Latest Cycling News for February 21, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Teams recon Het Volk
The Omloop Het Volk on Saturday, February 26, marks the opening race on the Belgian calendar and kicks off the two month long northern classics season. Many teams typically choose to reconnoitre the parcours of Het Volk several days before the race, in order to re familiarise themselves with the innumerable twists and turns that make up the course and the unbridled joy of riding over lots of cobbles.
The race was cancelled last year due to snow, and organisers will be crossing their fingers that the weather will be kinder this year. The forecast for the next few days is generally positive, if a little ambiguous: "variable cloudiness, dry or risk of snow showers" with temperatures hitting a balmy 3 degrees during the heat of the day. But this being Belgium, anything can happen and probably will, all within 10 minutes of each other.
The top Belgian team this season has been Davitamon-Lotto, which has been winning left, right and centre with its posse of sprinters and one day specialists. They will ride the parcours on Wednesday, starting from Deinze and taking in the hill zone and various other crucial points. The team for Saturday is Peter Van Petegem, Tom Steels, Nico Mattan, Johan Vansummeren, Wim Vansevenant, Aart Vierhouten, Leon van Bon and Robbie McEwen.
Arch-rivals Quick.Step will ride the parcours on Tuesday morning, starting from Gent. Led by Tom Boonen, Quick.Step will ride the entire route with the exception of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Also down for a Tuesday recon are the boys from MrBookmaker.com-SportsTech, with Frank Vandenbroucke present in an instructional role, as he will not race on Saturday.
The cyclo-crosser of the 2004-2005 season is without doubt Belgian Sven Nys. With 25 wins to his credit, including a Belgian and World Championship, UCI number one and overall victories in the World Cup, Superprestige and Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden series, Nys won everything there was on offer. His fifth Superprestige series title in Vorselaar on Saturday was a record. It was by far his best season as a 'crosser and fittingly, he won yesterday's Sluitingsprijs in Oostmalle, the final race of the season.
"This is a serious achievement, one that I'm really proud of," said Nys after his 'grand slam' of wins. "Actually it's a little disappointing that it's over. I could have gone on for another month."
Nys' technique is one of the best of any 'crosser, and he makes it seem smooth and effortless, even though the reality might be different. "Easy? You should feel my back. It's nearly broken!" he said, before recalling his race in Oostmalle which he won by 44 seconds. "It was a very difficult parcours to ride in front for the whole time, but I quickly had a half a minute gap, and that is a lot on this circuit."
Although it will be difficult to repeat his successes next season, it's clear that Nys will again be the man to beat come September.
Related story: 2004 interview with Sven Nys
Eufemiano Fuentes quits
Spanish sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes announced in today's Diario Vasco his decision to retire from his profession. Citing health and family problems, Fuentes said, "I have left in a drastic fashion all of my professional activity at the sporting level. And I have done it because of serious family problems. I have left Kelme and all the people associated with it. My life is going to travel on other roads for some years and I will dedicate myself to investigating 400 cases of retinoblastoma cancer in the Instituto del Cáncer de Canarias, cases that have been found in South America. I'm not quitting because I'm in the public eye. I'm quitting because I need to be closer to my family.
Fuentes began full time work as Kelme's team doctor in September 2003, and was subsequently named by Jesus Manzano as one of those overseeing the team's alleged doping program. Fuentes denied this and gave evidence in the Manzano case to that effect. But the case appears to have reached a dead end now, as only mutual accusations exist on both sides.
Neil Stephens analyses the Tour - Part II
From Briançon to Paris
A veteran of seven Tours de France, Australian Neil Stephens has a very good idea of what it takes to complete La Grande Boucle. Now employed as a Tour guide and Professional Cycling Coordinator within the Australian Sports Commission, 'Stevo' provides Cyclingnews with his unique take on the 2005 race route, spiced with plenty of his own experiences of Tours gone by. In the second part of his analysis, Stephens looks at stages 12-21, from Briançon to Paris.
Stage 12 - Thursday, July 14: Briançon - Digne-les-Bains, 187 km
Another hard day and with a couple of days of mountain stages under the belt, I think you will see a lot of riders having a hard time today. To make things worse, today being Bastille day (the National day for the French) every French rider with any sense of National pride will attack, hoping that he will have the nation on its feet as he takes out the stage victory on their special day.
Truth is that every time one French rider attacks, another one gets jealous and chases him down. Result, nine out of ten, a non-French rider takes the stage win on Bastille Day.
Click here for the full story.
Visconti on the mend
Giovanni Visconti (Domina Vacanze) is well on the way to recovery after fracturing his collarbone recently. The young Sicilian had an operation in Lucca to pin the bone and has been given the OK by doctors to resume training from tomorrow.
Boubnenkova prepares in Liguria
Russian Svetlana Boubnenkova, together with her PMB Fenixs teammates Elena Eifler, Alexandra Noehles, Vanessa Saccomani, Elena Shalaeva, Vania Rossi and Lisa Ardissone, is preparing for the new season in Riviera Ligure on the northwestern Italian coastline. Boubnenkova and co. will ride the roads that will be used for La Primavera Rosa - the first European women's World Cup - in a month's time.
"I'm pleased with how I am going in training, because my teammates and I have found the climate here in Liguria to be exceptional," said 'la Bouba'. "We have done some excellent preparation because we did not miss even one day of training."
PMB Fenixs will finish its Ligurian sojourn by starting in the Granfondo for the Trofeo Aliparma, in Arma di Taggia this Sunday.
Lithuanian cyclist Edita Pucinskaite has been given a "career recognition" award at the Festa dello Sport in Montecatini Terme on Sunday, February 20. Pucinskaite received the award in the presence of current and former Italian technical directors Franco Ballerini and Alfredo Martini, who was also celebrating his birthday. "A champion powerful and implacable, she has returned honour to our sport with her personal qualities of courtesy, sensibility and elegant femininity," said Martini. "There remain indelible memories of the yellow parade in Paris and the rainbow jersey in Verona [1999 - ed.]. An extremely positive image for the whole sporting world."
In her acceptance speech, Puncinskaite was very moved. "To be awarded today, in front of these important people is for me a great satisfaction; I am almost incredulous. I think that organisers to have thought of me, above all Ivo Faltoni, and the great Alfredo Martini who has always had sweet words and taken care of me. I want to take this prize also as a recognition for the whole movement of women's cycling, that is slowly growing to find a real place in the international panorama."
Cyclingnews teams database almost complete
The UCI's cycling reform has doubled the number of sets of men's and women's teams in 2005, especially with the plethora of Continental teams that make up the five different Continental Tours. Cyclingnews' teams database manager Théo Muller has recently updated the list to include the riders from almost all of the UCI teams racing this year. Each team has a complete rider roster with birthday, nationality, previous team and UCI ranking at the end of last year, together with the team's contact details and main staff. Don't leave home without it!
Click here for the full Cyclingnews teams database.
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