Latest Cycling News for September 3, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Flat, windy and tough test in penultimate women's World Cup
By Kristy Scrymgeour
With only two chances left to gain valuable points, the women will line up in Rotterdam this weekend to contest round eight of the nine-race World Cup series for 2004. Whilst Oenone Wood (Australian National Team) currently holds a convincing lead of 72 points at present, there is still a chance for riders such as Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites/Hartol) and Zoulfia Zabirova (Let's Go Finland) to surpass her.
The course is the flattest of all the world cup races, climbing no more than 12 meters at any one time throughout the race, and then only to go over bridges or climb back out of tunnels, but the course is also one of the hardest. In true Dutch fashion, the course is raced over a mixture of wide roads that suddenly turn into very narrow roads, over cobbled sections and along windy dykes and consists of quite a few technical corners, especially in the last couple of kilometres. Positioning is essential at all times during the 134km race. The other typical obstacle in the Netherlands can be the wind and rain, however weather reports for this weekend are currently fine.
A breakaway succeeded in 2001 when the Saturn team was defending the lead of Anna Millward. They were happy to see a break go without any other series contenders in it. Judith Arndt attacked solo from the break in the late stages of the race to take the win and the points, enabling Millward to win the series. Chantal Beltman also won out of a small break of four in 2000, however in all other years, the breaks have been reeled in, with the race ending in a bunch sprint.
Kelme and Liberty managers talk it up
The directors of the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme and Liberty Seguros teams are both optimistic that their riders will perform well in the upcoming Vuelta a España, which starts tomorrow with a team time trial in Leon. Vicente Belda (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) told Lavuelta.com that, "The nine man team that we have brought to the Vuelta has recently completed an intensive training period in the Pyrenees and I think that we will be very competitive.
"We have won the race twice in the last two four years, as well having finished second and third. This year we will be out to win with Alejandro Valverde. People are asking about the "dark horse" that we include in the team each year. Yes, there is one, but I'm not going to give anything away today. Not a single clue."
Manuel Sáiz (Liberty Seguros) is looking for a good result after the team's lacklustre effort in the Tour de France. "We know that we performed poorly in the Tour and that this is our chance to straighten things out," he said. "We will be taking the start with very high expectations. I am sure that we will be in the running for overall victory with Roberto Heras.
"Heras, Beloki, Valverde and Hamilton are my favourites. Cunego and Vinokourov will also be among the leaders, but I don't think that they will be competing for the general classification."
Bettini readies for final push
Olympic champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) will be back in action again this weekend after a 12 day break. His first race back will be the Profronde van Almelo in the Netherlands on Friday evening, followed by his first UCI race tomorrow, the Cat. 1.2 DELTA Profronde van Midden-Zeeland, also in the Netherlands.
"From this evening on, I'll be starting my programme that leads me up to the World Championships without forgetting the assault on my third World Cup," said Bettini. "Next weekend I'll be taking part in the Paris Brussels and the G. P. de Fourmies. Then on the 18th September I'll be on the starting grid of the Tour of Lazio that will be followed by the G. P. Industria and Artigianato di Prato. The last race before the World Championships will be the Circuit Franco Belge - a short stage race that will help me with any final preparation. I'll not be going out looking for a victory in these races. They will serve almost as practice for me enabling me to try out myself, test my physical condition and do any fine tuning that may be required ready for the World Championships."
Bettini will be back in Italy on Sunday, September 5 and next Tuesday, September 7 he will be in Florence as a guest at the Tuscan Regional Council Offices (c/o Palazzo Panciatichi) at midday. There he will be presented with the 'Gonfalone d'Argento' - the highest honour bestowed by the Tuscan Region.
Quick.Step-Davitamon for the DELTA Profronde van Midden-Zeeland: Paolo Bettini, Aurélien Clerc, Dimitri De Fauw, Servais Knaven, Wouter Weylandt, Harald Starzengruber.
Quick.Step-Davitamon for the G.P. Jef Scherens-Leuven: Aurélien Clerc, Dimitri De Fauw, Servais Knaven, Wouter Weylandt, Harald Starzengruber, Sven Vanthourenhout.
Rebellin to ride Coppa Placci
Davide Rebellin, current World Cup leader and winner of yesterday's Trofeo Melinda, will be in action again in Saturday's Coppa Placci. Rebellin finished second in the Coppa Placci in 2000 and 2003 and third in 2002, and with his current form is the favourite to win the race tomorrow. However, he will not ride the Giro di Romagna on Sunday.
Rebellin dedicated his victory yesterday to his Gerolsteiner teammate Gianni Faresin, who was devastated by the recent death of his mother Agnese.
Ullrich yet to reach a settlement with Coast
Jan Ullrich is still trying to reach a settlement with his former team Coast, which he alleges owes him €1.5 million in unpaid wages and damages. The regional court in Duisberg offered a compromise to both Ullrich and Team Coast, but both parties did not agree on the terms. It's expected that the court will make a ruling on the case by the end of September.
Leipheimer joins Gerolsteiner
It's been confirmed that American Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) will ride for German team Gerolsteiner for the next two seasons, signing a contract with Hans-Michael Holczer's squad this week. Leipheimer will give Gerolsteiner another general classification rider, along with Austrian Georg Totschnig, for the grand tours.
Leipheimer's transfer to Gerolsteiner has been relatively quick, as the first contacts were only made during the Olympic Games in Athens in the middle of last month. "Gerolsteiner is a team with a lot of potential," said Leipheimer. "I didn't have to consider the different offers for very long, I wanted to be here. This team radiates an incredible fighting and team spirit during the races. I'm already happy to be able to attack in the Tour de France together with Georg."
"With the addition of Levi we immediately catch several flies with one blow," said Hans-Michael Holczer. "First we have a big increase in strength for the grand tours; secondly we will have more authority with our captain Georg Totschnig; and thirdly, Levi will bring a big part of his experience in the multi-stage races to our young squad - especially since we have to start in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España next year as part of the Pro Tour."
Holczer added that Leipheimer and Totschnig will make a perfect fit: "I believe both will go well together. In this way we'll be more competitive," he said.
Totschnig is also enthusiastic about having another top GC rider in the squad. "We have been missing someone like that, our ambitions for the tours can now be extended. Levi is a friendly guy with concrete views and credentials. He will give our team an additional push."
Löwik to Rabobank
Dutch rider Gerben Löwik (Chocolade Jacques) has signed a two year contract with the Rabobank team and will begin with them next season. "Gerben is a very welcome addition to the team," said team director Erik Breukink. "With his qualities he can play an important role in the classics. Especially because he has a good final burst, I expect a lot from him next season. Gerben can certainly go a step higher. I want him to be in the position to ride for us in the Tour de France for victories."
It's not Löwik's first time with Rabobank, as he rode for the squad in 2001. Since then he has ridden for BankGiroLoterij and Chocolade Jacques. He won the Tour de la Région Wallonne this year as well as the Ster Elektrotoer and Circuit Franco-Belge in 2003.
Two more for Cofidis
After Credit Agricole's Stéphane Augé and Hervé Duclos-Lassalle signed for top French team Cofidis for next season, two more riders have been named to the team. Belgian Thierry Marichal, currently with Lotto-Domo, and Frenchman Nicolas Inaudi (with Ag2R) will join as well. The current director of the Credit Agricole espoir program, Lionel Marie, will also become part of the Cofidis team management.
Albasini to Liquigas
Swiss rider Michael Albasini will leave Phonak at the end of the season to join the new Liquigas team, managed by Roberto Amadio. The 24 year old from Lanterswill (on Lake Constance) finished fifth in the Championship of Zurich, the eighth round of the World Cup. He has signed a one year contract with Liquigas.
Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon stops
The Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon, which was run this year for the first time as the successor to the GP Midi Libre, will not go ahead next year. The regional council of Languedoc-Roussillon was the principal sponsor of the race, but it has withdrawn its sponsorship.
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