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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

International News for August 27, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Volvo-Cannondale stops

By John Stevenson

The Volvo-Cannondale mountain bike team announced today that after nine years involvement in the sport of mountain bike racing, Volvo and Cannondale will not be sponsoring their eponymous team in 2003.

Giana Roberge, assistant manager of Team Sports, the company that runs the Volvo-Cannondale team, told Cyclingnews that there was no hidden agenda here. "Volvo had been involved for a long time and just felt they had got everything out of the team that they could." The decline in profile of top-level mountain bike racing over the last couple of years, with the reduction in the number of World Cup and NORBA events, had no bearing on the decision, said Roberge.

"Volvo has been super-happy with the team and they have been involved on an event level too," said Roberge.

The short time since the decision has not yet provided an opportunity for the team or the riders to make other plans. "We and the athletes only found out yesterday," said Roberge. However, Team Sports will be looking for alternative sponsors to fill the void left by Volvo. "We'd like to continue," said Roberge. "We still think mountain biking is a sport that deserves looking at and we're considering our plans for the future."

The team has had a star-studded run, providing a home for riders such as Missy Giove, Alison Sydor, Myles Rockwell, Brian Lopes, Tinker Juarez, Cadel Evans, Christoph Sauser, Anne-Caroline Chausson and Cedric Gracia, and landing numerous World Cup and world championship titles.

The team's current roster is downhillers Anne-Caroline Chausson and Cedric Gracia; XC riders Tinker Juarez, Kashi Leuchs and Christoph Sauser; and trials riders Lance Trappe, Thibaut Marriaux and Arizono Keigo.

In a press release announcing the decision, Cannondale VP of Marketing Scott Montgomery stressed that Cannondale would still be involved with mountain bike racing, with the continuation of the company's Sobe-Cannondale team.

Related story: Volvo-Cannondale team profile

A kilo of gold for Kirchen

Luxembourger Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) pulled off a coup in the final stage of the ENECO Ronde van Nederland on Saturday, when he placed second in the stage and moved up 23 places on GC to win the tour. His tour winning margin was just 4 seconds over Erik Dekker, who finished in the next group behind him at 22 seconds. It was the third time in four years that Dekker has finished second in his national tour, which he won in 2000.

The winner of the stage was Dekker's teammate Michael Boogerd, who had no idea that Dekker was chasing he and Kirchen until it was too late. "I was going for the stage win and I didn't want the others to come back," said Boogerd in the post race press conference. "But I didn't know that Erik Dekker had broken away from the peloton. Then I would have waited of course. I didn't know that Kirchen had won the race...When I am in front and going for the win, I give it everything."

With six kilometres to go, Theo de Rooij drove up to Boogerd and told him to stop working, as efforts to communicate via radio failed. Occasionally, the wonders of modern technology break, and the wet weather did not help. By that stage, although Dekker was closing in, Kirchen had also won both time bonus sprints and was looking at another bonus to win the stage.

The Luxembourger didn't contest the sprint and Boogerd won the stage comfortably, but Kirchen gained the bigger prize of the overall tour win. For his efforts, he picked up a kilogram of solid gold, worth approximately 11,450 euro, in addition to his regular prize monet of 6,000 euro for the overall winner and 1,250 euro as the winner of the Best Young Rider classification.

24 year old Kim Kirchen has some cycling roots: His uncle Jean Kirchen finished 5th in the Tour de France in 1948 and 1950. As an amateur, Kim rode for the Contern cycling team which Danes Bjarne Riis and Kim Andersen also rode for in their youth. He rode as an espoir for the De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa team before becoming a fully fledged pro with Fassa Bortolo. His win in the ENECO tour was his fourth as a professional.

Rabobank annoyed at Postal tactics

The drama in the final stage had an extra twist, as Rabobank were trying very hard to make race leader Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal) lose. The conflict started on Friday when US Postal team leader Dirk Demol commented rather cryptically (as quoted in De Gelderlander): "We think a word is a word. Obviously not for Rabo."

The Dutch press believe that US Postal were annoyed at the attacks made by Rabobank riders in the Tour de France, after Boogerd won the stage to La Plagne. However, Rabobank wasn't sure what the problem was.

What did happen is that on Friday's second last stage, US Postal refused to ride in defence of Peña's lead, forcing Rabobank to go to the front to prevent a dangerous breakaway from stealing the race. Interestingly, they had help from Fassa Bortolo, which was later to prove vital in determining the final outcome of the race.

Rabobank's Theo de Rooij was angry, saying that "Demol played with his feet". To which Demol responded, "I have nothing to do with the old cycling laws. Where can I read that it is our duty to protect our leader Peña? I prefer other tactics. I want to surprise the others by not doing what they expect."

After these comments, and with Peña still in the lead on Saturday morning, Rabobank were very motivated to attack. And attack they did, successfully shaking Peña and Postal, and winning the stage. "This showed great class from my team," enthused De Rooij. "This was a fantastic race. Everything was in it." That included "settling some unpaid accounts."

Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered that Boogerd cooperated with Kirchen until 6 km to go. After winning the two time bonus sprints, Kirchen was motivated to ride harder with Boogerd, thus increasing the chances of a Rabobank stage win. Dekker only came into the picture quite late in the stage, when his grouop dropped Raivis Belohvosciks on a climb - the Latvian was higher than Dekker on GC, so it made no sense to tow him up.

"It's great when you can break US Postal," commented Dekker after the stage. So US Postal didn't win, Rabobank didn't quite win, and Kim Kirchen profited.

Finally, US Postal's directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel commented that "Victor rode a strong race in Holland but was not pointing to this race as a major objective. Victor is preparing for the Tour of Spain next month, and I think he will bring good form to that event."

Leipheimer still in hospital

Levi Leipheimer is still in hospital in Almelo, after being taken there last Thursday night suffering from blocked intestines. Rabobank team director Theo de Rooij visited Leipheimer today, and reported that "He had an operation and not a small one. There was a knot in his intestines and now the knot is gone."

"Levi was hit by a horse in his stomach when he was three, and had an operation with a number of stitches. Now he has problems with scar tissue, and that was the reason he had blocked intestines. It was an acute situation," added De Rooij.

Leipheimer is still in a lot of pain and is very tired. "He has to stay there for a while, but this afternoon he ate solid food for the first time."

This week, De Rooij will visit him each day. "Then I can arrange practical things too for him. And I will stay at home this week. My next job is a race this coming Sunday."

You can send an email to Levi via this link.

Lance Armstrong makes final European appearance for 2002

Armstrong and Ekimov
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Sunday's GP Eddy Merckx marked the final appearance by Lance Armstrong in a European road race this season. In the 41 km two man time trial, Armstrong and his partner Viatcheslav Ekimov (winners in 2000), placed fifth, 54 seconds behind the winning pair of Laszlo Bodrogi and Fabian Cancellara (Mapei).

"On paper, Lance and Eki are two of the best time trial riders in the world but at this moment, it was not the best race for them," said USPS director Johan Bruyneel. "They won the race two years ago as they were preparing for the Olympic Games but this year, they entered the race without any specific training. I'm sure the top few teams trained specifically for this event."

"For Lance, this has been a very long season. Since the month of March, when he nearly won the Criterium International (March 31) and almost all the way through the Championship of Zurich (August 18), when he reached the podium, he has been non-stop and on a very high level. He is getting tired. I didn't expect a lot better (from him). They were close to the podium, but this race was not a huge objective for the team. Our next main objective is the Tour of Spain."

Van Bon to Lotto-Domo

Leon van Bon (Domo-Farm Frites) will ride next year for the combined Lotto-Domo team. Van Bon signed a preliminary contract today (Monday) and according to manager Christophe Sercu is "95 percent sure" to ride with them next year.

McEwen and Gates sign with Lotto-Domo

It is now official. Robbie McEwen signed a two year contract today when he met with Lotto team boss Christophe Sercu at team headquarters in Waregem, Belgium. The team is really taking shape with a large proportion of the 22 spots already signed, sealed and delivered while a number of riders have a verbal agreement and just need to sign on the dotted line.

McEwen's new teammate at next year's Lotto-Domo squad Nick Gates also officially signed today for two years, a just reward for the former Aussie champ who has persevered in the Euro peloton riding for German Division II teams for the last few years.

McEwen commented that, "I'm very satisfied the ways things have panned out with the 'new' team situation. Not too much is changing and those things that will change are very positive. I didn't hesitate in my choice to stay in this team where I feel good, there's a great atmosphere and the results are pretty tidy too!"

On Nick Gates he added, "I'm glad I could get Nick in the team. It was Christophe Sercu and Walter Planckaert's suggestion to take on an Aussie workhorse. We've been great mates for years, train together on the Gold Coast in the summer and I know he's super motivated to show what he's worth in a division one team. He's a guy who will put himself on the line for his teammates - you need guys like Nick."

Bodrogi, Hulsmans, VDB, Vanthourenhout to Quick Step

Four more riders have been confirmed as going to Patrick Lefevere's Quick Step team, which will feature Paolo Bettini and Johan Museeuw as part of its roster next year. Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi and Belgian Kevin Hulsmans (both Mapei) will sign, along with Belgians Frank Vandenbroucke and Sven Vanthourenhout (both Domo), who will sign two year contracts.

Thijs Al back to MTB

Dutch rider Thijs Al will return to racing off road as of this week. The BankGiroLoterij rider has spent the best part of a season racing on the road, but will speak with a few mountain bike teams at the World Championships in Kaprun this week.

Rossner will not defend title in Holland Ladies Tour

This year's Holland Ladies Tour (August 30-September 4) will not feature defending champion Petra Rossner. The organisers hoped that the German sprinter, who rides for the Saturn team, would be able to ride as part of a German National team, as Saturn will not be competing in the event. However, a request to the German federation was first accepted, then denied a day later.

"It is a certainly a pity, but now we have a definitive answer," said tour chairman De Lange to ANP. "Luckily even without Rossner we have a very good starting line up."

The six day stage race starts on Friday, August 30 in Haaften.

Norwegians for Zolder

The Norwegian Cycling federation has already nominated the men's team for the World Championships in Zolder. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (EDS-Team fakta) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) will represent Norway with Bjørnar Vestøl (EDS-Team fakta) and Steffen Kjærgaard (US Postal Service) as reserves.

Courtesy of

Team Crescent becomes Team Bianchi

Due to restructuring of Cycleeurope, Swedish third division Team Crescent will be named Team Bianchi next year. Both brands are controlled by Cycleeurope. At the same time team director Lars Svalin moves to Italy to take charge of Bianchi's international products program. The team will otherwise continue as before with Tommy Prim as team manager.

A new boy for Sergio Barbero

Italian rider Sergio Barbero celebrated the birth of his son Luca today. The 3.1 kg baby was born at 16:10, with both mother and child reported to be ok. Congratulations to the Barbero family!

Russian team for Vuelta a Venezuela

The Russian tradition continues in the Vuelta a Venezuela, which will take place for the 39th time from September 3-15. Directed by Olympian Viktor Ivaniv, the young Russian team will feature Vladimir Efimkim, Evgyeni Jadkevich, Alexei Bougrov, Ivan Rybacov, Ramil Gaifulline, and Denis Kudashev, who will hope to follow in the footsteps of former Vuelta a Venezuela winner Viatcheslav Ekimov.

More countries enter World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships

Representatives from Australia, New Zealand, France and Switzerland are the latest entrants in the 2002 World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin(TM) Championships. The Championships will be held at Silver Start Mountain Resort in Vernon, British Columbia on August 31 ­ September 1, 2002.

So far, nine different countries will be represented for the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championship title. Canada's Ryan Draper and Tom Zidek, as well as Lesley Tomlinson and last year's second place finisher Monica Nelson, will be looking at performing well for the host country.

Mapei-Quick Step for Tour du Poitou Charentes

Team manager Alvaro Crespi has decided the Mapei-Quick Step team for the upcoming Tour du Poitou Charentes (August 27-30) in France.

Riders : Elio Aggiano, Andrea Noè, Michael Rogers, Andrea Tafi, Gerhard Trampusch, Charly Wegelius. DS: Jesus Suarez Cueva.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)