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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 22, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Vasseur and Gaumont still in custody

French Police are still questioning Cofidis riders Cédric Vasseur and Philippe Gaumont, who were taken in on Tuesday evening when they arrived in Paris after a training camp in Spain. Vasseur is being interrogated on the basis of phone tapping of the other suspects in the affair, such as Marek Rutkiewicz, who Vasseur roomed with on several occasions.

Gaumont has been implicated by his former teammate Robert Sassone, who allegedly told a French radio station that Gaumont was his supplier. Gaumont had his house searched by police on Wednesday, but nothing illegal was found.

Sports Minister to meet French cycling heads

The French Minister of Sport, John François Lamour, will meet with the heads of French cycling this Friday to discuss doping matters, prompted by the investigation into France's biggest professional cycling squad, Cofidis. FFC president Jean Pitallier, national technical director Patrick Cluzaud, federal doctor Dr Armand Mégret, and the president of the professional league Thierry Cazeneuve have all been convened by Mr Lamour, who wants to step up efforts to fight doping in sport, especially in an Olympic year.

Among other things, Lamour will broach the subject of the longitudinal health program that has been adopted by the FFC to monitor the health of its athletes. He is also interested in fighting doping in all sports, and realises that this is a large scale operation.

"We need to make contacts with the ministries of the Interior and Justice to be more effective in fighting against trafficking," Lamour was quoted by AFP. "At the international level, we will take the initiative in this area in the coming days." Lamour is seeking international cooperation in this matter, as doping products "know no borders".

Lamour wants to be able to "look for athletes where they train, have the capacity to do surprise controls in training areas, in French territory or elsewhere, in Europe or the world."

2004 Tour de Georgia is go

Tour de Georgia officials have confirmed that the Dodge Tour de Georgia will go ahead in 2004. The USA's top stage race will be run between April 20-25, with proceeds benefiting the Georgia Cancer Coalition. Confirmation of the race course and a list of the international teams that will take part in the event will be announced in early February.

"We are extremely pleased to renew Dodge as the title sponsor and to continue building the prestige and global scope of the Dodge Tour de Georgia," said John Rice, Chairman of the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development (GPED) that owns and operates the Tour. "With the corporate support and proven expertise from Dodge, we are assured of making the 2004 event bigger and better than ever."

In April 2003, the inaugural event involved 18 elite teams, with 144 riders from 17 countries, who competed over 613 miles (1000 km) across Georgia for over $US100,000 in prizes. Over 250,000 spectators watched the race and enjoyed a variety of community events across 53 counties.

For more information, see: www.tourdegeorgia.com.

Vuelta a Argentina cancelled

By Hernán Alvarez Macías in Rosario

Due to sponsorship problems, the 2004 Vuelta a Argentina has been cancelled. This important national stage race was supposed to take place from February 22-March 7 under the supervision of the UCI and the UCRA (Argentinean Cycling Union). Cyclingnews contacted Vuelta director Angel Dilucca, who explained the reasons for the cancellation.

"Unfortunately we couldn't reach some agreements with some companies and we postponed it," said Dilucca. "The numbers weren't good enough economically speaking and we decided not to hold the race". The final decision was made on January 14 after considering the pros and cons.

Dilucca talked about the troubles that the race authorities have faced in the last few months. "We have been working on the 2004 Vuelta since last October, so we didn't have enough time to develop a race of this kind," said the Vuelta director. "There were no good conditions and the companies that wanted to sponsor the race finally decided not to give support to it". Dilucca definitely ruled out the possibility of changing the event date to later this year.

This year's edition would have been the third Vuelta a Argentina. Dilucca is positive and thinks the race will be ridden in 2005. "We will hold the race in 2005 for sure," he said. "We are already working on organizing the third Vuelta in February 2005."

Cycling is not as popular in Argentina as it is in Spain, France or Italy. Therefore, the TV coverage of cycling races is very scarce and that is a big handicap to overcome in attracting companies interested in sponsorship.

"There is not a single TV channel interested in broadcasting local cycling," commented Dilucca. "The terrible local authorities' management makes the media show no interest at all in our sport. We need serious authorities in Argentinean cycling. Gabriel Curuchet (president of the Argentinean Cycling Union) made a great effort to obtain the broadcasting of the last Argentinean national road championship, but it wasn't enough and the TV was absent from the tournament."

Finally, Dilucca had some words for the authorities of the whole South American continent: "We don't have serious management people in any country of this continent. We need reliable authorities if we want cycling to grow and develop."

Bruyneel a father

US Postal-Berry Floor director Johan Bruyneel has become a father for the first time after his daughter Victoria was born in Madrid on Tuesday, January 20 at midday. It's expected that Bruyneel will join his team at its training camp in Solvang, USA.

Click here for a photo gallery of the training camp.

Colavita-Bolla 2004

How long can a team name be? The management of Team Colavita Sports has announced the 2004 Colavita Olive Oil Pro Cycling Team presented by Bolla Wines. Sponsored by Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil as title sponsor and Bolla Wines as the official presenter, the team has been greatly strengthened by the signings of ex-Saturn stars Mark McCormack, Ivan Dominguez, Nathan O'Neill and Will Frischkorn.

"The signing of Mark McCormack was the leap needed to develop the squad and acquire a solid road captain," said directeur sportif Chad Davis. "Having Mark on the team was more than I could ask for. Plus, the addition of experience, youth, speed and extraordinary talent in Dominguez, O'Neill, Frischkorn, ex-Health Net pro Todd Herriott, and former Schroeder Iron racer Aaron Olson has bolstered our roster to make us one of the top teams in 2004."

The return of Tyler Wren, Thad Dulin, Gustavo Artacho, Sebastian Alexandre and Juan Jose Haedo will complete the squad's 11 man line up. The Colavita-Bolla team will aim at defending McCormack's USPRO Championship title in Philadelphia this year, and has gotten off to a good start after Nathan O'Neill's recent victory in the Australian National Time Trial Championship.

Chief Mechanic Randy Villanueva and Team Physician Dr. Michael Ross will meet the team in Tucson, Arizona this February to begin the 2004 NRC campaign. The 2004 US racing season will officially begin at the Valley of the Sun Race in Phoenix, Arizona.

Team Monex 2004

Team Monex is a U.S. team based in Laguna Beach, southern California that has registered as a UCI Division III team this year. The title sponsor, Monex Deposit Company, deals in precious metals. The roster includes the following riders:

Roberto Gaggioli (Ita)
Gordon McCauley (NZl) Schroeder Iron
Bartek Fideleus (Pol)
Gregg Medinilla (USA)
Jacques Benoît (USA) Neo-Pro
Cameron Brenneman (USA) Neo-Pro
Josh Goodwin (USA) Neo-Pro
Rob Kamppila (USA) Neo-Pro
Enrique Ospinoa (Col) Neo-Pro
Evan Teske (USA) Neo-Pro
Paul Thomas (USA) Neo-Pro

South Americans to Trust House Cycle Classic

The International Trust House Cycle Classic (Tour of Wellington) received a big boost yesterday with confirmation of two of the better riders from South America for next week's race. Perhaps the biggest coup for the race are Uruguayans Hector Morales and Jorge Libonatti. Both are good riders and have been racing well in all the major Australian races for the last few months. The pair are in Australia on a six month program, sponsored by Uruguayan cycling clubs, to gain race experience in another country. The program came into being after Uruguay won its first ever cycling gold medal at the Olympics in 2000.

Hector Morales is only 23 and in October, 2003 he won Australia's toughest one day race from Grafton to Inverell over 228 kilometres. Over the last seven weeks in Australia he has won two stage races, and has competed in the Herald Sun Tour, one of Australia biggest professional tours, where he placed second on two stages, was a member of the winning team and received the most aggressive rider award.

"In 2002 Morales won the Rutas de America tour, one of the toughest international tours in South America. I am sure he is coming to the Trust House Cycle Classic to win and be the first ever South American rider to win New Zealand's biggest cycle race," said race director Jorge Sandoval.

The second rider from Uruguay, Jorge Libonatti, won the U23 Australian Club Criterium Championships in 2003, stages in the tour of Uruguay and Peru in 2003 and is a very fast finisher, the route of this year's event will suite him perfectly.

The third member of the South American team is Graham Rutter, who has been racing internationally since 1996, competing in the 1996 and 1997 Tour of Uruguay and Chile as well as other top races on the Australian calendar. Team member Daniel Newnham is the youngest in the team, a member of the Australian Junior Team in 2001, he is the current Metropolitan Road champion in Queensland.

Oceania MTB Championships this weekend

The town of Rotorua in New Zealand will host the Oceania Cross Country and Downhill Championships this weekend, as part of New Zealand's 2004 Subaru National MTB Series. Four events in total will take place between January 23-26, including Downhill, Cross Country, 4X and the NZ Hill Climb Championship.

The Oceania Downhill Championship starts at 11:00 Saturday, January 24, with Pro-Elites racing in the early afternoon. The Oceania Cross Country Championship will take place on Sunday, January 25 starting at 9:00 (Sport), followed by the Experts (11:00) and the Pro-Elites at 14:00.

The Hill Climb Championship is four kilometres long and rises 360 vertical metres - a shorter and sharper course than last year and will be a fight to the top. The race starts at 19:00 on Friday, January 23. The 4X event will see four riders compete against each other in a knockout situation on a newly built course. Racing commences at 13:00 on Monday, January 26.

NZ's top ranked XC rider Kashi Leuchs will be competing in the NZ Hill Climb Champs (Friday) and the XC event on Sunday. In the women's Pro-Elite XC, top riders include Australia's Lisa Mathison (Junior World Champion for 2002 and 2003) competing against Robyn Wong (Wellington) and Sadie Parker-Wynard (Auckland).

Competition in the Downhill will include Justin Leov (Blenhiem), Nathan Rankin (Levin) who was the 2003 National Series Winner, and Claudio Caluori from Switzerland. In the Women's DH event, Vanessa Quin competes against Tracy Moseley from Britain and New Zealand's Scarlett Hagen.

Qualifying Procedures for 2004 U.S. MTB Championships

USA Cycling has announced the qualification procedures and guidelines for the newly created 2004 U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships which will take place in Mammoth, California between September 23-26. Announced last October, the one day format will replace the traditional design of a season long series to determine the U.S. National Mountain Bike Champion in several events and categories.

New in 2004 will be a stars and stripes jersey for marathon and single speed disciplines in addition to the traditional cross country and short track events. In the gravity assisted events, dual slalom makes its return to the national championship level and a "Super D" discipline will be introduced to compliment the downhill and mountain cross competitions. Observed trials will also return in both the modified and stock bike classes and a "legends" category, in honour of mountain bike pioneers and heroes in cross-country and downhill, will also make its national championship debut.

There are six possible ways for riders to qualify for the National MTB Championships, including NORBA State or Regional Championship Series or Events, American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) events, NORBA National Series events, Alison Dunlap Junior Olympic Mountain Bike events, and USA Cycling Junior Development Regional Mountain Bike Camps. Also, defending U.S. National Mountain Bike Champions are automatically qualified to compete at the 2004 U.S. National Championships. If a particular discipline doesn't require prior qualification, American citizenship and an annual NORBA license are the only requirements to participate.

Dick Lane velodrome saved

The Dick Lane velodrome, located in East Point, Georgia, USA, has been saved after the East Point City Council has voted to approve the long term lease sought by the East Point Velodrome Association. The EPVA now has full operating rights to the facility.

The EPVA will be announcing its fundraising measures within the next two weeks, and is looking to raise a minimum of (approximately) $150,000 to get the track back into operating condition. The EPVA will also be looking to raise additional money for resurfacing projects as well as replacing the boards that rim the track.

Kalahari/Bicycle Sports Elite Cycling and Multisport Team

Atlanta, USA based cycling team Kalahari/Bicycle Sports is expanding for 2004, with the target of having a dominant Southeast program. A category 3 and masters team in 2003, Kalahari has increased its level of sponsorship in combination with John Cobb's Bicycle Sports to fuel seven category 1/2 racers and 7 multisport athletes.

Click here for the full roster.

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