News for December 24, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Cyclingnews 2002 Top 10
For the last week discussion in the Cyclingnews office has been hectic and sometimes heated about who should be nominated for our own 2002 top 10 of the best in cycling. With the nominations whittled down to 21 riders, events and notions like 'Italian road cycling in general' we then each picked our top ten, points were allocated to the selections and the mighty Cyclingnews supercomputer (OK, Microsoft Excel) delivered the results.
Tomorrow we'll start delivering the results of our 2002 reader's poll, and name the riders who you have chosen as the best across a range of disciplines.
Click here to view the Cyclingnews top 10 for 2002 (in reverse order). Please note that although discussion and debate are welcomed, the decisions are final. There will definitely be no more recounts!
Alessio's first raduno for 2003
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Cyclingnews dropped in at Alessio's first meeting of the 2003 season at Villa Tacchi, near Vicenza, Italy. The 18th century villa hosted the Division I squad for their first get together, a three day "raduno" (training camp), just prior to Christmas to try out their new bikes and discuss the upcoming season program. Alessio is sponsored by Alessio Wheels, a manufacturer of high-end aluminum wheels for autos based near Padova, Italy.
We spoke to team diesse Bruno Cenghialta, riders Fabio Baldato and Cristian Moreni. Team bike sponsor, Ugo De Rosa and his son Cristian were on hand to discuss their new bikes as well as fine tuning the geometry and setup. With only six weeks to go before the first racing in France, Alessio is already laying the groundwork for a solid 2003 season. "I'm very pleased about the way (Alessio) has come together...we have some new riders but it is mostly the same group. Our main objective next year is the Giro d'Italia and we hope to do better next year," said Cenghialta.
Ugo and Cristiano De Rosa echoed Cenghialta's satisfaction with Alessio. "I like this team," said Ugo De Rosa. "They are a good group of boys", explained the taciturn master bike builder.
His more loquacious son Cristiano told Cyclingnews that "we are excited about being with Alessio again; next season, they will ride our King carbon fiber model, the Merak aluminium and for stage races, our new Dual model with a full carbon rear triangle. With a few exceptions, all of the riders we sponsor use custom geometry; it is a lot of work to prepare this for each rider, but that is how we work."
After a brief chat, Ugo and Cristiano adjourned to the reception hall of Villa Tacchi where most of the riders were waiting to review their new custom bike designs.
Now beginning his 13th season as a pro rider, local rider Fabio Baldato is a new arrival at Alessio from Fassa Bortolo. "Hey, I saw that I was retiring on transfer news! But here I am!", Baldato joked as he loaded up his car for the short drive home to Vicenza. "My role at Alessio is to provide my experience to the group and help (Angelo) Furlan."
Alessio's emerging sprinter, winner of two stages at the 2002 Vuelta d'Espana will have Baldato to help him find the right way to the final sprint next season. "I have known (Furlan) for a while; even if we have never ridden on the same team, he only lives 10km from me." Baldato declared with a smile that "Furlan is a serious, talented rider who knows how to suffer...he just needs some fine tuning to become a top sprinter and I will be here to help him."
Another Cyclingnews reader, the likeable Cristian Moreni from Mantova was positive about his 2002 season and looking forward to the upcoming challenges. "Even if I didn't win this season, I was competitive all year long. That was an improvement so next season, I am hoping to win a few races."
After a quick lunch in Villa Tacchi's dining room, Moreni, Baldato and the rest of the Alessio riders put their De Rosa team bikes in the car and scattered to the four corners of Italy to celebrate Christmas.
Lotto riders hoping for new sponsor
Four as yet unsigned members of the Lotto-Domo team: Axel Merckx, Serge Baguet, Gert Steegmans and Leif Hoste, are hoping that telco Euphony will join the team as a major sponsor next season. Their contracts seem to depend on it, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, as Euphony would be able to invest 1.2 million euros into the Belgian squad. Currently, Lotto-Domo has 18 riders contracted for 2003, with the potential to field a 22 rider team if the deal with Euphony is closed.
Tchmil to talk to UCI and Marlux
Retired cyclist Andrei Tchmil has planned a meeting with the UCI on January 10, to discuss a possible position for him within cycling's main governing body. Tchmil had earlier expressed an interest to act as a mediator between the riders and the UCI, but this was rejected by the UCI's Francesco Moser, who said that each country should have its own representative.
Tchmil's other plan to manage a Division II team sponsored by Itera next year also went pear-shaped, after he could not obtain sufficient financial guarantees from the sponsor to ensure the team's longevity. However according to La Dernière Heure, Tchmil will probably find himself at Marlux next year along with his old mentor Jef Braeckevelt, with whom he had intended on working with in Itera.
Michael Rogers quietly confident for Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under
2002 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under winner, Michael Rogers, is quietly confident he will perform well in the 2003 event, but is determined not to succumb to the pressure of being the defending champion. Rogers will lead the newly formed Quickstep-Davitamon team in Adelaide when the race starts on January 21.
"I had a fantastic break from training and tried not to think about the bike at all but since the break I've been feeling better every day and I'm already back into the swing of things," said Rogers.
His win this year came after an amazing incident on the penultimate stage through the Barossa Valley. He was with the lead group when a collision with a race motorbike left him on the side of the road with a broken bike. He thought his race was over until fan, Adam Pyke, emerged from the crowd with an identical bike which he handed over to Rogers. The 23 year old went onto to finish second on the stage behind Cadel Evans and in the process claimed the tour lead.
"I hope Adam's got a new bike this year because I've got a different one and I might need to place him strategically along the side of the road," joked Rogers, adding that he will be staying clear of motorbike marshals in 2003.
Rogers says that as Quickstep-Davitamon's Australian based rider, his team will support him if he shows he has the form to ride for overall honours.
"But if one of the other guys is going better then there's no question we will work for the in-form rider," said Rogers who this year finished 8th in the Elite Road Time Trial at the World Championships in Belgium, and whose potential has seen him short listed for a start with the Quickstep-Davitamon line up for the 2003 Tour de France.
Joining Rogers will be three of his Mapei-Quickstep team mates of 2002. Davide Bramati this year placed second on the 13th stage of the Vuelta España and in 2000 won the 17th stage of the Spanish tour. Luca Paolini will be hoping to snare a stage win in South Australia after this year finishing second on stage 3 and sixth on stage 4 of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. David Cañada finished sixth overall in the 2002 Tour de Langkawi and fourth overall in the Tour of the Netherlands.
Joining Quickstep-Davitamon from Lotto-Adecco is Kurt Van De Wouwer who in 1999 placed 11th overall in the Tour de France.
Tom Boonen joins the team after a year with US Postal Service. Boonen has been touted as Belgium's next great classics rider and he certainly showed his potential this year when he placed third in his first elite Paris-Roubaix World Cup race.
Michael Rogers (Aus)
Finally, Saeco has advised that Dario Pieri will replace Paolo Fornaciari in the starting list for the race.
For more, see www.tourdownunder.com.au.
Flanders-iteamNova.com and Marlux for Langkawi
The newly formed Flanders-iteamNova.com and division II squad Marlux-Nixdorf have been announced as participants in the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi, which runs from January 31 to February 9, 2003. With these teams on board, the race now has a total of 21 teams including 14 from the professional ranks. Team Gerolsteiner, that had earlier indicated its interest to compete, has pulled out due to commitment with its sponsors.
"iteamNova put up a creditable performance in their debut appearance this year, and with some good climbers and all-rounders, the Belgian outfit should be able to improve on its performance," said First Cartel Executive Chairman Datuk Wan Lokman Dato' Paduka Wan Ibrahim. Riders likely to form part of the squad include Alan Iacuone, David McKenzie and Dominique Perras.
Marlux-Nixdorf will make its debut in the Malaysian race and it will be interesting to see how the Belgian team fares. In an attempt to lift its profile next season, Marlux has already signed Lithuanian Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre) and Saulius Ruskys (Gerolsteiner), Frenchman Charles Guilbert (Bonjour) and Sébastien Mattozza (Landbouwkrediet), with negotiations also in progress with Fred Rodriguez (Domo-Farm Frites).
LTDL is one of the richest races in the world, with a total prize pool of RM1.5 million (US$395,000). The 10 stage race will cover a total distance of 1,343 km, starting in Langkawi on January 31 with a time trial.
The following teams have been confirmed for the race: Lampre, Acqua & Sapone, Credit Agricole, Index-Alexia, Team Fakta, Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, Formaggi Trentini, Collstrop-Palmans, Panaria Fiordo, Colombia Selle-Italia, DeNardi-Colpack, Saturn, Flanders-Iteamnova, Marlux-Nixdorf, Iran, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia, Telekom, Malaysia
Sportsbook.com announces pro cycling team
Sportsbook.com, the world's largest web site for gaming and sports betting will be the head sponsor of a new US based professional cycling team. Two previous US National Champions, Adam Myerson and Ryan Oelkers, will lead the eight rider team with the aim of competing in all of the major races in the Unites States, including the new Tour of Georgia. The team has also secured an invitation to the Milk Ras in Ireland next year.
The team is managed by Bill Laudien, father of three, vice chair of the US Cycling Federation Board of Trustees and race promoter. He turned one of his hobbies into a full blown sponsorship. "I have been making friendly wagers for years and was a Sportsbook.com customer long before I approached them about becoming involved with cycling," said Laudien. "It's a safe, secure way to enjoy sports and the company is very excited about the marketing possibilities of a pro cycling team. We're ecstatic."
"We want to provide an opportunity for young riders to gain experience in a clean, well organized and supportive environment," added Laudien. "At the same time we hope to realize more immediate results with veteran riders like Adam and Ryan.
The Sportsbook.com team is not yet complete, but it is expected that the roster will be finalised soon. Laudien confirmed to Cyclingnews that Adam Myerson, Ryan Oelkers and developmental riders Gui Nelessen, Ryan Pinkham, Lawrence Perera and Ross Krause are definites for the team.
Christmas events in Ireland
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The Avonmore Navan Road Club caters for the racing and the leisure end of cycling during the season. But they can also lay claim to staging an event on Christmas and St. Stephen's Day for the needy of Society.
On Christmas Day, whilst the majority of us are visiting relatives, Larry Clarke will be manning the Novelty Time Trial, which starts from the Ramparts on the Kentstown Road outside the town of Navan at 11 o'clock. The charity that will be the beneficiary on the day is St. Vincent de Paul. Ross Geraghty who scored a magnificent victory on board 'The Bunny Boiler' at Fairyhouse in the Jameson Grand National last April, has kindly made himself available on the morning as the official starter. There are indications are that Laurence Roche, Noel Clarke and Philip Cassidy will be on the start line.
Stephen's Day may be a lie in for the nation, but Larry will be on hand to get the Tour of the Boyne Valley started from the Square in Slane. According to Larry, "it will be an ideal cycle via Newgrange, King's William Glen, Collon and back to Slane to get rid of the of the extra few pounds that you may have accumulated over the last week."
The local Sergeant Mark Tobin and Father Joe Deegan will do the cycle in the company of many others for the charity Cairde.
Volunteer of the Year from Cycling Ireland, Kay Howard will flag the participants off from the Square at 11 o'clock.
It's fair to say that commitment of Larry and his helpers bring a lot of happiness for the two charities in particular and after 32 years, they have the formula.
Café Racer Criterium launch
A hefty chunk of top Australian cycling talent will be present on January 6, 2003 to help launch the 'Café Racer Criterium', which will be held in early 2004 in Melbourne, Australia. Tour de France Green Jersey winner Robbie McEwen will join Baden Cooke, Scott McGrory, Henk Vogels, Matt White, Nathan O'Neil, Matt Wilson, David McKenzie, Alan Iaucone, Katie Mactier and many others at a cocktail party at Luxe, St Kilda to announce the launch of the race. They will be joined by special guests swimming champion Michael Klim and V8 Supercar driver Cam McConville.
"When in Melbourne all these cyclists come to Café Racer after their training sessions and I decided it was time we staged a bike race to celebrate their fantastic successes on the international circuit. I plan to hold this event every year as my way of saying thanks," said Café Racer proprietor Danny Colls
Cycling fans will also be able to attend the cocktail party for the price of $75 per person ($60 for St. Kilda club members). This will include a 'Ride with the Stars' training session (starting at 9:30am) followed by 'Breakfast with the Stars' the morning of Tuesday, January 8 at Café Racer. Tickets are available from the Café, which is located on Marine Pde in St. Kilda.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)