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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for March 3, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong and Ullrich in 24th Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia

This week's five day Spanish stage race is a little different to the norm, as it features a much discussed encounter between Tour de France rivals Lance Armstrong (US Postal-Berry Floor) and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). Armstrong appears to be in good shape after his time trial victory in the Volta ao Algarve, where he finished 5th overall. Ullrich has had only one day of competition so far this season (last Sunday in Almeria) and will not be putting himself under any pressure in Murcia.

Although last year's third and fourth place getters in the Tour, Alexandre Vinokourov and Tyler Hamilton, will not be present in Murcia, the fifth and sixth place finishers, Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia (both Euskaltel) will. These two riders are also in the very early stages of their seasons, and not a great deal will be expected from them.

A couple more riders in Ullrich's T-Mobile squad are Erik Zabel and Cadel Evans, both of whom are stage win candidates after their performances so far this year. In the time trial, watch out for Germans Uwe Peschel and Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner), both proven performers against the watch. Antonio Colom (Illes Balears-Banesto) will be looking to make up for his near miss in the Vuelta a Comunidad Valenciana, however his rival there Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) will start in Murcia with ambitions and the form to win.

The key stages in Murcia are the stage 2 time trial in Lorca (21.3 km) and the fourth stage between Totana and the Alto Collado Bermejo (169 km). The latter is a Cat. 1 climb rising to 1,150 metres, with the riders having to climb 900 metres in the final 18 kilometres.

The stages

Stage 1 - March 3: Murcia - San Pedro del Pinatar, 177 km
Stage 2 - March 4: Lorca - Lorca ITT, 21.3 km
Stage 3 - March 5: Yecla - Catlike (Yecla), 156.4 km
Stage 4 - March 6: Totana - Alto Collado Bermejo, 169 km
Stage 5 - March 7: Murcia - Murcia, 133 km


Brioches La Boulangère (Pichon)
Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme (Valverde)
Cafes Baque (F. Gutierrez)
Costa Almeria-Paternina (Torrent)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Mayo, Zubeldia, D. Etxebarria)
Gerolsteiner (Peschel, Rich)
Illes Balears-Banesto (Colom, Galvez)
Lampre (Pagliarini)
Mrbookmarker.Com-Palmans (Van de Wouwer, Planckaert)
Relax-Bodysol (S. Blanco)
Saeco (Di Luca)
Saunier Duval - Prodir (Dominguez, Piepoli)
T-Mobile Team (Ullrich, Zabel, Evans)
US Postal-Berry Floor (Armstrong)

Museeuw to Paris-Nice

Johan Museeuw
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

After a strong performance in Kuurne last Sunday, Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has decided that he will ride Paris-Nice instead of Tirreno-Adriatico. "What follows after that, I don't know yet," he said. "At my age, I usually look at it from week to week. If I feel great, then I won't rule out Milan-San Remo any longer. Wouldn't it be stupid to pass on La Primavera if I feel up to the task? In function of the team, it's understandable. Otherwise, we don't have that many Museeuws in our team."

Patience for Steels

Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will not be in action in Wednesday's GP Fayt-le-Franc in Belgium. The sprinter is still suffering from his fall in Moscow a few weeks ago, and will probably race in the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen and possibly Tirreno-Adriatico next week, subject to team manager Gerard Bulens' approval.

De Clercq offered Olympic spot

Belgian cyclo-crosser Mario De Clercq has been offered a spot in the Belgian Olympic team as a mountain biker, reports Het Nieuwsblad. The triple cyclo-cross World Champion, who won a mountain bike race last weekend in the Netherlands, says it's unlikely that he'll be in Athens.

"Very tempting, but the qualification standards don't appear realistic to me," said De Clercq. "I have to score in the Belgian Cup and then finish two times in the first eight in a round of the World Cup...That means I would have to peak then [in May] and therefore have to keep training after a hard 'cross season. And then hypothetically the following 'cross season. Maybe the BOIC will waive the standards. At the end of this week, I should know everything."

Walter Planckaert is back

After a 14 month break from cycling, Walter Planckaert (brother of Eddy and Willy, uncle of Francesco and Jo), will return as a team director with Chocolade Jacques. His appointment will take the pressure off manager Jef Braeckevelt and director Johan Capiot, who have not found things easy going of late due to the team's expanded program.

Planckaert's last job as a director was with Lotto-Adecco, but when the merger came with Domo, there was no spot left for him. He has also directed the Panasonic and Palmans teams in the past.

Team boss Noël Demeulenaere said, "In every marriage there is some discussion. We have carried out the necessary reshuffling and now everyone in the team is satisfied."

Landuyt affair distills

The investigating magistrate in Kortrijk, Belgium is expected to make a decision soon about the main suspects in the José Landuyt affair. The case concerns a Belgian veterinarian who is accused of supplying drugs to various people involved in bicycle, horse and pigeon racing. Following raids on more than 20 houses in September last year, Johan Museeuw, Mario De Clercq, Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers were under suspicion of being supplied by Landuyt. It now appears that hormones were only found at the homes of Planckaert and Peers, the reason being given is that they were for their wives, who were pregnant at the time.

Source: VRT Teletekst

Moseley breaks wrist

Tracey Moseley
Photo: © Tracey Moseley
Click for larger image

Britsh downhiller Tracy Moseley has broken her right wrist whilst out training last week. She came up short on a set of double jumps in her local trails and landed badly, resulting in a clean break of her radius. Moseley was taken to hospital, where they confirmed the break, and returned there last Friday to have the bone re-aligned. She is expected to make a full recovered and should be back on her bike in the next 6 to 10 weeks.

This will mean she will not be able to race the first Maxxis Cup or Sea Otter but will be back fighting fit for the first world cup round in Fort William where she will be determined to win on home soil. In the meantime she will be training on her home trainer indoors.

Skoda official car sponsor for the Tour

Czech car manufacturer Skoda, part of the Volkswagen group, will be the official car sponsor of the Tour de France this year. Skoda takes over from Fiat, which has been involved with the Tour since 1989, and its sponsorship is worth approximately €3.5 million.

South Australia awarded host for 2005-06 Australian Road Championships

Location for parcours likely to be Paracombe

By Anthony Tan & Gerard Knapp

Crowds estimated at 15,000 lined the Buninyong course at this year's Nationals
Photo: © Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

The state of South Australia will become the new venue for the Australian Open Road Championships for the next two years, commencing in 2005. Australian Major Events (AME), the events division of the South Australian Tourism Commission, will play host to the 2005-06 Championships, which, for the past three years, have been held in the Victorian country town of Buninyong.

"The decision was the subject of lengthy discussion by the Cycling Australia board at its meeting last Sunday," said President of Cycling Australia, Mike Victor. "But the South Australian bid won out as the most comprehensive and superior."

According to Cycling Australia, the bid to host the Championships was assessed against an extensive criteria, including: competition and infrastructure, support network, finance, marketing and promotion, and athlete and visitor facilities. Strangely, no mention was made of consideration to the course/s proposed by AME - a factor that has made the last three road championships in Buninyong so successful - other than that one of the locations mentioned in the bid document was Paracombe, a small town north-east of the capital city of Adelaide in the heart of the Adelaide Hills region.

"We've got a lot of faith in Mike Turtur to pick a good course," Victor assured Cyclingnews. "We want to make sure it's challenging enough from an athlete's point of view."

When Cyclingnews asked Turtur about the proposed parcours, the race organiser of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - a highly-successful UCI 2.3 stage race also held in the state of South Australia - preferred not to discuss possible locations, only saying that a decision will be made by Cycling Australia's technical committee in consultation with the State's high-performance coaches. However, Turtur did indicate that both the men's and women's time trials may be held on the same day, with the men's road race staged a day earlier - traditionally on the Sunday - to provide cyclists also competing at the Tour Down Under an extra day's rest.

"There was no decision taken on the exact course, but it's up to the technical committee to inspect and select the right course." said Turtur. "We're keen to see the Australian Open have its own space; one idea that has been floated is that the both time trials will be held on the same day and the [road] championship will be on the Saturday. Also, the time trial may be held on a course different to that of the road race, to make both events as accessible to as many spectators as possible."

While clearly disappointed with the outcome, Caribou's John Craven - promoter of the Australian Championships in Victoria for the past six years - was pragmatic in his reply: "Life goes on here in Victoria. We're still the biggest promoter of cycling in Australia," he said proudly.

"We can now have a holiday in January and concentrate on the Herald Sun-Tour, Melbourne to Warrnambool, the Tatts Cup, Tour of Sunraysia and the Tour of Queensland. Caribou paid out $2.5 million in prizemoney the past 15 years - which was audited by the VCF (Victorian Cycling Federation) - and this year, we're looking to pay out a further $266,500."

Australian Junior Track Cycling Championships in Launceston

By Rod Morris

Australia junior cycling talent will be on display at this weekend's Australian Junior Track Championships at the Launceston Silverdome in Tasmania. A total of 116 riders from every Australian State and Territory will contest the four day championships, starting on Friday at 10:00am. The Championships will be held over twice daily sessions, with three sessions scheduled for Sunday.

Riders will have the chance to contest a variety of events, including scratch race, 500 m Time Trial, Individual Pursuit (2000 m), Sprint and Teams Pursuit titles. A new event on the program will be the 1-lap Time Trial, which has replaced the old 200 m Sprint trial. In the case of the Silverdome, this event will be over 285 m and the early favourite should be West Australian Scott Sunderland, who was clocked at 19.24 seconds at Perth's Midvale Superdrome.

Schedule of events

Day 1 - Friday, March 5: 1 lap Time Trial (JM15, JW15, JW17, jm17), Teams Pursuit (JM17), Individual Pursuit (JW17), Scratch Race (JM15, JW15)
Day 2 - Saturday, March 6: Individual Pursuit (JM15, JW15, JM17), Sprint (JW17)
Day 3 - Sunday, March 7: Sprint (JM15, JW15, JM17), 500 m Time Trial (JW17)
Monday, March 8: 500 m Time Trial (JM15, JW15, JM17), Scratch Race (JM17, JW17)

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