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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 23, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Freire aims for World Cup

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti

After starting off in the best possible way by winning Milan-San Remo, Oscar Freire (Rabobank) hopes that 2004 will be his year to win the World Cup. "I'm not able to relax now," Freire told Spanish sports newspaper AS. "The San Remo triumph has put me up there as the leader of the World Cup. It is a great boost for the morale and will allow me to not be in such a hurry to look for points as in previous years. But we are just at the beginning. There are still nine classics."

Freire will race in the second round of the World Cup, the Tour of Flanders on April 4. "It's a race that many prepare specifically for. Van Petegem, Museeuw, Vandenbroucke, Pieri...For me it won't be easy, but this year I will arrive there stronger and I can defend myself."

In order to stay fresh, Oscar Freire will only race twice between now and Flanders, doing the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl this weekend. He will split his season into two halves: "Right now I'm only looking at the first five rounds of the World Cup. And from August, the other five. And also at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. But I don't know yet whether I'll race the Tour of the Vuelta or neither of the two. We haven't discussed that yet."

Latest UCI men's and women's rankings

After two rounds of the World Cup were held on the weekend, the UCI has updated both its men's and women's international rankings. Second in Milan-San Remo, Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), continues to strengthen his position as UCI number one in the men, with Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) moving up from third to second place at the expense of Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon). Other big movers in the men's rankings include M-SR winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank), up from 34th to 14th, M-SR third place getter Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), up from 67th to 35th, World Champion Igor Astarloa (Cofidis), from 25th to 15th, and the in-form Max van Heeswijk (US Postal-Berry Floor), who jumps from 138th to 75th position.

In the women's rankings, Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites-Hartol) has overtaken World Champion Susanne Ljungskog (SATS) for the number one spot, after she finished second in La Primavera Rosa on Saturday. Third placed Oenone Wood (Australia) is now into 8th spot (up from 11th), while PR winner Zoulfia Zabirova (Let's Go Finland) actually dropped a spot from 9th to 10th, as she effectively gained zero points by repeating her performance from 2003 in the 12 month rolling rankings.

In the teams rankings, it's Rabobank back to number one ahead of Team CSC, with Cofidis making a leap up from 6th to 3rd place. Quick.Step-Davitamon is up from 5th to 4th, while T-Mobile is in 6th place (up from 11th). In the women's team rankings, Team S.A.T.S. is on top by over 150 points, followed by Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan and Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung.

UCI rankings as of March 21, 2004

Elite men
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                             2325.75 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                    2147.00
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                   2049.00
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca       1802.00
5 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                                1643.00
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                         1601.00
7 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service - Berry Floor      1591.00
8 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                   1445.50
9 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                     1425.00
10 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                            1390.00
Elite Women
1 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Team Farm Frites-Hartol               750.50 pts
2 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Team S.A.T.S.                       724.50
3 Judith Arndt (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung           645.00
4 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan                570.00
5 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox      475.00
6 Anita Valen (Nor) Team S.A.T.S.                             405.50
7 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa) Bizkaia-Panda Software-Durango 403.00
8 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan           317.00
8 Oenone Wood (Aus)                                           317.00
10 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) Team Let's Go Finland               312.10
Men's Division I
1 Rabobank                                                   1737.00 pts
2 Team CSC                                                   1555.00
3 Cofidis, le credit par Telephone                           1278.00
4 Quick.Step-Davitamon                                       1162.00
5 T-Mobile Team                                              1050.00
Men's Division II
1 Kelme-Costa Blanca                                          785.00 pts
2 Domina Vacanze                                              516.00
3 Colombia-Selle Italia                                       393.00
4 Team Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli                          339.00
5 Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                                   333.00
1 Team S.A.T.S.                                               1350.00 pts
2 Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan                                   1195.00
3 Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                              1158.40
4 Team Farm Frites-Hartol                                      999.00
5 S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox                               924.50
Full rankings: Men, Women, Teams, Nations

Fractured wrist for Vanlandschoot

James Vanlandschoot (Relax-Bodysol) has his left wrist in plaster after he fractured one of the bones in it after crashing in the GP Rudy Dhaenens on Sunday. Vanlandschoot will have to have his hand in plaster until at least Saturday, when he intends on starting in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Harelbeke. Team director Herman Frison will assess his condition to see whether he can ride pain free.

Reinerink out for three weeks

Dutchman Rik Reinerink (Chocolade Jacques) will be forced to miss at least the next three weeks racing after crashing during training on Monday. Reinerink suffered heavy facial wounds and abrasions all over his body. After being taken to hospital in Genk, it was determined that he had also broken his left shoulder.

Last RVV spot for Crédit Agricole

French team Crédit Agricole has been given the final wild card slot for the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 4. Thor Hushovd's early season results, including his third in the GP Cholet on Sunday, were the primary reason that Roger Legeay's squad received the invitation.

Source: VRT Teletekst

Vrienden van het Platteland team presentation

By Rudie Ottens
Standing (L to R)
Photo ©: Rudie Ottens

The Dutch women's trade team, Vrienden van het Platteland (formerly Ondernemers van Nature), was presented at the head office of car sponsor Renault De Zeeuw in 's-Gravenzande on March 16. The team is sponsored by LTO-Nederland, the Dutch National Agricultural Organisation, and this is certainly reflected by the team kit.

The "big" names in this team are Chantal Beltman, who has spent the last two years with Acca Due O and won the last World Cup race in Rotterdam in 2003; Vera Koedooder, from Bik-Powerplate; Loes Gunnewijk, from Ondernemers van Nature and winner of the Giro d'Italia prologue; and Iris Slappendel, the bronze medal winner at the junior women's World Time Trial Championships in Canada last year. The team's directeur sportif is Angela van Smoorenburg.

Click here for the full team roster


Images by Rudie Ottens

  • Standing (L to R) Loes Gunnewijk, Vera Koedooder, Iris Slappendel, Chantal Beltman, Kristy Miggels, Marije Profijt, Corrien van Haastert. Sitting (L to R): Sharon van Essen, Minke van Dongen, Andrea Bosman
  • Vera Koedooder on her time trial bike
  • Chantal Beltman Loes Gunnewijk and Vera Koedooder
  • Chantal Beltman with her bike

Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali

The principal Italian riders will be in action in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali, which runs from Wednesday, March 24 through Sunday, March 28. The five day race includes a short morning stage plus a team time trial on the first day, followed by four fairly demanding road stages. Stage 2 includes two times up Monte Trebbio, while the 950m Monte Mulino features in stage 4. Stage 5 includes two times up Montebabbio and three times up Via Fazzano, a nasty 2 km climb averaging 18%. The race totals 808 km over six stages, including a split stage on the first day.

Saeco will be present with Mirko Celestino and Gilberto Simoni, while Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will be looking to add to his win tally this year, despite a very mountainous parcours. Other top riders include Giuliano Figueras (Panaria), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi), Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze), Lorenzo Bernucci and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Ivan Quaranta (Formaggi Pinzolo) and Pavel Tonkov (Vini Caldirola).

The Settimana Coppi & Bartali will remember Marco Pantani, who rode the race in 2003 with the number 145 on his back and finished second in a stage. The organisers will not be issuing this number to any rider, and at the start of the race in Riccione will release 145 white doves.

The stages

Stage 1a - March 24: Riccione-Riccione, 84.8 km
Stage 1b - March 24: Misano-Misano TTT, 10.7 km
Stage 2 - March 25: Riccione-Faenza, 206.9 km
Stage 3 - March 26: Finale Emilia-Scandiano, 175.5
Stage 4 - March 27: Casalgrande-Pavullo, 156.5 km
Stage 5 - March 28: Castellarano-Sassuolo, 170.3 km

Teams and principal riders

Saeco (Celestino, Simoni)
Fassa Bortolo (Petacchi)
Vini Caldirola (Tonkov, S. Masciarelli)
Lampre (Barbero, Piccoli, Svorada)
De Nardi (Borghi, Giordani, Gobbi)
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bernucci, Popovych)
Alessio (Caucchioli, Ivanov, Pellizotti, Tafi)
RAGT (Finot)
Panaria (Figueras, Lanfranchi)
Formaggi Pinzolo (Quaranta)
Acqua&Sapone (Nocentini, Marzoli)
LPR (Aggiano, Konychev)
Domina Vacanze (Gentili, Giunti, Scarponi, Simeoni)
Tenax (Pozzi, Loda)
Selle Italia (Scarselli)
BarloWorld (Degano, Ravaioli)
Navigators (McKenzie)

Horner and Jeanson the riders to beat

Saturn takes the win in 2003
Photo: © Rob Karman
Click for larger image

With only one day's rest after racing at Pomona Valley Stage race last weekend, teams with riders from 14 countries will line up tomorrow for the Mt Rubidoux time trial that kicks off the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The event that has now been running for two decades is perhaps even more enticing for riders this year, as one of its stages, particularly the Panorama Point Road Race, covers a lot of similar ground to the US Olympic Trials, which will be raced on in June. The winner of the trial event will be automatically selected for the Olympic Games in Athens.

The classic starts with the 5km prologue and continues to include four challenging road races and a criterium over the following five days, taking in a mixture of terrain ranging from windy high dessert to mountain top finishes.

In the men's race, Chris Horner (Webcor), who has won this event four times to date, will be back to defend his title coming off a win at Pomona on the weekend. Horner says his "legs are in just as good form as last year, if not a little better" and is keen to have a go at Redlands with his new team.

Last year, the week of men's racing was dominated by Horner and his Saturn team, with himself, Nathan O'Neill and Tom Danielson taking first through third positions respectively and the next closest rider coming in thirteen minutes behind them in the general classification.

It all started when they filled the podium in the 5km prologue, but the stage to talk about is the final stage of the race where the trio found themselves in a three man break away early in the day simply because they were attacking on the KOM to protect Danielson's third place on GC from Jonathan Vaughters. Before they knew it they had a big gap and they never looked back. By the end of the stage, they were 12 minutes in front of the peloton.

This year however, the situation is a little different and the teams a little more evenly spread with no one team predicted to dominate, although with Horner's recent form, he is certainly going into the race as a favourite. Additionally, US Postal have a strong team present and Health Net/Maxxis have had a string of wins already this year. Sierra Nevada were strong in Pomona, as was Cesar Grejales (Jittery Joe's) and Jelly Belly will also be in the running. Finally, let's not forget Colavita Olive Oil with the US Pro Champion, Mark McCormack and of course Nathan O'Neill, who set the standard in the prologue last year.

Genevieve Jeanson celebrates her double win
Photo: © Rob Karman
Click for larger image

In the women's race it will be Genevieve Jeanson (Rona) as the rider to watch. Last year she won the time trial and three other stages convincingly, with the only two stages she didn't win being taken by Saturn's Ina Teutenberg. By the end of the six days, Jeanson had over 12 minutes on second placed rider Lyne Bessette.

This year, Jeanson has not had the desired start to her season. She has form, but was forced to pull out of the Tucson Bicycle Classic with a knee problem after dominating the road race. She is back in Redlands however, to defend her title and she will have previous winner of Redlands, Bessette (Quark) to contend with who is also coming off a victory at Pomona. Apart from Quark and Rona, with the women's teams also very rearranged from last year, it is still difficult to tell which teams are the favourites. Genesis Scuba, however, are on a winning streak with their sprinters Tina Pic and Laura Van Gilder, and teams such as Victory Brewing and T-Mobile are also looking good so far this season.

The weather is predicted to be a fine 70 degree day tomorrow to start the racing. Tune back into Cyclingnews for race results and reports.

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