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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 1, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Freire plans world's recce

Reigning world champion Oscar Freire, one of a handful of riders to have won the rainbow jersey three times, plans to get to know the course for the 2005 world championships intimately over the next few months.

This year's world's will be held in Madrid, in Freire's home country of Spain, and the popular sprinter aims to become the first four-time world champion on home soil.

Freire, who already has maps and course profiles of the Madrid circuit, told Marca, "For the moment I am concentrating on the races of the old World Cup, but once we're done with Liege-Bastogne-Liege I will go to Madrid to see for my self what the world's course is like."

An interview with Tyler Farrar: The next George Hincapie?

Tyler Farrar
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

While American fans speculate on who will fill Armstrong's shoes as the next Grand Tour star, who will take the place of Classics hero and yesterday's Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne winner, George Hincapie, when he decides to retire? Shane Stokes caught up with 20 year-old Tyler Farrar, who is shaping up to be a possible suitor in Spring.

Promising young American Tyler Farrar showed his ability last summer with a glittering run of good form. The 20 year-old Health Net/Maxxis rider took three fine wins in August, scooping the national under 23 title, the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and the national under 23 criterium championships. He also finished sixth in the national under 23 road race in that same, sparkling five-day period.

Farrar's remarkable run of form stretched for several more weeks. On August 22nd he finished second behind Josh Carney (Jelly Belly) and one place ahead of mentor and team-mate Gord Fraser in the USPRO Criterium Championships. Then a last minute call-up saw him line out in the Tour de l'Avenir in early September, where he placed fourth, fifth and fifth again on stages before landing an excellent stage win on day seven.

'I was knocking on the door and then finally it came together on the seventh stage,' he recounts. 'I didn't have a lead out or anything, I was just freelancing the sprints and finally ended up putting myself exactly where I needed to be to win the stage.'

Click here for the full interview.

Bracke out for six weeks

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago rider Tony Bracke, who was involved in a crash with a car in last weekend's Classic Haribo, has a broken coccyx, according to the team. Bracke had been complaining of pain in the area since the crash, which also involved his team-mate Ludovic Capelle, and was examined in Alost hospital yesterday where he was found to have broken his coccyx in three places.

The luckless Bracke - who also broke his collarbone two years ago and sustained a heavy fall in last year's Paris-Roubaix in which he broke his arm - will be out of action for six weeks.

In other Landbouwkrediet-Colnago news, Bracke's team-mate Nico Sijmens has withdrawn from Wednesday's Memorial Samyn - Fayt-le-Franc with a heavy cold.

Savoldelli returns at Paris-Nice

Paolo Savoldelli, the 2002 Giro d'Italia winner, will be back in action at Paris-Nice this weekend with his new squad, Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team. Savoldelli missed the early part of the season with a broken collarbone, but Paris-Nice remains one of his season targets, on the way to aiming for a Giro win.

As well as Armstrong himself, Savoldelli will be supported by Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych and Sunday's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner George Hincapie.

UCI Continental rankings

The UCI has released the first sets of rankings under its new regional points system for pro cyclists. There are as yet no rankings for the top-level riders participating in the ProTour, as there haven't been any ProTour races, but there have been enough races at the next level down for some early leaders to emerge.

Australian Graeme Brown (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) has picked up the most points overall so far this year with his wins at the Tour de Langkawi putting him at the top of the table for the Asia Tour, while consistent early-season riding by Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana) including his overall victory in the G.P. Internacional Costa Azul put him at the top of the Europe Tour table.

For more details see our UCI Road Rankings section.

UCI Continental Tours leaders

Africa
 
1 Sergey Tretyakov (Kaz)                                      45.66 pts
 
America
 
1 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Colombia-Selle Italia             84 pts
 
Asia
 
1 Graeme Brown (Aus) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                156 pts
  
Europe
 
1 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana               112 pts
 
Oceania
 
1 Robert Mclachlan (Aus) MG Xpower Presented By Bigpond       85 pts

UCI announces 2005-6 'cross calendar

The UCI has announced the dates and venues of the major fixtures in next season's cyclocross calendar. The 11-race World Cup series will kick off in traditional cyclocross stronghold of Belgium on October 23 with rounds in the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France and finally the Netherlands on January 22, 2006. The season will culminate a week later with the world championships in Zeddam, Netherlands.

2005-6 major cyclocross races

October 23, 2005: UCI World Cup, Kalmthout, Belgium
October 29, 2005: UCI World Cup, Tabor, Czech Republic
November 6, 2005: Continental Championships
November 13, 2005: UCI World Cup, Pijnacker, Netherlands
December 04, 2005: UCI World Cup, Wetzikon, Switzerland
December 08, 2005: UCI World Cup, Milan, Italy
December 11, 2005: UCI World Cup, Igorre, Spain
December 26, 2005: UCI World Cup, Hofstade, Belgium
December 31, 2005: UCI World Cup, Hooglede-Gits, Belgium
January 8, 2006: National Championships
January 15, 2006: UCI World Cup, Lievin, France
January 21, 2006: World Masters Championships, Mol, Belgium
January 22, 2006: UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide, Netherlands
January 28-29, 2006: World Championships, Zeddam, Netherlands

Distributor plays down Hamilton role in IMAX movie

By Carlton Reid, www.bikebiz.co.uk

The possible fallout from a positive drug test includes a court battle, fines, suspension, loss of career and - for Tyler Hamilton - being 'edited out' of a movie you were supposed to star in. Hamilton's central role in Brain Power, an IMAX film which should have premiered late last year, has been much reduced.

Brain Power is to be distributed by nWave Pictures of New York. In an nWave press release from July 7, 2003, the film is said to explore "the extraordinary processes of the human brain by following world-class, professional cyclist, Tyler Hamilton as he trains and participates in the Tour de France." At a screening of rushes of the film at Cycle 2004 in London in September, Hamilton was featured as the only protagonist.

Fast forward to February 24 and Hamilton is not mentioned in an nWave press release. Instead, Brain Power becomes the "dramatic story of pro-cyclists dealing with the stresses, dangers, and conflicts of the Tour de France."

The film no longer has a central character: "Brain Power will follow several Tour riders as they cope with pain in the high Alps, experience a "fight-or-flight" situation on a steep downhill switchback, struggle to maintain mental focus and wage a constant mental war between extreme exhaustion and their motivation to reach the finish line in Paris."

Two of the cyclists featured in the new cut of the movie - not, it must be said, current Tour de France riders - will be TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

The film is now slated for a November 2005 premiere, with general release in Spring 2006. This is more than a year later than originally planned.

Flying start for young Aussies in France

By Jean-François Quénet/velomania.net

Joel Pearson
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
Click for larger image

The French amateur season has started with a strong impact made by young Australians who have chosen to follow the path of Mark Renshaw and Simon Gerrans, recently signed by Française des Jeux and Ag2r after riding for SCO Dijon and U Nantes-Atlantique respectively.

On the west side of the country, Victorian Joel Pearson, 21, has won two races of the Circuit des Plages vendéennes, a series of eight events alongside the Atlantic coast. Known as a good crit rider, he showed his sprinting abilities and his fighting spirit in the early moves. "I'm more than happy with the way things are going with my new club," he said. Pearson rides for Côtes d'Armor-Maître Jacques in Brittany, the hot bed of French cycling, under the guidance of Jean-François Rault who is a former team-mate of Bernard Hinault and the last ever winner of the 500+ km long Bordeaux-Paris classic in 1988.

But the Aussie bunch is actually led by Ben Johnson on the east side of the country. The 21 year old Queenslander from Noosa won the GP of Antibes on the Côte d'Azur one week ago and repeated his success on Sunday at the Prix Mathias Nomblot near Lyon. Although a few races were cancelled, that one was only a little bit shortened but the snow and the negative temperatures (-4°C!) didn't prevent "Benny" from putting a 3 minutes into his rivals. "It was a very impressive ride," former Festina and Jean Delatour directeur sportif Michel Gros said. After two years with SCO Dijon, Johnson has joined second division club Charvieu-Chavagneux IC where he has found a very supportive atmosphere. On the finish line he was approached by RAGT team manager Serge Barle. He's not only a former stagiaire with Cofidis - winning the 2003 Paris-Corrèze as a helper for Cédric Vasseur - but a real pro in the making.

An interesting future is also predicted to a few other young Aussies who have chosen France as their path to the pro ranks. Matthew Lloyd from St Kilda CC has also discovered French races last Sunday, finishing 12th in the Prix Pierre-Pinel. The 20 year old Victorian was the surprise winner of the Mt Baw Baw stage of the 2004 Herald Sun Tour and the overall winner of the Tour of Wellington earlier this year. He'll be joined at Tarbes-Pyrénées-Cyclisme (Pyrénées? Not a bad choice for a climber...) by Tasmanian Joshua Wilson whose father Michael was one of the Australian pioneers in cycling 20 years ago.

Otherwise, Bernard Sulzberger and Dane Cheers ride for CA Mantes-la-Ville near Paris, David Tanner has joined the prestigious VC Roubaix, Kieran Cameron will again be lined up by SCO Dijon in two weeks, and national individual pursuit champion Mark Jamieson will be the man to watch at VC Evreux from April onwards after riding the track world's in Los Angeles.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for Fayt Le France and Murcia

For the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia - Costa Calida (March 2-6), the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team will field Maxime Monfort, Ludo Dierckxsens, Steve Cummings, Jurgen Van de Walle, Thierry De Groote, Johan Verstrepen, Geert Verheyen, and Grégory Habeaux. Their directeur sportif will be Claudy Criquielion.

For Wednesday's Memorial Samyn - Fayt-le-Franc, the team will be represented by Ludovic Capelle, Jean Paul Simon, James Van Landschoot, Glenn D'hollander, Bert De Waele, Sven Renders, Mathieu Criquielion, and Jurgen Van Loocke.

Theunisse continues on the dirt

Former pro road racer Gert-Jan Theunisse has renewed his contract to race mountain bikes for Power Plate. The 42-year-old, a stage winner in the 1989 Tour de France will concentrate on the long-distance marathon discipline at the European and world championships.

McLane Pacific heralds start of NRC series

The season-long US National Racing Calendar series starts with weekend in Merced, California with the two-day McLane Pacific.

The weekend starts with the Downtown Grand Prix, a criterium on an 0.8-mile loop in Merced and Saturday also sees a fundraising Foothill Century Ride to benefit the United Way.

But the criterium is very much a warm-up for Sunday's race, the 122-mile Foothills Road Race, a long, rolling course that is notorious for exposing riders to windy Spring weather.

Health Net's Mike Sayers is a veteran of the McLane Pacific having won here in 2000. But this year he'll be working for his team, even though he says he's in his best shape in five years. "I want to see the team win both days. Sure I'd like to take another shot at the win, but the team comes first," said Sayers.

Certainly Health Net has three strong contenders in Gord Fraser, Ivan Dominguez, and Greg Henderson, riders Sayers calls, "easily the three fastest in the American peloton". Fraser won both races in 2004 and took out the 2002 and 2003 editions of the Foothills Road Race too.

Other teams riding this year's McLane Pacific include Colavita, Symmetrics, Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada, Victory Brewing, ABG Endeavour, Jelly Belly, and Webcor. 2000 Olympic champion Marty Northstein of the Navigators Insurance team will make his debut appearance at McLane this year.

On the women's side, teams have entered from Quark, Ford-Basis, Webcor, and Velo Bella. Tina Pic, racing for Genesis Scuba, won the road race in 2004 but this year will be in New Zealand for the second round of the women's World Cup, leaving the field wide open.

Top riders return to NORBA series this weekend

The first round of the 2005 Shimano NORBA national MTB series is this weekend in Tapatio Springs Resort, Boerne, Texas. After last year's series was rather weakened by top riders spending much of the season in Europe chasing UCI points for Olympic qualifying, this year's series looks to be much stronger.

Eight 2004 Olympians will line up over the weekend: Americans Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells and Mary McConneloug, Canada's Seamus McGrath, Kiara Bisaro, Alison Sydor and Lyne Bessette and Britain's Liam Killeen.

Other favourites to grab podium spots in 2005 include 2001 World Champion Alison Dunlap. The winner of last year's short track series Dunlap says she's focusing on the NORBA Series and the Sea Otter Classic this year. Dunlap will be joined at the start line by Luna Chix team-mate and 2004 NORBA cross-country series winner Shonny Vanlandingham. Geoff Kabush won the overall series in both cross country and short track last year, while Ryan Trebon, Travis Brown, and Adam Craig will also be strong contenders for wins this weekend.

Just like the 2004 NORBA opener, this weekend's UCI E1 event will use a stage race format to determine an overall winner. Racing begins on Friday morning with a marathon at Flat Rock Ranch in nearby Comfort. Riders will make two and a half laps of the figure eight course for a total of 62 miles. Later on Friday, the three-mile long time trial course which utilises many of the property's horse trails will be the center of attention, as pros, semi-pros, and experts compete in the event's first stage.

Saturday will feature a spectator-friendly short track race that winds around and through the expo area, while Sunday's cross-country competition will close out the first stop of the 2005 NORBA Series with plenty of climbing, rock ledges, and fast single track.

US collegiate racing starts Saturday

US cycling is well and truly out of hibernation this weekend. As well as the first NRC event of the season, the McLane Pacific and the start of the NORBA series in Texas, the collegiate season kicks off Saturday with the first collegiate road race weekend of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) spring race season on the Busch and Livingston campuses of Rutgers University and Johnson Park in Piscataway, New Jersey.

The weekend will draw collegiate cycling teams from over fifty colleges and universities in the Northeast to the New Brunswick area. An estimated three hundred and fifty racers will compete in three events over two days, each racing for points to qualify their respective teams for the collegiate national championships to be held in Kansas in May.

The racing begins on the morning of Saturday, March 5 with an individual time trial at Johnson Park in Piscataway, New Jersey. Racers will test their fitness in an individual race against the clock over the 4.5 mile course.

Following the time trial on Saturday morning, racing will move in the afternoon to the Busch campus of Rutgers University where racers will compete in a criterium, a race over a short course emphasising technical skill and explosive power, taking place by Rutgers Stadium.

On Sunday morning, racing resumes with the circuit race on the Livingston campus of Rutgers University. Racers will test their endurance as they complete laps on this 2.2 mile course with technical corners, long climbs, and killer headwinds.

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