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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 29, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Can Hincapie do the double?

Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde preview by Jeff Jones

George Hincapie (US Postal-Berry Floor)
Photo ©: Gino Verhulst

The KBC Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde, now in its 29th year this year, is one of the highlights of the Vlaamse Wielerweek (Flemish cycling week) that culminates in this Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The race is held around West and East Flanders over a well established parcours, and usually the general classification is determined in the final 13.7 km time trial around De Panne.

The first stage from the coastal town of Middelkerke to Zottegem is also selective, with a total of 11 climbs, including three times up the Leberg and Berendries. The stage is just over 200 km and often a medium sized group can establish a half minute lead over the rest of the peloton here. Stage 2 from Zottegem to Koksijde (Sint-Idesbald) is a long one at 231 km and features the climbs of Kanarieberg, Taaienberg and Eikenberg early on. These may serve as a springboard for an early break, but the peloton will have plenty of time to regroup and chase everything down for a bunch sprint in Koksijde.

The third day includes two stages, both starting and finishing in De Panne. In the morning, the riders will do 116 km stage with the Monteberg, Rodeberg and Vidaigneberg in the first 50 km. The Kemmelberg has not been included this year. The rest of the stage is flat, and sometimes the wind can help to cause a selection, but more often than not, this stage finishes in a bunch sprint. The final stage is a flat 13.7 km time trial around the streets of De Panne, including a few cobbled sections and some fairly technical riding in other parts. The seconds gained here are nearly always enough to determine the final winner, unless someone has managed to establish a huge gap in the preceding stages.

Last year, George Hincapie (US Postal) finished third in the time trial, which was enough to give him the overall classification. Hincapie was very strong in Sunday's Brabantse Pijl, and should again be one of Discovery's main riders for this race. Belgian powerhouse Quick.Step will be bringing Tom Boonen and his merry men to De Panne, and Boonen will definitely be trying for a stage win or two, but will likely ease off before the end to save something for the Ronde on Sunday.

Davitamon-Lotto has two strong candidates for the overall win: Peter Van Petegem and Nico Mattan. Both are past winners (PVP twice) and will be wanting to give their legs a final test before the Ronde. T-Mobile, still looking for its first win this season, has Andreas Klier and Steffen Wesemann in its line up, and both riders should be in the action.

Fassa Bortolo has brought its time triallist Fabian Cancellara, along with classics specialist Juan Antonio Flecha, while Liquigas-Bianchi features the aging Lion King, Mario Cipollini on its roster, as well as Magnus Bäckstedt. Look out for Francaise des Jeux's Baden Cooke, who seems to be finding a little bit of form, Rabobank's Steven de Jongh, Liberty's Allan Davis and Phonak's Robert Hunter in the sprints.

Finally, Belgian Pro Continental teams Chocolade Jacques, and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will be looking to earn a few UCI points as this is not a ProTour race. Nico Eeckhout, Steven Caethoven, Kevin van Impe (Chocolade Jacques), Gorik Gardeyn, Jeremy Hunt (MrBookmaker), Ludo Dierckxsens and Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet) are the riders to look for there.

The Stages

  • Stage 1 - March 29: Middelkerke - Zottegem, 202 km
  • Stage 2 - March 30: Zottegem - Koksijde (Sint-Idesbald), 231 km
  • Stage 3 - March 31: De Panne - De Panne , 116 km
  • Stage 4 - March 31: De Panne - De Panne ITT, 13.7 km

Quick.Step for De Panne

The QS team has announced its line-up for the KBC Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde, which starts today. The team will field Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, Mads Christensen, Wilfried Cretskens, Dimitri De Fauw, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, and Guido Trenti.

Ullrich plans Tour campaign

Jan Ullrich has revealed which races he will ride this year in the run-up to the Tour de France. The German, who won the Tour in 1997 and finished off the podium for the first time in 2004, will return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe (April 5-8) and will then ride the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragon (April 13-17) and the Volta a Catalunya (May 16-22).

Announcing the plan, Ullrich writes on his website, "I am seriously thinking about forgoing the Tour of Switzerland and starting instead in the Dauphiné Libéré, and the ProTour team time trial in the Netherlands (June 19) - that would be a good test for the Tour."

Vandevelde aims for Giro

CSC's Christian Vandevelde made his return to racing at Brabantse Pijl over the weekend, after being treated for a long-standing back problem by CSC's therapist Ole Kaare Føli. However, the early season one-day races aren't something Vandevelde is concentrating on, His aim, according to an interview with him on CSC's website, is to be in peak form for the Giro, where he will ride in support of CSC's Italian GC rider, Ivan Basso.

"It's really hard for me to get going for the one day races, to be on the road for at week and then race only 2-3 times," said Vandevelde. "My main goal is still the Giro, even though Bjarne is trying to keep the pressure off me, which I totally appreciate, more than he knows. I know that as long as I'm healthy, I'll be a great asset to the team, but I don't want to go there if I'm not a 100 percent for Ivan, cause I know he's going for the win. Ivan is a champion, I wanna be there and help him in the Giro, and it's not funny if you're going for the win, and you're not good. I can still ride well, without being 100 percent. I did the Tour last year like this, and it's so stressful. In the Vuelta 2002, that's where everything was okay, and it was very easy for me. I was actually hoping for more hills."

With Dave Zabriskie, Vandevelde is one of two Americans to join CSC for 2005. The addition of a couple more Anglophones was appreciated by Bobby Julich, previously the team's sole US rider. "I think it's a sensible decision to have more American riders because CSC is an American company," said Julich. "They wanted to bring some more Americans. We have two very good guys with Christian and Dave."

Health Net plans to knock off CSC at CSC Invitational

The Health Net-Maxxis team, already emerging as this year's dominant force in US domestic racing, hopes to fend off an overseas challenge at this year's 8th Annual CSC Invitational, Sunday, May 29, 2005. The 2004 event was won by CSC's Lars Michaelsen who will return to defend his title this year, but Health Net has the Dane in its sights.

"The CSC Invitational is really a highlight of our race schedule and we look forward to it every year," said Jeff Corbet, Health Net's directeur sportif . "What we don't look forward to is another second place. Health Net is coming full force this year and we plan to turn Gord Fraser's second place in '04 into a win this year."

Other top US teams scheduled to race at the CSC Invitational include the Navigators Insurance Team, and Jelly Belly-Pool Gel.

For more information, see

Operation for Southam

By Shane Stokes

Promising English rider Tom Southam is expected to have an operation today to pin the scaphoid bone he broke in his left wrist on Saturday. The Team Barloworld-Valsir rider suffered the same injury as that which befell Stefano Zanini in the big crash in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen.

Southam flew back to England for treatment, although because of the Easter holidays there it was not possible to have the operation over the weekend. "I hope to have it done on Tuesday. If I don't get it pinned, it is going to take eight weeks to heal," he told Cyclingnews.

"Once it is done, I think I will be out of action for three or four weeks. I will be on the indoor trainer in a couple of days, and hope to be back racing again at the start of May. I'd like to come back in time for the CSC Classic in Denmark."

Southam described how the crash happened. "There was a big island in the middle of the road. I was in the middle of the group and everyone just closed in suddenly. A few guys went down and then everyone just piled into them. Zanini broke his scaphoid and two guys broke their collarbones, so there were bodies all over the place. It was a real big crash.

"I am pretty disappointed, really. It was a stupid crash caused by other people that I ended up getting caught up in. It wasn't as if it was my doing, that I was taking any risks to win something.

"It is particularly annoying because I did the same thing to the other hand at the back end of last year. I went down in the Coppa Sabatini last year. It was the same type of crash, riders not paying attention in the bunch. It is annoying. There are 200 odd guys there, but some of them obviously need to sharpen up a little bit."

Southam has had a solid start to his first season with Barloworld, posting rides such as thirteenth place in the TT at the Tour de Langkawi. The 23 year old has been living and training close to Madrid, and feels he was coming into good form at the time of the crash.

"I was going well on Wednesday in the GP Waregem. But my luck this week has just been out. When we got to the Eikenberg, where the race started being decided, I was about fifteenth wheel. But I punctured halfway up it. That was a real disappointment, because I was going well there and was in the right place at the crucial moment.

"A day later, I crashed in training. It was just a small crash but I ended up in a field and got covered in sh*t. Literally covered in it. And then the next day I came down and broke my hand. So it is disappointing to have that bad luck just when my form is getting going."

He is, however, keeping optimistic about things. "I don't think it is going to be too much of a setback. If anything, maybe I will just freshen up and come back a bit stronger," he said.

Another Italian race cancelled

Organisers have announced the cancellation of the Gran Premio Città di Rio Saliceto e Correggio, scheduled for July 16 this year.

Van Gils to ZZPR

Cyclocross specialist Wilant Van Gils has signed a two-year deal with the new ZZPR cyclocross team of former rider Frank Groenendaal. Van Gils had also been offered a place on the Palmans team, alongside Tom Vannoppen and Davy Commeyne.

While Van Gils' new team has a major sponsor lined up in ZZPR - a building industry company - Groenendaal has yet to secure supporting sponsors. However, while Van Gils knows he has chosen a slightly uncertain future, he told the Dutch ANP news agency, "I have a good feeling about this team. I can become a professional cyclocross racer and go forward in a number of other ways [with ZZPR]."

Livestrong band wins design award

The ubiquitous yellow 'Livestrong' wristband has taken the top spot in Business 2.0 magazine's First Annual Bottom Line Design Awards, which recognize the combination of good design and commercial success. Manufactured by Nike to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the wristband, has become a cult item especially in the US with more than 33 million sold.

"Sometimes design simplicity-in this case, a $1 yellow rubber bracelet-is all it takes to make an emotional connection with consumers," writes Business 2.0's Susanna Hamner. "With a brand name reminiscent of Armstrong's own and a color evoking the cyclist and cancer survivor's five Tour de France winner's jerseys (he's since won his sixth), the wristband immediately struck a chord with consumers. 'It was without a doubt the most successful viral campaign in a decade, perhaps ever,' says judge Arnie Freeman. 'Becoming a cultural phenomenon usually takes millions of dollars in public relations and advertising. This one did it with a lovely, simple design.'"

Malaysia aims high for young trackie

Despite its highly-regarded hosting of the Tour de Langkawi, Malaysia doesn't exactly figure as one of the world's top cycling nations. But the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) is working to improve its world standing and one of the riders it's hoping for big things from is young track racer Uracca Leow.

According to a report on the website of Malaysian newspaper The Star, the MNCF hopes to get Leow a scholarship to the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. The 18-year-old has tremendous potential, MNCF deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohamad told the paper, and a stint at the WCC could be just what she needs.

"We are looking at her to become a top track rider. For her age, she is now doing very well," Naim said. "We will try to get her into the WCC to train towards the Commonwealth Games. Although she is getting good mileage in training at home, she needs stronger exposure to push her performance to a higher level."

Leow's compatriot, sprinter Josiah Ng is a graduate of the WCC program, and has gone on to make the podium five times in World Cup events.

Naim said that the federation also plans for Leow to ride more rounds of the World Cup, after her sixth place in the pursuit in Sydney in February, which was enough to qualify her for the world's.

Leow finished last of seventeen riders in the individual pursuit in Los Angeles, but rode a personal best of 4.10.476.

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