Latest Cycling News for May 10, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Petacchi opens his account
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) erased any doubts that his form wasn't quite as good as last year by winning the first stage of the Giro d'Italia with another strong sprint. As usual, he was led out by the superb Fassa Bortolo train, and he didn't let them down. He dedicated his win to his late friend Denis Zanette as well as his fiancee Anna Chiara, to whom he has just become engaged.
"It was important to be in the prime positions and my teammates were exceptional from the first climb, taking responsibility for the whole race. In the finale, Tosatto, Sacchi, Ongarato and Velo were all incredible, opposing Mario Cipollini's train. And I was able to repay them in this way.
"After the six stage wins of last year, everyone was expecting me to repeat. If I had lost, the doubts and the criticism would have started, as is normal. But the team showed how to assume the responsibility for the race and I did another great sprint. A defeat will come sooner or latter, but I know that if everything goes well then I can contest the win."
Petacchi was not happy with the anticipation of Robbie McEwen, who started the sprint early but moved from one side of the road to the other. "At a certain point, McEwen went first from the right to the left. I had my head down and to avoid him I lost a pedal stroke and had to restart. I thought little of it, because this time it went well, but his was swerve so obvious that I don't know how many rules he broke."
Pollack in pink
30 year old Gerolsteiner sprinter Olaf Pollack erased his past two prologue defeats (Tour de Romandie and Giro d'Italia, both to McGee) by finishing second in the sprint for Stage 1 from Genova to Alba. Although Petacchi was well ahead at the finish, Pollack squeezed past McEwen to end up second behind Petacchi. Although second place is normally not one to be overjoyed by, Pollack picked up a hefty 12 second time bonus which moved him ahead of McGee into the Maglia Rosa, a big step up the ladder for the hard working German.
"I'm as happy today as I was sad yesterday," Pollack said. "Everything went perfectly. I concentrated on my own sprint without thinking of anyone else. With 300 metres to go, I saw the gap and I went for it with no hesitation."
"Before the race, we had planned that he should sit behind McEwen to gain shelter," said Gerolsteiner's team director Christian Henn. "Olaf was brilliant."
Pollack admitted that, "I have to say that this morning I didn't think I would take the Maglia Rosa. After my second place in the prologue at the Tour de Romandie, I told myself I could do nice things at the Giro. It will be difficult [to defend it], but there are others in the team who can take it. In any case, this is the best trophy of my career."
As for his ambitions late this year, Pollack will play a dual role at the Olympics in Athens. "I have to aim for the time trial and the road race, as well as the pursuit on the track," he said.
McGee camp still hopeful
After losing the Maglia Rosa by just two seconds, Brad McGee's FDJeux.com team believes that they can recapture it in the coming days. "We had envisioned everything except the second place of Pollack that cost Brad the Maglia Rosa," FDJeux.com's directeur sportif Martial Gayant told L'Equipe. "We thought we would keep it, but we can always hope to recover it in the next stage. Brad has good legs, he is not suffering. The final circuit didn't suit him, it was necessary for him to avoid a crash."
D'Amore rediscovers himself
Third placed Crescenzo d'Amore (Acqua e Sapone) thanked his team for supporting him and declared himself to be satisfied with third place. "This year it seems that things are going a bit better for me," said D'Amore to Datasport. "I can't thank the company enough for supporting me and giving me morale. I have shown myself at a high level, they expect a lot from me."
"Petacchi is unbeatable, but what can I do about that? I take heart from the fact that I am still young. However, I believe in myself and I came with the intention of doing well."
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) certainly got the jump on everyone in yesterday's stage 1 bunch sprint, but was unable to finish it off and faded to fourth. "I should have stayed with Petacchi," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I went first. I'll watch it now."
McEwen also commented on the 5 km finishing circuit, which had to be completed four times. "It was a very difficult circuit, very technical, but I wouldn't say it was dangerous. You had to be in the front today, even in the straights. I found it OK."
Unfortunately for stage 1 winner Alessandro Petacchi, one of his spare Pinarello bikes was stolen overnight. He has other spares, but it's never nice to lose a bike.
Speaking of bikes, Marco Pantani's 1998 Giro winning Bianchi was awarded to the Museo dei Campionissimi in Novi Ligure today. Bianchi's marketing director and the patron of Pantani's former Mercatone Uno team, Felice Gimondi, made the presentation.
The weather for stage 2 between Novi Ligure and Pontremoli is likely to be cool (16 degrees) and slightly overcast today, although plenty of sunshine is expected. The wind is from the southeast, which will be against the riders for most of the day. Join us for our live coverage of stage 2, starting at 14:30 CEST.
Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia coverage
Kelme and Costa de Almeria to be investigated
After hearing the testimonies of three cyclists last Friday, judge María Antonia Torres Díez-Madroñero of the central court in Madrid will open an investigation into "crimes against public health" allegedly committed by the Kelme and Relax-Fuenlabrada teams. The judge heard Jesus Manzano (ex-Kelme), Pedro Díaz Lobato and Darío Gadeo (ex-Costa de Almeria), who have publicly previously accused their former teams of doping practices.
According to a report in AS, it's probable that the three cyclists will not be accused of crimes themselves, rather the finger will point in the direction of their teams. Manzano's lawyer Ignacio Peláez was quoted as saying, "He was limited to being a user and it's very difficult to pursue him when he has not been involved in trafficking of these substances, neither has he facilitated or collaborated in their use. In Spanish law, self-use is not considered a crime.
"My client has given the names of the people that induced him to take those substances. If the Court did not ask him to cite those names, we would ask them to. With his conduct, Manzano is collaborating with justice."
No good news for Manzano's knee
The possibility that Jesus Manzano may race again is still very much up in the air, and to a large extent depends on the ability of his knee to heal after (he claims) it was destroyed by cortisone. Manzano visited Mikel Sanchez, a specialist in Vitoria, Spain, who said that although Manzano's skin will heal, his muscle would not. Manzano could undergo an expensive treatment, but there is no guarantee of success.
Four Days of Dunkirk stays in France
Next year's edition of the Four Days of Dunkirk will be run completely on French soil, according to Gazet van Antwerpen. Although the race is held very close to the Belgian border, the last time it visited Belgium was in 2000, when it went to Oostende and Westouter. The organisers don't envisage a border crossing in 2005.
"We have had far reaching negotiations with Lens and we are puzzling over the rest," said secretary Bruno Vandaele to GVA. "We first have to know who is interested in it and then the distance has to be within the limit set by the UCI. I have a few towns that have really asked us to host a start or finish but they are too far away. Whether we will ever come back to Belgium? I think so. They are really cycling mad there, but first the interest must come from that side."
Jolanda van Dongen-Cools breaks collarbone
Jolanda van Dongen-Cools (Team Ton van Bemmelen Sports) has broken her collarbone after crashing in the Flevotour in the Netherlands last Saturday. The 37 year old will visit the hospital on Monday or Tuesday to see whether an operation is necessary. She is expected to be out of competition for four to six weeks.
Fantasy Giro predictions
Looking for some insight from the winners of last year's Cyclingnews Fantasy Giro d'Italia? The "Faster Bordello" team, reigning champions in the discipline, have offered a few thoughts on this year's race and the likely contenders.
"I'm picking Garzelli for the win, this time, though he and Simoni will likely keep us guessing until those final mountain stages, the almost absurdly difficult stages 18 and 19," explained half of the winning fantasy duo. "I will be interested to see how Simoni's young teammate Damiano Cunego handles these, for sure."
Top ten picks for the general classification? Guys like Noe', Pellizotti, Belli, perhaps Mazzoleni, Valjavec, Totschnig, Gonchar, and Juan Carlos Dominguez. Dario David Cioni stands out as a dark horse pick.
No team would be complete without the sprinters, and Faster B picks Alessandro Petacchi as the top man for the bunch sprints, though Angel Furlan provides "the most bang for the buck."
Having already picked Brad McGee for a prologue win, it seems the Faster B team has a handle on the predictions for the first week of this year's Giro.
Click here to sign up and pick your team. You can try out as many teams as you like for stages 1-5. You only need to pay for the teams you want to enter in the competition by the beginning of stage 6 (May 14). Thus, there is no disadvantage to entering a team once the Tour is under way.
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)