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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for March 15, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Bettini questions Boogerd's MSR absence

Bettini and Boogerd
Photo ©: Sirotti

After the Rabobank team for Milan-San Remo was named on the weekend, Tirreno-Adriatico leader Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) questioned the absence of Michael Boogerd, who has consistently placed close to Bettini in the sprints in Tirreno-Adritatico.

"Boogerd is one of the few racers who can create a gap on the Cipressa and the Poggio," Bettini told De Telegraaf. "I will certainly miss him in the finale. Boogerd is typically a rider who can come to the fore in a mass sprint in Sanremo and that is certainly in my favour."

Boogerd, however, is firm that he will not be riding Milan-San Remo. "I can believe the words of Bettini, but I'm not going to change my program," he said. "The Ronde van Vlaanderen is my first goal, while I'm also counting on the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Bettini will come up against me still."

Cipollini casts doubts aside

Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze)
Photo ©: Sirotti

Despite suffering on every climb in Tirreno Adriatico, Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) is as motivated as ever for Milan-San Remo this weekend. "The climbs in Sanremo are not like these [in Tirreno]," Cipollini was quoted by ANSA as saying. "For the past two years in Tirreno I was never that strong, but in the Classicissima I was a protagonist."

Cipollini, who will celebrate his 37th birthday a couple of days after Milan-San Remo, doesn't see his age as a barrier. "Every year is harder, but I don't see the point in worrying about it. For Sanremo I'll be at 150%," he said.

McEwen in doubt for Milan-San Remo

After abandoning Paris-Nice due to illness, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) is uncertain whether he'll be able to ride Milan-San Remo, the first World Cup race of the season. McEwen is still suffering from a cold, but will aim to start in Wednesday's Nokere Koerse to assess his condition and prognosis for the weekend.

Quick.Step unsure about Museeuw

Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: Sirotti

The presence of Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) in Milan-San Remo is still uncertain, with team manager Patrick Lefevere deciding on the following riders for La Primavera: "Bettini, Paolini, Zanini, Bramati, Horillo, Boonen and Rogers are certain," said Lefevere to Het Nieuwsblad. "Nuyens, Cretskens and Tankink are in contention for the last place. For Museeuw I'll make an exception in necessary. I'll contact him after the second successive hard stage in Tirreno."

Museeuw is ambivalent about whether he will ride. "If I go, it's to work for Bettini," he said. "I'm of the opinion that Nuyens or Tankink can do that task just as well."

Criterium in Gistel for Museeuw

The West Flanders town of Gistel will host a criterium in honour of Johan Museeuw, who will retire in just over one month's time. The race will be held on May 2, and it's expected to be a gala occasion. Museeuw's contemporaries such as Mario Cipollini and Erik Zabel have been invited to compete, among others.

Pantani remembered in the Netherlands

The Dutch town of Zandberg in the province of Groningen will hold a church service on May 8 in remembrance of deceased Italian climber Marco Pantani. The service will be conducted by pastor De Wolff in the Roman Catholic St. Josephkerk, and the organisers are expecting more than 100 people.

Zandberg hosted the first intermediate sprint of the 2002 Giro d'Italia, and the town's Giro organising committee is also behind the Pantani memorial service. "We were shocked by his death," said organiser Dick Heuvelman to Algemeen Dagblad. "And many others with us. Hence this service."

Indurain supports South African sports initiative

Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain together with other members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, participated in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour in Cape Town on Sunday in order to raise awareness and funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Indurain was joined by two time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon, as well as rugby union legend Hugo Porta as part of the 150 strong "Laureus-Discovery peloton", which navigated the 108 km route around the Cape Peninsula. Over 35,000 riders take part in the Cape Argus Tour each year.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation "funds and promotes sport as a powerful tool for progressive global social change". Its work focuses on helping young people overcome challenging social issues including poverty, homelessness, war, violence, drug abuse, discrimination and AIDS. To achieve this goal, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports a 23 projects worldwide, which is growing each year.

Indurain, together with Porta and Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa, also helped launch project Sozo on Saturday, March 13 in the South African locality of Paarl. This aim of this project is to encourage people in the area, particularly the young, to turn to sport, rather than drugs, alcohol and violence.

Australian team for Manchester World Cup

Cycling Australia has announced the team to contest the third round of the UCI World Cup Track Classic in Manchester from April 9 to 11.

Women: Katherine Bates (NSW), Rochelle Gilmore (NSW), Rosealee Hubbard (SA), Kerrie Meares (QLD) Alison Wright (ACT)

Men: Graeme Brown (NSW), Peter Dawson (WA), Sean Eadie (NSW), Ashley Hutchinson (QLD), Shane Kelly (VIC), Brett Lancaster (VIC), Brad McGee (NSW), Mark Renshaw (NSW), Stephen Wooldridge (NSW)

26th La Vuelta de Bisbee

The three day, four stage La Vuelta de Bisbee (LVDB) road race will be held between April 23-25 in Bisbee, Arizona, USA. Now in its 26th year, the race features an uphill time-trial prologue, two road stages and a 10.6 mile time trial, covering more than 156 miles and 8,800 feet of climbing for Elite and Masters men and women racers.

The organiser Albert Hopper is optimistic that the fields will be big for this year's event, after his experience with the 2003 race. "When the Tour of Georgia was held the same week as our race last year, we worried that our race would be negatively impacted," he said. "But we found that we offer something completely different to the men and women who chose to race here instead. Since we have a 26 year history, a fantastic and challenging venue and are economically attractive to racers, we ended up selling out the men’s field in 2003. And we expect to do it again."

A USA Cycling National Race Calendar event, LVDB boasts past winners such as Greg Lemond (who won as a 16 year old in 1978), Bob Cooke (1977, 79), Alexi Grewal (1992), Scott Moninger and Jeannie Longo (2002) and most recently, Drew Miller and Manon Jutras (2003).

The stages

Prologue - Friday, April 23: Mule Pass Individual Time Trial, 2.8 miles
Stage 1 - Saturday April 24: Sulpher Springs Road Race, 79/39.5 miles (M/W)
Stage 2 - Saturday April 24: Warren Time Trial, 10.6 miles
Stage 3 - Sunday, April 25: Tombstone Road Race, 65/59 miles (M/W)

Tour du Cameroun postponed

The second edition of the Tour du Cameroun, a UCI 2.6 classed stage race, has been postponed by two weeks. Originally scheduled to run between March 14-28, the event will find new dates between March 28-April 10. The reason for the postponement was so that the race organisers could meet certain necessary UCI requirements, such as the fast distribution of results after each stage.

15 teams are expected to take part in the race that will cover 1387 km, starting in Mokolo in the north. Cameroon will field three teams, while there will also be squads from France, South Africa and Brazil. Last year's winner was Russian Ivan Terenine.

Ian Stringer passes on

Australian cyclist Ian Stringer, from Victoria, has died after battling a very long illness. Ian was Australian Schoolboy Champion, Australian Pursuit Champion, and the youngest winner of an Australian six day race when Bill Long promoted these events in the 1960's.

Ian was only 18 years old when he won the first six day race with John Perry, much to the ire of the established stars. However, at the next race in Melbourne, he and John Perry did it again, beating current Victorian Cycling President Joe Ciavola and Italian World Champion Giuseppe Begetto by 5 laps.

Victorian and Australian Cycling are mourning the loss of a champion.

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