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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 26, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

All hail to the warrior

Michele Bartoli bows out of cycling

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Bartoli wins Lombardia in 2003
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

In a hastily announced press conference at a Milano airport hotel Wednesday, with Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis by his side, Italian Michele Bartoli announced an end to his illustrious 14 year professional cycling career. Bartoli has been racing since he was eight years old and began his pro career in 1992. Nicknamed "The Warrior" by his fan clubs, the stylish, classy Bartoli was one of the most dynamic, attacking riders of his generation and concluded his career with 57 wins. Bartoli will go down in cycling history as the one of the very best classics and one day racers of the 1990's.

After a recent vacation in Mexico with his wife Alexandra, the 34 year-old from Pisa returned home and began riding, but soon realized that with the ongoing pain in his left leg and lower back, he would no longer be competitive due to physical problems. "I don't know the source of these pains," explained Bartoli. "Perhaps from all the crashes I've had in the last years of my career." Already in 2004, Bartoli rode injured all season long, abandoned the Tour De France in tears and was not selected for either the Olympics or World Championships.

Bartoli declared at his press conference that, "I just wasn't motivated to continue...I can't be a top level rider any more and that was a major influence on my decision, rather than my recent physical problems."

Riis said he regretted Bartoli's decision and has offered him a position working with the team in a technical capacity, but at this point, Bartoli has declined. "I would like to have him working in the team", explained Riis, "since his experience could be very useful, but I advised Michele to take a rest, to figure out what he really wants to do. That's what I did myself, when I retired as a rider, and you need to take that time out."

After his sophomore pro season in 1993 where he won three races for Mercatone Uno, Bartoli quickly showed his classics acumen in 1994 with semi-classics wins at the Flèche Brabançonne, GP Pino Cerami and a win in Stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia. 1995 saw Bartoli win the Three Days of De Panne and make the podium at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in third, finishing fourth in the World Cup as well as an excellent ninth place in the Vuelta a España. Moving to MG Technogym in 1996 with DS Giancarlo Ferretti, Bartoli had a big year, with his first classics win in Tour of Flanders, as well as taking GP de Fourmies and Giro dell'Emilia among his total of nine victories, and finishing third in the World Cup to add to his bronze medal at the World Championships.

1997 was the breakthrough year for Michele, who took his first overall World Cup win and seven race wins including Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Trofeo Melinda and Trofeo Laigueglia. Bartoli had a fantastic year in 1998 on the Asics-CGA squad, repeating as overall World Cup winner and at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, plus another World Cup win at Championship of Zurich, victories in GP de Gippingen, Three Days of De Panne, Giro di Romagna, and one stage of the Giro d'Italia in Schio, also wearing the Maglia Rosa (on Stage 5) for the only time in his career. Bartoli also became the UCI's number one ranked rider in 1998 as well as scoring another bronze medal at the World Championships, just edging out Lance Armstrong in Valkenberg.

Moving to Mapei, Bartoli started well in 1999, with wins at the Tirreno-Adriatico, Flèche Wallonne and Flèche Brabançonne, but had a terrible crash at the Tour of Germany that almost destroyed his left knee. A long and difficult comeback for the determined Bartoli led to his first Italian National Championship and an exultant win in the GP Ouest France-Plouay in 2000. In 2001, Bartoli started strong with his maglia tricolore, winning Het Volk, was runner-up in the Italian championships to Daniele Nardello, then took a win at GP Camaiore in August before moving to Fassa Bortolo in September. 2002 was a big comeback year for Bartoli, with an opening win at Tour Méditerranéen, then another World Cup win in the Amstel Gold Race, Giro dell'Emilia and a fantastic fall with Milano-Torino and Giro di Lombardia wins. Bartoli repeated at Lombardia in 2003 as well as taking the prestigious Giro del Lazio, but Fassa cut him lose and Bartoli finished his career in 2004 with Team CSC, where the tough warrior just wasn't same due to his injuries and finally hung up his bike on November 24, 2004.

Merckx: "Lance better than me"

Speaking to the media at the Spanish Cycling Journalism Award in Madrid on Wednesday, Eddy Merckx praised his personal friend Lance Armstrong to be "a better rider" than himself. The Belgian, who many consider to be the best cyclist of all time, said that "The Tour is the most important race and Lance is the one who won it most. I don't have a problem with the fact that he's topped me."

However, Merckx somewhat toned down his words when he continued, "Cycling has different eras, be it Indurain's, Hinault's, Armstrong's or mine. Everyone of us has competed at a different time. What counts is to be the best of your generation. Beyond that, comparisons are never any good."

The cycling legend further believes that Lance Armstrong will be at the 2005 Tour de France for a 7th victory bid, saying that the attempt might not be motivated by sporting goals only. "He'll end up riding the next Tour de France because his new team sponsor, Discovery Channel, will want to see him try for a seventh victory. He's got a great team and the race suits him perfectly, so he'll surely compete in it," Merckx said, adding, "It would be a shame if he wouldn't."

As to potential successors for Armstrong at the Tour, Merckx named its best young rider in 2004, Vladimir Karpets, Giro winner Damiano Cunego, Alejandro Valverde and Thomas Voeckler.

Further asked on his opinions on the ProTour, Merckx responded, "I'm in favour of it, because cycling needs to be known not only for the Tour de France. But the ProTour also has its flaws. For example, the next Tour of Flanders has to invite 20 teams, but only about 10 will come to the race aiming for possible victory. This might make some races less competitive and spectacular."

On the ongoing plague of doping within cycling, the "Cannibal" also had a viewpoint to share, starting out by saying that, "This problem subsists not only in cycling, also in other sports. To find a solution, you need to ask the doctors, not the riders, because the doctors are the problem."

Merckx also said to todociclismo.com that he was in favour of doping controls, "which are more and more sophisticated and reliable. But I don't agree on the principle of 'zero tolerance' in professional sport, because you need to differentiate between doping and products that help to keep healthy. Today, all of them are banned and that's not normal."

Astarloa in legal battle with Lampre

According to Italian website Tuttobiciweb.com, Igor Astarloa is still negotiating his 2005 contract with Bici Club Azzurro, the company managing the ProTour team Lampre-Caffita. The ex-World Champion was in possession of a valid contract for next season with ProCycling, the management of the team Lampre, at the time the team and the company still existed. Since Lampre decided to join the ProTour and subsequently coupled with Saeco to form the ProTour team Lampre-Caffita, ProCycling is "practically closed", and Astarloa has to sign a new deal with Bici Club Azzurro. However, this new contract is reported to be worth less than his previous one.

The Spanish rider, through his lawyer Paolo Zanni, has now taken the matter to the UCI. Zanni has written to the UCI's head of Professional Cycling, Alain Rumpf, asking why the Lampre-Caffita team was allowed into the ProTour when there were existing contracts that had not yet run out.

Yates banned for two years

22 year-old New Zealand rider Jeremy Yates has been banned for two years by the Belgian cycling federation for having an unexplained high level of testosterone. According to the Belgian cycling federation, Yates, who has raced for Belgian teams for the last two years, returned an A sample from a race in Wanzele in March that showed "quite substantial" levels of testosterone. He was asked several times by the Flemish Anti-Doping Agency to supply a medical certificate and a B sample to determine whether he had a naturally high level of testosterone, but refused.

After conducting a disciplinary hearing, the Belgian cycling federation decided to ban Yates for two years and fine him $NZ900 plus costs. He has the option to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Yates had a deal to ride with Credit Agricole next season, but the team suspended him pending the outcome of the process.

Møller to Barbot

Danish rider Claus Michael Møller, who this year rode for Alessio-Bianchi, has signed a one year contract with Portuguese team Barbot-Pascoal. The 36 year old Møller was based in Portugal for many years before his one year ride with Alessio, and won the Volta a Portugal in 2002. Barbot has also signed sprinter Alberto Benito (Antarte-Rota Moveis) and neo-pro climber Alexis Rodríguez.

Illes Balears signs neo-pro

Spanish neo-pro Iker Leonet has signed a 2005 deal with Team Illes Balears on Wednesday. The 20 year-old will be the squad's youngest rider next season.

Van de Walle to Landbouwkrediet

27 year-old Jurgen Van de Walle (Chocolade Jacques) has signed a contract with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for next season.

Team Monex roster almost complete

Division III Team Monex, directed by Italian Roberto Gaggioli and managed by Chris Carabini, has announced its roster for 2005. Staying with the squad from 2004 are Patrick Fetzer, Josh Goodwin, and Emile Abraham. The new additions are Italians Giancarlo Cecchi and Mario Serpellini, Colombian Carlos Vargas, Glenn Fant and Nathan Miller. According to team director and rider Roberto Gaggioli, the team will sign two more riders in the next week, one of whom a top American rider. Team Monex will have a training camp in Laguna Beach beginning in December to prepare for the first race of the year, the Vuelta al Tachira in Venezuela from January 8-21.

Team Monex roster includes: Emile Abraham (Tri), Giancarlo Cecchi (Ita), Glenn Fant (USA), Patrick Fetzer (USA), Roberto Gaggioli (Ita), Josh Goodwin (USA), Nathan Miller (USA), Mario Serpellini (Ita), Carlos Vargas (Col).

40th Vuelta al Táchira

The Asociación Táchirense de Ciclismo has announced the 40th edition of the Vuelta al Táchira, which will run between January 8-21, 2005. The race covers 1814 kilometres and starts in Maracaibo with a 136 km circuit race around the Av. 5 de Julio. Subsequent stages will pass through the states of Zulia, Trujillo, Mérida, Barinas and Táchira, finishing in San Cristóbal. The Vuelta al Táchira has been given a 2.2 UCI ranking on the new American Continental Calendar.

In addition to various Venezuelan teams, national teams from Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Equator, Spain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Portugal and the United States of America will take part in the race.

The stages

Stage 1 - January 8: Maracaibo circuito Av.5 de Julio, 136.5 km
Stage 2 - January 9: Maracaibo - Ciudad Ojeda, 160 km
Stage 3 - January 10: Cabimas - Valera, 178.1 km
Stage 4 - January 11: Valera circuito Av. Bolívar, 100 km
Stage 5 - January 12: Caja Seca - Tovar, 145 km
Stage 6 - January 13: El Vigía circuito - Mérida, 121.1 km
Stage 7 - January 14: Sta. Cruz de Mora - La Grita, 160 km
Stage 8 - January 15: Seboruco - Cerro del Cristo Rey, 132.3 km
Stage 9 - January 16: San Cristóbal circuito Avds., España y 19 de Abril, 115.3 km
Stage 10 - January 17: San Rafael del El Piñal - Sta Ana del Táchira, 165 km
Stage 11 - January 18: Rubio - Bramón - Concafé, 129 km
Stage 12 - January 19: Táriba - San Juan de Colon, 135 km
Stage 13 - January 20: San Cristóbal - Parque Nacional Chorro El Indio ITT, 22 km
Stage 14 - January 21: Peribeca - San Cristóbal, 120 km

Venezuela bid for 2006 Youth World's

The South American country of Venezuela, through its national cycling federation, has officially applied to host the 2006 Youth World Championships, which take place on road and track. The event will gather young cyclists from more than 40 countries and is scheduled for August 2006. The UCI will decide on the location for the competition in January.

Lori-Ann Muenzer to race in Burnaby, BC

From Friday, November 26 until Sunday, November 28 the Burnaby Velodrome Club in British Columbia, Canada, will be presenting "Mass Start Madness", featuring Lori-Ann Muenzer, Athens Olympic Gold medallist, who will compete against top track Canadian and American racers on Saturday in the sprints. This will be Muenzer's first competition since capturing the gold medal in the sprint event this past August in Greece.

Also racing will be World's silver medalist in the scratch race Mandy Poitras and reigning National men's and women's keirin champions Matt Chater and Breanna Loster. This competition will in part be selection races for the upcoming December 10-12 World Cup race in Los Angeles. The time standard trials will occur on November 30 at the Burnaby Velodrome.

Among the races featured are:

Mass start, sprint and timed events
Points races - 100 laps, point sprints every 10 laps
Miss-n-outs - sprints every 2nd lap, last place rider eliminated
Keirins - Japanese style racing behind a pace bike

For more information, visit www.burnabyvelodrome.ca

Registration available at www.karelo.com

Cycling Ireland camp

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The national cycling federation of Ireland, Cycling Ireland has announced a joint National Junior and Ladies camp held in Cong, Co. Mayo at the Quiet Man Hostel on the weekend of December 11-12. The camp is open to all junior riders born in the years 1986 to 1988 as well as all women's cyclists regardless of discipline. Cycling Ireland also invites all provincial as well as personal coaches to attend the camp in order to play an active role in its delivery. Training spins will be up to 100 km.

The camp's aims include developing endurance, training programs for this time of year, core strength and proper pedaling technique. Accommodation and food charges are €55. Booking date closes on December 7. Further information from:

Padraig Marrey
Head of Coaching
31 Tower View,
Ballinrobe,
Co Mayo.
Ireland

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