First Edition Cycling News for January 4, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Dmitri Neliubin killed on New Year's Day
By Sergey Kurdyukov, Russian Eurosport commentator
Former Russian pro Dmitri Neliubin has been killed in a fight on the night of New Year's Day. Late in the evening on January 1, 2005, he and his friends came out to join the New Year celebrations (a couple of years ago a tradition was born in Russia to spend an hour or two outdoors, launching fireworks). It was there that they ran into a large gang of drunk men whose identities are yet to be determined. In the fight that broke out, one of the criminals stabbed Neliubin with a knife. Many sporting fans are sure to remember a similar drama that involved Alexander Popov. The surgery saved the legendary swimmer's life. Neliubin was not so lucky this time: he died in hospital a few hours later.
The news came as a shock to everyone who knows even a little of modern cycling history. Perhaps those who follow every mile of professional road racing only, are very likely to have started forgetting this name, although the rider from St Petersburg made quite a valuable team worker during his career as a pro. Between 1993 and 1997 he rode for Novemail-Histor, Word Perfect, Novell, RDM and Roslotto, excelling in breakaways and making the top-20 in one-day classics. But first and foremost he will surely remain in history books as the youngest ever Olympic champion on the track. He won his title in the 1988 team pursuit in Seoul as a 17 year-old boy, together with Guintautas Umaras, Arturas Kasputis, and his long time friend-in-arms Viatcheslav Ekimov.
Ekimov and Neliubin were brought up by the same coach, Alexander Kuznetsov, and the former was first to enter the pro ranks. During the World's in Japan in 1990, Viatcheslav won his first gold as a professional while Dmitry topped the podium of the amateur team pursuit. From 1993 to 1995 they rode side by side, then each followed the road of his own. Unfortunately, for Neliubin it turned out to be short, as he had to call it a day after the breakup of the first Russian pro team Roslotto. He quit at the age when most of today's young riders are just starting to race seriously.
Presenting our condolences to the family and friends of Dmitry Neliubin, we have no doubts that he will always live in our hearts - not only in the record books. These books are bound to be re-written one day; but no one can re-write what is imprinted on the heart.
Phonak parts ways with Freuler and Pino
The Swiss Phonak Cycling Team has parted company with its team manager Urs Freuler and sports director Alvaro Pino, after the two terminated their contracts by mutual agreement. Phonak has hired former Tour de France staff member John Lelangue to replace Freuler as team manager in an attempt to win its way back into the ProTour after it was denied a licence following the Hamilton/Perez doping affair.
"I have known John Lelangue for several years," said Phonak's boss Andy Rihs in a statement. "He makes sure the team will quickly get more international attention, respect, and recognition." Lelangue, 34, already has considerable experience in an organisational role, having worked for the Belgian Olympic Committee before switching to the Tour de France organisation, where he has been for the past ten years. He is also a certified cycling coach and speaks five languages.
Lelangue will immediately start looking for a new sports director, who is expected to be named at the team's training camp in Mallorca by mid-January. One of his main tasks will be to lobby for as many wild card race entries as possible, so that Phonak compete on the level of the other ProTour teams this year. Lelangue will also do his utmost to obtain a ProTour licence for the team in 2006 as well as finding a new main sponsor.
Since the news that Phonak's star riders Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez tested positive for blood doping, and Oscar Camenzind for EPO, the team has lost six of its riders and staff: Hamilton, Perez, Camenzind, Freuler, Pino and team doctor Iñaki Arratibel have all resigned or been fired.
Ullrich sets New Year's resolutions
Jan Ullrich has two main goals for 2005: to beat Lance Armstrong in the Tour and to have another child with his partner Gaby. Ullrich flew back from South Africa to Europe on New Year's Eve, having covered 2,500 km in the past three weeks, and spoke to Bild about the forthcoming season.
Ullrich's principal aim is to end Lance Armstrong's winning run in the Tour de France, subject to the condition that the American will race it this year. But Ullrich is not worried about acquiring a reputation for never having beaten Armstrong. "That won't bother me later," he said. "But right now I, like many other riders, want to be the one who unseats him!"
On paper the T-Mobile Tour team looks formidable as usual, with the likes of Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov, who have both finished on the podium in the Tour. Ullrich said that if it came down to it, he would have no problem in playing a support role to either of them. "No, the best rider will be supported," he said. "I have no problem with this policy. I already showed that this year. But I know that when I avoid health setbacks, then I can be the strongest"
Speaking of health problems, Ullrich is trying to avoid getting sick this winter, by "staying on longer in South Africa, for example, and not flying home to spend Christmas with the family. My daughter Sarah had a light cold. My partner Gaby still hadn't fully recovered from the lung inflammation she suffered in the Autumn time. So it was better to keep my distance. I know that I am quite susceptible to catching these things quickly."
Ullrich would not be drawn into revealing his weight to Bild, as he said that he hasn't weighed himself in weeks. "I don't spend a lot of time reflecting on what I eat. I just get on with training and eating."
He spoke about the potential addition of another child to his family: "I don't want Sarah to be an only child. Gaby wasn't an only child and neither was I." Finally, he did not discuss any intending marriage plans. "I don't need any marriage certificate," he said. "Spontaneity is a good thing - deciding, at short notice, when the time is right."
Belgian 'cross World's team takes shape
Six of the eight Belgian cyclo-cross riders that will contest the World Championships in St. Wendel, Germany at the end of this month have been named by national coach Rudy de Bie. The leader in the UCI rankings Sven Nys, and the reigning World Champion Bart Wellens are automatically selected, while Sven Vanthourenhout, Erwin Vervecken, Ben Berden and Tom Vannoppen are guaranteed places due to their UCI rankings. De Bie will name the final two riders after the Belgian championships in Wachtebeke this Sunday.
De Bie (and everyone else) predicts Nys will be the man to beat. "Sven Nys certainly," he told VRT. "After him I expect Sven Vanthourenhout and Erwin Vervecken, and to less of an extent, Bart Wellens. They have to try to stay with Nys and try to intimidate him. Only they haven't succeeded in doing that very often this season.
Zabel and Arndt cyclists of the year in Germany
Erik Zabel and Judith Arndt have been voted as Cyclists of the Year by the readers of the German magazine RadSport. Zabel, who finished second in Milan-San Remo and the World Championships, as well as fourth in the Olympic Road Race, netted 36.3 percent of the votes to beat young star and Tour of Germany winner Patrik Sinkewitz (23.4 percent) and national champion and Tour de France runner up Andreas Klöden (19.8 percent).
"I'm surprised that I was able to win this year, because in sporting terms everything didn't go so smoothly," said Zabel. "The RadSport readers have considered my consistency over the years. I'm very happy about this win, as it is an expression of the esteem that I am held in and my successes."
The women's category was practically a no-contest, with Olympic silver medalist and World Champion Judith Arndt netting 86.3 percent of the votes, ahead of German champion Petra Rossner (5.2 percent) and Olympic MTB bronze medalist Sabine Spitz (3.6 percent). "This vote has a lot of meaning for me," said Arndt. "It is feedback from the public, which shows me that they didn't react badly to me showing the middle finger out of anger in Athens."
No Bay Crits for Miller
American Meredith Miller is out of the Mecure Geelong team in this year's Jayco Bay Classic, which starts on January 5, after hitting a car while out training. Meredith was descending a hill when a car U-turned in front of her. Rather than T-boning the car, she managed to swerve and struck the car side on.
With her arm in a cast, torn thumb ligaments, severely bruised ribs and superficial wounds, she won't be able to race this year's Bay Crits but has expressed her desire to race next year. "I've been wanting to race in the series, its getting bigger and bigger each year. I read the reports on Cyclingnews and with the quality of the Aussie girls, it's very competitive racing," said the Californian, who races in Europe with the S.A.T.S. cycling team.
The Bay Crits were part of Miller's preparations for the Geelong Women's World Cup that will hopefully see her join American road cyclist of the year, Tina Pic, in the Lloyd Morgan Recruitment team.
Torres to Spiuk
Fernando Torres Martín, who recently turned 26, will ride for the new Spanish professional continental team Spiuk next season. Torres turned pro in 2004 with Café Baqué and is considered a complete rider.
Sentjens goes Belgian
24 year-old Dutch rider Roy Sentjens (Rabobank) has adopted the Belgian nationality, opting to give up his dual Dutch-Belgian citizenship to become completely Belgian. His father is Dutch and his mother is Belgian, but according to Belgian law he had to make a choice before his 28th birthday. "I have deliberated over it for a long time, but I feel more Belgian," he said. "I grew up here and have married a Belgian wife."
Two Japanese continental teams
There will be at least two Japanese continental teams in existence in 2005: Team Nippo and Team Miyata Subaru. Team Nippo, which is based in Italy, has an Italian core consisting of Daniele Della Tommasina, Lorenzo Di Silvestro, Giuseppe Ribolzi, Andrea Rinadini, Davide Silvestri and Eddy Ratti. They will combine with Japanese riders Kazuya Okazaki, Yasuhiro Yamamoto, Tetsuya Ishida, Takeshi Hashimoto and Kazuyuki Manabe, and others Sergio Cuesta Iglesias (Spa), Lukas Fus (Cze), Wojtiech Dybel and Mariusz Wiesiak (Pol) and Der Zsolt (Scg).
Team Miyata Subaru is purely Japanese, and will be led by Masahiko Mifune, with Takeaki Ayabe, Akira Kakinuma, Kazutaka Mizuo, Taichi Moriyawa, Kojiro Nakagawa, Takuya Nishimura, Atsushi Takano and Kohei Tsusue all on board.
Le Tour de Dirt
MTB stage race in Canberra
Australia's Canberra Off Road Cyclists (CORC) will stage Le Tour de Dirt over the weekend of January 15-16. The race consists of national series off-road cycling with three stages over two days, and Australia's best mountain bike riders will compete in round four of the series while local and interstate enthusiasts will contest expert, sport and club categories.
Staged in Kowen Forest near Queanbeyan on the weekend of January 15 and 16, 2005 the stages are designed for spectator advantage.
Stage 1 - January 15: Le Petit Tour
More information: www.corc.asn.au
Last chance to win an Argon18 Krypton FC with Red Ace
Tuesday, January 4, is your last chance to enter our Argon18/Red Ace giveaway competition. Thanks to the generous folks at Red Ace - makers of Red Ace Leg Shave Prep, the pre-shave formula for cyclists and all sportspeople who shave their legs - we've got a brand-new, Dura-Ace-equipped Argon18 Krypton FC road bike to give away in our free-to-enter Christmas competition.
All you have to do to enter is do a tiny bit of detective work to answer one simple question. Click here to go to the competition page.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)