First Edition Cycling News for January 3, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Coppi commemorated 45 years on
Damiano Cunego wins 2004 Fausto Coppi-bici d'oro prize
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
On a bright, sunny winter Sunday afternoon, over a hundred people gathered at the grave of Fausto Coppi and his brother Serse in Castellania, Italy on the 45th anniversary of his death for a ceremony to pay homage to il Campionissimo. Among the people present were former teammates of Fausto Coppi such as Ettore Milano and 77 year old Valeriano Falsini of Figline Valdarno, who was the teammate of Coppi in 1951 and 1952. Falsini, who has ridden his team issue Bianchi bicycle from his home in Tuscany for each of the last 45 years, explained that, "It's my way to honour a friend who was also the greatest champion ever in Italian sport. Until I can't do it anymore, I'll be here with him every January second, to pedal with him again. (Coppi) is one man alone in the lead even in our memories."
Coppi still has the greatest palmares of any Italian racing cyclist ever. Coppi won the Tour de France twice (1949-52) and the Giro d'Italia five times (1940-47-49-52-53). Coppi took his first Giro win in 1940 at 21 while riding as a gregario for Gino Bartali, and went on to set a new World Hour Record on the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milano (45.871km) that stood for 14 years until broken by Jacques Anquetil. Coppi still co-holds the Giro d'Italia win record at five with Eddy Merckx and Alfredo Binda and his post-WW2 Giro and Tour De France duels with Bartali captured the imagination of a war-torn Italy.
Coppi was also controversial because he left his wife to live with Giulia Occhini, the infamous Dama Bianca ("the lady in white"). Among Coppi's other major wins were the World Championships in 1953, Giro di Lombardia (five times), Milano-San Remo (three times) and Paris-Roubaix (once). On a cycling and hunting trip to Africa in late 1959, the forty year old Coppi contracted malaria but it was not diagnosed in a timely manner and so il Campionissimo passed to the great peloton in the sky.
Today, after a memorial mass celebrated by parish priest Don Giuseppe Lorenzi, the tourism consortium of Terre di Fausto Coppi and the Gazzetta dello Sport awarded the Fausto Coppi-bici d'oro prize for 2004 to Damiano Cunego, winner of the Giro d'Italia at 22 years old this season, currently ranked #1 in the world and currently the Italian rider most likely to inherit the mantle of Fausto Coppi.
Liberty adds Würth
Germany company Würth will co-sponsor Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team in what is reportedly a four year €10 million deal according to Diario Vasco. Würth has previously been involved with Saiz's ONCE team, as well as sponsoring a top Spanish amateur team.
Roberts keeps the data flowing to Denmark
By Gerard Knapp
Among the top Australian professional riders present in Tasmania for the Launceston International Classic was CSC's new hiring for 2005, Athens gold medallist Luke Roberts. The classy endurance trackie had been putting away some solid race wins on the road for the German team ComNet and in 2005, he is looking forward to his first season in a division 1 (ProTour) team.
He told Cyclingnews that he thought he'd known exhaustion before at the end of a tough bike race, but nothing prepared him for the military training exercises and sleep deprivation. Ultimately, he believes he will be a stronger rider for the experience, if only for the development of his mental endurance and self-belief.
However, Riis doesn't simply dispatch his troops back to all corners of the globe and hope they turn up fresh for the season. While training in Australia, Roberts is using an SRM power measurement system on every ride. Sensors in the crank arms of his bike relay information to a small receiver mounted on his handlebars. After each ride, Roberts connects this receiver to his laptop computer and then emails the data back to Riis in Denmark, who can see exactly how hard his new star recruit has been riding.
It allows rider and director to precisely plan their training, so he can peak at exactly the right time, and for Roberts, it seems he is aiming to be in top shape for this year's Giro d'Italia.
Images by Gerard Knapp/Cyclingnews
Di Grande and Duma to Volksbank
Giuseppe Di Grande (Formaggi Pinzolo) and Vladimir Duma (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will ride for the Austrian Volksbank continental team this season. The team has ambitions to become a professional outfit in 2006.
One of France's top riders last season, Thomas Voeckler, has been elected "Ambassador of Alsatian Sport" by l'Alsace newspaper. Voeckler, who last year rode for Brioches la Boulangère, said that despite his association with Martinique, he feels Alsatian. "This makes me happy, especially after everything I have done this summer. I am Alsatian by origin, I lived there seven years, I feel Alsatian. As long as I have all my family here, I feel at home."
Olympians Muenzer and Barry win Canadian Cyclist awards
Canadian Cyclist has announced the winners of the 2004 Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards, as chosen by the readers of its magazine and website.
The women's award went to Lori-Anne Muenzer (Edmonton, Alberta), who began 2004 with a bronze medal at the Track World Championships in the Match Sprint, took bronze (Sprint) and silver (500m) medals at the World Cup Final, and repeated as National champion in the Sprint and 500 Metre Time Trial. However, it was her amazing performance at the Olympic Games, winning Canada's first ever Olympic Gold medal in cycling, in the Sprint competition, which really put Lori-Ann in the history books.
Lori-Ann is the first ever track cyclist to win a Canadian Cyclist of the Year award, and she had to beat out two former CC Award winners to take the title - last year's winner, Marie-Helene Premont (who won a silver medal in Athens, plus finished second overall in the World Cup overall standings), and Alison Sydor (4th at the Olympics, Bronze medal at the World Championships, and 3rd overall in the international world rankings).
With two days of voting remaining, Lori-Ann led Marie-Helene by a mere six votes, and the final tally saw the Olympic champion win by just 2.5% of the votes cast - 45.6% to Premont's 43.1%. Sydor finished third with 11% of the votes submitted.
Muenzer was also successful in winning the Best Individual Performance award for her ride at the Olympics. She took a whopping 45.9% of the votes cast for her gold medal ride. By comparison, Marie-Helene Premont (Olympic silver medal) and Charles Dionne (San Francisco T-mobile International road race) tied for a distant second, each with 14.5% of ballots cast.
The men's Canadian Cyclist of the Year went to Michael Barry (Toronto, Ontario). In 2003, Barry finished seventh in the men's road race at the World Championships in Hamilton, Ontario, and won the Canadian Cyclist Best Individual Performance award. In 2004, he proved that his breakthrough performance in Hamilton was no fluke, by finishing seventh in the Championship of Zurich World Cup, by riding as a member of the U.S. Postal squad at the Vuelta España which won the Team Time Trial stage, and by finishing 32nd in the Olympic road race, after a solo attack in the final kilometres, which could have garnered him a bronze medal (Belgian Axel Merckx, who counter-attacked after Barry was brought back, did stay away to take the bronze medal). Barry is the highest ranked Canadian rider in the men's UCI rankings, and recently re-signed with Lance Armstrong's Discovery cycling team.
Throughout the balloting, Barry was closely trailed by Geoff Kabush, winner of the Norba National series, and national cyclo-cross champion. Barry finished with 37.5% of the vote, followed by Kabush at 33.9%. National road champion Gord Fraser was third (20.2%), and Olympian Seamus McGrath received 8.4% of votes cast.
Cycling club puts in for tsunami victims
One of Australia's most prominent cycling clubs, Carnegie Caulfield in Melbourne, Victoria, used the first race of 2005 as an opportunity to race for something more important than prize money.
Mal Sawford from the CCCC said, "In response to the tsunami tragedy in South East Asia, and at the suggestion of members, the entire entry pool from the day's racing was donated to the Red Cross Australia's Asia Quake and Tsunami Appeal."
He said that 148 riders raced, all donating their $5 entry to the appeal, with many choosing to contribute a little extra. Including contributions from spectators and officials, the total raised was $900, but this was then boosted to the AUS$1000 mark when Robert Crowe, a 1992 Barcelona Olympian, kicked in a further $100, even though he couldn't attend the races.
Sawford said, "Despite the fact there were no prizes on offer, racing was thrilling to watch with every rider still desperate to record a win on this special day. Former Australian champion Robert Tighello (Richmond Cyclery) came up trumps in the elite men's race, while Kirsty Bortolin (The Freedom Machine) sprinted to a win in the premier women's event.
The CCCC regularly attracts many leading visiting professionals to Melbourne, keen for a hit-out in a quality Criterium.
Also, organisers of the Devonport round of the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, held a minute's silence during the events to remember those lost in the incomprehensible tragedy (now estimated to be 150,000), and then groups of school-children circulated in the crowd collecting money for charities.
Sydney Body Art Ride to raise money for cancer
The first Sydney Body Art Ride will take place on February 13, 2005. The ride will involve a large group of people, adorned with body art, riding their bikes from Randwick to Maroubra Beach (approximately 30 minutes) to raise funds for the Children's Cancer Institute Australia and promote healthy, sustainable living. The ride is also supporting the Lord Mayor of Sydney's proposal to create a true alternative transport system for Sydney through the construction of cycle ways along all major railway lines.
The organisers will also attempt to break the world record for the largest ever group of painted people, and have free paint and a large team of trained make-up artists to apply it. The painted riders will be followed by riders wearing various other forms of body art, bike clothes, uniforms, swimwear, costumes, fancy dress, jewellery etc., and there will be prizes in all categories. The event is sponsored by FBI Radio and GT bikes, two of which can be won as prizes.
More information: www.sydneybodyartride.org
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)