First Edition Cycling News for May 27, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
After Giro win, Fast Freddy dreams of Olympic gold
Recently selected as USA Today's Athlete of The Week for his great stage win in Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia in Carovigno, two-time USPRO champion Fred Rodriguez of Acqua & Sapone must be considered a real favourite for his third stars and stripes crown on June 6th at the 20th Anniversary Edition of the Wachovia USPRO Championship. When Cyclingnews spoke to Rodriguez at the Giro, so called Fast Freddy, a member of the 2000 Olympic Road Race team in Sydney, was concerned he wouldn't be able to use his rapid rush for Team USA in the Olympic Road Race in August on the Athens course that is tailor-made for a sprinter like him.
Cyclingnews: Now that you've won a stage in a grand tour, and are the only rider to beat Alessandro Petacchi in a head to head sprint this season, where does that put you regarding possible selection for the Athens Olympics?
Fred Rodriguez: As I understand it, selection for Athens is from World Cup races or Hors Categorie stage races, and I haven't done any of those. So at this point, it's up to the discretion of the US coaches if they want somebody fast at the Olympics. In the next few weeks, I guess I'll find out if they are looking at me for Athens. At this point, I think it would be a shame if they don't take me, for me and for the USA. Personally I want to be there and I'm going to do everything I can to be selected for the Olympics.
CN: Will you participate in the USA Cycling Olympic Trials Selection in Redlands, California?
FR: I've been planning to, but I've now heard that the date is the 19th of June. I originally thought the race was June 13th and that extra week... Well, I'm pushing my form too far.
CN: In the short term, you've got USPRO on your program right after the Giro. How does that look?
FR: This next week, I'm playing it day by day. It's really tough and I'm just trying to save my energy. I feel really good though...
In USA Cycling's Olympic Men's Road Race selection procedures, the criteria are clear; (http://www.usacycling.org/events/olympic.pdf) there are five spots for Athens and the winner of the USA Cycling Olympic Trials Selection road race in Redlands, California on Saturday, June 19 is automatically selected.
Then automatic selection is applied for:
1. Top three in 2003 Hamilton Worlds (no US athlete qualifies)
However, Rodriguez does have a chance for Athens under the following discretionary selection criteria:
(c) Discretionary selection criteria (in order of priority): The National Coaching Staff based on Medal Capability, USA Cycling Principles of Discretion and a history of strong teamwork may nominate up to four (4) athletes to the Olympic Team. The priority in nominating additional riders will be based on:
(i) International Individual Time Trial results with specific emphasis
on performance in time trial stages of UCI Grand Tours, 2.HC, and 2.1
So unless Fred Rodriguez, unquestionably America's top road sprinter, wins the USA Cycling Olympic Trials Selection road race in Redlands, CA. on June 19, it looks like there's a chance that Fast Freddy will be watching the Olympics road race in Athens on TV.
McGee protests penalty
Brad McGee's Giro d'Italia hit a sour note Wednesday when the prologue winner and former maglia rosa wearer was handed a 20 second penalty by race officials for holding onto his FDJeux.com team car during stage 16. McGee formally protested the penalty during Wednesday's rest day, insisting that he never hung onto the car. According to an AFP report, the Australian threatened to quit the race in protest but officials refused to overturn their decision.
"Brad is pretty down and feeling a bit demoralised because he feels as though he's been labeled a cheat and he can't do anything about it," said team director Martial Gayant, who along with McGee's right hand man Matt Wilson helped convince him to stay in the race. "He'll stay in the race but I don't know if it will affect his morale," Gayant added.
Nas blitz nets nada
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Early Wednesday morning, the Nas doping squad of Florence made a surprise coordinated blitz raid at team hotels in Brunico, 400km north of the Tuscan city, and at certain riders' homes, but the fishing expedition by the publicity seeking public prosecutor of Florence netted nothing but bad vibes from the sleeping riders and their families. Nas searched the rooms of eight riders from six different teams on Tuesday night in Brunico: Alessio Galletti and Mario Scirea (Domina Vacanze), Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Eddy Mazzoleni and Alessandro Spezialetti (Saeco), Ruggero Marzoli (Acqua & Sapone), Giuseppe Muraglia (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave), and Simone Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola). According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Nas didn't find anything and all the riders searched have been clients of Dr. Santuccione, who is under investigation by public prosecutor of Florence for alleged trafficking in illegal substances.
Saeco's Alessandro Spezialetti, teammate of Simoni and Cunego, told Datasport that "it was a relaxed search, but to get someone to open the front door at home, I had to call my wife Anastasia at 4:45am. She's pregnant and expecting next week, so she's staying with her folks. But once she got to our house, the carabinieri and police were nice to her. But I don't think there would have been much difference if they had come at 7am. When they knocked, we let them in because we have nothing to be afraid of."
Spezialetti's Saeco teammate Eddy Mazzoleni had to wake up his family when the carabinieri woke him in the team hotel in Falzes at 4:45am. "I live alone and I had to wake up my family because the carabinieri told me that if I couldn't get anyone to open my front door at home, they were going to knock the door down. I have no worries, but my family were pretty upset by all this."
Danilo Di Luca's home in Spoltore was also subject to a routine search and the Saeco rider said that "there were no problems and nothing found. It was just a routine search like this year at Sanremo. But they shouldn't use the Giro as a stage to get attention. That's just wrong."
After the fall: Popovych speaks
Cyclingnews spoke to former Maglia Rosa Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet) during the rest day in Falzes where the 24 year old Ukrainian was disappointed to lose the Giro race lead, and explained why. "I didn't feel good all day (Tuesday)... My legs were empty and I just never found the right rhythm."
Even on Monday in his press conference in San Vendemiano, Popovych said then that he expected to lose the Maglia Rosa to Cunego.
When Simoni upped the rhythm with 60km to go on Stage 16, Popovych followed his move, but it wasn't enough. "I went behind him to try and keep him from making other attacks, but then (Simoni) sent his teammate Cunego right after. That's where my problems began. From that moment on, I had to ride to defend my position. I knew I would lose the Maglia Rosa. I told you (Monday), it was a question of tactics, since I couldn't follow Cunego."
Popovych is still evaluating his position in this year's Giro d'Italia. "First off, I want to figure out what happened to me yesterday and then I want to ride without a lot of pressure and to find a way to attack, even if I think that at this point I'm riding for the podium and not the overall Giro win."
As for what might happen in the next three stages, Popovych is convinced that Simoni hasn't had his last shot at winning the Giro again. "I know (Simoni) well and I'm convinced that Gilberto will try to do something to win the Giro before Milano. There is still a lot that can happen in this year's Giro before it's all over."
Tales from the track
News and gossip from day 1 of the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Melbourne abuzz with World Championship spirit
The cosmopolitan Australian city of Melbourne was abuzz with excitement today as the 2004 World Track Championships opened at Vodafone Arena.
While the world's best cyclists and a large international media contingent gathered inside, spectators filled the arena for the (unscheduled) first and second sessions of the event, which continues with two sessions a day until the grand finale on Sunday, aware they were witnessing the same line-up of talent as will grace their TV screens in August when the Athens Olympics kicks off.
The Melbourne World's are an extremely important lead up to the Games - presenting countries with their final chance to gain crucial berths for their athletes. All the countries have sent their greatest riders. And, while most are still in the build-up to peak fitness, they are all supremely fit athletes in their prime.
The action hots up tomorrow with keirin, individual pursuit and kilo time trials.
For bike racing fans unable to get to Athens, the Melbourne World Championships are possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the best in the world at their prime.
More Day 1 News from the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Riis takes notes
Team CSC director Bjarne Riis took a group of five riders to the Alps, along with directeur sportif Alain Gallopin, to join in the pre-Tour de France ritual of investigating key mountain stages. CSC's leaders for the Tour, Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, and Jörg Jaksche tested themselves on several climbs along with Andrea Peron and Nicki Sørensen. Peron and Sørensen have not yet been selected for CSC's Tour team, but Riis was still pleased with what he saw.
"Actually both Nicki and Peron did very well, and all the riders had some good training sessions in the mountains," Riis said on the team's website (team-csc.com). "We also got the chance to study the Alpe d'Huez stage along with two or three other important stages."
Throughout the next month, Riis plans to visit his teams at upcoming races such as the Tour of Germany, Dauphiné Libéré, and the Tour of Switzerland to refine his selection for the all important Tour roster. Bayern Rundfahrt winner Jens Voigt will lead CSC at the Tour of Germany, while Riis sees Bobby Julich as the man for the Switzerland and Sastre for the Dauphiné.
Quick.Step keeps another
Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere has held on to another rider for the coming season. Lefevere reached a deal Wednesday with Belgium's Wilfried Cretskens for 2005, with an option to sign again for 2006.
Teams for Grand Prix de Beauce
Organisers of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce Postes Canada presented by Bell have announced the 18 teams expected on the start line when the race begins on June 15th. A field of up to 130 riders will take part in the Canadian stage race, featuring a number of international professional teams and several U23 squads. International teams will represent a number of countries including Mexico, Kazakhstan, Poland, France, and the United States, while seven Canadian teams are also due to start.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)