First Edition Cycling News for March 18, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Vasseur's hair clean
An analysis carried out on a sample of hair from Cofidis cyclist Cédric Vasseur has revealed no traces of cocaine, according to a L'Equipe report. Vasseur had the analysis performed after a L'Equipe article published on March 7 claimed that he had returned a positive test for cocaine, which Vasseur emphatically denied at the time.
"The results of the hair analysis of Cédric Vasseur, carried out on Tuesday by the legal medical laboratory in Strasbourg, which is the authority in this type of analysis, show that there are no traces of cocaine," said Vasseur's lawyer Bertrand Wambecke to L'Equipe. "The hair, taken out on Monday, had a length of 5 cm, which is equivalent to five months growth of hair. The insinuations, according to which there were traces of cocaine in hair removed in January, are unthinkable."
Vasseur was questioned and tested in January by the brigade des stupéfiants (drug brigade) in connection with the Cofidis affair, which has implicated a few current and former members of the team in a doping scandal, including Philippe Gaumont, soigneur Bogdan Madejak, and ex-Cofidis riders Marek Rutkiewicz and Robert Sassone.
"The accusations against my client, who was not charged, are injurious," added Mr Wambecke, who intends to start legal action against the newspaper. "They are all nothing more than stories."
Sacchi in for Kirchen
Fassa Bortolo has made a change to its Milan-San Remo line up, substituting Fabio Sacchi for Kim Kirchen, who is sick.
World Cycling Series: Cycling's version of NASCAR?
The momentum is rapidly building for something a little bit different for US for criterium racers: the inaugural World Cycling Series. For many years the majority of the racing in the US has consisted of one day criteriums, which have in many parts of the country turned into criterium series. Now John Brady and Tim Chase are working towards adding strength to the criterium culture by bringing it into the homes of the general public, and portraying cycling as the action filled, technical and exciting sport that it is.
Cyclingnews spoke with Brady and Chase last week, who are in the midst of planning and building upon their idea to help make cycling a more recognized sport in the US. They are putting together a criterium series that will be broadcast on Fox Sports and therefore be available to a potential viewing audience of 75 million people. "Our aim is to do something that's new and different," explained Brady. "We want our coverage to be closer to NASCAR or Superbike. We want to have on-bike camera so that viewers can see inside the action."
The World Cycling Series will start in May with the Cap Tech Classic in Richmond, Virginia. If all goes to plan it will also include the Tour de Gas Town in Vancouver; one or more of the Superweek races in Wisconsin; New York City Invitational; Bank of America Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina; Giro de San Francisco; San Rafael Classic in California; and finally Cyclefest in Florida.
There have been a few attempts at doing this type of thing before, most notably the Subaru Classic, which was run by the National Cycling League (NCL). "But really," said Brady, "the Kellogg's Classic in Ireland got closer to what we want to do in the sense that they were actively highlighting the stars. Typically bike racing is done in a closed documentary style. It is more of a story of cycling that certainly cycling enthusiasts will tune into, but we want to capture a new angle. Cycling is a great sport. We want to appeal to not only the expert viewer but also the general public."
Big boost for smaller races
Cyclingnews spoke with the director of the Cap Tech Classic, Tim Miller, who is just as excited about his event being a part of the series. "It's fantastic," he said. "They have taken a bit from cycling and a bit from NASCAR and have turned it into a product that will be more acceptable to the general public. It will give our race a bigger boost and will hopefully encourage more of the high profile athletes to attend to get some good coverage for their sponsors."
Although Miller admits that it is not yet fully confirmed whether he will be able to bring in the money to help the coverage go national, he says he is very confident that it will happen. "I am working with the city of Richmond to bring in the sponsorship and they are excited about it to. It's looking good and I'd be very shocked if they don't come up with the money."
The coverage of the World Cycling Series will involve an "in-depth look into the personalities of cycling and it will use dynamic state of the art camera angles of national and world-class events," says Tim Chase. "Our production crew will deliver cycling like never before. Similar to NASCAR with technical break downs for the fans along the way."
Making the racing more informative
World Cycling Series are also working with Dr Max Testa, Eric Heiden and the human performance lab at UC Davis who will analyse and explain the biomechanical and physiological attributes of the athletes during the race coverage. "The data will be explained in expert and layman terms so the fan can identify and appreciate the expertise of these superhuman professional athletes," said Chase.
Cyclingnews caught up with Max Testa, who has been working with American athletes for 11 years now and was the doctor on the 7 Eleven team. Testa thinks the idea has a lot of potential. "The US really needs a series of events that keeps the attention on cycling throughout the whole year and not just while the Tour de France is on," he said. "Criterium racing is a great vehicle to attract people to cycling, especially in the US where it's not easy to organize point-to-point races because of the difficulty in shutting down the roads for hours at a time like they do in Europe. Criteriums are fast and it's easy to explain to young riders getting into the sport. The first person across the line wins.
"My part will be to help make the racing more informative to the public by showing the riders' power output, heart rate, speed etc., and to generally give viewers an idea of how the human machine works. These days with all the great equipment, you can see how much power someone is exerting, what their heart rate is and which athletes are pushing themselves to the limit and which are doing it easy. We will be able to test athletes in the lab to show the different range of athletes that are competing in the race."
Brady and Chase have already started pre-production filming around the US. They are currently in California for the early spring races to get some action on film and they have been conducting interviews with teams to film insights into the riders. Specifically they have been working with hometown boy of the Cap Tech race in Richmond race, Erik Saunders, so that they can give the coverage some local flavour. However, because the series is new and still very much in development, Chase and Brady want to use this year to build it up for the future.
"We want to make sure we do what we say," said Brady. "We are very specific about that. This year we just want to pull it off to prove to the sponsors that the demographics in cycling are there. A lot of sponsors don't realize how many cycling enthusiasts there really are here in the US."
More information: www.worldcyclingseries.com
Dolomiti Superbike celebrates 10th birthday
The 10th edition of Italy's best known MTB marathon race will be held on Sunday, July 11, 2004 in Hochpustertal-Alta Pusteria. The participants will again be able to choose between the three course options of 25 km, 59 km and 111 km. "It is a fascinating new challenge for amateur and professional bikers," said Kurt Ploner, OC-President of Dolomiti Superbike. "The three courses we propose fit in with all participants' requirements, from the amateurs to the top athletes who will fight for win. The distance and profile of the different routes suit everyone's capacities."
In last year's race, 3000 athletes representing 21 nations competed in the 9th edition of the Dolomiti Superbike.
Riders sought for 2004 Tour of Hope
Lance Armstrong and event sponsor Bristol-Myers Squibb are looking for 20 riders to take part in this year's Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope, October 1-9. The cross-country ride starts in Los Angeles on and finishes in Washington DC with a grand finale celebration and public recreational ride.
Organisers are looking for survivors, physicians, nurses, caregivers, researchers, advocates, loved ones, and anyone else whose life has been touched by cancer to be part of this year's ride. Twenty people who possess the cycling ability and physical endurance to ride over 100 miles a day for eight days, combined with a passionate commitment to support cancer research, will be selected for the cross-country team.
The Tour of Hope aims to increase awareness of the importance of clinical trials for the development of anti-cancer drugs.
For more details and application forms see www.tourofhope.org. The deadline for applications for the 2004 Tour is April 4, 2004.
Sydney World Cup tickets on sale
Tickets for the Sydney round of the track world cup May 14-16 are now available through Ticketmaster7 - and prices have been slashed to allow everyone to get a taste of the thrills of track cycling, according to the organisers.
Prices start from Au$12 for an adult ticket for a morning session (concession tickets for pensioners and children are just $7) and run up to $200 for a family ticket (covering entry for two adults and up to three kids) for all three days. An adult ticket for all sessions is $85.
For more information click here.
Strong field for Archer GP
A large foreign contingent and 33 of the top 36 British riders from last year's Premier Calendar ranking means this year's edition of the April 4 Archer GP looks like being one of the best ever. The 190km race kicks off at 11am from Hazlemere, near High Wycombe, and covers three laps of a 20-mile circuit via Gt Missenden, Cryers Hill, Hughenden Valley, Longdown, and Wendover. From there the race returns to the five-mile Penn Street circuit which is covered seven times before the finish at Winchmore Hill village.
A late entry in this year's race came from the New Zealand track endurance squad, which will be using the event as a warm-up for the following weekend's track world cup in Manchester. The Kiwis will line up against the Great Britain track endurance squad, among others.
The British contingent is led by Chris Newton, one of the race favourites having won the Archer event in 1995 when only 22. Wales also provides a national team, while Ireland has divided its resources into three trade/club teams with last year's Archer International winner, David O'Loughlin, heading a strong six man squad from Totalcycling/Litespeed. The other teams are the Usher Irish RC and the Cidona/Carrick Wh.
The BRC Kennermerland CRT are regular visitors from Holland with a good performance record and from Belgium comes the Team Hand in Hand-Baal. Organiser Stuart Benstead says, "I think this is the most foreign teams we have had. But the whole entry is extremely strong."
Estes Classic revs up Colorado for Hamilton Foundation
The August 25-29 Estes Cycling Classic has added a fundraising event for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation and for junior development programs to the schedule for the 2004 event. A three-day pledge ride on August 27-19, the Rocky Mountain Challenge Benefit Ride will cover a 250 mile loop from Boulder to Estes Park, on to Fort Collins, and back to Boulder.
Meanwhile the Estes Park stage race, voted best race in Colorado for the past three years, makes its debut on the USA Cycling National racing Calandar this year. Past winners include Clark Sheehan and Tom Danielson and with NRC status this year, the standard of racers and racing is expected to be high. Throw in the 15,000 feet of Colorado climbing included in the race's 350 mile parcours and this looks like a treat for fans of skinny guys and girls who go uphill fast.
Women's crits at Australia's St Kilda CC
The St Kilda Cycling Club (SKCC), famous for its off-track/off-beat social events in its home town in Melbourne Australia, is holding the second round of its three-race criterium series for women this coming Sunday morning, March 21.
So far the series is hotly contested and has attracted a large and enthusiastic bunch of women racers not used to getting this much attention, according to the club. The track-racing season is almost over and the women are in fine form for the series sponsored by casual cycling clothing company 700C, who handed out free T-shirts to all contestants last week. The SKCC-aligned bike shops, Fitzroy Cycles, SBR and ProMotion have also contributed prizes that include a substantial amount of cash and heart rate monitors.
Unlike most women's events, the SKCC has provided two grades (A and B) plus a quirky one-kilometre, round-the-block circuit in Port Melbourne, just 500 metres from the central CBD and right next to Docklands.
For more information see www.skcc.com.au.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)