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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 11, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Proposed ear-radio ban meets with resistance

A UCI proposal to ban the use of ear radios in racing has been met with strong resistance from riders and team directors. UCI technical consultant Jean Wauthier has argued for the ban, saying, "The riders have less say, it's as if they were robots. Many races remain closed because the team leaders have decided everything. And the riders are more easily distracted. The earpiece came for safety, but Kivilev still crashed when his transmitter worked. And team directors can no longer drive the cars because they are continually screaming instructions."

Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere's response was blunt, as he told Het Nieuwsblad. "The earphones have to stay in cycling. We are against prohibiting the device; nobody wants it to go. It's not because they no longer allow the use of the earpieces in soccer that the same has to happen in cycling. The situation is totally different. In the race you are confronted more and more with roundabouts, dangerous points, narrow roads and so on. Compared to ten years ago, so many things have changed. There's no way back."

Is the rider's concentration lessened? "That's bullshit," said Lefevere. "Ah well, that's another bright thought from someone who's never in the race itself. Wauthier is also the man who wants to stop the evolution of the bike."

Peter Van Petegem commented, "In races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix I couldn't do without them. Your team director is straight up the front if you have a mechanical problem. Without earpieces, you easily lose a full minute."

Marc Wauters didn't think that the tactics had changed much with the introduction of ear-radios. "Before, the team director still decided the tactics. Only then he had to drive beside his rider to tell him what to do. That was certainly dangerous. Now the team directors can stay calmly behind the riders."

Dirk Demol, US Postal's director, commented, "Dangerous situations, like speed bumps and roundabouts, are fourteen-fold, and the peloton is now twice as big."

Frank Vandenbroucke took the opposite side, "Previously you recognised a good team director by what he told you before the race. Now, every rider knows exactly what's coming, even in a maze like the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Now it's reported: look out for the stone at the left, that bad bit on the right. When there is a break, you get the information: ride or don't ride. There is not much room left for intuition."

See also the previous Cyclingnews feature: To radio or not to radio

Tour of Germany launched

The 2004 Tour of Germany was launched yesterday at the Karlsruhe Concert Hall ,and organisers believe they have built a race that will favour an all-rounder, with a mix of hilly and sprint-finish stages and an excursion into Austria for the first time.

Race director Kai Rapp said this year's edition was "a high point in the history of the Tour of Germany." Notably, the event's budget has been increased this year to three million Euros, and Rapp said that the race has "a demanding profile."

Riders from eighteen teams will start the opening 23km time trial in Karlsruhe on May 31, including three from Germany: T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Division II squad Wiesenhof. T-Mobile team spokesman Olaf Ludwig said that Jan Ullrich would ride the Tour of Germany this year, alongside hugely popular sprinter Erik Zabel and and last year's Tour de france third place Alexandre Vinokourov.

"We want to field the strongest possible team," said Ludwig, "so of course Ullrich Zabel and Vinokourov belong there." Ludwig added that T-Mobile sees itself as the strongest team in Germany so wants to win the national tour. "In contrast to previous years when the route was not very demanding, the 2004 Tour of Germany will provide thorough preparation for the Tour [de France]," he said.

With the third stage including a 1085m climb to the 1793m altitude Arlbergpass above St. Anton in the Tirol, the Tour of Germany will certainly indicate who has their climbing legs in shape.

Stages

Stage 1 - May 31: Karlsruhe - Karlsruhe ITT, 23 km
Stage 2 - June 1: Bad Urach - Wangen im Allgäu, 180 km
Stage 3 - June 2: Wangen im Allgäu - St. Anton am Arlberg, 170km
Stage 4 - June 3: Bad Tölz - Landshut, 190 km
Stage 5 - June 4: Kelheim - Kulmbach, 192 km
Stage 6 - June 5: Kulmbach - Oberwiesenthal, 180 km
Stage 7 - June 6: Chemnitz - Leipzig, 170 km

Armstrong to race in Vail

As well as his scheduled appearance at the Tour de Georgia, US race fans will get another chance to see Lance Armstrong in action at the Rocky Mountain Classic at Vail, September 4-5, organisers announced yesterday.

The Rocky Mountain Classic is the newest addition to Pro Cycling Tour. The festival weekend two days of road racing in the Vail Valley, Colorado. Some 300 professionals from over 20 nations are expected to compete.

The event will start on Friday, September 3 with the "Gran Fondo", a 100-mile amateur road race from Denver's Invesco Stadium to Vail. Pro racing starts on Saturday, September 4, with UCI sanctioned road circuit races for pro men on a challenging course throughout Vail Valley. Sunday, September 5 features men's and women's pro circuit races in Vail Village.

Vogels back on the bike

Australian Henk Vogels is back on the bike after a lengthy recuperation from a crash at the Fitchburg-Longso Classic last year. Vogels rode yesterday's Wanzele kermis, finishing with the bunch, though he does not appear in the results because these races usually list just the top 30 finishers.

Vogels told Cyclingnews "I finished in the peloton, without any soreness in the ankle and was not in any difficulty at all. This being after 8 and half months off the bike from my crash last year in Fitchburg."

Is he pleased to be back in the saddle? "Very, very happy," said Vogels.

Ratkovic injured

TDS-Schwalbe rider Andrea Ratkovic was injured yesterday during a training ride in Norman, Oklahoma. Ratkovic was attacked by two dogs while training, which resulted in crashing her bike, according to a statement from her management.

Ratkovic was thrown to the pavement where she sustained a head trauma that required eight staples in her head, plus concussion and severe road rash on both her arm and leg. She was taken to the emergency room at Norman Regional Hospital where she was treated and released, and is expected to make a full recovery. She will start her cycling season as scheduled with the Pomona Valley Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Illes Balears - Banesto for Milan - San remo & Setmana Catalana

The Illes Balears - Banesto team has announced the riders who will start Italy's top classic, the Milan San Remo (March 20) and the Setmana Catalana in Spain, March 22-26.

For Milan - San Remo, under directeur sportif Eusebio Unzué, the team will field Daniel Becke; Iván Gutiérrez; Vladimir Karpets; Pablo Lastras; Unai Osa; Vicente Reynés; Xavier Zandio; and Steffen Radochia.

At Setmana Catalan, the riders will be José Luis Arrieta; Isaac Gálvez; José Antonio López Gil; Chente García; David Navas; Aitor Osa; Unai Osa; and Vicente Reynés.

South Carolina Heritage is go

This year's South Carolina heritage series will comprise two races in Walterboro, SC and Greenwood, SC on April 28 and 29 respectively. Both races start at 6:30 and organisers expect more than 100 of the nation's top professionals and amateurs to line up for the $20,000 purse that is up for grabs for the entire series.

"We are very pleased to be continuing with our second year of the Heritage Series," said Rich Hincapie, promoter of the event. "Last year was very successful with several thousand spectators and participants attending the entire four race series. The 2004 Heritage Series will occur the week after the Tour of Georgia, which is expected to be the largest professional bicycle race in North America. This is certain to insure a great turn out by spectators and participants alike."

USA Cycling appoints McDonough

USA Cycling has announced the appointment of Pat McDonough as its national track programs director for effective April 1, 2004. McDonough, a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympic Games has been the director of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA since 1989. As National Track Programs Director, McDonough's efforts will be primarily focused on managing USA Cycling's track programs including the creation of a national track cycling series.

Coming soon: Cyclingnews.com team kit

We've had lots of requests over the last 24 hours from people wanting the team clothing that our Cyclingnews.com - Down Under riders are wearing this year. Look out for an announcement very soon about how you can get hold of authentic Cyclingnews team gear, and other Cyclingnews.com merchandise.

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