First Edition Cycling News for March 5, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
McGee to miss Paris-Nice
His early season complicated by a nagging knee injury, Bradley McGee has been forced to forfeit his place in the FDJeux.com team roster for Paris-Nice, a race which had figured high on the list of his 2004 objectives. McGee first felt trouble in his knee in the Tour Méditerranéen, eventually pulling out on the fourth stage. Back in training this week and ready to try racing, McGee spoke to Cyclingnews Thursday before boarding a place from Nice to Belgium, where he hill test himself in easier conditions than the hors catégorie Paris-Nice.
"I was back on the bike two days ago and, touching wood, I haven't had any pain," McGee explained. "I haven't ridden well or raced for three weeks, so Paris-Nice would be suicide. If you go unfit to Paris-Nice you risk blowing the whole problem out again."
McGee admitted his frustration over the injury, which he now considers the worst he's had as a professional. Looking beyond the stress of a difficult start to the season, he still remains confident for the coming weeks and hopes to focus on his other objective for the first half of the year, the World Cup events.
"I've still got my hand up for Milan-San Remo," he said. "I can train on the finishing circuit as often as I want before then since it's not too far [from Nice]. After that I'll push for the Critérium International and will hopefully be strong enough to help the guys in Flanders... Then go for Amstel."
Indeed, the Amstel Gold Race ranks among McGee's top interests this spring, having found a new desire to challenge in the biggest one day events as well as shorter stage races.
FDJeux.com for Paris-Nice
With Brad McGee out, FDJeux.com team director Marc Madiot has announced his eight man roster for Paris-Nice. Baden Cooke will head the line up, looking to capitalise on his early season form in the sprint finishes. The rest of the team includes Sandy Casar, Carlos Da Cruz, Bernhard Eisel, Philippe Gilbert, Frédéric Guesdon, Thomas Lövkvist, and Matt Wilson.
Gutierrez on a roll
"I needed a win like this," José Ivan Gutierrez said Thursday, after taking the stage 2 time trial and the overall lead in the Vuelta a Murcia. The Illes Balears-Banesto rider outpaced Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) and Marco Pinotti (Lampre) in the 21.3 kilometre test. Lance Armstrong, winner of the time trial stage at the recent Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, finished 5th.
After a second place in the opening sprinters' stage behind Max van Heeswijk (USPS), Gutierrez showed that he can not only sprint but can also hold his own against the clock. The Spaniard's abilities will be put to the test in the remaining stages, particularly Saturday's stage 4, which tackles the Cat. 1 Alto Collado Bermejo.
"It is a victory that gives me confidence, although I realise that the final overall win will be very tough for me," Gutierrez admitted.
Kelme gives Pevenage a lift
Unable to follow his protégé Jan Ullrich in the T-Mobile team car, Ullrich's former directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage has been offered a seat at the Vuelta a Murcia this week in the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team car.
Rebellin trains alone
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has tested his legs on the finishing climbs of the opening round of the World Cup series, Milan-San Remo. A monument of cycling and dear to the hearts of the Italian peloton, Milan-San Remo represents one of Rebellin's top early season objectives along with Paris-Nice.
"I climbed the Cipressa and Poggio very quickly, and I felt excellent," Rebellin commented. "I think training on my own is my best option now. I want to build my form at Paris-Nice, but I also want to try to win a stage."
Liberty Seguros to Tirreno-Adriatico
In a last minute change, Manolo Saiz has entered his Liberty Seguros team in Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16), replacing the spot left by Chocolade Jacques-Wincor-Nixdorf Nixdorf, which is unable to compete due to logistical problems. Heading the team will be Spain's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.
Casagrande still out
Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) has once again been forced to delay racing, still suffering from a persistent problem with tendinitis. Casagrande was aiming for a return to competition at next week's Tirreno-Adriatico, but will have to sit out another major early season race. Milan-San Remo appears to have also been removed from the calendar, meaning at earliest Casagrande will return for the Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali, from March 24-28.
Colombian Olympic team
The Colombian cycling federation has announced its selection of five riders for the men's road race at this year's Olympic Games in Athens. Former time trial world champion Santiago Botero (T-Mobile) will be joined by Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal Service), Felix Cardenas (Café Baque), Freddy Gonzalez and Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia).
Volta a Catalunya to Andorra
The tiny principality of Andorra, nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, will host this year's Volta a Catalunya, scheduled for June 14-20. Andorra will welcome two stages of the hors catégorie stage race, including the toughest day of climbing, as well as an individual time trial. Andorra's motivation to host the Volta Catalunya race emerged after both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España organisers announced routes which did not pay a visit to the principality.
MGZT-Bianchi team presentation
Team MGZT-Bianchi 2004 was presented Wednesday night in Melbourne, Australia at the popular Belgian Beer Bar Cafe, at the same time drawing the winner of the Bianchi XL Carbon Centaur Giveaway. The riders and sponsors were presented to an appreciative, if not slightly bemused, crowd of Hoegaarden swilling, moules et frites devouring onlookers.
The Win a Bianchi Carbon Bike Competition had been running since December, with entry forms handed out at the events that Team MGZT rode at, plus in store at Bianchi dealers. Online entries rolled in from Cyclingnews.com and from MGZT's own website, www.teammgzt.com. Cameron from East Brisbane was the lucky winner.
The team, including Cyclingnews diarist Mikkeli Godfree, will soon be off to the Tour of Korea, followed by some races in the USA, including SuperWeek. Christian Lademann, who is a former world team pursuit champion and a current member of the German Olympic track team, departs for this weekend's Bendigo Madison and Criterium, along with the upcoming Mexico World Cup Track events. Christian will return to Melbourne for the World Track Championships in May.
Images by Adam MacLeod/www.freewheel.com.au
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)