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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for September 28, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones, Hedwig Kröner & John Stevenson

World Championships opens in Bardolino

Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

The first day of the World Championships saw the junior women's and U23 men's time trials being held on the challenging circuits around Bardolino, near Lake Garda. Under perfect racing conditions, the medals were all decided by relatively small margins. Just 5.67 seconds separated the top three junior women, with Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) taking the gold ahead of Rebecca Much (USA) and Amanda Spratt (Australia), the latter two being separated by only 0.3 seconds. In the U23 men's race, Slovenian Janez Brajkovic finished with an 18.93 second margin over Dutch rider Thomas Dekker, who nipped Italian Vincenzo Nibali out of the silver medal spot by only 0.39 seconds.

The time trial action continues tomorrow with the junior men's at 12:30 CEST followed by the elite women at 15:15 CEST. Cyclingnews will be covering each event live from start to finish, along with all other World's races this week.

World's day 1: U23 Men's TT (Live coverage); Junior Women's TT (Live coverage)
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Main & preview
Race Schedule

Pro Tour: Belgian federation asks ASO to reconsider

Belgium's cycling federation, the Ligue Royale Vélocipédique Belge (LRVB) has asked Tour de France organiser ASO to reconsider its opposition to the UCI Pro Tour, according to L'Equipe. The LRVB is concerned that if ASO is not involved in the Pro Tour, the Belgian Classics that it runs, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne will not be part of the series.

"The announcement by the organisers ASO, RCS and Unipublic that they will not take part in the Pro Tour in 2005 risks penalties for the two classics organised by ASO," said LRVB president Laurent Debacker. ASO, RCA and Unipublic organise the three annual Grand Tours, the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España respectively. They announced Sunday that they would not take part in the Pro Tour.

Debacker has written to the head of ASO, Patrice Clerc asking that he reverse the decision and wondering how the UCI is supposed to replace Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne with two other races in the pro Tour.

The three organisations are believed to be unhappy that, among other things, the details of the Pro Tour rules have still not been made clear; the Pro Tour places more emphasis on financial than sporting considerations; and the four-year tenure of Pro tour teams allows no room for teams to be promoted or demoted.

Nevertheless, the UCI is pressing ahead with the plan, publicly at least. A Pro Tour without the grand tours and the races organised by ASO (which also includes Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Nice) would be a rather pale affair, but while it seems likely there are frantic discussions going on behind the scenes, the UCI's latest statement is unequivocal.

"As for the ProTour," said the UCI in a statement, "and in particular the evolution of the situation after the change of position by the organizers of the three Grands Tours, the Management Committee has unanimously confirmed that the UCI ProTour perfectly reflects the future orientation of professional cycling, and that any defections will absolutely not challenge its introduction on the 1st of January 2005.

"The unreserved support of teams and the enthusiasm manifested by many sponsors who have shared this innovating vision from the first, as well as the significant rise of the number of events registered in the different continental calendars, represent already in fact a guarantee of success for the UCI ProTour."

Spratt delighted with bronze

Amanda Spratt (Aus)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
Click for larger image

Australian Amanda Spratt, 17, from Springwood in the Blue Mountains, NSW, won the bronze medal in the junior women's 15.75km time trial on day one of the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Italy.

Spratt, who in July claimed gold in the points race at the Junior Track World Championships in Los Angeles, posted a time of 22.19.77 to finish 5.67 seconds behind Czech gold medallist Tereza Hurikova, 17, with American Rebecca Much, 18, second with 5.37 seconds off the winning time.

"I'm over the moon because I came here not knowing what to expect and it's been an amazing experience," said Spratt. "I am absolutely stoked. The course was pretty tough with a climb at the start but it was wonderful to have so many enthusiastic spectators cheering for us," she said. "We're not used to having so many people watch us race and it was my first experience of that sort of support for a junior road event."

Spratt was the 20th from last rider to race and set the fastest time but her Czech rival beat it four riders later, moving Spratt to silver. She sat in the medallists marshalling tent as another eight riders crossed the line before Much moved her back to third. With the top seven seeds still to finish it was an agonising wait for the teenager, but the top three remained unchanged and she finally breathed a sigh of relief knowing the medal was hers.

"I was a little nervous and tense waiting but I knew I'd done all I could do," Spratt explained. "I always like to be confident but you can really only be confident in your own ability."

Spratt was surprised by the narrow margin between the medallists but more than happy with her bronze medal performance: "The time trial is an event where you have no control over anyone else so my aim was to give it everything I had and finish knowing I couldn't have given any more. After that if I was beaten then it was by a better rider on the day and there's not much you can do about that."

Spratt's team mate Natasha Mapley, 17, finished eighth. "It's a great start for the team," said Spratt. "Nat and I have been training together so fabulous to have both of us up there."

UCI announces future world championships venues

The UCI has announced the venues of three of the 2007 world championships events, for track and mountain biking.

The 2007 track championships will take place in Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, while the mountain bike endurance discipline known as MTB marathon will have its world's in Verviers-Spa, Belgium.

The mountain bike and observed trials championships goes to Britain for the first time - or, to be precise, to Fort William, Scotland. The Scottish venue has hosted rounds of the mountain bike World Cup for the last three years and has seen huge spectator attendances and reports of extremely well-run events.

Hosting the 2007 world's also guarantees Fort William a place on the World Cup circuit for the next couple of years to keep the systems ticking over and riders familiar with the venue. For 2005 it will host the final round of the series, the dates of which have also been announced:

2005 MTB World Cup

XC #1 - April 24: Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
DH & 4X #1 - April 30-May 1: Vigo, Spain
XC #2 - May 8: Madrid, Spain
XC #3 - May 29: Houffalize, Belgium
XC #4, DH & 4X # 2 - June 4-5: Willingen, Germany
DH & 4X #3 - June 11-12: Schladming, Austria
XC #5, DH & 4X #4 - June 25-26: Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec
XC #6, DH & 4X #5 - July 2-3: Santa Catarina, Brazil
XC #7, DH & 4X #6 - July 9-10: Angel Fire, New Mexico
DH & 4X #7 - August 21: Pita, Italy
Finals XC, DH, 4X # 8 - September 10-11: Fort William, Scotland

The UCI has also announced that priority for the 2009 road world championships will be given to Mendrisio in Switzerland, " subject to the approval of technical and logistics elements by the relevant UCI services." Mendrisio's status as 2009 road world's venue will be confirmed in June 2005.

Van Hemert-EuroGifts becomes pro team

The Dutch third division team Van Hemert-EuroGifts has good news: It will be upgrading for next season, as the two main sponsors have agreed to support the team for another three years. Team director Arthur van Dongen was delighted: "With the extension of both contracts, the continuity of the team is guaranteed. Now we can make the step into professional cycling."

With the Pro Tour next season, Van Dongen is hopeful for the future. "We then will be able to start in some of the bigger races in Belgium and the Netherlands," he added. "We can get our riders on regular pay, and they can prove themselves within the pro peloton and gain experience. It would be good for the sport if more teams could make the transition into professionalism."

Armstrong backs Bravehearts

A Tour de France yellow jersey, signed by six-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, is the top item on offer to raise funds for the Braveheart Cycling Fund, which was set up last year to offer financial assistance to promising young Scottish cyclists. Armstrong's signed and framed jersey will be one of many items to be auctioned at the Braveheart Fund's second fundraising dinner, to be held in Ayrshire on October 22.

The dinner, which will include a mystery guest and the announcement of the Fund's first patron, is a sell-out, but Armstrong's jersey is being made available to the wider public, with raffle tickets being sold in bike shops throughout Scotland. Raffle tickets may also be purchased over the phone.

Full details visit the fund's website: www.braveheartcyclingfund.com

Gloucester Cyclo-Cross Races

Essex County Velo (ECV) in the USA presents two days of cyclocross racing at Gloucester's Stage Fort Park on Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31. Both Michelob ULTRA Gran Prix of Gloucester Races are part of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (the national series), the Verge New England Championship Series, as well US Team World Championships selection races. Top finishers also collect points for the international UCI rankings.

The current Under-23 US National Champion Jesse Anthony will be competing at the races, as well as Italian National Champion Daniele Pontoni, World Champion in 1997 and 5th in the Cyclocross World Championships this past February. Other contenders include Todd Wells, Mark McCormack, Mary McConneloug, Anne Knapp and Carmen D'Aluisio.

For more information, visit www.ecvcycling.org.

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