Latest Cycling News for June 24, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Who will win the Belgian Tricolore?
The Belgian National Championship in Saint-Hubert next Sunday is promising to be a fantastic race. With five laps of an 8.8 km circuit in Libin, 16 km to Saint-Hubert, and then 14 laps of 12.3 km in the Vallée de Poix, the stage for an exciting fight for the national jersey is set. According to some, the parcours is very hard, while others don't rate it as too difficult.
Who are the favourites on this parcours?
Lotto-Davitamon manager Marc Sergeant has got quite a few men ready: Wim Vanhuffel, Björn Leukemans, Christophe Brandt, Mario Aerts, Serge Baguet, Johan Vansummeren. Axel Merckx may not be present because of the birth of his second child, but has proven in the Dauphiné that he would be a worthy champion. And of course there's a certain Peter Van Petegem. As always, Peter doesn't give anyone a look at his cards.
"Everyone wants to become Champion, but remember these are only the Belgian Championships," Van Petegem told the VUM newspapers. "More than likely, it will be a bizarre, open race again. It's one big kermesse, with a lot of kilometres in which the team play is very important. I never got closer than bronze in '98. Often this race has been a sprinter's race, Nelissen won it twice and Steels four times. In fact, I'm longing for a rainbow jersey. I still have three chances to get both of them, because I want to add another two seasons after this year.
"Marc Coucke, our sponsor, wants to win every race. And we have ten candidates. Everything will depend on the race itself. In Halle we could forget about it after 10 km. Sometimes it's over quickly. The only benefit is that with fifteen guys, you can still straighten a crooked situation. I'm the type of rider who is at his best the last two hours of a race. On this type of parcours, that might be too late. I heard it is a nice circuit, not too hard. You can't tell beforehand. In Verona and Lisboa the parcours was supposed to be super hard, but both times Freire won a mass sprint.
"Boonen is top favourite according to me. He is young, strong and smart. He should be able to handle this parcours. Nuyens will be his lightening rod."
"Most of our riders can become champion on this parcours," said Davitamon-Lotto's Marc Sergeant. "There won't be any lack of motivation. It will be important not to get too eager. Even though we have got a long list of favourites, our team will have to ride like a team, because it will be the most fun for others to beat our team in the Nationals."
One of those other team is surely Quick Step. Tom Boonen won't be an unlikely winner on this type of parcours. But Patrick Lefevere also has Nick Nuyens and Rik Verbrugghe, who are ready for the challenge. Verbrugghe is slightly irritated after being left out of the Tour de France team, while for Tom Boonen, being the man to beat for the National Jersey isn't something which gives him sleepless nights. "Everywhere I start I'm tipped for the win; I'm getting used to that," Tom told Het Nieuwsblad.
"That jersey is a dream, but I won't be sad if I don't win. I still have time, don't I? Let me put it this way: the Belgian Championships are a goal, but no obsession. On top of things, I'll have to win stages in the Tour and compete for a full three weeks to get the Green Jersey. I'm not going to ride à bloc on Sunday to finish third or fourth. But if the opportunity arises...
"Our team surely isn't going to carry the race. It's up to the big squads like Davitamon-Lotto to take their responsibility. They are the favourites. I'll see how I finish up. This race is definitely at the right moment; a week after Switzerland and a week before the start of the Tour. It won't be depending on good form"
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago has Bert De Waele, Maxime Monfort, Nico Sijmens and Geert Verheyen.
MrBookmaker-Sportstech will see Johan Coenen, Erwin Thijs and Kurt Van de Wouwer at the start. And Chocolade Jacques-T Interim has Pieter Mertens, Jef Peeters and Frederik Veuchelen. With also Philippe Gilbert, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Stijn Devolder, Thierry Marichal added to this list, it becomes clear that the Belgian National Championships are wide open.
Liberty Seguros-Würth for Tour de France
At the completion of its training camp in Puente Viesgo, Spain, the Liberty Seguros-Würth team has named its nine riders for the Tour de France: Joseba Beloki, Alberto Contador, Allan Davis, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Roberto Heras, Jörg Jaksche, Luis León Sanchez, Marcos Serrano and Ángel Vicioso will all ride, with Jan Hruska and René Andrle down as reserves.
The team is a balanced one and has a number of options for stage wins, including Davis in the bunch sprints, Contador, Jaksche, Sanchez, and Vicioso for breakaways, and Heras for the high mountain stages and he and Jaksche for the general classification. The form of two-time Tour podium finisher Joseba Beloki is still questionable, but he could be a contender in the mountains as well.
Two riders for Liberty's U23 team
Liberty Seguros also announced that Australian Nicolas Sanderson and Malay Ng Yong Li will ride for the next three month with the team's U23 squad. The pair, both aged 20, trained together with the professionals for the first time on Thursday at the team training camp in Puente Viesgo. Team manger Manolo Saiz said that the U23 squad is geared towards helping the development of the sport in Spain and abroad. "Sanderson comes from the Australian team and is another example from the great trove of sprinters from this country, whereas we saw Yong Li during our participation in the Tour de Langkawi: he is the best time trialist of his country and we have given him the opportunity to come to Europe to support the development of the cycling in Malaysia."
Sanderson comes to Würth-Liberty Seguros after winning two stages in the Tour of Japan, and Yong Li, the reigning Malaysian time trial champion, has become the first Malaysian rider to ride for a big team in Europe.
No Boonen in Aalst
The 70th post-Tour de France criterium in Aalst on Monday, July 25, will have to do without Belgium's biggest rider Tom Boonen (Quick.Step). The sprinter, who won the final stage on the Champs Elysées last year, and the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix this year, is asking for €22,000 start money, according to Sportwereld.be.
"And Boonen isn't even Belgian champion and doesn't have the green jersey yet," said one of the organisers, Johnny Van Den Borre. "Then it would be €25,000. That's far too much money for a start in a criterium that is always free to watch. If a specific sponsor will cover it, then fine."
On the other hand, Boonen will ride the inaugural Broker criterium in Diksmuide on July 26, two days after the Tour.
SAFI-Pasta Zara-Manhattan won't ride Giro
The SAFI-Pasta Zara-Manhattan team will not be taking part in the upcoming Giro d'Italia Femminile from July 1-16, meaning that last year's winner Nicole Cooke will not be able to defend her maglia rosa, neither will in-form sprinter Rochelle Gilmore be able to go for stage wins.
The decision was made by the team's president Maurizio Fabretto, in agreement with the riders, staff, and administration. The race is considered the most prestigious stage race on the women's calendar, but Fabretto is protesting against a section of the Italian cycling federation, the Organo Ciclistico Nazionale, by withdrawing his team from all racing in Italy for the remainder or 2005. Fabretto disagrees with the way the Organo Ciclistico Nazionale is being run, some of the decisions they have made in the past, and they way they have treated him personally and also SAFI for the past 10 years.
The team's next race will be the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen in Germany from July 19-24.
Albasini with Liquigas for another two years
Swiss rider Michael Albasini, recent winner of the sprints jersey in the Tour de Suisse, has re-signed with the Liquigas-Bianchi team for another two years. Albasini, a former European U23 champion who turned pro in 2003, said, "I'm happy to be able to continue working alongside Roberto Amadio and with Mr Paolo Dal Lago. I will try to repay the confidence they have put in me with good performances and always maintain a professional behaviour. In this team I want to grow, improve, and show my worth."
Irish National Championships in Belfast
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The Irish cyclists will be focused this weekend on Dunrod, Belfast, where the National Championships for Ladies, Veterans, Elite and U23 Men will take place. The promotion is a joint venture by Maryland CC and Phoenix CC, and they have acknowledged that the entry list for all disciplines is way up on previous years. The location and the conditions for the participants are ideal, with a balanced terrain which includes some stretches of climbing, and is considered a true championship venue.
The women's and veterans' events are shaping up to be intriguing battles. In particular the ladies racing has come a long way in the last number of years and with a number of them based on the continent, the title is turning out to be a home versus away battle. The defending champion is Julie O'Hagan of All System Dublin Wheelers, who on current form is up to taking back-to-back titles. Lenny Kirk, who scored an unexpected win in the Veterans' Championship held in Westport last year is a safe banker to also make it a double whammy for the popular Ards competitor. Both the ladies and veterans swing into action on Saturday.
It is a who's who in the Elite men's section with the top guns based in various parts of the globe coming back to the home patch in an attempt to win, not only the trophy, but the distinctive jersey which goes to the winner. Particularly if the jersey goes abroad, it can add a few more euros or dollars to the wage packet.
The defending champion is Navigators Insurance David O'Loughlin who can expect a formidable challenge from the likes of his team mate Ciaran Power, the AG2R pair of Mark Scanlon and Philip Deignan, the Giant Asia duo of David McCann and Paul Griffin, and of course there are now the Belgian-based Irish lads at the Sean Kelly Academy, who are gaining plaudits from that neck of the woods. An Irish champion's jersey would put the icing on the cake for the likes of Paídi O'Brien from Banteer.
But, the real fairytale would be if Paul Healion who has just based himself in Flanders was to succeed. He won the Stephen Roche Grand Prix on Wednesday, and according to sources is ready for the fray.
While the majority of the attention is based on the expats, the locals are sure to put in a telling blow. The Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers, Cycleways.Com and the Planet X competitors have certainly got the firepower to usurp the visitors and they'll also in the fray for the team awards.
The form book suggests that it is between O'Loughlin and McCann, with the weighing scales tilting in favour of O'Loughlin, based on his recent performance in the Tour de Beauce Bell in Canada where he won a stage and finished fourth in the time trial.
Don't rule out the hopes of Power, who has been favourite on a number of occasions only to come away empty handed. As regards the locals, the likes of Denis Lynch of Kanturk, Timmy Barry, Dan Morrissey, or Eugene Moriarty from Listowel could find themselves on the podium.
Burlingame Criterium this weekend
On Sunday, June 26, Fidelity Investments Burlingame Criterium will be held in the Northern California, USA town of Burlingame. The race will attract the top cycling talent from Northern California, along with hundreds of children and families participating in the second annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids Ride.
The Pro/1/2/3 Women's race, starting at 1:30, will feature newly-crowned U.S. Champion Katheryn Curi of the Webcor Builders team, who earned her title with a surprising win on June 22 in Park City, Utah. Curi's Webcor Builders teammate, 2004 Olympian Christine Thorburn will also race in Burlingame. Although Webcor appears to be the odds-on favourite, teams like Monterey-based Velo Bella, the Bay Area Velo Girls, Palo Alto Bicycles, and the Dewar's Racing squad of defending winner Cynthia Carroll will look to snatch victory away from Webcor.
The Pro/1/2 Men's race starts at 12:20, and will feature defending Burlingame winner Dave McCook of Jelly Belly-PoolGel, who returns to compete against the McGuire-Langdale teammates that helped him win in 2004. Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada's four-man squad will look to deliver sprinter Jackson Stewart to a repeat of his 2003 Burlingame Criterium win, while Webcor Builder's men's team will include rising start Bernard van Ulden, who placed third on June 21st in the U.S. national time trial championships.
Ryan's Ride, presented by Kodakgallery.com, is a fundraising event and symbol of hope for the Phua Family. Money raised goes to the Ryan Phua Memorial Fund established through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The Phua family hopes to raise $100,000 and make a difference in the psychological, social and physical recovery of Bay Area families who have been affected by cancer.
For more information, please visit www.burlingamecriterium.com
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