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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 25, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cunego responds to Simoni's barbs

Next week's training camp truce crucial for Lampre-Cafitta

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Damiano Cunego (Saeco)
Photo ©: Christine Krueger
Click for larger image

As the current #1 in the UCI world rankings, Damiano Cunego is basking in the glow of a fantastic 2004 season. Winner of the Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia and becoming the youngest ever to achieve the world's top ranking while still just 24, Cunego might lack the experience to avoid a verbal battle with his fellow Lampre-Cafitta rider Gilberto Simoni currently raging in Italy.

But it doesn't seem so. Earlier this week in Pontenuovo di Calenzano, near Florence, Cunego was awarded a special Giglio d'oro award from Saverio Carmagnini and Tuscan journalists at a festive lunch. The young champion from Cerro Veronese spoke to the media there, repudiating Simoni's recent statements that he had betrayed the Trentino rider at Bormio during the Giro. "It's not true that I betrayed him because there was no agreement...maybe the stage didn't go the way he wanted it, simply because Gilberto wasn't like he was (at the Giro) in 2003."

With Lampre-Cafitta's first team training camp coming up next week at Lake Garda, Italy, Cunego was looking to smooth troubled waters with a maturity beyond his 24 years. "Oh, I don't want to get into a confrontation with Gilberto. We both had our chances in the Giro...I played my cards and he played his and things didn't work out the way he wanted them to."

A relaxed Cunego continued by saying, "I didn't do anything wrong in Bormio and didn't betray anyone. For sure, it's not great to have these hassles with Gibo as the season starts. In any case, for next year's season, we have to be allies because there are plenty of adversaries out there and everyone wants to win. There's no sense to have a war between us...it could mess things up in the team."

Cunego is not stressing too much though: "I'm feeling relaxed and I'm trying to prepare for next season as well as possible. I have to focus on my own objectives and I want to continue to improve. I have more experience now as I'm a year older. The Giro, Vuelta and World's taught me some invaluable lessons for the future. I'll have more responsibility but I like it that way." Cunego's main objective for 2005 will be to defend his Maglia Rosa at the Giro d'Italia, "then I'll go to the Tour De France to get the experience of racing against the strongest riders in the world and I hope to go up against Lance Armstrong."

Guest of honour at the Giglio d'oro was winner Paolo Bettini, who'll begin his winter training in early December and may ride the Giro d'Italia next season. Bettini commented on the Cunego-Simoni polemics by saying, "It makes me laugh and I'll tell you why...a lot of people used to talk about how I got along with Bartoli, but in the end, nothing like this ever happened between us. For sure, in the case of Simoni and Cunego, you're talking about two top riders who are both important, and it's the job of the people who work with them on the team get them to work better together. At Mapei, we had plenty of champion riders who could get along with one another."

Also present at the Giglio d'oro festa was Italian champion Cristian Moreni, who commented, "Both riders wanted to win (in Bormio) and evidently, Gilberto thought is was his right to win there again (Simoni won Giro stage 14 to Bormio in 2000). Now everything is in the hands of Martinello, Corti and Saronni. They have to work this out to avoid a negative situation on the team. It's clear that both riders want to win the Giro d'Italia, and both can do it. So it's important for both (Simoni and Cunego) and the team that this gets worked out."

Certainly at next week's Lampre-Cafitta team camp, Simoni and Cunego's team bosses Giuseppe Martinelli, Claudio Corti and Giuseppe Saronni will try to get both riders to agree to a truce for 2005.

Bartoli retires

Michele Bartoli
Photo: © Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Michele Bartoli (Team CSC) has announced his retirement at a press conference in Milan, Italy on Wednesday. The 34 year-old has decided to end his career, which has spanned the last 12 years and included over 50 victories. Bartoli is one of the more accomplished one day riders, winning Liége-Bastogne-Liége and Giro di Lombardia twice each, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Meisterschaft von Zürich, Het Volk, Giro d'Emilia, Rund um den Henninger Turm and Flèche Wallonne.

"It has been a tough decision to make," said Bartoli. I've had problems during most of this season, and it's been so bad, that I've not been able to deliver the results, which both myself and my team had hoped for. I would like to continue, but feel far from sure that it would be the wise thing to do. The decision has been mine alone. I would've preferred to end my career with a big victory for Team CSC, because the team has shown me lots of confidence from day one and given me great opportunities to evolve. But the risk of yet another season marred by injuries and lack of results, has led me to make this decision now. Should I return to cycling, I'd like to work with Bjarne. It has been a great inspiration being part of his team and we have always had very good understanding.

"I've spent most of my life in the cycling sport, and it's given me some fantastic moments. Right now I feel very sad to be saying goodbye, but in a while I'll be able to look back on a career, which has given me a great deal. I've won a number of the important races within the sport, and those victories will always be special to me. I would like to thank everyone, I have had the privilege to get to know, and also my faithful fans, whom I'll definitely miss."

CSC team manager Bjarne Riis commented that Bartoli has "nothing to prove to anyone. In many ways he's been the ultimate classics rider of his generation, and one of the very few, who's won almost all types of races...He has given cycling a lot and I hope he will return some day. I'd be happy to work with him again."

Three new riders join CSC

Johansen, Roberts and Müller on board

CSC also announced the signings of Allan Johansen (Den), Luke Roberts (Aus) and Christian Müller (Ger) to its roster for 2005.

Riding for BankGiroLoterij this year, 33 year-old Johansen had one of his best seasons in 2004 and is now looking forward to riding the classics for the team. "I'm very happy to have succeeded in getting a contract with Team CSC," he said. "It gives me the opportunity to ride with one of the best teams in the world and to try out my skills in some important races. I think, the cobbled races will suit me very well, and of course I'm very keen to prove myself."

Luke Roberts is one of the best track riders in the world, being part of the world record breaking team that won both the world championships and an Olympic gold medal this year in the team pursuit. Roberts also won a stage in the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, and will now be committing himself 100 percent to road racing. "I couldn't wish for a better team," said the 27 year old. "My focus will be on the road, and I'm very privileged to be able to make this switch with Team CSC because I have a great deal of respect for the sports directors."

Christian Müller will be a neo-professional rider with Team CSC. The 22 year old German won the German U23 time trial championship, was fifth at the U23 world championships in the same discipline and also won the European time trial championship. "I'm very much looking forward to becoming a professional rider, and for someone as young as me, Team CSC is the best possible place to start," said Müller.

It's official: Beloki to Liberty

Joseba Beloki will be riding for Liberty Seguros next season, putting an end to the speculations. Beloki has signed a one year contract with the team, and will ride under his former boss Manolo Saiz once again. Team captain Roberto Heras told Marca that Beloki would strengthen the team. "With Beloki we are a bit better than in this last year," he said.

Australia's High Performance Manager resigns

Cycling Australia's High Performance Manager, Michael Flynn, has resigned from his position in order to pursue new challenges, the Australian federation announced. Flynn started as High Performance Manager after the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and has managed the program for the past eight years.

When asked why he was leaving, Flynn told Cyclingnews that, "I had in front of me a really good offer and it was a decision I had to make for myself. I am extremely sad to leave the sport of cycling. I had a great relationship with the coaching staff, the athletes and the AIS staff and the results showed that those relationships worked, but it was time for me to move on.

"It has been a great few years, but as a friend of mine once told me, no-one is indispensable. If you have an opportunity that you need to take, then do so. In elite sport, things need to be working together. You need to have a good working relationship with all areas of the sport. If that is not there it doesn't work."

"Michael...has done an outstanding job which is evidenced by the success our cyclists are currently achieving," said Cycling Australia's CEO Graham Fredericks. "We are very sorry to lose his talents and filling his shoes will not be easy."

An interview with Bryan Steel

Britain's Man of Steel

Putting a stop to the racing, but not the bike
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

The old adage, "every cloud has a silver lining" could have been written for Bryan Steel. One of Britain's finest ever track cyclists, he notched up no less than nine silver medals in a career that took him to four Olympic Games and 14 world championships. Now, "Bryan the Lion" as he was dubbed by Britain's cycling supremo Simon Jones, has retired and being a down-to-earth Midlands man rather than Hollywood crooner or a billionaire boxer, he means it. That said, he did arrive for an interview with Rachel Williams in his home town of Rugby on two wheels, but a good deal slower than the 60 kilometres an hour he regularly rode on the world's cycling stage.

With him was the precious silver medal that he'd won as part of Britain's team pursuit squad in Athens. At the time, many cycling fans had lumps in their throats at the sight of the British team being pipped for gold yet again by the Australians. And for Bryan there was a huge wave of sympathy. After being the bedrock of the British team's rise from being the also-rans of world cycling to the undisputed second best in the world, he was left out of the final four-man line-up.

Being a great team member, he hides his personal disappointment with the collective sadness of the team once more just missing out on gold. "It was a different Olympics for us because we all thought we could win it," Bryan explained. "In the past we thought we could get a medal and that was our aim but in Athens we were there to win it and although it's good to get silver, we were all disappointed not to win the gold."

Click here for the full interview

Jartazi signs its first rider

The Belgian Jartazi team has announced that French cyclo-crosser John Gadret is its first signing for 2005. Jartazi was a Division III team this year, but will be a Continental Team in 2005 under the direction of Jef Braeckevelt.

Jittery Joe's-Kalahari 2005

The Jittery Joe’s-Kalahari Pro Cycling Team has announced its full roster for 2005. Returning riders are Jeff Hopkins, Jesse Lawler, Jonny Sundt and Evan Elken, while the team has signed Tim Johnson (Saunier Duval), Thad Dulin (Colavita), Christian Foster (Subway), and neo-pro's Bruno Langlois and Craig Wilcox. Geoff Kabush and Trent Lowe (Maxxis) will both ride road events for the team in addition to their mountain bike commitments.

Team roster

Tim Johnson (USA)
Jeff Hopkins (Aus)
Jesse Lawler (USA)
Jonny Sundt (USA)
Evan Elken (USA)
Thad Dulin (USA)
Christian Foster (USA)
Craig Wilcox (USA)
Bruno Langlois (Can)
Geoff Kabush (Can)
Trent Lowe (Aus)

South African Cyclist of the Year

South African cycling's Pick 'n Pay Cyclist of the Year awards have been announced at a function in the Castle, Kyalami, on Wednesday evening. Once again, the country's leading international pro rider Robert Hunter was awarded the men's road cyclist of the year. Robert's female counterpart, former world x-terra (mountain-bike triathlon) champion, Anke Erlank, scooped the top women's road and mountain-bike awards.

The 2003 world downhill champion and 2004 NORBA champion Greg Minnaar took the overall men's mountain-bike award, while the most promising men's road rider was shared equally between John-Lee Augustyn and Hanco Kachelhofer. In the triathlon category, consistent IronMan winner Raynard Tissink was the top man, and Aussie based Athens Olympian Megan Hall, was the leading lady.

Full list of awards

Road

Road rider of the year (man): Robert Hunter
Road rider of the year (woman): Anke Erlank
Most promising man: John Lee Augustyn and Hanco Kachelhofer
Most promising woman: Arien Torsius

MTB

Downhill: Greg Minnaar
Cross Country rider (man): Jacques Rossouw
Cross Country rider (woman): Anke Erlank
Most promising man: John Lee Augustyn
Most promising woman: Carla Freysen

BMX

Women's BMX: Teagan O'Keeffe
Men's BMX: Sifiso Nhlapo

Triathlon

Tri man: Raynard Tissink
Tri woman: Megan Hall

Journo: Leon (photographer)
Disabled rider: Riaan Nel
MTB Race: Cape Epic
Road Race: Pick 'n pay Amashovashova

GP de Beauce awarded

The Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce Postes Canada presented by Bell was awarded Organiser of the year in Canada by the Canadian Cycling Association at its Annual General Meeting on November 21 in Toronto. The race was awarded for its "outstanding coordination and the exposure it gives to the sport." The organisation also received this award two years ago. On November 30, the GP de Beauce will also be up for Event of the Year at the Gala de l'athlète de Québec. The organisation also won that prize in 2002.

Next year's 20th edition of the race will take place from June 14-19, 2005.

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