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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 6, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Corti: All for Simoni

Despite the impressive winning streak of Saeco's young Damiano Cunego, including The GP Larciano and two stages and the overall title at the Giro del Trentino, team manager Claudio Corti has affirmed that the Giro d'Italia will be all about Gilberto Simoni and a bid for a third maglia rosa.

"Gilberto has every chance of winning the Giro for a third time even if he will have to work hard," Corti explained. "There are some strong rivals out there, starting with Stefano Garzelli.

"It's no secret he started off the season much more quietly than last year but that's all part of a precise plan," Corti added. "Gilberto is one of a few riders who will ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France with the intention of doing well in both of them. His form has improved a lot in the last two weeks and I think he will be in good form for the Giro and will improve as the race goes on."

As for Cunego, Corti isn't anxious to burn out his young talent. "[Cunego's wins] created a lot of attention, we're convinced he can do well, but we're also convinced it is better to let him grow gradually without putting him under too much pressure."

Corti noted some disappointment that the spring classics had not brought Saeco and Danilo Di Luca a big win, but as far as the Giro is concerned he has an idea in mind of how to handle Italy's national tour.

"It won't be an easy Giro considering the uphill finish on stage three at Corno alle Scale (close to the Saeco headquarters), but also because the three short but hard mountain stages in the last week will decide the race. That's when the riders will have to be at their best.

"It's hard being the race favourite, but we're used to it," he said.

More organisers denounce Pro Tour

Jean-Yves Tranvaux, organiser of the Grand Prix de Plouay in France, has added himself to the list of disgruntled race organisers fearing for their future in light of the coming calendar changes with the UCI's new Pro Tour. The GP Plouay, a prestigious late summer race in the Brétagne region of France, has not been selected for inclusion in the Pro Tour, which debuts in 2005, and Tranvaux is none too pleased.

The GP Plouay is currently ranked as an hors catégorie event, the highest ranking among regular single day races. It shares the same ranking as the Flèche Wallonne and Gent-Wevelgem, yet did not meet the UCI's criteria for selection in the Pro Tour. Tranvaux intends to take his case to the international association of race organisers (AIOCC), headed by Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc.

"This goes against the foundation of the UCI Pro Tour, which is supposed to begin with an egalitarian fashion and include races in all regions," Tranvaux said, quoted in l'Equipe. "The Pro Tour includes 41 days of racing in France, but none in the 'Grand Ouest', which is France's cycling region par excellence. The best riders will no longer come to Plouay."

Piil out early

Team CSC lost two riders on the opening stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk, as Brian Vandborg and Jakob Piil found the going tough in the rain and heavy crosswinds of northern France. For Piil, the abandon was largely a result of his being short on condition following a knee injury in Paris-Nice in March.

"Originally it wasn't planned for me to do this race, but after a cancellation from another rider, I jumped at the chance," Piil said on the team's website (team-csc.com). "Unfortunately I still need more kilometres in my legs to be able to manage a stage like [Wednesday's]. It was tough right from the start and I wasn't able to keep up.

"Of course it's not a great feeling to get dropped, but at least I don't have any pain in my knee anymore," he added. "I expect to be on form again after a good training period."

Knaven injured

Dutchman Servais Knaven (Quick.Step-Davitamon) will be forced to take a short break from racing and training following a crash in the opening stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk in France. Knaven fell heavily on his left knee, and while x-rays did not reveal any major damage, the injury required seven stitches and forced his abandon from the race. He will rest for five to six days before beginning training once again.

Record fields for Joe Martin Stage Race

Organisers of the Joe Martin Stage Race (May 14-16) are expecting a record turnout this year, particularly in the Pro/Elite Men's and Women's events. Most of the top domestic teams in the United States will be on the start line, including Health Net, Jittery Joe's, Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers Furniture, Team Monex, Subway-Express, and Jelly Belly.

"As things stand, we're looking at fields of at least 80 Pro/Elite Women and 120-plus Pro/Elite Men," said race promoter Bruce Dunn. "That's twice as many men and three times as many women as 2003."

The Joe Martin Stage Race is a three-day, four-stage event (two days, three stages for USCF events) on the National Racing Calendar (NRC). The race features cash purses of $15,000 for the Pro 1-2 men and $7,000 for the Pro 1-3 women. Two road races, an uphill time trial, and a downtown criterium in the race's hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas complete the parcours.

The race is named for the late Joe Martin, a cycling enthusiast from Fayetteville whose dream was to have a national-calibre race in his hometown. Martin founded the JMSR's predecessor, the Fayetteville Spring Classic, in 1978, and served as the event's director until he was stricken with cancer in 1988. Since his passing the following year, the race has been named in his honour.

Colombian selection for Pan Am

The Colombian national team has selected six men and three women for the road and track events at the Pan American Championships, to be held in Cuenca, Ecuador from June 2-7. The team members were named by national selector Gabriel Jaime Vélez following the Colombian nationals in Boyacá.

Men: Fabio Duarte, Nelson Castillo, Jaime Castañeda, Rigoberto Urán, Jaime Suaza, Carlos Julián Quintero

Women: Constanza RamÝrez, Laura Lozano, Camila Castro

More qualifiers for Wachovia Junior PCT

Ten junior riders have now qualified for the fourth annual Junior Pro Cycling Tour to be held Sunday, June 6, as part of the Wachovia USPRO Championship, now celebrating its 20th year in Philadelphia.áThe second junior event qualifier was hosted by Quaker City Wheelmen, Pennsylvania, as part of the QCW Memorial Hall Criterium held May 2, sponsored in part by GlaxoSmithKline.

The five new 18 and under qualifiers are Gabriel Epstein (CC Evesham),áBen Barczyewski (East Coast Velo), Shane Kline (Salamander Racing), Mike Schnabel (East Coast Velo), and Taylor Brown (Tri-State Velo).

Ten more places will be filled from the top five finishers of the remaining qualifying races, Tour of Connecticut (May 22-23, juniors@spartacycling.com) and the Lance Armstrong Time Trial (June 5, info@tristatevelo.com).

The 20 junior finalists will race five miles on June 6 in the 3rd annual Junior PCT Grand Prix on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway after the finish of the women's Wachovia Liberty Classic and approximately on lap 6 of the Wachovia USPRO Championship.áThe juniors will be awarded prizes valuing $1,000, one of the biggest junior purses for the season.

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