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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for December 19, 2002

Edited by John Stevenson

Pantani/Cipo pairing goes pear-shaped

Yesterday it was definitely on, now it seems to be definitely off. The merger of Marco Pantani's Mercatone Uno team and Mario Cipollini's former Acqua e Sapone squad was looking less and less likely overnight after statements from the two sides indicated an inability to reach an agreement.

This phase of the saga started with a widely reported announcement by Mercatone Uno spokesman Romani Cenni that the teams would merge, but shortly afterward a release from Acqua & Sapone general manager Vincenzo Santoni indicated that negotiations had bogged down. "I am disappointed that we have not reached an agreement despite all our efforts," said Santoni on Tuesday night, European time.

Santoni explained that his aim had been to return cycling to "the high place it deserves in the panorama of sports," but this would require only exceptional riders and did not seem possible if any participant was not pursuing true sporting goals.

The deal foundered on the rights to Marco Pantani's image. The Pirate remains hugely popular in Italy despite not having won a race for a couple of years, and Santoni told the Associated Press that the Pantani camp had refused to allow the new team to negotiate his personal contracts for endorsements and other sponsorship.

Pantani's manager Manuela Ronchi confirmed that this was the stumbling block. "Until the evening before the meeting we thought we were agreed on all points, but we have run aground on the image rights," she told Datasport.

"But they were convinced that respect comes before everything and if this is the premise... Marco would have to remain in the team all year and if the conditions are not calm then perhaps it is better that things have gone this way."

Pantani's next move looks uncertain. "He still has a strong desire to ride so we have to start again and find the right solution," said Ronchi. "I don't have a magic wand so I can't say what his immediate future will be but there are numerous doors still open."

Cipollini's future, on the other hand, seems to be settled. His new team will now be known as Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ, with the main sponsor being the Domina Vacanze holiday company, based in Milan.

USA Cycling announces world's 'cross selections

USA Cycling has announced the riders who have automatically qualified for the February 1-2 World Cyclo-cross Championships in Monopoli, Italy. Selections are based on the riders' performances in last weekend's rain-drenched US National Championships and their USA Cycling points rankings.

The riders selected are:

  • Ann Grande (elite women)
  • Carmen D'Aluisio (elite women)
  • Jonathan Page (elite men)
  • Adam Craig (under 23 men)
  • Jesse Anthony (junior men)
  • Konrad Lebas (junior men)

"Last week's Nationals were an epic finish to an epic cyclo-cross season," said USA Cycling's Director of Athletics Steve Johnson. "Our new national champions are to be commended for exceptional performances against a stellar field in some incredibly difficult weather conditions. Obviously, I am very pleased with the automatic nominations announced today, and I think that when we round out the 2003 Worlds team with the discretionary selections, we will have one of the strongest teams ever."

The discretionary selections will be announced January 3, 2003 and will be chosen based on World Cup results from this season, performances at the 2002 World Cyclo-cross Championships and UCI domestic calendar competition results.

Wynants injured

Milton Wynants, winner of Uruguay's first ever Olympic cycling medal when he took silver in the 40km points race in the 2002 Sydney Games, has been injured in a training ride.

Wynants collided with a truck that had braked to turn a corner while training in his home town of Paysandu. Initial reports were that he had a cracked skull and hip, but his brother-in-law Milton Castrillon has told the Reuters news agency that the injuries were minor.

"He's not in any danger," said Castrillon. "He has various cuts in his head and face and bruises to his neck and chest and will have to stay under observation for a while. But the doctors have told us he's stable."

McEwen eyes overall TDU win

Queensland's Robbie McEwen, 30, believes an overall win in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under is entirely possible if he can go into the 2003 event with the same form as 2002.

McEwen was recently named the 2002 Australian Cyclist of the Year after a phenomenal year of success which included 19 professional wins and he plans to follow the same program next year as he did this season.

"This year I managed four of the six stage wins in the 'Down Under' and I don't see why I wouldn't be a chance for the overall," said McEwen who also rode away with the SA Lotteries Sprint Jersey in 2002.

McEwen will be supported by his Lotto-Domo team-mates including his close friend, Nick Gates, from northern NSW, who debuts with the team in Adelaide. Gates won a stage and was third overall in the 1999 Tour of Japan.

Lotto - Domo team for 2003 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under

  • Robbie McEwen (Aus)
  • Wim Vansevenant (Bel)
  • Hans De Clercq (Bel)
  • Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
  • Thierry Marichal (Bel)
  • Glen D'Hollander (Bel)
  • Gert Steegmans (Bel)
  • Nick Gates (Aus)

Tasmanian carnivals announce scratchmen

By Rod Morris

The quality of riders for this month's Telstra Country Wide Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series has been highlighted with the release of nine scratchmen.

Cycling Tasmania Senior Track Handicapper Peter Coventry finalised all heats and handicaps for the carnivals at Latrobe, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie this week.

Coventry has announced the following riders will compete from the elite mark of scratch:

  • Brett Aitken (South Australia): Reigning gold medallist from the Madison at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Has won World, Olympic and Commonwealth games titles and is a popular figure with Australian cycling crowds. One of only three riders to have won the "Grand Slam" of Tasmanian major handicap wheelraces.
  • Matthew Gilmore (Belgium/Australia): Won the silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Madison and is currently ranked No. 1 on the European Six-Day circuit. Joins Aitken and Danny Clark as the only three riders to have won the Latrobe, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie Wheelraces.
  • Sean Eadie (New South Wales): Hugely talented sprinter, who this year proved it when he beat fellow Australian Jobie Dajka in the World Sprint Championship final in Denmark. Eadie also won a silver medal in the World Teams Sprint and then reversed those placings in the Commonwealth Games, by winning the Teams Sprint and finishing second to Ryan Bayley (WA) in the Sprint. Raced here some years ago but has improved immensely since then. NB: Eadie will only ride from scratch in 1000 m events.
  • Jame Carney (USA): One of the most explosive sprinters America has produced. Has won a multitude of National championships and has represented his country at the Olympic Games. Has won both the Devonport and Burnie Wheels and wants to win Latrobe and Launceston to complete the set.
  • Darren Young (Tasmania): Now based in Victoria and just returned from Europe where he represented his country. Has a great record in the Tasmanian Carnivals, having won two Devonport Wheels and the 2000 Burnie Wheelrace. Has also scored four minor placings in the "Grand Slam."
  • Mark Renshaw (New South Wales): Was a member of this year's Australian 4000 pursuit team, which won the gold medal at the World Championships in Denmark and then won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in a new world record time in Manchester.
  • Stephen Woolridge (New South Wales): Like Renshaw, rode in the Australian pursuit team, which won gold medals at both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games. Still only 25-years-old and ready to make an impact in Tasmania.
  • Jeff Hopkins (New South Wales): Better known as "Hoppy" - this red-headed New South Welshman has based himself in America this season where he has dominated the criterium circuits, rising to the No. 1 ranking. Has a tremendous scratch race record in Tasmania but is yet to clinch one of the major wheelraces.
  • Nathan Clarke (Tasmania): Overdue for a Tasmanian win, after scoring a succession of minor placings, including 2nd in 1994 Latrobe Wheel, third in both 1995 and 1996 Latrobe Wheels and 3rd in 2000 Burnie Wheel. Now starting to make a name for himself as a road rider, Clarke is still a dangerous prospect on the track and is sure to make his presence felt.

The Telstra Country Wide Carnival Series is a hugely popular five-event series of track carnivals held over the Christmas and New Year period in the Australian 'island state' of Tasmania. Cyclingnews will be providing full coverage of the series.

2002-03 Telstra Country Wide Carnival Series dates

  • December 26: Latrobe Carnival (10 a.m. start)
  • December 27: Launceston Criterium (6.45 p.m. start)
  • December 28: Launceston Carnival (12.30 p.m. start)
  • December 29-30: Devonport Carnival (5 p.m. start)
  • January 1: Burnie Carnival 10.45 (a.m. start)

Ullrich bidding goes on

The 2003 destination of troubled 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich is still undecided with at least three teams vying for the 2000 Olympic champion.

Bjarne Riis' CSC-Tiscali squad has been a prominent bidder for Ullrich's talents, but has yet to secure the necessary additional sponsorship, while German-based Team Coast is also in discussions with Ullrich, and Switzerland's Team Phonak is also reported to have made an approach, according to Phonak's Andy Rihs is expecting an answer by Christmas.

Meanwhile, Coast is determined to get on the roster for the 2003 Tour de France, and the inclusion of Ullrich in the team would almost guarantee a start in July. But Coast has its own troubles. Coast boss Guenther Dahms appeared on German TV on Tuesday to deny that the team still owed its riders money from 2002, explaining that the money retained by the team was actually owed to the German tax office on the riders' behalf.

Sven Teutenberg to Coast

After almost two months of discussions, Sven Teutenberg has signed for German squad Team Coast. Teutenberg's manager, Tony Rominger, had reportedly been talking to three German teams about a place for Teutenberg who rode for Phonak Hearing Systems in 2002.

British Cycling appoints new chairman

The board of British Cycling has appointed Steve Meredith as the organisation's new chairman after Brian Cookson, who has held the positions of both President and Chairman for the past six years, resigned from the chair on Saturday.

Cookson expressed his desire to stand down as chairman at Saturday's Executive Board meeting, citing pressure of his own work and family commitments, and the board elected Meredith as his successor.

"I have now held both these demanding honorary roles since the new Board set about rebuilding the organisation at the end of 1996. It was never my intention to keep both roles so long, but circumstances have not been right for a change until now," said Cookson.

"Over recent months, I have been promoted in my own career, and my spare time is under great pressure. I have felt for some time that the expansion plans currently being developed for British Cycling will demand more input from the President and the Chairman if we are to be successful. Thus the combined role is no longer appropriate and I am delighted that Steve has taken over the Chairman role."

A BCF member since 1970, Meredith has been a member of the Executive Board since 1998. He is currently Treasurer of West Midlands Division and Chairman of the Kenilworth Wheelers CC. Professionally, he is Executive Director of Cape Engineering UK, and was managing director of that company for 15 years.

Meredith has been closely involved with the development of the 4-year Strategic Plan for British Cycling, and that involvement will continue in his new role. ""I am convinced that the Plan we have now drawn up will lead to a significant level of growth for British Cycling over the next few years. Internationally we are becoming the envy of many of the more traditional "top" cycling nations. We must now focus on building a stronger domestic racing scene and attracting many more participants into cycling," he said.

US Cross nats radio still available

If you missed AdventureSports Radio's live coverage of the US 'cross nationals at the weekend, then you missed a major treat as commentator Richard Fries and his team did a terrific job of calling the action and had the Cyclingnews office crew in stitches. AdventureSports Radio has archived the coverage and you can relive the weekend via Realplayer here.

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