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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 4, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Bruyneel pleased

While US Postal's victory in the first stage of the Tour of Murcia yesterday was nothing to be sneezed at, winning isn't the team's main game plan, according to directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel. Bruyneel told AP, "Although the idea is to prepare here in Spain, not necessarily to win, we will all be racing at 100 percent, especially in the time trial on Thursday."

Nevertheless, Bruyneel was pleased with the performance of team leader Lance Armstrong, who finished with the lead group after the race split 140km into the stage. "He is in good shape," said Bruyneel of Armstrong, who of course has four months to hone and improve that shape before he attempts a record-breaking sixth victory in this year's Tour de France.

French sports ministry wants end of soigneurs from Paris-Nice

The French ministry for sport yesterday reiterated its call for professional teams to replace unqualified soigneurs and masseurs with licensed physical therapists starting at Paris-Nice (March 7-14).

The ministry originally recommended that licensed therapists take the place of soigneurs on January 23, in the aftermath of the arrest and charging of Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak who is alleged to have trafficked in doping substances.

At a meeting yesterday between sports minister Jean-François Lamour, president of the league of professional cyclists Thierry Cazeneuve and president of CA 2000 (an association of sports groups) Philippe Raimbaud, agreement was reached that masseurs and soigneurs should be treated as performing medical services and, like physiotherapists, should therefore be licensed.

Beloki back in six weeks

Joseba Beloki (Brioches la Boulangere), who has postponed his scheduled return to racing at the Vuelta a Murcia, will be back in competition in about six weeks, according to his team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. Beloki yesterday underwent a medical examination in Nantes after deciding to skip Murcia because of Achilles tendonitis. That examination showed that Beloki is still weak in the leg that he injured in a fall in stage 9 of the 2003 Tour de France.

Nevertheless, Bernaudeau was happy with Beloki's tests, saying the results were "satisfactory and better" than had been expected. "He has a big muscular deficit in the leg that was operated on after his fall in the Tour de France," said Bernaudeau. "He needs to reduce his work load a little and concentrate on riding very smoothly."

Bernaudeau estimates that it will be a month and a half before Beloki returns to racing, but does not believe this will have any effect on the main season aims of the Tour and the Vuelta. "By the time he returns, he will be at an acceptable level," he said.

Most importantly, the examination confirmed that there will be no long-term consequences of the broken femur Beloki sustained in the 2003 fall. "Joseba is happy," said Bernaudeau, "because now has a diagnostic assurance [that he will not be affected]. Before, he was a little worried."

Hamilton excited about season start

In an interview on his team's website www.phonak-cycling.com, Tyler Hamilton says he is excited about returning to competition at Paris-Nice (March 7-14). But don't expect fireworks from the man from Marblehead just yet.

"I have not raced in such long time and I'm not really expecting a lot," said Hamilton. "I'm just excited. And I will work hard for the team, because I'm very proud to be on it."

Hamilton sees his Paris-Nice role as a super-domestique. "I'll help the team as well as I can. I will stand behind the riders. It doesn't matter who is the team leader, I'll work for him. The most important thing is to represent the team."

Nevertheless, Hamilton hasn't been slacking in the off-season. "I [have] trained a lot," he said. "I am very focused on the training and I did really serious work. I spent a long time at altitude (Colorado); that was very good for my fitness."

No ride with the men for Ulmer

Top New Zealand track rider Sarah Ulmer has been refused permission to race with a men's team in the 4000m pursuit at this week's national championships.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, officials were sympathetic to Ulmer's request, but had no choice but to deny it. "We had to give a firm ruling and say 'no' because it is a men's-only event. We would be breaking our own rules," said Bike NZ sports development officer Geoff Campbell. "It could then be said why can't the men ride in the women's events? It just gets ridiculous."

The request to allow Ulmer to ride with the Waikato men's team was intended to provide her with training for next month's world cup in Mexico. And it wouldn't hurt the team to have Ulmer on board. Waikato manager Paul Smith said, "We asked because women don't get the opportunity to have the teams pursuit and from a team manager's perspective it would have boosted our chances to have someone of Sarah's capabilities racing in the team."

Ulmer herself was not especially disappointed by the decision. "It would have been great to have been able to race in it because it would have been quite specific training for me, which would have been ideal for a world cup event I have got coming up in Mexico," she said. "But I appreciate that it is a guy's event and I am obviously not a guy. It is not too big a deal from my perspective. You can't make rules for one person and not for others."

Illes Balears - Banesto for Paris-Nice

The Illes Balears-Banesto team has announced it line-up for this weekend's start of Paris-Nice. Under the supervision of directeur sportif Eusebio Unzúe, the team will field Pablo Lastras, Daniel Becke, Vladimir Karpets, Aitor Osa, Vicente Reynés, Denis Menchov, Steffen Radochia, and Xavier Zandio.

Quick.Step-Davitamon for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen

The Quick.Step-Davitamon team has announced the riders that will ride Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (March 5-7). Under directeur sportif Luca Guercilena, the team will comprise: Laszlo Bodrogi, Aurelien Clerc, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Juan Miguel Mercado, Josè Antonio Garrido, and Jurgen Van Goolen.

Thirteen teams for Tour de Georgia

Organisers of the US' biggest stage race, the Dodge Tour de Georgia, have announced the names of the 13 teams that have so far confirmed participation in the April 20-25 event. Three more eight-man teams remain to be confirmed to bring the field up to 16.

Tour de Georgia teams

Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli
Colavita Olive Oil presented by Bolla Wines
Domina Vacanze
Health Net presented by Maxxis
Jelly Belly/Aramark
Jittery Joe's Coffee
Landbouwkrediet - Colnago
Navigators Insurance
Ofoto/Lombardi Sports
Sierra Nevada
Team CSC
U.S. Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
Webcor Builders

Leinster League returns

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

Fresh from its success last weekend with the Cycleways Cup, Ireland's Navan/Avonmore CC is back in the promotion stakes.

This time around, on Saturday, the club is holding the first round of the Leinster League in Batterstown, Co. Meath. The league was not held last season though it had previously been a huge success for many years and also played an important role as fundraiser for the province of Leinster.

This time around, it will cater for all categories bar underage and is over 40 miles in this the first in a number of events over the coming months. The start and finish is in the village of Batterstown from the Blackhall Gaels G.F.C. where facilities are second to none. For more information contact Paul Nolan on 041-98265654 or Emmet Roche on 086-3213292 or email navanroadclub@eircom.net. Racing commences at 11 a.m.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)