First Edition Cycling News for September 27, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland
Boonen back in Belgium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
At 3pm on Monday afternoon, Tom Boonen's flight landed in Zaventem.
The World Champion's return home caused some mad situations in the national
airport, where hundreds of fans welcomed their hero.
On Tuesday afternoon, Boonen and the entire Belgian team will be expected
to meet with King Albert at the Royal Palace in Brussels. On Wednesday,
Boonen will be in a less festive mood as he will be operated on for a
tear in the peritoneum - a consequence of last year's operation on his
Fans wishing to see the new World Champion race again this season will
have to make a trip to Curaçao. After a well-deserved holiday, Boonen
will ride the Amstel Curaçao criterium on the 5th of November on this
Peeters praises Tom
Tom Boonen (Belgium)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Wilfried "fitte" Peeters (Quick.Step team director) was full of praise
for his rider Tom Boonen, who will be clad in the rainbow colours in Quick.Step
next season. "Tom's got so many nice qualities, but his most beautiful
trait? That is that he never has one bad word to say about his colleagues,"
Peeters told the Belgian press after Sunday's race. "It's his charisma,
and with that, he charms the whole team. That's why the other Belgian
riders went through the fire for him today. They all pulled the cord for
him. That's another characteristic: Tom creates that unity. While a super
Van Petegem rode a pursuit like only he can ride, Tom was gliding along
comfortably in the second group. Tom was the only sprinter able to do
so, because Tom is more than just a fast man.
"When he rode his first tour I predicted what would come to him. That
he would start disliking journalists, that sometimes all those hectic
situations would drive him nuts. He had to admit I was right later on.
"Tom can do a whole lot as a rider, but as a human being he'll have
to learn to say no from time to time. Everyone will want a piece of him,
even more than before. He always wants to please everyone, give every
person what they long for. But he can't do this any longer, not if he
wants to keep performing at this level.
"We are talking about the absolute top in cycling here. Tom is super,
to me all the more because he did all this in one year, after an operation
which could have taken him off the bike permanently. He put three goals
before him and he reached them all. World class!"
"The words his mum spoke: 'what now, Fitte [Peeters' nickname], what
now? I'm afraid of all the fuss that will follow!' Those words summarize
everything. Luckily Tom will always be himself, just Tom. It's only a
fact that he's got something more than other mortals."
Former world champions agree "It was no surprise"
"He'll only get better. A rider who's able to do what he did in a period
of ten months is a super-champion," Museeuw was quoted in Gazet Van
Antwerpen as saying. "I don't think of it as a shame that I'm not
the last Belgian World Champion any longer. I couldn't imagine a more
worthy successor. Tom is already a great champion; he will get better
even and he'll always be as down to earth as he is now. His family plays
an important role in that. They are very level headed people. And what
is pleasing to me it that his girlfriend doesn't jump to share the limelight
with him; she's not here even, she has chosen to stay on the background.
That type of woman appears to be the best for a top athlete."
"I didn't actually see Tom win. I am in America at the moment, and cycling
is still an "underdog" here in the States. But I got that many telephone
calls that it felt like I was in the race! If I can get the right picture
from here, it couldn't have been better. The Belgians rode a perfect race
and rolled out the red carpet for their key player. If I can be straight:
Tom Boonen didn't surprise me. I expected him to be on the highest step
of the podium in Madrid. It's not easy to fulfil the expectations put
on your shoulders all the time. That's the real strength of this Boonen:
he's even there when the stress-level are the highest. And he can finish
it of on top of that. He has earned my respect because of it. I know what
it feels like to ride your bike with all the eye of the nation staring
Dutchman Michael Boogerd was very much in the action at the business
end of the World Championships in Madrid on Sunday. He was part of a six
man break that included teammate Koos Moerenhout, Italian Paolo Bettini,
Kazakhstani Alexandre Vinokourov, Spaniard Marcos Serrano, and Slovenian
Gorazd Stangelj. But the move came to nothing with 600 metres to go, when
the Belgian-driven bunch behind brought Boonen back into the bike race.
In his column in De Telegraaf, Boogerd described his race in
the finale: "Actually I thought I was certain of a medal in the World's.
With six kilometres to go, I was away with Paolo Bettini and Alexandre
Vinokourov. Those are the ideal men to go with in the finale. I didn't
think immediately about the world title, but I knew that I would stand
on the podium. Even when Koos Moerenhout, Serrano and Stangelj closed
the gap, I was convinced of my chances. Maybe Koos should have immediately
attacked when he closed. Then the others would have had to have worked,
and that suited me perfectly. If they had hesitated, Moerenhout would
have soloed to the world title.
"In any case, Koos rode a world championship race. His power was inexhaustible.
We tried to play a game in the last kilometres, but that didn't work.
I would have had the worst of it in a sprint against Bettini, but I had
the nerve against the other men. Until the group came back with five hundred
metres from the finish. Then it was all over.
"Tom Boonen is a great champion. What a fantastic season he's ridden.
In the coming years, we can expect a lot from him. I give it to the Belgian
team too, because they rode as one. In any case, I'm happy that the Italians
didn't win. It's unbelievable how arrogant the guys were on their bikes.
The whole race, they looked at everyone like they were inferior. As if
they couldn't lose this race. As if the rest were riding for scraps. A
rider like Pozzato, who rides with an air as if he's by far the best rider.
Now, they finished behind. Their coach Franco Ballerini will complain
that he based most of the race on sprinter Alessandro Petacchi. Di Luca,
Basso and Cunego, they were the right guys who could have made the difference
here. What that means is that they read it totally wrong. Opposite to
the Italians, the sobriety of the low countries is rewarded. The Belgians
and the Dutch demonstrated that they could also ride a strong finale.
Rinero looking to move on
French rider Christophe Rinero (RAGT Semences) is getting a new lease
of life, having signed with ProTour team Saunier Duval-Prodir, after having
ridden for second and third division teams for the past four seasons.
The 31 year-old reflected on his career so far, which had its highlight
in the 1998 Tour de France.
"I've been riding pro for ten years now and my goodness, time has flown
by," he said. "For me personally, 1998 was the best season in my career.
That year I finished 4th on the Tour with the jersey for the best climber
and went on to win the Avenir, still with the jersey for best climber
and winning two stages into the bargain. The future was looking good.
In 2000, I had a streak of bad luck when I tore a tendon. I was riding
for Cofidis at the time. By 2001, I was out on my ear. I could not be
counted upon. I was out of favour with the other sporting directors of
the big French teams. Oktos held out its hand. I stayed for two seasons
but I really got back into the saddle thanks to RAGT Semences in 2004.
"It is this team which really got be back up off the ground again, both
mentally and physically. There were never any set-tos with the Red and
Greens. In spite of limited resources, it was a good structure. A sort
of family atmosphere and a close-knit team. Friendly management with Serge
Barle, Jean-Luc Jonrond and Julien Jurdie. The team mechanics too, who
I called upon many a time to change my position a couple of minutes before
the start (laughs). I tend to worry about my gear. In short, I'm pleased
to have donned these colours for two seasons and to have been able to
get back on track since 2004.
"I'd like to underline that RAGT Semences has enabled 18 riders to work
for two years. And without wanting to upset anyone, as we've all heard
more than enough about it, the ProTour put paid to RAGT Semences project.
Getting back to my results, I am of course conscious that they are modest.
Without being ashamed about it, I'd go as far as saying that I've had
none to speak of. In any event, I was often involved in the important
phases of a race, particularly in the decisive moments. I probably demonstrated
that I still had the bottle necessary to stay pro. For the last month
and a half let's say, I've been riding well again."
Rinero added that his recent form in Paris-Corrèze and GP Plouay enabled
him to secure a spot with Saunier Duval, and hopes to finish off his season
RAGT for Circuit Franco Belge (September 29-October 2): Guillaume Auger,
Emilien Bergès, Reynaud Dion, Kevin Ista, Yoann Leboulanger, Benjamin
Levécot, Sebastien Minard, Christophe Rinero.
Greipel to T-Mobile
The T-Mobile team has signed André Greipel to its roster for next season,
on a one year basis. The 23 year-old sprinter, who hails from Jan Ullrich's
hometown of Rostock, rode for Team Wiesenhof this year. "André is a young
rider with massive potential," said T-Mobile manager Olaf Ludwig. "He
has shown that already on a number of occasions this year. We are hoping
that, with us, he can continue to develop and evolve as a sprinter."
In his first year in the pro ranks, Greipel impressed with a strong
ride at the Tour of Denmark, where he bagged a stage win, as well as second
and third places in stages. Greipel also managed fourth place in a strong
field at the "Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt" criterium. The Wiesenhof
rider also sprinted to third place in the third stage of the International
Tour of Rheinland-Pfalz.
In 2002, Peter Sager, the coach who discovered Jan Ullrich, brought
Greipel to the youth team TEAG Köstritzer. Under Sager, Greipel's talent
was quickly converted into results, including two titles at the German
junior championships and countless stage wins in smaller tours. In 2005
Greipel turned pro with Wiesenhof.
"The switch to the T-Mobile Team is a massive step for me. I am delighted
to be given a chance with this team," said Greipel.
Tschopp in recovery mode
Swiss rider Johann Tschopp (Phonak) has finished his season after his
accident in the Tour of Poland. Instead of enjoying holidays in Egypt,
he's laid up at home in Wallis, trying to exercise some patience. Tschopp
suffered a fracture to the head of his femur. He had a successful operation
on it, but he isn't allowed to put weight on his leg for six weeks. After
another examination, six more weeks will have to go by before Tschopp
can resume training.
"Of course it's boring at the moment for an athlete like myself," he
said. "But I'm trying to keep my mind off of it by reading. After all,
there are worse things than this injury."
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