First Edition News for June 8, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Ullrich closer to target
Steady training in quasi-solitude since the spring classics period appears to have paid off for Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), who returned to competition at last week's Tour of Germany and put in several promising performances en route to a 7th place overall, just 59 seconds behind race winner Patrik Sinkewitz. Ullrich's next test will be the even more difficult Tour de Suisse, where he hopes to complete the preparation necessary for the Tour de France in July.
In the meantime, Ullrich and his teammates have investigated several Tour de France stages in the Alps, as well as the closing time trial in Besançon, which he expects will be more important than many observers have indicated.
"I'm not one of those who think that the Alpe d'Huez time trial will be the decisive stage," Ullrich explained. "I'm not focusing only on that stage because, having seen the profile of the Besançon time trial, we're sure it won't play out like the one between Pornic and Nantes last year. It's more like the Gaillac time trial."
This thought will surely provide Ullrich with plenty of motivation following his dominant performance in the Gaillac time trial where he took 1'36 from yellow jersey Lance Armstrong. Speaking of the five-time Tour winner, Ullrich downplays the inevitable talk of another Armstrong-Ullrich duel, noting that the competition is not limited to those two.
"Riders like Mayo or Zubeldia could shake things up, or another unknown like I was in 1996," he said.
As for his most recent racing, Ullrich is confident that his preparation is on the right track. Although his early season race results didn't inspire much confidence, Ullrich has not had any problems with health or injury this spring, and in fact began his training earlier than usual, beginning with strength work as early as November.
"I didn't go to the Tour of Germany to win, and I expected even less to do such a good time trial," Ullrich said, referring to his second place behind fellow specialist Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) in the time trial. "All of the sudden I began to feel that the hard training from the last few weeks was beginning to pay off."
Ullrich went on to ride steadily in the two mountain stages of the tour, though he lost ground on each stage when the decisive attacks disrupted the steady rhythm among the leaders. "My diesel motor is working again, the turbo not yet," he said.
Nonetheless, the German had no complaints about his racing, unconcerned by the bit of fitness he for the moment still lacks. "I stayed with the leaders for a long time [in the mountains], and each time I decided it was better to maintain my own rhythm," Ullrich noted. "I had no reason to go into the red, it's still too early for that."
Wegmann takes a break
The winner of the green mountains jersey in the Giro d'Italia, Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) has earned a rest after his efforts in Italy. Together with his partner Johanna, the 23 year old has been spending time in Lago d'Iseo near Bergamo since the end of the Giro, and hasn't ridden his bike. Wegmann started the Giro with the ambition just to finish, but thanks to his gutsy riding, came away with one of the major jerseys.
"I went into the record books. Inconceivable actually," he said on the Gerolsteiner team's website. In winning the green jersey, Wegmann became the first German to do so. "I'm tremendously happy about that. The fact that I'm the first German to take this is even better."
Wegmann said the main reason he won the jersey was that, "I was simply very motivated and I absolutely wanted to take this jersey home. When I lost it after the 18th stage, I actually didn't count on getting it back again." But after taking second place on the Mortirolo climb the next day, he did just enough to keep the green jersey away from Damiano Cunego. He also finished 36th in the general classification.
Slightly built at 1.76 m tall and weighing only 59 kg, Wegmann is definitely a rider to watch in the mountains in future, even if he won the mountains prize in the Giro through good tactics rather than brilliant climbing. He owes some of his success to his now retired brother Christian, who raced for Saeco until 2002. "Christian set me on the right wheel. He inspired me and motivates me," said Fabian, who comes from a track and field background.
After Wegmann's Giro success, he began negotiating with team boss Hans-Michael Holczer to extend his contract to the end of 2005. "I would gladly remain with Gerolsteiner," he said. His next goal is the German Championship on June 27, and he will skip the Tour de France in favour of the World Cup races in August, where he will help to defend Davide Rebellin's rainbow jersey.
No Tour for Rebellin
In addition to his planned bypass of the Italian national championships, announced Sunday, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has indicated that he will not participate in the Tour de France either. Rebellin, the king of the Ardennes classics this spring, has placed the greatest importance on the classics of the second half of the season, and particularly the Olympic Games and world road championships.
Phonak ready for home tour
Having already claimed victory in Switzerland's Tour de Romandie, thanks to Tyler Hamilton's defense of his 2003 title, Phonak Hearing Systems is gearing up for another major event on home soil, the upcoming Tour de Suisse (June 12-20). With Hamilton off to a solid start at the Dauphiné Libéré, another roster will tackle the home tour, led by Santiago Perez and Alex Zülle.
"I'm sure Phonak can win this race, even without Tyler Hamilton," Swiss national champion Daniel Schnider commented on the team's website. "
"After the necessary recovery from the Giro d'Italia, I'd also like to show something during the top Swiss race," he added. "Perhaps I'll even manage to be part of a breakaway group once with a possible influence on the overall standings. I achieved my best Tour de Suisse result with a seventh place in the prologue, but in most cases I've offered my services as a helper."
Schnider tips Perez as the team leader, but insists Zülle and Oscar Camenzind are in excellent condition, while the team can also count on Alexandre Moos and Martin Elmiger. As for Phonak's rivals, Schnider expects former winners Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) to be present, not to mention the ever-improving Jan Ullrich.
Phonak Hearing Systems for Tour de Suisse:
Niki Aebersold, Oscar Camenzind, Martin Elmiger, Alexandre Moos, Santiago Perez, Gregory Rast, Daniel Schnider, Alex Zülle
RAGT down but not out
With less than a month to go before the start of the Tour de France in Liege, the RAGT Semences-MG Rover team is still suffering misfortune in the form of crashes and injuries to its riders. In Saturday's Classique des Alpes, Christophe Rinero fell into a ravine on the descent and was taken to Chambéry hospital. Although he suffered multiple bruises and a sprained neck, he was able to return home on Monday. Also Eric Berthou missed a corner on a descent during the team's training camp a week ago, and he ended up with a one month medical certificate from the hospital in Ambérieu en Bugey.
More serious was the death of the team doctor, Roland Mathieu, which occurred last week. Described as "Discreet in nature and with a faultless sense of ethics, throughout his career, Roland Mathieu devoted himself to the fight against doping. [RAGT Semences-MG Rover] pays homage to him."
RAGT's team manager Serge Barle is hoping that the team will pull together in time for the Tour. "I can honestly say that I'm a little bit worried as the Tour is not a minor event. Lately our best riders have come unstuck. Firstly Yoann Le Boulanger who is still getting over his injury from the Tro Bro Léon followed by Christophe Rinero who scared us all after falling into the ravine in the Classique des Alpes. Fortunately the diagnosis for Rinero is reassuring in spite of major bruising and a sprained neck. We reckon that he should be back and fighting fit for the Route du Sud. Getting back to the Tour, I hope that we will be up to it. Anything is possible. One of our guys could well end up in a breakaway group one day and bring us into the spotlight. Why not? We don't have the team to play the leading roles but we can bet on the riders' determination to do well."
RAGT came close to its first win today when Christophe Laurent joined together with Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) in the final 50 km of the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. The pair were caught with just 1.5 km to go as the sprinters' teams wound it up.
Large field for Nature Valley Grand Prix
Over 120 women - a 50 percent increase from last year - are expected to take the start of the five day Nature Valley Grand Prix on Wednesday, June 9. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the second race of the Women's Prestige Cycling Series (WPCS), which kicked off with the Redlands Classic earlier this season.
The NVGP will feature trade teams such as Equipe Rona, Team Basis and the Victory Brewing Cycling Team, as well as 15 other national and regional teams from all over the USA. "The WPCS is the best example we have that if you involve the women's teams in your race, they will support it," said David LaPorte, director of the Nature Valley Grand Prix and overall organiser of the WPCS.
The current WPCS leader is Lyne Bessette (Quark), who will be competing at NVGP and is expected to be in contention for the overall GC this year. The field also includes sprinters Laura Van Gilder (Genesis Scuba),Gina Grain (Victory Brewing), Amy Moore (Quark Cycling Team) and newly crowned World Champion Sarah Ulmer (TDS-Schwalbe High Speed).
The WPCS was one of the many outcomes of the first Yoplait Women's Cycling Summit Conferences, which began at last year's Nature Valley Grand Prix with the second conference at InterBike 2003. The conferences are designed for team managers, sponsors, USA Cycling, the UCI and riders to come together to develop solutions for issues surrounding women's cycling. The third Yoplait Women's Cycling Summit Conference will take place Friday, June 11 from noon to 3:00 pm at the Park Inn Suites, 7770 Johnson Av S, Bloomington, MN.
In addition to the Redlands Bicycle Classic, and Nature Valley Grand Prix, the two other races that are part of the WPCS are The International/Tour de 'Toona (July 26-August 5), and CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix (September 23-26).
More information: www.womencyclists.com
Lehigh Valley Velodrome TT series
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome (LVV) will hold the first of three Open Time Trial Series events on Wednesday, June 9. The series will give riders of all abilities an opportunity to ride Olympic style events for practice, fun and to set potential velodrome records. The events will also usher in a new age category (under 18) for the future.
Riders are not required to hold a USA Cycling license prior to the event as one-day licenses may be purchased at each race. In addition, riders may use their own bikes (track bikes are not necessary) and need no track cycling experience.
Olympic events include the 4000m TT, 3000m TT, 2000m TT (Non-Olympic junior distance), 500m TT, 200m TT, and 1km TT. Starting gates will be available during the series for those who would like to use them. The cost of entry is $5.00 per event each day of the series. The event times are 6:00pm until 10:00pm on June 9 and August 18, and noon until 4:00pm on July 11. Registration for events begins an hour before the event times, and lasts throughout the duration of the event.
For more information about the 2004 Open Time Trial Series at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, visit the Velodrome website at www.lvvelo.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)