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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for June 7, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & Anthony Tan

Beloki not going to the Tour?

By Martin Hardie in Durango

Beloki not happy
Photo ©: Martin Hardie
Click for larger image

During the course of the final morning of the Euskal Bizikleta, the word was according to Basque radio station EITB that Joseba Beloki had said that he would not be going to compete the 2004 Tour de France. Ever since his dreadful crash descending in the 2003 Tour, the Basque rider has been plagued by a difficult recovery and comeback trail.

First of all in the months immediately following the Tour he had to contend with his injuries and the slow process of rehabilitation. Over the winter he started to be seen on the bike - but it was not a habitual or constant occurrence. His second problem came with his attempts to get back on the bike - his old home ONCE-Eroski had shut its doors and as Director Manolo Saiz searched for a new sponsor it became increasingly apparent that their was no space available for Beloki. Saiz effectively replaced Beloki with Heras in his personal quest to gain a Tour victory.

Then along came Brioches La Boulangère. Beloki signed with them prior to Christmas 2003. Who exactly Beloki had signed with became an issue this week when Brioches La Boulangère announced at the start of Stage Two of the Euskal that it would not continue sponsoring the team next year. Beloki was clearly not happy, saying that he had signed with the company until 2005. The team Director, Jean Rene Bernaudeau, contradicted him by saying that in fact the deal was with him and not the sponsoring company.

Added to all of this, Beloki has been plagued by a recurring allergy problem, for which according to him, the only reasonable cure is to use medicines that are prohibited by some national cycling federations. He has been improving slowly in recent weeks. But when the allergy hits, the result is a near impossibility to breathe properly.

Earlier in the week a number of Basque pro's still thought Beloki was one to be counted amongst the Tour aspirants. But the week didn't go as hoped. In the end, the allergy, the team and sponsor problems saw a late night summit called between Bernabeu, Beloki and his lawyer, with negotiations resulting in an agreement that will see Beloki a free agent at the end of 2004.

The question as to where he will go or who will have him is the hard one. He was expected, at the conclusion of the Euskal on Sunday, to hold a press conference atop of the final climb of Arrate. But instead of proceeding to the top of the narrow Cat. 1 he climbed into a car and headed home to Vitoria. No press conference, no announcement and no one really expects Beloki to go to France now - it is just a matter of time before the official announcement.

Gaggioli defends himself

"I'm going to manage the team, no matter what"

Roberto Gaggioli: "I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover"
Photo ©: Bill Parsons

After a disciplinary hearing found Team Monex rider Robert Gaggioli guilty of assault for attacking fellow rider Jonny Sundt with a 2x4 at the Cheaha Challenge, the outspoken Italian-American has defended his actions, saying he only wanted to "scare" Sundt and described his six-month suspension as "excessive". In addition, Gaggioli has indicated "I'm going to manage the team, no matter what", despite the ban encompassing participating as a rider or a manager in any USA Cycling or UCI events from May 31 to December 31, 2004.

"I don't know if it was for defending myself or what, I just grabbed a two-by-four," Gaggioli recalled in an interview with Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski on the eve of the USPRO Championships. "Everyone knows about it, I'm not lying - I admitted it. I grabbed it to scare him. I hit the bike. I didn't try to hurt him. If I wanted to hurt him I would hurt in hin the race, you know? That's the easy way. We were two people involved in the incident, and I'm the only one to pay for it."

Speaking about the numerous defamatory articles that have being posted about him in Internet newsgroups, Gaggioli retorted by saying, "I feel sorry for them because I am going to be there a longer time than them. I think these people there don't have any life. That is why they are posting there."

Nevertheless, Gaggioli is determined to continue managing the Monex team, who, according to himself, are right behind him.

"I'm going to manage the team, no matter what. I am suspended from anything requiring a USCF or UCI license. So I can't follow the race in the car, or pick numbers up at the meeting, but I am still managing the team, I am still the director. Monex is still after me and I'm the only one who can do the job. They don't really care what's happening, because they know if it happened, that there is a reason for it," he said.

Click here to read the full interview.

Casagrande looks forward to Switzerland

Lampre's Francesco Casagrande is looking forward to his first race of the 2004 season, which will be the Tour de Suisse on June 13. After finally getting over an Achilles tendon injury that has plagued him for the best part of a year, Casagrande is eager to compete. "Finally! I was fed up watching races on TV. Now I'm happy and I hope to do well. I'm returning to racing after a really long break [his last race was the 2003 Firenze-Pistoia time trial where he crashed into a policeman].

"It had never happened before in my career to take a break for this long. Now I'm fine, the training is intensifying every day with an increase in distance and time. I no longer feel the pain in my left Achilles tendon and it's time to put to the test whether I can sustain the good training results in a race."

Casagrande was forced to watch his national tour, the Giro d'Italia, on television and admitted that he suffered during the first few days, knowing that normally he would be there. "Then I began to think about the next re-entry and a certain monotony in too many stages finishing in a sprint. It enabled me to watch the race from more of a distance."

Casagrande will race the Italian National Championships on June 27, although he will be lacking race rhythm. "I like the National Champions circuit at the end of June in Santa Croce sull'Arno, but I think that there is a good chance that Bettini will win again."

After the National's, his program will include the Criterium D'Abruzzo (July 3), Trofeo Matteotti (July 4), Brixia Tour (July 23-25), HEW Cyclassics (August 1), GP Camaiore (August 4), Clasica San Sebastian (August 7), Tre Valli Varesine (August 17), Coppa Agostoni (August 18) and Championship of Zurich (August 22).

Garzelli to Tour de Suisse

Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) has confirmed that he will ride the Tour de Suisse, which starts this Saturday, June 13. Garzelli has been suffering from bronchitis after the Giro d'Italia, and had to miss both the Mottarone time trial and Marco Pantani Memorial Criterium last week. Garzelli will race alongside Pavel Tonkov in the TdS, both riders being strong candidates for the overall.

Rebellin to skip Italian Championships

World Cup leader Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) will not be riding the Italian National Championships on June 27 in Santa Croce sull'Arno. Rebellin has opted for a long break after his successful spring season, which saw him win two World Cups and an Hors Categorie race in the space of eight days. "I have shown myself to be one of the few riders in the world who can go strongly all season, and I need to take a breath," Rebellin was quoted by ANSA as saying.

Rebellin's main goals in the second half of the season include the Olympic Games, World Cup and World Championships.

Saeco opts out of Pro Tour

The Saeco team has joined the rising tide of division I teams that do not want to be part of the UCI's Pro Tour next year. The team, which includes Giro winners Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, did not ask for a Pro Tour licence as team manager Claudio Corti believes that the Pro Tour would place too many demands on his riders. The requirement that PT teams have to ride all three Grand Tours and all the World Cups is too much, according to Corti, who is hoping that other teams will follow his example. So far, only a handful of teams have indicated that they want to be part of the Pro Tour, which is due to commence next year.

Source: De Telegraaf

Ronde van Limburg annulled

Sunday's UCI 1.5 classified Fair Play centres Ronde van Limburg in the Netherlands had to be annulled after the race finished in confusion. After a group of 25 dropped riders was led off the course by a police motorcycle, it managed to regain contact with the main field and some riders contested the finish, including the 'winner' Juan Pablo Magallanes (Mexico). The race jury couldn't determine which riders had ridden the entire course, thus the result was annulled.

U.S. receives six Olympic track start positions

The United States has qualified for six track cycling events at the Olympic games according to UCI guidelines and its track qualification procedures. The confirmation, which came following the recent Track Cycling World Championships, includes three women's events and three men's events.

In men's competition, the U.S. has received one start position each in the men's team sprint, the men's keirin, and the men's points race. For women, the U.S. has received one start position each in the women's sprint, the women's 500m time trial, and the women's individual pursuit.

Now that the number of track cycling start positions have been confirmed, the U.S. has been granted a total of 21 start positions in the three disciplines of cycling - road, mountain bike and track.

Men's Road Cycling
Road Race (5 start positions)
Time Trial (2 start positions)

Women's Road Cycling
Road Race (3 start positions)
Time Trial (2 start positions)

Men's Mountain Bike
Cross Country (2 start positions)

Women's Mountain Bike
Cross Country (1 start position)

Men's Track Cycling
Team Sprint (1 start postion/3 riders)
Points Race (1 start position)
Keirin (1 start position)

Women's Track Cycling
Sprint (1 start position)
500m Time Trial (1 start position)
Individual Pursuit (1 start position)

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