Latest Cycling News for June 28, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Roberto Heras: Liberty, Egalité, Fraternité
One of a handful of contenders that can seriously challenge Lance Armstrong at the upcoming Tour de France, Roberto Heras is back with the 'brotherhood' at Liberty Seguros, and has quietly been preparing himself in his attempt to win the Grand Boucle. Can he do it? Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie investigates.
Cyclingnews: When you won the Vuelta in 2000 you were a leader of a team in your own right. Why did you change from being a leader and a winner to being a domestique for someone else?
Roberto Heras: Well it was because of the point I was in my career. In the end, after various offers, I decided that it was time to leave Kelme. I had five very good years with Kelme and I thought, 'Well, my contract with Kelme was at an end,'; after winning the Vuelta in 2000, things and opportunities were different and I needed a change. USPS had a good looking project and that was that, nothing more. I could of stayed with Kelme but I felt like a change.
CN: When you joined USPS did you think at times that you might become the leader after Lance retired?
RH: No, I never thought that. When I joined USPS nobody was thinking about when Lance might retire. So I never thought about being leader because the leader was Lance.
CN: But for the Vuelta a España?
RH: Yes, for the Vuelta, yes of course I was the leader. That was clear; I had won the Vuelta and I would be the leader for the Vuelta. But nothing more than that.
CN: At times did you ever think that USPS didn't give you enough support in the Vuelta?
RH: No, not really. The situation was pretty clear. You have to remember that for USPS the main objective always is that Lance Armstrong wins the Tour. The Vuelta was an objective but not the grand objective of the team. Thus many times many riders would come to the Vuelta after putting in big efforts at the Tour, having done a lot of very good, hard work and so it wasn't a question of support, it was just the fact that people were just very, very tired. It was normal that people couldn't respond 100 percent in the Vuelta because they had done so much good work in the Tour.
Alessio-Bianchi names Tour team
Sport directors Bruno Cenghialta and Fabrizio Fabbri will field an experienced nine man Alessio-Bianchi team for the Tour de France, confirming the final names today. With Pietro Caucchioli as the team's spearhead for the mountains and GC, the squad also boasts Paris-Roubiax winner Magnus Bäckstedt, the super experienced Fabio Baldato, consistent GC rider Andrea Noé and Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland, who will be filing reports from the Tour. The remainder of the squad is Alessandro Bertolini, Martin Hvastija, Marcus Ljungqvist and Claus Møller.
Illes Balears-Banesto for the Tour
The Illes Balears-Banesto team will boast Spanish national champions Francisco Mancebo (road) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (TT) in its Tour line up, which was named today. Along with Russian climbers Denis Menchov and Vladimir Karpets, Illes Balears should make a good impression on the GC.
The full squad is Francisco Mancebo (Spa), Denis Menchov (Rus), Jose Iván Gutiérrez (Spa), Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Daniel Becke (Ger), Aitor Osa (Spa), Chente García (Spa), Mikel Pradera (Spa) and Xabier Zandio (Spa).
Lotto-Domo names Tour squad
Not surprisingly, Lotto-Domo has built its Tour de France squad around former green jersey winner Robbie McEwen. "The aim is to win stages," said team director Marc Sergeant to Sport.be. "We have McEwen in the team so that he can compete in the bunch sprints. The green jersey? Let's first start with a stage win."
Sergeant specified that the GC is not an objective for the team, and all rounders Axel Merckx and Rik Verbrugghe will have their own chances to go for stage wins. Sergeant is still suffering from a hernia will be staying at home in July, leaving the DS duties to Hendrik Redant and Claude Criquielion.
The full team: Axel Merckx (Bel), Christophe Brandt (Bel), Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), Thierry Marichal (Bel), Wim Vansevenant (Bel), Robbie McEwen (Aus), Nick Gates (Aus), Aart Vierhouten (Ned) and Koos Moerenhout (Ned).
Boonen's National titles post-mortem
Tom Boonen, probably the biggest favourite for the Belgian championships yesterday in Tessenderlo, was unable to realise his dream after missing the crucial chasing move of 20 riders shortly before the halfway point. The race was won by another Tom - Steels - who used his vast experience and good form to make the final three man breakaway with Omloop and Verheyen. Steels comfortably won the sprint and claimed a record fourth Belgian men's championship.
Although he looked it, Tom Boonen did not say he was disappointed with his non-result. "Disappointed? No, that is not the right word because I was never in it today," he was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad. "Ach, the Tour is my next goal. It will be easier there...I won't lie awake at night because of this."
Boonen said that when the early break of eight riders went, there was no panic. "We controlled it so that the difference would not become too great. Then there was that second break in which there were four of my teammates. Well, then it was naturally not up to me to ride."
Later on, Boonen did try to bridge across but always got several riders on his wheel who wouldn't work, and he also felt that he wasn't strong enough on the day to tow them across. "That's logical, I knew that I could expect this on this sort of parcours: if I was in front, there was no-one who wanted to ride with me, and if I was behind, then they would ride doubly as hard in front."
Olympic places for Scanlon and Power
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
While no official announcement will be made by Cycling Ireland until Wednesday, Ag2R Prevoyance rider Mark Scanlon and Navigators professional Ciarán Power were today notified that they are the Irish Olympic selection committee's choice for the 2004 Games.
Scanlon's nomination is no big secret, given that he is the country's strongest rider and had double the world ranking points of the other contenders before Sunday's national road race championships in Sligo.
Power's selection was greeted with a little more surprise by some, even though he started the day with 99 UCI points which was a higher total than the other riders. David McCann was on 89 points, David O'Loughlin on 55 and the promising young espoir Philip Deignan on 14. The latter has however had some excellent results in the top under 23 events this year.
However Power's sixth place on Sunday meant that some had expected either O'Loughlin or McCann get the nod. Once the various points were added up under Cycling Ireland's selection criteria, though, the selectors felt that Power was still ahead and so would be offered the place.
O'Loughlin and McCann's reactions are not known yet. They have been named as first and second reserve to the team.
Belgian sprinter Freddy Maertens was named a Citizen of Honour in his home down of Lombardsijde (Middelkerke), Belgium last Saturday. A statue was erected and a Freddy Maertens bicycle route was unveiled to celebrate the occasion by Mayor Michel Landuyt. Other former top cyclists present at the ceremony included Lomme Driessens, Eric De Vlaeminck and Eric Leman. Maertens
The 52 year old Maertens was a two-time World Champion and won a record 13 stages in the 1977 Vuelta a España, a feat difficult to imagine anyone repeating now. Maertens also holds the equal record number of stage wins in a single Tour de France: eight in 1976. Eddy Merckx (1970, 194) and Charles Pelissier (1930) also achieved this feat.
Images by Karen Lambrecht
Den Bosch wants the Pro Tour team time trial
The Dutch town of Den Bosch wants to host the team time trial in the UCI's Pro Tour, according to De Telegraaf. The one off event is scheduled for June 19, 2005, and the mayor of Den Bosch, Ton Rombouts is very keen to secure the race for his town, with support from Cees Priem's Libema company. Eindhoven, the Zeeland Delta and Leo van Vliet's Proma BV firm are others interested in staging the race.
6th Mt. Holly-Smithville Invitational Grand Prix
The 6th edition of the Mt. Holly-Smithville Invitational Grand Prix will take place on July 31 in Burlington County, New Jersey, USA. The 92 mile (148 km) race consists of seven laps of a 12 mile circuit through Mt. Holly and the surrounding towns of Easthampton, Westhampton, and Springfield, finishing with three 2.7 mile loops through Mt. Holly's residential and business district.
The Mt. Holly-Smithville Grand Prix is considered one of the premier road races on the USA's East Coast, and this year's event will be open to UCI Division I, II and III trade teams and a selection of elite amateur teams, who will compete for $10,000 in cash. Teams wishing to enter can submit an application via www.co.burlington.nj.us/bikerace. The team selection process will end on July 5 and selected teams will be announced on July 7.
Proceeds of the race will go to the non-profit Smithville Village Conservancy to help in their restoration project of the Smithville mansion and Smithville Park in Burlington County, New Jersey.
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