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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for February 23, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Zabel back to UCI number 1

After winning a stage of the Ruta del Sol last week, Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) is back into position as the UCI's number one ranked rider. Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) has slipped down a notch, mainly because he didn't successfully defend his Tour Méditerranéen title, however the Italian is only 50 points behind and it's early days yet in the rankings.

Rabobank and Kelme continue to hold the top positions in Division I and II respectively, while Team CSC and Cofidis have made big improvements in the last two weeks.

UCI rankings as of February 22, 2004

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                            2149.75 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                  2099.00
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                   1909.00
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                               1726.00
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                  1640.50
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry1591.00
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                        1566.00
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca      1562.00
9 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                            1451.00
10 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                   1425.00
11 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems              1371.20
12 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre                        1322.00
13 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                          1265.00
14 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                          1258.00
15 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco                               1224.00
16 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco                              1153.00
17 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros                  1150.00
18 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                       1147.00
19 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto      1121.00
20 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone      1092.00


Men's Division I

1 Rabobank                                                   707.00 pts
2 Team CSC                                                   456.00
3 Cofidis, le credit par Telephone                           385.00
4 US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor                 362.00
5 Quick.Step-Davitamon                                       359.00
6                                                 349.00
7 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                          314.00
8 Lotto-Domo                                                 293.00
9 Ag2R Prevoyance                                            250.00
10 Credit Agricole                                           246.00

Men's Division II

1 Kelme-Costa Blanca                                         355.00 pts
2 Colombia-Selle Italia                                      333.00
3 L.A.-Pecol                                                 270.00
4 Domina Vacanze                                             238.00
5 Team Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli                         218.00
6 Costa De Almeria-Paternina                                 169.00
7 Cafes Baque                                                158.00
8 Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                                   89.00
9 Lokomotiv                                                   73.00
9 Vlaanderen-T Interim                                        73.00

Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations

FFC president speaks out against doping

The president of the French Cycling Federation, Jean Pitallier, has issued a communiqué condemning doping, particularly in France, where certain members of Cofidis, the country's biggest professional team, are being investigated for drug trafficking.

"The sport of cycling is in the spotlight at the moment," wrote Pitallier. "The stories are coming in quick succession! From sordid to morbid for a few weeks now, and more recently with the cruel and unexplained death of Marco Pantani. In this context, I want to proclaim high and loud that it is nevertheless possible to practice cycling without having recourse to different manipulations or to certain illegal substances.

"Even though the health of the French peloton has clearly improved since the introduction of longitudinal medical checkups, nevertheless there exists a fringe of thoughtless people who refuse to understand or admit the threat that is hanging of their health and the future of their sport. It is to these irresponsible people I address myself and implore: stop before it's too late!"

Pitallier further underlined that the UCI, FFC and the Ministry of Sport are "united in the fight [against doping]...The cheaters must understand that their criminal practices are being tracked."

Pitallier concluded by saying that he would take a hard line on anyone involved in doping: "The cheaters, the suppliers, the dealers...The best prevention remains, unfortunately, the threat of sufficiently dissuasive sanctions. It's therefore necessary that the regulations are applied strictly to everyone."

Quick.Step-Davitamon for Het Volk

Omloop Het Volk defending champion Johan Museeuw and his Quick.Step-Davitamon teammates Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans and Servais Knaven will ride almost the entire parcours of the race on Tuesday, February 24. This pre-race reconnaissance is traditional for many teams in order to get a hard training ride in before Saturday, due to the lack of racing this week.

The full Quick.Step-Davitamon team for Het Volk is: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Johan Museeuw, Luca Paolini and Stefano Zanini.

Jacques does Het Volk

Not ones to be left behind, the Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf-Passage Fitness First team will reconnoitre the Omloop Het Volk parcours on Wednesday, February 25. The team will start and finish in Waregem, with Igor Abakoumov, Bert Hiemstra, Jans Koerts, Gerben Löwik, Chris Peers, Jan Van Velzen, Geert Verheyen and Bart Voskamp slated to ride the race.

Lotto-Domo do Het Volk individually

Lotto-Domo will buck the trend and not ride the parcours of Het Volk as a team this week. Instead, it will be up to the individuals to organise their own recon, if they wish. "It would be crazy now to knowingly go out riding in the cold and rain and possibly get a cold," team director Marc Sergeant was quoted by VRT Teletekst.

Despite this, and the strong possibility of being snowed on, Robbie McEwen, Serge Baguet and Peter Van Petegem will perhaps train together over the parcours on Tuesday. "They live in the area of the hills. If the weather gets bad, then they can be home in less than half an hour," said Sergeant, who trusts that his riders will be sufficiently prepared after the Ruta del Sol and Trofeo Luis Puig.

Quick.Step's Sick brigade update

Jose Antonio Pecharroman underwent further examinations on Monday morning in Valencia as a result of his fall during the third stage of the Ruta del Sol. The results of the tests showed that he hasn't fractured his right wrist. Pecharroman will continue having physiotherapy and he is expected to recover completely in around 10 days.

On the other hand, Quick.Step's Juan Miguel Mercado will not be taking part in the Vuelta Valenciana. "I've had a bad sore throat and stomach problems over the last few days," he explained. "I'm better now but it would be stupid to risk taking part in the Valenciana straightaway. I'll start training again tomorrow but without overdoing anything."

Hungarian Champion Laszlo Bodrogi isn't well either. After returning from two days of bad weather at Haut Var and Classic Haribo last weekend, he is suffering from a cold and a sore throat. "It's nothing too bad," he said. "But this means I'll not be able to train for the next couple of days."

Capelle back in Nokere Koerse

Andy Capelle (Chocolade Jacques) has been forced to delay his season debut until Nokere Koerse in Belgium on March 17. Capelle, who had his wisdom teeth removed last October, has been suffering from recurring inflammations and has to undergo another operation. He will not be able to have that for a few more weeks.

Brown and Lancaster set for Manchester Track World Cup

Australian world record holders Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster have been confirmed for the third round of the Track Cycling World Cup, which will take place at Manchester Velodrome in England between April 9-11. For both riders, the World Cup will be an important test in anticipation for the Olympic Games.

Brett Lancaster, who recently won a stage in the Tour de Langkawi, said that he and Brown are looking forward to riding on the track. "We both know the Manchester track well," he said. "It's superb, one of the best, maybe the fastest in the world. It's easy to ride. Unlike on some velodromes, you don't have to fight the bike round the bankings. It's tailor-made for great racing."

Graeme Brown commented that his track preparation had been solid. "We spent Christmas and New Year racing the famous carnivals in Tasmania," said Brown. There's lots of handicap racing there it's fast and furious stuff and makes for great preparation."

The Australian pair, who ride for the Italian Panaria-Margres team, added that this World Cup will be important for them as they will miss the World Championships in Melbourne due to the Giro d'Italia being on at the same time. "Because the Giro d'Italia is so important to our team, the Manchester World Cup will be our only track outing before Athens. It's so important we do well in Athens," said Brown.

A total of 250 riders representing up to 40 countries are expected to compete in the three day Easter event in Manchester. Others who have been confirmed include world points race champion Franz Stocher of Austria and Natalia Tsylinskaya from Belarus, who won the rainbow jerseys for the women's sprint and 500 metre time trial in Manchester in 2000.

British Cycling gains £300K sponsor

British Cycling has secured a sponsorship deal thought to be worth more than £300k with Lever Fabergé Limited, owner of the Persil washing powder brand. The deal will be announced at a press conference at the Revolution Event at Manchester Velodrome on Saturday night.

"The new sponsorship will help British Cycling raise the profile of cycle sport in the UK - from a grassroots level to supporting the development of current and future cycling stars," said a British Cycling statement.

The statement did not name Persil as the sponsor, but the entry of the brand is an open secret among some bicycle P&A suppliers who have been quoting for 1000+ bikes and 10,000+ jerseys thought to be being lined up for on-pack giveaways on boxes and bottles of Persil.

Courtesy of

Sid Patterson Grand Prix

Sid Patterson, arguably Australia's greatest ever cyclist, will be honoured on Saturday night, February 28, with the fourth hosting of the Sid Patterson Grand Prix to be held at Vodafone Arena, Melbourne, commencing at 7:00pm.

In light of Patterson's domination of track cycling in his time, a Champion of Champions event has been established in his honour whereby the place getters in all the major Wheelraces in Australia have been invited to contest the Champion of Champions final, which will crown the best wheelrace rider in Australia.

The Champion of Champions event will also be supported by the Sid Patterson Grand Prix, where riders qualify for the Grand Prix final by finishing in the top 5 of their graded scratch races. A strong field will be on hand to contest the night's racing, including recent reigning Olympic Champion Christian Lademann, past World Champion Erik Weispfennig and local star Todd Wilksch.

The night will also a Young Stars sprint match between two of Australia's up and coming champions. Daniel Thorsen, a dual medallist at the 2003 Junior World Track Championships, will take on Shane Perkins, a Junior World Track Championships representative. Perkins has also been selected for the senior Australian team to contest the Mexico World Cup. These two will face off over a three round series.

Tickets are available from Ticketek priced from $20. Doors open at 6.00pm, and racing starts at 7:00pm.

Cyclist awarded $240,000 in damages

A cyclist in Durham, North Carolina, USA, has been awarded $240,000 damages as a result of a car accident. Thomas Sitzman, a 24 year old Duke University MD/Ph.D. student, was riding through downtown Hillsborough at 15 mph when a car turned left in front of him. He suffered complex fractures to the metacarpal bones in his left hand, and has developed early arthritis as a result.

A jury in Orange County, NC, ruled in favour of Sitzman on February 20, returning a verdict of $240,000 for his personal injury and $950 for property damage. The case is thought to be the first North Carolina verdict for a bicyclist operating his bicycle as a motor vehicle.

Shanghai to ban bikes

The Chinese city of Shanghai intends on banning bicycles from all major roads next year, as part of its strategy to reduce traffic congestion, according to reports in the Shanghai Daily and BBC Online. Although the bicycle has been an important part of Chinese transport for the past 100 years, the country's growing wealth and car industry have seemingly changed perceptions, especially among the decision makers. In January 2004, the city's authorities banned bikes from the centre of the city, and now they want to extend that even further.

On the other hand, officials have also announced plans to build a network of bicycle paths in the centre of the city, but the details of this remain unclear and the paths could take several years to build. Nearly half of the city's 20 million residents own bicycles, while the number of cars owned is expected to reach 200,000 this year.

Shanghai is expected to impose high registration fees for cars and also restrict access to the centre of the city, but cyclists believe that they are getting the short end of the stick. "The way things are now, with cars, bikes and pedestrians all competing desperately for space, it's complete chaos," a Shanghai resident told BBC Online.

Others are of the opinion that the new rules, which include a tenfold increase in traffic fines, will be treated in much the same as the existing traffic rules are by Shanghai's cyclists: largely ignored.

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