First Edition Cycling News for February 18, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
Italy in mourning; Pantani's funeral today
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Marco Pantani's hometown is in mourning. And all of Italy is in mourning for their fallen champion, the people's champion, Pantani. Today, February 18 is the day of Pantani's funeral, with huge crowds expected in his hometown of Cesenatico. Signs declaring "Cesenatico Will Always Be With Our Champion" are festooned throughout this Adriatic seaside resort city, while the fence outside Pantani's parent's villa is adorned with memorial banners and masses of flowers dedicated to the late, lamented Pirata. In Cesenatico's parish church of San Giacomo, a special alcove has been set aside for remembrances for Pantani.
Pantani's body was released from the morgue at Rimini yesterday and moved to the church. A large crowd greeted the arrival of Pantani's coffin, applauding in respect for their hero. When TV crews entered the church, Pantani's mother an towards them shouting: "Go away! Go away! You killed him, you've persecuted him for four years! Leave us alone to mourn in silence," according to Reuters.
There are no answers yet after Pantani's autopsy, since no immediate conclusion can be made at this time about his cause of death other than previously stated "heart failure due to cerebral and pulmonary edema", according to Coroner Prof. Fortuni of the University of Bologna. "It will take several months for a complete evaluation of the toxicological and histological exams", said Prof. Fortuni to the frenzied media scrum assembled outside Rimini Hospital.
Pantani's personal doctor, Giuseppe Greco had strong words for the media zoo surrounding Pantani's tragic death. "I'm disgusted by all the morbid curiosity [about Pantani]. You can imagine how I feel having lost a patient... but I must say that we tried everything with Pantani, we looked at all the research, I discussed his case with many colleagues so we could have the most efficient treatment possible." But in the end, nothing worked for Marco Pantani.
On Monday afternoon, Marco Pantani's parents Fernando (Paolo) and Tonina viewed their son's body in the Rimini hospital morgue. Both were visibly upset and are now sequestered in their villa with friends awaiting today's funeral. Pantani's family want the funeral mass to be open to all, so that all of the fans who supported Marco during his career can bid him farewell. While only friends and family will be able to enter the small San Giacamo church for the funeral, loudspeakers outside will convey the service to the 30,000 fans expected to attend. Pantani will then be buried in the Cesenatico cemetery in his family plot.
Images by AFP
Armstrong rolls out in Algarve
Lance Armstrong will start his campaign for the 2004 Tour de France today when he lines up in Albufeira, Portugal for the start of the Volta ao Algarve.
In an interview with The Associated Press (AP), Armstraong's directeur sportif at the US Postal presented by Berry Floor team, Johan Bruyneel, said that Armstrong plans to spend all of April in the United States, taking part in the Tour of Georgia. The team was starting racing earlier than usual this year -- Armstrong's season-opener in previous years has been Spain's Vuelta a Murcia in Spain -- and Bruyneel said, "The main attraction [of the Algarve] is the date, because we're starting racing earlier this year. The Algarve weather's also good, and the roads are, too."
This was a gentle start to the season for Armstrong, said Bruyneel. "It's good to start in a relaxed way, without too much pressure. It's not a very hard race," he told AP.
As well as the riders mentioned in yesterday's news (Jose Azevedo, Floyd Landis, Michael Barry and Victor Peña), US Postal will field two of its younger recent recruits at the Algarve:Daniel Rincon, and Benjamin Noval. After its recent training camps in California and Arizona, "The team is in pretty decent shape," Bruyneel said.
McGee knee problem "not serious"
Bradley McGee (fdjeux.com) says the knee problem that caused him to pull out of stage 4 of the Tour Méditerranéen on Saturday is "nothing too serious."
"I had pain during the second, third and then again on the fourth stage so pulled before it got any worse," McGee told Cyclingnews. He added that it's not the first time he's had similar problems at the beginning of the European season. "You arrive from Australia fresh and ready to go (Vo2max 86 @ 530 watts in the UCI compulsory 'test de effort') and jump out of the plane straight into efforts - long rides and eventually racing, sometimes there is a blow out," he said. "Has happened in previous years and I know the plan of attack. Stretching and physio work, a few light days and I expect to be back on the road by Tuesday afternoon."
Nevertheless, McGee, whose ability as a lead-out man was instrumental in the stage 3 victory of his friend and team-mate Baden Cooke, is looking forward to the rest of the season. "Apart from the knee I am very happy with my form and look forward to upcoming races like Paris-Nice and Criterium International," said McGee.
Like everyone else in the cycling world, McGee was shocked by the death at the weekend of marco Pantani. "It is always terrible to see the premature death of any human being," said McGee. "Pantani's death, being a fellow cyclist, obviously touches me and the cycling community in a profound way. Whether we were devoted fans, and he had many, or just spectators in the mans rollercoaster career changes nothing, we are all saddened."
Texas tour to be USA's richest
A new race on the US calendar for 2005, the ten-day United Texas Tour is scheduled for the fall of next year and will offer a $175,000 prize purse, making it the richest stage race in America, according to organisers.
The race, which will fit into the calendar between the San Francisco Grand Prix and the World Championships, will start in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area and will pass along the Red River through Wichita Falls, through Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, the high plains of Lubbock and the Big Country of Abilene on its way back to the Metroplex. The stages will vary from shorter circuit races to long stage races of up to 150 miles.
Sponsor United Supermarkets is stressing the economic benefits to the area of an international professional stage race. "The economic impact of the race on local communities will be substantial. Close to 1,000 people will pass through each community, from the racers themselves to the international press and additional members of the racing entourage to tourists from around the world," said Dan Sanders, United Supermarkets' chief marketing officer in a statement.
As you might expect of a race in Lance Armstrong's home state of Texas, cancer support organisations also stand to benefit. The race will be used as a platform to fund-raising efforts by United Supermarkets employees, with a target of $250,000 to will help cancer survivors and their families.
Velo Girls 2004 women's clinics
San Francisco women's cycling club Velo Girls and its associated coaching organisation Velo Girls™ Coaching Services has announced its 2004 program of coaching and skill-building activities for female cyclists.
New this year is Girls on Track, a six-week women's track clinic and racing series; the goal of the series is to introduce more women to track racing and to give both new and experienced women more opportunity to race at the track. The series is being coached by Linelle Ross.
Former Saturn directeur sportif Giana Roberge and Velo Girls head honchess Lorri Lee Lown will host Girls Got Tactics on February 28, an advanced skills & tactics clinic.
As in 2003, Velo Girls will also present three weekends of Girls Got Skills two-day women's cycling clinics for advanced recreational riders and beginning to intermediate racers.
For more information see http://www.VeloGirls.com
Endeavour Cycling Team 2004
Team Sports announced today that it will be manage the Endeavour Cycling Team for the 2004 racing season.
The Endeavour team will focus on the season long NRC calendar and serve as a true development team for the ten man squad. Some of the best Midwest racers along with a combination of former Saturn Development Team racers, Timmy Reinhart and Carlos Vargas, will highlight the 2004 roster.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)