First Edition Cycling News for January 15, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
US Postal confirms lineup
The United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team presented by Berry Floor has today confirmed its line up for the 2004 season. The team is aiming to try and break one of cycling's legendary records in 2004 when Lance Armstrong goes for his sixth victory at the Tour.
"We have made some significant changes to the roster but I am still confident that we have the most complete team," said Lance Armstrong. "I am anxious to start the season and build upon last year's results."
Last year, Armstrong became only the fifth rider to win five Tours de France, and the second, along with Miguel Indurain, to win five straight. The USPS team also became the first cycling team since 1983 to win two Grand Tours in the same season with two different riders, following Roberto Heras' win in the Vuelta a España. Excluding Heras, who has since left the team to join new Spanish based team Liberty Seguros, all of Armstrong's teammates return from last year's Tour de France lineup - Manuel Beltran, Viatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos, Victor Hugo Peña and Jose Luis Rubiera.
"This year will be a special season for the team," said the team's sports manager Johan Bruyneel. "However, I am aware that improving the results from 2003 will be a difficult task. Winning the Tour and the Vuelta, plus the Dauphine Libéré and the Tour of Holland, doesn't happen every year. There is only one thing we can do to top that - and that is win a sixth Tour de France."
Eight new riders highlight the 25 rider roster - the largest ever for the team - including the addition of Portuguese rider Jose Azevedo, a top six finisher at the Tour de France (2002) and Giro d'Italia (2001). However, five of the team's newcomers - led by former junior world time trial champion Jurgen Van den Broeck and current mountain bike star Ryder Hesjedal - are 25 years old and under.
"There are quite some change to the team roster for this season," said Bruyneel. "We have some really young riders for whom it will be a year of getting adjusted and gaining experience but we also maintained the depth we have had in previous years with the other riders, led by Azevedo. I'm convinced that with our new additions we are certainly as strong as last year."
The eight new riders to the team are Azevedo, Van den Broeck, Hesjedal, Michael Creed, Stijn Devolder, Patrick McCarty, Benjamin Noval and Daniel Rincon. "I think some of them can be the future big stars of cycling," added Bruyneel.
For US Postal's complete team roster, click here.
Rabobank team presentation
Breukink named new team director
The number one Dutch team Rabobank held its team presentation in Hilversum on January 15. The 25 man squad is remarkable in that only three 'new' riders have joined since last year: Hans Dekkers, Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening, all of whom have been promoted from the Division III team. Rabobank is well known for its development squads and thus it has a large pool of talent to draw from when seeking riders for the top team.
"Dekkers and Weening are two big talents who've ridden fantastic seasons in our TT3 development team," manager Theo de Rooij told ANP at the presentation. "With the transition to the professional team we give them the opportunity to grow. Dekkers is a rider with a fantastic sprint and with Weening we have someone who has good climbing capabilities. Posthuma will do a tough spring season with the TT3 before making the jump to the professional team."
Another new face for Rabobank is Erik Breukink, a top Dutch professional turned Rabobank PR man turned TV commentator. Breukink will become a team director, effectively filling the vacancy left by Theo de Rooij, who was promoted to team manager after the exit of Jan Raas late last year.
Boogerd, Freire, Leipheimer and Rasmussen top men
As with last year, Michael Boogerd and Oscar Freire will lead the team in the classics while Levi Leipheimer and Michael Rasmussen will aim for the major tours. Unlike last year, neither Leipheimer nor Rasmussen will put all their hopes on the Tour de France: Leipheimer only rode one stage of the Tour after a crash, while Rasmussen missed it completely due to an earlier crash, but recovered to ride a good Vuelta a España.
"I gambled and I lost last year," said Leipheimer at the presentation, who has now lowered his ambitions slightly. "I want to do well in the multi-day stage races like the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Catalonia. If I meet one of these goals, then I will be satisfied."
The Tour is still on Leipheimer's agenda though. "It's always tough and it's always the best man who wins," he said. "I will not ride it for revenge but only because I feel good on the bike."
Michael Rasmussen agreed with Leipheimer's assessment of the Tour. "The Tour is always difficult. I'm going to take it as it comes." Rasmussen's main aim is to win a stage in the Tour, preferring that over a good final classification.
McGee one step closer to Athens
Renshaw must try again after missing out
By Jeff Jones in Sydney
Australian cyclist Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) is one step closer to his dream of a gold medal in the 4000m individual pursuit at the Athens Olympics, after going under the qualifying time at Sydney's Dunc Grey Velodrome on Wednesday night. Cheered on by a crowd of regular racers and fans, McGee clocked a time of 4.24.69 to easily break the qualifying time of 4.28.00 to cement his place in the shadow Australian Olympic track team. It was his last chance to attack the mark before heading to the Australian Open Championships in Buninyong this Sunday, followed by the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under next week, and then to France where he will begin the European season.
McGee used 177.5mm cranks and a 106 inch gear in his successful ride, but admitted that the gear could have been a little large, given the cool, humid conditions. "It made it very, very difficult," he said afterwards. "It was so cold, it was heavy, it was like trying to ride through a swimming pool. I was never really that comfortable - I had to be very tactical the way I rode it to make sure I secured the time. I'm very happy with it. I know the conditions in here and I know the sort of power I must have been putting out. On a quick night that's up there with my best."
McGee added that he hadn't put a lot of effort into his track preparation so far. "I just raced the Bay crits in Melbourne last week," he said. "That was probably the fourth time I've been on the track."
To qualify for the final Olympic team, McGee must now do a 4.22.50 for 4000m, and will probably attempt this at the Manchester round of the Track World Cup in April: "Another positive ride should secure me all the way to Athens." Individual pursuiter Luke Roberts has already qualified for the shadow team, but Australia still has to qualify two IP riders for Athens for both of them to get a ride.
Brad McGee's next goal is the Australian Open Road Championships in Buninyong on Sunday, where he will be joined by Baden Cooke, Matthew Wilson and members of the newly renamed McGee-NSWIS development squad (Chris Sutton, David Tanner, Ashley Humbert, Richard Moffat and Keiran Cameron) in their quest to win the Australian title.
The 'green-and-gold' Australian road champion's jersey - as worn by Robbie McEwen in 2002 and Stuart O'Grady in 2003 - has become a prestigious title for the Australian professional riders. Easily noticed in the pro peloton among the myriad of trade team jerseys, the national champion's jersey is highly sought-after.
McGee expects the main competition on Sunday will come from young Queensland rider Allan Davis, runner-up to O'Grady last year. Davis was part of Manolo Saiz's ONCE squad in 2003 and this year will ride with Liberty - Seguros. The other main rival could be fellow Queenslander McEwen, but McEwen is not expecting the Queensland riders to ride as a team, given their different trade team affiliations.
Although McGee had few problems with his ride, his new FDJeux.com teammate Mark Renshaw was not so lucky. Renshaw, who hopes to be part of the team pursuit squad in Athens, had to ride a 3000m individual pursuit in under 3.21.50. Unfortunately, a false start due to problems with the electronic timing led to a 20 minute delay while the apparatus was tested, and Renshaw was forced to wait and cool down before he could have a second try. His second ride of 3.22.12 came close to the qualification time, but it was frustratingly out of reach for the young Bathurst rider.
"When you roll it all up there was 20 minutes of time where I was sitting around not active," said a philosophical Renshaw afterwards. "The heart rate got down too low, the adrenaline dropped. It was only that one or two seconds I was off the time, but it's a hell of a lot when you have to ride that quick."
Renshaw will now forego the Australian Open road championships on Sunday and refocus for a planned second attempt at the shadow team qualifying time in Adelaide on Monday night. "I know I can do it, I just have to really back myself," he said.
Although Renshaw will be missed by his team in Sunday's championships, the Olympic goal remains his priority, and he knows that there will be plenty of chances for road glory in years to come.
Images by Paul Mirtschin/Cyclingnews
Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews
BankGiroLoterij and Stayer to merge?
There is a possibility that the partially formed Stayer team could merge with Dutch Division II squad BankGiroLoterij, according to an article in De Telegraaf. The money for the Stayer team was originally going to be put up by the Italian arm of the financially troubled Dutch company, however a tug of war between the Italians and the Dutch ensued and the team, which at one point had Manolo Saiz and Joseba Beloki (ONCE) and Manuela Ronchi (Pantani) involved, collapsed.
Stayer still has four riders under contract (Giovanni Lombardi, Gabriele Missaglia, Eddy Serri and Gianpaolo Mondini), and Lombardi has confirmed that he would ride in the BankGiroLoterij-Stayer team, if it should go ahead. BankGiroLoterij manager Arend Scheppink said that they are talking with Stayer. "There is some movement," he told De Telegraaf. "If we want to do a great Tour as Division I team we need a co-sponsor and some riders."
Lance and Sheryl go public
Lance Armstrong and singer Sheryl Crow have made their relationship public at the Los Angeles premiere of Along Came Polly, a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. The couple were spotted strolling down the red carpet on Monday, the first time that they had made their relationship public after Armstrong separated from his wife Kristin late last year.
Cyclist killed south of Sydney
Jason Aitken, a 36 year old triathlete from Engadine, south of Sydney, was killed last Sunday morning while riding on the F6 freeway. The fatality occurred when he was travelling south in the bike lane near the Helensburgh exit and was hit from behind by a 21 year old male driver. Aitken was killed instantly, while the driver was taken to Wollongong hospital suffering minor cuts and bruises. It is not known yet whether there were additional factors, such as excessive speed or alcohol, involved.
Aitken's funeral will be held on Friday, January 16 at 10:30 am at the Baptist church, 1181 Old Princes Hwy, Engadine. He leaves behind two young children.
Memorial Fund for fatality in Mountain Lion Attack
A memorial fund has been set up for Mark Reynolds, the mountain biker who was killed on January 8 after being attacked by a mountain lion. During his life, Mark almost single handedly managed a Children's First Bicycle program in which he would raise money to buy less privileged children bicycles. Friends are asking for donations for the Mark J. Reynolds Memorial "Children's First Bicycle Fund" to continue his work, and guarantee that 100 percent of the money raised will be placed into a not-for-profit fund set up for Children's First Bicycle Fund.
To donate to the fund, click here or send a cheque to:
Mark J. Reynolds Memorial "Children's First Bike Fund"
Another sponsor for Saeco
Italian clothing company Kappa has signed on with Team Saeco as its latest sponsor, supplying the team's race and off-the-bike clothing. The agreement will last two seasons and marks the entrance of Kappa to the world of cycling sponsorship. For this reason Team Saeco will hold its official team presentation at the Basic Village in Turin where Kappa has its headquarters and offices.
Australia's richest two-day track carnival north of Sydney
The central Queensland Australian centre of Rockhampton is the focus of the country's leading track cyclists this weekend with the hosting of annual Central Queensland University Rockhampton Cup on Wheels. While the country's best road cyclists will do battle this weekend several thousand kilometres to the south in Victoria on the roads of Ballarat in the Australian Open road championships, the trackies are heading north.
Over 160 entries have been received for the two-day track carnival that runs from Friday, January 16 to Saturday January 17, 2004 with over AUS$15,000 prizemoney up for grabs at the Kenrick Tucker Velodrome.
Four Bridges of Elgin cancelled
The fifth edition of the Four Bridges of Elgin International Challenge, an American UCI race for U23 riders, has been cancelled. The city of Elgin, which funded the event, deemed it too expensive to continue. The race was first held in 2000, and past winners include Charles Dionne and Danny Pate.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)