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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for January 25, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Saunier Duval-Prodir seeks success for first season

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Tim Johnson's ready
Photo ©: T. Johnson

El Grande Hotel Puente Viesgo in Spain's northwestern Cantabria region was the site of the Saunier Duval-Prodir 2004 team presentation Friday. Team manager Mauro Gianetti has teamed up with the Iglesias family, father Félix and son Roberto of Saunier Duval Spain, long-time sponsors of the sport, to put together the Iberian Peninsula's eighth pro squad for 2004. Saunier Duval makes state of the art home heating systems, while Prodir makes high quality Swiss pens used for promotional purposes. Saunier Duval-Prodir will start 2004 in Division I and the team has put together an interesting team roster with a 3.5 million euro budget.

General manager Gianetti, who split from the Vini Caldirola team last year has taken two of the best sports directors in cycling with him to head up his technical staff. Joxean Fernández Matxin, at 33 the youngest d.s. in the peloton, and Vittorio Algeri (joined by his brother Pietro and nephew Matteo Algeri) will guide the 20 man formation this season, but no particular rider will rule the roost.

"Since we are primarily a Spanish team, the Vuelta is important for us and we'll have Joaquin Rodriguez as our leader there," said the likeable Matxin, who was formerly a well regarded d.s. with Mapei's TT3 team. "Plus we want to win at least 10 races this season."

Formerly of ONCE-Eroski, the promising 24 year old Rodriguez had two important wins last season with stages of Paris-Nice and the Vuelta a España, where he was 26th. Other key riders for the Saunier squad are experienced Swiss powerhouse Fabian Jeker, Spaniards Juan-Carlos Dominguez and David Canada, and interesting Colombia climber Javier "Chepin" Gonzalez who comes across from 05 Orbitel. The team has also reached an agreement with ex-Kelme rider Constantino Zaballa after extended negotiations.

The Italian contingent at Saunier Duval-Prodir consists of sprinters Massimo Strazzer and Alberto Loddo, miniscule pocket climber Leonardo Piepoli, as well as talented neo-pro Manuele Mori.

Swiss-italian wonderboy Rubens Bertogliati will be seeking some confirmation in 2004, while the lone American (and Cyclingnews diarist), 26 year old Tim Johnson from Middleton, Massachusetts, looks to his debut in the European peloton with excitement after several years at Saturn.

With Gianetti and his crack technical staff and an ambitious, talented young team, look for Saunier Duval-Prodir to perform well right away in 2004.

Saunier Duval-Prodir 2004 roster

Vasseur speaks

Vasseur remains calm
Photo ©: AFP

Following his near 48 hour detention by French drug police for questioning about the ongoing drug trafficking surrounding the Cofidis team, Cédric Vasseur spoke out in a press conference near Lille, France. Vasseur was apprehended along with teammate Philippe Gaumont upon the team's return from its Calpe, Spain training camp last week. Both riders were released without being charged, however while Gaumont confessed to his own use of banned substances such as EPO, Vasseur maintained his innocence.

"That would be an unpleasant surprise," Vasseur said Saturday, referring to any eventual proof of an organised drug trafficking ring within the Cofidis team. "After the Festina affair, a passage was spread through the peloton. We know the rules, and we've all signed contracts stating that we'll be fired in the event of any positive controls."

Cofidis soigneur Bogdan "Bob" Madejak is suspected by police to be at the center of an organised system of trafficking from eastern Europe, and ex-Cofidis riders Marek Rutkiewicz and Robert Sassone have also been arrested, suspected of their own involvement in the affair.

"They asked questions about me and about members of the team, how the team functions, and the relationships between various members," Vasseur said of his interrogation. "I don't know what they have on any other riders, but I do know that they have nothing on me.

"It's true that when I started in this career, giving up my engineering studies, I never would have imagined 48 hours in questioning," he noted. "But I feel distanced from all of this, I feel calm."

Valverde confirmed to 2007

Eager to keep Alejandro Valverde in its ranks, despite a drop to Division II this season, Kelme and new title sponsor Comunidad Valenciana have reached an agreement to keep the rider through 2007. A substantial buyout clause, reportedly 2.5 million euros, was attached to Valverde's contract, but the team also had good faith measures in mind to keep him satisfied and nip any potential move to rival Spanish team Liberty Siguros (whose manager Manolo Saiz had expressed in Valverde) in the bud.

The agreement adds nearly a million euros per year to Valverde's contract, and also outlines his primary season objectives, including the Vuelta a España, the Olympic Games, and the World Championships, according to a Marca report. With the young Valverde secured, the team seeks only to finalise its contract with its other designated leader, Angel Casero (ex-Bianchi).

Moreau's pre-season hex

It seems there's a hex on Crédit Agricole team leader Christophe Moreau. Once again, Moreau has seen his early season compromised by injury, delaying his start to the 2004 racing season. Moreau has twice suffered a broken collarbone in the opening days of racing (l'Etoile de Bessèges in 2000, GP Marseillaise in 2002), and last year upon his return from the Tour Down Under in Australia, Moreau contracted a virus which put him out of action as well.

This year it seems things are no different. At Crédit Agricole's pre-season training camp in Hyères, France, Moreau injured his knee and will now likely have to delay his return to racing until March.

"We had barely ridden twelve kilometres when my front wheel touched the rider in front of me," Moreau explained in l'Equipe. "I made a move to avoid crashing, and the movement caused a cracking sound in my right knee."

As it turns out, Moreau managed to damage several ligaments in his knee, although the prognosis is not too serious. He hopes to slowly restart training indoors within the next two weeks, with the goal of racing in March at Tirreno-Adriatico.

CSC Set for first races

Team CSC, although concentrating on major early season stage races like Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, is nonetheless eager to test its new recruits in the first races of the season. One team will head to the Challenge de Mallorca, while others will tackle the French season openers. Directeur sportif has declared himself satisfied with the team's results at the Lucca, Italy training camp, and he himself will head to Mallorca for the February 1 opener.

"All riders have worked very hard, even though it's been almost too cold these last couple of days," Yates said. "Now they have to rest for the upcoming races, which as a starting point will be used as training for the big races such as Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico."

Several new riders will gauge their early season form at the Tour Méditerranéen. "For this race we bring in riders like Basso, Bartoli, Jaksche, Voigt and Blaudzun, who have all shown excellent form at the training camp here in Lucca," Yates continued. "We hope to keep up in the first stages and then make a good team time trial, which could decide the overall win."

O'Brien lands freeride racing deal

By Shane Stokes,

Irish downhill rider Glyn O'Brien has finalised a deal to compete on the freeride circuit with Cove Bikes, a North Vancouver-based manufacturer. O'Brien has raced strongly for several years in downhill races, but took perhaps his best result to date last Autumn when he finished third in the Red Bull Rampage in Utah.

The two day free-ride race saw 27 contestants compete against each other in the red hills near Zion National Park, choosing a variety of racing lines from the 1,500 foot high starting point. They were judged according to their style, racing line, fluidity and the tricks they pulled off on the way down, and O'Brien's fine performance against some of the top names in the sport highlighted his blossoming talent.

The deal is a big boost for the Northern Ireland rider and should help him to continue to gather fine results this season. He will also conduct research and development for Cove Bikes.

Lehigh Valley Velodrome 2004 schedule

The Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) Velodrome released its 2004 International Race Schedule Saturday with a new prize purse of $58,000 and the announcement of the $20,000 USA Cycling Fastest Man on Wheels, a post-Olympic Games gala September 3-4.

The 29th Velodrome season will include five major events and a prize list of $58,000. Highlights of the season include:

June 4: Nicole Reinhart Women's Cycling Classic & Tandemonium
July 9: Bicycling Magazine Madison Cup
July 30: Nestor's Keirin Cup & Velodrome Hall of Fame Night
September 3-4: USA Cycling Fastest Man on Wheels
September 16-18: Penn State Lehigh Valley Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships

For more information and the full racing calendar, see or call (610) 967-7587.

Northwest Juniors Racing Series

Organisers in Seattle, Washington announced the 2004 Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation­Northwest Juniors Racing Series, which is presented by Bicycle Paper and the Washington State Bicycle Association and is part of the Lance Armstrong Junior Olympics Race Series. The all-criterium race series is comprised of 11 races in the Seattle area.

Continuing on last year’s success, the 2004 series will run on many of the same courses. Five new venues have been added to this year’s line up, including three new courses in the Seattle area. Juniors race start times have been moved from early in the morning to "prime time," and are now scheduled to run just before the top senior categories later in the day.

The series will continue with the successful age and gender-based junior categories: A (17-18); B (15-16); C (13-14) and D (10-12).

A series-long points system will run for male and female racers in each age group. Final series category winners will be awarded "2004 Series Winner" yellow jerseys and all series final podium finishers will be awarded Junior Olympics medals.

The series begins April 4 with the Recycled Cycles Boat St. Criterium in Seattle. For the full series calendar, and for more information,

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