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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for March 17, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Bettini versus Vinokourov at Milan-San Remo?

Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Sirotti

The countdown has started for the first men's World Cup race of the season on March 20, the 95th Milan-San Remo. Defending champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is in better form than ever, winning two stages and the overall classification of Tirreno-Adriatico. In addition, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini have all shown their colours in T-A, and will be vying to surpass Bettini on San Remo's Via Roma on Saturday.

But after Paris-Nice finished last Sunday, there are a few more favourites that can be added to the list, notably triple stage winner Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile). The Kazakh impressed everyone with his devastatingly powerful and winning attacks in the finales of three different stages.

"Alexander Vinokourov is the rider that impressed me the most in the approach to this year's Milan-San Remo," noted Dr. Michele Ferrari to Cyclingnews. "Not only for his triple [stage wins] in Paris-Nice. A solid and compact body, short and powerful legs, his upper body leaned forward and an extremely efficient pedal stroke, he showed explosive acceleration, being able to continue the effort with incomparable intensity for his adversaries.

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP

"At 'La Sanremo' he could attack on Cipressa already, with the possibility to hold the front until the end, or even wait till Poggio so to spring out like a bullet.

"Vino is in his full athletic maturity and this year he seems even stronger than the last season. He could be very dangerous at the Tour de France," concluded Dr. Ferrari.

See also Dr. Ferrari's historical piece on the 1992 Milan-San Remo, Waiting for Sanremo as well as our Milan-San Remo Main page & preview, Map and Start List.

Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of Milan-San Remo, beginning at 9:30 CET on Saturday morning (19:30 AEDT/03:30 EST/00:30 PST).

Fassa Bortolo for MSR

Giancarlo Ferretti has named his eight riders for this Saturday's 95th Milan-San Remo, the first round of the World Cup. With sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, strongman Kim Kirchen, the in-form Frank Vandenbroucke, and Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Roberto Petito all part of the team, Fassa Bortolo looks as though it will be a competitive force in Milan-San Remo. The other members of the team are Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto, Guido Trenti, and Marco Velo.

Julich motivated for Tour of Georgia

Bobby Julich
Photo ©: AFP

32 year old Bobby Julich has seemingly found a new lease of life this year after signing with Team CSC, recently finishing third in Paris-Nice after working for teammate and eventual winner Jörg Jaksche for the whole race. It's still early days, but Julich is looking forward to his year with CSC and says that he wants to win the Tour of Georgia in April, his first race in the USA in eight years.

"I did the Atlanta Grand Prix, the Athens Twilight Criterium...those were the big races when I was growing up," Julich recalled in an interview with Cyclingnews. "We did them together as the national team: me, Lance [Armstrong], Chann McRae...Georgia is a good place to rekindle big American stage racing.

"I'm looking at this as the same thing as when Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel and all those guys did the Tour de Trump and Tour du Pont," he added with a smile. "That's what motivated me. That first real competition with the professionals motivated me to make the selection for the national team. I'm hoping to help lend some credibility to this race and maybe that can inspire some kids.

"I haven't raced in the US in eight years, but I want to come back and win the race. Obviously it's not that easy, but it falls in a very good period in my spring peak - after a good load of racing, but before a five week break. I'm very motivated, the team is looking forward to it, and I'm expecting to have a lot of fun and be an ambassador for the sport and help the race become a success."

To read the full interview, click here.

Wildcards announced for Amstel Gold Race

Amstel Gold Race organiser Leo van Vliet has announced the seven teams that will receive wildcards for the fourth round of the World Cup on April 18. Division I teams Chocolade Jacques, De Nardi, Relax-Bodysol, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, and BankGiroLoterij have all been invited, as has Belgian Division II team Vlaanderen-T Interim. There are in addition 18 Division I teams that have automatically qualified for the race, although Lotto-Domo will take the place of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Millar in team pursuit at Manchester World Cup

Event organisers have confirmed that World Time Trial Champion David Millar (Cofidis) will be making his debut appearance in a world level track competition at the UCI Track World Cup Classic at Manchester this Easter (April 9-11). Entered in the team pursuit, Millar joins a strong British squad that is aiming at Olympic Gold in Athens: Chris Newton, Rob Hayles, Bryan and Paul Manning, all of whom are vastly experienced team pursuit riders.

Millar is aiming to ride the road time trial and the individual pursuit in Athens, and his appearance in Manchester is seen as a useful way of getting experience at riding top level track events.

2004 Track Cycling World Championships launched in Melbourne

Kelly and Mactier
Photo ©: Merri Hagan

The 2004 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, to be held from May 26-30 in Melbourne, Australia, were launched at the Vodafone Arena in Melbourne on Wednesday by the Hon. Justin Madden MLC, Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation. According to Madden, the 2004 Track World's will be the biggest cycling event ever to be held in Victoria, and will put cycling on the map in the state in the lead-up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

"The World Championships will have an anticipated economic benefit to Victoria of $5 million and will also be broadcast to a global television audience of over 300 million viewers," stated Madden. "Hosting the World Championships in Melbourne will also play an important role in encouraging participation in the sport and encouraging people to improve their own fitness."

Also present at the launch were four time World Champion Shane Kelly and 2003 World's silver medallist Katie Mactier, who will both compete at the Championships in May. As one of Australia's best known track cyclists, Kelly holds strong hopes for his performance at the World's. "Experience is certainly something I'm not lacking," he said. "I'm still making personal best times after 12 years of competing so I think I'm getting better with age."

Anyone for abseiling?
Photo ©: Merri Hagan

As a road cyclist that has only recently taken to track cycling, Mactier stated she is confident of putting in an even stronger performance than her close finish at the 2003 Track Cycling World Championships last year in Stuttgart. "With a whole year of track training under my belt, I am really looking forward to putting in a strong performance - especially in front of my home crowd," said Mactier.

At the conclusion of the morning's formalities, the Minister joined Katie and Shane as they took on the track from a different perspective and abseiled down the 42 1/2 degree angled banking.

The 2004 UCI Track Cycling World Championships will be the final chance for riders and countries to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games and will feature more than 200 of the world's best in a five day competition. Riders from more than 40 countries will contest 15 events, including the team pursuit, individual pursuit, keirin, sprint, points and scratch races, kilometre and 500m time trials, Madison and team sprint.

More information:


Images by Merri Hagan

Obree serious about Hour Record attempt

Former Hour Record holder Graeme Obree will attempt to reclaim cycling's most prestigious record in a test run at the Manchester Velodrome on Sunday, April 4. 38 year old Obree, who retired in 2001 and has battled depression throughout his career and attempted to commit suicide several times, told Scotland's The Herald newspaper that despite ruling out a comeback in his recent autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, he is motivated to come back and prove that he still has the engine of a top class athlete.

"I started cycling again to feel good and the next thing I was feeling really strong and I just fancied giving myself a new goal," said Obree. "There is this old Scottish notion that once you get to your late 30s it's time to collect your pipe and slippers, but there is a precedent in cycling for people to be better in their late 30s than at any other time in their career. It's possible I am at my peak now."

Obree stunned the cycling world in 1993 when he broke Francesco Moser's existing record on a homemade bicycle built from scrap metal and parts of a washing machine. Obree's radically aerodynamic position, whereby his chest rested on the handlebars, was certainly a contributing factor to his incredible speed of 51.596 km/h, and before long many track (and some road) cyclists were using it in rides against the clock.

Obree's mark only stood for six days until Chris Boardman broke it using a slightly more conventional time trialling position. Unfazed, Obree reclaimed it in 1994 before Miguel Indurain, Toni Rominger and eventually Chris Boardman again pushed the record up to 56.375 km. Boardman's last attempt was made using the Obree developed "superman position", an elongated version of the "standard" tri-bar position. Obree's approaches to sitting on the bicycle and his design modifications were met with disapproval from the UCI, who banned both positions and decreed that the Hour Record only be attempted on ordinary track bikes with no aerodynamic advantages, such as disc wheels, aero helmets and tri-bars.

Shortly before he retired in 2000, Chris Boardman broke Eddy Merckx's 28 year-old record by 10 metres under the new rules with a ride of 49.441 km, and thus holds both UCI Hour Records. Obree said that he has no qualms about using a standard bike now. "Part of my motivation for doing this is because last time round people made claims that I had an advantage because of the bike and the way I was cycling," he said. "The bike will be a completely boring, bog-standard bike and it will all be about my performance as an athlete. The record has been renamed the athlete's hour record which means the event is going back to basics."

Importantly, Obree is no longer motivated by fear of failure: "The difference this time round is that it's not life or death for me anymore. You just give it your best shot. If I don't get the record this time, I'm not going to slash my wrists in the toilet. It's not life or death, but it's nice to have these new goals."

According to British trade website, Obree recently competed in a mountain time trial in Denfermline, Scotland, where he placed third overall with a time of 1:01:03 for the 41.6 km event.

New England Serotta Women's Elite Series

The New England, USA, Serotta Women's Elite Series is a new race series for category 1 and 2 women, created in the wake of the cancellation of several Women's 1-2 events in the region. The series consists of 15 races from April to August all over New England and Eastern New York. The races are scheduled so that they do not overlap with other large or NRC races that traditionally draw big W 1/2 fields.

The series will be run on a points score basis, and there will be a yellow jersey awarded (courtesy of Hincapie Sports) at the end of each race for the series leader. The overall winner will receive a custom fit Legend Ti Serotta frame and fork.

More details at:

Seattle cyclist killed in Spain

An American cyclist from Seattle, Larry Kemp, was killed on Tuesday morning while cycling in Mallorca, Spain. Kemp, who was on a cycling holiday with some friends, was riding at the back of a group in single file when a car came around a blind corner on a narrow road and struck him from behind. Kemp was the only one hit and was thrown from his bike and knocked unconscious instantly. He died shortly afterwards from internal injuries, despite receiving assistance from trained paramedics on the ride.

A memorial ride for Larry Kemp is scheduled for Sunday, March 21 at the Leschi Starbucks in Seattle, beginning at 9:00am.

Courtesy of

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