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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for April 28, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Ale-Jet honours SuperMario

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

"Cycling is losing a great champion, and I'm losing my most dangerous rival," commented Italy's sprint star Alessandro Petacchi to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday, after the announcement of Mario Cipollini's retirement. Petacchi, who has just been victorious for the 15th time this season at the Tour de Romandie, paid his respects to 'SuperMario' Cipollini, saying that "in a certain way, Cipollini made me." The Fassa Bortolo rider, nicknamed 'Ale-Jet' said that his biggest victory against the 'Lion King' was at the Giro d'Italia 2003, where Petacchi took stage one. "That gave me a new dimension."

Petacchi, who continued by assuring that there were never any personal disputes between the two sprinters, honoured his elder counterpart further: "We can only admire him. He proved that it is possible to be competitive even at this age, as he scored some victories this season too. We were always big rivals, but I respected him. Mario's company was always fun, and very pleasant."

Zabel regrets "Bird of Paradise"

"Cycling has lost a Bird of Paradise, and that's too bad," said T-Mobile's Erik Zabel on Mario Cipollini's retirement. "He did a lot of good for cycling and understood how to be an entertainer. He was an absolutely glorious showman, but his athletic achievements always had priority."

The secret of Cipo's popularity, according to the T-Mobile sprinter, was that "he was an entertainer who also brought in top sporting results. He was able to combine both aspects. That made him one of the most popular cyclists of all time. Personally, I always enjoyed riding with him, as well as against him. It was never a bad thing to lose against him. And because he was one of the best, it was something special to beat him!" Was Zabel surprised by the retirement? "No, the retirement itself didn't surprise me. The timing was very sudden. But when you think that none of his sprint preparers, his "train", his old buddies are still active, then it was the right time to stop."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Hondo to plead for acquittal

According to German news agency dpa, former Gerolsteiner rider Danilo Hondo will plead for acquittal at the trial of his case before a Swiss court, which is scheduled to take place "in the end of May or the beginning of June", his lawyer said. Hondo maintains he did not recur to doping, although both A and B samples at the Tour of Murcia were positive for Carphedon, a n amphetamine drug on the list of banned substances similar to Bromatan. His contract with Team Gerolsteiner was subsequently terminated.

At the trial, Hondo will be represented by Michael Lehner, who also assured the defence of former German athlete and Olympic medal winner Dieter Baumann during his doping case in the late nineties. "I wouldn't support my client if I didn't think that there are chances to clear him," Lehner said. Hondo faces a two-year ban from professional cycling, and the exclusion of a ProTour team for another two years.

Antena 3 takes over Unipublic

The company organising the Vuelta a España, Unipublic, has been taken over by the Spanish private TV channel Antena 3 Televisión. The company's entire stock was bought at a cost of 42 million Euros. However, Antena 3 is reported willing to respect Unipublic's latest commitments, including the TV coverage contract with Spanish public television, who will continue to broadcast the live images of the Vuelta during the next three years.

Unipublic, founded in 1975, and Antena 3 have announced that the operation "will be good for cycling". In a statement to the UCI on Thursday morning, Unipublic has said that it will maintain its commitments to the sport.

Mayo at Clásica Alcobendas

The 20th edition of the Clásica Internacional Alcobendas-Collado Villalba will get underway on Saturday, May 7, 2005 and finish one day later with an individual time trial. Thirteen teams will participate, including Euskaltel-Euskadi, who will bring last year's winner of the event, Iban Mayo. For the Basque climber, whose season's goal lies in July at the Tour de France, the race should be indicating his current form.

Further 'big names' at this year's Clásica Alcobendas include Igor Astarloa, Sergio Paulinho, Félix Cárdenas, David Moncoutié, Luis Pérez, Angel Luis Casero, Tony Colom, Paco Mancebo, Martín Perdiguero, Santiago Botero and Juan Carlos Domínguez. The thirteen participating teams are: Euskaltel-Euskadi, Andalucía-Paul Versan, Barloworld-Valsir, Cofidis, Comunidad Valenciana, Illes Balears-Caisse D´Epargne, Kaiku, Liberty Seguros-Würth Team, Milaneza-Maia, Phonak Hearing Systems, Relax-Fuenlabrada, Saunier Duval-Prodir and Team LPR.

The stages

Stage 1 - Saturday, May 7, 2005: Alcobendas - Puerto De Navacerrada, 170 km
Stage 2 - Sunday, May 8, 2005: Collado Villalba-Collado Villalba, 78,4 km
Stage 3 - Sunday, May 8, 2005: Alcobendas - Alcobendas, 14,2 km ITT

Liquigas-Bianchi in Austria

The Italian Liquigas-Bianchi team will participate in the Uniqa Classic, an Austrian stage race scheduled from May 2-5, 2005. Team manager Roberto Damiani will line up Kjell Carlström, Matej Mugerli, Enrico Gasparotto, Devis Miorin and Marco Righetto.

Top class races continue North

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

There is no doubt that in the last number of weeks, organisers of cycling events have been certainly providing top class races, north, south east and west. With the FBD Insurance 8-day event, three weeks down the road, the fare this weekend will not be found wanting. Top of the bill will be the Tour of the North which rolls off the stating ramp on Saturday in Craigavon courtesy of Maurice Bann-Lavery. Whilst the Corkman Three-Day is being organised by the Kanturk Credit Union Cycling Club with Dan Curtain holding the reins as organiser.

Both Bann-Lavery and Curtain are oversubscribed with entrants because of the impending ‘Ras.’ "It is important that we afford the entrants with stiff competition over the Bank Holiday weekend of racing. The competitors who intend competing in the upcoming ‘Ras’ will have their fitness tested and rightly so," said Bann-Lavery.

Last Sunday’s Murphy & Gun Shay Elliott obviously was a tried and trusted race of fitness which left more questions than answers. It was a race dominated by the visitors with victory going to Kevin Dawson ahead of his team mate John Tanner with best placed Irishman, David McCann in third place.

McCann now spends more time racing in various parts of the globe than on the home patch. He was the winner of the ‘Ras’ last year, but because of his commitments with his club Giant Asia, he will miss the premier event on the Irish calendar and will also miss the Northern event this weekend.

It was the Planet X team that were by far the best in the ‘Elliott’ and with a change of format, they still could the business in the Tour of the North with Tommy Evans as leader. He is a former winner, but the real dangers in the race will be Andrew Roche from the Isle of Man, Brian Keane of the All Systems/Dublin Wheelers, Martin O’Loughlin representing the Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers CC and Paul Griffin of the West Clare Selection. Not to forget about Michael Hennessy of the Cork team, who just could do the business as he has been very close to getting his wheel across the line first in recent weeks.

The Tour of the North will pass through the following tows on its loop from Craigavon to Craigavon:

Stage 1 - Saturday April 30:
Start Craigavon (12.00), Moira (12.08), Glenavy (12.28), Crumlin (12.35), Antrim (12.56), Randalstown (13.07), Ballyronan (13.44), Coagh (13.58), Stewartstown (14.13), Portadown ( 14.53), Finish Craigavon (15.03) - 76 miles

Stage 2 -Sunday May 1:
Start Craigavon (12.00), Moira (12.08), Glenavy (12.28), Crumlin (12.35), Antrim (12.56), Randalstown (13.07), Tobermore (13.57), Draperstown (14.06), Moneyneaney (14.12), Feeny (14.37), Claudy (14.49), Dunemana (15.11), Ballinskeagh (15.21), Finish Strabane. (15.31) - 88 miles

Stage 3 - Monday May 2:
Start 9am Strabane Circuit Time Trial based on the Canal Basin, Finish 10.45am - 2 miles

Stage 4 - Monday May 2:
Start Strabane (13.01), Douglas Bridge (13.13), Plumbridge (13.36), Gortin (13.43), Rouskey (13.54), Greencastle (14.08), Cookstown (14.42), Tullyhogue (14.51), Stewartstown (14.57), Portadown (15.36), Finish Craigavon (15.46) - 69 miles

Drapac - Porsche Team ride this Sunday

The Melbourne, Australia-based Drapac - Porsche Development Program is offering its supporters and the public the opportunity to enjoy a ride and a coffee/chat with the team members this Sunday morning (May 1, 2005). Team members and management will be meeting at Café Racer (Marine Parade St Kilda) at 8:00 am on that day and departing on a leisurely 45 kilometre return ride to Mordialloc. The ride will return to Café Racer for coffee at an estimated time of 10:00 am. The pace of the ride will be under strict control and will be kept to a comfortable speed to enable everybody to enjoy the outing.

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