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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 1, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Belgian show-down shapes up at RVV

By Jeff Jones

Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) wins in 2004
Photo ©: Sirotti

The April classics season gets into full swing with the 89th edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on Sunday, April 3. De Ronde, as it's known, is always the high point of the Flemish cycling season, which starts with Het Volk at the end of February and winds down by mid-April. For most Belgian pro's, it's the most important race on the calendar, even if very few of them can actually win it.

As usual, sickness and crashes have put question marks over several of the favourites in the lead up to Vlaanderen's mooiste, starting with last year's winner Steffen Wesemann. The T-Mobile rider, who looked strong in last week's E3 Prijs, had to pull out of the Driedaagse van De Panne before the last two stages, suffering from stomach problems. It's expected he'll recover in time to start on Sunday, and he will share the leadership of T-Mobile with Andreas Klier.

E3 Prijs winner Tom Boonen will be the outright leader of the Quick.Step team, even though he crashed twice during the Driedaagse van De Panne and didn't start the final stage. Boonen had to have three stitches to the middle finger of his left hand, as well as suffering bruised legs and pelvis from his crash. He will still be one of the favourites on Sunday, but perhaps not in the circumstances he would have preferred. He will be supported by a strong team including Nick Nuyens and Kevin Hulsmans, but no Paolo Bettini, who has a throat infection.

Click here for the full preview, course map and description and start list.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 89th Ronde van Vlaanderen live, beginning at 9:30 local time (CEST)/03:30 EDT (USA east)/00:30 PDT (USA west)/17:30 AEST (Australia east).

Wesemann and Klier lead T-Mobile in Flanders

The T-Mobile Team is bringing a weakened roster to Sunday's 89th edition of the Tour of Flanders. Besides the Dutchman Bram Schmitz, who was the victim of a crash during the Driedaagse van De Panne, the magenta team will also have to cope without the services of Daniele Nardello in Flanders, as back problems have forced the experienced Italian to miss the ProTour race.

Steffen Wesemann won the race last year and he will be back to spearhead the eight man T-Mobile team this year. Supporting him is Andreas Klier, a Flanders resident and an experienced man on the cobbled roads of the region. The two classics specialists have been focussing their preparations on De Ronde and have hit form at the right time.

T-Mobile's directeur sportif Mario Kummer is playing down the team's chances. "Unfortunately we can't send our best roster into action," he said. "And though Klier and Wesemann have been putting in impressive performances of late, we have been forced to lower our expectations by a peg or two."

Joining Wese and Klier are the very experienced Rolf Aldag, Sergey Ivanov Klier's training partner) and Stephan Schreck, who is returning to full fitness following his crash in Milan-San Remo. 21 year-old German neo-pro Marcus Burghardt will also be on the start line in Brugge, following his fourth place in Dwars Door Vlaanderen last week. Rounding out the roster are the sprint duo of Erik Zabel and Erik Baumann.

The full roster: Rolf Aldag, Eric Baumann, Marcus Burghardt, Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Stephan Schreck, Steffen Wesemann and Erik Zabel.

Freire will start

World Champion Oscar Freire will start in Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, despite suffering from a saddle sore problem that has made it painful to train. Freire was quoted by AS as saying, "I trained on Wednesday and was more or less OK. Yesterday [Thursday] I was on the bike again and I was somewhat better. I have decided to race, although I'm worried about the climbs and the cobbles in the classic, because you have to do them sitting down and this is what hurts me the most."

Heule to Stevens

Swiss cyclist Christian Heule will race for the Stevens Racing Team, a German continental squad, this season. Heule, 28, is a specialist in cyclo-cross and MTB, although he does race on the road as well.

Jan Mulder retires

The blind Dutch tandem rider Jan Mulder is putting an end to his cycling career, aged 48. Mulder won 26 medals at European and World Championships, as well as taking home three gold medals at the Paralympics. He will now put his efforts into helping visually handicapped people take up sport.

Ras field full

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The title sponsor of this year's Ras, FBD Insurance, must be very happy with the reaction to the quality and numbers eager to participate in the race, which will be held between May 22-29. Organiser Dermot Dignam had to close off at 200 because that is the maximum number of riders allowed by the UCI for international races. The start list includes professional teams, national teams, continental regional teams and of course a strong contingent of Irish county teams.

Although Dignam is pleased, pity the headache that Eddie Dawson, who has to secure the accommodation in the various stage-end towns and surrounding districts. On the other hand, the Ras will surely boost the local economies when it passes through town.

As such there is no word about the announcement of an Irish national team, but there is a chance that those attached to professional teams may get released from their contracts to participate in the event. Navigators Insurance team members, Ciaran Power and David O'Loughlin, have both figured on numerous occasions on an Irish team, but a decision to release them for this race rests their American employers.

In any case, the selectors have an abundance of talent from which to choose an Irish team. Tipperary's John Dempsey staked a major claim with his great win in Rás Mumhan over Easter, while Kerry's Eugene Moriarty and Paul Griffin are also in great form. Perhaps the new kid on the block, Brian Keane, will come in to the reckoning following his performance in Rás Mumhan. Or, alternatively, the Irish selectors could opt for a young, developmental team with the next Olympics in mind.

The route for the race will bring the riders in an anti-clockwise course with stage finishes in Emyvale, Tubbercurry, Lisdoonvarna, Templemore, Abbeyleix, Rathdrum and Wicklow Town. The grand finale will once again be in the beautiful setting of the Phoenix Park on Sunday May 29.

Be One Canada Mountain Bike Team

The Be One Canada Mountain Bike Team has announced its roster for the 2005 season. Claire Buchar and Fraser Vaage will be joining team veteran Ted Tempany to make up the three-person freeride and race crew.

"All of our riders are really motivated to make a big impression, and they all have different areas of expertise which makes for a fun crew to work with," said Team Manager, Warwick Patterson. "Claire Buchar is focused on the World Cup downhill races, Fraser Vaage is doing a lot of filming and freeriding, and Ted Tempany is involved in designing some of the major freeride events as well as producing the next MTBFilms movie."

In addition to promoting the Be One Bikes brand in Canada, a goal of the team is to help develop up-and-coming riders into professionals, both on and off the bike. "We have selected riders who have a great attitude and amazing riding skills, and we hope to give them the tools and support to really be successful in the bike industry," added Warwick.

Claire Buchar has also been signed to the MerlanDuo-Be One Bikes UCI Trade Team based in Europe. She recently returned from a team training camp in Spain, and they will be providing her with World Cup support for 2005.

The team will start the season off at the Sea Otter Classic from April 12-17th. For more rider and team information, visit the team's website at: www.beonecanada.com

Start list for Spring Classics Fantasy Game

The start list for the 2005 Tour of Flanders has been uploaded to the 2005 Spring Classics Fantasy Game site. You can pick your prize winning teams now, and it's not too late to join. For more information, go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com.

New prizes added

We've also added some great new prizes to the roster, including 2005 Carnac M5 Carbon shoes from Sinclair Imports and extra-useful tools from Park Tool.

A pair of 2005 model Carnac M5 Carbon road shoes courtesy of the USA distributor, Sinclair Imports, will go to a player in the 2005 Spring Classics Fantasy Game. Just like the shoes that will be used by Discovery team's George Hincapie, these are the top of the line 2005 model shoes from legendary French maker Carnac, and feature the brand-new MFC5 carbon sole from Carnac which now uses a simple, three-hole cleat attachment pattern and no need for pedal adaptors or inserts.

Carnac has also abandoned its use of kangaroo leather for the upper and is now using the state-of-the-art Giardhini micro-fibre upper. Famous for their comfort, the new Carnac shoes feature a three-strap adjustment with the new SMC2 buckle providing snug adjustment at the top of the shoe. The M5 Carbon weighs in at a feathery 285 grams per shoe.

Park Tool's IB-2 multi-tool
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
Click for larger image
Specialized's Decibel
Photo ©: Specialized
Click for larger image
Specialized Roubaix Pro
Click for larger image

Cyclingnews has combined with our long-time and valued tech sponsor, Park Tool, to provide a specially engraved version of its ultra-handy IB-2 multi-tool for the top 10 players in the Spring Classics Fantasy Game.

The IB-2 has a central aluminium spine that carries a range of tools, with a 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex keys plus a flat-blade screwdriver, as well as another three sizes of hex key (1.5, 2 and 2.5mm) and a T25 Torx, the size commonly used to mount rotors in mountain bike disc brakes. Weight is 108 grams for the IB-2. And as a special for the Spring Classics, the IB-2 will come with the Cyclingnews logo engraved on one of the faces.

Reviewed on Cyclingnews in June last year, Anthony Tan described the IB-2 as "A perfect tool while on the bike - simple, light and well-designed."

These prizes are in addition to the grand prize of a Specialized Roubaix bicycle, fitted with a Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset, a bicycle that's likely to be ridden in the Paris-Roubaix by members of the Gerolsteiner squad.

There is also a set of Zipp 404 wheels. Now with dimples for even better aerodynamics, the US$1,600 404 is the slippery workhorse of Zipp's aero wheel range. These are Zipp's most popular wheels, and for good reason: they're light (1292g per pair for the tubular version), fast and tough enough for criteriums and sprinters, as well as their obvious time trial and road racing applications. So what's with the new dimples? They improve air flow over the wheel, reducing the power needed to cut through the air by 1 to 3 watts.

In addition, for the first six of the Spring Classic races you can win one Specialized's 2005 Decibel Helmet, painted in official team colours. For the hottest days, the most intense efforts, and the toughest climbs, you need the Decibel. Designed with input from their world-class athletes, it's the clear choice for anyone who's after the coolest lid on the planet.

So register now in time for the Ronde this weekend - visit: fantasy.cyclingnews.com

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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