First Edition Cycling News for February 25, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner
Sprinters favoured on Sunday in Kuurne
By Jeff Jones
Normally taking place the day after Omloop Het Volk, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne forms the second half of the Belgian opening weekend. It's a different style of parcours compared with Het Volk, and often the hardened sprinters prevail in Kuurne, a West Flemish town on the outskirts of Kortrijk. As with Het Volk, the weather conditions will play a role, and even though the snow will probably stay away, it will still be extremely cold with temperatures hovering just above the freezing point.
After the start in Kuurne, the race heads due east to the turning point at Ninove (km 60), which is as close to Brussels (25 km) as the riders get. The outward journey is fairly uneventful, as nearly all the climbs are reserved for the second two thirds. After passing through Geraardsbergen, but not via the Muur, the real climbing begins at La Houppe (km 91). Then it's onto the Kanarieberg (km 98), Kruisberg (km 103), Oude Kwaremont (km 108), Mont Du Trieu (km 123), Tiegemberg (km 134), and the final climb, the Nokereberg (km 144).
As with Het Volk, there are still 45 km to go to the finish after the last climb, so a regrouping is possible, depending on how hard the race has been ridden up to this point. Following the cancellation of Het Volk last year, K-B-K was a little more intense than normal, and a group of eight riders got away in the closing kilometres to contest the sprint. Steven de Jongh (Rabobank), who relishes cold conditions, won ahead of Paolo Bettini and Gerben Löwik.
The wind often plays a factor in the finale, and this Sunday there are moderate northeasterly winds predicted, which will assist the riders coming home. At this stage, the forecast maximum is -1 for the centre and 1 for the coast, so it's going to be a real race for those best adapted to the conditions.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 58th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne live, starting 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).
Redant predicts tough race
"This Omloop Het Volk will be a race for the bigger and stronger riders," said Hendrik Redant to Het Nieuwsblad after the Davitamon-Lotto team's reconnaissance on Wednesday. "For the last 60 kilometres, it is really twisting and turning. It will be hard to straighten things out that late in the race. If it stays this cold, with frost overnight, this race will be very hard.
"We have trained hard during the reconnaissance. Just on the roads towards Muziekbos and on the Pottelberg it was dangerous, with the ice and snow. But otherwise the parcours was ok to ride on. The last ten kilometres we got some powder snow. If the peloton gets this for half an hour on Saturday, it's a goner. Now only Steegmans came off, he has to ride on Sunday. He'll have to pay the chiropractor a visit but should be ok."
Peter Van Petegem didn't train with the rest of the team as he was in Holland, talking to a lawyer because former manager and friend Cees Priem is suing him for money from the 2001 season. Robbie McEwen rode with the team for three hours Wednesday after a six hour ride the previous day with a mixed group of team-mates and other pro riders.
According to the riders the race will be tougher than it was two years ago. The first half is hilly and thus the peloton will be more active. Towards Eikenberg the Omloop might break open even more. A sprint towards the eighth climb might be on the cards.
Latest weather report
The forecast for the centre of Belgium this Saturday is for a cold winter's day with temperatures ranging between 0 and 3 degrees. It will stay mostly dry but some local snowfall is possible. This, both Het Volk and Kuurne will suit riders with a bit of meat on them.
Davitamon wins through sponsorship
"Our turnover increased from 8 to 20 million!"
Marc Coucke, boss of the Davitamon-Lotto team, isn't afraid of making bold statements. The bad feelings towards Patrick Lefevere and his Quick-Step team haven't diminished. On the contrary, the fact that the Omega Pharma boss lost his court case against Lefevere's company has made Coucke hungry for revenge on the cycling battlefield.
"I'm very happy about how the team is going," Coucke told Het Laatste Nieuws. "The score is now 15-2 [he includes McEwen's criterium wins in Australia]. If Quick-Step wins next Saturday? Well, then it's still only 15-3."
The immediate competition with Quick-Step isn't a priority but it doesn't seem to be something that Coucke is willing to avoid either: "It's easy to say that cycling is about sport and emotions! He [Lefevere] wasn't too shy to send us a bill of €160,000 every month though. In the real business world, our dispute with Lefevere would never have ended in front of a judge; something like that gets settled amicably."
Finally, Coucke was happy to point out the improvement that cycling sponsorship has had on his business. "When Omega-Pharma sell more vitamins, then we know that the team is a good investment," he said. "Davitamon has been in cycling for two years now and the turnover has gone from €8 million to €20 million!"
CSC facing another team challenge
"I spoke too soon saying we were able to train in good weather conditions," CSC's team director Scott Sunderland to Cyclingnews this morning from the team's base in Italy. "Last week it was sunny and 14°c; now we can't even go out training anymore! Yesterday we already could see it coming, but we had no idea it was going to cause such havoc. The hotel manager said this weather is very unusual, but nonetheless it's causing us some worry. This morning, we woke up and we're completely snowed in. I don't know if we'll get off this mountain to get the riders to the airport in time."
Unexpected and uncharacteristically heavy snowfall has turned the countryside around Artiminio into a ski-resort like picture. Although the riders can enjoy the comfort and the magnificent views from their rooms in the four star Albergo Paggeria Medicea in Prato, a small degree panic is starting to set in. "Bjarne is trying to find a way to get the heavy trucks and equipment down the mountain; we'll have to come up with something good quickly I'm afraid."
Team CSC's Carsten Jeppesen commented from the hotel, "Especially during this second training camp, the hotel staff has almost become a part of the team, and their flexibility and positive attitude has been extremely important as the riders are obviously frustrated about the situation, and just want to get on with their training." Most of the riders have had a cold or flu, but still they have been going full gas during the training sessions - weather permitting.
Fortunately for Sunderland and the CSC crew, they did get a break in the snowstorm later on Thursday and managed to leave Prato, expecting to arrive in Melle, near Gent in Belgium, sometime on Friday afternoon.
Basso loses his mother to cancer
Team CSC's Ivan Basso's 49-year-old mother Nives has died on Thursday morning from stomach cancer, according to a report in Procycling. Nives Basso had been suffering from the disease for the last nine months, spending the last two months in a specialised treatment centre in Siena. "I apologise to everyone who knows me and everyone who would like to speak to me," Basso said to Procycling. "I would like to call all of the people who love me, too - and fortunately for me there are a lot of them - but I just can't do it. I hope that everyone understands what we are going through at this time."
Basso's team said in a statement, "All Team CSC riders and staff would like to express their heartfelt condolences to Ivan Basso and his family following the death of Nives Basso. The funeral takes place today in San Pietro, Cassano Manago. Our thoughts go out to our teammate and we would ask for respect and understanding in order to protect the family's privacy during this difficult time."
Superboy set to soar
Cunego 2005 season debut set Sunday
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
23 year old cycling superboy Damiano Cunego will start his '05 season in the Classica Almeria this coming Sunday in Spain. "I'm feeling pretty emotional; I just can't wait to get the season started," he said. "Right now, I'm feeling the right kind of tension at the start of an important season".
Cunego has put in 6000km in training since he started his 2005 program last December and if his recent tests are any indication, Cunego will be even more of a force to be reckoned with this year. On his usual test climb on the Monte Lessini climb from Grezzana up to his hometown of Cerro Veronese, Cunego's power output is up 10% over last year's (2005: 400 watts / 2004: 360 watts) and with his weight at 59kg, that puts his output per kg at the world class level of 6.7 watts per kg.
Cunego explained his results by saying, "I feel like I've done a good job in the build up to my season so far; our team training camp in Terracina was good for me and I am feeling even better now than I did last year at this time. So the Vuelta a Murcia (March 2-6) means a lot, because it will show me my true race condition for this time of the season."
Cunego's diesse Giuseppe "Martino" Martinelli is looking forward to his pupil's '05 debut in what will be an all-important season of confirmation for the Lampre-Cafitta rider. "We have started on a higher level than last year," Martino explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Gigi Perna. "Damiano didn't have to use of a lot of energy to lose extra weight so he could really train more and better. We lowered his saddle by 1cm so he can get used to riding lower as he will in time trials."
Another change for Cunego will be that he and his family will have to get used to new digs as the newly rich young champion has spent some of his reported 1.2 million euro annual salary on a new house in Cerro Veronese.
Lined-up for Lampre-Caffita at the Clasica Almeria and the Tour of Murcia will be: Damiano Cunego, Juan Fuente Angullo, Marco Marzano, Marius Sabaliauskas, Alessandro Spezialetti, Sylvester Szmyd, Andrea Tonti and Gorazd Stangelj.
The Vuelta a Murcia includes the following stages:
March 2 - stage 1: Murcia - Molina De Segura (162 km)
Sven Nys, the "cannibal of Baal" as he is being nick-named after his breathtakingly successful 2004-05 cyclo-cross season, is a wanted man by at least three teams at the moment. Davitamon-Lotto, Landbouwkrediet and Quick.Step reportedly stand in line to make their offers to the Belgian, who will also be enjoying his vacation on the island of Cuba as of next Monday. "I've had talks with Patrick Lefevere of Quick.Step-Innergetic, but Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Davitamon-Lotto are interested," the rider admitted. "I have an appointment with Rabobank manager Theo de Rooij on Friday."
Nys also has plans to participate in mountain bike races, starting on July 17. "Tervuren [the fourth round of the Belgian Championship] is a race that would suit me well," he said. "If things go my way, then I would consider the European Championships a fortnight later in Kluisbergen. And then I'll see if my Olympic dream could possibly become true," indicating that he is thinking about participation at the next Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
More line-ups for the weekend
Quick.Step have announced the following riders for the GP Chiasso in Switzerland: Davide Bramati, Cristian Moreni, Luca Paolini, Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Jurgen Van Goolen and Rik Verbrugghe. At the GP Lugano, Bramati will be replaced by Mads Christensen.
Staying in Belgium to compete at Omloop Het Volk on Saturday will be: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Marc Lotz, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, and Bram Tankink. Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on the next day will see the following Quick.Step riders at the start: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Dimitri De Fauw, Kevin De Weert, Kevin Hulsmans, Nick Nuyens, Sebastien Rosseler and Bram Tankink.
For T-Mobile, Steffen Wesemann, Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Rolf Aldag, Stephan Schreck, Daniele Nardello, Eric Baumann and André Korff will compete at the two Belgian races.
As for Fassa Bortolo, Massimo Codol, Mauro Facci, Dario Frigo, Volodimir Gustov, Kim Kirchen, Gustav Larsson, Vincenzo Nibali and Roberto Petito will line up in Chiasso. On the next day, Paolo Bossoni, Claudio Corioni, Mauro Facci, Volodimir Gustov, Kim Kirchen, Gustav Larsson, Vincenzo Nibali and Roberto Petito will compete in Lugano.
Advantage Benefits Endeavour to race professionally in 2005
As recently announced by USA Cycling, the Advantage Benefits Endeavour Cycling Team will race professionally in the U.S. in 2005 as a UCI Continental team. The team is the successor to the highly successful Milwaukee-based Endeavour Cycling Team that operated as a non-UCI registered team in 2004. Tom Schuler will be the Team Manager and ex-US Postal pro, Robbie Ventura, will be the team's directeur sportif, with Todd Hancock as assistant.
The Advantage Benefits Endeavour Cycling Team, presented by Bissell Homecare, Inc. intends to take the already successful Endeavour program up a notch this season. The Endeavour team was the number one ranked amateur team in 2004, with returning team leader Frank Pipp winning the USCF National Elite Criterium Championship in Downers Grove last August. Pipp will be joined by veteran standouts Brian Sheedy and Eddy Hilger, who are expected to lead the team in stage races. Talented neo-pros Garrett Peltonen, Wes Hartman, Nick Reistad, Brent Bookwalter and Jake Rytlewski will use the season to gain confidence and support the team in any way they can. Two Australians, Karl Menzies and Richard England will further strengthen the team. Finally, two amateurs, Dave Sachs and Graham Howard, will fill out the 2005 roster.
"I've been talking with all the guys over the last couple of weeks and everyone is stoked to get racing," said Ventura. "I believe that our approach of building a strong regional pro team that not only races together but also trains together will give this young team a big advantage this coming season. Our title sponsors are all looking forward to watching this team mature and to see them get better and better each week on the circuit," he added.
The team will be riding Shimano equipped Felt bicycles with American Classic wheels and wearing new Pactimo kits. The Advantage Benefits Endeavour Cycling Team roster is: Brent Bookwalter, Richard England, Wes Hartman, Graham Howard (Elite amateur), Eddy Hilger, Karl Menzies, Garrett Peltonen, Frank Pipp, Nick Reistad, Jake Rytlewski, Dave Sachs (Elite amateur) and Brian Sheedy.
Title Sponsors are the Advantage Benefits Group, the Endeavour Group and Bissell Homecare, Inc.
Sportworks Rack and Ride Transit Challenge
Which U.S. city boasts the most popular bicycle transit system in the country? Sportworks is holding a contest to find out.
Running from May 1 through August 31, 2005, the Sportworks Rack and Ride Transit Challenge will gather information from close to 70 transit authorities on bicycle usage aboard transit buses. Both percentage of bicycle boardings per total bus usage and total number of bicycle boardings will be used to determine the winners which will be announced at the International Transit Expo in Dallas in September.
Sportworks racks annually transport over 12 million bicycles on more than 50,000 buses throughout North America. More information on www.bicycleracks.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)