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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for April 10, 2002

Edited by John Stevenson

Gent-Wevelgem: Cipollini versus Zabel in mid-week classic

By Jeff Jones

Click for larger image
Danger man Zabel
Photo: © AFP

Positioned midway between the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix is the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem, which celebrates its 64th running this year. Starting near the centre of the "student city" of Gent, the race makes its way out to the west coast of Flanders via Brugge, passing through the coastal towns of Oostende, Koksijde and De Panne, before continuing south and inland via Poperinge to the Kemmelberg, the main climb of the race. The riders have to tackle this cobbled monster twice before they head back towards Wevelgem, with 207 kilometres in their legs.

This year, the Kemmelberg has been moved closer to the finish, but there is still 35 kilometres of flat terrain between the top of the Kemmel and Wevelgem. It is considered a sprinter's classic, although last year a break did manage to get away and deny the sprinters their glory.

Click for larger image
Can Cipo take another Classic?
Photo: © Sirotti

At the end of that breakaway, George Hincapie (USPS) won an incredibly close sprint from Leon Van Bon to take his first ever classic victory, and he will be lining up in Gent's Citadelpark with at least some ambitions to defend his win. However, after a 4th place in last Sunday's Ronde, Hincapie's sights are clearly set on Paris-Roubaix this weekend. Again he will be aided by Lance Armstrong and the rest of the very capable US Postal team.

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Race schedule

Cyclingnews' Live coverage of the 64th Gent-Wevelgem will start at 14:00 local time (8:00am USA eastern time, 5:00am USA west, 10:00pm Australian east). You'll find it here.

Verstrepen to skip Gent-Wevelgem

Johan Verstrepen, who crashed during the Ronde van Vlaanderen, has decided not to take part Gent-Wevelgem, as his right shoulder is still painful. Raivis Belohvosciks will take his place. There is still hope that Verstrepen will recover in time to race the Paris-Roubaix, according to the team.

Eeckhout for Gent

Nico Eeckhout (Lotto), has been confirmed as a starter at Gent-Wevelgem despite the sprained wrist he sustained in a fall at the Tour of Flanders. Eeckhout will also therefore be able to start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

Gaumont doubtful for Paris-Roubaix

Cofidis rider Philipe Gaumont is suffering from a respiratory complaint caused by an allergy and is therefore unlikely to start Paris-Roubaix this weekend.

Gaumont, who is currently riding the Circuit de la Sarthe, consulted a pulmonary specialist after the first stage.

Paris-Roubaix sector to be named after Duclos-Lassalle

To mark the 100th edition of Paris-Roubaix this weekend, one of the decisive sections of pave will get a new name. Section five, at Cysoing, 25km from the finish, will be named after Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle in a ceremony this Saturday timed to coincide with the traditional Paris-Roubaix cyclo-tourist ride.

Duclos-Lassalle, one of only a handful of riders to win back-to-back editions of Paris-Roubaix (1992 and 1993), said he was "Pleasantly surprised" by the decision to honour him. "The North is my second homeland. I always say that when I fold up my map of france, BŽarn and the North touch.

ONCE and out of Giro

The ONCE and teams have confirmed their withdrawal from the Giro d'Italia which starts May 11, citing the lack of coverage of the race on free-to-air Spanish television. The absence of these two leaves Kelme as the only Spanish team in the race.

Euzebio UnzuŽ, manager of, told the AFP news agency: "Last year, Spanish television did not transmit the race either. We had an excellent Giro (a stage win and third overall) and nobody saw us."

"Sport remains the most important thing, but we have to take the commercial aspects into account. Therefore, we will concentrate on the Tour de France and the Vuelta, where media coverage is guaranteed for us."

"The riders who were to take part in the Giro, like Francisco Mancebo and Unai Osa will be allocated to other races like the Tour de Romandie, the Midi-Libre and so on."

ONCE's Abraham Olano, twice a podium-finisher in the Giro (second in 2001) said, "I am disappointed; it was one of my objectives for the season. This changes everything. I will have to change my plans for the season completely. My objectives were the Giro and the Tour, now it will be the Tour and the Vuelta."

The Kelme team remains upbeat about the Giro, however. Kelme general manager Joan Mas said, "We have commercial interests in Italy and like every year we will try and have a good race. Aitor Gonzalez, who will be the leader, will be trying for a top six finish on general classification and we will try to win stages to show that we are an aggressive team."

Ferrari trial: Convalle testifies

Former professional rider Fabrizio Convalle added to the evidence against Dr Michele Ferrari yesterday. Ferrari is accused by the court in Bologna of sporting fraud and administering doping products.

In his testimony, Convalle, who is now in charge of the Italian U23 national team, said that while he had been racing, Ferrari had given him 'ampoules'.

Convalle submitted documents given him by Ferrari for his race preparation, and said "the asterisks in the lists indicated that I should take an ampoule. Dr Ferrari gave me the ampoules and said I should keep them in the fridge."

Convalle claimed he did not know what was in the ampoules but that he had been told to take them before the most important races.

In 1992, he paid Ferrari ten million lire for these preparations.

The case continues on May 22

Bellutti appointed Italian track director

The Italian cycling federation has appointed double Olympic gold medallist Antonella Bellutti as its director of track cycling, with responsibility for both men's and women's competition.

Federation president Giancarlo Ceruti commented, "We are very happy to entrust this role to Antonella. We know the technical, human and moral qualities that a champion of her calibre brings."

Belluti won gold in the pursuit at Atlanta, and in the points race at Sydney. This year she switched disciplines and represented her country in the bobsleigh at Salt Lake City.

Service for Joe Hailey

A funeral service for fallen rider Joe Hailey will be held at 10 AM on Saturday April 13, 2002 in West Vancouver, BC at St. Anthony's Church.