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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 1, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Tyler Hamilton's Vuelta: "A field experiment"

By Anthony Tan

No stopping Hamilton in Athens - can he do the same in Spain?
Photo ©: AFP

Still on a high from his gold medal performance in the road time trial in Athens, Tyler Hamilton remains cautious about his chances of victory in the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, likening his decision to ride a 21-day race in September as "a bit of field experiment".

"Traditionally, at this point in the season, I'm on a plane headed for the United States, so this is going to be a bit of field experiment, racing on such a high level so late in the year," said Hamilton to Cyclingnews from his European home in Girona, Spain.

Accompanied by team-mates Oscar Sevilla, Jose Enrique 'Kike' Gutierrez and Santos Gonzalez, the 33 year-old had recently returned from his second reconnoitre of some of the key stages he and the other eight members of his Phonak Hearing Systems team will face at La Vuelta. Of greatest concern to the American is his ability to recruit his lower back muscles while climbing - the reason behind his abandon at the Tour de France after being involved in a serious crash during the first week - but so far, so good, with Hamilton signalling his intention to be at the start in León this coming Saturday.

"At training speed, my back was cooperating, so we will give it a go and see what happens. Right now, I am confirmed to start the race on the 4th. We'll take it day-by-day though," said a cautious Hamilton, choosing his words carefully.

About his chances of winning, the Man from Marblehead was equally reserved, but open to options: "We'll see how it goes. There will be a lot less pressure on me compared to the Tour," he said.

"A lot of people don't realize Sevilla and [Oscar] Pereiro have been injured since the Tour in addition to what I've been through. OP [Oscar Pereiro] will not start but Sevilla seems to have recovered enough to give it a go. If Oscar Sevilla is going good and has a better fitness level than me, I will be happy to sacrifice it all for him. We have a strong line-up and everyone is motivated. And we are open to rolling with situations as they arise. I think we will know by the end of the first 10 days if we have the goods to contest the GC or if we should focus on day to day opportunities."

While describing some the mountain stages as "brutal" (this coming from a gifted climber, may God help the others), Hamilton remained indifferent as to whether the shorter, faster stages that characterise the Vuelta or the fact that there are a dozen possible contenders for the overall makes the race more difficult on paper. One thing he did say, however, is this: "I like that there are three time trials and a team time trial. This means four out of the 21 stages suit my strength."

"No doubt about it, it's a hard race and the course is designed differently than the other two Grand Tours," he added. "Overall, I think the course favors the pure climbers," he said.

Look out for the full interview with Tyler Hamilton tomorrow on Cyclingnews.

T-Mobile gearing up for the Tour of Britain

By Shane Stokes in Manchester

Ivanov out (maybe)

T-Mobile has had an complicated time in the final moments before the start of the 2004 Tour of Britain with rider shuffles and a visa problem which threatens to exclude Russian rider Sergei Ivanov from the race. Ivanov was prevented from entering England and while the team are doing what they can to sort things out, the former Tour de France stage winner's participation is by no means guaranteed.

"I am not sure what chance Sergei Ivanov has of riding," admitted T-Mobile spokesman Luuc Eisenga on Tuesday. "It could be anything from zero to one hundred percent....it depends on what decision the officers make with regard to his visa. We would love him to ride the Tour of Britain, we need him, and so we will do what we can go get him here. It is such a late moment that it is impossible to get someone else. And things are made even more complicated by the fact that the team is doing three races at the same time.

"Because we have only six riders we are obliged to be in every break of the race. It is going to be a really nervous race, especially in the first day or two but we have to try to do our best to get into those moves."

Klöden nominates others

Following his excellent, and unexpected, second place overall in the Tour de France this year, Andreas Klöden will start the Tour of Britain as one of the most watched riders. The German is insisting that his chances of winning the Tour are slim after being sidelined by a recent virus, stating that two of his team-mates are instead the most likely riders to figure in the general classification.

"The problem is that I had a virus last week so I am not feeling 100 percent. While I am coming to do the race anyway, I'm not confident that I can win. I will work very hard but I think it is more likely to be one of the other riders on the team. Of those, I think that Rolf Aldag and Paolo Savoldelli will be the two guys in form."

Savoldelli in

Former Tour of Italy winner Savoldelli was a late addition to the T-Mobile squad, replacing Daniele Nardello on the team for the Tour of Britain.

"He has gone really well in the last couple of races," said T-Mobile's Luuc Eisenga. "We always have a luxury problem in terms of which team goes in to which race. Right now we have three different races on - the Tour of Hessen in Germany, the Vuelta in Spain and the Tour of Britain. Since the Tour of Britain is really important to us as our sponsor is a big brand here, we thought it would be a good thing to bring the strongest possible team."

Euskaltel confirms for the Vuelta

Euskaltel-Euskadi has confirmed its rider roster for the Vuelta a España, which starts on Saturday. Led by team director Julián Gorospe, the squad contains Joseba Albizu, Mikel Artetxe, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Munain, Samuel Sánchez, Haimar Zubeldia, Josu Sillóniz and Aitor Sillóniz.

Also see: Vuelta start list

Calle claims her innocence

Colombian Maria Luisa Calle Williams, who was stripped of her bronze medal in the women's points race in Athens after testing positive for a stimulant (heptaminol), has claimed that she is innocent of any wrongdoing.

"I am innocent," Calle was quoted by L'Equipe at a press conference in Medellin, Colombia. "I don't want Colombia to judge me badly. On the day when I was on the podium, I only thought about the joy that I gave to my country."

Calle said that she had had headaches before the race, and took some paracetamol and some "neosaldina", which according to her doctor did not contain any banned substances. "We think that one of these products transformed itself in my body, and this resulted in the positive test," she said, adding that she will now undergo a series of tests at the Bogota anti-doping laboratory to try to show her innocence.

Meares looking forward to a break

The new "Rockhampton Rocket" Anna Meares has vowed to reach new cycling heights but is in no rush to get back into that saddle after her Olympic success. "My bike won't be coming out of the box for a while I can tell you that much," Meares said on flying into Brisbane Airport from Greece, via Sydney, on Wednesday.

The 20 year-old broke the world record in winning gold in the 500m time trial and took bronze in the sprint after losing to eventual champion Canadian Lori-Ann Muenzer in her semi-final. While keen to lap up the after glow of Athens success, Meares has set herself the goal of going two better at the 2005 World Championship in Los Angeles next March. She has her sights on defending her time trial world championship and also taking out the sprint.

"The sprint is something that I haven't been able to conquer," she said. "That's one that has been eluding me for a little while and hopefully I'll be able to pick up my skills and be in good form."

Meares was overwhelmed by the support she had received after helping the Australian cycling team, which bagged six golds, to its best Games performance. "I'm a little bit stunned because I haven't experienced it before," she said after signing a string of autographs.

With gold and silver around her neck, she said she had no idea what her home town had in store for her but knew it was going to be big. "It won't be quiet there," she said. "I'm just looking forward to getting back into the community and speaking with people I haven't spoken to for a while."

© AAP

McKenzie fired up for Tour of Sunraysia

Australian David McKenzie will be chasing an elusive over victory in the four day Qantaslink Tour of Sunraysia, which starts on Thursday, September 2. McKenzie's triumphs include 11 stages on the Herald Sun Tour, the Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic, the Tattersall's Cup, the Jayco Tour of Queensland, a stage of the Giro d'Italia, and a national road championship. But his success in the Tour of Sunraysia, which serves as a selection trial for the Herald Sun Tour, has been confined to a couple of stage wins.

The Ballarat based McKenzie, 30, hopes to upgrade his Sunraysia record over the next few days, even though the 124 man field is the strongest since the tour's inception in 1996. "Sunraysia is a dynamic event, with short, fast courses, and there's not a lot of room for error," he said. "It's a race that everybody looks forward to and you have to be in pretty good shape to be a contender."

McKenzie finished second overall to outstanding teenager, William Walker, in the 2004 Tattersall's Cup, which concluded in Tasmania last week, and has modified his training program this year to take in more rest. "It seems to be working well for me. I'm not flattening myself out on the training field," said McKenzie.

The Tour of Sunraysia has attracted an international field with riders entered from, New Zealand, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Uruguay and most Australian states. New Zealander Scott Guyton and Canberra's Robert McLachlan are expected to apply the most pressure to McKenzie and Walker.

The Tour will feature eight stages and will take in Merbein, Wentworth, Ouyen, Patchewollock, Robinvale, Euston, Cardross and Mildura. The Tour will start with a lunchtime criterium in Merbein on Thursday and conclude with a street race in Mildura on Sunday afternoon. The top ten overall placegetters will gain automatic selection to the Herald Sun Tour to be held in October 14-24.

The stages

Stage 1 - September 2: Merbein criterium, 33 km
Stage 2 - September 2: Merbein - Wentworth, 80.4 km
Stage 3 - September 3: Ouyen criterium 36 km
Stage 4 - September 3: Ouyen-Patchewollock-Ouyen, 86.5 km
Stage 5 - September 4: Robinvale kermesse, 60 km
Stage 6 - September 4: Euston criterium 52 km
Stage 7 - September 5: Cardross kermesse, 57.6 km
Stage 8 - September 5: Mildura kermesse, 66 km

Medio Fondo Fabio Casartelli

The Fondazione Fabio Casartelli is organising a cyclo-sportif event this Sunday, September 5. The "Medio Fondo Fabio Casartelli" will be run in collaboration with the region of Lombardy, provinces of Como and Lecco, communities of Albese con Cassano and Montana and the Lake Como Triangle, sponsored by APT Como. There will be three routes on offer: a long ride of 114 km, a medium one of 74.6 km and a short one of 57.8 km. All of the courses will start in finish in Albese con Cassano, where Casartelli was born.

Fabio Casartelli was the Olympic Champion in 1992 but tragically died in a crash during the 1995 Tour de France.

More information: info@fondazionecasartelli.it

Bob Hansing Memorial

The Bob Hansing Memorial Far West Track Omnium and Sprint Tourney is set for September 18 at the Encino Velodrome in Southern California, USA. Bob Hansing, founder of Euro Asia and Montrose Bike Shop was instrumental in getting the Encino Velodrome built. The memorial race will include omniums for most categories of riders, from junior to Elite. Additionally, there are separately scored Sprint Tourneys for Category 1/2/3's and 3/4's.

There will be $1,000 in cash and several thousand in other prizes such as ZZZing portable rollers, road crank sets and track chain rings from Sugino, boxes of Carb-Boom energy gels, Clif Bars, pairs of tubular rims from Alex Rims, and more.

For those wanting to make it an entire weekend of fixed gear fun, there's an accelerated certification class the following morning at the ADT Event Center (new indoor velodrome in Carson, which will host a World Cup in December) and open training in the afternoon.

See www.encinovelodrome.org for additional information.

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