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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for March 29, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong satisfied

Lance Armstrong (US Postal/Berry Floor)
Photo ©: AFP

After finishing fourth in the time trial and third overall in Criterium International, Lance Armstrong (US Postal-Berry Floor) and his team manager Johan Bruyneel were satisfied with the result. "He is not yet top but this strengthens his confidence," said Bruyneel to Het Nieuwsblad. "Furthermore the whole team rode well for him. We weren't really here for the overall win, because we knew that CSC was riding too strong. But with a third place in the overall classification you'll certainly not hear us complain."

Armstrong is now headed back to America where he'll ride the Tour of Georgia next month.

Inauspicious start for Beloki

Joseba Beloki's long awaited return to racing in the Criterium International over the weekend didn't go according to plan for the Spanish rider, who has not raced since his crash in the Tour de France last year. Beloki was involved in a fall in the first stage, and although it wasn't too serious, he opted for an early exit on Sunday.

Lefevere happy with his boys

Luca Paolini (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: AFP

Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere couldn't have asked for a better result on the weekend, with Tom Boonen and Luca Paolini winning the E3 Prijs and Brabantse Pijl respectively. "This was a super good weekend, good for the morale of the team," Lefevere was quoted by Belgian VRT teletekst. "We had saved Paolini on purpose for today. He was not good in Milan-San Remo, but panic is a bad advisor. Paolini passed a difficult winter through the death of his brother-in-law. But he is polyvalent and there will be good things to come.

"Now the other teams will become nervous. We will take our responsibility next week in the Ronde van Vlaanderen."

E3 injury report: Bettini, O'Grady, Van Hyfte

Crashes during Saturday's E3 Prijs left several riders injured, some more seriously than others. Paul Van Hyfte (Vlaanderen T Interim) crashed on the descent of the Ladeuze and broke his left elbow, and will have to kiss the classics season goodbye.

Quick.Step-Davitamon's Paolo Bettini and Cofidis's Stuart O'Grady were caught up in the crash at the finish. Bettini ended up with a very sore behind, while O'Grady is afraid that he might have broken a rib. He will find out on Monday whether this is the case.

Demol accuses Quick.Step and Bodysol of working together

US Postal-Berry Floor team director Dirk Demol was angry after the E3 Prijs on Saturday when the three man breakaway with Stijn Devolder (USPS) Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Dave Bruylandts (Jacques) was caught with 300 metres to go. The chase was driven by Quick.Step-Davitamon, Lotto-Domo and Bodysol-Brustor, and Demol didn't think it was fair that Bodysol should have been helping.

"Bodysol-Brustor really did some illegal racing there," Demol told Het Nieuwsblad. "Why did Roesems and Mattan pull so hard with the chasers? I predicted this winter that this would happen with Patrick Lefevere's two teams."

Bodysol's Nico Mattan reacted, "Then Molleke did not see that we also still had our sprinter James Vanlandschoot. And neither noticed that we closed the gap after the Oude Kwaremont to the 16, where the leaders of Quick.Step-Davitamon sat. That is not correct from Dirk."

Wood increases World Cup lead

The new World Cup top three
Photo ©: José Luis López Cerrón

Oenone Wood (Australian National Team) increased her lead in the UCI Women's World Cup after finishing second in the Castilla y Leon round on Sunday. The race was won by German Angela Brodtka, with Wood's main rival Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites Hartol) finishing third. Wood now has 160 points to her name with Melchers in second place on 85 points.

"The team just worked so hard for me the whole race that I would have felt really bad if I hadn't come through with a result," said Wood, who described the feeling of again receiving the series leader's jersey as 'awesome'."

"Natalie Bates was on the front for the first half of the race to stop attacks going and in the second half of the race Sara (Carrigan) and Liv (Gollan) were basically getting on everything, " said Wood of her team's strategy. "Mirjam (Melchers) and Zoulfia (Zabirova) were launching a lot of attacks and their teams were pushing the pace but eventually it all came back to a bunch heading into the last kilometres."

On the last lap, Gollan went to the front and drove the pace with only six others able to stay with her. "She really split it up and in the last 200m Liv was in front with Mirjam on her wheel and me on Mirjam's on the last corner," said Wood. " Mirjam and I were so busy watching each other in the final sprint for the line that Angela (Brodtka) managed to come round both of us."

The women will be back in action for round four of the World Cup Series when they line up for the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) next Sunday.

Manzano willing to ride for Amore e Vita

Jesus Manzano is close to accepting an offer from Ivano Fanini to ride for the Italian division III team Amore e Vita. Manzano, who was fired by Kelme last year, has been very much in the spotlight recently with his doping revelations. After he spoke out, Fanini offered him a place in his team, which has always had a strong anti-doping line.

"I already competed drug-free as an amateur and I still finished second in the Spanish Championships," said Manzano to AS, accepting Fanini's condition that he will ride clean.

Manzano did not test positive for any banned substances, but his admissions may result in a (possibly lengthy) sanction from the Spanish Cycling Federation, which is examining his case and has not yet granted him a racing licence. There is also the question of his injured knee, which is even worse shape now after heavy treatment with cortisone last year.

Driedaagse van de Panne-Koksijde

The Vlaamse Wielerweek will be in full swing from Tuesday, March 30 with the running of the KBC Driedaagse van de Panne-Koksijde. Held over three days and 563 kilometres, De Panne will give riders the opportunity to fine tune their condition before the Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday.

The defending champion is Raivis Belohvosciks (Jacques), who pipped Gianluca Bortolami in the final time trial last year to win overall. This race is perfect for time trialists who can survive in the peloton, and riders like Robert Bartko (Rabobank, winner of the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen); George Hincapie (US Postal-Berry Floor) who missed last weekend, preferring to train rather than race; Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo); and Serguei Gontchar (De Nardi), a past World Time Trial Champion.

Others such as Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Peter van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) and Max van Heeswijk (US Postal-Berry Floor) will all be ones to watch to assess their condition for the coming Sunday.

Stage 1 from Middelkerke to Zottegem is similar to previous years, starting with a 107 kilometre loop to Zottegem, followed by three finishing circuits. Each circuit contains the Leberg and Berendries climbs, and often a small breakaway can get clear on the last hill to stay away into Zottegem.

Stage 2 is a massive 237 kilometres between Zottegem and Koksijde on the coast, with the Kanarieberg, Taaienberg and Eikenberg featuring in the first 30 km. Other than that, the stage is flat and should finish in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 on Thursday morning is 116 km starting and finishing in De Panne. As usual, the climbs of Monteberg, Rodeberg and Vidaigneberg are part of the parcours, but this year the organisers have chosen to leave out the notorious Kemmelberg. The fourth stage on Thursday afternoon is a flat 13.7 km time trial in De Panne, and this usually decides the final general classification.

The stages

Stage 1 - March 30: Middelkerke - Zottegem, 196 km
Stage 2 - March 31: Zottegem - Koksijde, 237 km
Stage 3 - April 1: De Panne - De Panne, 116 km
Stage 4 - April 1: De Panne ITT, 13.7 km

Road sprinters are really all-rounders

"Essentially the road sprinters we see in the pro peloton are the true all rounders," writes Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken in the Cyclingnews' Fitness forum.

Although they are commonly referred to as 'pure sprinters', when it comes to pure sprinting, they would struggle against the track specialists, Aitken argues. Indeed, "they wouldn't even come close".

Road racing, it would seem, is like investing in real estate. The realtor's cry of 'location, location, location' can be transposed to 'position, position, position'. Further, a realtor's rat-like cunning to sniff the right deal (or wheel) can also help.

Or, as Eddie Monnier tells his athletes: "there are two races. The first is to a certain point (e.g., the last corner in a criterium) and the second is to the finish line."

To read more analysis and tips on improving your sprint, see our latest instalment of this regular feature, where our panel of experts discuss the physiological - psychological - aspects to finishing a race at the front of the field.

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