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News for January 11, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

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Fassa Bortolo 2002

Fassa Bortolo, the world's number one team according to UCI rankings, has announced its line up for 2002. Team manager Giancarlo Feretti will have a squad of 24 riders, including seven new signings. Four of them are from the now defunct Liquigas-Pata team: Serguei Gontchar, Gorazd Stangelj, Denis Zanette and Marco Zanotti, with Marco Velo (Mercatone Uno), Rinaldo Nocentini (Mapei-Quick Step) and Sven Montgomery (Francaise des Jeux) as the other new faces.

They will join forces with the existing riders, which provide a solid foundation for the team. The experience and talent of Francesco Casagrande, Fabio Baldato, Wladimir Belli, Serguei Ivanov, Dmitri Konyshev, and Ivan Basso should help in the quest to be number one for 2002. Last year, the team won 36 races - enough to place it as number one in only its second year of existence. Although the team is relatively new, 60 year old Feretti is an experienced campaigner and will ensure that the team stays on top in 2002.

Full team roster and sponsors.

Jean Delatour stays at home

French team Jean Delatour will not start its racing season in January, unlike a number of other division I teams. Instead, team manager Michel Gros will hold two training camps this month, both on French soil. The first will take place from January 14-21 in Hyères, in the department of Var, while the second will start on January 29 and finish on February 5, situated in Amélie-les-Bains in the Pyrenees. The latter will include the team's official presentation on January 31.

Gros said that January is the time for "building a solid base for the group" and that it was necessary for the riders to meet and work together to lay the foundations for teamwork for the rest of the year.

The camp will involve training rides of between 3 and 6 hours, including some work behind derny bikes.

Decision delayed in Meier case

More waiting for Hamburger

The doping case involving Swiss cyclist Roland Meier was heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday, January 10 in Zurich. Meier was found positive for EPO last April, at the same time as Danish cyclist Bo Hamburger. Meier was suspended until June 19, 2002 by the Swiss Cycling Federation, but appealed to the CAS. In contrast, Hamburger was not sanctioned by the Danish sports federation last year, forcing the UCI to lodge an appeal with the CAS.

Both cases were heard this week by a panel of three judges. Professor Jacques de Ceaurriz, of the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory which developed the EPO test, was present to explain how the test worked and how valuable it was.

A decision on both the Meier and the Hamburger case is not expected for at least one month.

More French teams invited to Tour Méditerranéen

The number of French teams invited to the Tour Méditerranéen (February 13-17) has been increased from three to eight, encompassing all the French division I and II teams. A decision was made today by the Ligue du cyclisme professionnel français (LCPF) to ensure that all French teams had access to this important early season stage race. The LCPF guaranteed this until at least 2005.

The organiser of the event, Lucien Aimar, agreed to this on condition that at least two of the teams' top four riders (on UCI rankings) would start in the race.

The decision will be welcomed by the directors of the French teams, who will be looking for early season results to help their selection in the Tour de France. Next year the competition will be tight as there is only one French team pre selected (Cofidis). It's probable that of the remaining five Tour wild card slots, the bulk will be filled by French teams.

Montreal World Cup awarded by UCI

The UCI has named the Montreal round of the Women's World Cup as the greatest event of the Women's World Cup in 2001. The inaugural trophy was presented to the race organiser, Daniel Manibal, during the World Cup organisers seminar.

Pontoni aiming for another World Championship

Italy's top cyclo-crosser, Daniele Pontoni, is aiming to win the World Cyclo-cross championships for a third time when they are held in Zolder next month. Speaking at a press conference to announce his new team GS Hit Casinò-Marchiol-Safi-Frezza, Pontoni said that the World's will be his final objective of the 2001/2002 season, which has been punctuated with problems.

Pontoni's biggest annoyance was the Italian cycling federation's reluctance to select him for any World Cup races this season, despite him being the top ranked Italian 'crosser. They cited his age (35 years) as being the main reason, seeing as they wanted to develop younger riders.

Pontoni was only allowed to start in Round 1 in Monopoli after the UCI pressured the Italians to include him. However, since then he has been absent from World Cup competition. He has still managed to maintain 13th position on the UCI cyclo-cross rankings.

As for the World Championships, Pontoni said that "the Federation told me some time ago that there would be no problems to start, but at this stage I don't want to see what happened in 1996 where they said the same thing to me for the World MTB championships and then they left me out. I believe I have the right to ride."

Pontoni said that his first goal will be the Italian championship on Sunday in Sassuolo.

Swiss cyclo-cross championship in Stäfa

The 89th Swiss cyclo-cross championships will take place on Sunday, January 13 in Frohberg, near Stäfa. The 2,415 metre parcours will include 1,016 m of bitumen, 556 m of cross country tracks and 623 m of fields. At least 120 m per lap will have to be done on foot.

The racing commences at 12:15 with the Juniors and Women's titles (40 minutes), followed by the U23 Men's title at 13:30 (50 minutes) and the final event, the Elite Men's championship at 15:00 (60 minutes). It's expected that the men's race will be well contested, with the likes of defending champion Beat Wabel along with MTB star Thomas Frischknecht.

The championships, organised by VMC Hombrechtikon for the second time since 1983, will serve as the last selection races before the World Cyclo-cross championships in Zolder, Belgium at the beginning of February.

Julien Absalon fractures wrist

French cyclo-crosser Julien Absalon will be a non-starter in this weekend's French championships in Sarrebourg, after he fractured his wrist during training recently. Absalon was one of the favourites for the U23 championship, after he ran third last year. He is also the reigning U23 World MTB cross country champion.

Irish cycling development camp

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

The Drominteen Conference Centre, Newry, Co. Down is the setting this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) for elite, senior and under-23 cyclists who will be briefed on developments for the coming season. Cycling's governing (ICF) body and the Ulster Cycling Federation are the co-hosts of this weekend.

Also on the menu to make this a memorable exercise for the future of the sport this season will be a Who's Who of cycling personalities who have been lined up to impart their knowledge from experiences all over the globe.

No assembly of the cycling fraternity would be complete without the presence of Sean Kelly. Sean's presence will assure the weekend of a total success. The guy is so frank and no question goes unanswered. For example, many years ago when Guinness was involved in sponsorship back in the Nissan Days and the Guinness Series of Races.

A young aspiring cyclist John McCormack of the McCormack dynasty, pepped up at the talk-in, "Sean how come you cannot get up those mountain passes, particularly in the Tour de France with the climbers?"

You can imagine a deadly hush fell on approximately 300 people from all walks of the cycling world that had come to listen and get an insight into the world of cycling from Sean's perspective. He was then the number one cyclist in the world.

"Those climbers can suffer more than I can in the mountains," said Kelly. That was the character of the man in his prime and today he is still the King.

Ciaran Power and Philip Cassidy along with Sean have agreed to go out on training spins with the cyclists. No doubt he'll be anxious to show them all the skills that he accumulated over his long and successful career on the continent. Also that he is still capable of winning events (he won the Hamper Race over Christmas), which will surely be a topic of conversation. Obviously there is still life in the man who graced our sports pages for many a long year.

Not alone will road racing be on the agenda, but mountain biking and track racing will feature with specialists from those areas in attendance.

Paddy Doran, who has done Trojan work in the area of coaching, will be on hand to impart the knowledge that he has acquired in this, his speciality over the years. Paddy down the years has seen many cyclists who sought his expertise go on to make successful careers in the sport.

Officials from the Sports Council of Northern Ireland and the Irish Sports Council will also on hand to lend their support to this weekend.

The fee is 90.00 euro for the entire weekend including all meals, accommodation, coaching, seminars and talks. Drominteen Conference Centre is located 4km approximately north of Newry on the M1 (sign posted at turn off). Left hand turns off coming from Dublin. Further information from: P. Marrey, 087 7992857 or F.Campbell 028 90 228465.

More World Cyclo-cross Cup #4 & Acqua&Sapone Team Launch pics

Click for larger image
Go Sven!
Photo: © Patrick Nijs
Click for larger image
What the?
Photo: © Bettini

Head to the latest photos page for a few new photos of the Nommay World Cup Cup #4 race and the Acqua&Sapone team launch. The Nommay section features some great images of Erwin Vervecken (Bel) taking his latest victory as well as the man you recenly voted #1 male Cyclo-cross rider, Sven Nys (Bel), flying through the course in his rainbow jersey.

Meanwhile, we have also added some pictures from the Acqua&Sapone team launch, showing an unusual side to how the new team was celebrated (some of these pics should be classified with an "M" rating).

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