews that the intent is that "no riders will be left with financial problems."

Simoni mixes charity and training

While steadily building into his racing season, Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) is also taking time out to help charity organisations. On Monday evening, Simoni was in Naples to help the Italian television charity appeal "Trenta Ore per la Vita". He donated a special Cannondale bike and the "maglia rosa" he won at last year's Giro d'Italia to help the San Egidio community charity.

Before travelling to Naples, Simoni made his season debut at the GP degli Etruschi race on Sunday and will race again next Tuesday, February 17, at the Trofeo Laigueglia. It's clear that Simoni's sights are now firmly set on his big objective of the 2004 season: a third win in the Giro d'Italia.

After checking out the uphill finish to Sanctuary of Monte Vergine during the Team Saeco training camp south of Rome, Simoni will on Wednesday ride the final 80km of the third stage of the Giro from Montecatini-Corno alle Scale to study in detail what will be the first uphill finish of the 2004 Giro d'Italia. Simoni considers this stage very important and has decided to return to the area in the central Italian Apennines after snow stopped his first inspection in December.

Even though it comes early in the Giro, the stage will be an important day for the overall Giro contenders who will have to make sure they do not lose time to their rivals. The stage also passes close to Saeco's company headquarters and the team's base in Gaggio Montano.

"It's not a secret that I'd like to win the stage for the Saeco president Sergio Zappella," Simoni said. "However all the overall contenders will have to be careful because the climb to Corno alle Scale is very tough and the Giro will have only just started. I wanted to inspect the climb very carefully because every little bit can make a difference."

Lotto-Domo team presentation

The Lotto-Domo squad was presented on Tuesday in Oudenaarde, Belgium. The 23 man squad managed by Christophe Sercu is remarkable in that it only has one new rider this year: Pole Piotr Wadecki, who rode for Quick.Step last year. The remainder of the team is identical to the 2003 line up.

Peter Van Petegem remains the absolute team captain for the classics and one day races. Winner of the two biggest classics in 2003 (Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix), Van Petegem is aiming for another solid performance this year. Asked by Belgian TV1 if the thought of having to do as well as last season is something that keeps him awake at night, Van Petegem, relaxed as always, smiled, "I don't lie awake thinking about races. I'm not nervous at all. The only time I wake during the night is when my son Axandre wakes, otherwise I have peace of mind."

Team management says it will be more than happy if Van Petegem can repeat last year's success. On the other hand, Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen is expected to gather more results this season. After an incredible 2002, McEwen's results in 2003 were slightly below par.

"McEwen expects a lot more of himself too," he with his habitual confidence. "I want to win more, a lot more, as well in the classics as in the Giro, the Tour and the Olympics."

McEwen may have to wait before the results come, as he is suffering from tendonitis after his crash in Qatar and won't be starting in the Ruta del Sol.

One of the team's other main riders, Axel Merckx, says that he wants to have a better season than 2003 and has his sights set on the Olympic Games in Athens. "I'm relieved. In 2003 I was suffering from a virus. Now I can find my best legs again. I'm aiming at the Ardennes classics, but above all at the Games. I am a circuit racer and the Athens parcours suits me," said Merckx.

Finally, Rik Verbrugghe, who has had a slow start to the season due to a knew injury, wants to put the dark days behind him. His main goal is the prologue of the Tour de France in Liege. "I've ridden the parcours many times," said Verbrugghe. "But I have to find the form of 2001 and 2002 again."

Click here for the Lotto-Domo team roster.

No Moscow for Jame Carney

US track cyclist Jame Carney will not be making the trip to Moscow for this weekend's first round of the Track World Cup. An abscess in his tooth required surgery, and he is now recovering on antibiotics. "There is no one more disappointed than me that I will not be competing in Moscow," said Carney in a statement. "I spent my entire winter preparing for this World Cup. I needed it for many reasons but it is simply not possible."

Carney also paid tribute to Sam Hellyer, the young Tasmanian racer who was tragically killed in a road race last weekend. "I met her this year at the Christmas Carnivals and I just raced with her at the Tasmanian Scratch Race Titles on January 29th before I came back to the US. She always had a smile on her face and she always seemed to be very happy. It is a tremendous loss. My heart goes out to all that were close to her."

Pospísil excluded from Czech team

Jirí Pospísil, the best Czech cyclo-cross rider this season, has been excluded from the national team when a long standing dispute between him and the team's head coach Petr Kloucek came to a head after the World Championships.

Pospísil, who took silver in a World Cup race in Sankt Wendel and is currently seventh in the UCI standings, allegedly had an adverse influence on the other Czech riders in the team. The disputes between Pospísil and Kloucek have been going on for a long period of time and have recently been given media coverage.

"Pospísil was excluded from the national team after the World Championships," Kloucek was quoted by news agency CTK as saying. "He was disrupting the whole team and did not benefit them at the World Championships in Pont-Château. He exerted a bad influence on all the other riders."

As a result, the Czech selection for the sixth race of the World Cup series, which will take place on Sunday, February 15 in the Dutch town of Pijnacker, includes Petr Dlask (8th in Pont-Château), Kamil Ausbuher (the reigning Czech Champion), Václav Jecek and the trio of U23 riders Martin Zlámalík, Radomír Simunek Jr. and Vladimír Kyzivát.

"It's a course of action that we have to take," added Kloucek. "The more experienced riders have been given enough opportunities but failed to make use of them. We have a strong upcoming generation, although at the World Championship the boys did not show what we expected from them."

Pospísil, who will turn 31 this month, is a former U23 European Champion, multiple National Champion and a winner of the National Cup. He finished 13th in Pont-Château.

Australian Olympic shadow squad named

Cycling Australia has named its shadow squad for the Olympic Games, from which the various road, track and mountain bike selections will be made for Athens. The list is not final, and can be added to over the course of the year. However, only athletes who are named in the shadow squad are eligible for Olympic selection.

Australian Olympic shadow squad

Road

Men: Baden Cooke, Allan Davis, Cadel Evans, Matthew Hayman, Robbie McEwen, Brad McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Nathan O'Neill, Michael Rogers, Matthew White, Matthew Wilson.

Women: Sara Carrigan, Olivia Gollan, Margaret Hemsley, Oenone Wood, Alison Wright.

Track

Men: Ryan Bayley, Graeme Brown, Jobie Dajka, Peter Dawson, Ashley Hutchinson, Mark Jamieson, Shane Kelly, Ben Kersten, Brett Lancaster, Brad McGee, Mark Renshaw, Luke Roberts, Stephen Wooldridge.

Women: Kate Bates, Katie Mactier, Anna Meares, Kerrie Meares.

Mountain bike

Women: Anna Baylis, Lisa Mathison

Men: Craig Gordon, Josh Fleming, Trent Lowe, Sid Taberlay

Happy Birthday, Mr. Colnago

Cutting the cake
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Cyclingnews just happened to be passing by Monday when Ernesto Colnago celebrated his birthday at Colnago World HQ outside of Milano. We stopped in to freeload a tasty pannini or two and some of Colnago's birthday cake. It was February 9th, 1932 when Ernesto Colnago was born just down the road from his current location and 72 years later, the Mago of Cambiago is still going strong.

While at Colnago's birthday celebration, we chatted with Mr. Galliani, who was one of Colnago's teammates on the Desio cycling squad back in the day. Galliani told us that, "Ernesto hasn't changed since he was a kid...he's always had so much energy. Plus he was always a good mechanic."

Colnago's birthday is extra special for him this year, since he's also celebrating his 50th year as a bicycle builder. Colnago told Cyclingnews he's happy about his new models for 2004, Anniversary and the C-50. "Rabobank won with the C-50 in Qatar and so did our team in Donoratico (GP Costa de Etruschi)," explained Colnago, who still has an intense passion for racing.

Look for Part Two of our in-depth interview with Colnago later this month on Cyclingnews.

Chocolate Sol 2004

Eight riders will make up the Colombian U23 team Chocolate Sol for 2004. The team, now in its fifth season, will include Mauricio Soler, Juan Alejandro García, Edwin Parra, José David Bernal, Robinson Chalapud, Mario Rojas, Héctor Perilla and Freddy Bustamante. The squad is directed by Serafín Bernal with Jahir Bernal as the assistant director.

Chocolate Sol will also support a young riders group headed by Pedro Herrera and César Espinosa, also containing Herney Casallas, Mauricio Neiza and Ferney Bello.

The team will contest the Clásica de Pasca and will also take part in the Clásica de Fusagasuga, Mundo Ciclístico, Clásica del club Deportivo Boyacá, Clásica de Boyacá, Vuelta de la Juventud, Vuelta de Cundinamarca and Clásico RCN.

Savage Hill expands program

The Savage Hill Elite Team has beefed up its roster with the addition of Jeremy Grimm and Ryan Gamm. The two join Savage Hill veterans Chris Fisher, Rob Rhodes, Ryan Rish and Tim Swain to race regional and NRC events in the Midwest. Swain and Gamm will also race the collegiate calendar for Ohio State and Miami University respectively, as well as other Espoir events.

Click here for the full team roster.

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