First Edition Cycling News for March 22, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
ProTour: ASO still unhappy with UCI plans
By Hedwig Kroner
Despite the participation of the UCI's designated ProTeams in the first top-level races of 2005, things are not still entirely harmonious between the UCI and the sport's top race organizers. ASO (organizer of the Tour de France and most top French races including Paris-Nice), RCS (responsible for the Giro d'Italia, and Milan-San Remo, among others) and Vuelta a Espana organizer Unipublic arrived at an accord with the UCI last year that saw the ProTour teams admitted to their races, but ASO president Patrice Clerc says there are still problems with the UCI's plans.
"Our disagreement regarding the structure of professional cycling in the future is of fundamental nature," Clerc told Cyclingnews just before Milan-San Remo. Clerc went on to detail ASO's disagreements with the UCI's ProTour which include problems with the Ethical Charter, although he said, "the teams have now made an auto-disciplinary move and signed the Ethical Charter. So that first point can be considered as settled"; and disagreement over the structure of the sport.
Clerc said ASO disagreed with the ProTour idea that teams should be admitted for four years with no mechanism for removing under-performing teams or admitted new ones. "We cannot conceive that a European sports system should be founded on an American, closed model," he said. "We cannot conceive that there shouldn't be - at one point or another - a sports sanction in that system. We therefore ask to study and decide on a system that would allow some teams to enter and some teams to leave the structure."
ASO is also unhappy that it has been excluded from the Professional Cycling Council, and so is unable to have a say in decision on the future of the ProTour. But perhaps the most fundamental objection is that the UCI expects organizers such as ASO to pay a licence to be part of the ProTour. "We think it is inconceivable and unacceptable to ask for an organising license for our events; in a system that is just barely coming to life," said Clerc. "Because these are the competitions that have created professional cycling in the first place!" However, it's not about the money, he said. "It's a question of principle. A licence transforms a landlord into a tenant."
Look out for the full interview in the next couple of days on Cyclingnews.
Eneco chair Nijpels steps down
Ed Nijpels, chairman of the ENECO Tour of Holland for the last five years, has stepped down as head of the race organization, citing timetable clashes between the race's new incarnation as the Tour of the Benelux and his duties as Royal Commissioner for the Netherlands province of Friesland.
"I am giving up this position with great sadness because cycle sport will always be one of my great passions," Nijpels told Raymond Kerckhoffs of De Telegraaf.
Nijpels was recently responsible for the Tour of Holland's transition from a Netherlands-only race to a ProTour event taking in Belgium and Luxembourg as the Tour of the Benelux. In February he convinced Eneco to continue its support of the race and two weeks ago Eneco signed a four-year deal as title sponsor.
"When I came on board as chairman of the Tour of the Netherlands five years ago… the future was in doubt because of the lack of a title sponsor," said Nijpels. "I set myself three goals. Firstly I had to make the race bigger; it had to become an international event, and it had to become more highly rated by the UCI. Those objectives have been achieved."
Nijpels explained that he was stepping down from the race organisation because the new date in early August clashed with water sport events in Friesland, and a visit to the area by the Queen of the Netherlands on August 3, making it impossible for him to be at the race's start in Antwerp that day.
Amstel Gold wild cards
Organisers of the Amstel Gold have announced the fine teams that will receive wild card entries to the April 17 race. As part of the UCI ProTour, Amstel Gold will already host the 20 teams that make up the UCI's top tier. In addition, it has invited the Dutch Shimano - Memory Corp, three Belgian teams - MrBookmaker.com, Chocolade Jacques - T Interim and Landbouwkrediet - Colnago - plus the British-registered Barloworld-Valsir squad.
Operation for Schnider
Phonak rider Dani Schnider is to undergo an operation to treat a persistent health problem that has plagued him this season. According to the team, Schnider has been ill for a month and has had to take antibiotics to deal with an infection. Team doctor Thomas Klimaschka is arranging for Schnider to have a sinus operation in the next few days.
"The passage from the nasal cavity to the sinus cavity is blocked," said Klimaschka. "An operation is required to open it. After that, the infection in the sinus cavity can heal. Improved aeration will also be ensured."
Schnider should be back on the bike two weeks after the operation, perhaps sooner. His girlfriend, Andrea Krummenacher, is a nurse, so he won't be lacking in high-quality postoperative care. Klimaschka believes Schnider will be fit to ride the Giro d'Italia.
Traksel out with knee problem
MrBookmaker.com rider Bobbie Traksel will miss the rest of the early-season classics because of a knee problem, revealed yesterday after an MRI scan. Traksel injured his knee in a crash in the Etoile de Bessèges at the beginning of February.
Teams for Coppi - Bartali
Various teams have announced their line-ups for the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, which starts tomorrow in Riccione, Italy.
Quick.Step's Paolo Bettini enters the Coppi-Bartoli week with his form apparently improving after an animated ride in Milan - San Remo at the weekend. He will be supported by Ad Engels, José Antonio Garrido, José Antonio Pecharroman, Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, and Jurgen Van Goolen.
The Liquigas-Bianchi team is treating the Coppi-Bartoli week as the first step in its lead-up to the Giro d'Italia, and will be led by its likely Giro leaders 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni. They will be supported by Franco Pellizotti and Andrea Noé with Brazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini and Devis Miorin, Vladimir Miholjevic and Charly Wegelius.
"We are taking part in the 'Settimana Coppi e Bartali' with a competitive squad," team managing director Roberto Amadio said in a statement. "We can be a key player, especially in the hardest stages, with Pellizotti (in great condition since the very beginning of the season), Garzelli, Cioni and Noé."
After Coppi-Bartoli, Garzelli, Cioni, Noé and Miholjevic will spend time in the Dolomites familiarizing themselves with the climbs of the 2005 Giro.
The Barloworld - Valsir will field Roger Beuchat, Matteo Carrara, Marco Cavallari, Luca Celli, Enrico Degano, Darren Lill, Jeremy Maartens, and Eddy Serri.
Stage 1a - March 22: Riccione - Riccione, 95.2 km
Teams for Critérium International
The teams are already beginning to line up for the Critérium International, which once again occupies its traditional spot of the final weekend in March. Organised by ASO, the body responsible for the Tour de France, and many other significant French races, the Critérium International is a three-stage 'mini Tour de France' with a long road stage between Vouziers and Charleville-Mézières on Saturday and a split stage on Sunday.
Vouziers and Charleville-Mézières aren't far apart as the crow flies, so the race takes the scenic route for a rolling 187km stage. Sunday sees what's now a rare format for events at this level with a hilly 98km circuit in the morning between Les Vieilles Forges and Monthermé and then it's back to Charleville-Mézières for an 8.3km time trial in the afternoon.
The Phonak team at the Critérium International will be led by Floyd Landis, along with Niki Aebersold, Aurélien Clerc, Santos Gonzalez, Nicolas Jalabert, Johann Tschopp, Sascha Urweider, and Steve Zampieri. The team will be managed by John Lelangue and Jacques Michaud.
The Liquigas-Bianchi team will field Michael Albasini, Kjell Carlström, Daniele Colli, Enrico Gasparotto, Marcus Ljungqvist, Oscar Mason, Matej Mugerli and Marco Righetto. The team manager will be Dario Mariuzzo.
AG2R-Prévoyance for upcoming races
The AG2R-Prévoyance team has announced its line-up for this week's trio of Belgian races.
For the GP Waregem, Wednesday March 25, the team will field Simon Gerrans, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Erki Putsep, Aliaksandr Usau, Tomas Vaitkus, and Jean-Patrick Nazon.
A similar squad will also ride Saturday March 26's GP Harelbek: Simon Gerrans, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Erki Putsep, Aliaksandr Usau, Tomas Vaitkus, and Nicolas Portal.
Finally for the Brabantse Pijl/Fleche Brabanconne, the line-up will be Simon Gerrans, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Erki Putsep, Aliaksandr Usau, Tomas Vaitkus, Nicolas Portal, and Philip Deignan.
Team manager for all three races will be Arturas Kasputis.
T-Mobile for Dwars Door Vlaanderen
The T-Mobile team continues its presence at the Belgian one-day races on Wednesday with the Dwars Door Vlaanderen, where it will field a squad almost identical to the line-up from Sunday's GP Rudy Dhaenens; sprinter André Korff replaces stage race specialist Tobias Steinhauser and Austrian neo-pro Bernhard Kohl is on the benches with flu.
The team missed the podium at GP Rudy Dhaenens and last Wednesday's Nokere-Koerse, but only just - Bas Giling was fifth at GP Rudy Dhaenens while Eric Baumann got fourth at Nokere-Koerse. Now the objective is a podium place. "The lads' form is on the up. Now our objective has to be to continue with this upward trend. Maybe Eric or Bas can pull off a surprise," said team press officer Luuc Eisenga.
Eisenga describes the 202km Dwars Door Vlaanderen course as "lumpy", an adjective that sums it up on two levels as it includes hills such as Eikenberg (8 percent), Valkenberg (10 percent) and Patersberg (14 percent) that are also used in the Tour of Flanders, and sections of cobbled road. The race starts in Kortrijk and winds its way through West and East Flanders to the finish in Waregem.
Eight other ProTour teams will also start in Kortrijk: Quick Step, Davitamon-Lotto, Credit Agricole, Cofidis, Francaise des Jeux, Rabobank, CSC, and Discovery Channel. 23 teams in total will line up.
T-Mobile's full roster for Dwars Door Vlaanderen: Eric Baumann, Marcus
Burghardt, Bas Giling, André Korff, Jan Schaffrath, Bram Schmitz.
Quick.Step for Dwars Door Vlaanderen
The Quick.Step team has also announced its line-up for Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The team's ever-dangerous sprinter Tom Boonen heads the squad, and will be a good chance for the victory with home country advantage. He will be supported by Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin De Weert, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Marc Lotz, Nick Nuyens, and Sebastien Rosseler.
El Puente looking for riders
The El Puente team is looking for US riders to take part in the Vuelta El Salvador, April 23-30.
El Puente is a new US team formed "to create a bridge between racing in the United States, Central and South America," according to assistant directeur sportif David Sommerville. The team plans to put together composite squads of US cyclists to race in Central and South American UCI events.
For more information see www.elpuenteusa.com
Terry Precision Cycling 2005
Terry Precision Cycling has announced its fourth consecutive year of Title Sponsorship of its women's racing team. Terry, based in Macedon, NY, designs bicycles, cycling apparel and accessories for the female cyclist. Company CEO, Georgena Terry comments "Sponsoring this team is almost as much fun as going on a bike ride! There are fewer things more rewarding than working with such a great group of riders."
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