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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for February 22, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Betts to be expelled from Italy?

Australian pro rider David Betts could be expelled from Italy and the Schengen Zone with a decree of urgent deportation in the next month. Unfortunately for Betts, he didn't follow the proper protocol for foreign visa holders that Italian law currently requires; Betts should have gone to the Questura (Police HQ) in his province of Treviso within eight days of his arrival in Italy to register his presence with the proper authorities who govern foreigners in Italy.

Because of a bureaucratic requirement of which Betts was unaware and inadvertently ignored, the Australian will likely have to leave Italy, which could jeopardize his cycling career. This season, Betts has a regular contract with the Tenax professional cycling team and previously had ridden as an amateur with the Bibanese cycling team, run by Giacomo Gava in Godega S.Urbano, which has welcomed many Australian riders to race in the Treviso area.

"David came back to Italy at the end of January", explained Gava, who accompanied Betts in his gruelling ten hour visit to the Treviso Questura on February 18, "but he hadn't been to Godega S.Urbano, where he had his Italian residence soon enough. First he was at the team presentation, then the training camp in Terracina (near Rome). Last Tuesday, David raced with the Tenax team at Trofeo Laigueglia and it was only last Wednesday when he could return to the Treviso area and get all his papers in order. Last Thursday, we went to City Hall in Godega for the registration, then Friday in the Treviso Questura. But they told us we were too late! I think that this is a little excessive, since David has a valid Italian visa issued in Brisbane that is good until January 2006."

It was a snafu by Betts that may cost him dearly; the 24 year-old Queenslander has now hired an immigration lawyer to prepare his case that will appeal his situation before a judge in the next week. Then Betts will have to wait another three weeks while some preliminary decision is made on his appeal, and while the appeal process is going on, Betts can't leave Italy and can also be arrested.

"I'm feeling really low right now", explained Betts. "In Europe, and especially Italy, I never thought I would be treated like this. I've been here for a while as an athlete, not as a criminal! I spent many, many hours in the Questura together with other foreigners and some of them were not the most upstanding people. Besides taking my picture, they took my digital fingerprints, just like I was a criminal. All this for a simple registration. It really burns me, but I'm not going to run away. If they throw me out, I'll probably have to stop cycling."

Courtesy of Ciclonews.it

Astarloa to undergo surgery

Basque Igor Astarloa (Barloworld) has suffered a fracture of his wrist in a crash at the Classic Haribo on Sunday, February 20. The 2002 World Champion will undergo surgery in Vitoria, Spain, by the same surgeon that treated Joseba Beloki after his crash during the 2003 Tour de France.

Snow and ice on Belgian cobbles

The Berendries
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

The first week-end of Belgian road cycling might again be a troubled by snow and ice, just like last year, as it has been snowing in the Northern European country yesterday. Race organiser Wim Van Herreweghe, who presented the course for the 60th edition of the race on Monday, February 21, has been arranging for an alternative course in case temperatures stay below zero, and has furthermore contracted a bad weather insurance policy.

In 2004, the race had to be cancelled just 40 mins before the start, as the weather conditions had made the departure of the riders too dangerous. The alternative route will amount to only 180 km instead of the planned 201 km, leaving out several cobblestone climbs which could prove too hazardous for thin road racing tyres. "Our priority is the security of the riders, the accompanying motorbikes and the public." said Van Herreweghe. "If we have to, we'll cut the first 50 km or the last 30." The additional insurance policy will keep the organiser clear of financial difficulties in case the race has to be cancelled.

Het Volk is scheduled to take place between Gent and Lokeren on Saturday, February 26 at 11.30 am. Belgian teams Chocolade Jacques, Davitamon-Lotto and MrBookmaker.com will assess the course on Wednesday, February 23. "Peter Van Petegem [who could go for a record of four victories at Het Volk - ed.] and Robbie McEwen are on antibiotics," said Davitamon-Lotto directeur sportif Marc Sergeant. "They are curing bronchitis, but will be OK in time. Axel Merckx and Cadel Evans also suffers from the 'flu. In this Siberian cold, we have to be careful."

Watt relegated in Geelong Tour

By Mikkeli Godfree

Natalie Bates (Ton van Bemmelen) has won the opening stage of the Geelong International Women’s Tour after provisional winner Barcelona Olympic Champion Kathy Watt (Alex Melbourne University Sport) was relegated to last place for riding a non-regulation bicycle. In contrast to last year’s opening time trial where Natalie’s sister, Kate Bates was initially given the time trial win only to have it overturned thanks to a timing glitch, fortune fell in the hands of the Bates family this time around.

With Watt relegated to 87th place, youngster Alexis Rhodes (AIS) moved up to second spot in the stage whilst Alexis’ teammate Amy Gillet (formerly Amy Safe) moved up into third.

The controversy regarding Watt’s bike was a talking point throughout the day as, after the time trial Stage 1, 9 teams lodged a protest disputing the victory on the grounds that Watt’s bike didn't meet UCI specifications. As prescribed by the rules in this tour, only standard road bikes are allowed to be ridden in the time trial. The protest was lodged on the grounds that Watt’s handlebars were positioned too low and she therefore gained an aerodynamic advantage. The rules stipulate that the bottom of the handlebars are not to overlap the front wheel and it was for breach of this rule that Watt was stripped of her win.

For the full report, please click here.

Henderson mines gold in Sydney

Greg Henderson of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis won a gold medal as part of the New Zealand team pursuit squad at the final World Cup track event in Sydney, Australia. It was his eighth career world cup gold medal.

Henderson’s team, which included former Health Net Presented by Maxxis rider Hayden Godfrey, won with a time of 4:09.049, more than a second faster than the team from Great Britain.

Henderson’s New Zealand squad won the qualifying round by a scant .062 seconds over Great Britain, with a time of 4:11.666. Henderson told Cyclingnews after the race that the team had changed its tactics after the qualifying round because they "had been up and down." They decided that Henderson and Marc Ryan would take bigger turns, and the changes obviously paid off.

A day earlier, Henderson also earned a bronze medal in the Scratch Race, the event in which he is the reigning world champion.

Henderson is currently scheduled to race in the NRC season-opening McLane Pacific races, March 5-6, as well as the Central Valley Classic races in Fresno a week later. He goes from there to Los Angeles to defend his rainbow stripes at the UCI track world championships, March 24-27, at the new ADT Event Center in Carson.

World's oldest track event on Saturday

The Jefferson Ford Austral Wheelrace, the World’s oldest track cycling event, will be staged for the 107th time on Saturday, February 26 at Vodafone Arena. With previous editions of the Austral ending in crashes, cries of race fixing, and triumph, the 2005 edition will no doubt add to the folklore that surrounds the Austral.

In 1887, the Melbourne Bicycle Club, then the oldest cycling club in Australia, organised the first ever "Austral". The race was run over a distance of 2 miles (3200 metres) on grass at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with the first prize being a Walnut cabinet containing 152 pieces of silver and cutlery. The event moved to the indoor track in 1912 & 1913, only to move back outdoors again for three events on the board track that was eventually relocated to North Essendon in 1938.

The Melbourne Olympic Park area had two Austral tracks, the concrete Motordrome and the 250m wooden Velodrome that replaced the 1956 Olympic 333 m concrete velodrome. Since the late 70's, the race has been held at various times on the Brunswick, Coburg and Northcote Velodromes. The 2001 event was the 103rd running of the 'Austral', conducted indoors for the first time in 87 years on the new 250 metre wooden velodrome at Vodafone Arena, Melbourne Park. Also, prize money had evolved to exceed $18,000.

A crack field has been secured in 2005 to contest this event with World Cup champion and Athens Olympians Ben Kersten and two time Austral winner Darren Young secured to ride. Both Kersten and Young and programmed to ride of the mark of honour, the Scratch mark.

Recently crowned Australian Champions Joel Leonard and Sean Finning will also be competing as part of the 120 strong field and with former winners of the calibre of Sid Patterson, Danny Clarke and Garry Neiwand, all competitors will be desperate to add their name to the honour roll.

The Jefferson Ford Austral Wheelrace will be run over 2000 metres or 8 laps of the 250 m Vodafone Arena board velodrome. There will be six heats, with the top four riders in each heat qualifying for the final. The Jefferson Ford Austral Wheelrace is also one of the highest ranked National Track Series events, and as such, a large points swag will be on offer to the triumphant rider in this historic event.

The Jefferson Ford Austral Wheelrace will also have a full support carnival including the Vodafone Keirin Series, the Reuters Dealing 3000 Women’s Scratch race and a host of action in the scratch races.

The Drapac-Porsche Cycle Team has also announced two riders, Zak Dempster (17) and Tess Downing (16), competing at the Austral Wheelrace this Saturday night. Zak and Tess won six medals (two Gold and four Silver) between themselves at the recent National Titles and are in good form for the Saturday night racing.

Tickets are on sale at Ticketek (132 849 or www.ticketek.com) from $20.

2005 NZ MTB Championships prepare for World's

The 2005 New Zealand Community Trust MTB Championships on February 25-27 will be the first test of the brand new courses and venue on Mount Ngongotaha that will be used for the UCI World Mountain Bike and Trials Championships in Rotorua in August next year. The course builders are looking forward to getting feedback from riders on all three courses to help tweak and fine tune for the 2006 Oceania Mountain Bike Champs in March and then the World's, five months later.

"It’s also great to be hosting the one-off Nationals," said 2006 Media Director, Graeme Simpson. "We will have two Kiwi World downhill champions racing - Junior World Champ Scarlett Hagen from Queenstown and Elite Women’s World Champ Vanessa Quin from Tauranga. How often do we get to say that about any sport in New Zealand?"

Hagen and Quin won their World Championship medals and the coveted UCI rainbow jerseys within a few hours of each other in Les Gets in France in September 2004. "Having the World Champs in Rotorua is very exciting for New Zealand cycling," Hagen said. "It will make New Zealanders more aware of the rad surroundings we have for mountain biking and I think will help the sport grow and develop here. The nationals will be a great lead up to the 2006 World Champs. This will allow my coach and I to develop a training programme specifically for the 2006 World Champs, making sure I practice on similar terrain."

In the Men’s Downhill, New Zealand’s most experienced rider, John (JK) Kirkcaldie, has had great success on the North American circuit over the last five years. He will face off against young gun, Justin Leov who was ranked number 12 in the world in 2004 and won this summer’s national series. Nathan Rankin had a fantastic start to the season before breaking his wrist but still managed second in the national series behind Leov. He will compete along with up and coming Rotorua youngster Des Curry who was third in the series.

In Elite cross country Mangakino’s Mike Northcott and Christchurch’s Rosara Joseph will attempt to continue their dominance of the recently completed national XC series.

While the World's will be all about the elite riders, at the National Championships there is also an opportunity for the ‘weekend warriors’ to compete in the expert and sports classes from the juniors right through to the over 50’s. There are over 290 pre-entered riders. With the weather promising to be fine and dry into the weekend, Rotorua’s reputation for large numbers of on-the-day entries should be maintained, especially with a chance to test skills on world championship courses.

Not only will Rotorua host the Downhill and Cross Country events but also 4X, Hill Climb and Bike Trials Championships. The DH and XC races are UCI events, which means points (for international rankings) and prize money up for grabs.

The timetable of the 2005 New Zealand Community Trust MTB Championships is as follows:

Friday 25 February: NZ Hill Climb Champs at Mountain Action 1 pm
Saturday 26 February: Subaru NZ DH Champs at Skyline 8 am-3 pm (Practice Friday 25 February)
Saturday 26 February: NZ 4X Champs at Mountain Action 5 pm-8 pm
Sunday 27 February: NZ XC Champs at Skyline 9 am-5 pm
Sunday 27 February: Kaingaroa Timberlands NZ Bike Trial Champs at Skyline 11am

Race Across Florida 2005

Preparations are well under way for one of America's longest one-day bicycle races, the Race Across Florida 2005 on Sunday, April 17. The race will start 15 minutes before the Bike Across Florida at 6:30 am at 1600 N. Atlantic Blvd. in Cocoa Beach and finishes at City Hall in Crystal River. An international contingent of 120 qualified long distance cyclists will race through 14 communities and seven counties, completing a distance of 267.5 km.

The record of the winner of the 2004 bicycle race was set by John Schlitter of Hays Kansas. Schlitter crossed the state of Florida in 6 hours and 30 minutes. The communities through which the peloton will race are with approximate time of arrivals:

Merritt Island time: 6:30 am
Cocoa time: 6:40 am
Titusville time: 7:15 am
Oviedo time: 7:50 am
Winter Springs: 8:00 am
Longwood time: 8:20 am
Altamonte Springs time: 8:30 am
Apopka time: 9:00 am, peloton slows at Feed Zone A
Mt. Dora time: 9:30 am
Yalaha time: 9:50 am
Leesburg time: 10:20 am
Panasoffkee 11:15 am, peloton slows at Feed Zone B
Inverness time: 12 am
Crystal River time: 12:30 am winner crosses the finish line

For more information please got to: www.bikeacrossflorida.com

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