First Edition Cycling News for March 7, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones
The ProTour is go
After months of planning and political shenanigans, the jewel of the UCI's cycling reform, the ProTour, kicked off in Issy-les-Moulineaux with the four kilometre prologue that opened this year's Paris-Nice. Despite the fact that Paris-Nice organisers ASO are still at odds with the UCI over some aspects of the ProTour, there were no obstacles put in the way of the first day of competition.
Although Lance Armstrong is being given the honour of wearing the first ProTour leader's jersey (see following story), it was CSC's Jens Voigt who powered around the 4 km course in 5'15 to win the first ever ProTour race. In second place was last year's Tour prologue winner Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo), followed by Erik Dekker (Rabobank) in third.
"I'm very proud and also very happy about this victory," said a happy Voigt after his victory. "The team has had a superb year so far, and it's great to be able to continue in this way. We have been working extremely hard during the winter, and it's paying off now. I have won a very prestigious leader's jersey here in Paris-Nice, and I really hope we're able to hold on to it for the rest of the race. We have a very strong line-up, and I know I'll get all the support I could possibly want from my teammates."
Voigt's teammates were also strong, with CSC claiming six of the top 17 places. "We've had a fantastic start to this race, and I was very impressed that all our riders did well in the prologue," said team manager Bjarne Riis. "Jens is flying at the moment, and of course this heightens our expectations for a big result. We've been training so hard ahead of Paris-Nice, and now we have once again shown that we have done our homework. We have a lot to be proud of at the moment, and I 'd like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team and all our employees for their efforts, which make it possible for us to achieve results like this."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
Stars come out for UCI ProTour debut in Paris
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris
Some of the top names in the sport of cycling are lending their support to the UCI ProTour and at an elegant reception Saturday evening, six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong made an appearance along with World Time Trial champion Mick Rogers (Quick.Step) and others. After a welcoming speech from UCI President Hein Verbruggen, the UCI debuted a new ProTour promotional video with segments from multiple World Cup champion Paolo Bettini, World Road Champ Oscar Freire, evergreen Erik Zabel and rising star Damiano Cunego. Armstrong also stars in the clip, where he explains that, "In cycling, tradition is our value, our belief and the UCI ProTour is the future of cycling" - unequivocal support for the UCI's new initiative.
After the clip, UCI media man and the evening's emcee Enrico Carpani held a round-robin chat with the top bike riders present to ask their opinion of the ProTour and ambitions for the first ProTour season. World champ Rogers was quite positive, saying, "The ProTour is a new era in cycling and I'm happy to be here. I hope to have a good result here at Paris-Nice to start the ProTour off right." Lance Armstrong commented, "the ProTour will enable cycling to present a more unified front and that will elevate cycling on a global level." When Carpani asked Armstrong his goal for the inaugural year of the ProTour, the Texan cracked wise, saying "to not finish last", a quip that brought howls of surprised laughter from the audience.
Despite any issues that may currently exist between the UCI ProTour and the Grand Tour organisers, Saturday's festivities with the stars of cycling certainly helped launch the ProTour on a positive note.
Armstrong confirms race schedule
Lance Armstrong has confirmed the rumours about his racing schedule for 2005. In an interview to French newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré, the main sponsor of the Alpine stage race, he said he wanted to participate in the event again in 2005, instead of racing the Tour de Suisse. Armstrong has won the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré twice already in 2002 and 2003, and finished fourth last year. The race will be held from June 5-12 in the Dauphiné region, but the official course has not been revealed yet.
The American, who will target his seventh Tour de France victory this year, also announced that he will be at the start of the team time trial ProTour race in Eindhoven, Netherlands, on June 19. His team Discovery Channel will be able to test its time trialling skills one last time before the big goal of this season, the 92nd Tour de France.
An interview with Jérôme Pineau
This year, Paris-Nice has special significance as both the first top-level stage race of the season and the opening salvo in the new, season-long ProTour series. Bouygues Télécom rider Jérôme Pineau is one of the young hopes of French cycling, and a big fan of both Paris-Nice and the ProTour idea, as he tells Stéphanie Langlais.
Cyclingnews: Jérôme, what do you expect in this edition of Paris-Nice?
Jérôme Pineau: I hope to do well, to play an active role and be a protagonist in the race. I'd like to finish in the top 10-15 overall or win a stage. But it's best not to be too idealistic. It's too easy to say I'm going to do this or that. The competition will be very tough, like every year, but even more-so with the ProTour.
CN: How have you been preparing?
JP: Since the beginning of the season I've prepared for this race as my big objective. I've done a lot of good work this winter, differently than in other years, with more specific training based on intensity to push my limits further. I'm able to listen to my body better. I wanted to test this preparation with my new trainer [Ismael Mottier], with the goal of building the pressure to hit Paris-Nice in top form.
For the moment, racing has served only as preparation; I haven't raced at 100 percent so as not to spend too much energy. I've also worked hard mentally to let myself put aside my ambition. It's tough to accept going to a race knowing that I have to forget about the overall classification! Particularly since I'm riding much better in the early season, ever since l'Etoile de Bessèges. But I've learned to drop some of my old habits. This hard work, it's what suits me best. I have no doubts... I'm optimistic.
Petacchi and Cipollini in Giro di Lucca
Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini will race against each other for the first time this season at the Giro della Provincia di Lucca on Monday, March 7. Both Italian sprinters will use the race to prepare for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo, the most prestigious Italian one-day race.
"I am coming back to competition after a 21-day stop," said Cipollini, who has not been racing since the Tour Méditerranéen. "Despite the flu and the bad weather, I trained hard. The next two races will lead me up to my first goal in this season: Milano-Sanremo," he added.
The seventh Giro di Lucca will be 177 km long and involve 17 teams, eight of which Italian. Ivan Basso (CSC) will also participate, as well as well as Cipollini's Liquigas teammates Danilo di Luca and Magnus Bäckstedt, Russian Pavel Tonkov (LPR) and Serguei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze).
The complete line-up of Liquigas-Bianchi: Mario Cipollini, Danilo Di Luca, Magnus Bäckstedt, Enrico Gasparotto, Vladimir Miholjevic, Devis Miorin, Matej Mugerli, Andrea Noè and Marco Righetto.
Good start for Cunego
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) has started his racing season well with a third overall placing at the Vuelta a Murcia. The Giro d'Italia winner of 2004 now feels confident about the upcoming events. "I think I rode a good race, definitely better than last year," the 24 year-old said. "It's been a return to racing that has comforted me for the future. I've done well in the time trial, and there is space for improvement, still."
Cunego proved his main talent, climbing, in the fourth stage of the race on Saturday, when he arrived third at a six km-mountain finish, only 40 seconds behind winner Pedro Arreitunandia after a mechanical problem. "I was right inside the action, in a medium-difficult stage with rides who are more advanced in preparation than me," he stated. "I've learned a lot in one year, I now understand the race much better. When we went into the climb, I felt really good. I've left behind the fears of having difficulties, and I'm heading home with the certainty of being on the right track."
On Saturday, March 5, Jean Pitallier was re-elected to the presidency of the French Cycling Federation (FFC). Pitallier was the only candidate at the vote, and obtained 84% of the suffrage of the Assemblée Générale Fédérale at the House of Sports in Paris. Jean Pitallier, 72, has been acting as president of the federation since 2001, and will now continue to do so for another four years.
50th anniversary of P&O Tour of the North
Squads from all the home nations will be represented in the Golden Jubilee P&O Irish Sea 5-day Tour of the North, which kicks off at Stormont on Good Friday evening with a 1-mile hill-climb time trial. The Usher Irish Road Club, which includes 'northerner' Brian Stewart, will represent Ireland. He is accompanied by top riders Paul Healion, Shane Baker, David Peelo, Michael Mulcachy and Stephen Enright. Healion and Peelo are the star names, with Peelo still holder of various place-to-place records in the South.
Monaghan outfit, Crannog Ireland, will again field Paul Mulligan and last year's stage four winner, Connor Murphy, bronze medallist in the 2003 Irish Under 23 Championships. The last Irish winner of the race was in 1999, when Phil Cassidy took the honours, and before that we have to go back to 1976 when the great Sean Kelly was the victor.
Wales features a regional 'West Wales' outfit, with brothers Ian and Huw Bendall, Lewys Hobbs, James Kemp, Matt Ackland and John Hiddlestone. Scotland, which will again provide the Chief Commissaire, Gus McLafferty, is fielding a squad managed by former event runner-up Graeme Herd. Their offering includes Juniors Kevin Barclay, Ross Creber, Tony Reidy, along with Under 23s Stuart McManus and Robert Wardell. The six-man squad is headed by First Cat rider Iain Nimmo. Wardell and Nimmo are regulars at the race, with the former ending up 24th overall last year.
England are represented by the Cyclesuperstore.co.uk team led by Elite rider Mike Harrison, fourth overall last year. Matt Sewell, AA King of the Hills and final stage winner last year joins the team, after having represented Energy Cycles last year. James Notley (sixth in 2004) Peter Hey and Ed Nicholson complete the line-up, which on paper looks like one of the strongest teams at the 2005 Tour of the North.
Various Club teams will be racing for Northern Ireland, including last years runner-up Jon Dempsey (East Antrim), Denis Easton (Maryland Wheelers), Commonwealth Mountain Biker Glen Kinning (Castlereagh CC) and Matt Ward (Phoenix A).
Only three weeks remain for entries; forms still available from Davy Ross on 9336 7703, or via e-mail through cyclingnireland.com.
Tickets for the Anniversary Dinner in the Park Avenue Hotel on Easter Saturday evening, subsidised by the promoters to a cost of £10 are also available.
Czech team PSK Whirlpool training camp
The Czech Continental team PSK Whirlpool has been on a training camp on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria from February 5-26. The team rode out every day from 120-220 km, although the weather was cold and very windy, to test its new Author bikes and get into shape for the upcoming races in Italy and Croatia. PSK Whirlpool will also participate in the Tour du Maroc from March 27-April 9.
The full PSK Whirlpool team roster can be found in Cyclingnews' teams database.
WVMBA announces MTB race schedule
The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association has announced its 2005 sanctioned Cross Country Racing calendar, which includes both Spring and Fall Point Series competitions, and a number of other races and events.
The Spring Point Series kicks off on April 3 at Pipestem Resort State Park and wraps up June 26 at the Calhoun County Park, with a total of nine races. The Fall Point Series starts July 10 in Davis, and finishes September 18 at the Kanawha State Forest with a slate of seven races.
Mountain biking is a family activity for many, and WVMBA’s slate of races includes some races for kids 12 and under. WVMBA’s race classes also provide a class for the 14 and under set, as well as high school ages.
The WV Point Series Races’ winners will be determined by combining a rider’s best four race scores plus the scores from the Championship race for each point series. Only Sport and Expert classes are tracked for the point series, but all the races have beginner classes. Each race within the series awards prizes to all classes.
Point Series prizes will be awarded at both the Spring and Fall Championship races, and bragging rights will be awarded to the folks with the best overall record after the Fall championship.
The Spring Point Series Race Schedule:
Pipestem Challenge - April 3, Pipestem Resort State Park, Pipestem, WV.
The Fall Point Series Race Schedule:
Blackwater Bikes WV Championship - July 7, Blackwater Bikes, Davis, WV.
Non-Point Series races and scheduled trail maintenance dates:
WVMBA Trail Maintenance - June 15, Charles Fork Lake, Spencer, WV.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)