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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for May 8, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Will the main Giro contenders please rise?

By Jeff Jones

Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: Sirotti

With less than 24 hours to go until the start of the 87th Giro d'Italia in Genova, the battle lines are being drawn principally among the general classification riders and the sprinters, where we can expect the renewal of some old rivalries and the start of a few new ones.

Among the GC contenders, the race is expected to come down to a battle between last year's winner and runner up, Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola). Both have the Giro d'Italia as their big targets for this season, and both are in good form. "I have improved a little bit, I have another year's experience, I will try to make my mark already on the uphill finish at Corno alle Scale," said Simoni to La Gazetta dello Sport at the pre-race press conference in Genova. "I expect a hard Giro, but I have an excellent team and that gives me confidence. I can win a third Giro like Bartali, but I don't want to think of that yet."

Stefano Garzelli, himself a past winner of the Giro in 2000, acknowledged Simoni's status as favourite. "He won the Giro twice and twice finished third, he is the man to beat in the mountains." Garzelli is coming off a stage win in the Tour de Romandie, where he also rode well in the final time trial, putting the finishing touches to what looks to be a solid Giro preparation.

Alessandro Petacchi
Photo ©: Sirotti

This expected duel between Simoni and Garzelli does not discount the other contenders, such as Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) or even Franco Pellizotti (Alessio-Bianchi), but on paper it certainly looks like Simoni versus Garzelli, just like Lance and Jan.

In the sprinting stakes, all eyes are on Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) to see if he can repeat his incredible performance of six stage wins last year. Petacchi does not only have to contend with Mario Cipollini, as there are several other sprinters capable of beating him. "It's not only Mario in this Giro d'Italia," said Petacchi. "There are other good sprinters such as McEwen and Quaranta. This year, the teams will be marking me all over, but that doesn't bother me. To win half the stages of last year would satisfy me."

Meanwhile, Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze), was looking very focused at his press conference. "I am curious to know what my chances will be, but I believe I am a lot stronger physically and psychologically," he said. "I don't know where or when, but I should win something in this Giro."

Mario Cipollini
Photo ©: Sirotti

The GC riders and the sprinters will have to wait a little, as tomorrow's 6.9 km prologue in Genova will suit different riders. The big favourite to win that stage is Bradley McGee (, winner of the prologue in the Tour de Romandie and an absolute specialist at the short TT. But look out also for Juan Carlos Dominguez (Saunier Duval), a previous Giro prologue winner, and his teammate Rubens Bertogliati, as well as Alexandre Moos (Phonak) and Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner). In a 9 minute race, there is little room for error and any of these riders could take the pole position by the end of Saturday evening.

Click here to read The contenders: Who will take out the '04 Giro?

Astarloa wants a stage win

Igor Astarloa
Photo ©: Sirotti

World Champion Igor Astarloa is hungry for success in the Giro, where he will be riding in his new Lampre team colours. After missing most of the classics due to the Cofidis affair, Astarloa showed last weekend that he hasn't lost any condition, finishing a very close second behind Damiano Cunego in the GP Industria & Artigianato-Larciano .

"Due to the problems of my old team, Cofidis, I have been almost a month without competition," Astarloa was quoted by AS at the pre-race press conference. "Fortunately there were no problems to return to Italy with Lampre.

"I have not yet studied the stages, but it's clear that any of them can be good. It depends on the day and on luck. A combination that happened when I finished first in Hamilton, when the others were favoured more than me."

Pantani's bike to be donated

A Bianchi bicycle ridden by Marco Pantani will be donated to the Museo dei Campionissimi in Novi Ligure on Monday, May 10, coinciding with the start of Stage 2 of the 87th Giro d'Italia. The bike is the same one that Pantani rode to victory in the 1998 Giro d'Italia, before going on to win the Tour de France less than two months later.

"Marco champion. Donating the bicycle that made it possible for him to win the Giro d'Italia in 1998 to the Museo dei Campionissimi means a lot to us, and it also means a lot to all the fans who once loved, and still do today, the great performances of the one and only Pirate," said Bianchi's marketing director Felice Gimondi.

The museum, inaugurated at the end of April, 2003, is an impressive collection of bicycle history, from Leonardo da Vinci's project, to the nineteenth century Drais bike, to modern day titanium prototypes. Bicycle artwork, films of past and present cycling races, a room dedicated to Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo, collector's items and more can all be found in Novi Ligure.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be providing live coverage of the 87th Giro d'Italia, starting each day from approximately 14:30 CEST/08:30 EDT/05:30 PDT/22:30 AEST. Note: Tomorrow's prologue coverage will start at approximately 16:00 CEST.

Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia coverage

Route preview
Start List

Stage profiles

Gilberto Simoni interview
Dr Ferrari's view
Trent Wilson diary
Simoni's reaction

2003 Giro

Museeuw honoured in Belgium

Johan Museeuw has been nominated to the Leopoldsorde in Belgium, thanks to his achievements as a cyclist. Museeuw received the award at the official residence of prime minister Guy Verhofstadt on Thursday, May 6. The only other cyclist that has been adopted into the Leopoldsorde was Eddy Merckx.

Horner and Pic on top in NRC rankings

Chris Horner (Webcor) and Tina Pic (Genesis) are at the top of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC) standings, after USAC issued its latest rankings today. Horner, who won the title in 2002 and 2003, has already accumlated 1085 points - well ahead of Tour de Georgia winner Lance Armstrong (660 points) and Cesar Grajales (549 points). The women's rankings are much closer number one ranked Tina Pic is only 11 points ahead of last year's overall winner Lyne Bessette. In 2003, Bessette gained 2085 points, while Pic came in second with 1621.

The men's individual standings are important this year, as the top 150 Americans in NRC rankings through June 1 will receive an invitation to the Team USA Selection Race which will take place in conjunction with the USCF Elite National Road Championships in Redlands, CA. The winner of the Men's 181 km road race will receive the first automatic nomination to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. Ten more NRC events take place before June 1, including this weekend's Joe Martin Memorial Stage Race.

NRC Rankings


1 Chris Horner (USA) Webcor Builders                   1085 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) USPS-Berry Floor                660
3 Cesar Grajales (Col) Jittery Joes                     549
4 Scott Moninger (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis   484
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                             460
6 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Sierra Nevada Cycling             355
7 Brice Jones (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis      321
8 Adam Bergman (USA) Jelly Belly Aramark                311
9 John Lieswyn (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis     310
10 Davide Frattini (Ita) Monex Cycling Team             307


1 Tina Pic (USA) Genesis Scuba/FFCC                     624 pts
2 Lyne Bessette (Can) Quark Cycling Team                613
3 Kristin Armstrong (USA) T-Mobile                      360
4 Christine Thorburn (USA) Webcor Cycling Team          360
5 Genevieve Jeanson (Can) Team Rona                     276
6 Susan Palmer-Komar (Can) Genesis Scuba/FFCC           236
7 Brooke Ourada (USA) Victory Brewing                   235
8 Magali Le Floch (Fra) Quark Cycling Team              227
9 Mari Holden (USA) T-Mobile                            203
10 Amber Neben (USA) T-Mobile                           192

Men's Teams

1 Health Net presented by Maxxis                       1607 pts
2 Webcor Builders                                      1526
3 US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor           1221

Women's Teams

1 T-Mobile                                             1119 pts
2 Genesis Scuba/FFCC                                   1087
3 Quark Cycling                                        1062

Kazakh team in hunt for Rás glory

By Shane Stokes,

As the final countdown continues to this year's FBD Milk Rás, details have been released of another strong foreign team which will be travelling to the tough 2.5 ranked race. Race director Dermot Dignam today confirmed the participation of the Kazakhstan national team, which was one of the most powerful and aggressive during the 2003 edition. The squad won the King of the Mountains classification twelve months ago and also took second in the best international team ranking. Kazakh riders also placed second and third on the toughest mountain stage.

National team director Valentin Rechert has named a strong team drawn from the country's best young riders. Valentin Iglinskiy showed his good form when he won the prologue of the recent Tour of Hellas in Greece, also a 2.5 ranked international event, while Alexandr Dymovskikh, Ivan Andreev,Vadim Vdovinov and Alexandr Dyachenko will similarly be in the hunt for stage wins and overall success.

The Kazakhs are expecting big things, having learned greatly from their debut twelve months ago. "Now that we know the very competitive nature of the FBD Milk Rás we are better prepared," said one team official. "We will be in the reckoning for overall honours."

While the full line-up is yet to be released, five other foreign teams have been confirmed thus far. Squads from Germany, Scandinavia, Britain, Wales and the USA will be amongst those taking the fight to the Irish riders in the tough, highly competitive eight-day event

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