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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 27, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta wraps up with another close race

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: AFP
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The Vuelta's final time trial in Madrid brought to a close the third grand tour of the season, and once again the Spanish race came down to the wire. In contrast to the previous three years, the race leader kept his jersey in the final time trial, which meant that Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) equalled Toni Rominger's record of three wins in the Vuelta (2000, 2003, 2004). Heras and his team controlled, but did not dominate the race after Heras took the gold jersey from Floyd Landis in stage 12, with the strong challenge from Phonak's Santi Perez falling 30 seconds short by the finish in Madrid today.

Heras told Cyclingnews that his third win was "the most beautiful". The first he said was an "enormous surprise" but this one "was beautiful because my team worked at the limit for me every day from the start of the race. My team has ridden a great Vuelta and we had to after the Tour. We had to come here and recover our form and our mental attitude. We came here from day one with the mission and the hope of winning."

Perez did win the final time trial but only took 13 of the 43 seconds he needed out of Heras. That gave the young Asturian his third stage win and second overall, which he was more than satisfied with. "It has been pretty hard," Perez told Cyclingnews after the stage. "Roberto for me is the better climber, a great cyclist with so much experience. And I give him my congratulations. To find myself in this situation is a dream. I hope to just continue improving like this. The Vuelta is a race I love a lot and it is very special for a rider like me. I knew from the start today that I was not going to win. As the kilometres passed and I saw the times that they were giving me I knew it was very difficult to gain 43 seconds. I went out at the limit and I gave it all. I went to do a good time trial and I did that.

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) rode an excellent TT to finish second behind Perez and secure third overall, while Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) fended off Alejandro Valverde's challenge for the points jersey, Felix Cardenas took home the mountains jersey, Heras got the combination jersey, and Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme won the team's classification.

Vuelta Stage 21 - Full results, report & photos, Live report
Stages & descriptions
Start list

World's returns to Verona

Oscar Freire parties like it's 1999
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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No sooner does the Vuelta finish than the cycling world turns its attention to Verona, Italy. The focus isn't Bill Shakespeare's pair of star-crossed lovers, though, but the world road championships, which returns to fair Verona, scene of the 1999 world's as well as the classic tale of ancient grudge.

While we'll hopefully see no fearful passages in Verona, you can expect plenty of on-the-bike strife as defending champions such as Igor Astarloa, Michael Rogers and Joane Somarriba attempt to hang on to their rainbow jerseys, and in-form contenders like Olympic champion Paolo Bettini, Jan Ullrich and Oenone Wood try to take them home.

When Verona last hosted the world's the then-unknown Oscar Freire stole victory in the men's race with a blistering sprint from 500m out while the other eight riders in a final selection that included 1998 champion Oscar Camenzind, Jan Ullrich and Frank Vandenbroucke were all looking at each other. Marcus Zberg and Jean-Cyril Robin were second and third, respectively. Ullrich, however, had the time trial title for consolation and went on to win in that discipline at the following year's Olympics.

Eventual 1999 winner Edita Pucinskaite leads
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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The women's road race saw Lithuania's Edita Pucinskaite take the rainbow jersey ahead of Australian Anna Wilson who had also placed second in the time trial, behind Leontien Zijlaard Van Moorsel.

Spotters of emerging talent would have loved the junior races at Verona in 1999. The men's race was taken out by a young Italian called Damiano Cunego, while a skinny Canadian called Geneviève Jeanson was junior women's road race champion. Against the clock there was promise of future greatness too as Fabian Cancellara took his second junior world title and Jeanson made it a sweep in the women's races. Where are they now? Still winning!

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Polemics a plenty for Gli Azzuri

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Verona

Originally from San Bonifacio, near Verona, current World Cup leader Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has taken the drastic step of assuming dual citizenship and will ride next Sunday's World Elite Men's Road Championship race in Verona representing Argentina, not his native Italy. Excluded from the Italian National team's Squadra Azzura for Verona, Rebellin defended his choice from criticism by explaining, "I wasn't selected last year for the World Championships either, and wasn't selected for the Olympics, even though I am leading the World Cup. So I had to do something...I've never had an explanation (from Italian CT Franco Ballerini) and with the World Championships here in Verona, I had to make this choice. I called Ballerini plenty of times but he never responded to me as to why he won't select me."

Rebellin continued, explaining calmly that, "Argentina gave me the possibility to represent them and I decided to take advantage of it so I can ride the World Championships in Verona. It will be hard without a team but I'll just ride my race and see how it goes."

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) was also excluded from this year's Squadra Azzura for Verona and the three time Giro d'Italia winner is in excellent form, as demonstrated by his win in the GP Lazio last week ahead of Jan Ullrich. Gibo is from Palu di Giovo, 100km north of Verona and the Trentino rider has many tifosi who were hoping Simoni would be selected. Although Simoni also reportedly explored the dual-citizenship option with Austria, he started the process too late and won't be on the starting line next Sunday in Verona.

Simoni had bitter words for Ballerini, saying, "I didn't expect to be selected; maybe because what happened in Lisbon*, nonetheless, I won't be part of the national team; I'm not part of Ballerini's group and certainly I would be a bother to Bettini. It's too bad...I should have explored this (dual-citizenship) earlier and maybe I could have done what Rebellin did. He was totally right to do that, so he could he could ride in the World Championships."

Simoni explained further that, "I'm disappointed, since I know I have good form and a lot of supporters who would like to see me in the World's. I am one of the top riders in tifosi would be happy to see me there." Simoni referred to his exclusion and his relationship with Olympic champion Paolo Bettini when he said, "I should have realized the situation sooner...what happened in Lisbon (at the 2001 World Championships) when Lanfranchi chased me down, when Bettini told Lanfranchi to chase me; you could see it really well on TV and afterwards, no one said anything about it."

Ballerini deflected the comments of Rebellin and Simoni by saying, "I have my responsibility as National Team selector to maintain and I'm trying to put together a team that I like, and will ride well for the people and ride well for Italy. The national team has to fit my ideas and to make these ideas real, we need the right riders on the team."

Former World Champion Maurizio Fondriest, who is a close friend of Simoni, wasn't very sympathetic to Ballerini's comments, explaining that Ballerini's predecessor, Alfredo Martini "had a philosophy that he would put the best riders in the race, who were in the best form at that moment, and then try to get them to work together. I remember in 1988 I didn't have a good relationship with (Beppe) Saronni, as well as Moreno Argentin who was against me and a Gianni Bugno who was very, very strong. I have to ask myself if we had a national team selector like Ballerini back then, would I have won the World Championships, or even raced it? Martini always had faith in me; he knew I was a good rider and gave me my opportunity to win the World Championship."

* In the 2001 Elite World Championships road race, Gilberto Simoni made an audacious attack on the final climb and had a 0'20 gap with 5 km to race, but his Italian teammate Paolo Lanfranchi inexplicably chased down Simoni, who was caught with 1.5km to go. Paolo Bettini was second and after the race, there were recriminations that Lanfranchi had worked for his Mapei trade teammate Bettini in Lisbon rather than his National teammate Simoni.

Tim Pauwels dies

Tim Pauwels
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
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23 year old Belgian cyclo-cross rider Tim Pauwels died in a hospital in Aalst today. Pauwels was racing in the Flemish town of Erpe-Mere close to Gent, when he missed a corner and fell into a ditch. According to doctors, Pauwels heart stopped just before his crash. Hans van Casteren, the Fidea team manager, told Sporza, "We had to wait for a long time for the ambulance. They tried to revive him, but without success. I think Tim already died before they took him to the hospital."

Tim Pauwels was the elder brother of Kevin Pauwels, Junior Cyclo-Cross World Champion. "His death is terrible for all of us, but especially for his brother. He is more of a quiet boy and the only person he actually interacted with was his brother," Van Casteren said.

Tim Pauwels had a crash a few weeks ago, but, "Last week his tests were good, better than we were expecting" he continues. "Tim told me before the race he was feeling well."

Tim Pauwels' major results

3rd, Belgian Championship in Lille for Elites without contract
4th, Belgian Championship in Mol for U23
4th, Belgian Championship in Wielsbeke for U23
6th, Championship in Gent for U23

T-Mobile's new management

The German T-Mobile squad has announced a new management structure for next season. Ex-pro Olaf Ludwig, until now the team's spokesman, will join Walter Godefroot as team manager.

Walter Godefroot, at his own request, will withdraw from management responsibilities at the end of 2005. "Having Olaf Ludwig as manager is a big win for us. He is an organiser, tactician and a hands-on operator all in one," said Godefroot. Ludwig, too, is happy with his new job: "I will use the coming season to learn as much as possible from Walter. I will do things my way, but I also look forward to benefiting from Walter's experience."

On the sporting level, T-Mobile is strengthened by Valerio Piva as new sports director. Piva, who has been recruited from Eddy Merckx’s Vlaanderen T-Interim, will support Frans van Looy and Mario Kummer in their work, with Kummer focusing mainly on strategic-tactical questions. With the planned introduction of the Pro Tour in 2005, additional requirements made the decision necessary.

Another change concerns Rudy Pevenage, who will move closer to the team again, after a dispute with Walter Godefroot at the end of 2003 made him "persona non grata". As personal adviser to Jan Ullrich, he is now permitted to follow all time trials during next season from within the team car. That is, excluding the Tour de France. Pevenage has had a very hard time advising Ullrich this season, because T-Mobile's management in the person of Walter Godefroot didn't want him anywhere near the team, including Jan Ullrich. Especially during races, Pevenage had to follow the rider in another team's car, a rather odd situation for both Pevenage, Ullrich and T-Mobile. The new agreement concedes more ground to Pevenage, while the situation is still far from being considered "normal".

Paralympic doping cases include cycling pilot

Four participants of this year's Paralympic Games in Athens have been found positive for taking prohibited substances, the International Paralympic Committee announced on Sunday. Three powerlifters and, for the first time, the able bodied tandem pilot of a disabled Paralympic cyclist have been found positive. Juraj Petrovic and Vladislav Janovjak from Slovakia had been competing in the men's Tandem Sprint (B1-3) and won the silver medal, but after the glucocorticosteroid finding in Petrovic's urine, both will be disqualified and stripped off their medal.

It is the first time an able bodied pilot to a disabled athlete has been involved in a doping offence. To date, a total of 529 tests have been carried out at the 2004 Paralympic Games, resulting in four positive cases.

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