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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for January 5, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ballerini to meet the judge

Italian national technical director Franco Ballerini has been convened to appear in court in Pistoia on January 14 to face charges of sporting fraud, according to the ANSA news agency. It is alleged that Ballerini took anabolic steroids in 1998, the year in which he won Paris-Roubaix. Eight other cyclists: Pavel Tonkov, Gianni Bugno, Wladimir Belli, Marco Zanotti, Mariano Piccoli, Gabriele Missaglia, Marco Serpellini and Davide Bramati and Antonio Fusi, who was Italian technical director at that time, are also under accusation of sporting fraud.

The investigation was opened in Brescia in 1999 after Italian military police (NAS) searched a pharmacy and discovered a list of names which were supposedly to receive doping substances from the pharmacist. However being a resident of Tuscany, Ballerini's case was transferred from Brescia to Pistoia.

Ballerini was brief in his comments about the affair, but was not concerned about the impending court appearance. "I am extremely calm and serene," he said. "In this case there is nothing that can cause me problems. It's only a matter of closing of something that was already open which goes back to 1999. Personally I find it non-news."

Simoni gets ready

Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: Olympia

Defending Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) is almost ready to commence his training for the 2004 season. Simoni and his teammate Leonardo Bertagnolli took part in the 31st edition of Ciaspolada, a 7.3 km skiing race between Romeno and Fondo, attracting over 5000 participants.

"On the Epiphany I ask to stay in good health at the beginning of the season, for the rest I'll think about it. As is traditional I will start my preparation at home then will go to Terracina. Some of the team will go to Qatar but I prefer to stay in Italy to prepare. Last year was a very nice experience, and this season I want to arrive at the Giro with around twenty days of competition in my legs in order to be fresher for the Tour."

Simoni's first race will be the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Donoratico on February 8.

Becke still hopes for team pursuit spot

Daniel Becke, one of the members of the gold medal winning German pursuit team in the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, still hopes to compete for Germany in the same event in Athens this year, despite a ban from the German cycling federation (BDR). The ban was put into place by the BDR last year after an incident at the World Track Championships in Stuttgart, when Becke, Jens Lehmann, Sebastian Siedler and Christian Bach all refused to ride with Robert Bartko and Guido Fulst in the team pursuit, forcing Germany to forfeit the event.

Becke is currently involved in a lawsuit with the BDR after appealing the decision to ban him and the others from the team. In a press statement issued by his lawyer, Becke said, "I am still allowed to qualify for the individual pursuit. That is not acceptable for me. For Germany it would be a dream to repeat the Sydney victory, and I don't want to abandon that dream as long as I can still influence it."

Jayco Bay Classic women's rivalry

Victoria has an army but NSW has the horsepower, says Bates

By Karen Forman

Kate Bates
Photo ©: James Victor

The rivalry between the NSW and Victorian women's teams for the Jayco Bay Classic criterium series has never been greater and last year's winner, Kate Bates, believes it will make for some incredible racing on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula this coming Wednesday through Sunday.

After Victorian sprint queen Katie Mactier told Cyclingnews she believed Victoria was up to steal the title from NSW despite rumours that "Kate Bates is in pretty good form at the moment", Bates (20) from Sydney, said she believed the NSW "army" would be able to do it again..."although Katie Mactier is very fit".

Bates said there appeared to be more rivalry between the two teams of riders than ever before, and said it could only be a good thing. "Before, with the women, it was more the coaches talking it up, now it's the riders, too. It's not a bad thing at all, it gives you purpose. I mean, the men do it, but the women have been riding around in circles and not getting organised. I think it's great."

She said she had heard the Victorians were very competitive this year. "There have been a few comments on the phone from them saying they are going to take us down. It's great."

However Bates in no way insinuated it would be easy for NSW to retain their two year old title. "I definitely think we can keep the Victorians at bay," she said. "We've got the numbers for sure. I think it is in wanting to do it. You have got to get out there every day with the right attitude. But in saying that, I don't think it will be an easy thing to do. You've only got to look at where Katie Mactier has come in the past year and Liz Williams - they are probably the two strongest girls. Both have amazing resumes."

Still, NSW will be heading south "with an absolute army". "We have a strong bunch of girls and obviously we want somebody to win," said Bates. "Everyone is motivated, this is an important year. A lot of girls have been training harder than ever before for last couple of months."

The NSW team will include 2002 winner Rochelle Gilmore, Olivia Gollan who won the sprint jersey last year and has posted some top results overseas, Bates' older sister Natalie Bates ("and you can't trust anyone to work harder for you than your sister"), Christine Riakos, Kate Nichols, who was in the national team for the Junior Worlds and will be having her first race as a senior and Katie Brown, who has been riding professionally in Europe.

As well, NSW claims as its own girls not in the team but who have been riding and travelling with them, including national club road champion Leonie Aisbett who Bates says is "new to it but has more enthusiasm than anyone".

Personally, Bates admits that Mactier is right: "I am pretty fit at the moment," she says. "Over the summer I was still getting over an injury, but this year I have been able to take a break a bit earlier and get a really good fitness base. I can honestly say I have been working harder than ever before. I feel confident about the Bay crits and also the Nationals".

Two weeks ago, in a 2000m time trial at Sydney's Dunc Gray velodrome (where Bates was aiming at clocking under 2.27) she did a 2.22. "That gave me confidence and showed me I am definitely on track to where I want to go."

She plans to put all her cookies into the Olympics basket and is targeting the individual pursuit and points race on the track. "It's been made pretty clear to us we are only to go for one, either road or track and I think it takes away from the road girls if I thought I could do both," she says. "We have some amazing girls on the road and at this point I am only 21, with a lot of growing to do as an athlete. Track is something I have done for a lot of years and it is more natural to me at the moment."

After next week's Jayco series, Bates will head to Ballarat for the Australian national road championships, then will line up for the Canberra, Cooma and Geelong women's tours and the Geelong World Cup. "Then hopefully I will head overseas straight after that to get into the Euro World Cup then back for the World (track championships). Everything resolves around them - that's when we find out the country spots for the Olympics."

Meanwhile, Bates is looking forward to the Bay series. It will be her fourth year. "I got the sprint jersey in my first year in 2000, then had an absolute shocker and only finished one race, then I won it last year. I guess you could say I have not really had a good relationship with the Bay series. It's tough. It burns the hell out of everything, legs and lungs. But in saying that, I love it. I go back every year by free choice."

Women's cycling, she says, now has a lot to offer women domestically. "We're deadset flat out with racing - we have something like 15 pro women racing overseas - there's literally 15 women who can win the race now. A few years ago there were three," she concludes.

2004 Jayco Bay Classic

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Five teams challenge for Asian title in Langkawi

The make up of the Asian competition is now complete following the confirmation of Japan and China in this year's Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi (TMLTdL) which starts on February 6.

Both China and Japan are expected to feature their strongest line ups as they try to topple reigning champion Iran in the 10 day event which offers a total prize money of RM1.6 million. The two teams have yet to submit their riders' list however.

It will be a five team fight as Indonesia's first ever Trade Team 3, Wismilak Cycling Team, and hosts Malaysia will also join the Asian battle. Having won the Asian title in its debut appearance last year, Iran heads the list as the hot favourite to take the title once again. The inclusion of three of its top climbers Ghader Mizbani, Ahad Kazemi and Amir Zagari is proof of Iran's strength in the mountains.

However, stiff competition is on the cards as Japan, with the likes of reigning individual Asian champion Tomoya Kano and maverick rider Koji Fukushima, are also in line for top honours. Wismilak Cycling Team, with climber Tonton Susanto leading the charge, will add spice to the competition and the team is pinning its sights on the overall Asian title through the former Asian champion.

Malaysia, fresh from its victory in last year's Hanoi SEA Games, are considered the dark horse with climber Shahrulneeza Razali taking the lead to redeem their pride. Malaysia finished second last both in the overall and Asian standings last year.

Missing from this year's list is Team Telekom Malaysia, a regular in the Asian field for the past four years. Guest teams are no longer allowed to ride in a 2.2 ranked event under the UCI's regulations.

The battle for honours this year is expected to be among several top climbers in region including Iran's Mizbani, Kazemi and Zagari, Japanese Kano and Fukushima (subject to final list), Tonton, Shahrulneeza and Suhardi Hassan of Malaysia. Last year in the Asian standing, Susanto was 20 seconds behind winner Kano while Kazemi was third, Mizbani (4th), Suhardi (9th) and Shahrulneeza (13th) and Fukushima (19th).

Among the five teams, Iran, Japan and Malaysia have won the title in 2003, 2000 and 1999 respectively. Kazakhstan won in 1997 followed by the Philippines in 1998.

"It's going to be a close affair especially with Wismilak Cycling Team joining the fray. The key strategy is to remain consistent and the Genting challenge will be the decider. Teams with strong climbers will certainly have the edge," said First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd executive director Abdullah Kamal Shafii here today.

Malaysia, under the guidance of coach Ng Joo Ngan, are desperate for a good result after a miserable campaign last year.

"It's time for us to make amends and with a good mix of strong climbers, sprinters and reliable domestiques, I'm sure the boys can deliver the goods," said team manager Amron Misnoh.

Moritz Chevrolet 2004

Moritz Chevrolet Cycling Team presented by Legg-Mason Financial, enters its fourth season of racing with a roster of 19 riders. Moritz Chevrolet of Fort Worth has generously signed on as title sponsor for the fourth consecutive year. Focusing on road racing, cyclocross, and track events, the team will compete in Texas and the Southwest region. Moritz team goals include competing in the TXBRA Cup Series in addition to participating in charity fund raising bicycle rallies and rides.

Click here for the full team roster.

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