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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Edition Cycling News for May 10, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Les Clarke

Smiles one day, terror the next

By Martin Hardie

The crash...
Photo ©: Gara

Just when things seem to be looking up for the Euskadi gang after David Herrero's brave win in Alcobendas last Sunday, everything just suddenly fell flat in an instance when Alberto Lopez de Munain touched the wheel in front of him during the final 50 km of yesterday's second stage of the Giro d'Italia. Cyclingnews caught up with manager Miguel Madariaga on the direct orange line this morning to see how Alberto was getting along.

"When I saw him on the ground I thought the worst, the first thing I thought was that he was dead or that he was dying," Miguel Madariaga told us. "He was unconscious with his eyes open... It was very painful to see him in this position with his face all destroyed."

"The doctor arrived a minute or so later and he told me to move away because he said Alberto didn't look very good. He put Alberto on his side, on the asphalt and he put his fingers in his mouth and freed his tongue and he yelled to the ambulance that he needed a Guedel tube so that he didn't choke... When they put the tube in a whole lot of blood flowed out of his mouth and he started to breathe and then they put him on oxygen."

A deeply affected Madariaga continued that "I got into the ambulance with him, at the start he was still unconscious. After a little while he began to see things. I asked him 'Alberto do you know me?' and he replied 'Where am I?' I told him 'be calm, you are in the Giro d'Italia and you have fallen, we are going to the hospital and everything will be OK'. He told me 'I am in a lot of pain... don't leave me alone.' That was all he said until we arrived at the hospital - it only took 8 minutes."

There is no doubt, Madariaga said, that "the helmet and the tube the doctor inserted saved his life. We arrived at the hospital at 4.30pm. At 8.30pm he went into surgery to reduce the hydropneumothorax [fluid and air in the pleural space - ed.] which was the most worrying thing for the doctors. He had a small haematoma in the lung and they were trying to reduce it. He spent the night in intensive care. Today there will be more medicals and he will stay in hospital a few days and I will stay with him. The Giro is finished for me. With what has happened I will not move from his side ... when I said good night to him he was conscious and speaking a little, but he can't move much, he is in too much pain. His face is all cut and bruised, his left eyebrow is cut and swollen, his nose has lost all its skin".

Madariaga who is father to so many of the team related to us that "it is so painful to see poor Alberto this way. The CAT scan has revealed that there is no cerebral damage, he has a broken collar bone and shoulder blade along with the broken ribs. The worst is the internal injuries but they have assured me he will be alright..."

Alberto Lopez de Munain was diagnosed with a hydropneumothorax caused by nine broken ribs, a broken left collar bone, a broken shoulder blade, damage to the left shoulder as well as grazes and cuts to his back, knees and face. He is conscious, in a stable condition and out of immediate danger, as he is getting drainage to improve the hydropneumothorax. Euskaltel-Euskadi expresses their deep gratitude to the Giuseppe Iannelli hospital staff, the race organisers and the local authorities for their fabulous treatment and support.

Petacchi not on Discovery's radar for '06

Tour de France remains top goal

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Despite recent reports in the Italian media that Alessandro Petacchi is in preliminary talks with the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team for 2006, Discovery sports manager Johan Bruyneel was surprised when we asked him if he could confirm the rumours. Bruyneel told Cyclingnews that "There is no truth to the (Petacchi rumours) whatsoever. We aren't even talking to anyone now and are totally focused on having a good Giro d'Italia with Paolo Savoldelli and then winning the Tour de France."

Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team only has a one year ProTour license and at this year's team presentation, team owner Paolo Fassa clearly confirmed that he was seeking a major co-sponsor for 2006 to help support the financial burden of the squad. Although Fassa Bortolo team general manager Giancarlo Feretti missed out of the major team co-sponsorship of French bank Caisse d'Epargne that went to Illes Balears this spring, Feretti is reportedly in talks with a Dutch-based multinational to come on board next year. Meanwhile, Petacchi's managers aren't sitting still in the case that Fassa Bortolo doesn't find a co-sponsor next season, reportedly shopping a Petacchi package of the super-sprinter and five teammates (Bruseghin, Tosatto, Sacchi, Ongarato and Velo) for three million Euros per season.

Meanwhile, Johan Bruyneel reports that the Discovery Channel's march to the Tour in seven weeks is going well, telling Cyclingnews from Madrid that "Lance is at home in Texas and he sounds very focused and his training is going well. He'll return to Europe in the near future and we'll begin our recon of key Tour stages soon."

Ullrich comments on Armstrong

Jan Ullrich has told German radio station NDR that he doubted that Lance Armstrong would participate in the upcoming Tour de France if his form was not perfect. "If he feels that he might not be able to win, then he won't line up," Ullrich replied as he was asked about the current physical condition of the six-times Tour winner on Monady. "I would do the same," he added.

Furthermore, the German admitted that Armstrong's decision to end his career as a professional cyclist after the Tour de France 2005 had surprised him. "Therefore, it's my last chance to fight him, and maybe to beat him. Of course, that's a huge incentive to me," Ullrich said. The Tour de France winner of 1997 is currently reported to have a similar form than in 2003, is "looking to the Tour with confidence."

Pretty in Pink?

Bettini and the Quick.Step car
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

At the start of stage two in Italy yesterday, Paolo Bettini's maglia rosa was honoured in a special way by his team Quick.Step who painted its team car in pink. "I had already prepared for it," admitted team manager Patrick Lefévère. "I knew we had good chances to get the pink jersey on this parcours."

The other Belgian ProTeam, Davitamon-Lotto, also succeeded the double stage win and general lead as Robbie McEwen was the fastest man in the sprint finish in the Mediterranean coastal town of Santa Maria del Cedro. But team director Herman Frison denied the rumour that he, too, was going to follow the race in a pink car. "I must admit, that pink car was stunning! But we're not that flashy. Mind you, Robbie will wear a pink helmet," Frison said before the race.

Bates recovers from surgery in Sydney

By Les Clarke

Bates enjoying the sun
Photo ©: Les Clarke
Click for larger image

Track World Championship silver medallist and World Cup scratch race champion Kate Bates was a surprise guest at today's launch of the Sydney Thousand at the SCG, and Cyclingnews asked the flying trackie the obvious question - why she was on our sunny shores and not slogging it out in Europe.

Bates explained: "I had a growth sort of thing in my throat, which I had to get removed. I reckon it'd been there for about six months, and when I was told to get it taken out I thought I'd be better off recovering here. It was more serious than I thought, and the words 'life threatening' were thrown about - but it's pretty good now."

Bates was supposed to ride the recent World Cup round in Spain, but today she was riding with Ben Kersten on the turf of the SCG, enjoying the sunshine in Sydney; "Yeah, Nat [Bates' sister, Natalie, also a Van Bemmelen-AA Drink rider] rang me and said it's like seven degrees outside - that's what the weather's like in Europe. I'd much rather recover here!"

She was a notable absence from the GP Feminas Castilla y Leon, the sixth round of the women's World Cup, and wasn't too pleased about missing it; "Yeah, I was supposed to ride Castilla y Leon, and I'm pretty disappointed I didn't, because I got second there last year." As it turned out, the tight bunch sprint to finish the event would have suited Bates' powerful style. She's also disappointed about missing the Tour de L'Aude, which commences this week, a longer event Bates had targetted; "I was looking forward to L'Aude as it's a good event, and I reckon I could've done well there."

Bates races Kersten et al
Photo ©: Les Clarke
Click for larger image

The Sydneysider is due to be back in action with the AIS Women's squad for the women's Giro d'Italia in July. She'll ride half of this event before concentrating on the Tour of Germany, another tour on the busy women's pro calendar. Bates realises coming back into these events after a layoff won't be easy; "it's hard to race when you're aiming to get fit; it can be hard on your head knowing that you probably won't perform as well as you'd like, but you've got to do it."

She'll ride some one-day events before the Tour of Holland and then it's into the road World Championships, where the Australian women will be a little stretched for numbers. Bates hopes to overcome this with a great result, something she is very capable of, especially on the Madrid course; sprinters are licking their lips at the prospect of a mostly flat parcours. It'd cap off an excellent year, with the 2006 Commonwealth Games on the horizon and now the Sydney Thousand meeting to look forward to.

Pauwels breaks leg

Rabobank Continental rider Serge Pauwels has no luck. After barely recovering from a collarbone fracture in the beginning of April, the Belgian crashed in the second stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt and broke his thigh bone. Another 30 riders went down with him as they were driving through a curve in a village. Pauwels underwent surgery the very same evening in a German hospital. The 21 year-old will be out of competition for several months.

Although his teammate Kai Reus took the stage win, team manager Nico Verhoeven is upset. "Serge's crash and its consequences sensibly alter our mood," he said.

Rheinland-Pfalz without T-Mobile

Team Gerolsteiner will be the only German ProTeam to participate in the UCI rated cat. 2.1 Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt. Starting in Koblenz on the Rhein river on Wednesday, May 11, the 40th edition of the race will return to the same city on Sunday, May 15 after 821 km of racing. The parcours is rather hilly in this region of South-Western Germany. An individual time trial of 25 km on the penultimate day will also have some consequences on the final general classification on Sunday. Last year's winner Björn Glasner (Lamonta) will defend his title.

Gerolsteiner will line up the following riders: René Haselbacher, Heinrich Haussler, Sebastian Lang, Michael Rich, Uwe Peschel, Matthias Russ, Thorsten Schmidt and Fabian Wegmann. The other teams present at the Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt will be: AG2R, Akud-Arnold’s Sicherheit, Barloworld-Valsir, Chocolade Jacques-T Interim, Comnet-Senges, Ed’System-ZVVZ, Action, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, MrBookmaker-SportsTech, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Shimano-Memory Corp., Lamonta, Wiesenhof, German National Team.

Sydney Thousand back in business

By Les Clarke

Kate Bates and Ben Kersten
Photo ©: Les Clarke
Click for larger image

After months of hard work by promoter John Scott, the Sydney Thousand is set to bring first-class track racing to Sydney on November 27 at Dunc Gray Velodrome. On a perfect autumn day at Sydney's SCG, Scott announced that Avanti Bicycles had come on board as headline sponsor of the event that aims to pit the best track racers from Australia and abroad against each other in a scratch race for cash prizes.

World Cup champ in the 1km TT, Ben Kersten, is the drawcard for fans stating at today's launch that he'll ride the 'scratch for cash'. World Cup champion in the women's scratch race, Kate Bates, also expressed her intention to ride at the meeting. Bates is currently recovering from throat surgery which interrupted her road programme with Van Bemmelen-AA Drink.

Both Kersten and Bates enjoyed successful track seasons, dominating World Cup events and performing solidly at the World Championships in Los Angeles in March. Bates took two silver medals and a bronze whilst Kersten took fourth in the 1km TT, an event he had in his sights leading up to the event. Both Bates and Kersten will make world record attempts during the Sydney Thousand meet - Kersten the flying lap and Bates the flying kilometre - and they're confident of giving the present marks a good shakeup. It is hoped that with both of these riders on board and enthusiatic, other elite track riders such as Ryan Bayley, Graham Browne and Steven Wooldridge will ride come November.

Ray Godkin, UCI vice president, who was present at the launch believed the timing of the event would fit perfectly into the schedules of most riders, allowing a high-class field to assemble at Dunc Gray Velodrome. Kersten believes that with the money on offer "riders like Brownie and Wooldridge won't be able to resist. It's not good to do it just for the money, but it certainly attracts you to racing." Scott realises that this combination of timing and money should spell success for a discipline of cycling that is mostly short of financial opportunities.

Bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse
Photo ©: Les Clarke
Click for larger image

The Sydney Thousand, however, is also designed to be a "day of racing for the entire family" according to Graham Blackman. Blackman, as representative of Avanti Bicycles, exists as the main sponsor of the Sydney Thousand; and it's the injection of funds they bring that may even lure Japanese Keirin riders, who are used to riding at big track meetings for cash in Japan. Kersten himself is actually putting $1000 into a junior scratch race after seeing how little financial incentive there is for young racers to attend track meetings - "these kids told me how they'd won twenty bucks or something like that for winning a race, and I thought I'd do something about it."

Not only will there be prizemoney for riders, but spectators will be able to bet on the race. Colourful horse racing identity Robbie Waterhouse arrived with his odds board at the SCG, something that should attract patrons in itself. But it's the prospect of excellent racing for the Avanti Sydney Thousand trophy and cash prizes that John Scott hopes will raise the interest of Sydneysiders in track cycling.

Cyclingnews has been told the trophy on offer will immortalise Major Taylor, the American cycling sensation who won the event in 1905; a statue of Major Taylor's black bike will honour the cyclist. In the year he won, 54,000 spectators watched at the SCG - the sight for today's launch - and it's hoped in 2005 that the event may be able to garner a level of support nearing these heights.

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