News for December 11, 2002
Edited by Chris Henry
Top Swedish riders awarded, Ljungskog announces new team
By Gabriella Ekstrom
On Tuesday four of Sweden's leading riders were honoured with the award "Postryttaren" by Postgirot Bank, which for many years has been the main sponsor of cycling in Sweden.
Anna Enocsson (Motala AIF CK), received the award for the best female mountain bike rider, following her victories in both the cross-country national championship and the time trial. Anna has signed a contract for next season with the German Team Merida International, a team that will compete in all World Cup races. The best male mountain biker was Fredrik Kessiakoff (Team Crescent). Fredrik has had his best season so far, winning the Swedish Cup, the mountain bike TT national championships, and the U23 cross-country national championships. Fredrik has signed a contract for 2003 with Motorex Bianchi.
The best male road rider was Marcus Ljungquist (EDS-fakta). This year he won a number of races, including the Tour of Luxembourg and two Coupe de France events, Route Adélie and Paris-Camembert. He has signed a contract with Crédit Agricole for 2003.
Not surprisingly, the best female road rider award went to Susanne Ljungskog, who only days ago received the coveted "Bragdmedaljen" award in front of athletes like Kajsa Bergqvist and Emma Igelström. Susanne had an outstanding season with a stage win and a second place overall in the Tour de France, three stages and the GC in Giro della Toscana and, above all, a gold medal in the World Championships in Zolder and a number one spot in the world ranking.
Susanne took the opportunity to announce her new team during the press conference after the ceremony. For 2003 the world champion will be riding for team Aliverti-Catalunya. The team will be Italian/Spanish and will race on Bianchi bikes.
"I have chosen to ride for this team because they have planned a great program," Ljungskog told Cyclingnews after the press conference. "They will participate in all World Cup races except for the race in Australia, and they will ride the Tour de France and the Vuelta."
"I will be their focus, and I am very much there to win races. My focus for next year is to win the Tour de France. Besides choosing them for their good program, I know the team has a friendly atmosphere. I know many of the riders and I know there will be good teamwork. They have offered Klas (Johansson, Susanne's partner. Ed) a place in the team management, and that is a positive thing. We will be located in Toscana, which of course is a good place to train."
Susanne also took the chance to thank Vlaanderen-T Interim for the two years she has spent with them.
Vervecken continues with Spaar Select
Top Belgian cyclo-crosser Erwin Vervecken has extended his contract with Spaar Select for two more years. Vervecken had expressed his doubts about re-signing, given the withdrawal from sponsorship of the Dutch arm of Spaar Select, and a number of postponed meetings to discuss contract negotiations. The team will not fold, however, and Vervecken is on-board for another two seasons of 'cross.
Essent Kabelcom will sponsor a new Dutch women's cycling team, the @Home Cyclingteam, with a three year commitment. The team is slated to carry eight riders, including Daniëlle Bekkering, a well known marathon speedskater. The full roster is as follows:
Sandra Rombouts (ex-Team Nürnberger)
Team manager: Thijs Rondhuis
Bruyneel blasts Boonen
US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel has offered perhaps his most public criticism yet of Tom Boonen and the young rider's transfer from US Postal to the new Quick Step formation. "We had invested several years in Tom," Bruyneel told Belgian TV1. "We had made considerable investments and our plans were for the long term."
Boonen has been quoted as saying he did not have enough opportunities to race with US Postal, particularly following his breakout success at Paris-Roubaix, where he reached the podium in his first attempt at the World Cup classic. Bruyneel has countered by saying that in 2002, "our primary goal was to keep and develop (Boonen)."
"But it's the manner in which he left us that I deplore and that troubles me on a personal level," Bruyneel continued. "Since last June, he didn't speak to us anymore. We had to learn everything through the press. I'm still waiting for a phone call from him."
Bugno sentenced in Belgium
Retired Italian pro Gianni Bugno has given suspended sentences of six months in prison and a fine of 4,957 Euros by a court in Courtrai, Belgium. The charge was the purchase and possession of amphetamines. Three others were found guilty along with Bugno: Gianni's father Giacomo, ex-Mapei soigneur Tiziano Morassut, and former Belgian cyclist Edouard Vanhulst. These three received the same sentence as Gianni Bugno.
The charges stem from arrests made during the 1999 Three Days of De Panne. During the course of the stage race, the shipping company DHL alerted Belgian officials of a suspect package, which contained ampules of amphetamines, mailed by Morassut to Gianni Bugno's residence in Italy. The entire Mapei team was subsequently questioned during the race, although no connection was found between the package and any organized doping program within team. No riders or team staff were charged, with the exception of Morassut.
Tour 2004 prologue in Liège
The 2004 edition of the Tour de France will begin in Belgium, with a prologue in central Liège. An official announcement is due from the Région Wallonne, the regional organization which concluded the negotiations with the Société du Tour de France, on December 20. French sports daily L'Equipe reports that after the prologue, stage one will travel from Liège to Charleroi, followed by stage and second Belgian road stage linking Charleroi and Namur.
Russia sums up the season
By Sergey Kurdukov, Russian Eurosport commentator
On December 9, a press conference was held at the NOC headquarters where Russian cycling federation president Alexander Goussiatnikov and the vice-president Juri Kutcheriavy included in his speech a bridge between the 2002 season and the coming one. It has been definitely a successful year, with three gold medals and three silvers won at World and European road championships, as well as four gold, four silver, and three bronze medals collected at the respective track championships. This includes all age categories, but even so, one can hardly name too many sports in today’s Russia with a season's harvest like that.
Juri Kutcheriavy reminded the audience that a couple of days prior the winner of Tour de l’Avenir, year 2000 double road world champion (U-23) Evgueni Petrov, one of the brightest prospects of Russian cycling, had been awarded the order of Honour. Petrov's coach, Rinat Latypov, had been decorated with the order of International friendship (one of a select few honorable awards that survived the transitional period between the USSR and Russia).
But this is not the time to rest on one’s laurels with less than two years to go to the Athens Olympics. Alexander Goussiatnikov said Russia aims at dramatically increasing the number of national and international competitions in the country as they play a decisive role in bringing up young riders. The most remarkable milestones of the track calendar, for instance, are: the opening stage of 2003 World Cup (February 14-16), the Moscow International six-day race, and the Junior World’s and European championships.
It was also pointed out that recently retired king of the spring classics, Andrei Tchmil, has been appointed a coordinator between the UCI and the cycling federations of the former Soviet republics.
Tour of Sweden cancelled
The 20 year old Postgirot Tour of Sweden (UCI 2.2) will not be run next year, following the withdrawal of the title sponsor. Nordea/Postgirot Bank announced its decision to quit sponsoring the race in early September and the Swedish Cycling Federation has not been able to find another sponsor.
Postgirot, the Swedish postal cheque system, has held a dominant position in Swedish cycling. It has been the main sponsor for the Swedish Cycling Federation for many years, sponsoring not only the stage race but also the national team and a number of national events. These commitments, however, will be kept through 2003 per Postgirot's contract.
The federation hopes to see the return of the race in 2004 if it is able to find another sponsor. In the meantime the Cykeltouren race, held over six days in May/June, will be the only stage race in Sweden. It usually attracts teams from Scandinavia and some continental amateur squads each year, but is not on the UCI calendar.
Gordon McCauley changes course
Gordon McCauley, New Zealand's second-highest ranked male cyclist, will not be returning to Europe next year to race. Despite having signed a contract with the RDM Flanders team for 2003, McCauley has decided to reconsider his options. The decision was prompted by the merger of the RDM Flanders and iTeamNova.com teams, which jeopardized McCauley's expected position as team leader for 2003.
Furthermore, McCauley's goal was to get into a Division I professional team. However, given the lean times in the European peloton, which have left numerous riders in search of teams for the next season, McCauley felt that his chances of moving up would be slim. Although he can claim eight professional victories this season, McCauley felt that he would struggle to top that in 2003.
Now the New Zealander will turn shift his career focus, taking up a new job as a sales rep with local cycle and accessory distributor PR Velo. Gordon's wife Rebecca will join him in the new year once she tidies things up in Belgium. Both feel that New Zealand is a great place to live, and McCauley says that he will still do some local racing.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)