First Edition Cycling News for January 30, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Cross World's day 1: Belgians well out of it
In icy but dry conditions on day 1 of the Cyclo-cross World Championships in St. Wendel, Germany, the usually powerful Belgian squad failed to medal in either the junior or the U23 men's events. With Italian Davide Malacarne claiming the honours in the juniors and Czechs Zdenek Stybar and Radomir Simunek doing the 1-2 in the U23 race, Belgium's best result was Niels Albert, who ended fifth in the U23 event.
Albert was disappointed in his comments at the finish, telling VRT that, "At the start, I clicked out of my pedal. Then I knew that it would be hard. I had said beforehand: Simunek was the man, together with Stybar. On this terrain it was definitely their day."
Albert's compatriot and 2004 U23 World Champion Kevin Pauwels finished sixth, but was relatively satisfied with his result. "I couldn't have been better today," he said. "I gave it everything I had. In the beginning, I was staying with them OK, but then it fell apart."
In the junior race, Stijn Joseph and Jan Arnouts were Belgium's best performers in 14th and 15th. Afterwards, Joseph commented, "I'm satisfied. I didn't crash and I gave everything until the end. The start was hard, but I remained calm. But it is very slippery here, and you have problems staying upright."
With the women's race likely to be dominated by the Dutch, Germans and French, the Belgians' collective hopes will now rest with their armada in tomorrow's Elite Men's race. Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, Erwin Vervecken and Sven Vanthourenhout are all favourites for the title, but will they be surprised by the strong Czechs again?
Cyclo-cross World's coverage
An interview with Alessandro Petacchi
Staying at the zenith
After another amazing year, Alessandro Petacchi has confirmed that he is the man to beat in the sprints. With 15 stage wins in Grand Tours in 2004, Petacchi is always conscious that it is harder to repeat such a successful year, but remains positive, modest and confident in his form. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez caught up with him to see how things are going for him this off-season.
A common sporting catchphrase is "It's harder to stay at the top than to reach it". Italy's Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) seems to have overcome the difficulty of staying at the zenith of the best sprinters in the world. He had a tremendous 2003, amazingly winning 15 stages in Grand Tours (six in the Giro d'Italia, four in the Tour de France and five in the Vuelta a España). He had already said to the press that his 2004 season would be tougher for him, as the previous year was brilliant.
Nonetheless, last year was as good as 2003. Petacchi won 13 stages in Grand Tours (nine in the Giro and four in the Vuelta). And by winning nine stages in the Giro, he broke a record that nobody else had since World War II. Alessandro didn't succeed in the Grand Boucle, but he prevailed in four stages in the Spanish competition, showing that the flat stages in the big races are his.
Petacchi faces 2005 trying to remain as effective and unbeatable as he was over the last two seasons. Apart from the three big competitions of the calendar, he will aim for the World Championships in a country he really enjoys: Spain.
Although he is very famous and successful, he remains as meek as an unknown rider. Maybe that's his secret, not to think he is invincible. Cyclingnews spoke to him on the phone before Fassa Bortolo's recent training camp. The Italian was in Marina di Massa, a small town by the Tirreno Sea near La Spezia, the city where he was born 31 years ago.
Cyclingnews: How is your pre season going?
Alessandro Petacchi: Good, I'm fine. I am currently training well at home. The weather allows good training, it's not so cold. I'm training well. I like how I'm training this winter. I find myself a little bit better than last year.
CN: In which part of Italy do you live?
AP: In Marina di Massa, approximately 60 kilometres from Pisa. It's a very nice place to live with 10, 12 grades [centigrade] in the day. It's very unusual to have two and three grades; one can train well. If one goes to the inner part of the region, one is able to see as many climbs as he wants. One can train well here.
CN: Your 2004 season was better or worse than your 2003 season?
AP: I think it was more or less the same. I think that, like in life, to repeat big achievements with many victories from former years is very difficult. In everything the next year is more difficult than the first one. Because people expect things, the team expect that you have a good season, as the former year you had a great season and everybody thinks it is so normal that you get many triumphs. So, that makes you a little nervous during the winter training. All the people talk, everybody, the media, the TV; they are all waiting for big results. However, this year I take things easily because after very good seasons I train well and I am calm. Everything goes fine, I will do a season similar to the last one. That's what I hope. But, of course, I don't have the crystal ball.
Madariaga comments spark debate
The manager of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Miguel Madariaga, has stirred up more doping controversy in Spain by claiming in a recent interview with Deia that he has "more data than ever to support that more than 80 percent of cycling is corrupted by doping."
The Basque cycling federation has asked Madariaga to explain himself, issuing a statement saying, "If he considers the Basques to be involved in doping, we encourage him to denounce them in court to clarify these concepts. If he says he has data to support his affirmations, we want him to show it in court and put an end to the activities of those that adulterate the practice of our sport."
Another coach suspended in Guatemala affair
Another cycling coach has been suspended in the wake of the Vuelta a Guatemala doping affair, which saw nine riders, including the first four on GC, test positive for banned substances. The nine riders and two coaches involved have already been given suspensions, and another coach has been added to that list. Colombian Josué López, who coached the disqualified winner Lizandro Ajcú, has been given a life ban by the disciplinary commission of the Guatemalan cycling federation.
Largely on the basis of Ajcú's evidence, López was found to be the main culprit in administering illegal substances (primarily EPO and testosterone) to riders during last year's race. He has protested his innocence and said he will sue for a million dollars damages. "I knew that they would put all the blame on me," he told the local press. "I am not at fault."
Bigla: New Swiss women's team
Russian Zoulfia Zabirova and Swiss Nicole Brändli will lead a new Swiss women's professional team named Bigla. The team will be directed by former pro and Zabirova's partner Felice Puttini, and will feature Brändli and two other Swiss riders in its relatively small six woman roster. Zabirova will concentrate on the one day races, while Brändli will focus on the tours.
Bigla is an office furnishing company managed by Fritz Bösch, a one-time president of the Swiss cycling federation.
Saey-Deschacht to continue on the road
Although the Saey-Deschacht cyclo-cross team will disband after the end of this season, the two Belgian companies will continue to sponsor a road squad. "They are all elite riders without contracts and young riders," said John Saey to VRT. "The guys will ride with clothing with my name on it. You could say that they are literally racing 'for a jersey and shorts'."
New velodrome for Mallorca
A new velodrome will be built in Palma de Mallorca, the host city for the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships. Authorisation to construct the track has been granted by the Mallorcan government, and it will be located near the San Fernando sports centre. However, the government is still looking into the legal aspects of building the velodrome there and has yet to set a budget for the project, which will be funded by the government and the local council.
The Cycling Center has announced its roster for the 2005 season. The team, known officially as Cycling Center/Bio-Racer, is made up primarily of young U.S. riders who have been selected to spend all or part of the season racing in Belgium and other surrounding countries. Directed by Bernard Moerman, the CC is focused on developing elite riders and guiding them to the next level. Many who have competed on the Cycling Center team have gone on to race professionally.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)