First Edition Cycling News for March 5, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
Reluctant Roche declares for France
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Nicolas Roche, the son of the 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, has declared for France, thus ending several years representing Ireland in major international competitions.
The 20 year old was one of Irish cycling's most promising young talents and was the only Irish professional on a ProTour team, the new super-league in the sport. He finished third in the Irish road race championships last year and also rode well in many events in France, leading to his pro debut with the Cofidis squad last month.
Roche's mother Lydia is French and he has held dual nationality for several years. However, he says that last Autumn he was told by French administration officials that dual citizenship was not possible. He could remain Irish but would then have to surrender his French passport. As he now lives in France with his family and is set to remain there after his career ends, he has reluctantly opted for French nationality.
"The problem is really relating to citizenship, rather than the French federation's end of things," he explained this week. "When you're 16 in France, you have to go to the local town Hall and to sign a paper saying that you are French. I did that, as I was obliged. I have had my French passports since I was born, because I was born in France. I only got my Irish passport more recently. If I was still living in Ireland, I probably would never have found out about it. If I had signed for foreign team, it would be possible that I never found out about it. Anyway, the woman that I was dealing with said I could have been disqualified from any race if I had continued with two. As long as I am on the French list, for them I am not allowed to be anything else.
"I am sad to give up my Irish passport. But I feel that this is the only option. It is different for the other Irish guys racing here because most of them have a background in Ireland, with their families and everything else there. If cycling doesn't work for them, they are going to go back to Ireland to live and work there. But for me, if cycling doesn't work out, I am going to stay in France as my family are here. We are not supposed to admit it, but it is definitely easier to get work here if you are French."
Frank Campbell, who managed Nicolas on several Irish teams including last year's Under 23 world championship squad in Verona, says Roche did not take the decision lightly. "He has been weighing things up the past three or four months. I have looked at it from our side and basically given him all the information he needs. Ireland is in a situation where we do allow dual nationality, but the French don't appear to accept that. And Nicolas is in a peculiar situation with a French mother and having been born in France.
"It is very disappointing to lose such a talented young rider, who has worked very hard and been part of a very successful system over the past two or three years. He was one of the major players for the future when you started to look at future Olympics and those type of events. Personally I am very, very disappointed. I got on very well with him and found him very easy to work with. He is very professional in his outlook, which I suppose is only to be expected coming from his background."
Campbell points out that Roche looks set to lose his chance of going forward for carding, something he would have been assured of given the ProTour classification of his Cofidis team. Roche also says that he has little to gain in cycling terms from the decision.
"I want people to know that I'm not doing it for any financial reasons," he states. "I would have had a lot more opportunities for funding if I remained Irish. There are so many pro riders in France that it is different there. On the other hand, Ireland has so few that I think the country is making a great effort to help those it has at that level.
"To be realistic, it is going to be harder to get onto world championship teams, and who does not dream about going to the Olympics? The World's is every year but the Olympic Games comes just every four years. I am just going to have to accept that unless in four years I become Superman, I am going to miss the Olympics. Going to the games is every athlete's dream in any sport.
"It has been a hard decision. At the beginning, it took me a lot of time to get over it. But now it is done. Between November and February, I was not so happy, because I was leaving behind a lot of stuff that I like. There was a big Cycling Ireland family of riders that I was part of.
"I'm disappointed the way things have turned out. I would like to thank Ireland for what they are doing in the sport and what they did for me as an amateur. Even though my nationality is French and I will be riding for that national team, in the heart I still consider myself more Irish. I am closer to Ireland in my education and in the way I think. I will always be French on the paper but Irish on the bike, even though I'm not going to be able to wear a green jersey," Roche concluded.
Ireland has several other professionals. However riders such as Mark Scanlon and Philip Deignan (Ag2R Prevoyance) and the Navigators Insurance duo Ciarán Power and David O'Loughlin are all in the continental professional division, one rung below the ProTour status of Roche's Cofidis team. They therefore must depend on wild card places to get into major events such as the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Italy. Although Roche is young and will be eased into top-rank professional life by his team, he is pencilled in to ride the ProTour Tour of Romandie and, possibly, the Tour of Germany in the next three months. Irish cycling fans will undoubtedly still follow his career with interest, but the days of supporting a green jersey-clad Roche in the world championships have come to an end.
Related story: Nicolas Roche interview
Still no decision in Bouyer case
Franck Bouyer, a French Bouygues Telecom rider, has been heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne on Friday, March 4. Accompanied by several doctors as well as his lawyer, Bouyer wants the CAS to overrule a decision taken by the UCI, according to which the rider cannot participate in races because he has to take specific drugs to relieve him from his narcolepsy, an illness resulting in irresistible sleep attacks. Components of the drug are included in the list of banned substances, so Bouyer would be controlled positive if he was tested, but cannot ride his bike safely without the medication.
Cyclingnews was told by the CAS the hearing was completed in the afternoon, but the court will deliberate its decision until the end of this month. Bouyer has not been able to compete since May 2004.
Leontien Van Moorsel ambassador at Laureus Sports Awards
Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will sign an agreement to become an ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation next Tuesday, March 8 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. At the same time, the nominations for the Laureus World Sports Awards, which are considered the "Oscars" of Sport, will be made public.
Van Moorsel will become the ambassador for Laureus Benelux & Dutch Caribbean, the regional branch of the global Laureus organisation, which conducts social sporting projects for young people. Other ambassadors include Boris Becker, Edwin Moses, Michael Jordan, John McEnroe, Miguel Indurain, Martina Navratilova, Seve Ballesteros, Nadia Comaneci, Katarina Witt and Alberto Tomba.
The Awards will be presented on May 16 in Estoril, Portugal. More than 550 sports journalists from around the world nominate the top athletes in the following categories: Sportsman, Sportswomen, Sports Team, Newcomer and Comeback of the Year. There are also special awards for Best Sportsman with a Physical Handicap, the Alternative Sportsperson of the Year, a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Sport for Good Award. Past winners include: Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Cathy Freeman and Hermann Maier.
European women's road season begins
On Sunday, March 6, the European women's road racing season will begin in Italy with the GP Castenaso. Many of the most important riders will be at the start of 9th Grand Prix Castenaso near Bologna, to ride on a circuit of 6.1 km for a total of 109.8 km.
Participating will be the winner of last Giro d'Italia femminile and past Junior World champion Nicole Cooke, Italian champion Fabiana Luperini and former World champions Zinaida Stahurskaia, Edita Pucinskaite, Rasa Polikeviciute and Svetlana Boubnenkova. The Italian winners of the Track World cup in Sydney, Elisa Frisoni, Lisa Gatto and Annalisa Cucinotta will also line up. Italian time-trial champion Giovanna Troldi won the race last year.
First stage of Driedaagse cancelled
The organisation of the Record Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen has decided to cancel the first stage between Kortrijk and Bellegem because of the bad weather. Although the morning was fairly dry, it began to snow heavily in the afternoon and the stage was called off after 74 km. There is no news as yet if the stages on Saturday and Sunday will go ahead as planned.
Dutch opening weekend suffers same fate
The snow in The Netherlands has forced the cancellation of the country's opening weekend races, the Ster van Zwolle and the Omloop van de Houtse Linies. The races will be moved to other dates, with the Ster van Zwolle scheduled for March 19 and the Omloop van de Houtse Linies on April 10.
World's richest criterium?
The 2nd Annual Bank of America Invitational is set for Saturday, August 6 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina USA. The race is being billed as "The World's Richest Criterium" with the professional men competing for more than $US125,000 in prize money, and new for 2005, a women's event with over $US50,000 in prize money.
"The success of our 2004 event, through the support of Bank of America, The City of Charlotte and a host of others including the volunteers and 30,000 plus spectators that supported the event, was beyond our expectations for our first year," said Race Director Thad Fischer. "I am particularly proud to say that substantial funding was raised in the support of The Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas. We look forward to our 2005 event along with the continued support in the fight against brain cancer and presenting a world class cycling event here in Charlotte."
Riders from 23 different countries competed in the 2004 event with Ivan Dominguez of Colavita Bolla taking home first prize. Men's and women's teams and riders interested in applying for an invitation can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Illes Balears co-sponsored by Caisse d'Epargne
Illes Balears has announced that French company Caisse d'Epargne will be the co-sponsor of its ProTeam in 2005 and 2006. The National savings bank, third bank of France, has decided to invest in pro cycling with the objective of reinforcing its expansion campaign and its branding values.
Following the sponsorship agreement, the team will officially be called Team Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne for the first two seasons of the UCI ProTour. Its racing programme will of course include the ProTour races, but also most of the Spanish and French races. Illes Balears and Caisse d'Epargne have furthermore announced their willingness to extend their partnership beyond 2006.
Giant MTB team to Trofeo Brescia
The Giant-Racing-Team has left its home base in Raubling, Germany, to start the MTB season in Italy at the Trofeo Citta di Brescia on March 5. The line-up of seven riders includes Roel Paulissen and Bart Brentjens, the current leader of the World ranking and the second-placed rider. The Belgian and the Dutchman announced at the team's presentation on the shores of Lake Garda, Italy, that they shared a common goal: To finish the season on top.
Additionally motivated by the bright light of the two stars, the German team members Stefan Sahm and Kochen Kaess already announced several top results at the national Championships, also targeting the "Bundesliga", Germany's national ranking.
Austria's Martin Kraler, a specialist over longer distances, will be aiming for a medal in Lillehammer, Norway, after finishing fourth at the Marathon World Championships in 2004.
Giant-Racing-Team also includes an U23 rider, Rene Tann. The 19 year-old moved from his home to the team's HQ in Raubling to improve his training possibilities and to feel closer to the team. The newcomer is "one of the biggest talents" to be found, according to team director Ralph Denk. The German National's and the U23 World Championships are in the main focus of his preparation.
Last but not least, Dutch rider Thijs Al has also signed with the team, who aims for a top 20 worldwide placing in the next weeks.
Vanderbilt hosts SECCC
The 2005 USA South Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) on March 19 and 20 will be hosted by Vanderbilt Cycling. The race is the third of an eight-stop series of conference road biking events. It is the club's first ever attempt to put on a cycling race.
The weekend is set to draw collegiate teams from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, and of course Tennessee. In addition to individual honours, teams will compete for points to qualify for the National Championships in May. The racing begins on Saturday morning with the Road Raceón the same course than the loop used for the TBRA state championships, featuring several assents of the Fernvale climb.
Racing continues on Sunday morning with the First Annual Bowtie Classic (the name pays tribute to Vanderbilt's Chancellor Gee and his rumoured 1,000+ collection of bowties). A 1-mile, four corner criterium will be set up right on Vanderbilt's campus. Team tactics will be decisive in what is sure to be a fast race on the wide-open course.
Of special note is the running of an "Open" category for charity. All revenue from this portion of the event will be donated to Habitat for Humanity through the Habitat Bicycle Challenge. Club member Paul Jabour has committed his summer to join 90 other students to ride their bicycles 4,000 miles crossing the entire width of the country. Their goal is to raise over $300,000. The club is confident that Nashville's recreational cyclists will step forward to help Paul reach his personal goal of raising $4,000 by participating in this event.
For more information about the collegiate and charity race please visit the club website: www.vanderbilt.edu/cycling
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