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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for January 3, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cyclingnews reader poll: Rider of the Year

Here it is folks, the big one, the final award in our reader poll for 2003. This award covers male and female cyclists in all disciplines, and is more than just a reflection of a rider's results. It takes into account the rider's character and what they had to go through to obtain these results. Without further ado, here is the Rider of the Year 2003.

That concludes this edition of the Cyclingnews reader poll. Over the next week or so, we will present our Editors Choice awards, including top 10 news stories, riders, photos and more.

Armstrong voted AIPS Athlete of the Year

The international organisation of sporting press, AIPS has chosen cyclist Lance Armstrong and 800 metre runner Maria Mutola as its male and female Athletes of the Year. Armstrong won the Tour de France for the fifth consecutive time this year while Mutola won the 800 metre World Championship for the third time. The English rugby team, winners of the rugby World Cup, was awarded Team of the Year, while the World Athletics Championships in Paris won a prize for having the best conditions for the media.

Ullrich to start in Mallorca

Jan Ullrich, who is now officially a member of T-Mobile, will commence his season with the Challenge Illes Baleares in Mallorca which takes place between February 1-5 and marks the opening of the Spanish season. Ullrich and some of his teammates have been training in Mallorca recently, taking advantage of the somewhat warmer weather compared to other parts of Europe.

De Cauwer: No sixth Tour for Armstrong

Belgian national coach Jose De Cauwer believes that Lance Armstrong will not win a sixth Tour de France, despite his impressive record in the event so far. Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, De Cauwer said, "Armstrong will not take a sixth Tour win, he found it particularly difficult this year. As to who could depose the king, De Cauwer added "I've already seen Ullrich win, and I don't exclude Beloki. Astarloa will confirm himself and Cadel Evans will surprise."

De Cauwer pointed to a Belgian rider to be the big winner in 2003: "Above all, this will be the year of Peter Van Petegem, who in 2003 was already stronger than Bettini. He could become like the new Museeuw. And he is the absolute favourite for the Olympics. Museeuw himself will play a role, but no longer in the World Cup. Bruylandts can make a serious jump."

Museeuw to Italy

Johan Museeuw and a few of his Quick.Step-Davitamon teammates are heading to Cecina di Mare, Italy for an early season training camp. This will be the squad's second visit to the Tuscan province, having also spent some time there last December.

William Walker wants another Bay crit win

By Karen Forman

Last year when unknown 17 year old William Walker was interviewed after he pipped Australia's elite to win the Geelong Botanic Garden stage of the Jayco Bay Classic, he was quoted as saying he was "just happy to be racing WITH" the likes of eventual series winner Robbie McEwen - let alone beating them.

A year and a highly successful year of racing later, the recent school leaver from Ivanhoe in suburban Melbourne will be back for another try. And despite some extra maturity and experience, he's still excited about lining up with the likes of five time winner McEwen and the trade team.

Sponsored by CBD Cycles, Giant and High Five, the youngster surprised many with his win in the 2003 event. "I attacked after the first intermediate sprint and rode with Brent Dawson, then ended up solo after the second sprint and then won in a sprint against Kristian House," he recalls.

It was his second attempt at the Bay series of criteriums, which enters its 15th edition on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula next Wednesday through Sunday. Last year was his first series in A grade and he achieved the stage win plus two eighth places in the third and fifth stages. The previous year he rode in B grade which no results to speak of.

"This year I will attempt to do the same thing as last year, but you can never expect too much," he told Cyclingnews. "This year I am stronger than last year. But I am not coming to the Bay Crits with as much form as I did then, after a long break. My goal is to get some results for the team."

He will be joining current Oceania road champion Chris Bradford from Melbourne on the CBD Cyclists/Giant team. Walker's success last year led to big things for the young rider. He qualified for the Australian junior road team and went overseas for seven weeks - during which he won the four day Giro d'Basilicata in Italy, was fifth in the junior time trial at the World Championships and 25th in the road race at the World's. Earlier this month, he was named as the Australian junior road cyclist of the year.

After the Bay crits next week, Walker hopes to go well at the nationals in the open division and the Tour of Canberra in February, then hopes for national team selection so he can return Italy. Like a lot of young riders, his long-term goal is to turn pro.

Coppi honoured

On Friday, January 2, 44 years after the death of Fausto Coppi, a hundred Italians gathered at his burial place in Castellania to pay their respects to the campionissimo. The group included his former gregarios Andrea Carrea and Valerius Falsini, as well as Fausto's cousin Piero Coppi, who is the mayor of the tiny province of Alessandria.

Urban to Stevens-Jeantex

German cyclist Malte Urban will join the Stevens-Jeantex cyclo-cross team of Jens Schwedler. Urban, who raced on the road with Coast and Bianchi for the last four years, told that he will concentrate on the German cyclo-cross championships and after that will race as an amateur on the road, although he hasn't given up the thought of being a professional again.

New Zealand MTB series kicks off this weekend

The first round of New Zealand's Subaru National Mountain Bike Series takes place this weekend (January 3-4), with Downhill and Cross Country events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's Downhill will be held 30 kilometres north of Napier in the Hawkes Bay on January 3, while Sunday's Cross Country is a ten minute drive from Napier.

Downhill Course

This 'King of Down' course is on privately owned land in the Mckinnons Forest at Aropaoanui. It is a fast, technical course that starts with a quick descent with heaps of off camber sections. This is followed by a 1.5m rock drop onto a dirt bridge and then some fast following single track. The lower part of the track includes jumps, double step- downs, tight switchbacks and a large drop/roll off. The course finishes with a jump down by the river. The fastest times will be sub three minutes.

Cross Country Course

This course is 8.2km in circuit length with a mixture of single track, 4x4 and forestry roads, with one main climb. It's loaded with technical and open riding, moderate climbing and some great down-hills on very popular tracks.

This year's National Series will see seven different locations spread throughout New Zealand hosting six rounds of downhill and cross country races. Rotorua will be the venue for Round 2 of the downhill and Round 3 of the cross country which will double as the Oceania Championships. The 4X event will also be held in Rotorua. The final rounds this year will be held in the South Island in Dunedin.

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