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Edited by Jeff Jones
By Tim Maloney, European editor
Despite finishing the 2001 season with 36 victories and as the number one pro cycling squad in the UCI Rankings, team manager Giancarlo Ferretti is still looking for a major victory that will consolidate Fassa Bortolo place on top of the heap. Fassa Bortolo is a Treviso, Italy based manufacturer of plaster wall covering and paint that only entered the sport in 1999.
"I spent 6 years (racing) with Ferretti and live near him," recounted Italian TV cycling commentator Davide Cassani. "Fassa Bortolo is a team that Ferretti has brought to number one in only two years time, but they are still missing that big win."
60 year old Ferretti, nicknamed 'Feron', is considered perhaps the wisest old wolf in the sport of pro cycling. His 28 years of experience as a team leader enabled him to make some impressive moves in the off season to further build up Fassa Bortolo. With the Giro firing of Dario Frigo and departure of Raimondas Rumsas, Ferretti brought in 8 new riders to bring the team up to 24 athletes for '02.
Ferretti's first choice was his ex-star from the legendary MG Boys-GB team Michele Bartoli, who arrived late last season from Mapei. "I've rediscovered my desire to race in this team", said Bartoli of Fassa Bortolo. "Ferretti knows how to run a close knit team like no one else in the sport. Now it's my turn; I want to win a classic again; San Remo, Flanders or Liege."
Bartoli's terrible accident in '99 and his long, difficult comeback soured his tenure at Mapei and if anyone can inspire Bartoli to return to his mid-'90's greatness, it will be Ferretti. Also joining Fassa Bortolo from Mapei is young talent Rinaldo Nocentini.
With the folding of Liquigas, Ferretti managed to grab the key elements of this mob; time trial monster Serguei Gontchar, up and coming Slovenian Gorazd Stangelj, solid Denis Zanette, and speedy Marco Zanotti. Three time Italian time trial champion Marco Velo will join Fassa Bortolo from Mercatone Uno, with emerging star Swiss Sven Montgomery coming over from LFDJ.
Returning to Fassa Bortolo for 2002 will be key names like Francesco Casagrande, Ivan Basso, Wladimir Belli, Serguei Ivanov, Dimitri Konyshev, Fabio Baldato and Alessandro Petacchi. Casagrande will look to come into form in April for hilly classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but his main focus in '02 will be the Giro d'Italia.
"I had a long talk with Feretti in our training camp (last week) and this year more than ever, I'll go for a win in the Giro", said Casagrande.
With the easier "euro" Giro this year, it might be hard for the fragile, temperamental Tuscan to meet his top objective.
As for Ivan Basso, Feretti is looking for the 24 year old former U23 world champion to have big year in 2002 for Fassa Bortolo. "We considered Ivan our most promising rider; he won a few small races last year despite breaking his collarbone twice."
Basso and Feretti completely changed his upright, awkward position in the off-season and the handsome Jaguar driving pro told Cyclingnews that "I did this to improve my riding and I'm sure that my new (lower and more aero) position is a good move."
Basso is looking for some spring success in the classics, but also says "my dream this year is to get the Yellow Jersey in the early stages of the Tour De France."
On balance, Ferron and his powerful 2002 Fassa Bortolo squad should make a major impact in the spring classics with a resurgent Bartoli. There is still life in the Pisano yet and with Ferron masterminding his moves, Bartoli will likely be competitive once again.
Basso unquestionably is a huge talent but he must put it together this year and make a move to the next level and fulfil his tremendous promise. As for Casagrande, the easier parcours of the 2002 Giro d'Italia may frustrate the terrible Tuscan's ambition to finish in Milano with the Maglia Rosa. But by the 2003 Fassa Bortolo team presentation, expect the big wins to finally come for Ferron & his Fassa boys.
These photos courtesy of Fotoreporter Sirotti
Photos by Roberto Bettini
Stefano Zanatta: Fassa Bortolo direttore sportivo
CN: What are the team objectives for '02?
SZ: " Well, we have strengthened the team this year with Bartoli and Gontchar and otherwise raised the quality of the roster. As Giancarlo (Ferretti) was saying, we are we are looking to win top level, high quality races this year, starting with (Milano) San Remo and the World Cup and races like the Giro d'Italia...we think we have the team to do well in 2002."
Fausto Pinarello: Fassa Bortolo Bike Sponsor
Ferretti also talked about some of his other riders at the Fassa Bortolo team presentation; he is known as a man of few but candid words and a team manager that is close to his riders. So to hear Ferretti's frank opinions was interesting:
Wladimir Belli: "Well, he's over 30 and he doesn't win much, but he is always up front; especially in the hard races."
Serguei Gontchar: "A very important addition to our team; he will be a key man in the long time trials this year."
Serguei Ivanov: "Ivanov is the most taciturn rider I have ever had...to get him to talk is hard but to make him go fast isn't. He had a bad crash in Tirreneo-Adriatico and came back to win a stage in the Tour De France. But look for him in Paris-Roubaix this year."
Dimitri Konyshev: "He's really an Italo-Russian now he's been in Italy for so long. Now Konyshev is finishing up his career (36 on Feb 18th) and he must be one of the best athletes I've ever seen in cycling. But it seems to me he's almost always ridden at half-gas and we'll see if we can get him to ride faster this year."
Sven Montgomery: "I was watching him since last year's Tour Of Romandie and the Tour de France and was impressed. I believe we can do some important things with him".
Alessandro Petacchi: "He's one of our best riders; in 2000, he won more races than any other Italian rider (9) and last year he had 5 wins despite a crash. Petacchi is a courageous rider; he is a fast sprinter but he will still go with breakaways."
Gorazd Stangelj: "I really like this riders' style; he has great timing in the races...he's in all the right moves in the last 20-30km and when he wins, he wins strong."
For more info, check out their all new website at www.Fassabortolo.it
Robbie McEwen has started off his season in fine style, securing four stage wins in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under and in the process winning the SA Lotteries Sprint Jersey. He tell Cyclingnews about his plans for Europe. Click here to read more
Mapei Quick-Step won the Most Successful Team award on the final day of the 2002 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under today, delighting director Roberto Damiani, who said he couldn't have been more pleased with its performance during the six-day event and would be back for another go next year. Click here to read more
David McPartland finished the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in 19th place on GC, less than 13 minutes behind, but in front of many big names with vastly greater experience. Click here to read more
Index to JCTDU news stories
Index to results
By Denis Descamps in Doha
The inaugural Tour of Qatar gets underway in Doha on Monday and the five-day cycling extravaganza has attracted some of the world's finest international riders.
The event is being organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation (the organisers of the Tour de France) and is the brainchild of His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar and the President of the Qatar Cycling Federation, Sheikh Khalid Bin Al-Thani, the Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Brig Dahlan Al-Hamad. They worked to include a new event in the UCI calendar and the Tour of Qatar was born.
With the development taking place in international professional cycling, it is becoming clear that the sport in no longer an exclusively European discipline. At the start of the season, the leading teams are keen to find races and events in warmer climes where they are better able to prepare for the forthcoming UCI season.
The Australian Tour Down Under finished with a victory for the young Aussie Michael Rogers and the Malaysian Tour of Langkawi in February has attracted a number of the Division I teams. The Tour of Qatar is another example of such an event and has been able to attract a top rate entry.
Supported by the expertise of the Sociètè du Tour de France (ASO), a number of the contacts of veteran Belgian cycling champion Eddy Merckx and the full support of the State of Qatar, a first class route has been created in the 2.3 category.
The first stage takes place around the capital of Doha and will see several champions in action, including the likes of Jan Ullrich (Deutsche Telekom), twice former World Champion against the clock, Sydney Olympics road racing champion and winner of the 1997 Tour and Laurent Jalabert (CSC), former world number one and the hero of the Grand Boucle last summer. Also riding will be Johan Museeuw (Domo), Paris-Roubaix specialist and former winner of the World Cup and Franck Vandenbroucke, who has entered the Tour of Qatar to prove he has lost none of his talent.
Behind the leading contingent, there are several more top competitors, such as Svorada, Sciandri (Lampe-Daikin), Bortolami (Tacconi), Rous, Nazon (Bonjour), Heulot (Bigmat-Auber), Robin, Durand (La Francaise des Jeux), Barthe and Rinero (Saint-Quentin). One of the latest Francaise des Jeux recruits is the 20 year-old London rider Bradley Wiggins, who has been tipped for a great future in professional cycling.
The race is very open and has permitted a number of journalists to visit a country which is little known in most of Europe. The tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which is planning to host the 2006 Asian Games, is one of the most forward-thinking nations in terms of sport at the present time, with a tennis tournament on the ATP Tour, a golf tournament on the European PGA Tour and a number of international motor sport events. Besides, the government is intent on setting up a Formula One Grand Prix circuit and building quickly on its sporting successes to date.
Qatar (pop. 770,000) sticks out like a hitch-hiker's thumb from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. Like most countries in the region, it owes its wealth to its extensive reserves of oil and natural gas. It has been ruled since 1995 by the current Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
On Monday, Tour of Qatar action gets underway from the foot of the Khalifa Stadium in Doha at 13.00, with the race set to end with the fifth and final stage on Friday, January 25th in Doha.
Team Deutsche Telekom
Française des Jeux
Big Mat-Auber 93
Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo
Tacconi Sport -Vini Caldirola
For a map of the Persian Gulf showing Qatar, click here
For everything the CIA knows about Qatar (or at least, everything it's prepared to share with the rest of us) click here
French great Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) has no plans to end his career, he revealed today in Qatar on the eve of the first Tour du Qatar. "It is certain, I will not stop at the end of this year. I told my team that I wanted to continue," said Jalabert to reporters in Doha.
This year marks the 33 year old's 14th season as a pro, and he has given no indication that he is "over the hill". Two stages and the King of the Mountains jersey in last year's Tour de France are proof of that. In fact, this year we may see some better performances from Jaja, as he is no longer suffering from a back injury that he sustained at the beginning of last season. "I do not feel any more pain," he said.
Since last November, Jalabert has trained 3000 kilometres in preparation for the first race of the year, and said that he still greatly enjoyed riding. "Why stop under these conditions, especially when there are more results to follow?"
Jalabert's season will again focus on the Tour de France, but he intends to be strong for Paris-Nice and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He will make his European debut in the GP La Marseillaise on February 5 and will ride a number of races in France in the early season (Tour Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut-Var, Classic Haribo, Paris-Nice, Critérium International) as well as classics such as Milan-San Remo, Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The US Postal team spent last weekend at its first training camp of the year in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cyclingnews correspondent Jon Devich joined the team to get the inside dope on the new riders, plans for 2002 and more. Click here for his full report and pictures.
The Austrian Cycling Federation has entered following riders for the Cyclocross Worlds in Zolder.
Elite Men: Peter Presslauer (Corratec World Team)
Elite Women: Isabella Wieser (RCU Charly Lietzsport)
Junior: Klaus Leeb (Rad und Bike Kiesl)
Courtesy of Thomas Essletzbichler
The Verizon Wireless-Cervelo Women's Team, ranked fourth in the USA last year behind Saturn, Intersports, and Autotrader.com, is looking to add another rider.
The team, which added Cervelo as a co-sponsor last year, will focus its efforts on the Montreal World Cup and related UCI stage race, GP Fem (now, Transoceanee), and other significant events in the Northeastern part of the USA and Canada (including National Calendar events in Danbury, CT (Housatonic), Sommerville, Philly, Washington DC, Fitchburg, Altoona, US and Canadian Nationals, Univest GP, plus important regional events such as Jiminy Peak, Hilltowns, Bear Mountain, etc). They will also have a 10 day training camp in South Carolina in mid-March and forays into other National events such as Festival of Speed, Solano, Valley of the Sun, Wendy's, and Superweek.
The team seeks a team-oriented rider who can commit to most of the above events and is committed to participating in a team sport where the focus is on group dynamics; lone rangers need not apply! The team donates its winnings to the Susan G. Komen Breast cancer foundation (Canadian BCF for Canadian events) and covers entry fees, clothing, team bike, and most costs of travel-lodging. This is not a salaried position; but riders are also offered a slot in prestigious national level events and are given the opportunity to ride as a team and compete at the highest level.
Send resume, and a brief statement regarding your ideas/importance of teamwork, strengths/weaknesses, and goals for 2002 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Campione Racing Team is a group of Canadian elite level cyclists who will compete both nationally and internationally. Lead by former Masters World Champion, Larry Zimich, the team will kick of the year with a pre season training camp, followed by a schedule that will see members compete in approximately 80 events leading up to the Masters World Championships in St. Johan August 28th. The team is owned by Giuseppe Cramerotti, on of the biggest Italian bike manufacturers in North America.
Team owner: Giuseppe Cramerotti
Team manager: Janet Truesdale, William Cramerotti
Team mechanic: Dave Adam
Campione Cycles - www.campionecycles.com
Cramerotti bikes - www.cramerotti.com