First Edition Cycling News for March 21, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
95th Milan-San Remo post race wrap
Freire fastest at San Remo
Two-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) finally won the race he's been wanting when he outsprinted the likes of Erik Zabel, Stuart O'Grady, and Alessandro Petacchi on the Via Roma Saturday. Freire nipped Zabel at the line as the German, a four-time winner of the race, raised his arms prematurely thinking he had his fifth victory secured.
"Zabel had the legs, but he made a mistake," Freire commented after his win. "If he hadn't raised his arms I don't know if I would have won. That's hard to say, but what matters is who crosses the line first."
Freire thanked his team, notably Erik Dekker, for its hard work throughout the race. He dedicated his win to his old Mapei boss Giorgio Squinzi, who gave him his first big contract after his surprise World's win in 1999. Freire also remembered the victims of last week's train bombings in Madrid, Spain. With the first 2004 World Cup leader's jersey on his shoulders in, Freire has a very clear ambition to wrestle the series title from defending champion Paolo Bettini.
"Last year the World Cup jersey was my objective but I wasn't able to achieve it," Freire said. "I hope to have more consistent results straight through the final race this time. I expect to race all of the World Cup events with the exception of Paris-Roubaix."
Full Milan-San Remo coverage:
Zabel looks on the bright side
"I thought I had won," Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) said simply, acknowledging his error in raising his arms prematurely as Oscar Freire pipped him for victory at San Remo. "I realized my mistake right away when Freire passed me. But I prefer to look on the bright side of things... People have said I'm on the decline but I beat Petacchi."
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) isn't one to hide his disappointment after losing a bunch sprint. Contrary to some expectations, Petacchi maintained contact with the lead group over the final two climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio, but found that he didn't have his full power for the bunch sprint on the Via Roma.
"I lost the same way I lost Paris-Tours," Petacchi said. "I had a great team to help me and I let them down, that's what bothers me the most. I didn't have the legs for the sprint and no doubt I went a bit too soon, particularly on a slight false-flat finish."
Like Erik Zabel, Petacchi did find a positive spin for his fourth place finish.
"I also realized that one day I can win this race."
Da Cruz injured at MSR
French professional Carlos Da Cruz (FDJeux.com) injured his back in a crash after some 40 kilometres in Milan-San Remo Saturday. Da Cruz fell on his own and was transported to a hospital in Pavia. Doctors suspect a possible fractured vertebrae, and will keep Da Cruz until Monday for further observation. He will likely be out of competition for several weeks.
Bartoli's bid falls on Cipressa
Team CSC's sole leader for Milan-San Remo, Michele Bartoli, saw his hopes for victory dashed when he fell on the descent of the Cipressa. The Italian, who has won numerous World Cup classics but never La Primavera, suffered only minor injuries in the fall but had no chance of rejoining the leaders so close to the finish.
"It was extremely bad luck, because Michele was on good form in today's finale," team director Bjarne Riis commented on CSC's website (team-csc.com). "Up until then everything was going as planned, and our tactics were for him to go after Bettini on the Poggio climb.
"We went all out for [Bartoli] today, which is why no one else from our team was left after the crash," Riis added.
Manzano wants revenge
Spanish professional Jesus Manzano, who has been left without a team after Kelme chose not to renew his contract this season, has angrily stated that he is prepared to go public with evidence of doping within the Kelme team. Manzano rode for the team from 2000 to 2003.
"I'm not looking to hurt anybody," Manzano said in a Marca interview. "This is about me and the problems I've had."
Manzano says he will offer solid proof of doping within the team, as he explains it, going a step beyond Philippe Gaumont's recent revelations in the French press of cyclists' ability to take drugs and avoid detection. The Spaniard also claims that he was run down from the drugs he was taking, to the point where he was forced to get off a train in the Valencia region of Spain because he was "half dead".
Manzano was kicked out of the Vuelta a España by his Kelme team last season for sleeping with a woman during the three week tour, a breach of team conduct during the race. The decision left him bitter, and he also insists that the team owes him back wages.
Speaking on the revelations he plans to make, Manzano admitted that it was a question of payback for the team that left him without a job this year.
"I'm not doing it for the money," he said, "but for revenge."
Manzano's statements are likely to appear in a forthcoming interview on Spanish television.
Christophe Moreau didn't finish his first race of the season, Friday's Classic Loire-Atlantique, but after 100 kilometres with the leaders and another 50 after missing the crucial split, the Crédit Agricole leader nonetheless declared himself satisfied. The windy and rainy conditions ultimately prompted Moreau to call it a day.
"I was missing a bit of rhythm, but that's normal," Moreau said, quoted on velostory.net. "I was caught behind a crash in the peloton and I had to put my foot down. There was a big split and there was no way I could rejoin the first group. I'm satisfied that I did 100km with the leaders and I could have gone all the way."
Moreau's entry into competition has been delayed by a knee injury sustained at one of Crédit Agricole's pre-season training camps.
Cipollini remembers Pantani
Speaking in an interview with l'Equipe prior to Milan-San Remo, Mario Cipollini spoke openly about the death of Marco Pantani and the imprint both the event- and the man- will leave on cycling. Cipollini chose not to dwell on Pantani's likely guilt or innocence pertaining to the series of doping allegations which ultimately brought down the Italian champion, rather he remembered a friend and expressed hope that Pantani's death would ultimately serve some good to the sport.
"Marco was more than a cyclist, he was a person along the lines of other famous people like Jim Morisson, with a heightened sensitivity, withdrawn in their own worlds rather than facing a reality which didn't appeal to them," Cipollini explained. "And the public understood this."
Concerning Pantani's tragic death, Cipollini underlined the extent to which Pantani's presence in the professional peloton was appreciated by those who accepted him.
"When he died he took his secrets with him, and it's best that way, but in his death he showed us that for him cycling was everything," Cipollini said. "Basically he gave his life to it. Now it's up to us to give him back his dignity as a man and as an athlete, and transform his disgrace into something positive for cycling."
Cipollini summed up his friendship with Pantani in recounting the last time the two really spoke. It was in the 2003 Giro d'Italia, on the stage to the Terminillo, the first major mountain finish of last year's race.
"I had some special wheels that he wasn't allowed to use because of sponsorship difficulties with his team," Cipollini recalled. "At the start of one of the hills, I said to him 'if you want them you can have them', and we exchanged wheels. He gave me a big smile, and it's this smile, those moments when it was just he and I at the back of the peloton talking about cars, women, laughing at others, that I'll keep with me. All the rest, including what I've read in certain newspapers, has been a nightmare."
Mass for Pantani
A mass will be held in Marco Pantani's memory on Sunday at the Madonna Del Ghisallo sanctuary in Ghisallo, Italy. Pantani died in a hotel room in Rimini on February 14 of what has since been confirmed as an overdose of cocaine.
"It's our obligation to remember Pantani one month after his death," said father Luigi Farina. "We will also honour Marco Rusconi, a young amateur who died of a heart attack in November on his 24th birthday."
Some 200 professional cyclists and friends of Pantani's have been invited to the ceremony the day after Milan-San Remo.
Armstrong thinks of Giro
While Lance Armstrong's racing remains entirely focused on winning a record sixth Tour de France, he has once more confessed to a desire to race the Giro d'Italia before retiring from professional cycling. Armstrong has never raced in Italy's grand Tour, and since his first Tour de France success in 1999 the Giro has been deemed less than ideal preparation for the Tour, which remains the top focus for both Armstrong and his US Postal Service team.
"It would be a crime not to start the Giro at least once before retiring," Armstrong told La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian sports newspaper which also happens to sponsor the race.
Armstrong added that he has "a lot of respect" for the Giro, even if the Tour has been his sole focus since his winning streak began.
Borysewicz moves in
Thanks to an outpouring of support from the cycling community after his home was destroyed by California wildfires last fall, Eddie Borysewicz has moved into his new residence on the property. Monday, March 14 was Eddie's first day in the new house along with his daughter Julia. Although basic amenities like electricity and water are still temporary, the move is a welcome one after spending four months living in an 8x10 foot pool house. Still to come are furniture, the installation of a driveway and construction of a garage.
Wines of Washington/KING 5
The Wines of Washington Tasting Room in Seattle, Washington has announced its three-year agreement to become the title sponsor of Seattle-based Union Bay Cycling (UBC). At the beginning of the 2004 racing season, Wines of Washington joined current presenting sponsor KING 5 Television (NBC Seattle) in their support of the team. KING 5 returns for its second year in their sponsorship of UBC. The team is now known as the Wines of Washington/KING 5TV Cycling Team.
Wines of Washington takes over the title role after the team raced under the sponsor Ashmead College (most recently Ashmead College/KING 5) for the past six years. The team competes in local, regional, and national road and track events. Along with the men's and women's elite teams, a development program is geared toward beginning and intermediate racing. In all, the team has a roster of more than 100 riders.
Dansko Love amateur team
Dansko Wheelworks, aka Dansko Love, a New England all women's amateur cycling team , has announced its roster for 2004. The team won several races in 2003 including the Cat. 3 women's race at Fitchburg and the cyclo-cross junior national championships. This year the team welcomes a pro mountain bike racer, Darcy Cornell. Darcy is ranked 3rd nationally in the expert category for mountain bike races.
The team will focus primarily on New England area local road races, along with a handful of national mountain bike and cyclo-cross races.
Click here for the full team roster.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)