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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 19, 2004

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Valverde confirms close deal with Illes Balears

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Kelme rider Alejandro Valverde confirmed the recent reports of him possibly signing with Illes Balears for next season. "Not everything is agreed," he admitted, "but I'm getting closer to Illes Balears-Banesto. We've talked and I think everything is going to be settled this week. It will be a three-year contract."

On the negotiations between the two parties, Valverde explained, "I think everything has been discussed. The only unclear issue is the leaving of Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme. But the talks are going well and I hope there won't be any problems." Valverde pointed out that he did hope for Kelme to make more allowances, saying, "I think Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme isn't going too bad. I always gave them my best and I hope they will consider that." Valverde also said he would take his physiotherapist and another teammate with him. Apparently, there had been some discussion on this particular subject because Illes Balears is only willing to engage one other rider, namely José Cayetano Juliá and not two, as wanted by Kelme. Initially, both Cayetano Juliá and José Luis Martínez were included in the "package".

Slippens/Stam leaders in Amsterdam Sixdays

Defending champions Robert Slippens/Danny Stam are leading again after the first day of Six in Amsterdam, followed by the Australian/Swiss riders McGrory/Marvulli. The Swiss duo Risi and Betschart, already victorious at the SixDayNight in Kaarst, Germany, are currently placed third.

Although Slippens and Stam went through a bit of depression after the Olympic Games, where they could not match their expectancies and placed 12, the pair managed to re-motivate themselves while on a post-Olympic holiday in Greece. "Our girlfriends stayed at the beach, and Danny swam over to an island," recalled Slippens. "I followed him in a kayak. That's where we talked it over and analysed our mistakes." Back in Holland, the two started preparing for the Sixday season right away. "They say that it's easier to get to the top than to stay there," said Stam to ANP on Monday, as he prepared for the first of six evenings at the Amsterdam velodrome. "Anyway, we trained very hard for this. You have to, if you want to have a chance of winning here. Every little mistake sets you back."

Victorious in Amsterdam last year, the pair is looking to win again, and to perform well during the whole season. Slippens bears in mind a special goal for him, the Rotterdam Sixdays in January. "That's where I first started to love the sport," he recalled. "I was nine years old when I first went with my father. I want to win in Rotterdam, like I've said it before."

Click here for the full results from night 1

Cunego youngest number 1, and possibly riding 2005 Tour

Damiano Cunego, the new number one of the UCI rankings, is also the youngest rider to achieve the top spot since the ranking was first introduced. The youngest by far, as the other riders on the list are at least three years older (Jan Ullrich in 2000, Laurent Jalabert in 1995, Gianni Bugno in 1990 and Charly Mottet in 1989 - all 26 years old). The youngest UCI top rider list for the last 15 years reads as follows:

15/5/1989: Charly Mottet (Fra), 26 years old
23/7/1989: Laurent Fignon (Fra), 28 years old
6/6/1990: Gianni Bugno (Ita), 26 years old
16/6/1991: Claudio Chiappucci (Ita), 28 years old
14/6/1992: Miguel Indurain (Spa), 27 years old
12/6/1994: Tony Rominger (Swi), 33 years old
25/9/1995: Laurent Jalabert (Fra), 26 years old
10/10/1996: Alex Zülle (Swi), 28 years old
10/10/1998: Michele Bartoli (Ita), 28 years old
4/6/2000: Francesco Casagrande (Ita), 29 years old
20/8/2000: Jan Ullrich (Ger), 26 years old
10/6/2001: Davide Rebellin (Ita/Arg), 29 years old
1/7/2001: Lance Armstrong (US), 29 years old
30/9/2001: Erik Zabel (Ger), 31 years old
24/3/2002: Erik Dekker (Ned), 31 years old
23/3/2003: Paolo Bettini (Ita), 28 years old
17/10/2004: Damiano Cunego (Ita), 23 years old

Furthermore, Cunego has now revealed he might ride the Tour de France next year with his newly fusioned ProTour team Lampre-Saeco. Originally, Cunego's plans were to start at the Tour only in 2006, but he has know changed his mind: "Next year, I will race the Giro and maybe the Tour de France to take a look at the parcours and the main rivals," he told German "I would like to show myself up front too, but if I ride the Tour, it's not because of great ambitions but to be able to see the race from within."

After a few criteriums in Italy and the Japan Cup on October 24, the new Italian wunderkind is taking some time off on a holiday. "I will start preparing for next season at the end of November," he said.

Junior World Champion turns pro in 2007

Roman Kreuziger, the new Verona Junior World Champion, has signed a contract with Italian team Liquigas-Bianchi, according to After remaining within the amateur ranks in Italy for the two seasons to come, he Czech rider will turn pro with Liquigas-Bianchi in 2007 and 2008.

Launceston International Classic confirmed

By Matthew Conn

One of Australia's richest one day road races, the Launceston International Classic, has been given the green light for 2004, overcoming the doubts that Tasmania's top class criterium would fold due to a lack of sponsorship. After initially being underwritten by race organiser, Dr. Stan Siejka, the criterium has grown exponentially in just two years and this December the Launceston City Council and Tasmanian State Government will be the race's two key backers.

In 2002, Hilton Clarke claimed the $10,000 first prize and then last year Robbie McEwen sprinted home ahead of a field featuring all of Australia's top road professionals. McEwen has already been talking to race organisers and is set to return to Tasmania this Christmas, while Stuart O'Grady has expressed interest in combining his trip to the race with a family holiday in Australia's island state.

With major sponsors and television broadcast rights confirmed, organisation for the 2004 event will now begin in earnest and the final go-ahead is due in no small part to the enthusiasm of the people of Launceston who answered a call for contributions to ensure the popular event went ahead again this year.

Dr. Siejka expects to name other sponsors in the coming weeks as well as confirm the list of top starters that should attract a similar crowd to the estimated 15, 000 that lined the picturesque course last year.

2005 USCF national racing calendar announced

With 2004 in the books, USA Cycling announced the 2005 USCF National Racing Calendar (NRC). Going into its ninth season, the NRC has been condensed into 38 races as opposed to the 56 events in the 2004 edition. The smaller calendar supports USA Cycling’s mission to represent a collection of the most prestigious races across the nation.

"The primary purpose of the National Racing Calendar is to provide the top American teams and riders a calendar of high-quality races where they can showcase their talents and distinguish themselves against each other," explained National Events Director Matt Murphy. "The points they earn are tallied and the top individual man and woman, along with the top men’s and women’s teams are crowned the champions at the conclusion of the season.

"In response to feedback from professional teams, sponsors, and riders, USAC raised the standards for the 2005 Calendar such that only the top races in the country remain. We feel this Calendar will provide races with a quality depth of field week in and week out, producing worthy NRC Champions after the long season of racing nationwide," Murphy went on to say.

Racing in the U.S. will commence on March 5 in Merced, Calif. with the McLane Pacific Downtown Grand Prix. Nineteen states will see NRC action this year before the season concludes in Greenville, S.C. with the Tour de Cliffs. The 2005 NRC features 115 days of racing for men and 93 days for women.

For a complete 2005 NRC Calendar, visit

Lange and Erker sign with Symmetrics

Canadian Symmetrics Cycling team has signed Jacob Erker and Cory Lange for the 2005 season. Lange is a former Marco Polo professional and Erker a former Team Seasilver professional. Symmetrics director Jeremy Storie said, "Signing Cory and Jake will allow both these riders to flourish on an all-Canadian team while offering their extensive race experience to our younger developing riders."

Lange, of Langley B.C., has won the Tour of Korea and finished 7th overall at the Sea Otter Classic in 2004. This will not be Lange’s first time with Symmetrics as he was a guest rider on the team in 2003 winning the Columbia Plateau Stage Race in central Oregon. As a good all-rounder Lange has honed his skills as a climber, time trialist, and sprinter, but is particularly adept at the long solo break. "I'm excited for next year and I think we'll pull off some great results," he commented on his new contract.

Erker, a Calgary born rider, has resided for the past five years in southern California racing for Schroeder Iron for two years prior to Team Seasilver. Erker won the Vuelta a Valencia and had a very strong Redlands Bicycle Classic placing 9th overall en route to winning the King of the Mountain’s competition against the best climbers in North America. Jacob Erker is also happy about his move, saying, "I really think this team is going to make a huge presence across North America and I am very happy to be a part of that. I'm very happy with the group of riders (Symmetrics) have organized. It's going to be a lot of fun. I also look forward to offering some direction to the younger guys, especially in terms of my knowledge of races I've done in the past."

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