News for June 4, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
No Savoldelli, Cipollini in the Tour de France
The two biggest stars of the Giro d'Italia, Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia) and Mario Cipollini (Acqua e Sapone) will not be seen in the Tour de France this year. Neither rider's team has been invited, and if they were, they wouldn't go anyway.
Cipollini has been very vocal in his criticism of the Sociètè du Tour de France after they excluded him and his Saeco team last year, despite the fact that he has won 12 stages in the Tour and has shown no signs of losing his speed.
The feud started again this year after Cipollini changed teams to Acqua e Sapone and won Milan-San Remo for the first time in his career. He then decided to start in the Tour of Flanders to defend his World Cup jersey, where he finished 9th. However, he angered the Amaury Sport Organisation, who run several cycling events including the TdF and Paris-Roubaix, by choosing not to take part in Paris-Roubaix after his team was invited at the last moment, with special dispensation from the UCI.
After that, there was not even a remote chance for A&S to gain Tour de France selection, despite the fact that they have one of the best and most colourful sprinters in the world on their team. During the Giro, Cipollini was reported as saying that even if he did get an invitation, he wouldn't accept it.
The Savoldelli case is different. Index-Alexia were not amongst the 16 teams automatically qualified at the beginning of the year, and were completely overlooked for a wild card selection on May 2. There was of course a perfect opportunity today, when Saeco was pushed out after the Simoni affair. But Jean-Marie Leblanc chose the politically safe French option by selecting Jean Delatour, who have had some success in recent weeks but nothing like Savoldelli's dramatic victory in the Giro.
Savoldelli talked about his surprising success after the final stage yesterday, and although he is quite modest, he is not taciturn and has a deadpan sense of humour. For example, with a straight face he would talk about the baby his girlfriend and him are expecting by the end of this season: "Simonetta, my girlfriend said that I can choose the name if it is a boy. I told her "Mephisto". Yep, Mephisto Savoldelli! Sounds very original doesn't it?... My girlfriend worried for two days before she figured out I was only joking."
'Il Falco' Savoldelli is also known as 'angel face' for his boyish looks and blond curls...
About winning the Giro, he said that he didn't start believing in the overall win until the first stage in the Dolomites. "Only then, when I could follow without problems on the Fedaia, a climb I was really scared of. Then I realized that the form was right. A day later I left Hamilton behind on the Passo Coe. Then I knew it was possible. I suddenly had a really strong morale: 'I'm the strongest' I thought. That's the way it works for me. I'm a huge doubter, don't have much self-confidence. Until that first big result; then I toughen up; I don't let go."
"I am Italian, and the Giro is above the Tour for me. To combine the both, you have to have the right head. I doubt I've got that. Don't forget I came to the Giro to win a stage! Look at who can win more than one big stage race: Indurain could do it, now we have Armstrong. I am Paolo Savoldelli; a good athlete but no Armstrong. He is a cyclist with superior qualities; otherwise you wouldn't overcome cancer and return to win multiple Tours."
"The Tour de France is a big, big race. I have ridden it three times, finished twice. I have taken a second in one stage (Briançon in 2000). The race is nervous and the time trials are long. You have to prepare for it in a special way; constantly ride in the front. And on top of that, I hate the heat in July!"
"But, I'm not thinking about that right now, I want to party and let it sink in, try to understand what I have just accomplished."
Savoldelli's next goal is the tour de Suisse. In the meantime he will be enjoying the pink spumante.
Saeco respond to Tour de France snub
The Saeco-Longoni Sport team had a large hole cut out of its season today by Jean-Marie Leblanc and the Societe du Tour de France, who voted to exclude the team in the wake of the Gilberto Simoni affair. Simoni tested 'non-negative' on two occasions for cocaine; he has already been suspended by his team and will likely receive a suspension from the Italian Cycling Federation.
In making their decision today, the Societe stated that "the absence of Simoni no longer justifies the team's attraction to the organisers of the Tour de France. Furthermore, the Simoni case has again discredited the image of cycling. The direction of the Tour de France is determined to fight against doping and promote athletic prowess, and will remain faithful to its firm stance in not welcoming a team to the Tour involved in such a 'grave affaire'."
The Societe then specified that Jean Delatour had been called up as the replacement in favour of other teams such as Team Coast and Gerolsteiner, not to mention Acqua e Sapone and Index-Alexia.
The Saeco-Longoni Sport manager Claudio Corti said that the team was "very saddened" by the decision to leave them out of the race.
"I spoke with Jean Marie Leblanc for a long time," said Corti. "I told him about the details the whole affair and explained our line of behaviour. Leblanc confirmed his esteem and consideration but said he did not have any choice but to exclude us from the Tour."
Saeco wished to point out that it was unfair to penalise the team, "which includes other important riders such as Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino" on the basis of one rider's error. It also said that there was "no official communication by the Tour organisers [stating that] the invitation to take part in the Tour was under the condition that Gilberto Simoni took part."
The team also believes it is being unfairly implicated in a doping affair: "The refusal of the team implicates some kind of responsibility on their part regarding the case of doping which has involved Gilberto Simoni. This is offensive and has also been refuted by the official position taken by the team. They have suspended the rider from racing and frozen his salary, so showing yet again their complete fairness. This means that a veto on the presence of Simoni was surely justifiable but not that of the Saeco-Longoni Sport team."
Saeco pointed out that there are other teams in the Tour which (quelle horreur) aren't as pure as the driven snow. "If the decision taken - as has been implied by the French organisers, was inspired by the principal of sporting ethics, it is impossible to understand why other teams and other riders - including the team which has replaced Saeco - involved in equally or even more serious (in the sporting sense) doping cases than Simoni, will be able to take part in the Tour de France."
Finally, the team decried the speed at which the decision was taken. "The extremely quick way in which the decision has been made shows that the organisers were put under non-sporting pressure which was so great to force them to cancel a choice already freely made."
"Considering the serious damage incurred and referring to the rules in the existing agreement between the international association of teams and the Societe du Tour de France, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team believe the decision to be unacceptable, hurried and without any adequate explanation and make note that they will everything they can to defend what they think is an acquired right."
The 21 Tour de France teams
France: Ag2r Prévoyance, Bonjour, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française
des Jeux, Jean Delatour
Hamilton's Tour de France start depends on broken shoulder
A broken shoulder will hamper Tyler Hamilton's (CSC-Tiscali) preparations for the Tour de France next month, after a diagnosis was made last night at a hospital Milan. Doctors found that Hamilton's crash in the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia more than likely resulted in a fractured shoulder where the bone meets the rotator cuff. This would help to explain why he couldn't hold the flowers above his head with his left hand after his stage 14 win, and had problems getting out of the saddle on the climbs.
Team manager Bjarne Riis said on the team's website that "It really puts Tyler's performance in the Giro into a completely new perspective, when we are told that he completed most of the race with a broken shoulder. There can be no doubt that his condition has had a negative influence on his performance and that makes it even more impressive that he was able to finish second overall."
"During the Giro, I could feel that something was not quite right in my shoulder, but I chose not to have it x-rayed because I was afraid that I might have to quit the race in order to avoid the long-term effects of racing with a fractured bone. Now that the race is over, I am overcome with joy that I was able to complete and - on top of that - obtain such a fantastic result", said Hamilton.
No ligaments or tendons were damaged and at the moment, surgery does not seem to be necessary. However, Hamilton has been told to wear his arm in a sling for at least three weeks while it heals. He still thinks that he will start in the Tour, but his preparation will be hampered.
Verbrugghe says he can win the Giro
"If I told people last winter I was thinking about a top 10 ranking in the Giro; even a top 5, a lot of people would have declared I was crazy," said Rik Verbrugghe in an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
For a whole week, Rik Verbrugghe had to endure serious muscle pain above his knee, before he overcame it and started to ride to his potential. A number of riders abandoned the Giro because of minor health problems because three weeks was too long for some, or other non-sporting reasons. However, Verbrugghe held on stubbornly and finished 9th in the general classification.
"I know what I can and what I can't do," added Rik. "That top 10 placing: I've got it!"
According to the Belgian Lotto-Adecco rider the result could have even been better. "Top 5, if I didn't have that knee injury - I would have moved up even more in the classement."
If he wasn't careful, he might have moved up too much: "And by doing so, I would have done better than Claude Criquielion [Lotto DS] in his days," he grinned. "Knowing that does annoy me a bit. Especially because the injury is not a consequence of tiredness, of overdoing things. It's just because of a stupid accident. I bumped the muscle only once, but very hard, against my handlebars."
Verbrugghe believes it cost him some placings in the last time trial, "I was only riding at 90% of my capabilities. That other 10% would have made a difference obviously. Mentally I wasn't that strong anymore either because of that. It does bring you out of balance: You know you're not in a favourable condition, that you feel pain you shouldn't be feeling. But the outcome is not negative. Ninth in the Overall Classification, a nice win and a few good placings. And what is the most important of all is that I know now that I can handle it."
"Next year, I'll be returning to the Giro with a bit more ambition. And in a couple of years, I'll be going for a place on the podium. If you talk about being on the podium it means that you know you can win overall. And yes, I do believe it is within my abilities to do so. The Giro d'Italia that is, not the Tour de France. The difference is big. In the Giro there's only five, six candidates for the overall win at the start of the race. The race itself is reasonably open, in comparison with the Tour, where there's only a couple of favourites fighting it out."
For the 2002 Tour de France, he has ambitions. "Criquielion has already gently advised me to have more ambition for the Tour, but I've given so much already during this Giro. I don't want to ride myself completely empty in the Tour."
"What I do look at? Well, a good placing in the prologue and than go and hunt for the Yellow Jersey. After a week we'll look at things again."
And the sore knee? "On Monday, I'll get an ultra-sound done. I assume things will be ok after three, four days of resting. Rest won't hurt me anyway..."
Van De Wouwer wants more
Verbrugghe's Lotto-Adecco teammate Kurt Van De Wouwer managed a 22nd place in the Giro, something he wants to improve on in the Tour. "It's a real pity that stage in the Dolomites didn't go as planned," he said. "But I remain convinced that finishing this Giro is the best preparation for the Tour de France I have ever had."
Van De Wouwer will ride the Dauphiné Libéré before resting up prior to the Tour.
Mikhailov misses Tchmil
Meanwhile in Luxembourg, Lotto-Adecco's Guennadi Mikhailov was successful in the final stage, which finished in Diekirch. The overall classification of the Tour de Luxembourg was won by EDS-fakta's Marcus Ljunqvist, after a monster 190 km breakaway effort in Friday's second stage that gave him a 2'55 lead.
While Ljunqvist was very happy with the result, Mikhailov had good cause to celebrate as well, as it was his first win in six years as a pro. It came just over a week after his best friend Andrei Tchmil decided to quit the peloton, something that Mikhailov is still comings to terms with.
"I miss Andrei enormously" he said to Het Nieuwsblad. "I wanted to thank him with a win as soon as I could. Before, I rarely took part in a mass sprint, because I was working for my mentor Andrei Tchmil. On Sunday I knew that I wasn't sprinting for the third place. I know this will make Andrei happy, even more than what it does for me."
The team set it up well, as Mario Aerts prepared the sprint for him and Peter Van Petegem held back in time not to spoil Guennadi's party. "I could have won myself" explained Peter Van Petegem, known as someone who always rewards his teammates for the work they do. "But you know, Mikhailov has been working selfishly for the whole team the whole season already, and I know how much Andrei's leaving has affected him. He deserved the win".
UCI rankings after Giro d'Italia
A three week grand tour tends to cause more than a few shakeups in the UCI rankings, and the recent Giro d'Italia was no exception. Winner Paolo Savoldelli moved up from 144th to 22nd spot, courtesy of 500 points for the overall win as well as extra points for being in the maglia rosa and placing in stages. He did not win a stage (best was second behind Tonkov in stage 17) but this is not an unusual occurrence in a grand tour.
Others to benefit included Mario Cipollini, who moved from 19th to 13th courtesy of six stage wins, and Robbie McEwen, who jumped from 20th to 11th courtesy of two stage wins and a second and third place. The apparent inconsistency can be explained by the fact that Cipollini won four stages last year, and the points from these are lost due to the rolling nature of the UCI rankings. If you take into account points earned this year, then Cipollini is number one with 1,134 points.
Fernando Escartin (26th-16th), Cadel Evans (30th-18th), Aitor Gonzalez (88th-26th), Pavel Tonkov (102nd-39th), Dario Frigo (71st-41st), Tyler Hamilton (347th-56th), and somehow Stefano Garzelli (28th-17th) all climbed up the rankings. On the other hand, defending champion Gilberto Simoni plummeted from 6th to 47th, Giuliano Figueras went from 36th to 16th, and Francesco Casagrande went from 7th to 9th.
In the teams rankings, Alessio jumped up from 9th to 6th, while Acqua & Sapone moved from 11th to 9th. In division II, Panaria moved into third position behind leaders EDS-fakta and Bankgiroloterij-Batavus.
Rankings as of June 2, 2002
Individuals 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 2,549.00 pts 2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 2,113.20 3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 1,929.00 4 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 1,770.00 5 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Telekom 1,620.00 6 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1,487.00 7 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1,445.00 8 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 1,310.00 9 Juan Miguel Mercado Martin (Spa) iBanesto.com 1,232.00 10 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 1,220.00 11 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco 1,188.00 12 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC Tiscali 1,156.00 13 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 1,134.00 14 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole 1,132.50 15 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 1,093.00 16 Fernando Escartin Coti (Spa) Team Coast 1,061.00 17 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1,033.20 18 Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 1,032.00 19 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 991.95 20 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano Aranzabal (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 987.00 Best riders in 2002 1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 1,134.00 pts 2 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Index Alexia 941.00 3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 905.00 4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco 873.00 5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 802.00 6 Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi 771.00 7 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 742.00 8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 716.00 9 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 644.00 10 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 638.00 Teams Division I 1 Mapei-Quick Step 5,702.00 pts 2 Lotto-Adecco 4,114.00 3 Fassa Bortolo 3,883.00 4 Cofidis 3,115.00 5 Rabobank 3,103.00 6 Alessio 3,009.00 7 Team Telekom 2,867.00 8 iBanesto.com 2,825.00 9 Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 2,678.00 10 Team Coast 2,643.00 Division II 1 EDS-fakta 1,665.00 pts 2 Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 1,348.00 3 Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 1,137.00 4 Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 1,055.00 5 Palmans-Collstrop 816.00 Full rankings
Kelly considers appeal against Games team exclusion
Australian kilometre specialist Shane Kelly has told news agency AAP that he is considering an appeal against his exclusion from the Australian team for the Commonwealth Gamnes (see team list below). Kelly, who is in Milan to begin his preparation for the track world championships in Copenhagen, September 25-26, said, "I think under the circumstances it's probably not a bad idea to do it [appeal]."
Kelly missed a spot on the team after a crash in April's national championships meant he was unable to post a qualifying time.
Australian Commonwealth Games squad named
Cycling Australia has named its squad to contest the Commonwealth Games in Manchester from July 25-August 4.
Men: Baden Cooke, Cadel Evans, Bradley McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Nathan
O'Neill, Michael Rogers
Men: Ryan Bayley, Graeme Brown, Jobie Dajka, Peter Dawson, Danny Day,
Sean Eadie, Ashley Hutchinson, Ben Kersten, Mark Renshaw, Luke Roberts,
Men: Josh Fleming, Craig Gordon, Paul Rowney
Pellizotti re-signs with Alessio
The distinctively coiffured and very popular Franco Pellizotti has re-signed with Alessio until 2004. Pellizotti finished 16th on GC in the Giro and was one of Alessio's best performed riders (along with Pietro Caucchioli (3rd), Ivan Gotti (13th), Cristian Moreni (28th), Daniele De Paoli (32nd) and Vladimir Miholievic (35th)...no wonder they won 'best team'). After the race finished in Milan, Pellizotti signed a contract later that evening.
"I am very happy of with this proposal, which I accepted immediately as, from the very first day I have felt good in this team who have always believed in me."
Mapei-Quick Step for First Union Series
Riders: Gian Paolo Cheula, Aurélien Clerc, Allan Davis, Michael Rogers, Frederik Willems, Leonardo Zanotti. DS: Matxin Rodriguez Fernandez
More waiting for Kevin Hulsmans
Mapei-Quick Step's Kevin Hulsmans will not be riding in the Tour of Germany, due to a knee injury sustained during this year's Paris-Nice. That means that the team will race with seven men, with Hulsmans' planned return in the Volta a Catalunya in late June.