First Edition Cycling News for June 11, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
UCI drops kilo from Olympic program
By John Stevenson and Les Clarke
Cycling's international governing body, the UCI, has decided to drop the men's kilometer time trial and women's 500m time trial from the track cycling program at the Olympic Games.
The move makes room in the Olympic program for BMX, which will be introduced at the 2008 Games in Beijing under International Olympic Committee rules that allow sports to decide which disciplines will have a place in the program. In recent years the IOC has been extremely reluctant to add new sports and disciplines to the Games, citing problems with the total size of the event. In Atlanta in 1996, the team time trial was dropped to allow the introduction of mountain biking to the Games.
However, the kilo and 500m at Athens played to a packed velodrome while the rest of the 2004 Games struggled to gain momentum. The removal of a traditionally popular spectacle is therefore bound to be controversial.
Reigning women's 500m Olympic champion Anna Meares was surprised and shocked at the decision when Cyclingnews spoke to her this morning.
"We haven't been told anything about it," said Meares. "It's news to me, and it would be very disappointing if they cut an event from a sport that is as exciting as track cycling."
Track cycling comprises two groups of disciplines: endurance - represented at the Olympics by the Madison, points race, team pursuit and individual pursuit; and sprint - now reduced to keirin, match sprint and team sprint. But team sprint and keirin are currently men-only events, leaving female sprinters like Meares with just the match sprint.
"It would make it difficult as the women have only one event to chase," said Meares. "I'd be really mad if they actually make these changes. We didn't know it was in the works, unless they had been discussing it and not letting us know." Meares said she had expected that the men's and women's points races would be dropped to make way for BMX.
David Hoy, father of reigning Olympic champion Chris Hoy, was also quick to express his astonishment at the move.
The UCI has, "removed an event which has been an Olympic blue ribbon discipline since the start of the modern Olympics over 100 years ago," said Hoy in an email to Cyclingnews. "This will completely unbalance track cycling."
Hoy believes the disappearance of the kilo and 500m from the Olympics - although they will continue to be part of the track world championships - is a disaster for sprint specialists.
"Endurance athletes have the alternative of riding the road," said Hoy. "Sprinters now have nothing apart from the sprint and keirin, two very similar events and in the keirin, an absolute lottery as to who will win. Nothing to do with athletic prowess or technique or condition. Just luck. The world championships and Commonwealth Games have little commercial worth with regard to sponsorship. There is now no incentive for any youngster to enter a sport with no career structure. All these years of work for the chance to win one lucky or one team medal."
Dauphiné stage 5 wrap-up: Merckx solos to win
Leipheimer crashes out of lead but not race
Davitamon Lotto rider Axel Merckx has won stage five of the Dauphiné Libéré after a daring solo attack at the mid-point of the tough 219km stage from Vaison-la-Romaine to Grenoble. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) lost the race lead to Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) dropping to third overall behind Merckx.
A bad day for Leipheimer could have been a lot worse, though as the American crashed on the final descent. However Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) convinced the peloton that they should wait for Leipheimer to rejoin them before continuing the pursuit of Merckx, Landaluze and the eight other riders who had formed the early break.
Merckx said he had escaped from a group that was hesitating about pressing home its advantage because doing so would give the lead to Landaluze. "There was a bit of doubt in the group because Iñigo Landaluze was there," he said. "I only rode away from the others then. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't."
Leipheimer said the crash was his own fault. "I was riding hard and carelessly," he explained. "I should have known better. I misjudged a corner and hit the ground."
Leipheimer injuries are not serious and he is expected to start today's stage. Gerolsteiner directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen issued a statement after the stage saying, "I have just spoken with our doctor. Levi has a flesh wound to his thigh but fortunately on first investigation it does not appear t be anything serious."
After the crash, Dietzen said Leipheimer, "got up again immediately. A good sign." Dietzen added that he immediately forgot about the day's results and was more concerned with the health of his rider. "He told me it was not so bad, said Dietzen and added, "Levi will certainly continue [in the race]."
Paulinho abandons Dauphiné
Olympic road race silver medalist Sergio Paulinho (Liberty Seguros-Würth) dropped out of the Dauphiné Libéré during yesterday's fifth stage, citing accumulated exhaustion over several hard days of racing, especially the previous day's climb on Mont Ventoux. The Portuguese time trial champion will now rest before the Eindhoven ProTour team time trial, June 19.
Swiss victory not in Ullrich's sights
Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile team leader and the man who gets Lance Armstrong up in the morning, says he's not planning to repeat his 2004 Tour of Switzerland victory. Just as Armstrong is using the Dauphiné Libéré as preparation for the Tour de France, so Ullrich will be trying to race himself into good shape for his final showdown with Armstrong.
"Repeating last year's victory is not on my mind, it's all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," Ullrich said. "I'm convinced that I am a bit further ahead compared to the same time in previous years. I still have about three pounds to lose but that's intended. Now I must race again in order to achieve a fine cross section of fitness. That means I must convert the strength I have into speed."
Just as Armstrong has been using the hilly stages of the Dauphin to guage his form, so Ullrich will look to the Swiss mountains as an indicator of his ability t battle Armstrong when the Tour de France reaches the Alps and the Pyrenees.
"These stages will give me a chance to test my climbing form. I want to be in front on at least one or two stages," Ullrich said.
Tour of Switzerland team changes
The Saunier Duval Prodir and Davitamon Lotto teams have announced eleventh hour changes to their line-ups for the Tour of Switzerland, which starts today.
Saunier Duval Prodir is dropping Oliver Zaugg, who has a leg problem; Joaquim Rodriguez, over-tired after the Giro d'Italia and Euskal Bizikleta; and Manuele Mori, who has also been rather busy lately riding both the Giro d'Italia and the Wachovia series in the US.
Zaugg, Rodriguez and Mori will be replaced by Angel Gomez, David De La Fuente and Marco Pinotti.
Davitamon Lotto's Leon Van Bon is out of the Tour of Switzerland with what the team describes as a "poisoned knee". Van Bon's participation in the Tour de France is also in doubt. He will be replaced in Switzerland by Bart Dockx.
Armstrong will be ready for Tour
In last year's Dauphiné Libéré, Iban Mayo stormed to victory in the time trial up Mont Ventoux and went on to win the overall. That performance had some tipping Mayo as a serious threat for the Tour de France. After all, Lance Armstrong dominated the 2002 Dauphiné and went on to demolish all opposition in that year's Tour.
But Armstrong himself says it's not quite that simple. "You often see riders do well in the Dauphiné Libéré and a month later they are not so strong," he said after the Ventoux stage. "I have learned not to be impatient. It was difficult today but the real test is a month away and I stay on schedule. I'm trying to gain some condition here, some race rhythm and to focus on the big objective. Everybody is calm and collected and we are ready."
Armstrong looked unusually vulnerable in last year's Dauphiné, but went on to make winning a sixth Tour de France look easy. His Discovery Channel directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel said at the time that the plan was for Armstrong and the team to ride into form in the first week of the Tour and peak when the race hit the mountains. A similar strategy may be on the cards for the 2005 Tour.
"Lance knows that the Ventoux is not his thing. He has had a lot of hard times here in the past," said Bruyneel about the stage four finish. "But the time trial and today's climb were two satisfactory tests. Lance is close to his best. He may not be 100 percent but not far."
Nevertheless, Armstrong concedes there's still work to do. "I would not say it was great, I would not even say it was good. I wasn't good enough today, I suffered a lot and I'm a little bit disappointed. Maybe I was still a little bit heavy for a climb like that by a few pounds," he said.
Liquigas gets ready
Liquigas-Bianchi riders Magnus Backstedt, Mauro Gerosa, Marcus Ljungqvist, Devis Miorin, Gianluca Sironi, Marco Righetto and Patrick Calcagni will spend the first few days of next week at a training camp in Salsomaggiore Terme to prepare for the season's upcoming challenges, the ProTour team time trial, the national championships and the Tour de France.
45th Nevada City Classic
US professional teams including Health Net-Maxxis, Colavita-Sutter Home, Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada, Webcor Builders, and McGuire-Langdale will line up June 19 in Nevada City for the 45th rNevada City Classic, claimed by the organisers to be the west coast's oldest race. The 40-lap criterium incorporates 300ft of climbing on each of its 1.1 mile loops.
"The Nevada City Classic is the quintessential American criterium race," says former national champion Kurt Stockton, operations manager for Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada and a resident of neighboring Smartville. "It's a very difficult course and there's no way to fake it if you're not in peak form. Nevada City is also a great town, and I'm proud to be part of the community that supports this event."
Racing begins at 1:00 PM with events for Junior Men and Women, followed by Masters 35+ and 45+ groups at 2:00 , Elite Women at 3:00, Category 3 Men at 4:00, and the main event for Pro/1/2 men at 5:05.
For more information see www.nevadacitychamber.com
Cascade Classic filling up fast
This year's edition of the Columbia River Bank Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon, July 6-10 looks set to be one of the biggest in the race's 26 year history, according to the organisers. Most major US domestic pro men's teams are scheduled to attend and compete for the $17,000 prize list as are many major women's pro teams, who will be vying for a $7500 purse.
The Master's field has numerous former and current national champions scheduled to compete for the $5000 purse while the category 2/3 race field has already met the 100 rider limit and organizers are anticipating the other fields filling as well.
For more information see www.cascade-classic.org
King of the Mountain downhill next weekend
San Luis Obispo, California, USA plays host next weekend to the Jeep King of the Mountain 2005 Professional Mountain Biking World Championships, a one-day downhill racing event not to be confused with the UCI's official world mountain bike championships.
One June 18 top riders will be available to meet the public and sign autographs at Art's Cyclery, 2140 Santa Barbara Street, San Luis Obispo from 10 am to noon. Riders attending will include Brian Lopes, mountain biking career victories leader; Wade Bootes, 2004 Jeep King of the Mountain (JKOM) champion; Mike King; Chris Powell; Katrina Miller, 2004 JKOM champion; Fionna Griffiths, 2003 NORBA champion; and Jill Kintner, 2004 NORBA champion.
Racing begins at 1pm on Sunday June 19 at the Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo.
For more information see www.jeepsports.com.
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