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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 10, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Paris-Nice stage 4 shortened

The fourth stage of Paris-Nice has been shortened to 135 km due to the inclement weather conditions. Snow was falling at the start on Wednesday morning and it was -2 degrees, prompting the organisers to cut the first 49 kilometres (and two category 3 climbs) out of the stage. The riders will be able to "warm up" with a 12 kilometre neutral section before the stage starts just before the first sprint at 49 kilometres. The latter part of the stage still includes the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix de l'Homme Mort, which rises to 1,150 metres, and temperatures are not expected to be much greater than zero degrees at the top.

Cyclingnews will be covering the fourth stage live, starting at approximately 15:30 CET/9:30 EDT/6:30 PST/01:30 AEST.

Van Bon survives the cold

Leon Van Bon
Photo ©: AFP

Leon van Bon (Lotto-Domo) survived a bitterly cold day and a marathon 196 kilometre breakaway with young German Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner) to win the third stage of Paris-Nice in a two man sprint. The Dutchman, who is typically good at winning small group sprints when he has the opportunity, told ANP afterwards that, "I don't think I often lose in these sorts of situations."

"It was a long day," Van Bon said. "Especially the last climb in the snow wasn't really nice. Furthermore, the peloton was always getting closer. You know that CSC has to ride at the front a lot in the coming days, and on a day like today you have a chance. But not everyone is happy to be in the peloton."

The cold affected everyone, and it was hard being out in front with just one other rider to shelter behind. But by the finish, Van Bon said he had warmed up "from the effort and maybe also because of the wonderful prospect [of winning]."

Second placed Thomas Ziegler said that he only attacked "to gain points for the mountains jersey. I had already gotten a couple of points yesterday. My aim was initially to get to the last climb. But at the start we continued riding away, and the chance offered itself."

Boonen close

In winning the bunch sprint for third, Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) again came close to victory in stage 3. "After Kuurne, it was a second big missed chance," said Boonen. "But we can't reproach ourselves. We began the chase on time and with 10 kilometres to go, the situation was perfect. Unfortunately the chase burned up and in front they took an aeroplane. Luckily I'm not suffering too much from my cold. Riding in a refrigerator for six hours was not much fun for starters.

VDB reserved

Despite lying in fourth overall at the moment, Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) is not making any bold predictions in Paris-Nice. "This doesn't make be crazy with joy," Vandenbroucke told the Belgian VUM newspapers. "Good, I'm sitting in fourth, but I won't talk about the rest yet. I've fought for three years to come back. Little by little it's succeeding. Next season I'll be stronger still. The aim is to reach my top level of 1999. The mission is thus not yet complete."

Jaksche satisfied

Race leader Jörg Jaksche (CSC) was satisfied with the way stage 3 went, and was actually happy with the cold conditions. "It was easier thanks to the bad weather," he said. "We didn't have to work as hard, because the sprinters teams helped. The biggest rivals are Rebellin and Vandenbroucke."

Cyclingnews Paris-Nice coverage

Stage 3 - Full results & report
Live blow-by-blow report

Scott Sunderland's stage 3 report
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Stages & results
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Start List
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Museeuw fit for Tirreno-Adriatico

Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has passed his final fitness test and will take the start of Tirreno-Adriatico today. The 37 year old has been recovering from a minor back problem which forced him to miss Paris-Nice. Now he is even thinking about starting the first World Cup of the season as well.

"I'm not saying I will, but if I feel that I'm getting up to speed here in Tirreno, than I'll surely ask for them to keep me a spot for San Remo," said Museeuw to Het Nieuwsblad. It is never too late...Tchmil only won at the age of 37! And he who doesn't start, can't win. The question remains how I will cope with the hill in Tirreno."

Van Petegem over sickness

Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) is hoping to find his form again in Tirreno-Adriatico, after getting over his sickness that saw him dropped in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. "I had to swallow antibiotics for a few days, but now I'm fit again," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "My traditional sickness came at a much better time this year."

Lombardi back to Domina Vacanze

Giovanni Lombardi has found his way back to Mario Cipollini's side in the Domina Vacanze team, and will start Tirreno Adriatico with them today. Lombardi has long been a leadout man for Cipollini, who has also reclaimed the services of Gian-Matteo Fagnini. Lombardi considered changing to a team where he would be given more opportunities to win stages, but the collapse of the Stayer team left him high and dry.

Cyclingnews Tirreno-Adriatico coverage

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Euskal Bizikleta route announced

This year's edition of the Euskal Bizikleta will be held between June 2-6. The five stage race maintains the same format as in recent years, with the fourth stage being split between a road stage in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon, effectively providing six opportunities for the riders to prove themselves over the five days.

The stages

Stage 1 - June 2: Eibar - Karrantza
Stage 2 - June 3: Karrantza - Agurain
Stage 3 - June 4: Agurain - Bidegoian
Stage 4a - June 5: Bidegoian - Abadiño
Stage 4b - June 5: Elorrio - Abadiño
Stage 5 - June 6: Abadiño - Arrate

RAF hopes to take third RAAM team title

Sponsors sought for BBC TV exposure

The British Royal Air Force team, winners of the past two team titles in the Race Across America, hopes to be back for the 2004 edition for another crack at it. This time there will be a twist, as the team has to include a novice rider to see whether they can cope with the challenge of RAAM, the longest non-stop cycling race in the world. The reason? World wide TV exposure for RAF team and its (potential) sponsors.

The BBC television network has proposed to include the RAF RAAM story as one of its eight one hour documentaries on the world of extreme adventure/endurance sports, entitled "The Challenge". The basic premise of the program is "to see whether an ordinary person could, with the best possible training, compete with elite athletes in a sport that they are unfamiliar with."

Steve Masters, the architect of the Royal Air Force team's last two RAAM victories, told Cyclingnews that he "hadn't planned to place a team in this year's race, but I feel this is a terrific chance that I cannot let slip."

Steve is now actively looking for sponsors for the team, and in return can guarantee them a great deal of TV exposure in the UK (20 percent audience share on Saturday nights at 8pm) as well as world wide. Interested? Contact Steve Masters at +44 (0) 7984451139 or stevemasters753@msn.com.

Brig Edwards Rally and Ride

A rally and ride has been organised on April 3 in Jupiter, Florida, USA, to benefit Brig (Brian) Edwards and his family. Brig, a long time cyclist and Category 2 racer from Jupiter Florida with Team Cycle Science, was severely injured on March 4 when he struck a car that had parked in the bike lane on a remote road west of Jupiter. The impact crushed most of his facial bones as well as three vertebrate in his neck. Although his injuries are no longer considered life threatening, he will have to undergo a long period of rehabilitation.

The accident has been devastating to both Brig and his young family, and this is why some of his friends are organizing the "Brig Edwards Rally and Ride". The rally is at Marchinski Park, located on A1A in Jupiter FL, with the ride of about 25 miles starting at 7:30am. There will be hotdogs at the park for all participants, and there will also be a "Giant Card" for everyone to sign.

Brig's friends are also hoping to try and raise $10,000 to help cover his medical costs, and cheques can be made out to:

Heidi Edwards
C/O FloridaCycling.com
9266 Pinion Dr
Lake Worth, FL 33467

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