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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 14, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner

Valverde nears the gold

Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) was very satisfied with his own performance and that of his teammate and friend Eladio Jiménez in Xorret de Catí yesterday. "I am much better," said Valverde, who moved up to second overall. "I have had the strength to withstand the attacks of Roberto Heras. The ascent is very tough. As well as the pleasure of only being eight seconds away from the leader, I am very happy with the victory of my friend and teammate."

On today's 11th stage, Valverde commented, "I'm getting good vibes. The ascent to Calar Alto is very hard and there will be more attacks. Tomorrow there will also be another battle."

Unfortunately for Valverde, he crashed hard early in Stage 11 and at the time of publication is nursing his injuries at the back of the peloton.

Jalabert also succumbs

Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak) became the latest rider to pull out of the Vuelta with gastrointestinal problems which began on Sunday night. Although he did take the start of Stage 10 yesterday, he was forced to pull out during the stage. Fortunately for Phonak, team leader Tyler Hamilton bounced back from his bad day on Sunday to finish 15th in Stage 10, losing a minute to the top GC riders.

More tests

The UCI's blood testers were at it again on the morning of the 11th stage of the Vuelta, carrying out tests on the following teams: US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor, Fassa Bortolo, Illes Balears-Banesto, Liberty Seguros. All riders were declared fit to start.

Young Rabobank losing two

Two of Rabobank's young talents, Bas Gilling and Koen De Kort, are making the jump to two big teams next year. Gilling will be riding in T-Mobile colours, while De Kort will don a Liberty Seguros jersey in 2005.

De Kort explained to De Telegraaf the reasons for his move. "I chose this because it wasn't certain whether I, just like Thomas Dekker and Theo Eltink, could make the jump to the professional team after this season." De Kort won the U23 Paris-Roubaix this year and also surprised a lot of people by winning the GP Eddy Merckx time trial together with Thomas Dekker.

Dutch World's team takes shape

Dutch national coach Egon van Kessel has selected four of the five Dutch squads for the World Championships in two weeks times. The women's team will be led by UCI number one Mirjam Melchers with Chantal Beltman, Ghita Beltman, Arenda Grimberg, Loes Gunnewijk and Elsbeth Vink making up the rest of the team. Melchers and Gunnewijk will also do the time trial.

In the U23 men, Thomas Dekker and Kai Reus will do the time trial and road race, while Marc de Maar, Bas Gilling and Koen de Kort will just do the road race. The junior men's team consists of Thijs van Amerongen (TT and RR), Robert Gesink (TT and RR), Michel Kreder, Cornelius van Ooijen and Rob Ruijgh; and the junior women will have Roxane Knetemann (TT and RR), Marianne Vos (TT and RR), Suzanne van Veen and Ellen van Dijk.

59th GP Industria & Commercio lineup

The 59th GP Industria e Commercio will take place just north of Florence, Italy on Sunday, September 19. The small town of Prato will be start and finish town for the UCI classified 1.2 race over 177.4 km. For Italian riders, the race will be the ultimate pre-World Championships test as the Italian selection will be announced on the following day.

The lineup includes 24 international teams, amongst them top racers like Paolo Bettini and two-time winner Davide Rebellin. According to the organisers, Ivan Basso (CSC), Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), Romans Vainsteins (Lampre), Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet) and - not yet confirmed - Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) will show their skills in Prato.

GP de Wallonie tomorrow

The GP de Wallonie takes place on Wednesday, September 15, in southern, French-speaking Belgium. The parcours measures 193.1 km and runs from Chaudfontaine to Namur, where the riders will race up the famous citadel for the finish (cat.1 climb). There are, in addition, one cat. 3 climb, two cat. 2 and three cat. 3 climbs to master.

The winner of the past two editions, Dave Bruylandts, will not be there to defend his title, as he is currently under suspension for testing positive to EPO. But the field will feature top names such as Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo), Tom Boonen and Richard Virenque (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Andrey Kashechkin (Crédit Agricole), the Kazakh winner of GP de Fourmies just a few days ago.

New U.S. MTB Championships next week

The mountain bike season will come to a close in the U.S. next week with the inaugural U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. from September 23-26. The popular destination will debut the new one-day format for naming national champions. American riders will now contest a national championship against each other, without competition from foreign riders, putting the U.S. in line with how other countries crown their national champions.

The format has been changed back to "winner-take-all", allowing qualified riders to seriously compete for the title, which was more difficult under the old system where champions were crowned by series standings. "We're very excited about the debut of the new format," USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia remarked. "Our members have wanted a one-day national championship for a while, and we're thrilled to see it come to fruition this year."

By the end of the day on Sunday, 98 stars and stripes jerseys will have been awarded to new national champions in the pro/elite, semi-pro, expert, and junior expert categories. 85 racers will ride away with competition jerseys in the sport, beginner, and junior categories.

Action begins on Thursday, September 23 with the marathon and crowning of the weekend's first national champions. The open event begins early in the morning and will see riders climb over 6,000 feet for three laps of a 22.5 mile circuit. Scheduled for Friday are the cross-country races that range from five miles with 995 feet of climbing for the youngest juniors to 27 miles with 5,469 feet of climbing for the pro men. Saturday's competition will include more cross-country as well as mountain cross, downhill, Super D, and observed trials. Racing wraps up on Sunday with the remaining downhill contests, all short-track races, and the Shimano youth race.

Some of the top pro's will be present to highlight the weekend, including 2004 Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) who is always a threat in the cross-country and short track races. JHK will be at battle with riders like Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.), first American in the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series short track standings, and second American in cross-country. Other favourites include Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore.) and 2004 Olympian Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) Women's racing will likely see strong performances by the Luna Chix duo of Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) Dunlap took the top spot in this year's NORBA short track standings, while Vanlandingham was the dominant woman in the cross-country series. Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) will also be a rider to keep an eye on, as she has had a breakout season with two NORBA cross-country victories and a World Cup podium.

The focal point of gravity racing will be brand new 2004 World 4-Cross Champion Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.). Carter claimed the overall series title in mountain cross this year, and was also second American in the downhill standings. Among his competition is Mike King (San Diego, Calif.), Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Calif.) and Rich Houseman (Pasadena, Calif.), top American in the NORBA downhill standings. On the women's side, 2004 World Championships silver medalist Jill Kintner (Murrieta, Calif.) will likely continue her winning ways in the mountain cross. Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) is the dominant American woman in downhill, while other contenders include April Lawyer (Murrieta, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.), and Marla Streb (Los Osos, Calif.).

Tour de France slide show in Va. Beach

This Saturday night, September 18, in Va. Beach, Va. (USA), Cyclingnews photographer Jonathan Devich will be holding a photo show and slide presentation focusing on the 2004 Tour de France. Devich will be offering a unique view of the Tour with over 40 prints on display along with nearly 300 slides.

Photos will include race action as well as a behind the scenes looks at the Tour and the French countryside. The show will be held at North End Cyclery at the Va. Beach oceanfront with the doors opening at 7pm and the slide presentation approximately 7:30.

For more information please visit www.epicimages.us.

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