First Edition News for June 23, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
US Postal Tour team announced
Lance Armstrong's US Postal team has announced the riders that will join the Boss when the Tour kicks off in Liege on July 3. Six members of last year's squad return to do battle on the roads of France, with two new faces, one of whom will be riding his first Tour de France.
The squad comprises Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, Pavel Padrnos of the Czech Republic, Jose Azevedo of Portugal and Spaniards Manuel Beltran, Jose Luis Rubiera and Benjamin Noval. Azevedo and Noval are first-year team members. The team's two reserve riders are Luxembourger Benoit Joachim and Victor Hugo Pena of Colombia.
"Basically, we have the same team as the other years," said Armstrong in a statement on the team's official fan club site www.thepaceline.com. "We have a very experienced team and more than anything else, we have a very committed team. They know what it takes to win the Tour and they want to do that again."
Armstrong also commented on this year's Tour route, saying, "The last week looks really tough, the toughest we have ever done. It will be much better to have a stronger second half than a strong first half."
Team general manager Don Osipow told Cyclingnews that the team was feeling "as confident as we have been the last handful of years" about its ability to deliver Lance Armstrong a sixth Tour de France victory. "This has become the team's main goal," said Osipow. "Johan [Bruyneel, USPS directeur sportif] has created a schedule to have a number of riders peaking [for the Tour] and this year he wants to have guys peaking toward the end of the race, with the more difficult final week."
"There's a lot of experience in this team," said Osipow, "Lance has said that experience will be key and everyone except Noval has done a grand tour before." However, Osipow stressed that nothing is certain, "We have a plan and after the gun goes off in Liege anything can happen. Some years we've been able to control, but you saw last year that things don't always go to plan."
Directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel offered an extensive analysis of his reasons for the selection, with particular emphasis on the area where challengers to Armstrong will have to make their moves: the mountains. "We will have a very strong team in the mountains, stronger than last year," said Bruyneel. "Azevedo is riding very strong and even in the Dauphiné (Libéré), where he wasn't in top shape, he was always there with Lance and was able to attack sometimes. I am confident he will be a key rider in the mountains. Let's not forget he placed fifth in the Giro (2001) and sixth in the Tour (2002). He can do a lot of work when we need him.
"As for Chechu (Rubiera), of course, we know what he is worth every year in the Tour. I trust he will be in good shape when the mountains arrive. Triki (Beltran) the same - we all saw what he was able to do last year. I hope he will be on the same level (this year) and even if he will be a little less, he will still be a good supporter in the mountains. Where we will improve is with Floyd. Don't forget he came back last year from his hip fracture just a few months before the Tour and didn't really play a role in the mountains. This year, he will. That will give us four support riders for Lance in the hills.".
US Postal's two super-rouleurs, George Hincapie and Viatcheslav Ekimov bring the experience of 21 Tours de France between them - 14 for 38-year-old Ekimov who is likely to be the oldest rider in this year's Tour and seven for Hincapie. "I also looked to two guys you always know will be there - George and Eki," said Bruyneel. "George even added support in the mountains last year. Eki will play his usual role in the team time trial and on the flat and rolling stages."
Filling the final two spots are Pavel Padrnos and Benjamin Noval, selected on experience and fitness respectively. "For Pavel, I choose him for his experience," said Bruyneel. "It was not an easy choice between Pavel and Benoit. For those two, they are basically in the same condition but I went with the experience of Pavel. As for Noval, I selected fitness over experience. This will be his first Tour [de France] but he has raced in three Tours of Spain. He is very professional and very dedicated and will do his job. He may be nervous in the beginning but that's the risk you have to take. You have to be in shape and he was in good enough shape to be selected."
Bruyneel said Armstrong agreed with his selections. "I talked with Lance about the selection," said Bruyneel. "He didn't want to make any decisions and agreed with my choices. He has a lot of confidence in this team. We have six riders from last year and two new guys - although Azevedo was always guaranteed a spot. Lance is confident he has a strong team and now it's up to him to be ready. His form is coming. This year, things were planned a little different. The Tour route is different, with the mountains coming so late, so we are trying to have everyone reach top shape right at the start of the Tour, maybe even a bit later. It's not easy to plan but I think we calculated it well and the guys have confidence that their form is coming."
Pound weighs in to Australian track cycling scandal
World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound has called for the investigation into the Mark French affair to be swift and thorough. "It will confirm that Australia is what is says it is and that is a leader in the plate against doping in sport," he said.
Australian cyclist Mark French was suspended after vials and syringes found in his room at the Australian Institute of Sport facility in Adelaide, South Australia were found to contain equine growth hormone and Testicomp, a product that contains banned substance glucocorticosteroid. In testimony to the Court of Arbitration of Sport, French alleged that other riders at the institute had used his room to inject themselves with a range of substances, but he is unable to say what products they used. He also denied any knowledge of the EGH and was unable to explain how the used EGH ampoules were in the sharps bucket found in his room.
Pound added that users of growth hormones would be caught by a new test being developed for this year's Olympic Games. "I hope we're going to have tests by the time of the Olympics that will be reliable for growth hormone, so I don't think that anybody who is using it or has used it should be sleeping easily," he said.
Previous stories on the French affair
Evans out of T-Mobile Tour team
Cadel Evans will probably not be riding the Tour de France as part of the T-Mobile team, contrary to yesterday's unofficial team listing. Sources close to Evans, who recently won the Tour of Austria, say he learned late last night that his current status is 'first reserve' although he has been working toward being a Tour team member all season.
In the most recent update to his diary, posted yesterday before he learned he was not in the team, Evans expressed his frustration with not knowing if he was going. "Jan and Erik are the only two riders who know for sure that they are going to the Tour," he said. "I've been training for the Tour since October last year and now here we are less than two weeks from the start and I still don't know if I'll be there."
In other T-Mobile Tour news, Tobias Steinhauser has indicated on his website that he will not be able to ride the Tour because of the injuries he sustained in a crash at last week's Tour of Switzerland.
Herman Nys dies
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
Herman Nys, the Belgian who acted as mentor to Sean Kelly when the Irishman was starting out on his career has died. He was of huge assistance to Irish cyclists for many years, first looking after Liam Horner during the sixties at the world amateur championships.
Nys provided a stable base for Kelly in the early days of his life on the continent, helping ease the transition as he got to grips with the life of an international cyclist. More recently he was instrumental in setting up the Team Ireland base in Belgium, thus helping the next generation of Irish cyclists take their own steps towards pro contracts.
Nys will be buried on Thursday in Vilvoorde, Brussels. May he rest in peace.
Irish team for European Track Championships
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
Four of the medallists from last weekend's Dolan All Ireland Track Championship have been named by Cycling Ireland's Track Commission to a squad to compete at the European Track Championship in the Velodrome Luis Puig, Valencia, from 14th to 18th July 2004.
The team for Spain is Peter Dunne (Navan Avonmore) and Ray Clarke (Worldwide Cycles) first and second in the Irish sprint championship, pursuit winner Paul Healion (Usher IRC) and pursuit bronze medallist Michael Concannon (Killorglin CC).
Dunne and Clarke will compete in the Elite Sprint Omnium, which includes the keirin, elimination race, 1 lap flying start TT and the sprint. Paul Healion will ride the Elite Endurance Omnium, namely the 3 kilometre pursuit, the 20 kilometre points race, the 10 kilometre scratch race and the elimination event.
Michael Concannon (Killorglin CC) will compete in 4 kilometre pursuit, the 30 kilometre points race and the 15 kilometre scratch race of the Under 23 European Championships.
Brian Nugent will act as team manager and endurance coach, while Ian George will be team mechanic and sprint coach.
The team will leave for Spain on the 12th July. This event will be the last warm up competition for teams competing at the Olympic Games, and so should attract a strong field.
Women's Prestige series standings
The US Women's Prestige Cycling Series made its second stop on June 9 - 13 at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Participation in the Series resulted in an increase in the size of the women's peloton, from 80 in 2003 to 104 this year, a record for women's racing in Minnesota.
Lyne Bessette (Quark Cycling Team) retains her lead in the series after winning Nature Valley. Katherine Sherwin (Team Kenda Tire) heads the Best Young Rider rankings for under-26 riders while Gina Grain (Victory Brewing) tops the sprint contest and Equipe Rona is top women's team.
Individual 1 Lyne Bessette (Quark Cycling) 440 pts 2 Katrina Grove (Equipe Rona) 197 3 Genevieve Jeanson (Equipe Rona) 165 4 Christine Thorburn (Webcor Builders) 132 5 Susan Palmer-Komar (Genesis Scuba) 121 Best Young Rider (U26) 1 Katherine Sherwin (Team Kenda Tire) 242 pts 2 Genevieve Jeanson 220 3 Erinne Willock ( Equpe Rona) 220 4 Lauren Franges (Victory Brewing) 209 5 Stefanie Graeter (Webcor Builders) 154 Sprint Competition 1 Gina Grain (Victory Brewing) 385 pts 2 Laura Van Gilder (Genesis Scuba) 220 3 Andrea Hannos (Equipe Rona) 165 4 Lyne Bessette 142 5 Amy Moore (Quark Cycling) 132 Team Standings 1 Equipe Rona 886 pts 2 Quark Cycling 683 3 Genesis Scuba 312 4 Victory Brewing 233 5 Webcor Builders 204
See www.WomenCyclists.com for more information.
Tinker Juarez robbed
Mountain bike endurance specialist Tinker Juarez was robbed at gunpoint of his road bike and cell phone a couple of weeks ago, according to sources at his sponsor Cannondale.
Juarez, 43, the reigning US 24 Hours of Adrenalin champion and one of the most popular riders on the cross-country circuit for his longevity as a pro and friendliness, was riding one of his usual training loops from his Downey, California home. His route included a stretch of the bike path alongside the concrete-paved Los Angeles River. "A work-crew was re-paving a section and had put a detour that sent you on to the city streets," Juarez explained. Unfortunately, those city streets were in one of the roughest areas of North Long Beach. "I had stopped at this park for minute to get water, figure out how to continue my ride, and to change the music in my Walkman, when I felt a tap on my shoulder." Juarez turned to see a gun pointed at his face. The gunman demanded Juarez's Cannondale Six13road bike and his cell phone.
"I don't think the guy has any idea of what he has," Juarez observed, "When he rode off you could see he didn't know how to ride it - he wobbled off with it still in a big gear." Juarez surmises that his $5800 bike was "probably traded for a $50 bag of whatever."
Second Harvest Food Drive at Lehigh Valley Velodrome
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome has joined with Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, affiliate of America's Second Harvest, to raise food and supplies for those in need. The Velodrome will grant free admission to the Friday, June 25 Red Robin International Sprint Tournament for each individual that donates at least one nonperishable good.
"The Velodrome is about helping the community and that is why we decided to have one of our 2004 food drives be on the night of the Red Robin International Sprint Tournament," said Jacob Burns, Lehigh Valley Velodrome marketing director.
The Second Harvest Food Bank nonperishable goods wish list includes: cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna, pasta, rice, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, diapers, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, and personal care items. Glass items will be accepted but due to potential breakage are discouraged.
Other promotions that will be featured on Friday, June 25 include free admission for all schoolteachers with ID, the Penn State University Nittany Lion mascot, musical guest Wolfe will be performing on the Velodrome's stage starting at 6pm, a Live Remote by B104, and classic cars.
Gates open at 6pm on Friday, June 25 for the Red Robin International Sprint Tournament, with racing to begin at 7pm. For tickets or more information about racing at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, visit the Velodrome website at www.lvvelo.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)