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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for June 4, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Brioches La Boulangère to stop

The French Division I team Brioches La Boulangère announced Thursday that it would not continue sponsorship of the team past the end of 2004. Despite a successful start to the season, the increased investment necessary to enter the UCI's planned Pro Tour beginning in 2005 represents too great an increase for the company.

"According to the new regulations, we would have to increase our investment by 40% compared to the 2004 season (28 riders minimum vs. 20 current), and the administrative costs would increase in the same manner," the team said in a written statement.

"It's obviously with great regret that after an excellent 2003 season and a promising 2004, an analysis of the budget constraints for 2005 prompts us to make this decision."

The Brioches La Boulangère team, which evolved from the Vendée U formation of Jean-René Bernaudeau into the Bonjour pro team, made a lot of noise before this season when it announced the arrival of Tour de France contender Joseba Beloki. The ex-ONCE leader was lured to France to provide La Boulangère with a GC leader, though Beloki thus far has shown difficulty as he has returned to competition after last year's season-ending crash in the Tour.

Beloki signed a two year deal with La Boulangère, and beyond wishing director Jean-René Bernaudeau and the riders good luck, the team has not indicated what will come of the current contracts.

The team could become the first official casualty of the new Pro Tour, which aims to assemble the top 18 teams into a newly structured league, placing increased demands on each team, notably the mandatory participation in all grand tours and current World Cup races which will combine to form the Pro Tour calendar.

Bernaudeau, however, remains optimistic that he will find a replacement sponsor and keep the team structure intact, and declares himself interested in the Pro Tour. The team submitted its candidature to the UCI ahead of the June 1 deadline, along with four of the five other French Division I teams.

RAGT Sits out Pro Tour

While Brioches La Boulangère cited the financial requirements of the UCI's new Pro Tour as the primary reason for its planned withdrawal from sponsorship at the end of this year, another French team has announced that it will sit out the first year of the Pro Tour. New sponsors RAGT Semences and MG Rover will not forego their support of the team of, but the team management recognizes that it cannot meet the UCI's demands for the Pro Tour, which would require an almost tripling of the current budget.

With France allotted three teams in the 18 team Pro Tour next year, four now remain to fight for the available slots: Cofidis, Crédit Agricole,, and Ag2r-Prévoyance. Assuming he can find a replacement sponsor for Brioches La Boulangère, Jean-René Bernaudeau will have the fifth candidature, which has already been submitted. The UCI is expected to render a verdict on the final Pro Tour selections at the end of June.

Danielson learns to race Pais Vasco style

By Martin Hardie

Tom Danielson, Fassa Bortolo's Coloradan import, spoke to Cyclingnews before the start of Thursday's second stage of the Euskal Bizikleta in Karantza about his first day on the bike racing in Pais Vasco.

"It was different to what I am used to," he said, "but I am now a bit more familiar with the way the locals race now. The climbs are shorter but they race crazy up them.

"I did Romandie a few weeks back and it was a bit of a longer climb but much calmer - it's easier for me that sort of climb," Danielson added. "Here positioning is so much more important. I had good legs (on the first day) but on the last climb (of the Ubal) I was too far behind. There was a left turn near the beginning and I was on the right hand side, the bunch kind of pushed out and I just got stuck behind. I came to a bit of a standstill, then I looked up and the lead group had just gone... and you can't do anything about it."

While they were speaking a loud screaming sound was heard nearby. Tom asked "what was that?" With a little local knowledge, Cyclingnews informed Tom that it was the local kids greeting the arrival of Euskaltel. The local Karantza girls were out in force, waiting for the arrival, with photos of their pop idol, Sammy Sanchez, hanging necklace-like over their shirts.

Tom was pleased to explain how had a go on the second last climb of the first stage, La Escrita.

"Yeah I felt good and I was excited to be at the front and feeling good, I could see behind that the group was splitting, and I thought oh well I should try and attack," he said. "I felt good so I figured on the last climb I would be OK, but my positioning was bad. Hopefully I will figure it out one day this week."

Allergies hamper Beloki

Beloki not breathing easy
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

As his race condition slowly but steadily returns, Joseba Beloki (Brioches La Boulangère) has found himself battling another foe: his allergies. For several seasons now the Basque rider has suffered with seasonal allergies, and it seems a particularly bad attack was due in part to his poor showing on stage one of the Euskal Bizikleta.

"I couldn't breathe and I panicked a bit," Beloki explained, referring to his stage 1 episode which saw him lose some seven minutes to stage winner Miguel Martin Perdiguero. "This allergy is starting to become a problem."

Beloki already returned home from a training camp in the Pyrénées in France several weeks ago after a similar episode. He remains concerned about the upcoming Tour de France, not just because of his less than perfect preparation this spring, but because his usual allergy medications figure among the list of banned substances in France. Beloki is currently seeking an exemption from the UCI.

Quick.Step and Cofidis for Dauphiné

The Quick.Step-Davitamon and Cofidis teams announced their rosters for the Dauphiné Libéré on Thursday. The race runs from Sunday, June 6 to Sunday the 13th, and for some riders is the last key preparation race for the Tour de France.

Quick.Step-Davitamon: Frederic Amorisson, Laurent Dufaux, Pedro Horrillo, Juan Miguel Mercado, Nick Nuyens, José Antonio Pecharroman, Michael Rogers, Richard Virenque

Cofidis: Frédéric Bessy, Jimmy Casper, Christophe Edaleine, David Millar, David Moncoutié, Stuart O'Grady, Janek Tombak, Matthew White

Scanlon races up world rankings

By Shane Stokes,

Following Mark Scanlon's two wins in UCI 1.3 races in Estonia last week, the Sligoman has moved up to 115th in the latest UCI world ranking, the highest rating for an Irish professional since the days of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

The 23 year old took 120 UCI points in two days racing in Estonia, virtually guaranteeing his place on the two man Irish team for the Olympic road race and also greatly enhancing his chances of being selected by his Ag2r-Prévoyance team for the Tour de France this year.

With a total of 403 points, he is just 66 off the total which would move him into the world's top 100 riders.

Scanlon's points haul has also had the effect of helping Ireland move up to thirtieth in the world rankings, a long-term aim of Cycling Ireland. Two places will be secured for the elite world road championships if Ireland is thirtieth or better on August 15th.

Ulmer to race with TDS-Schwalbe

World champion and new world record holder Sarah Ulmer of New Zealand will join the TDS-Schwalbe High-Speed Team to compete in the Nature Valley Stage Race (June 9-13) in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Last week Sarah broke the world record in the three kilometre pursuit in the qualifying rounds of the Track World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. She followed up with the gold medal and rainbow jersey.

Last year while competing with TDS at Nature Valley, Ulmer won the sprinter's jersey. She also joined Team TDS for the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic where she earned the leader's jersey with the team's assistance.

"We're very fortunate to have a rider of Sarah's caliber join us for this event. Her enthusiasm and talent always motivate the team to do their absolute best," said team manager Karl Heidgen.

Giro Fantasy competition winners announced

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Fantasy Giro d'Italia competition, which saw thousands of entrants competing for the fabulous prizes on offer over the three weeks of the tour. In first place, winning the team issue Domina Vacanze replica Specialized S-Works E5 frameset plus a pair of Rudy Project Ketyum sunglasses and helmet, is Australian Chris Mavrangelos who scored 5759 points with his 15 riders.

Chris's winning team (Corn's Wheelers) consisted of: Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), Alessandro Petacchi, Dario Cioni (Fassa Bortolo), Fred Rodriguez, Crescenzo d'Amore and Gerhard Trampusch (Acqua e Sapone), Stefano Garzelli and Marco Zanotti (Vini Caldirola), Serguei Gonchar (De Nardi), Brad McGee (, Franco Pellizotti (Alessio-Bianchi), Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet) and Alexandre Usov (Phonak).

As you can see, Chris covered all of the bases. "As far as strategy for the fantasy Giro, I settled on the combination of nine GC riders and six sprinters," said Chris. "I did not consider any riders who could have possibly won a stage but not finish regularly in the top 10, i.e. 'rouleurs'. Also riders not likely to finish the Giro such as McEwen were not considered. I used past Giro results and form leading into the race as the main selection criteria. By checking out the results of the first few stages I was able to fine tune my squad and settle upon my final fifteen riders.

"It was an intriguing Giro this year with the expected battle between Simoni and Garzelli never really materialising. During the final few stages Cunego retook the maglia rosa (thankfully for me since I had picked him) setting up an interesting tussle between himself and his own designated team leader."

Second and third places went to the same person - Charles Barthel of the USA. There is no limit on the number of teams that can be entered by a single person in our Fantasy Games, and Charles clearly picked two nearly-winning teams (Calfeegiro04 and TetraGiro04) that earned him a set of Campagnolo's Proton road wheels plus a pair of Rudy Project Ketyum sunglasses for second place, and a CycleOps PowerTap Pro plus a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses for third place.

Barthel described his strategy as follows: "To select eight GC riders that I thought could be in the top 12 (five that I figured could be top 5), six sprinters that would consistently score in the top 10, and one rider that could pull a stage win and maybe finish in the top 25 on GC.

"The one rider that I thought could get a stage win and be in the top 25 was McGee (prologue, ITT), and he preformed way beyond my expectations. My value GC rider was Cioni. I picked him based on his results in the Tour of Romandie. It was a stretch since I knew he would be working hard for Petacchi, but again he performed better than I could have hoped for (and he only cost 75 points). My top five GC riders included Pellizotti, who ended up 11th, but Cioni made up for that. I ended up playing two teams because I wanted to test out the difference between a higher GC score vs a high stage score.

"The big point rider switch between the two teams was Garzelli for McEwen. McEwen didn't perform as well as I hoped and Garzelli came on late in the Giro. Garzelli's result in Stage 19 cost me the win. Going into stage 19, I was in 1st and 5th, but my 5th place team had Garzelli and my 1st place team didn't. Garzelli just didn't look strong early on or I wouldn't have played it this way."

In fourth place, winning a Mavic Win-Tech computer plus a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses was John D. Frey of the USA, whose eponymously named team picked up 5477 points. Rounding out the top five and winning a pair of Pearl Izumi Viper Road shoes plus a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses is another US reader David Taylor, who's Verdi Square Rouleurs scored 5475 points.

Thank you to everyone who entered the fantasy Giro competition, and we look forward to seeing you again in the Tour de France in four weeks time.

Click here to register early.


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