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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for November 14, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Climbers cheer, sprinters jeer at 89th Giro d'Italia route

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Italian national team selector Franco Ballerini is already picking his favourite for the 2006 Giro d'Italia: Gilberto Simoni. Despite conflicts in the past with Simoni over team selection in 2004, Ballerini sees 'Gibo' as a solid pick for Giro glory.

"It's a difficult Giro, above all in the last week with five nasty stages," Ballerini said. "No one can have an off day in this race. The start in Belgium is hard, because there are plenty of small climbs that will make things hard for the sprinters. In my opinion, looking at the last week of the race, I think Simoni could win. It will be interesting to see the challenge between (Simoni) and Cunego. Di Luca has also improved a lot and now knows how to ride for General Classification."

Davide Cassani, RAI-TV's cycling colour commentator is clear in his view of the 2006 Giro's outcome: "It's a much harder Giro than last years edition; it's a lot like the 1998/99 Giro and the three big mountain stages in the last week will be very decisive. In the end, I see a climber like Simoni or Savoldelli atop the podium, while it might be too hard for Di Luca and Cunego. Rujano certainly can't hide during that last week, either." As for other possible candidates for the 2006 Giro, Cassani said of Jan Ullrich that "he could ride, but just to train for the Tour, while there is too much climbing for (Floyd) Landis."

After winning 19 Giro stages in the last three editions, super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi may skip the Giro d'Italia in 2006. Although his new Milram squad will certainly be there, Petacchi only sees a few chances for sprinters in the 21 stage Giro.

"There are only five flat stages that are good for sprinters and I think there are just too many mountain stages and other hilly stages," Petacchi explained. "Maybe I will have to take another look at my program and focus on the Tour de France instead." As for Petacchi's stand, Cassani said "I understand his point of view; there are few stages for sprinters like him."

Petacchi's friend and training partner, former classics great Michele Bartoli also evaluated Ale-Jet's reaction, saying, "He was expecting a few more stages adapted to his characteristics as a sprinter, and I understand his disappointment, but I'm sure he'll give it a second look when he calms down." Two time Giro winner Ivano Gotti, himself a superb climber, also was sympathetic to Petacchi, saying that "It's a nice Giro, but the organizers should have given more space to a great champion like Petacchi."

Former Giro winner Francesco Moser, President of the International Pro Riders Association (CPA) used yesterday's Giro presentation to promote his idea to reduce the length of the major stage races, saying "to shorten the Grand Tours will enable the riders to have a more reasonable program of 80 to 85 days of racing each season", but given the ongoing polemics between the UCI and the organizers of the Grand Tours, this scenario seems highly unlikely.

Voigt rejected Giro half-stages

By Hedwig Kröner

Jens Voigt (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
Click for larger image

Professional cycling racer Jens Voigt (Team CSC), who has recently taken on the position of active riders' representative within the ProTour Council (CUPT), has rejected the idea of the two half stages on the final day of the race - but that was before the Grand Tour was presented in Milan this Saturday. Interviewed by Cyclingnews on Friday, November 11, Voigt said that the Professional Riders' Association (CPA) had taken a firm stance against the plan, just as their Italian counterpart.

"On Wednesday, the CUPT passed on a request from the Giro d'Italia to do two half-stages on the last day of the race," the German explained. "I rejected it in the names of the riders, for a lot of reasons: Half-stages require a lot of time and effort, and for what? For a three kilometre-time trial, and half the prize money. You're working from 7 am until 8 pm for all the transfers and warm-ups, and that on the last day of a three-week stage race! It's nonsense.

"While I probably won't ride the Giro, I can't imagine that the participating riders will like the idea," Voigt continued. "They'll want a normal stage with the start at ten or eleven in the morning, and a finish at five. Of course, I can understand the organiser: it would be great for the public, and there are two stage towns, each paying their rights to host the race. But I'm in charge of the riders' interests, and those are the ones I defend."

Contacted again on Sunday after the presentation of the 2006 route, Voigt hadn't checked his new e-mails yet, but was surprised that Giro organiser RCS still decided to make the half stages happen. "[ProTour manager] Alain Rumpf had sent me a message that the request was rejected, so in my mind it was off the table," Voigt said. "But now it seems that the organisers went ahead with it... There's still some time left before the start, so we'll see what will happen. But it looks like they might get away with it this time, as it is now already official."

Meanwhile, RCS director Angelo Zomegnan told Italian media that he knew very well that half stages are not allowed in three weeks Grand Tours by the UCI. "The mountain time trial is a way to honour the Ghisallo, with the Ghisallo museum inaugurated that very same day," Zomegnan said. "If the UCI doesn't give us the permission to carry on with it, we will find another way to honour the mountain and its museum."

Watch out for the full interview with Jens Voigt coming up soon on Cyclingnews.

Pevenage wants Ullrich to ride Giro 2006

Jan Ullrich's sporting advisor and close friend, Belgian Rudy Pevenage, is in favour of preparing the German's 2006 Tour de France victory bid with the participation of the Giro d'Italia next year. Pevenage, who will again be part of the T-Mobile team next year after working solely for Ullrich since 2003, wants the 1997 Tour de France winner to decide soon whether he'll ride the Giro or the Tour de Suisse to prepare for next year's 'Grande Boucle'.

"Riding the Giro would be one of the two ways to warm up for the Tour, besides the Tour de Suisse," Pevenage said. "I'll advise him to do it," he added, after seeing the full details of the 2006 Giro d'Italia route on Saturday.

Ceramica Flaminia complete

Continental team Ceramica Flaminia has announced its complete roster for next season. In its second year as a professional team, the outfit directed by Roberto Marrone will include 14 riders: Adriano Angeloni, Stefano Boggia, Gianluca Geremia, Humbert Krys, Aleksandr Kuscynski, Tomasz Marczynski, Massimiliano Martella, Domenico Quagliariello, Gianmario Rovaletti, Maxim Rudenko, Michele Scotto D'Abusco, Manuele Spadi, Krystzof Szczawinski and Maurizio Varini. Former professionals Simone Borgheresi and Massimo Podenzana will lead the team as directeurs sportifs.

Moscow murmerings about Sydney Thousand and Cricket

The Sydney Thousand set down for Dunc Gray Olympic Velodrome on Sunday, November 27, had the international track cycling set in Moscow scratching heads over what it's all about. UCI vice-president Ray Godkin, who returned on the weekend from the Moscow round of the World Track Cycling Cup and a conference of the sport's head body, presented his colleagues the schedule of events for the Sydney Thousand which includes a match race between Ryan Bayley, the double Gold Medal winner from Athens up against the reigning World Sprint Champion Rene Wolff, of Germany.

The Sydney Thousand, an eight lap handicap with riders beginning from a staggered start, had the international delegates asking Godkin questions about its format and name. Australia's sports promoter Hugh D. McIntosh began the Sydney Thousand at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on a banked concrete track around the boundary, in 1903. The world's best rider at that time, black American Major Taylor and his opponents played to a crowd of 54,000 people - 12,000 people more than can be accommodated at the SCG today.

Godkin explained the "Thousand" part of the race's title was in fact a winner's prize of a 1,000 guineas - a guinea being 21 shillings in the old currency and a fortune in the early part of the last century. The Aussie UCI supremo reported that Russian, German and Japanese colleagues asked about travelling to Australia for the meeting and promoter John E. Scott has indicated he will host them on the day in a hospitality area at the track.

Godkin was stopped in his tracks when one delegate, a Japanese, began a line of questioning on the SCG's name and what "cricket is all about"...

Virenque creates jewellery

Seven-times Tour de France Polka Dot jersey winner Richard Virenque has a new business: the creation of jewellery. Named 'Virenque Design', the new collection of massive silver bracelets, rings, necklaces etc. is inspired by tribal art. "I've always wanted to do something in fashion," said Virenque, who also works as a representative in public relations for cycling sponsor Davitamon and expert for TV channel Eurosport. "It's not just some media coup, rather the start of something which will I hope will continue in the future." The jewellery designed by the former professional cyclist will be available in 500 standard shopping malls throughout France and Belgium, as Virenque's idea was to make the products affordable to the general public.

'Cycling Sooty Park' on Channel 31

David Olle of Topbike Tours in Melbourne has signed a deal with local television network Channel 31, to produce a weekly show ‘Cycling Sooty Park’. The show has a magazine format, featuring cycling in all forms and disciplines, from commuters to Grand Tour Riders, with an emphasis on fashion, fun and the lighter side of cycling.

The show, which will commence in January 2006, will also see the return of the Rollers competition that used to feature on ‘World of Sport’ back in the 70’s and 80’s, although the rollers will be replaced by Computrainers, with digital readouts on screen. ‘Sooty Park’ is keen to have all the groups that ride Beach Rd (Melbourne) represented in the competition, i.e. Bay Riders, Bandidos, Pack of Aces, Brumby’s Group etc. They can contact the show by email or on 0415 866 061.

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