First Edition Cycling News for January 21, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones
Gerolsteiner team presentation
Still water runs deep
By Hedwig Kröner in Gerolstein
The third-placed team in the UCI 2004 classification was presented today in Gerolstein, a town in the forest-covered hills of the Eifel region in mid-western Germany. It is also a mineral water source which gave its name to the cycling team, whose members were introduced to the assembled media in the company's huge stock hall amidst a large number of bottles of water - Gerolsteiner being one of the biggest mineral water suppliers in Germany, the dimensions were impressive.
Back from a training camp in Mallorca, the riders one by one jumped up a couple of stairs onto a spotlighted stage, and team director Hans-Michael Holczer outlined the upcoming challenges and goals of what will be the team's seventh season. Starting out in 1999, the small squad evolved rapidly over the years and can now count itself in the ranks of the world's greatest cycling teams. In 2004, the team celebrated such successes like Davide Rebellin's classics triple, as well as 29 other victories and 47 podium placings, of which sprinter Danilo Hondo achieved a large number and will continue to do so. Austrian Georg Totschnig's top placings at the Tour de France and the Tour de Suisse as well as youngster Fabian Wegmann's mountain jersey at the Giro d'Italia were further highlights of the last year.
Heading into 2005, Gerolsteiner signed five new riders to its roster, among them Levi Leipheimer and Frank Høj. The Danish classics hunter left CSC for the German team "because I'm always really thirsty," he joked during the presentation. Talking more seriously later to Cyclingnews, Høj said he aims at Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen this season, "although it is too early to tell you if my legs will be strong enough to be captain then. I do have a lot of experience with Paris-Roubaix so if another guy on the team is better that day I can always be helpful. But I hope it will be me!"
Høj is happy with his new team and finds it very relaxed compared to CSC. "With Bjarne, we had the training camp and something to do all the time, whereas here, we take things day by day. It's a different philosophy. I do like it because it's much more flexible," Høj admitted.
Levi Leipheimer confirmed the easy atmosphere at his new team, adding, "To be honest, I was surprised. I expected a very strict organisation which they have; everything runs perfectly. But I also suspected a little rigidity and there is none of that, it's very relaxed."
Leipheimer's goal being a top five placing at this year's Tour de France, he will be working closely with Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner's "other" Tour de France GC aspirant. "It takes the pressure off both of us," he said. "But the more we can work together, the stronger we will be. As Gerolsteiner's aim is to place very high at the Tour, the better. If one of us has a chance to hop on the podium, we'll help each other."
Then there's a small Italian named Davide Rebellin who doesn't seem intimidated by his unequalled achievement last year of winning three spring classics in a row. "No, there's no pressure," he said to Cyclingnews. "It's a new year and I find new motivation to win other important races in the ProTour, as I want to do well in the overall classification. There are a lot of races to do now, also stage races. It will be difficult repeat the three race win from last year, but I hope I can win one classic and maybe another that I haven't won yet," Rebellin added.
Soon, he will become Argentinean to represent the South American country at the World's in Madrid. "After what happened in Verona, I suggested to take my time and do it in a more relaxed way. I'll fly to Argentina to get my passport soon."
Watch out for an interview with Levi Leipheimer in the coming days, as well as an extensive talk with Gerolsteiner's directeur sportif Christian Henn.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mani Wollner/foto-grafik-satz.de
Images by Hedwig Kröner/Cyclingnews.com
Armstrong entourage probed
French prosecutor Philippe Drouet of the court in Annecy has opened a preliminary hearing examining the entourage of Lance Armstrong and its involvement in doping allegations, according to Thursday's edition of newspapers Aujourd'hui and Le Parisien. The investigation follows a verification of the Paris drug squad, which examined Armstrong's former soigneur Emma O'Reilly amongst other persons.
O'Reilly confirmed her previous statements, which were also published in the book L.A. Confidentiel, alleging that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs. The Paris court transferred the file to Annecy in the French Alps because of "geographical competence criteria", as one witness in the case is reported to live in the Haute-Savoie region.
Vansummeren Lotto's joker
Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon-Lotto), who was bitterly disappointed not to have won yesterday's third stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, has the consolation that he is now in second in the overall classification, just two seconds behind leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Liberty Seguros). In the coming stages, he will certainly try his utmost to move past the Spaniard.
"It's a pity for Robbie [McEwen] that we lost the leader's jersey," said Lotto's director Hendrik Redant to Belga. "But I can now play Vansummeren as a joker for the final classification. In the early break of 26 I had two men, Kuyckx and Vansummeren. When Sanchez attacked in the finale, Vansummeren immediately joined him. Furthermore, with his second place in the stage he did a great job for what's coming up. Johan can climb and therefore may go fully for his chances."
Quick.Step misses the bus
By Gabriella Ekström
The whole Quick.Step team was spotted riding home from the finish of the third stage in Victor Harbor. It was not a punishment for missing out on the break earlier that day, as some thought, but rather additional training for the riders, as 130 kilometres in the peloton isn't a lot of training for a professional rider warming up for the season.
"We had certainly decided that beforehand," team manager Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews before the start of the fourth stage. "However it seemed as if my riders were thinking too much about that training during the stage, because they certainly seemed to save some of their energy for later."
Having said that, it was obvious that Lefevere wasn't overly delighted with the performance of his riders. "I am being asked how it could happen. Well, they were sleeping. That would have been ok if there was only three or four riders in the break, but it's not ok to be the only team that misses the break. I don't really have a problem with it though; it's they who have a problem. I often hear that they don't get a chance to ride for themselves, because they have to ride for Paolo Bettini all the time. We'll, now they have a chance to ride for themselves, and if they had honour [Lefevere claps his chest] they wouldn't throw it away like this. I'd better not catch anyone of them put hair gel in their hair before they start performing."
Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under coverage
No Tour for Petacchi
According to newspaper L'Equipe, Alessandro Petacchi will not ride the Tour de France this year. The Italian star sprinter from Fassa Bortolo will skip the French stage race in order to participate in the Vuelta a España, which will be a better preparation for his season's goal, the World Championships in Madrid. This year's course in the Spanish capital is likely to finish in a bunch sprint.
Italians waiting for Olympic bonus
Italian riders Paolo Bettini, Cristian Moreni, Daniele Nardello and Filippo Pozzato are still waiting for their €260,000 bonus for Bettini's gold medal win in the Olympic Games road race last year. The Italian Olympic Committee and the Italian Cycling Federation are the organisations responsible for paying the bonus.
It's not the first time that Bettini has been short-changed out of a national team bonus. In 2002, when Mario Cipollini won the World Championships in Zolder, his then team manager Vincenzo Santoni promised the rest of the squad €100,000 for their efforts, but so far not one of the riders has seen a cent of it.
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago to Tuscany
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago is holding a pre-season training camp in Catagnetto Carduci in Tuscany, which started on Wednesday this week. The team will split into two on Sunday, January 23, with part of the squad travelling to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi, and the rest remaining in Italy to prepare for the GP LaMarseillaise and Etoile des Bessèges.
The team for Langkawi is: Johan Verstrepen, Jurgen Van de Walle, James Van Landschoot, Geert Verheyen, Sven Renders, Gregory Habeaux, Nico Sijmens.
Mrbookmaker.com-SportsTech for Langkawi
The Belgian Mrbookmaker.com-SportsTech team has named its riders for the Tour de Langkawi, which takes place between January 28 and February 6. The team is: Camille Bouquet (Fra), Frederic Gabriel (Fra), Benjamin Day (Aus), Jens Renders (Bel), Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel), Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) and Peter Wuyts (Bel)
Two more for Ceramica Flaminia
Italian team Ceramica Flaminia has signed another two riders to its roster, bringing the total to 14. Neo-pro Daniele Migliorati and former pro Guido Trombetta have both been added by team manager Roberto Marrone. Migliorati, 25, is considered an all-rounder, while Trombetta, 34, was a pro between 1998 and 2001, winning the Circuito di Montanes and a couple of stages in the Tour of Burkina Faso.
Ceramica Flaminia will get together in Civita Castellana between January 24-29. Its first race will be the GP Costa degli Etruschi on February 6.
Ulmer and Carter spur on Youth Olympics riders
World and Olympic Champion Sarah Ulmer, together with her New Zealand countryman and current Olympic Triathlon Champion Hamish Carter, paid a visit to Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome to show their support for the juniors competing in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival this week.
"We are here to encourage and support the New Zealand team as well as the other juniors," said Ulmer. "We will be popping into all venues on our two day stay here in Sydney, but we had to come to my favourite sport of course. We had the opportunity to speak at the Team meeting last night and to share our knowledge and experiences and get the team pumped for the upcoming competition. The New Zealand team is just 'fizzing'. They are so excited to be here and to be apart of the event."
The pair's visit to the velodrome inspired some of their compatriots, including New Zealand Junior Champion, Rushlee Buchanan, who celebrated her 17th Birthday on Thursday. She was given the best present of all when Sarah Ulmer lent her a pair of her own racing wheels to use for the evening's bronze medal showdown in the Individual Pursuit.
"They are great Kiwi ambassadors," said Buchanan. "Sarah is there to help us all the time and when I ride with her at club races it makes you feel really special to sit on her wheel. She is a great role model for me and all of the team and I definitely want to follow in her footsteps. Hopefully, her wheels will help me tonight."
Both Ulmer and Carter were quick to praise the AOC for setting up the AYOF wishing they had the opportunity when they were younger. "This competition is absolutely brilliant," added Ulmer. "Most young athletes don't get the opportunity to compete on such a high class facility let alone compete against the best from other nations. I would have loved the chance when I was younger."
Carter added, "The AYOF is a great learning ground for what occurs at the actual Olympic Games. You have to deal with uniforms, rules and procedures, drug testing and traffic delays which all add to the pressure of a big event. It is great for them to have this experience now. It will definitely help them latter on in their cycling careers."
Both Ulmer and Carter are enjoying their break away from international competition and training, with Ulmer still not stating when she will return to full time training, "I'm loving life at the moment. I'm just cruising and keeping fit doing other sports. I'm in no hurry to get back into things."
Cyclingnews will be publishing full results and reports from the Australian Youth Olympics.
U.S. 24 hr MTB Nationals in Spokane
For the third consecutive year, Spokane, Washington will be the site of USA Cycling's 24-hour National Mountain Bike Championships. Scheduled for May 28-29, the Memorial Day weekend event dubbed "24 Hours ‘Round the Clock" will take place at Riverside State Park where national championships will be on the line in six different categories: open men's solo, open women's solo, open men's four-person, open women's four-person, master four-person 30+, and junior four-person 18 and under.
The noon-to-noon 24 Hours ‘Round the Clock will also host several other categories, that despite not holding national championship designations, will provide riders with a fun and competitive environment nonetheless. Two-person, five-person co-ed, solo single speed, corporate teams, police-fire-military, and several five-person open categories are also on the program.
More information: www.roundandround.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)