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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for May 12, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Simoni: "The war is very long"

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco)
Photo ©: Olympia

Yesterday's Saeco one-two punch in the third stage of the Giro d'Italia went exactly to plan, according to the team. Damiano Cunego attacked on the final ascent to the Corno Alle Scale, with three and a half kilometres to go, setting the stage for team captain Gilberto Simoni to pick up the torch in the final three kilometres and power to a solo win 15 seconds ahead of Cunego.

"It was up to me to attack first and then we would have decided our tactics on how the others were riding", Cunego said in a team statement. Simoni realised that the others were in difficulties and seized his moment for a win that was particularly sweet as the Saeco company, based nearby in Gaggio Montano, had a big presence at the finish. The Saeco crowd, predictably, went wild and Simoni was congratulated by Saeco president Sergio Zappella.

"I won the stage but the whole team won today after riding a fantastic race," said Simoni, who also picked up the race leader's pink jersey after his win. "The most satisfying thing is that we've given our sponsor a special moment. They've organised a great stage and it was great to see such a huge crowd."

While the defending champion now has the lead in his grip, he realises it's a long way to the finish line in Milano on May 30. "We've won a big battle but the war is very long," he said.

Who is Damiano Cunego?

He's a little bit Saronni, a little bit Pantani too

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Who's this upsetting the apple-cart at Saeco? Besides Damiano Cunego's 1999 Junior World Championships win in his hometown, Cyclingnews has met the 22 year old from Cerro Veronese a number of times; he's a nice young guy that has a lot of talent, perhaps more than anyone else knew.

Anyone else except Giuseppe Martinelli, currently direttore sportivo at Saeco, who signed a contract with Cunego in '99 and then placed his protégé with the Zalf Fior amateur squad where he won four races in two years before he turned pro in 2002.

Martinelli was DS at Mercatone Uno at the time and the future of his previous protégé Marco Pantani was uncertain.

Martinelli moved to Saeco and took Cunego with him and in his first year as a pro, the Veronese won two minor pro races in Italy. Last season, no wins, but Cunego had some good places in hilly races and finished his first Giro d'Italia in 34th, 1:04:44 down.

La Gazzetta dello Sport's cycling history expert Rino Negri compares the young Cunego to Giuseppe Saronni, who had both great finishing speed and excellent climbing skills while a young rider of 22. Negri also compared Cunego to Roger De Vlaeminck, who won his first Giro stage at 22. But more than anyone, Cunego reminds this writer of a talented young, friendly blond California boy, who was also Junior World Champion and was winning world class races at 22 years old: Greg LeMond.

Ivan Quaranta: The Cheetah yowls

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Ivan Quaranta has returned home, in the sense that after a few sparse years with other teams, the speedster from Crema has gone back to the small Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave' team, directed by Stefano Giuliani, the DS who guided him to his greatest successes at the Mobilvetta-Northwave team five years ago. We spoke to the 29 year old sprinter at the Giro and he told Cyclingnews that "I really wanted to ride for Giuliani again…it wasn't like I had no other choice. But last year watched the Giro and Tour from home and that wasn't a very good feeling. But I've trained well and prepared well and hope to do my best" Even though Quaranta was behind the split on Sunday's stage on the tight finishing circuits in Alba, the sprinter nicknamed Cheetah for his incredible speed in the last 100 meters hopes to yowl again at this year's Giro.

Lampre's bright hopes at Giro

By Tim Maloney, European editor

World champion Igor Astarloa is riding the Giro in his first grand tour outing for his new team Lampre, which he joined a few weeks ago after leaving Cofidis.

Lampre's Giro DS, South African Brent Copeland says he is pleased as how well Astarloa is going in his new berth. "We didn't expect [Astarloa] to go as well has he has," Copeland told Cyclingnews. "Our hope is for a stage win for him, while we are looking to Garate for the GC." We asked Copeland how Astarloa was fitting in at his new team and his response was positive. "Igor is a fantastic guy; he's an easy-going, down to earth guy."

Lampre won't do the Tour de France, so the team is looking to the World Champ to have a good second half of the season in the World Cup classics and defend his Rainbow jersey title in Verona.

New record for Mayo

In his win at the Subida del Naranco yesterday, Iban Mayo established a new record for the race's final ascent, with a time of 12 minutes 7 seconds for the 5.2 km. The previous record was held by Santi Blanco in the time of 12 minutes 9 seconds.

Botero back to Europe

Former world time trial champion Santiago Botero (T-Mobile) will return to European racing this month at the Tour of Bavaria (Bayern-Rundfahrt, May 19-23) after a brief stint training in Spain. Botero, who has spent the first few months of the season training in Colombia, is targeting the Tour de France and the Athens Olympics as his main goals for the 2004 season.

After the Bavarian tour, Botero is expected to ride the Tour of Germany (May 31 - June 6) and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (June 6 - 13) presumably dropping out of the former to start the latter.

Botero will represent Colombia in the time trial at the Olympics.

German team for track world's

The German cycling federation (BDR) has announced the team that will travel to Melbourne, Australia for this month's world track championships (May 26-30), according to Germany will field a 19-rider team in Melbourne:

Men - sprint: Carsten Bergemann, Jan van Eijden, Jens Fiedler, Matthias John, Sören Lausberg, Stefan Nimke, Rene Wolff
Men - endurance: Robert Bartko, Daniel Becke, Robert Bengsch, Guido Fulst, Christian Lademann, Leif Lampater, Andreas Müller, Sven Teutenberg
Women - sprint: Kathrin Freitag, Katrin Meinke, Susan Panzer
Women - endurance: Hanka Kupfernagel

Liberty Seguros & Illes Balears - Banesto for Vuelta a Asturias

Liberty Seguros will field the same squad for the Vuelta a Asturias (May 12-16) as rode yesterday's Subida al Naranco. That race saw Roberto Heras come out of hiding for the first time this year, and heras will continue his build-up for the Tour de France with the 2.2-rated Asturias. He will be joined by Rene Andrle, Carlos Barredo, Giampaolo Caruso, Alberto Contador, Jesús Hernández, Isidro Nozal, Luis León Sánchez and Christian Vandevelde.

Also for the Vuelta a Asturias, the other top Spanish team, Illes Balears - Banesto will field Chente García, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, José Antonio López,Francisco Mancebo, David Navas, Steffen Radochia, Mikel Pradera, Toni Tauler.

TIAA-CREF/5280 place up for grabs at Collegiate nationals

The winner of the omnium at the US collegiate national championships in Madison, Wisconsin, May 21 will pick up a very special prize in addition to the honour of being the US' top collegiate racer. Jonathan Vaughters' TIAA-CREF/5280 team will offer the winner a place on the squad, the US' top under-23 development team.

The prize has been dubbed 'Lucky 13' as the winner will become the 13th official member of the team. The winner will join team riders such as Blake Caldwell, Zak Grabowski, Timothy Duggan and Craig Lewis under the direction of the hugely experienced Vaughters and will be coached by US Olympic team hopeful Colby Pearce.

Lehigh Valley Velodrome to hold open time trial series

Promoters at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome have announced an open time trial series for all age groups (Juniors, Masters, and Seniors) that will be held Wednesday, June 9, Sunday, July 11, and Wednesday August 18, 2004.

"I'm very excited for this program because it will expose new riders to the track, but will also give experienced riders an opportunity to participate in Olympic-style time trial events," said Jacob Burns, Lehigh Valley Velodrome Marketing Director.

Through the time trial series, the Velodrome hopes to increase participation in the sport of track cycling. Riders need not have a USA Cycling license prior to the event because they may purchase a one-day license.

Riders may use their own bikes (track bikes are not necessary) and need no track cycling experience. "We're looking for future Olympic talent," said Burns, "We hope to attract everything from novice riders to elite tri-athletes."

Time trials will be held at distances of 4000m, 3000m, 2000m, 1000m, 500m, and 200m. Starting gates will be available for those who would like to use them. The cost of entry is $5.00 per event each day of the series. The event times are 6:00pm until 10:00pm on June 9 and August 18, and noon until 4:00pm on July 11. Registration for events begins an hour before the event times, and lasts throughout the duration of the event.

For more information see

Fantasy Giro tips: Differences in circumstances

Giro Fantasy gameBy Michael Tierney, 2003 Cyclingnews fantasy Giro winner

There are several notable changes in circumstances from last year's Giro that make team selection involve different kinds of choices:

1) There are fewer big favourites at high points values, both sprinters and GC riders.
2) There are multiple new favourites at relatively low points values.
3) There are fewer mountain top stages.
4) There are fewer long time trial stages.

Since there are fewer high valued riders, virtually all the big point getters can be chosen and still have enough left over to select a complete complement of riders. This is much different than last year, where one had to choose between many favourites in order to keep under budget. So most will (should) select all the big favourites for points, then fill in the remaining slots with secondary riders (those who are lower priced but should do well on GC or sprints or time trials or breakaways. There are quite a few good lower valued selections, So the game becomes one of secondary rider selection, rather than one of big favourite selections.

Since there are fewer mountain top finishes, the best climbers will have less of an advantage this year, and the time differences should be much less than last year. In addition, Stage 7 is more of a power climbers' stage, as it is not as steep as in past years. Stage 3 is only steep in the last few kilometres, so the time gaps will be less than normal. Stage 18 is the only really tough stage where the pure climbers will make big time gaps. Stage 19 is also tough, but there is a down hill finish after the last climb, that will allow some who have been dropped to catch back up. So time trialists should do better on the climbs than last year. As against that, there is only one long time trial, rather than 2 last year. So fewer time trial miles will take away much of the prior gain. On balance, watch for power climber/ time trialists to fare better than last year.

There is also a similarity to last year that is likely to affect choices in that the top 3 sprinters (Petacchi, Cipollini, McEwen) are again very unlikely to complete the Giro.

So the question becomes will they score enough in the first 2 weeks to warrant their selection? Will the secondary sprinters make up enough by lasting to the end, even though they don't score as many points during the other stages. Don't forget, there are overall points awarded at the end only for those who finish the race. I would pick Petacchi in any case, since he rates to score enough points. But don't count the other two out, as they are very capable of running up a big total, just not as much or as likely as Petacchi. This is an interesting decision to make.

Play the Cyclingnews Fantasy 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.

For more information on joining, see the rules section.

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