First Edition Cycling News for September 19, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
Perez overcomes personal tragedy
27 year old Asturian Santi Perez (Phonak) achieved his second professional victory today, but the first one where he has actually been able to cross the line ahead of everyone else. Two years ago in the Giro d'Italia, Perez was awarded the victory in the fifth stage to Limone Piemonte. He got the win the day after it was held. The reason was the disqualification of the man who finished in front of him, Stefano Garzelli.
Today in Granada, Perez found himself again a winner, but on the day the race was held. It was a victory that came to him after what has been close to two years of personal agony. "Of course today was a very special day for me, it has been nearly two years since my girlfriend died [in a traffic accident] and it has been pretty hard to recover from that - this victory is for her and her family," Santi told Cyclingnews after the finish of today's stage in downtown Granada.
Perez had attacked the leading group with five kilometres from the summit of the day's last climb, the Alto de Monachil, and actually increased his 33 second gap over the top to 46 seconds at the finish after the long descent into Granada. As he crossed the line, Perez kissed a medal around his neck and held it up to the sky in remembrance of his deceased girlfriend.
The next big name to withdraw form the Vuelta a España was Australian Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), who did not sign on for Stage 14. Although O'Grady claimed to be suffering from stomach problems, it is understood that he has his eyes on the World Championships in Verona, and wants to be fully fit in two weeks time.
In recent days, World's favourites Igor Astarloa and Oscar Freire have also pulled out of the Vuelta in order to rest up for the World's, which means that the battle for the sprinters jersey will likely be decided between Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi, with the former having a what looks to be a winning 28 point advantage over the latter, given that there is only one more sprinter's stage to come.
Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) was forced out of the Vuelta today after crashing at the 65 km mark. The Italian hit a large pothole in the road and destroyed his handlebars and both wheels, according to a team statement. He had to abandon and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with heavy contusions and abrasions to his right hip and knee. According to x-rays, nothing was broken.
Rice pudding cleared
The rice pudding that was alleged to have caused food poisoning among the T-Mobile team early in the Vuelta has been cleared of any wrongdoing. According to a statement from the Hotel Palafox, where the T-Mobile riders stayed on September 7, an analysis of the pudding revealed no signs of contamination [But did they test the fish salad? - ed.].
Many of the riders who have abandoned the Vuelta have been claiming stomach problems, and in a number of cases it has been a virus of some sort.
Four teams tested
The UCI's medical inspectors carried out blood tests on four teams today before the start of the Stage 14. The tests were performed between 7:45 and 8:40 am on riders from Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, Paternina-Costa de Almería, Rabobank and Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie. All riders tested were declared fit to continue in the race.
Sevilla to T-Mobile
Phonak's directeur sportif Jacques Michaud finally confirmed the move of Oscar Sevilla to T-Mobile today, after various Spanish newspapers had reported a contract finalization as soon as yesterday. The news has now also been confirmed by T-Mobile on its website. The new cooperation between Sevilla and the German squad is set to be for two years at least.
As Mario Kummer, sports director at T-Mobile, pointed out in a statement, "He is definitely an excellent climber. He's proven this on various Grand Tours like the Tour, the Giro or the Vuelta. He will be a big help for us at the Pro Tour."
Sevilla dropped out of negotiations with Phonak after team manager Urs Freuler wanted to reduce his salary. The proposed reduction was based on Sevilla's performance in this year's edition of the Vuelta, which has been compromised by health problems and a knee operation.
Lampre: Casagrande free
In a statement, the Italian Lampre team announced that Francesco Casagrande's contract has been terminated by mutual agreement. Casagrande was prevented from starting the Vuelta a España due to having too high a hematocrit. He is now free to find another team for next season, and has signed a contract to ride with Vini Caldirola for the rest of 2004, with his first race scheduled for September 22.
By Hedwig Kröner
Danish rider Allan Johansen (BankGiroLoterij) has found some late season form, which should help him in his search for a contract for next season. The winner of the GP Jef Scherens Leuven backed it up a week later with third place in Paris-Brussels, and he is now looking forward to riding the World Championships in Verona. Cyclingnews spoke to him at the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt a few days ago, where he explained that he was likely to make the Danish selection.
"I think so - there are 12 riders for eight places, and I spoke to Brian Holm, the Danish coach, and he said that if I don't get sick or anything, I'd be on the team," said Johansen. "I'm also riding the Franco-Belge next week as a preparation for Verona.
We asked him about next season, but Johansen hasn't signed a contract yet. "I don't have anything right now, I've been talking to a few teams but nothing certain at the moment."
Weylandt signs for Quick.Step
20 year old Belgian talent Wouter Weylandt has signed a two year contract with Patrick Lefevere's Quick.Step team, which will be part of the Pro Tour next year. Already one of the top U23 riders in the country this year, Weylandt has been riding with Quick.Step-Davitamon as a stagiaire in recent weeks, and has acquitted himself well. He is scheduled to ride Franco-Belge next week.
Daughter, not the race, lures Nichols back to Grafton
By Karen Forman in Inverell
What's Kevin Nichols doing back in Grafton - and, even more surprisingly, racing his bike? The 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the team pursuit (who is originally from Grafton) lined up for the Trek Bike Masters 4 grade looking quiet a bit leaner than he has for some time.
"I'm just here for the ride," Nichols told Cyclingnews. "(Daughter) Kate is just starting her training for the big stuff for next year so I am here with her."
Kate was also starting the women's event...which both delighted and concerned her father. "Put it this way, last year we came up and did the hill in training and Kate put 15 minutes into me," he said.
Nichols has started the Grafton to Inverell Classic three or four times and finished once. He was fifth in 1983. "The next year was the year all the Europe riders came out and straight away the pace was 15km and hour faster than the year before. I cooked it."
Despite his carefree attitude, he was obviously taking things a little bit more seriously this year. "I have lost 1.5kg in the last week," he said. "I've been dieting! I stopped eating. I raced last weekend and was suffering, so I stopped catching and started again on Wednesday. I haven't had time to train but I had time to stop eating. I just hope I've got enough energy."
Nichols was one of three Olympic gold medalists in Grafton today. Recent Athens women's road race winner Sara Carrigan was special guest for the event, while Barcelona road race gold medalist Kathy Watt bore out her favourite's status for the women's race by winning it.
Murphy crashes in Tour of Tobago
In today's fourth stage of the Tour of Tobago, a 105 kilometre hilly circuit race on the island of Tobago, Eric Murphy of the USA was in a head on collision with a car at about 80km into the event. He has been transported to the main island, Trinidad by helicopter for surgery. At this time it appears that he has no broken bones and is in stable condition, but will require stitches on his tongue and he has facial lacerations.
A second rider from the German team was following mountains leader Eric at the time of the incident. These two riders were chasing at about ten seconds in arrears of the stage one time trial winner from Canada, and had just broken away from race leader Scott Zwizanski (Ofoto). Eric's teammate John Lieswyn was several minutes up the road in a breakaway with Jon Tarkington.
Apparently the Canadian rider took the far right (Trinidad and Tobago is a former British colony and they drive on the left) and dodged the car, which had been instructed by a police motorbike to stop. The driver then moved into the cyclist's lane of travel and next around the corner was Eric Murphy and the German. Both riders hit the windshield of the car at 50kph. The German sustained arm lacerations and a bruised hip, but did not require hospitalisation.
The rest of the chasing riders regrouped and Eric's teammate Emile Abraham stopped to tend to the fallen rider, who was conscious. On arrival of authorities, Emile rejoined the second group, which did not as a group feel like racing until just before the finish. The leading two riders did not hear about the crash until 5km to go, at which point they still believed that the chasers were under 4 minutes behind. John Lieswyn won the sprint from Tarkington, and unofficially moved into the race leader's jersey for the final stage tomorrow. The final time gap was near 15 minutes.
The accident is the first for this year's edition of the long running Caribbean stage race, but highlights the need for greater police protection and rolling enclosure on this stage's technical descent. It was extremely reminiscent of the stillborn Sea Otter Redwood City stage of two years ago, wherein despite police assurances, there were not enough motorcycles to cover the inevitable massive splintering of the field into multiple breaks and chase groups.
Courtesy of John Lieswyn from Tobago
Hungarian World's elite team
The Hungarian selection for the World Championships in Verona is official. Laszlo Garamszegi (P-Nivo-Betonexpressz-FTC) will represent his country on the road, while Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Csaba Szekeres (P-Nivo-Betonexpressz-FTC) will participate in the Time Trial.
1st Annual Mid-America Cross Cup launched
The First Annual Mid-America Cross Cup is a cyclo-cross series featuring events in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri including the Nebraska and Kansas Cyclo-cross State Championships.
The six events series is scheduled as follows:
October 3: Nebraksa Cyclo-cross Series #1, Lincoln, NE
In addition to individual race prizes and giveaways, this 6-race regional point series will offer a $1000 cash prize purse for the top three finishers in the Men's A, Men's B, Men Masters 35+ and Women (Open) fields. Medals and/or trophies will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Men's C, Men Masters 45+ & 55+, Junior Men (13-15/16-18), Junior Girls (13-15/16-18) and Women B & C.
For complete information on all of the Kansas and Missouri races: cowtowncycling.com
For complete information on the Nebraska races: www.nebraskacycling.org
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)