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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for June 6, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Pre-Tour showdown at the Dauphiné-Libéré

By Jeff Jones and Tim Maloney

All eyes will be on southern France this week as Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, Iban Mayo, Christophe Moreau, Ivan Basso and others do battle in the 56th Critérium du Dauphiné-Libéré, considered one of the most important pre-Tour de France tests as well as being a very prestigious race in its own right to win. It will be Armstrong's last race before the Tour, and the two-time winner of the Dauphiné will line up as the top favourite.

"This is a super race", said Lance Armstrong (USPS-Berry Floor), who is ready to defend his title in Megève. "I've always said it's a beautiful race and with the uphill time trial on le Mont Ventoux (Thursday), it will be a great test for me before the Tour de France. For me, after the Tour, the Dauphiné-Libéré is the best race on the calendar. The peloton isn't too big, the roads are nice, the hotels are nice and it's well organised."

Armstrong and the other 117 riders in this year's 56th running of the Criterium le Dauphiné-Libéré will test their legs Sunday in a 5.4km Prologue TT in Megeve up and down the Cote de Choseaux, where Lance, Credit Agricole's Christophe Moreau, Phonak's Ty Hamilton, World TT champ David Millar (Cofidis), CSC's Jorg Jaksche and Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer will be favorites for the Dauphine' Libere's Maillot Jaune / Bleu of race leader.

The eight day race begins on Sunday, June 6 with a 5.4 km prologue time trial Megève which includes the small Cat. 4 climb of the Cote des Choseaux at 3.1 km. Lance Armstrong, Credit Agricole's Christophe Moreau, Phonak's Tyler Hamilton, World TT champ David Millar (Cofidis), CSC's Jorg Jaksche and Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer will be favorites for the Dauphiné-Libéré's Maillot Jaune/Bleu of race leader.

The riders will then face the longest stage on Monday, June 7, as Stage 1 takes them 231 km from Megève to Bron via the Cat. 3 Col des Fleuries - certainly a stage for the sprinters. Stage 2 from Bron to Saint-Etienne (181 km) is no sprinters affair, however. After a lumpy 150 km, the riders face the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix de Chaubouret (1201m) with its summit coming at 16 km from the finish. This will be the first test for the mountain men, although there are harder stages to come.

Wednesday's third stage between Saint-Etienne and Aubenas (180 km) is slightly easier than Stage 2, but with the Cat. 2 Col de Mezilhac (1119m) coming at 36 km to go, the sprinters will have a bit of work to do to reach the finish with the front group. Stage 4 on June 10 is a key stage: a 21.5 km individual time trial from Bedoin (280m) to the top of Mont Ventoux (1909m), the feared Géant de Provence. This stage will be an important one for the classification as well as the Tour de France aspirants, who will face the Alpe d'Huez mountain time trial on July 21.

Stage 5 from Bollène to Sisteron (149 km) should be another one for the sprinters, featuring four Cat. 4 climbs including twice up the Monthée du Thor in the finishing circuits in Sisteron. Gap / Grenoble (144 km). Stage 6 starts in Gap and straight away goes up the Cat. 2 Col Bayard before descending into Chauffayer, then tackling a mountainous parcours culminating with the Cat. 1 Col du Luitel after 110 km. Two more Cat. 3 climbs are encountered in the last 34 km before the finish in Grenoble.

The final 200 km stage around Grenoble on June 13 is no sprinters romp either. After a flat first 60 km, the riders climb the Cat. 2 Col de l'Echarasson (1146m) followed by the Cat. 4 Col de Carri (1202m) and Cat. 2 Col d'Herbouilly (1374m) with its summit at km 112. Then there is a drop down into the valley before the final climbing obstacle of the Dauphiné is reached: the Cat. 1 Col de Sarcenas (1156m), a 10.5 km climb averaging 6.5%. The summit is at 15 km to go, so once again there will be a fast, downhill plunge into Grenoble to determine the winner of the 2004 Critérium du Dauphiné-Libéré.

The stages

Prologue - June 6: Megève ITT, 5.4 km
Stage 1: June 7: Megève - Bron, 231 km
Stage 2: June 8: Bron - Saint-Etienne, 181 km
Stage 3: June 9: Saint-Etienne - Aubenas, 180 km
Stage 4: June 10: Bédoin - Le Mont Ventoux ITT, 21.6 km
Stage 5: June 11: Bollène - Sisteron, 149 km
Stage 6: June 12: Gap - Grenoble, 144 km
Stage 7: June 13: Grenoble - Grenoble, 200 km

USPRO Championships/Liberty Classic double on Sunday

By Mark Zalewski and Jeff Jones

Petra Rossner
Photo ©: Rob Karman
Click for larger image

A double dose of racing begins at 9am, June 6 with the 11th annual Wachovia Liberty Classic. Over 100 elite, international women cyclists will compete in the 57.6 miles/90.56 kilometre race consisting of four laps of a 14.4-mile circuit through Philadelphia with steep climbs up the grueling Manayunk Wall. The Wachovia Liberty Classic is part of the Women's Pro Cycling Tour and will feature national, world and Olympic champions as well as numerous stars on both the domestic and international pro women's circuit, all vying for the $52,000 prize purse. An in-form Lyne Bessette has brought with her a solid team to defend the title she won last year, but T-Mobile has the strength and numbers to steal the show in 2004.

Cyclingnews asked Meredith Miller (S.A.T.S.) her opinion of the race tomorrow, and she believes that it will finish in a bunch sprint. "There are too many teams here that have sprinters who can get over the Wall," she told Mark Zalewski. "The race really isn't long enough for there to be too much attrition. It's a fast finish. Petra Rossner obviously [is the favourite]. But also the Americans like Tina Mayolo, who is having a spectacular season."

Over the same course on the same day, the 2004 Wachovia USPRO Championship celebrates its 20th year of world-class professional cycling with more than 200 of the world’s top professional cyclists descending upon the streets of Philadelphia. The USPRO Championship is the longest running and richest single-day cycling race in the U.S. and one of six official events on the 2004 Pro Cycling Tour. Riders will compete on a 14.4-mile circuit in front of an estimated crowd of more than half a million spectators, with the race determining the Wachovia USPRO National Road Champion.

The 156 mile/250 kilometre race begins and ends at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and makes its way through Kelly Drive. The course then turns steep and slow into the hilly Manayunk community, where the ultimate winner must endure and conquer the infamous 17 percent Manayunk Wall each lap to get his hands on the lion's share of the $135,000 in prizemoney up for grabs.

We spoke to several more of the favourites for the USPRO Championships (see yesterday's news for Mark McCormack, Fred Rodriguez, Chris Horner and Antonio Cruz). Cyclingnews diarist John Lieswyn (Health Net/Maxxis) was a little cautious when we asked him who their team leader will be. "That depends, we'll see," he said. "We've got a great team. I think it's Jason [McCartney] but we'll see."

Lieswyn is one of the most experienced riders on the circuit, and one thing he has learned is that "When there's $45,000 on the line, the sprint is NOT slow! Nobody blows up, so positioning around the fountain is crucial. And in addition, I've learned that there is no set pattern to the race. It can be won in any number of ways - it's a very unpredictable race."

Team CSC's Bobby Julich has been in excellent form this year, and is a dark horse candidate for the Philly, which typically favours sprinters. "I feel good," he said. "I stayed over after Tour de Georgia and trained at altitude. I got really good training in after Georgia. I'm looking forward [to Sunday]."

Finally Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly-Aramark) hopes that he can do a good job for his team and doesn't have high hopes of finishing. "Sunday is hard because of the distance - it's not hard because of the course. I can do 100 miles and get a lot of work done for the boys. Sunday is the day where I just work for the other guys. I'll be up there setting tempo, pulling guys to the front at the base of the wall, getting water bottles and giving up my wheel if necessary. I'll get as much work done as I can for 100 miles, and then go to the feed zone and help feed!"

Join us for live coverage of the USPRO Men's Championship on Sunday starting from 9:00 EDT (USA East)/6:00 PDT (USA West)/15:00 CEST (Europe)/23:00 EST (Australia East).

Cipollini says yes to Tour

In what could be his last chance to ride in the Tour de France, Italian superstar sprinter Mario Cipollini has said yes to the opportunity. Cipollini was injured in a crash during stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia, which eventually saw him abandon the race with a total of 14 stitches in his right leg and left elbow. "I will participate in the Tour, even if I am not in my best condition," said Cipollini. "I hope my team will support me."

Kelme riders promised money on Monday

The riders of the beleaguered Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team, which have not been paid for two months, have been promised their salaries on Monday, June 7, according to the managers of the team. After not being paid for April and May, the riders raised a protest at the Euskal Bizikleta and were considering going on strike if they didn't receive their back wages. The riders are also concerned about the status of seven of their colleagues, including Angel Casero, who still haven't received racing licenses.

The riders have demanded a meeting with the powers that be in the Valencian government to discuss the issue. However, the team managers have stated that this will not be necessary, as everyone will be paid on Monday. If this does not happen, then the riders will go on strike.

Thousands show to support Nicole Reinhart's memory

By Mark Zalewski in Trexlertown

A huge crowd, which is something that doesn't happen too often with track cycling in the United States, gathered at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome Friday evening to support the Nicole Reinhart Women's Cycling Classic. The evening featured many of the top American track cyclists racing in numerous events, with the women racing for the largest purse available in North America, but the focus was on remembering Nicole Reinhart and supporting developmental cycling programs.

Mike Reinhart, Nicole's father, is the force behind the event and the foundation in memory of his daughter. "Tonight was overwhelming. It was a great tribute to Nicole and to the spirit of Nicole. We really want to promote what she stood for and really exemplify the sport in a really positive way. Giving scholarships is part of the healing process. We are accomplishing something - we know that Nicole can't accomplish anything anymore, but her name can accomplish a lot. And it's so critical with developmental cyclists to have that help in a real important time, so if we can help put the focus there it's going to really help the sport."

Having the event in Trexlertown was also important to Reinhart. "Nicole always had a great fan base and loved coming here because it was so warm and receptive," said Reinhart. "That is what makes T-town so great!"

Reinhart also explained that the scholarship money the foundation is raising will also honour Nicole's memory. "The college scholarships are really important, because when Nicole was a rider she was going to go to Penn State but it was really expensive. So she moved to California where she could become a resident and go practically for nothing. But we've always thought it would've been nice for her for go [to school] in her hometown. That is one of the things we wanted to do."

And the effects of having that scholarship are already materializing. "Because Penn State, with the track here, always has a men's team, but could never attract the women," said Reinhart. "And now, they have attracted Sarah Uhl. And she is elated to be able to close to home and ride for Penn State."

The foundation is also giving out an additional $8,000 in scholarships to any collegiate cyclist, with the application process beginning that day on the foundation website, www.nicolesbench.com.

McCauley seals Olympic place

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Ireland's Jenny McCauley today secured her place in this year's Olympic Games when she finished 37th in the Fort William World Cup race in Scotland. McCauley finished eight places better than 45th placed Tarja Owens, the Sydney Olympian thus losing out on the chance to get to her second successive Games. She had needed to beat McCauley by at least four places today to secure her participation.

Last season, McCauley and Owens together obtained one place for Ireland in the women's cross country event at the Olympics. The qualification criteria laid out by Cycling Ireland determined that place would go to whichever of the two achieved the most world ranking points in the World Cup events over the past three weekends. McCauley faired best in each of those races, placing 58th to Owens's 61st in the first race in Madrid, 60th compared to Owens's 61st place in Houffalize last week and then 37th to her 45th place today.

McCauley will now join Robin Seymour on the squad for Athens, with two road race places and one possible track place yet to be filled. Seymour was hoping for a good performance today to enhance his chances of getting a good grid position for Athens. He was running 54th in the men's race today but crashed and had to withdraw.

More changes to Colombian Olympic team

The five member Colombian men's road team that will compete in the Olympic Games in Athens has undergone a few changes in the wake of the Giro d'Italia. Due to injury, Rubert Albeiro Marin and Freddy Gonzalez have been replaced by Luis Felipe Laverde and Ivan Parra. They will join Santiago Botero, Marlon Perez and Victor Hugo Peña in the squad, that is allowed to field four riders in the road race.

Kingsnorth Wheelers looking for riders

The Belgian-based, British-registered club Kingsnorth International Wheelers is on the lookout for riders to race with the team in Belgium this year. The team, based in Gent and run by the inimitable Staf Boone, is now in its 10th year of existence and has given opportunities to numerous English speaking riders to race at the European level. In the past, Boone has looked after Fred Rodriguez, Alan Peiper, Gordon McCauley, Kirk O'Bee and Dean Downing, among others.

Kingsnorth was formed by Peter Murphy, the UK importer of Belgian clothing manufacturer Nico Sport, which is also the principle sponsor. Murphy, together with assistant Ian Whitehead, is offering riders clothing, transport and inexpensive accommodation for the riders.

For further information contact either Peter Murphy (+44 (0)1233 636443), Ian Whitehead (+44 (0)1689 896292) or Staf Boone (+32 (0)92250096).

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