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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 1, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Ballerini: Rebellin would have been in team

Franco Ballerini at the men's time trial
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Italian national team manager Franco Ballerini has said that Davide Rebellin's quest for an Argentine passport to ensure he rides the world championships road race in Verona on Sunday was unnecessary. "I can understand his desire to ride the Worlds, but I was going to include him in the team anyway," Ballerini told AFP.

Rebellin sought Argentine citizenship after being overlooked for selection for the Olympic Games road race in August, which was brilliantly won by Ballerini's designated team leader Paolo Bettini. Now Ballerini is fending off criticism for not naming Rebellin to the world's team - and if Rebellin wins, it will only get worse.

"If Rebellin wins on Sunday, Ballerini might as well throw himself in the Adige river," said 1977 world champion Francesco Moser.

Another Italian great, 1973 world champion Felice Gimondi, also criticized Rebellin's apparent non-selection. "How can you not pick a guy who's on form?" said Gimondi, "In the world championships, it's vital to have as many riders as possible who can win the race."

Nevertheless, Rebellin has been confirmed as Argentina's sole representative on Sunday, and feels he is in with a good chance, even though he will probably have the entire Italian team working against him. "I know that I'll have to go it alone and that the Italians won't be handing my any favors, but that doesn't bother me," he said. "The world championships are a special race where it's enough to follow the rhythm of the best riders for the longest time possible."

Those best riders include 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego as well as Bettini, who trails Rebellin by six points in the world cup series with two races remaining. "There are a lot of expectations on Damiano Cunego," said Rebellin. "He has a lot of character and is certainly one of the favourites.

"To win the Giro you need endurance and I think he can do just as well in a one-day race. He's also just come through the Tour of Spain, where the stages are not too long but after 20 days of competition he should be in form."

As the local hero - Cunego comes from a suburb of Verona - he will have the crowd behind him, and has shown that he can win on the Verona circuit, taking the junior world championship here in 1999. In that year the climb of the Toricelli was the decisive element in a pro race that saw only 49 of the 173 starters finish. "It's not a hard climb in itself, ... but doing it 18 times will take its toll," said Rebellin.

"I'm feeling calm - all my fans have got behind me, and I feel like the general public can understand why I took this decision."

Nevertheless, Franco Ballerini is not impressed. "Rebellin is a great rider," he said, "even if each one of his appearances in the Italian national jersey has always wound up in a setback."

But Ballerini had been prepared to give Rebellin a chance alongside Bettini and Cunego. "He would have been one of the three team leaders on the day, but instead he panicked and went off to get an Argentine passport.

"Obviously it's a choice I don't agree with."

Pound weighs in to Hamilton controversy

World Anti-doping Agency head Dick Pound believes Tyler Hamilton's Olympic gold medal is forever tainted by the A sample test that indicated blood abnormalities at Athens. Hamilton was not declared positive after Athens because a lab error made his B sample unusable, but returned a subsequent positive for homologous blood doping at the Vuelta a Espana.

Without mentioning Hamilton by name, Pound told a meeting of Toronto's business community, "It appears a cyclist might have escaped this net because of human error, but I can assure you it's no longer a gold medal in the eyes of the world.

"But if nothing else, we got him on the second bounce."

Hamilton has repeatedly maintained he is innocent of the charges. "They're accusing me of taking someone else's blood," he said in a recent interview, explaining that he was fully aware of the risks of that action to himself and his wife and adding, "this is a risk I would never take.

"Ninety-nine percent of doping is not accidental," Pound said about the general problem of drug use. "People who do this do not belong in sport."

Irish aiming for good showing at world's

By Shane Stokes,

This afternoon a strong five man Irish team will line out in the under 23 world championship road race in Verona, Italy with high expectations. The team's two protected riders Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche have shown good form of late and, backed by Tim Cassidy, Paidi O'Brien and Andrew McQuaid, will be aiming for a strong finish in the tough 177 kilometre event.

Deignan has been in strong form throughout the season and recently showed his climbing ability with a strong ride against the established professionals in the Tour of Britain. He will be turning professional with the Ag2R team next season but, before then, will be doing what he can to take a strong result in Verona.

Roche has also been in fine form of late, finishing a fine tenth in the Grand Prix d'Isbergues during his recent pro trial with the Cofidis team. He may be less of a specialist climber than Deignan but was in a positive frame of mind yesterday.

'I think it is a nice enough course, it is pretty suitable for me,' he said. 'There is a long way to go after the top of the hill, with a tricky descent and then a long way in to the finish. I think the course should suit me because if I have the legs to get over the top, I will also be the type of rider who can do a short break on the last flat section. If I am still there at that stage I will certainly give it a go.'

Team manager Frank Campbell is expecting an aggressive start to the race, after which the pace will settle down until the main battle in the closing stages. He tips the Italian and Slovenian teams as being very strong, and will also be watching the Dutch team of this season's dominant under 23 rider, Thomas Dekker. Dekker was a very disappointed second in the time trial championship on Monday and will be keen to make amends.

Given the class of the opposition, a medal is by no means assured for one of the Irish riders, but to be heading into the race with such high expectation shows how far things have progressed in recent years. Whether or not things play out in their favour today in this highly competitive event, the future is certainly looking brighter.

The Grant Thornton Team Ireland squad will have one other competitor in action today. Mary Brennan lines out in the junior road race and while she has little experience to date of racing at this level, her participation is part of the long-term plan to boost the standard of women's racing in Ireland.

UCI abandons Pro Tour launch

In the face of uncertainty over the future of the Pro Tour, the UCI yesterday abandoned the planned launch of the new series, which replaces the current World Cup with a season-long series that includes major tours as well as one-day classics. The organizers of cycling's three biggest events, the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia have all said they do not want to be part of the Pro Tour as it is currently formulated.

UCI president Hein Verbruggen instead used the scheduled meeting to launch the UCI's continental calendar, the proposed regional race calendar for teams that are not part of the Pro Tour.

Verbruggen has said that the Pro Tour will go ahead even without the Tour de France, and UCI director Alain Rumpf agrees that the organization is too far down the track with planning for the new series. "We are already too far into the process of setting up the Pro Tour," Rumpf told l'Equipe. "It is impossible for us to go back. I want to see something come of the efforts made by the teams that have increased their budgets and number of riders for 2005. Something will come out of this quarrel between two strong personalities, Hein Verbruggen and Patrice Clerc, the ASO president."

Clerc arrived in Verona on Wednesday and has indicated he is willing to meet with Verbruggen to find a way forward, but that meeting has yet to happen.

Saunier Duval still after Valverde

The Saunier Duval team is close to acquiring the services of Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme's Alejandro Valverde for 2005, according to The team is in negotiations with politicians of the Murcia region for Murcia Turística to come on board as a co-sponsor of the team. Leaders of the Popular Party from Murcia are in contact with their counterparts in the Valenciana region, main sponsor of Valverde's current team, to negotiate regarding the two million Euro cancellation fee in Valverde's current contract.

A Murcian construction company, Polaris World, is also believed to be interested in sponsoring the team.

The deal between Saunier Duval and Murcia was almost done on Sunday when the organizers of the Vuelta, Giro and Tour de France threw a spanner in the works by announcing they would not take part in the pro Tour. Saunier Duval had negotiated with Murcia on the basis of its participation in the new series in 2005.

Rabobank signs Alexandr Kolobnev

Russian national road champion Alexandr Kolobnev, currently with Domina Vacanze has signed a two-year contract to ride for the Dutch Rabobank team. The 23 year old all-rounder made his pro debut with Italian team Acqua e Sapone - Cantina Tollo. Besides the Russian national title, he won a stage in the 2003 edition of Settimana Ciclista Coppi-Bartali.

Colavita continues

Colavita USA, LLC has announced that it will continue sponsorship of its racing teams in 2005.

Colavita USA distributes Italy's Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil and pasta products, and is currently in its second year of sponsoring a men's UCI Division 3 Trade Team and amateur women's team. Company vice president John A Profaci says the exposure the team has brought has been beneficial. "Our Colavita brand item sales have increased over the past twelve months," he says, "and I'm certain that our support of the cycling programs have had direct impact on that."

The team has also announced that Frank McCormack will be the men's team directeur sportif in 2005. McCormack, older brother of Colavita Olive Oil team captain Mark McCormack, has been serving as the squad's director since late June.

Jonas Carney's last race

USPRO criterium champion Jonas Carney will race for the last time before retiring at the 20th Annual Greenville Cycling Classic on October 9. Carney will face US Postal's George Hincapie in the battle for a share of the event's $10,000 purse.

"We are excited to have Olympic athletes like George Hincapie and Jonas Carney racing in downtown Greenville again," said Rich Hincapie, Greenville Cycling Classic Race Director. "George and Jonas have both represented the US at the Olympics in the past and they are both wrapping of a terrific season in Greenville. Not only is Jonas wrapping up a successful season, but he has also decided to make this year's Greenville Cycling Classic the last professional race of his amazing career. Jonas, George and I used to race together when we were juniors, so he has been a good friend of mine for many years. He will be missed in the pro peloton."

Carney's career includes 8 junior and 16 senior national championships. He usually ends his racing season in Greenville, and this year is choosing the season-closer to end his pro career too.

IMBA hires new executive director

Mountain bike access organisation IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) has a new executive director in Mike Van Abel. A former national vice president for the American Diabetes Association, Van Abel replaces Tim Blumenthal, who recently became head of US industry trade association Bikes Belong.

Van Abel has a BS in Biology and Soil Science, which should come in handy for all those discussions about the erosion impact of mountain bikes versus walking boots, and has previously worked for a number of non-profit organizations including the YMCA, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. According to IMBA he is an avid outdoor enthusiast, participating in cycling, running, hiking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing and canoeing. He will begin work as the IMBA executive director on October 18.

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