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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for October 13, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Postal surprised by win

Max Van Heeswijk after the season's first win back in February
Photo ©: Ed Tarwinski

Max Van Heeswijk's victory in yesterday's Nationale Sluitingprijs in Belgium came as a pleasant surprise for the US Postal team, neatly book-ending a season that began with a Van Heeswijk win in the second stage of the Vuelta Andalucía/Ruta del Sol back in February.

"It was a surprise result for all of us today, as Max wasn't feeling that great having suffered during Paris-Tours just a few days ago," said USPS assistant directeur sportif Laurenzo Lapage in a team statement. "I asked him halfway through the race how he felt, and he said he was getting better and better. It was important for him and for all of us to win our last race for the Postal Service. Also for Max, now he can go into the winter relaxed."

Van Heeswijk has been a key player in what US Postal is calling its most successful season to date, with 13 of the team's 33 victories - two more than Lance Armstrong. Van Heeswijk won two stages of the Vuelta Andalucía and went on to take stages of the Tour of Catalunya, Tour of Holland, Four Days of Dunkerque, Tour of Belgium and Tour of Murcia.

"Finishing the season with a win in the last race of the year is a very nice way to finish," said USPS directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel. "Especially as this was one of our most successful seasons in terms of wins and with Lance winning his sixth Tour de France."

Van Heeswijk's victories and the team's other successes throughout the year provided ammunition for Bruyneel to fire at critics who say Postal is to focused on the Tour de France. "This year we won many races with many different riders the whole year - from February to October," he said. " e have definitely proved we have a very deep team, contrary to what others may say, that we are focused on the Tour only. I don't agree with that as we have been performing and winning the whole year."

On van Heeswijk, Bruyneel added, "For Max, this was his best season by far. If he even had some luck in the spring, he would have won a big race as well, but for the team, he has shown his value to us all year long. It's good to have a rider like that on the team, knowing when you go to a race you have a good possibility to win."

Valverde to Balears?

The Illes Balears - Banesto team is the latest destination reported for Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme rider Alejandro Valverde. However, negotiations between the teams have stalled over the fee CV-Kelme is demanding to release Valverde from his current contract, according to todociclismo.com.

That's no small impediment, however, as any team wanting to acquire Valverde for 2005 will have to find up to two million Euros to terminate his deal with Kelme. Illes Balears is reported to have offered 1.5 million, but this has been turned down by Valverde's current team.

CV-Kelme is determined not to let Valverde go cheaply because it believes his presence might secure invites to major races, despite the team not being granted a Pro Tour ticket for 2005. In addition, the team's sponsorship from makers of equipment such as bicycles, helmets and eyewear will all increase if Valverde is using them. Valverde has made it clear that he does not want to stay with Kelme but the size of his transfer fee has already deterred squads such as Rabobank and Liberty Seguros from attempting to obtain his services.

However, according to Marca, Valverde has an alternative offer up his sleeve from the Italian Fassa Bortolo squad if he and CV-Kelme are unable to reach agreement with Illes Balears.

Valverde has been a hot property on the transfer market all season as the troubled Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme struggled to organize its finances and UCI status early in the year. When he was able to race, Valverde demonstrated that his second place at the 2003 world championships was no fluke, winning the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valenciana in February, the Vuelta a Murcia in March and taking fourth in the Vuelta a Espana.

Hoj to Gerolsteiner

Danish cyclist Frank Hoj will leave the CSC team at the end of this season to take up a two-year contract with Gerolsteiner, according to an announcement from CSC.

While Hoj said he would have preferred to remain at CSC, the decision came down to money, according to CSC boss Bjarne Riis. "Obviously it's a shame that we're not able to keep Frank," said Riis. "He has been a good rider for us and has developed a lot this season. It has been a pleasure working with Frank, and on behalf of Team CSC I would like to wish him the best of luck with his new team next season. We still haven't landed a co-sponsor, and this makes us incapable of matching Gerolsteiner's offer, and we just have to accept this fact. I am still very optimistic and confident, that we will soon be able to complete all our contracts for next season very soon."

"I have improved tremendously during this season with the team, and I'll definitely take a lot of the things, I have learned here with me," said Høj.

One more year for Somarriba

Top female cyclist Joane Somarriba has announced that she will continue racing until at least next year's world championships, which are to be held in Madrid in her home country Spain.

The 32-year-old told Spanish newspaper Deia, "I will carry on for one more year. The last one. I will retire after the world championships in Madrid. I really want to become a mother, but I can wait for one more year. Then, whether this appointment ends in joy or grief I will end my career, that's final."

Somarriba has been one of the world's best for several years, with career highlights that include the 2003 world time trial championships and three overall victories in the Grand Boucle Feminin, the women's Tour de France. She said that he programme for 2005 would include the Emakumeen Bira, the Giro d'Italia, the world championships and some rounds of the world cup such as Fleche Wallonne, but not the Grand Boucle's successor. "That is an unforgettable chapter that is already closed," she said.

Edo to leave Milaneza

Spanish sprinter Angel Edo has turned down an offer to continue with the Milaneza Maia team in 2005. "I have ridden for five seasons for Maia with 46 victories. I think that I deserved a lot more. They offered me a very poor contract. I understand that there are economic difficulties, but I cannot accept what they offered. They are looking after their interests, but I have to look after mine," Edo told todociclismo.com.

Having ruled out continuing with Milaneza, Edo is negotiating with a Spanish team. Meanwhile Milaneza will continue with just 14 riders in 2005, including Alexei Markov who will take over as the team's designated sprinter. Claus Möller is rumoured to be returning to the team after a year at Alessio-Bianchi.

Béjar celebrates Heras

Vuelta a Espana winner Roberto Heras received a hero's welcome in his home town of Béjar on Monday as 3000 people turned out to celebrate his third victory in the Vuelta a España in September.

Accompanied by members of his team, Heras was received at the town hall by mayor Alejo Riñones and invited to sign the city's 'book of honor'. He thanked the large crowd for their support during his career as a cyclist, saying, "I do not know if I will win another Tour of Spain, but I always have in mind Béjar and the bejaranos." Heras dedicated his 2004 victory to the city and promised to try and return to celebrate future victories.

T-Mobile for Giro del Piemonte

Like many teams with an eye on this weekend's Giro di Lombardia World Cup, T-Mobile will be treating tomorrow's Giro del Piemonte as a warm-up race.

"Just two days before the big showdown none of the stars will want to overexert themselves", said T-Mobile Team spokesman Olaf Ludwig. A former pro himself, Ludwig says that some of the top riders "won't make it to the finish. They hop off their bikes early and save themselves for the Giro di Lombardia."

As a result, according to T-Mobile directeur sportif Frans van Looy, "It is a race often won by the underdog."

Ludwig admits that T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler is using Giro del Piemonte as a training race and may not finish. "There's a strong possibility that he will climb off the bike after two-thirds of the race," says Ludwig.

T-Mobile's roster for the Giro del Piemonte is: Rolf Aldag (36), Cadel Evans (27/Australia), Giuseppe Guerini (34/Italy), Matthias Kessler (25), Andreas Klier (28), Paolo Savoldelli (31/Italy), Stephan Schreck (26) and Steffen Wesemann (33).

Ullrich gets cut off

Getting cut off is an occupational hazard for a pro cyclist. Jan Ullrich hasn't been cut off by an inattentive driver, though, but by his sponsor T-Mobile, which provides a free mobile phone service as a perk of the company's support of the team.

According to German newspaper Bild, one of Ullrich's bills went missing and so wasn't paid by the team, so the 1997 Tour de France winner found himself with a dead line.

Harm Jansen retires

Dutch professional rider Harm Jansen has announced his retirement from the sport. Criterium specialist Jansen has been based in the US for the last several years and was a domestique for the Saturn team during the years of its domination of US domestic racing. Now 37, he has decided it's time to get an education. "I am tired and old," he quipped. "I am going for civil engineering before it is too late."

Courtesy of Skeeler News Service

Pontoni to race in Utah

Italian cyclocross star Daniele Pontoni has confirmed that he will be racing in Salt Lake City, October 16 and 17. The double world champion and reigning Italian national champion will race the two UCI category 2 events promoted by organizer Dirk Cowley at a new venue 5 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. The courses are expected to be dry and fast, in stark contrast to the mud-fest in Portland last weekend where Pontoni was victorious over the cream of America cyclocross racers.

For more information see www.utahcyclocross.com.

Kissena wants riders

Top New York racing club Kissena Cycling Club is looking for a few good racers to bulk up its category one and two squad for the road, track, and cyclocross. (Category threes, fours and fives are also welcome) Kissena is looking for dedicated, team-oriented riders who are interested in pursuing a Northeast regional program, including the major invitational races. For more information, write development@kissena.info or see Kissena's website at www.kissena.info.

Rock Lobster cycles/Jeff Traugott Guitars team

Northern California framebuilder Rock Lobster has teamed up with guitar maker Jeff Traugott to create the Rock Lobster cycles/Jeff Traugott Guitars cyclocross team. If that seems like an unusual combination, Rock Lobster's Paul Sadoff is well known for spending as much time playing guitar at trade shows as he does talking bikes, while Traugott will be directeur sportif of the squad and has himself dabbled in cross racing. The team will be doing the Pilarcitos bay area races and selected west coast U.C.I. events, according to Sadoff.

The team roster will be: Elite rides: Simon Vickers (captain) Joshua Snead, Aaron Odell, Joe Walsh, Ben Dodge. Women: Cori Houston, Julie Brothers. Masters men: Paul Sadoff, Alan Ott.

Team sponsors include: Frames - Rock Lobster cycles; Tubing - Easton Sports; Clothing - Jeff Traugott Guitar Co; Brakes - Paul Components; Other sponsors - Ritchey design, Giro, Pedalsoft, Om room yoga center.

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