Latest Cycling News for September 8, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
Saiz optimistic for a good Vuelta
With Vuelta defending champion Roberto Heras and runner up Isidro Nozal in his squad, Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz understandably has reasonable expectations of his riders in this year's Vuelta. But his team didn't get off to the best of starts in the team time trial in Léon last Saturday, finishing eighth, 1'28 behind winners US Postal-Berry Floor. For a team that has always prided itself on its time trialling skills, it was a disappointing start.
"We started very badly, but I have confidence in my riders and we will fight for the overall victory," said Saiz in an interview with Marca today. "We started with the idea to win and...since the Vuelta last year we have had doubts about our capabilities, something that shows itself on the road. But I am calm because I am convinced that we are going to quickly return to be the star team of the Spanish peloton, and I would almost dare to say in the whole peloton."
Saiz confidently added that his team will have to use different tactics this year, as it has to play catch up with US Postal and all the other teams in front of it. "We lost an important battle, because it's not the same to be within half a minute of our rivals than to be half a minute in front, which is what we wanted. That changes things, because now we have to go on the offensive instead of the defensive. But as the days go on we are going to show that the team is good. We will ride a great Vuelta."
Saiz added that he does not believe the US Postal line that they are not really here to win the Vuelta. "I don't trust them...I don't trust Landis, who could be the Isidro Nozal of last year. This American could finish the time trial in Almusafes with four minutes advantage on some of the favourites and two minutes on the others. By Sierra Nevada he could be the leader, perhaps for a long time."
The Spanish director said that it was early days yet, but he also named Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme), Alexandre Vinokourov and Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) as riders to watch. He thought Beloki would struggle with his fitness over the entire three weeks, although he could still be a danger.
From his own team, he named Heras, Nozal and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano as the strong men. "Nozal lost the Vuelta mentally last year. Recovering from something like that takes a lot of time. If Heras rides like I expect him to, Nozal will be one of the most important riders in the peloton....I believe also that Igor is going to do well, but the truth is that since his crash in the Tour of Germany last year he hasn't been in good form."
Petacchi not to World's
Alessandro Petacchi, after achieving his second victory in this year's Vuelta, commented on the sprint in Zaragoza: "It was a difficult finish because of the headwind. My teammates worked very hard, and we were lucky that T-Mobile also joined in. I was on Trenti's wheel, and when he pulled away there were about 180 metres left. I sprinted well, but in the last 50 metres, Zabel came out of my wheel and nearly beat me. But I still won, that's what counts."
Asked if he started to look at the route more positively, Petacchi was still cautious: "I feel a little better now than after my first stage victory, but I won't make any plans for the whole of the Vuelta. I'll see how I feel day by day and hope to arrive in Madrid." As for his further racing plans, he added "My next goal is Paris-Tours. I won't be racing at the World's, I don't think the route suits me. Everyone knows that the circuit around Verona is very difficult."
Ferretti vs. Gonzalez
Aitor Gonzalez, winner of the 2002 Vuelta a España, might changing teams for next season. Giancarlo Ferretti, sports director of the Fassa Bortolo, spoke out frankly against the rider on Tuesday, according to Radsport-News.com. "Gonzalez really needs to show us now what he can do. He hasn't done this since 2002 and it's pretty sure he won't be riding with us anymore next season. He didn't live up to our expectations, although we've done everything for him. He just didn't take the chances we gave him." Meanwhile, the Spanish rider has been stating that the reason for his lack of results was that his Italian team was built around Alessandro Petacchi.
Kirsipuu leaves Ag2r
After 12 years of riding for Vincent Lavenu, Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu is leaving Ag2r-Prevoyance at the end of the season to ride for Credit Agricole. Kirsipuu signed a two year contract with Roger Legeay's squad, and will become its 10th new rider along with Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step), Nicolas Vogondy (FDJeux.com) and Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi), among others.
"Jaan is a very professional rider," said Crédit Agricole in a statement. "He is there every year and has never had a disappointing season. He's a guy who is passionate for his job, and his age (35) is not a problem."
Crédit Agricole has applied for a Pro Tour licence for next season.
Chaurreau and Astarloza continue with Ag2r
Basque riders Iñigo Chaurreau and Mikel Astarloza will continue with the Ag2r-Prevoyance team next season, signing one year contracts. The pair came to Ag2r at the start of 2002 (Chaurreau from Euskaltel and Astarloza from the U23 ranks).
Giro del Lazio teams
On Saturday, 18th of September, the 70th edition of the Giro del Lazio will take place, taking the riders 196 km from Rieti to coastal Nettuno in central Italy. The organisers have now announced the team line-up: Thirteen division one and eight second division teams will participate. Amongst others, Olympic road champion Paolo Bettini, World cup leader Davide Rebellin, last year's winner Michele Bartoli, Ivan Basso, Juan Antonio Flecha as well as Yaroslav Popovych are on the provisional start list.
The participating teams of the Giro del Lazio are:
Acqua & Sapone - Caffe' Mokambo (Ita) - Ferrigato, Rodriguez
Maxxis-Giant announces cyclo-cross team
Team Maxxis has announced its cross season merger with Team Giant to form Team Maxxis-Giant, which will compete in all the major cyclo-cross events on the U.S. calendar this season. The team will focus on the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cross along with Microsoft's Seattle Series, Verge's New England series and other events.
The roster consists of riders from both Giant's and Maxxis' mountain and road programs, featuring six time National Champion Adam Craig (Giant), 2004 NORBA XC and STXC Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and cross staple Jonny Sundt (Jittery Joe's) along with special guest appearances from Cesar Grajales, Kashi Leuchs and possibly a gravity rider or two.
The team will be officially presented on October 2 at the third annual race under the lights, Star Crossed at Marymoor Velodrome in Redmond, WA.
Adam Craig: 2001, 2002, 2003 US National Champion, espoir - MTB;
2001, 2002, 2003 US National Champion, espoir - Cross; 2001 Collegiate
National Champion - MTB
Team Director: Eric Wallace
Maxxis - Tires and Tubes
Avid - Brakes
Biotone - Massage Products
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