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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 2, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

Armstrong makes progress in clearing up Italian legal woes

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Lance Armstrong's quick trip to Italy Wednesday was to take a pro-active step to resolve the various legal actions that are hanging over his head from conflicts with Italian rider Filippo Simeoni.

First some history. After Armstrong and Simeoni had their interesting interlude on Stage 18 to Lons-le-Saunier in last year's Tour de France, Simeoni and his Domina Vacanze team manager Vincenzo Santoni called the carabinieri of the NAS (Nuclei Anti-Sofisticazione) to complain that Armstrong had threatened Simeoni during the race. Simeoni was the key witness in an ongoing doping case against Dr. Michele Ferrari, a long-time training consultant of Armstrong. Following these complaints, Giuseppe Quattrocchi, the prosecutor of Lucca, opened an investigation into the matter early in August 2004. The potential charges against Armstrong from the alleged acts are for "violenza privata", or personal intimidation.

After watching this matter drag on, Armstrong decided to take matters into his own hands and the American Tour champion asked his lawyer, Enrico Nan, who is also a deputy in the Italian Parliament for Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, to set up a meeting with Procura Quattrocchi. On Wednesday, March 30, Armstrong flew into Pisa Airport on his private jet and travelled to nearby Lucca for his meeting with Quattrocchi, where he was deposed by Italian judicial authorities. After his meeting with Quattrocchi, Armstrong told La Gazzetta dello Sports's Pier Bergonzi, "It was a meeting I specifically asked for...the Italian magistrate seemed like a person who knew what he was doing. He was very polite and civil and I think he appreciated my willingness to come to talk to him face to face. I told him everything. I told him the complete truth about what happened (with Simeoni). I explained the details what happened that day and what I really said. I just told the truth of what happened."

Now that the American has talked to Italian authorities, it's likely that he can now come back to Italy without fear of any surprise interrogations by the NAS carabinieri. After his deposition, Armstrong jumped in his jet and headed home to Girona, ,Spain to prepare for the Tour Of Flanders on Sunday. Although the Italian media is now speculating that Armstrong is trying to clear up his legal troubles in Italy because he wants to ride the upcoming Giro d'Italia, Cyclingnews sources close to Armstrong tell us that's unlikely as this year's Giro course is simply not for the American Tour De France champion. For now, all eyes are awaiting Armstrong's upcoming press conference in Georgia on April 18, where speculation is rife that the six time Tour champ may announce his retirement at the end of 2005.

Women's Ronde: Who will follow Zabirova?

By Jeff Jones

The women's Ronde van Vlaanderen is the fourth round of the World Cup, currently being led by Oenone Wood (Nürnberger), with her teammate and Primavera Rosa winner Trixi Worrack in second place. Russian powerhouse Zoulfia Zabirova won the inaugural women's Ronde last year, and in this year's second edition she will stand as one of the favourites for the 112 km classic. Riding for team Bigla, Zabirova has the experience and power to do well on this type of course.

Zabirova's biggest challengers are likely to be the Nürnberger women, which boasts Wood and Worrack, along with World Champion Judith Arndt, Olivia Gollan, Regina Schleicher, and Anke Wichmann. In terms of depth, Nürnberger probably has the strongest team in the women's peloton this year, and showed it in La Primavera Rosa two weeks ago where it took out three of the top four placings.

The Buitenpoort-Flexpoint Team should be at home in the RVV, with Dutchwoman Mirjam Melchers keen for a victory. Along with dual World Champ Susanne Ljungskog, Buitenpoort should be a force to contend with. The other strong Dutch-based team is Van Bemelen-AA Drink, featuring Olympic road champion Sara Carrigan, Wellington World Cup winner Suzanne de Goede, and the Bates sisters, Kate and Natalie.

Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattna's Nicole Cooke has been doing a lot of preparatory work for the women's Ronde, and looks to be in great shape. She has reconnoitred the course and has been winning races in Italy, showing that she means business. Supported by Rochelle Gilmore, Cooke should have an excellent chance of winning in Ninove.

Nobili Rubinetterie will line up an experienced squad that includes Edita Pucinskaite and Olga Slyusareva, while the Swiss Univega team will rely on Priska Doppmann and Karin Thürig. For the Belgians, Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim has Hanka Kupfernagel and Anita Valen as its stars

With 26 teams at the start, the second women's Ronde van Vlaanderen is going to be every bit as chaotic as the men's race, and the fight for position before the climbs will be paramount.

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

More lineups for Flanders

Lampre Caffita has announced the following team roster for the Ronde van Vlaanderen: Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Giosuè Bonomi, GianLuca Bortolami, Salvatore Commesso, Paolo Fornaciari, Enrico Franzoi and Samuele Marzoli.

German team Gerolsteiner, which has had to announce the suspension of its top sprinter Danilo Hondo, will send the following riders: Robert Förster, René Haselbacher, Heinrich Haussler, Frank Høj, Sebastian Lang, Peter Wrolich, Markus Zberg and Thomas Ziegler.

Starting for Italian Fassa Bortolo on Sunday are: Andrus Aug, Fabio Baldato, Fabian Cancellara, Francesco Chicchi, Claudio Corioni, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Alberto Ongarato and Roberto Petito.

Strasbourg set for Tour start in 2006

Tim Maloney, European Editor

It's official: the eastern French city of Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region, will host the Grand Départ of the 2006 Tour de France. Jean-Marie Leblanc, Tour director and Christian Prudhomme, his heir apparent, announced an agreement with Ms. Fabienne Keller, mayor of Strasbourg. Home of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, which means "the town of roads" in German, will welcome the Tour de France prologue on July 1, 2006. Strasbourg has already hosted the Tour de France 22 times, but the only time the Alsatian capital has hosted the Tour start was in 1953, the year of the first win of legendary French racer Louison Bobet. The '06 Tour's prologue will be a 7.5km flat and rolling course entirely in the city.

The next day, Sunday July 2 will see the start of Le Tour '06's Stage 1 in Strasbourg; a 180km flat loop through Saverne, Molsheim, Obernai and then a quick trip over the border into Germany in the Eurodistrict of Offenburg before returning to the finish in the center of Strasbourg. On Monday, July 3, The Grand Départ concludes when Stage 2 of the 2006 Tour heads out of Strasbourg to points still unknown.

The official 2006 Tour De France route will be unveiled in Paris on October 28, 2005.

Garzelli and Cioni recon Giro mountain stages

Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni (Liquigas-Bianchi) have been exploring the mountains of the upcoming Giro d'Italia recently. Joined by Vladimir Miholjevic and Andrea Noè, the riders reconnoitred the 12th, 13th, 17th and 19th stages of the 2005 Giro.

"None of the eight Giros that I have participated in featured this much difficulties," Garzelli said. "It will be a massacre." The winner of the Giro in 2000 also believes that the 11th stage finishing in Zoldo Alto may be the most decisive one for general classification. "The stage to Zoldo Alto will be a surprise for some - beware of underestimating it. While the Passo Cereda is reasonable to ride, the Duran is 13 km long and necessitates a 21 or a 23. There's a difficult and technical descent and then, the final climb with hairpins around 10 percent."

The 19th stage to Sestrière, one day before the final arrival in Milan, includes the Colle delle Finestre, which Garzelli described as the hardest climb of this year's Giro d'Italia. "There are slopes around 14 percent gradient on very tight roads, and to top it off, the final ascent to Sestrière." But also the 13th stage to Ortisei impressed him. "It's very hard and very long," he said. "Of the five climbs that day, the Passo delle Erbe will be the most difficult." The climb is more than 15 km long and covers more than 1000 m of altitude difference.

Bäckstedt's priorities clear

Liquigas Bianchi rider Magnus Bäckstedt is going to participate in the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen, aiming for a good placing, but not at any cost. "If I realize that I'm able to compete with the best riders I will try to make an effort, otherwise I will look to refining my condition for Paris-Roubaix," he said. "The favourites, for me, are Van Petegem, Boonen, Wesemann and O’Grady."

Team manager Roberto Amadio expects an unusual development of the Belgian classic. "This year, an important rider as Museeuw won't be present. The race could be very unusual, maybe decided by a long breakaway...," he speculated. "We will try to be there with Bäckstedt, Ljungqvist and Albasini, but Magnus could also choose not to force himself in the final phase."

T-Mobile targets Pais Vasco

German T-Mobile team is gearing up for the Vuelta a Pais Vasco from April 4-8, a rolling up and down ride through the Spanish Pyrenees. Scheduled to arrive on Saturday evening following the MP Miguel Indurain, the team's roster will warm up for the season’s fifth ProTour race.

"The constant up and down really wears on you," said directeur sportif Frans van Looy. The riders will face no less than 20 mountains from Cat. 1 to Cat. 3 during the stage race. Matthias Kessler and Alexandre Vinokourov, who will prepare for the Ardennes classics, will be T-Mobile's leaders. The two are joined by Christian Werner, Vinokourov’s Kazakh compatriot Sergey Yakovlev and Bernhard Kohl. The Austrian neo-pro replaces Giuseppe Guerini, who is forced to miss out on the race because of a 'flu. Also participating will be Andreas Klöden, who has fond memories of the race. The 2004 Tour de France runner-up triumphed at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco in 2000, celebrating his second big victory shortly after his first triumph that year at Paris-Nice.

Completing the roster are the two Spaniards Paco Lara and Oscar Sevilla, keen to shake up the race at the front on the demanding parcours. "They ride on their home terrain. To both the Tour of Basque country is a special challenge", said van Looy, "But that also goes for the home teams, who will dictate the pace." With regards to the strong competition, van Looy is not focused on the overall win. "In this respect we certainly don't rank among the favourites," the Belgian said. "But maybe Vino or Matse Kessler can pull off a stage victory." T-Mobile would certainly need, it, as the German team has not been able to score any victories this first part of the season.

The Basque team of Euskaltel, spearheaded by 2003 winner Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia, will aim for the overall win at this year's Pais Vasco. But also Illes Balears, lining up Alejandro Valverde, and Liberty Seguros with Roberto Heras, rank among the favourites. Dutch squad Rabobank is sending its Russian new addition and last years's winner Denis Menchov into action, while Swiss Phonak team is counting on Martin Perdiguero and Victor Hugo Peña.

The stages

Stage 1 - April 4: Zarautz - Zarautz, 133 km
Stage 2 - April 5: La Lejana - Trapagaran, 166 km
Stage 3 - April 6: Ortuella - Gasteiz, 176 km
Stage 4 - April 7: Gasteiz - Altsasu,167 km
Stage 5a - April 8: Altsasu - Oñati, 93 km
Stage 5b - April 8: Oñati - Oñati ITT, 9,3 km

Australian BMX world's squad announced

In preparation for the UCI BMX World Championships in Paris, BMX Australia has announced the riders selected to represent the green and gold at the event in June. Under the watchful eye of Australian High Performance coach Sean Dwight, the following riders will travel to Europe later in the year:

Warwick Stevenson, 2 x ABA title winner and current UCI World Champion Elite Male
Michael Fenwick, 2004 UCI Junior Elite Male World Champion
Luke Madill, 2005 National Champion Elite Male
Michael Robinson, 2005 National #3 Elite Male
Kamakasi, 2005 National #4 Elite Male and former 2004 Champion
Leigh Darryl, 2005 National Junior Elite Champion and multiple UCI World Champion challenge class
Krystal Cranfield, 2004 UCI #8 Junior Elite Female
Nicole Callisto, 2005 National Champion and UCI #6 Junior Female
Melissa Mankowski, 2005 National #2 and former challenge class UCI World Champion

2005 Velodrome Championship Series

USA Cycling has revealed a qualification process that will be in place for the 2005 USCF Elite National Track Cycling Championships later this year. Riders who want to compete on the track for stars and stripes jerseys must qualify for nationals through the 2005 Velodrome Championship Series, a schedule of 17 races to be held at 22 velodromes across the nation.

This initiative is a major step toward tying together all of the nation’s facilities and forming a true national program for track cycling. With this latest development, each velodrome in the U.S. will have an important annual race with national implications.

"Not only will velodromes benefit as the sport becomes more united across the country," explained USA Cycling national track programs director Pat McDonough, "but there will be additional opportunities to discover new talent in riders, officials and promoters. Track cycling itself will be able to grow stronger with a visible ladder that leads from the beginning levels of the sport to the very top."

The top five men and top three women in each of the individual events at each velodrome championship will qualify to race for national titles. For team events, the top two teams at each velodrome championship will earn themselves a start spot in Carson. Riders who qualify may do so in either sprint or endurance-related disciplines and will be eligible to enter the national championships for all of the events in the area which they qualify.

All cyclists wishing to compete in the Velodrome Championship Series must hold a valid USCF or UCI racing license and have a racing age of 17 or above. All females meeting the criteria may enter. Male riders must hold a category 4 license for time trial events and a category 3 license or above for mass start races.

The 2005 Velodrome Championship Series kicks off on May 20 at the Superdrome in Frisco, Texas and concludes July 3 at the Encino Velodrome in Encino, Calif.

For more information on the 2005 Velodrome Championship Series, visit www.usacycling.org

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