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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 4, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones and John Stevenson

USPS starts strongly

Postal power
Photo ©: Unipublic
Click for larger image

Continuing on from where it left off in the Tour de France and the 2003 Vuelta, US Postal p/b Berry Floor rode to an impressive stage win in the opening team time trial of the Vuelta a España in Leon. The Posties, led by Floyd Landis, clocked 30'45 over the 27.7 km to beat arch-rivals T-Mobile by 31 seconds with Illes Balears taking third at 56 seconds. Despite being only a 30 minute stage, the time gap between US Postal and last placed Euskaltel-Euskadi was a sizeable 2'27.

It was the first time that Postal has actually won the opening team time trial in the Vuelta, having been beaten by ONCE in previous years. ONCE's reincarnation Liberty Seguros put in a relatively poor performance today to finish in eighth place, 1'28 down on USPS.

"I knew this was our first opportunity here and it went a lot better than I could have dreamed of," said Postal's team manager Johan Bruyneel. "I knew there would be some (time) differences but not big differences. Then you see the results and it's pretty impressive what our team did. Everything went really smooth."

Bruyneel explained that the team had modified its strategy a little. "We insisted on starting fast because in the past two team time trials here we lost all of our time in the beginning and still finished pretty strong," he said. "So this time we started fast and we were ahead early and rode really well throughout. It was a good start but it doesn't change our strategy. I still maintain we are here to win some stages and at least until the mountains, we will keep that strategy."

Bruyneel added that the team decided in the last few kilometres to have Landis lead the team over the line, thus allowing him to don the race's golden leader's jersey. "With two kilometres to go, we decided to have Floyd pass first, as he was by far the strongest on the team today. He deserved to take the jersey."

Vuelta Stage 1 - Full results, report & photos, Live report
Stages & descriptions

Start List
Photos

Landis excited

In his post-race victory comments, Floyd Landis was clearly happy with the way things turned out, even if the race leadership "wasn't in the plan" initially. "This is an exciting day for me, I will celebrate a little tonight and thank the team," he said. "With all the racing that is ahead we will need to stay focussed. I haven't done much between the Tour and now. I relaxed in California with my family, rode every day, but didn't go hard like I did last year.

"My form seems to be as good as the Tour. We will see how it goes. It's unwise to single yourself out as the guy others have to beat - if you don't single yourself out it relives the pressure."

Landis added that his decision to leave US Postal to (in all likelihood) join Phonak next year will not affect morale at his current team. "The fact that I have announced my departure from USPS is not a problem for anyone," he said. "I have only good things to say about Lance and Johan. It was a tough decision to leave... you can see the generosity of USPS in giving me the win today."

Past winners look forward to 2004 T-Mobile

With the fourth annual T-Mobile International set for Sunday, September 12, the previous three winners, George Hincapie (US Postal), Charles Dionne (Webcor) and Chris Horner (Webcor) discussed the 2004 edition along with Dave Chauner, CEO of organizer Threshold Sports, on a Thursday afternoon conference call with several media representatives.

Arguably the biggest single-day event in North America, the T-Mobile International is also quite possibly the toughest mostly due to its challenging terrain over the already infamous climbs of Fillmore and Taylor Streets. The event's success is also due in part to the annual participation of six-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, and the yearly presence of international teams and celebrity personalities like Robin Williams. With Armstrong on the start list again in 2004, the trend is expected to continue as an estimated half million fans are expected to line the streets of San Francisco. Also on the start list this time around are American cycling icons, Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) and Bobby Julich (CSC).

With two of the three past champions on its roster, the San Francisco-based Webcor team has its eye on another winning performance. "The Webcor team is looking really good," said Dionne. "We've proven many times this year that we can do the job. This year we've got two cards to play."

This year, the parcours will change slightly as a flat section of the course has been eliminated and an extra lap of the 8.8-mile long loop as been added to keep the overall 108-mile distance similar to years past. The extra long loop (there will be 9 in total) means an extra trip up Fillmore Street and the elimination of the flat section means this climb will come much sooner in the lap, a change that Horner likes. "For me the change will make the course better," he says. "It will make it a harder race. It should benefit all the top riders."

Hincapie, who last raced at the Olympic Games, also has high hopes and is on the road to full recovery after the Tour de France and a grueling road race in Athens. "After the Tour I was pretty tired. I was trying to recover well for the Olympics, but on the day I didn't have the legs. Since then I've been feeling better and better, "Hincapie explained. "For a race like the T-Mobile International, you really need good legs. There's no hiding."

Also on the docket is the return of the women's race. Last year's inaugural edition was won by Nicole Cooke (Safi Pasta Zarra Manhattan), who is scheduled to return this year, but a strong contingent from both the T-Mobile team and the locally-backed Webcor team should contend for the win in the 51.6 mile event.

Roulston to Discovery

23 year old New Zealander Hayden Roulston (Cofidis) is set to sign a two year contract with the Discovery Channel team, according to the New Zealand Herald. Roulston, who has been plagued by injuries for the last two years, hopes to be fully fit by the time he starts his contract in 2005. However, he will shortly undergo an operation to remove a cyst that has been preventing him from riding at full capacity.

"The most important thing is that I'm 100 per cent fit and healthy when I take up my new contract," Roulston told the NZ Herald. Of his plans, Roulston said that he will be riding as a domestique for the team. "I wanted to get into a role where I'm a worker and spend the next two years working and learning."

Roulston doesn't believe that he will be part of Discovery's Tour de France line-up, but there will be plenty of opportunities for the Belgian based professional to shine in the classics and other tours on the Pro Tour calendar.

Petacchi looks to Vuelta and Paris-Tours to complete season

Alessandro Petacchi says that, although the Vuelta wasn't originally on his plan for the season, he is looking forward to contesting the sprints in Spain's grand tour and hopes to repeat last year's success.

The season plan for Petacchi had been to ride the Tour and the Olympics and then head for the beach, but injuries sustained in one of the many crashes that plagued this year's Tour scuppered that idea. "I only rode three days of the Tour," said Petacchi in a team statement, "but my form doesn't seem to be bad. I took part in the Tour of Holland and although I fell again I won a stage.

"The Vuelta wasn't on my program at the beginning of the season, and without accidents I would have concluded the year with the Olympic games, after the Tour. But after what happened, I spoke with my directeurs and we decided to do the Vuelta, a race that I especially like, and then Paris-Tours on October 10 where I will conclude the 2004 season."

Petacchi, who won five Vuelta stages last year, added, "I'm not coming into the Vuelta worrying about results, but my job is to win sprints and I think that during these three weeks the opportunities will not be lacking. There will be six or seven chances for the sprinters."

Mirabella's medal surprise

Erin Mirabella, the US track cyclist who moved up into the bronze medal place at the Olympic points race after Colombia's Maria Calle-Williams tested positive for drugs, has got her medal.

However, the venue for the award wasn't an Olympic podium, according to the Associated Press, but the Lodgepole Bar and Grill in Breckenridge Colorado. The decision to strip Calle of her medal and award it to Mirabella came too late for any sort of ceremony in Athens, and Mirabella was expecting the gong to arrive in the mail.

Mirabella and her husband stopped off in Breckenridge for a post-Olympic holiday and USA Cycling's Ethan Bosch drove the 145 miles from USAC HQ in Colorado Springs to give Mirabella the medal.

Axelsson to return

Swedish newspapers are reporting that Nicklas Axelsson, banned for four years testing positive to EPO at the 2001 world championships, is to return to racing in 2005.

Axelsson's ban, handed down at the beginning of 2002, was reduced to two years eight months after the WADA code introduced a standard two-year ban for doping offences. According to reports, Axelsson, who rode for Mercury and then Alessio in 2001, has signed with Italian division II team Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé for next season.

Spanish transfers & contracts

Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguero has prolonged his contract for two years with Saunier Duval and will be joined at the increasingly strong Spanish team by Iñigo Cuesta, currently of Cofidis.

Saunier Duval is also reported to be negotiating with Patxi Vila and Juan Manuel Gárate (Lampre) and David Herrero (Paternina).

Denis Menchov will leave Illes Balears to join Rabobank.

Chavanel to Cofidis

In a statement on its website, the Cofidis team has confirmed the signing of four riders, three of whom have been recently reported to be moving to the team in 2005. Stéphane Augé (Crédit Agricole); Hervé Duclos-Lassale (Crédit Agricole) and Nicolas Inaudi (AG2R Prévoyance) are all listed as joining Cofidis, along with Sylvain Chavanel, currently of Brioches - La Boulangère.

US track nationals this week

Sixteen US national championship titles are up for grabs this week as the Superdrome in Frisco Texas hosts the USCF Elite Track National Championships, September 7-11. The event will feature five 2004 Olympians: Colby Pearce, Jennie Reed, Giddeon Massie, Christian Stahl, and Marty Nothstein.

Action begins on Tuesday morning with the men's and women's pursuit qualifications. The evening session on the opening day will include men's keirin heats, repechages and the men's keirin and pursuit finals. Women's racing will consist of sprint qualifications and repechages and the women's pursuit finals.

Colby Pearce, 14th in the Olympic men's points race, and winner of the points race at the Sydney World Cup, will highlight the week's endurance events as he races to defend his 2003 scratch race national title. In the points race, Jonas Carney is the defending national champion, while Jackson Stewart and Erik Saunders took top honors in the Madison last year. Jame Carney and Bobby Lea will also be looking to add hardware to their collections.

The woman to watch in these events will be Becky Quinn, whose most recent accomplishment of note was her fourth place ride in the World Championship scratch race. Sarah Hammer is also a contender in the women's races as the defending national scratch race champion.

Three-time Olympian Marty Nothstein contested the keirin in Athens last month, and will be challenging competition in Frisco's sprint events as he looks for a second consecutive national title in the keirin. Nothstein will be up against tough threats such as defending national sprint champion Stephen Alfred and reigning Junior National keirin champion Ryan Nelman.

2004 Olympians Giddeon Massie and Christian Stahl both represented the U.S. in Athens as part of the talented team sprint squad and will also highlight the competition in Frisco. Stahl is a strong contender for the men's kilo crown, as he will try to best defending national champion Bobby Lea.

Jennie Reed will star in the women's sprint events next week. The overall world cup keirin champion just returned from making her Olympic debut in Athens, where she placed tenth in the sprint. At the World Championships, she earned a bronze in the keirin, and placed fifth in the sprint. Sarah Uhl will be looking to defend her national titles in the keirin and the pursuit, as Tanya Lindenmuth will also be a strong contender in these races.

Vuelta Fantasy game prize list confirmed

At least 25 chances to win!

Vuelta a España fantasy gameThe prize list has been confirmed for the 2004 Cyclingnews Fantasy Vuelta and we are pleased to announce that this year's Grand prize will include a Orbea frameset painted in Euskaltel-Euskadi team colours. There will be at least 25 opportunities to win prizes this year! The prize list so far is as follows:

OrbeaOrca
Spiuk Nitro glasses
Carnac M5
Speedplay Zero
Zero Gravity

Grand prize: Orbea frameset painted in Euskaltel-Euskadi team colours

Daily prizes: 21 pairs of Spiuk silver Nitro glasses, sponsored by DPM Sports

Runner-up prizes:
CycleOps trainer & Speedplay CSC Zero pedals
Ciamillo 98g brakes from Zero Gravity
2005 Carnac M5 Carbon shoes
Speedplay Tyler Hamilton Signature Edition pedals

More prizes will be added as the Vuelta progresses.

We're particularly to be able to give away a pair of 2005 model Carnac M5 Carbon road shoes courtesy of the USA distributor, Sinclair Imports, to one player in the Vuelta a Espana Fantasy Game. These are the top of the line 2005 model shoes from legendary French maker, Carnac, and feature the brand new MFC5 carbon sole from Carnac which now uses a simple, three-hole cleat attachment pattern. The upper is made from state-of-the-art Giardhini micro-fibre for low weight and durability. Famous for their comfort, the new Carnac shoes feature a three-strap adjustment with the new SMC2 buckle providing snug adjustment at the top of the shoe. The M5 Carbon weighs in at a feathery 285 grams per shoe.

Incorporating all the same high-performance features as the original Zero pedals, Speedplay Tyler Hamilton Signature Edition pedals sport the distinctive yellow body as well as Tyler's signature laser-etched on the spindles. Plus, a portion of the sale price from each pair will be donated to the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. While Hamilton competes on Zero titanium pedals, Speedplay also offers the Tyler Hamilton Signature Edition Zero in stainless steel and that is what we have to give-away in the Vuelta Fantasy Game. Both pedal systems are yellow; the titanium version can be identified by its silver end caps, while the stainless steel version uses the standard black end caps. The Tyler Hamilton Edition Zero comes in its own unique commemorative packaging, including a collectible insert card listing highlights of Hamilton's career. The Speedplay Tyler Hamilton Signature Edition Zero Stainless retails for $185,

Sign up now!

Remember there is still time to enter new teams. You can enter teams up until stage 6 begins. There is no disadvantage in entering a new team now that the Vuelta is underway. You have as much chance as any other team manager of winning the Orbea frameset in Euskaltel-Euskadi colours. All you have to do is make sure you select your stage selections for stages 1-6 before stage 6 begins. For more info see the Fantasy Vuelta rules.

To play all you need to do is pick a team of 15 riders to race and select 9 riders each day during the tour. You can join up until stage 6 begins. It's a great way to follow the Vuelta.

To register your teams go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com

Good luck!

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