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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for November 21, 2004

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Anthony Tan

China's first pro cycling team

Marco Polo and China Cycling Association sign three-year deal

By Anthony Tan

Marco Polo will strengthen their focus on Chinese riders in a joint venture with the China Cycling Association
Photo ©: Marco Polo
Click for larger image

A unique, truly international team on the cycling circuit, the Marco Polo Cycling Team has formed a three-year partnership with the China Cycling Association (CCA) that will see China's first professional cycling team in 2005.

Part of the World Wide Cycling Foundation from the Netherlands, the Hong Kong-registered Division III trade team will join forces with Chinese cycling's governing body with the specific aim of developing Chinese riders for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Marco Polo team member Gudo Kramer confirmed to Cyclingnews that "we have signed a contract with the CCA until the end of 2008 and are the official partner of the China Cycling Association. We will develop the racing skills of the best Chinese riders in the Marco Polo Cycling Team which will be a Chinese Continental Team starting in 2005," he said.

With Beijing the epicentre for the Summer Olympic Games four years from now, the Chinese are keen to display both their cultural and sporting prowess in every discipline imaginable, and with a population that numbers 1.3 billion, the objective appears more than feasible. CCA's alliance with the Marco Polo Cycling Team is simply a small but significant part of that.

Explained Kramer, "The Continental team in 2005 will include the best six to eight Chinese riders and a group of experienced and talented western riders. So the Marco Polo Cycling Team will become the first Chinese professional cycling team next season!"

"China has the potential to become a great cycling country and we are there to develop the first steps towards the Beijing Olympics in 2008."

See also: Tales from the travellers - the diary of Team Marco Polo

For more information on the Marco Polo Cycling Club, visit:

Beloki "back" to Liberty?

Joseba Beloki, one of Spain's most gifted climbers, is reported trying to cut short his contract with Saunier Duval to be able to join Manolo Saiz' Liberty Seguros team next season. Spanish website quoted director Joxean Fernández Matxin as saying: "There will be a meeting on Monday and Beloki will probably go."

Beloki has been riding for Saunier Duval since August 2004, after leaving his French Brioches La Boulangère team without having taken part at the Tour de France. Riding for Saunier, he abandoned the Vuelta a España, on stage 16. Beloki is now said to be negotiating a deal to return with his former directeur sportif at Once, Manolo Saiz, with whom his career was more successful.

An interview with Mary McConneloug

A vocal nomad living her dream

Mary McConneloug
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
Click for larger image

When USA Cycling and the U.S. Olympic Committee announced its selection to fill the single allocated slot in the 2004 Athens women's mountain bike race, Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) came in second - by one point. After a scan of the criteria and the calculations used to come up with the selection, McConneloug knew she had to stand up and dispute the results. She could have been quiet. She could have accepted the mistake, faded into the off-season and wait her next chance to race in the world's greatest venue. But she didn't.

Instead, she summoned the courage to ask for a review by an independent arbitrator. For her trouble, she suffered the indignity of being branded a sore loser, of media scrutiny that sensationalized the dispute as a personal battle between her and Sue Haywood, the originally selected racer and a woman McConneloug considers a good friend to this day. The Fairfax, California native says she stood firm "not just for me, but for the integrity of the sport" and she was rewarded with one of the sweetest days of racing in her six-year career.

Cyclingnews' Steve Medcroft caught up with U.S. Olympian, U.S. National Mountain Bike Cross Country Champion and cyclocross racer Mary McConneloug at her off-season hunting grounds on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts - to learn more about her nomadic lifestyle, her reflection on racing and about that hot Wednesday afternoon in Athens.

Click here for the full interview

Vuelta 2005 through Burgos?

The Spanish town of Burgos in the north of the country has received an official offer from organiser Unipublic to host a stage finish and start of next year's Vuelta a España, according to, Unipublic's official website. Talks to conclude the engagement of both parties are expected soon.

The 2005 Vuelta a España parcours will be presented in Madrid on December 15. The 60th edition of the race will run between August 27 and September 18, effectively a week earlier than this year. In 2004, La Vuelta already passed through Burgos, as the city welcomed the second stage coming from Léon on September 5 and saw the riders depart on the following day, for 156 kms to Soria.

Emma Davies going for gold

Britain's Emma Davies will be aiming to complete her collection of medals when she contests round three of the UCI Track World Cup at Manchester on January 7-9, 2005.

"Last season I had placings of second, third and fourth in the World Cup. Now I would love to add a gold at Manchester," said Davies. "Earlier this year, I achieved my best World Cup result of the season when I took the silver in the 3,000-metres pursuit at Manchester.

"As double national champion I would expect to be riding both the pursuit and points race in the Manchester round," added the 26 year-old from Knutsford, Cheshire. "Predicting the likely results is difficult at this stage because we're not certain about who the opposition will be. But whoever’s in the field, it’s sure to be a very high standard."

Davies, a top performer in the World Cup since 2001 when she won silver in Colombia, followed by a pursuit gold in Mexico the following year, recently signed a contract to ride for Belgium’s Vlaanderen-Interim team next season, but is preparing thoroughly for the tasks ahead. "For the next few months I'll be fully focussed on the track", she said.

"I missed the Moscow round of the World Cup but now I'm back in full training. I expect to ride round two in Los Angeles on December 12, followed by the Manchester round, which will be my main hit."

Melchers to ride for Stevens

International cyclocross team Stevens has announced that Mirjam Melchers, who recently signed with Pro Team Buitenpoort/Flexpoint for the 2005 road season, will be starting in Stevens team colours for the rest of the 04/05 'cross season. The Dutch champion is the first woman to ride for the Stevens cyclocross team, and her first race will be the Milan World Cup on December 8.

Melchers will also be riding Stevens bikes with her new road team Buitenpoort/Flexpoint, whose directeur sportif, Jean-Paul van Poppel, became her husband last weekend. "That was more important to me than riding the Women's World Cup in Pijnacker!" a happy Melchers quipped.

Cycle Challenge Sunday in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, South Africa will host to the eighth annual Pick 'n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge today, taking place on "Cycle Challenge Sunday", November 21.

Since its inception, the race has grown from 4,500 to 25,000 entries this year. Statistics show almost 22% of the field to be women, and approximately 300 riders are from outside South Africa. Over 22,000 riders chose to enter the race online.

The acceptance of "Cycle Challenge Sunday" shows not only that the citizens of "Joburg" have embraced cycling as their second favourite sport behind soccer according to statistics, but also that they have recognised the far-ranging benefits, which the Cycle Challenge brings to the businesses of South Africa.

For the Cycle Challenge, roads will be closed completely. For more information on road closures and alternative routes please go to

Sayers starts MTB scholarship fund

Michael Sayers, a professional cyclist with the Health Net presented by Maxxis Pro Cycling Team, has announced his partnership with the Northern California High School Mountain Bike League. Together they have formed the Michael "Havoc" Sayers High School MTB Scholarship Fund.

"After nine years as a professional, I finally decided it was time to give back to the development of American bike racing," Sayers said. The scholarship will be given to a high school individual, individuals or team that have demonstrated a financial need to follow their bike racing dreams.

Added Sayers: "I feel that sport is an important part of a student’s development, both personally and academically. I hope this scholarship will reward students who have gone 'above and beyond' in their pursuit of athletic excellence. Who knows, it might even uncover the next Lance Armstrong."

Sayers has assembled a committee to help him decide who receives the funds each season in addition to aiding him in his fund-raising efforts. Amongst others, the committee includes Matt Fritzinger, a Berkeley High School teacher and the president and founder of the NorCal High School League and Jerry Hutchinson, manager of the newly formed Ford/Specialized Pro Mountain Bike Team and a teacher of autistic children in Tucson.

If you would like to contribute, please contact Michael Sayers at or Matt Fritzinger via the official League website

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)