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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for October 14, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson & Jeff Jones

Lombardia crowns the 2004 season

By Jeff Jones

2003 winner Michele Bartoli
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for
larger image

The major European road season officially finishes with Saturday's Italian autumn Classic the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy), which will celebrate its 98th edition this year. First run in 1905, the race of the falling leaves has only missed two years (1943-44), due to World War II, and is one of the five monuments of cycling. In recent times it has formed part of the World Cup, and this year's race will be an important one for contenders Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who are split by just 13 points with Bettini holding the lead. Although Bettini has won the World Cup for the last two years, the hilly course favours Rebellin who finished second here in 2002.

The two-time defending champion is the brilliant but very inconsistent Michele Bartoli (CSC), who attacked with Angelo Lopeboselli with 20 km to go in last year's race to take a clear win. Bartoli will form part of CSC's bid for victory this year, but his lack of form means that the team leader's role is likely to fall upon Ivan Basso's shoulders. Basso won the Giro dell'Emilia and rode well in the World Championships, and should be in the final selection on Saturday.

Click here for the full preview, Course map

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the Giro di Lombardia live, with coverage starting at 14:30 CEST (Europe)/8:30 EDT (USA East)/5:30 PDT (USA West)/22:30 AEST (Australia East).

Bettini recces Lombardia

After riding the final 130km of the route of the Giro di Lombardia, Quick.Step-Davitamon's Paolo Bettini has played down his chances in the final round of the World Cup.

"The route isn't really perfect for my way of riding," said Bettini. "In certain points it is spectacular but also dangerous. The road surface along the brief descents that lead to the top of the Premana (almost 1,000 metres) is awful and in sections it is covered with dry fallen leaves that make it very slippery."

Bettini was joined on his training ride by team-mates Davide Bramati and world time trial champion Michael Rogers. The three rode the up-hill sections of Premana and the Colle Balibio, and passed through Lecco and Bellagio on to the Ghisallo where they took a short break. They then continued to Cipiglio and then down towards Como and the San Fermo della Battaglia.

Bettini is hoping the weather holds for the weekend. "Lets hope that the weather is good on Saturday otherwise, due to the height that we will be riding at, cold and rain could play a determining role in the outcome. Today I got the impression that I was trying out a stage of one of the grand stage races rather than a classic World Cup race."

Whatever the conditions, Bettini's tactics will be simple. After Paris-Tours he leads the World Cup series by 13 points over Davide Rebellin. "My tactics are to remain glued to Rebellin's back wheel trying to defend the 13 points gained at the Paris-Tours," said Bettini.

Rebellin's final fine-tuning

Davide Rebellin has also been out on the road doing his final preparation for the Giro di Lombardia. He took in a six hour training ride yesterday and plans a couple of two-hour 'recovery rides today and tomorrow in readiness for the season's final showdown with Paolo Bettini, according to his agent Fred Morini.

Rebellin said he is feeling good, but recognizes that to wrest the World Cup title from Bettini he will have to win Lombardia. "This will be a special Lombardia for me," he said. "A win would guarantee [a World Cup series victory]. I have a 13-point disadvantage on Bettini and he will not let go easily but I will be even more focused than usual. I hope this will be a great contest between myself and Paolo but I hope I will be the winner."

Evans and Savoldelli's T-Mobile swansong

Saturday's Giro di Lombardia will be the last race with the T-Mobile team for Cadel Evans and Paolo Savoldelli, with Evans joining Davitamon-Lotto for 2005 and Savoldelli heading for Discovery Channel. Nevertheless, T-Mobile is upbeat about the pair's motivation for their last race.

"Paolo and Cadel will be fired up to give it their all, on their last race with us", said T-Mobile spokesman Olaf Ludwig in a statement, and Ludwig is also bullish about Matthias Kessler's chances. "Matse performed well at Giro di Lombardia the last two years, and his strong ride last Sunday at Paris-Tours bodes well," he said.

T-Mobile will also be looking to its Classics specialist Daniele Nardello for Lombardia. Nardello has finished second and fourth in previous editions and is keen to add a victory to his palmares. "I am always extra motivated at World Cup races in my own backyard", he said.

The full T-Mobile roster for Giro di Lombardia is:

Cadel Evans (27/Australia), Giuseppe Guerini (34/Italy), Matthias Kessler (25/Germany), Andreas Klier (28/Germany), Daniele Nardello (32/Italy), Paolo Savoldelli (31/Italy), Stephan Schreck (26/Germany) and Steffen Wesemann (33/Germany).

Moncoutié out of Lombardia

Cofidis rider David Moncoutié will not start Saturday's Giro di Lombardia because he has a cold. Moncoutié has intended to ride right through to the end of the season, but instead will miss all three races in the Italian autumn triptych of Milano-Torino, Giro del Piemonte and Lombardia.

Zajicek warned after test positive

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced that Philip Zajicek tested positive for cathine (norpseudoephedrine) at the Tour of Qinghai Lake on July 22, 2004 in China.

Zajicek, 25, received a public warning, in accordance with UCI rules for a first offence. In addition, he has been disqualified from his first-place overall finish at the Tour of Qinghai Lake and fined 666 Swiss Francs.

Cathine is a metabolite of pseudoephedrine but its presence is prohibited above a concentration in urine of 5mcg/ml.

Zajicek issued a statement about the warning, saying he had been taking Sudafed, which contains pseudoephedrine "in a normal adult dose to combat occasional allergies. It has been deemed safe for competition and does not hold any performance enhancing properties."

"Unfortunately the metabolites of this legal decongestant are still illegal when present above a limit of 5mcg/ml," continues the statement. "In my body there were levels of just over 6mcg/ml. It is important to note that although a published study indicates that this metabolite remains in your system for 48 hours, I tested negative both the day before as well as the day after the test in question. In fact, of the 6 tests that I had that week only 1 showed the presence of norpseudoephedrine. In addition, it is also found in plants indigenous to the region where I was racing (Northern China), and is quite common in tea and food from that area.

"Upon learning of the violation I voluntarily pulled myself from competition. I have chosen to accept a warning from USADA and would like to continue dialogue with the anti-doping agencies to ensure that this type of situation will not arise again. Although I am completely innocent in this case it is with great reluctance that I am accepting their warning. The alternative of seeking to have this overturned through arbitration is both a costly and lengthy procedure with a very low chance of success, even in an apparently clear case such as mine."

Zajicek pledged his and his team's support for the fight against doping in sport, but also said he wants to be involved in measure that ensure a case such as his is not repeated, adding , "Although I understand the headstrong mentality that is necessary for their fight to be successful I also understand that situations that are clearly not doping will arise."

Related story

Phil Zajicek interview: Higher and higher

O’Grady to compete in '05 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under

After lengthy negotiation, organisers of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under have confirmed that Cofidis professional and South Australian local hero, Stuart O’Grady, will be competing in Adelaide in January 2005 for Australian stage race.

Currently ranked seventh among the UCI elite men’s road cyclists, O’Grady said upon his return to Adelaide this morning, "I was bitterly disappointed I could not contest the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under this year. But when I joined my new team, Cofidis, the event wasn't in its plans for 2004.

"However during the recent European season Cofidis could see the importance of the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under as a major key to my 2005 world campaign".

Race director Mike Turtur from Australian Major Events is elated at the confirmation of O'Grady's return to the race he last won in 2001 and earlier in 1999. “The fact that we have not only secured Stuart O’Grady but the Cofidis team is testament to the confidence the international cycling world has in our event, with Cofidis currently ranked tenth in the world”.

O'Grady has had a stellar year and repeatedly fought back from setbacks, such as a broken rib in the middle of the Spring Classics (see story) and then the Cofidis 'troubles' in the first half of the season (see story). He won a stage of the Tour de France, wore the Green sprinter’s jersey, and won the Hew Cyclassics World Cup race in Germany – being the first Australian ever to do so - as well as two stages of the Dauphine Libere and the single-day GP Villers de Cotterets. He also made a triumphant return to the track to win Olympic Gold in the Men's Madison with Graeme Brown.

Public support for the JCTDU continues to build each year. An estimated 470,000 spectators watched the 735km event in 2004, including some 70,000 at the opening street race in Adelaide’s East End and 85,000 at the final stage street circuit.

A full list of teams competing at the 2005 Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under will be released next month. The event will be held from January 18 - 23, 2005. For more information see www.tourdownunder.com.au

Tour 2005 to visit Karlsruhe and Pforzheim?

The route for the 2005 Tour de France won't be announced for another two weeks but it looks likely to include stages in the German towns of Karlsruhe and Pforzheim, according to Marca. Representatives of the two towns, which are close to the French border, have been invited to the Tour launch in Paris on October 28, while no invitation has been extended to official from Freiburg and Stutttgart, towns that had also applied to host stages.

Eugen Roesinger, who works with Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, told Marca, "You can imagine there might be a time trial between Pforzheim and Karlsruhe, but we will have to wait and see."

Flemish TV drops Museeuw

Following his two-year suspension from cycling in the wake of the Landuyt affair, Johan Museeuw has been dropped from his role as a guest commentator on Belgium's public broadcaster VRT (Flemish Radio and Television). Flemish minister for media Geert Bourgois announced the measure in the regional parliament on Wednesday.

Museeuw will be banned from working with the station until at least the Spring of 2005, and in the meantime the VRT will draw up a code of conduct for guest commentators.

Backstedt to ride the Revolution

Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt will start his winter track racing season at the Manchester Velodrome on October 23 where he has recently been confirmed to ride the first of the 2004 Revolution series. Backstedt plans to ride some six-day races this winter and will be using the Revolution event to test himself against the best British track racers, with all of the UK team's Olympic medalists scheduled to race.

It's by no means the first track outing for the big Swede. Backstedt lives in Wales and has trained and raced on the track at Newport, but this will be his first appearance at Manchester.

The event will start at 7pm and will run until around 10pm. For more information see www.cyclingrevolution.com

Tournant continues

France's kilo king Arnaud Tournant has announced that he will continue to race for one more year, according to l'Equipe. The Cofidis rider, who holds the world record for the 1000m track event, had planned to retire after the Olympics, but instead has decided give it one more year in which he will focus on the sprint and keirin.

Kraft extends

German Dennis Kraft has extended his contract with polish Team Action-ATI for another season. Kraft will start his second pro season next year and his main job will be to win the sprints for his Team.

Moerenhout to Davitamon-Lotto

Dutch rider Koos Moerenhout has signed a one-year deal with new Belgian team Davitamon-Lotto, according to ANP. Moerenhout joins his countrymen Leon van Bon and Aart Vierhouten at the new team which also includes Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans and Peter van Petegem.

Central Coast cross

California's Central Coast isn't having a very muddy time of it, according to the Central Coast Cyclocross series' David Gill who says local crossers "eagerly await the first muddy cx race of the year, say sometime in January."

In the meantime, though the series has four races still to go:

Race 2 - Sunday October 17: Manzanita Park, Prunedale, CA
Race 3 - Sunday November 21: Fort Ord East Garrison, Seaside, CA
Race 4 - Sunday November 28: Manzanita Park, Prunedale, CA
Race 5 - Sunday January 9: Site TBA

For more information, see www.cccx.org

Correction: Harm Jansen

After our piece about him yesterday, Harm Jansen got in touch to let us know that he actually left the pro scene a while ago, "I retired from professional racing silently on January 1st, 2003," he said. "I race locally for fun (and will do so in 2005) and mainly race elsewhere if I happen to be there for other reasons than cycling. I was in Florida for my thesis in Civil Engineering. I also think I am not a crit specialist. I flourish much better in stage races but just happened to win the USPRO crit once."

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