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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for May 31, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cunego is the champ

Damiano Cunego (Saeco)
Photo ©: Sirotti

22 year old Damiano Cunego came into the Giro d'Italia with "incredible motivation" after riding extremely well in the weeks leading up to it, but maintained from the start that "Saeco has only got one captain and it's Gilberto Simoni." Cunego's expectations in his second Giro were to "learn a lot, be a big help to Simoni and if possible have some room for myself." At the end of the three weeks, Cunego found himself wearing the maglia rosa in Milan with over two minutes advantage to his nearest rivals Serguei Gonchar and Gilberto Simoni.

Over the course of the race, it became clear that many of the fanatical Italian cycling supporters have adopted Cunego as their new hero, especially as Italy's most popular rider Marco Pantani is no more. Cunego, weighing just 57kg and an excellent climber, has of course been compared to Pantani, especially as his mentor is Pantani's former director Giuseppe Martinelli. But Cunego also has different characteristics, such as his sprinting ability and his cool head. "I don't think this success will change me as a person. I'm a normal person who likes to get on with everybody," he said.

He picked three words to describe his Giro win: "Unexpected - because I never expected to win four stages and the pink jersey. Emotional ­ because of the support of the tifosi along the road is an incredible sensation. Moving ­ because this win is a team win by the whole of the Team Saeco staff and no one is excluded."

Cunego and Simoni
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cunego also paid tribute to his team captain Simoni, who failed by just over two minutes to realise his ambition of a third Giro win. Simoni's harsh words to Cunego after stage 18 have apparently been smoothed over, and the pair were visibly very happy together on the podium in Milan. "We've cleared things up and I want everybody to give him the praise he deserves for this win. Perhaps we will never ride another major stage race together even if it is too early to say," Cunego foretold.

As for the future, the Tour de France is off the agenda for now. "I'm already thinking about the world championships in Verona and the Olympic Games in Athens are also a dream. I'm not going to ride the Tour de France this year and perhaps not even next year," said Cunego.

Finally, and perhaps with more meaning than he realised, Cunego said that "I have to thank above all my parents for everything they've done to help reach where I am today."

Ballerini pleased with Giro

Italian national coach Franco Ballerini said that he had a positive feeling about this year's Giro d'Italia, which concluded on Sunday in Milan. "It was a real spectacle at the finish in Milan and an important sign for our movement," he told Datasport. "Looking at this Giro d'Italia in detail, there was the consecration of Damiano Cunego and the record of Alessandro Petacchi, I believe that this was a Giro that did a lot and said a lot."

Ballerini also commented on the mini-police blitz in Brunico after stage 16. "It was a Giro that knew how to react well to something negative like the blitz in Brunico and I think the fact that there was nothing found and the reactions on the part of the movement give an additional value to cycling that struggles to be correct, and showed in an important manner the will and the desire to turn over a new leaf."

Giro stars ride criteriums

The main protagonists of the Giro d'Italia will ride in two post Giro criteriums on Monday in Arona and Tuesday in Broni. This evening's race in Arona, the Gran Premio Formaggi Guffanti, will see maglia rosa Damiano Cunego in action along with Gilberto Simoni and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Saeco), Alessandro Petacchi, Marco Velo and Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago Landbouwkrediet), Emanuele Sella and Paolo Lanfranchi (Ceramiche Panaria-Magres), Ivan Basso (Team CSC), Andrea Noč and Franco Pellizotti (Alessio Bianchi). The racing will start at 20:00 and include a scratch race and an elimination race behind dernys. Paralympian Fabrizio Macchi will commence the proceedings.

On Tuesday, June 1 a similar field will take part in the criterium in Broni, organised by ex-Giro winner Eugeni Berzin for the sixth time. On Wednesday, June 2, a mountain time trial will be organised in Mottarone, the GP SBS, which will see Ukrainian Serguei Gonchar take part.

Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia coverage

Stage 20 Full results & report
Stage 20 Live report
Trent Wilson's Giro diary
Dr Ferrari's view
Route preview
Stage by stage
Stage profiles
Final Start List
The contenders

Horner favourite for USPRO Championships

By Cyclingnews staff

This Sunday's Wachovia USPRO Championships in Philadelphia will see the USA's best domestic cyclists compete with a strong foreign contingent for first prize in America's best known one day race. This year will mark the 20th edition of the race in Philly, and it's not surprising that the USA's top domestic rider Chris Horner (Webcor) wants to add it to his palmares.

"I am coming with the idea of winning," Horner said. "The difference is for the early races I have just come off a three-month solid block of pre-season training with no distractions. Now I am back at home and there are a few more distractions. The National Championship jersey is the only thing lacking on my résumé so I certainly want to win that.

"The form is not what it was in March but it's 98 percent. It's also a one day race and I like the tours a lot better. In the tours it's as the days go on that I start to feel better when others are getting tired. With one day races when everyone is fresh there are a lot of strong guys out there who can win."

The key feature of the USPRO Championships is the Manayunk wall, a half-mile 17% climb that has to be raced over 10 times. "It's really steep but it's a fairly short effort," commented Horner. "It's the last three laps that are really hard up the wall after you have 150 miles in the legs. The beauty of the race is that it is the racers who decide how hard the race will be. If we start attacking each other all day, the last few laps can be very hard.

"The hard thing about the climb is that the effort starts before the climb on the way into Manayunk when you are trying to get in position. So really you have already put in a five-minute effort before you hit the wall. Then you have a huge effort to get over the top of the wall in the top five."

Horner, who raced with La Francaise des Jeux in the past, is one of the few US-based riders who can compete on the same level as the European riders in this race, which has been won nine times by foreign riders. "It's not hard for me because I do a lot of training to prepare for the long distances, but I have noticed with a lot of riders within the US that when the race gets up to that 150 mile mark, they really start to suffer," he said. "But each year the riders are getting a lot more competitive. You still have that edge if you are coming from Europe because you are used to those longer races."

Given his dominance of the local circuit in recent years, the question most often asked of Horner is 'why isn't he on a European team?' "I wasn't ruling out the option of going to a Euro team this year but basically it just wasn't an option because there just hasn't been an offer on the table," he responded. "I thought I had the results to have offers but there wasn't any."

Gerolsteiner extends through 2008

The Gerolsteiner mineral water company has announced the extension of its sponsorship of the cycling team until at least the end of 2008. The team's current contract was due to expire at the end of 2005, but Gerolsteiner and the Holczer sport marketing group, which runs the team, agreed to add another three years of sponsorship in order to qualify for the UCI Pro Tour.

Gerolsteiner thus joins Rabobank as one of the first teams to take up the four year license option for the Pro Tour, thereby guaranteeing it starts in all the major cycling events of the year.

"Cycling in Germany should be bound to the name of Gerolsteiner in the future," said manager Jörg Croseck in a statement. "The team represents our brand at home and abroad and makes a positive impression on all the relevant target groups.

Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer said that he is confident that the team will continue to improve its standing in world cycling. Gerolsteiner currently sits in third place on the UCI's team rankings with World Cup leader Davide Rebellin its top ranked individual in fourth place.

Sponsor found for Holland Ladies Tour

After being run last year without a main sponsor, this year's Holland Ladies Tour (August 30-September 4) will go ahead with financial backing from electronics firm Expert. The sponsorship deal is for one year, with the option of two more. The 2004 race will be the seventh edition of the tour.

Aitor Gonzalez leads Fassa for Euskal Bizikleta

The Fassa Bortolo team has been confirmed for this week's Euskal Bizikleta (June 2-6), and includes 2002 Vuelta winner Aitor Gonzalez in its ranks. The full team is Francesco Chicchi, Thomas Danielson, Mauro Facci, Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez, Kim Kirchen, Gustav Larsson, Roberto Petito and Julian Sanchez Pimienta.

Liberty Seguros for Germany and Euskal Bizikleta

Tour of Germany: Dariusz Baranowski, Giampaolo Caruso, Isidro Nozal, Allan Davis, Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano, Jan Hruska, Luis León Sánchez and Christian Vandevelde.

Euskal Bizikleta: Rene Andrle, Carlos Barredo, Koldo Gil, Alvaro Gonzalez De Galdeano, Roberto Heras, Javier Ramirez, Marcos Serrano and Ángel Vicioso.

Illes Balears-Banesto for Germany and Euskal-Bizikleta

Tour of Germany: Daniel Becke, Chente García, Iván Gutiérrez, Francisco Mancebo, Denis Menchov, David Navas, Steffen Radochla, Vicente Reynés

Euskal-Bizikleta: José Luis Arrieta, Pablo Lastras, Joan Horrach, José Antonio López, Unai Osa, Aitor Osa, Mikel Pradera, Xavier Zandio

31st Tour de Hongrie

The major Hungarian cycling competition, the Tour de Hongrie, will start on July 26, one day after the finish of the Tour de France, and finish on August 1. The race has been classified as 2.6 by the UCI and the total distance of the six stage race is 825 kilometres. The first Tour de Hongrie was organised in 1925, and was the first cycling race in the world that was split into multiple stages and made open to the amateurs as well.

The stages

Prologue - July 26: Veszprém ITT, 3.5 km
Stage 1 - July 27: Balatonföldvár-Balatonfüred, 156 km
Stage 2 - July 28: Siófok-Pécs, 160 km
Stage 3 - July 29: Békéscsaba-Gyula-Békéscsaba TTT, 40 km
Stage 4 - July 30: Karcag-Miskolc, 180 km
Stage 5 - July 31: Mezôkövesd-Kékestetô, 140 km
Stage 6 - August 1: Gyöngyös-Budapest, 145 km

More information:

Hans Henrik Jřrgensen retires

Danish rider Hans Henrik Jřrgensen from Glud & Marstrand Horsens has retired due to a knee injury, according to his team.

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