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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 4, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Ullrich underway

Ullrich and Armstrong
Photo ©: AFP

With the first meeting on the road behind them, Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich will continue to focus on their individual preparations for the Tour de France, getting in plenty of racing kilometres at the Vuelta a Murcia this week. While Armstrong made the first split in the peloton in Wednesday's stage 1, Ullrich was caught out, eventually losing seven minutes. Both riders are quick to downplay the importance of the final results in Murcia, even if today's time trial in Lorca will hold greater importance as a gauge of fitness.

"The final kilometres were more intense," Ullrich said of the end of stage 1, won by Armstrong's US Postal Service teammate Max van Heeswijk. "I did try to get back into the first peloton, but I didn't force it. I still lack a bit of rhythm.

"I'm here to find my place in the peloton, not to challenge Lance," he added. "I want to take advantage of good weather and the good roads in Murcia to prepare for the Tour de France. If I want to win this year this is what I have to do. Take these stages one by one without overdoing it."

Ullrich has not commented on the individual time trial in Murcia, however Armstrong makes it clear that the general classification is not important, but doing every time trial at maximum effort is.

Cofidis counts on Moncoutié

France's David Moncoutié bounced back from injury in the Trofeo Laigueglia, taking second place in last Sunday's GP Lugano behind teammate Frédéric Bessy. With good early season form, Moncoutié is Cofidis' man for the general classification at Paris-Nice, which begins Sunday.

Time trial world champion David Millar will get to show off his rainbow jersey on the opening stage from Chaville to Vanves, even if his objectives don't include the final general classification.

"I'm feeling pretty good now and think I could do OK in the Paris-Nice prologue," Millar noted on his website. "I'm still nowhere near 100% though, so we'll just have to see what I can do."

The team will be directed by Francis van Londersele, who has made a late change to bring Christophe Edaleine instead of Luis Perez.

Cofidis for Paris-Nice: Frédéric Bessy, Iñigo Cuesta, Christophe Edaleine, Dmitriy Fofonov, David Millar, David Moncoutié, Cédric Vasseur, Matthew White

Uncertainty surrounds Pantani autopsy

Investigators in Italy appear no closer to an explanation for the death of Marco Pantani, whose autopsy results have yet to be fully revealed. Pantani was found dead February 14 in a Rimini, Italy hotel room of apparent cerebral and pulmonary edema. Questions remain over the possible role of a drug overdose in his death.

"We still need fifteen days to finish the analysis and be in a position to give a sure answer," Dr. Giuseppe Fortuni told La Gazzetta dello Sport. Fortuni has been in charge of the autopsy.

However, even the magistrate investigating the case fears that the results of the toxicology reports may not give a precise picture of the factors involved in Pantani's death.

Indurain honoured

Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain was honoured at the Gala del Deporte Riojano 2003, an awards banquet in the Rioja region of Spain, with an honourable mention award. Indurain was the night's top draw, receiving the award from Pedro Sanz Alonso, head of the Rioja government. The former Tour and Giro winner joked that his life now is calmer, and he only rides a hundred kilometres in the summer.

Bracken and Griffin off to good start

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

Sean Bracken of the Usher Irish Road Club and Paul Griffin of the Earl of Desmond Bicycle Club got their campaigns off to a flier last weekend when they won their respective events in Navan (Bracken) and Tralee (Griffin).

Griffin had a big advantage over his rivals as he had just come back from Asia where he raced successfully for 10 days at the Tour de Langkawi, but Bracken relied on the lengthy training miles that he put in prior to the Cycleways Cup in Navan. Irrespective of the handicap, which was afforded to the Usher Irish Road Club stalwart, he along with his colleagues never relented in keeping the pressure on in the lead group, which saw him clear at the finish.

On Sunday the main interest is in Banteer, Bohermeen and Newry, where the respective promoters have put on good promotions with a view to attracting the discerning competitor.

Whereas Sean Bracken will more than likely compete in Bohermeen! Paul Griffin along with his colleagues, Ciaran McMahon, David McCann, David O'Loughlin and Eugene Moriarty will be in the air (Sunday) on their way to compete at their own expense in the Tour del Capo in Capetown, South Africa as an Irish team.

The five day event in South Africa, which starts on Tuesday, has attracted a very good line-up. There is no doubt that McCann and Moriarty, backed up by the remaining team members, along with more ranking points in this UCI 2.5 event will be a welcome bonus to Cycling Ireland. In particular to McCann, who earned points in Malaysia last month and who is chasing his third representative honour as an Olympian in Greece this year.

In Banteer, according to organiser, Cormac Cahill, "this is the third occasion that the Mick Cahill Trophy has been held. Believe it or not! The two previous winners, McMahon and O'Loughlin will be missing because of duty abroad."

Last week's runner up to Griffin in the Matt Lacey Trophy, Timmy Barry could make amends with a win.

Team DBL rides for a cause

Team DBL's Orbea
Photo: © Team DBL
Click for larger image

The eleven man Cat 1-2 Team DBL cycling team, with riders from Belize, Palm Springs, Austria and Seattle, finds its uniting characteristic is a passion for the sport of bicycle racing and a belief that personal athletic achievement is a richer experience when it affects the community in a positive way.

For the 2004 season, Team DBL racers are donating all race winnings and event primes to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. The qualities that are required to be a successful competitive cyclist ­ commitment to goals, discipline and strength of character are the same ingredients that make great mentors for children, and Team DBL hopes to bring new mentors into the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program through its profile in the cycling community.

Targeted events for 2004 include World Cup Track Qualifiers, Elite Nationals, Masters Nationals, Nature Valley Grand Prix and Superweek. The team will also compete in most Southern California regional races.

Team roster

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