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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 24, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

"Optimistic" Leblanc steps up Tour security

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc says he is "optimistic" about the state of cycling and is taking steps to increase security at the Tour de France, according to a report from AFP.

Despite an atmosphere he described as "morose" after the various problems and tragedies that have afflicted the sport in the first few months of 2004, Leblanc was upbeat about the year ahead. Presenting details of the races that the Amaury Sport Organization will run this year, Leblanc said, "there are some discouraging signs, but others are encouraging."

"The UCI and its president are preparing to sign the world anti-doping code," said Leblanc. "The UCI tells us that [research into] the detection of growth hormones and blood transfusions is going well and targeted and preventative tests have been increased."

Leblanc announced the appointment of a head of security for the Tour de France, insisting "security is our obsession". Leblanc also said that the Tour would donate €25,000 to the victims of the March 11 bomb attacks in Madrid, in "an act of solidarity" with Spain. The donation is half of the prize money ASO was awarded last year from the Príncipe de Asturias de los Deportes prize; the remaining €25,000 will be used to promote grass-roots cycling in France.

The main purpose of Leblanc's presentation was to announce details and changes to the many races promoted by ASO. These include:

Paris-Roubaix (April 11): The section at Mons-en-Pévèle has been resurfaced and the race now includes 51km of pavé.

Tour de Picardie (May 14-16): The final day will be split into two stages.

Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon (May 19-23): This new event is the successor to the GP Midi Libre, which was not run last year.

Classique des Alpes (June 5): This year's edition will start in Chambéry and finish 160km later in Aix-les-Bains.

Tour de France: The two sections of pave in the third stage of this year's Tour from Waterloo to Wasquehal will total 3.9km. The distance of the team time trial has been set at 64.5km.

GP des Nations (September 19): This year's edition of the annual time trial will take place in Rouen.

Paris-Tours (October 10): With the penultimate round of the world cup series coming a week after the world championships instead of a week before, the organisers hope the new world champion will take the chance to show off his rainbow jersey.

Simoni back for Coppi-Bartoli

Saeco's double Giro winner Gilberto Simoni returns to racing this week at the Settimana Coppi-Bartoli. Speaking with tongue firmly in cheek at a presentation for 300 local schoolchildren in the run up to the Coppi-Bartoli, Simoni said he had been "taking it easy" since his last outing at the Trofeo dell'Etna at the beginning of the month.

Asked about last weekend's Milan San Remo, Simoni joked, "I really don't know very much about the bike race because I was there to see my friends. But the Sanremo is an attractive race, when you see it on TV. To do it is quite another thing."

Simoni is not about to switch his focus to the one-day Classics, he said. "I have won two Giros and I would not want to lose the third one. It would be a big change for me to be a protagonist at the Tour and Liège, but maybe Lombardy and Verona, I could be there."

Van Bondt out of Dwars door Vlaanderen

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's Geert Van Bondt will make his return to racing at Saturday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and not at Dwars door Vlaanderen as originally planned. Marc Streel will take his place in Dwars door Vlaanderen, according to the team.

Lejaretta stable

Spanish cyclist Gaizka Lejarreta (Alfus Tedes), who has been in a coma since a serious crash in the Trofeo Iberdrola, is stable and doctors expect to be able to awaken him in about ten days time, according to a report from Marca.com.

Lejarreta's team manager Carlos Canales said that the critical 72 hours after Lejarreta sustained his head injury had passed without complication, adding that "they are going to keep him in a coma for about ten days, then try to wake him."

Canales thanked the many "sources of support" that had helped in the aftermath of Lejarreta's crash, and particularly organisations such as the Athletic Club de Bilbao and the Cafés Baqué team, which had sent letters of support.

Hibernian Team Ireland squad announced for Rás Mumhan

By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com

A strong national team comprising David McCann, David O'Loughlin, Rory Wyley, John O'Shea and Robin Seymour has been announced for the Credit Union Rás Mumhan, running from April 9th - 12th. McCann and O'Loughlin are two of Ireland's most experienced internationals, while Wyley and O'Shea have shown fine form in recent weeks, culminating in their first and third places in Sunday's Des Hanlon Memorial Classic League event in Carlow. Seymour is a multiple Irish champion at mountainbike and cyclo-cross and will represent Ireland in Athens this August.

'This is a strong team which we hope will be capable of taking individual and team honours', said team manager Martin O'Loughlin, announcing the line-up.

'Mountainbike rider Robin Seymour is included as we are committed to providing him with the best preparation possible for the Olympic Games. The selectors had hoped to be in a position to pick two Under 23 riders for this team. However, only John O' Shea is on top form at the moment.'

Sean Coakley will act as mechanic, with Benjy Whelan as masseur.

Entries are due in tomorrow for the four day Easter Weekend race, which is expected to feature several riders from overseas. These forms should be sent to Eileen Scully, The Village, Beaufort, Killarney, Co. Kerry (Telephone 064 44791, Mobile 087 9906912). The organisers will accept a certain number of late entries, subject to a surcharge of €10 over the basic fee of €40.00.

The five-stage, four-day race will begin on Good Friday, April 9th. The 52 mile Killorglin Credit Union loop will take the rider through Killarney, Castleisland, Tralee , over the Sliabh Mish climb and then back to finish in Killorglin. The following day's second stage is the Irish Ferries Ring of Kerry stage, an arduous 96 mile loop used in the past by the Nissan Classic professional event. After leaving Killorglin the riders will race to Killarney, over the category one climbs of Ladies View and Molls Gap,through Sneem and then over the cat. 1 Coomakista climb. From there the race speeds on through Waterville, Cahirsiveen, Glenbeigh and back to Killorglin.

Two stages will take place on Easter Sunday, the first a 6.25 time trial from Beaufort to Killorglin. The Killarney Town Centre Criterium will be held that afternoon, the riders racing off at 4.15 pm for the 1 hour plus three laps event. This will be held on a 1.2 mile course and should draw a good crowd.

The concluding stage on Easter Monday is on the traditional 58 mile course, with riders doing three laps of the 15 mile Killorglin / Beaufort circuit and then four laps of the smaller Donal McKenna loop, before finishing in Killorglin.

Further information is available from the race organiser Sean O'Callaghan. He can be contacted by telephone/fax at 066 9762379, by mobile at 087 2630326, or by email at seanoc21@hotmail.com.

Record women's entry at Redlands

The Redlands Classic stage race, which started yesterday in California, has drawn a record number of women this year. Craig Kundig of the Redlands organization says this "is most likely a result of the Women's Prestige Cycling Series [WPCS]" that was created this year. Twenty-seven teams are on the start list, most with a full roster of six riders.

The WPCS was born out of the Yoplait Women's Summit in 2003, which was held as part of a push to increase participation in women's cycling. Previous to Redlands, which is the first event in the series, twenty teams has signed up to be a part of the series, which commits them to attend all four races with a full team. At the end of the third race of the series, the top ten teams will receive an all expenses paid trip to race in the CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix.

Mike Tamayo, director of the Victory Brewing team says the series is a very positive initiative. "It's a huge stepping stone for women's cycling," he explained. "and we hope it will grow the sport and bring more national sponsors to the teams as well as the series."

Bici Imports presents Stelvio TEAMWEAR-Orbis Properties Racing Team

After a small presence at the 2003 FBD Milk Rás, Bici Imports has extended its sponsorship in 2004 with a rotating composite roster of ambitious young riders interested in moving their careers to the next level, along with more experienced riders who will serve to mentor each team. Based in New York City, the team plans to compete in NRC races across the U.S., as well as selected international races including its debut at the FBD Milk Rás in Ireland.

Full announcement & roster

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