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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for June 13, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano: A challenger for Armstrong?

ONCE's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is being touted as one of the favourites for the upcoming Tour de France, where he will have the support of one of the strongest teams in the race. He recently won the Tour of Germany ahead of Aitor Garmendia (Team Coast), and is one of the few riders who has beaten Armstrong in a time trial recently (Midi Libre, stage 3). He will spend the coming weeks training in the Alps and the Pyrenees with teammate Joseba Beloki.

Gonzalez de Galdeano knows what a difficult task it will be to beat Armstrong in the Tour. ONCE and the rest of the Midi Libre peloton threw everything at US Postal on the final day, but could not shake Armstrong from the lead despite putting him in some difficulty at times.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, Gonzalez de Galdeano described Armstrong now as "who Indurain was before. Up till now he has overcome all the challenges that he's been faced with. Knowing him a little, I'm sure that he won't be scared of us."

On the Midi-Libre upset, Gonzalez said that "I don't think that he was expecting anyone to beat him. But the next day he took out all his internal anger and dealt with me. Like it used to be with Indurain, whenever you can get close to him, or even beat him, it is very significant."

He stressed that "I beat him in the Midi Libre time trial, but he won the overall. He was better than us, but not by much, but he won and it took him more than he expected."

"Last year [in the Tour] he was able to handle everyone, and if he's in the same condition I don't see how he can be beaten. But Armstrong is human, and as happened to Indurain, one day someone will beat him. We will go to the Tour with those ambitions, knowing that he is human and that he can fail, because one day he could be sick, crash or have a bad day. But when that happens I hope that it's just that he bonks, because I don't wish anything bad on him."

As for the team, with riders like Beloki, Azevedo, Serrano, Jaksche, and perhaps Zarrabeitia after his Euskal Bizikleta win, the "ONCE-Eroski team can hurt him."

Gonzalez de Galdeano cited Sevilla and Botero (Kelme), Moreau and Rumsas as the other likely challengers for the Tour podium.

What's up with Jimenez?

The triple mountain stage winner and by far the best climber in last year's Vuelta España, Jose Maria Jimenez, has not turned a pedal in anger for his team this year. The man they call "El Chava" (the Bad One) is currently undergoing psychiatric treatment for depression, while his colleagues tear up the slopes of Mont Ventoux in the Dauphine Libéré.

Four years ago, Jimenez won the Mont Ventoux stage of the Dauphine, winning the mountains jersey and then finishing third in the Vuelta later that year. In 1999, he finished fifth in his national tour, along the way taking the toughest stage to el Angliru. 2000 was a poor year for el Chava, but he bounced back in 2001 with some brilliant riding in the Vuelta again, where no-one could stay with him once he decided it was time.

According to a recent article in El Pais, Jimenez realised something was wrong in February this year, when the prospect of having extra responsibility this season crushed him. He woke up, put on his cycling gear, went into the living room and sat on the couch. He reflected for a while and remained there for hours. "Something clicked in my head, it's hard to explain," he said. "I don't know what. Hours later, when I was a little more clear minded, I called Eusebio Unzue, the director of our team, and I told him than I had given up, I could no longer be a cyclist."

Some people, like local trainer Víctor Sastre, said that everything was too easy for him. "The problem is that Jimenez was always a nice kid, but spoiled. He always had success with the girls. Everything went well for him."

After that, Jimenez said that he spent days at home, in bed, not having the strength or motivation to get up. He was obviously in need of some help, and his team doctor Jesus Hoyos found a psychiatrist who told him to get away from it all. El Chava, accompanied by his wife Azucena, then became a tourist, travelling the region of Piedrahita in Avila and rediscovering the joys of living.

Gradually, with the help of a lot of medicine and rest, he has grown back to his former self. He based himself in the hotel of former cyclist Laudelino Cubino in Bejar, and climbed the Covatilla, which features in the 2002 Vuelta. "A place that again gave me the yearning to be a cyclist."

"I will come back because of the requests of the fans," he said. "On my mobile phone I have more than 4,000 messages from people who want me to return. I will return. Write that in big letters."

Ronde van Nederland wants to grow

The Ronde van Nederland, rescued from a potential financial hole by Dutch energy company Eneco last year, wants to grow into a major tour in the coming years. The race, scheduled for August 20-24 this year, already carries a UCI 2.1 ranking, one of the highest that a stage race can be awarded. The organisers and sponsors are looking for an upgrade to 2.HC (Hors Categorie), which would put it in the same league as Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta a Pais Vasco, Tour de Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Dauphine Libéré and the Volta ao Catalunya.

The Ronde van Nederland now has its financial future assured for the not-so-near future. Eneco, which also sponsors the Amstel Gold Race, signed a sponsorship deal on June 11 for the next five years, with the aim of making it bigger and better. The yearly budget will be 350,000 euros, and the aim is to promote it to an HC race at some point in the future.

Current race chairman Ed Nijpels said to Algemeen Dagblad that 2004 "would be difficult, because of the Summer Olympic Games on at the same time." However, he hopes to add a sixth day to the event in 2005, increasing to seven in 2008.

The future parcours may also include a foray into Belgium (the Ardennes) and Germany (Eiffel). "That way we can ensure a better quality race, and automatic status," said Nijpels.

VDB before Flemish doping commission on June 27

Frank Vandenbroucke will have to answer to the Flemish doping commission on June 27, to explain how the banned products morphine, clenbuterol and EPO were found by police in his house in Lebbeke earlier this year. If VDB is found guilty of possession or use of doping products, then he could face a three month to two year ban. He has already been suspended for six months by the national federation, and he is also facing a court case as a result of the affair.

Truck wreaks havoc on cyclists in Louisiana

A pickup truck has killed two cyclists and injured five others after ramming into them on River Road, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday, June 11. The truck reportedly crossed the centre line of the two lane road and smashed into the group of seven cyclists. The fatalities were Steve Seiden, an assistant professor of computer science at Louisiana State University, who died at the scene; and 17 year old Timothy Cappo of Greenwell Springs, who died later.

The driver of the truck was 58 year old Stanley J. Williams, who will be booked for two counts of negligent homicide, five counts of negligent injuring and one count of careless operation according to State Police.

According to reports, broken bicycles and waterbottles were scattered across the road, with one bike crushed to the size of a briefcase. The truck's windshield was smashed and bumper dented.

Eye-witness Brian Apsey was following the lead group of cyclists in his vehicle when the truck hit the bunch head-on. "It was like a bomb went off in the middle of them," he told local newspaper The Advocate. "You knew, right then, it was terrible." The cyclists were taking part in the regular 37-mile training races that are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons which attract up to 40 riders.

Apsey helped start the races in 1980 and said the worst injury in the past had been a broken arm from cyclists touching wheels. However, it appears some local drivers didn't appreciate their presence on the roads. "They just come way too close," Apsey told The Advocate of the cars and trucks that would pass the bunch. "They'll drive by and honk at you, yell at you."

"They must have gone 8 or 10 feet into the air," said another eye-witness, Kerry Carpenter, who rode at the back of the A bunch, the group Williams hit. "He just plowed through them," Carpenter told The Advocate.

Lampre-Daikin for GP Canton Aragau-Gippingen

Pavel Tonkov, Juan Manuel Garate and Mariano Piccoli will race in the GP Canton Aragau-Gippingen in Switzerland on Sunday 16 June. That will be the last appointment for the three Lampre-Daikin riders before the Tour de Suisse, where they hope to perform well.

Garate, who was fourth on GC in the Giro d'Italia, and Piccoli have come back from the Euskal Bizikleta. Pavel Tonkov (5th in the Giro) will also start in the Swiss race. The entire team is as follows, and is likely to be the same for the Tour de Suisse:

Pavel Tonkov, Juan Manuel Garate, Mariano Piccoli, Raivis Belohvosciks, Rubens Bertogliati, Matteo Frutti, Gabriele Missaglia, Luciano Pagliarini. Team manager: Pietro Algeri.

Coppa delle Nazioni-Memorial Fausto Coppi

Lampre-Daikin has chosen Manuel Quinziato and Marco Pinotti for the Coppa delle Nazioni-Memorial Fausto Coppi taking place on Saturday 15 June from Aosta to Châtillon. The race is part of their leadup to the Italian Time Trial Championship on 25 June.

Team Farm Frites-Hartol for Emakumeen Bira

Team Farm Frites-Hartol has named a six member team for the three day Spanish race Emakumeen Bira (June 14-16). Team manager Michael Zijlaard named Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, who won the first and third stages and the overall of last year's event, as the top rider, along with Mirjam Melchers, Madeleine Lindberg, Arenda Grimberg, Elsbeth Vink, and Kirsty Nicole Robb.

Rona get ready for first try at HP Women's Challenge

America's toughest women's stage race, the Hewlett Packard Women's Challenge, will see Geneviève Jeanson and her Rona team on the start line for the very first time. The nine day, 875 kilometre event was considered too long by Jeanson last year, who had a very intense and successful early season, culminating with a dominating win in the Montreal World Cup in June. A year on, with a stronger and more experienced team, will at the very least be a big learning experience for the talented Canadian.

The race this year includes seven road stages (average length 106 km), a 40 kilometre individual time trial and a criterium. The highest point is 2,688 metres, which as a matter of interest is higher than the Col du Galibier in France.

"We're not sure what to expect and we haven't set out definite performance goals for that race," said team manager André Aubut. "HP will provide us with opportunities to learn - learn to manage energy in such a physically demanding event, learn the strategic and tactical aspects of a longer race. In short, we expect this race to be very educational!"

Jeanson and her team will be up against 2001 winner Lyne Bessette, riding for the Canadian National team; Anna Millward (Saturn, winner in 2000 and 1996), and World Champion Rasa Polikeviciute (1997 winner), who are part of a top class field of 96 riders. Rona's lineup is: Geneviève Jeanson (Can), Andrea Hannos (Can), Melissa Holt (NZl), Amy Jarvis (Can), Manon Jutras (Can) and Gail Longenecker (USA).

All-American Cycling Showdown on Lehigh Valley Velodrome this Friday

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host the All-American Cycling Showdown on Friday, June 14 (Flag Day). The Showdown is claimed to have the largest purse for a single bike race in U.S. Track Cycling.

The featured events are the Men's 10-Mile Dash for Cash and the Women's 5-Mile Dash for Cash. The men will compete in the Men's 5-Mile Heats and the Miss-And-Out, a fast-paced race that eliminates the last rider each lap. The men will then go head-to-head in the 10-Mile Final. The prize for the top male finishers totals $5,500 cash. The women will compete in the Women's 1-Mile race and then the 5-Mile Final. The total prize money for the women is $2,500.

An international field is expected, with riders from New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Malaysia, Argentina and Mexico.

As part of the Flag Day celebration and in special recognition of local emergency workers, the Velodrome staff has announced a tribute to American Heroes. The tribute includes the American Heroes Challenge, a mountain bike relay event, will pit local heroes from the police to fire fighters against each other in another exciting race.

Tickets for individual events are $6.00 for Adult Finish Line Reserved and $5.00 for Adult General Admission. Children 12 and Under are Free in General Admission with a paid adult and half price for Finish Line Reserved.

British National Junior Road Race Championships

The British National Junior Road Race Championship will be held on Sunday, June 30, on the same day as most other European countries have their Elite national road championships. The British Junior National's, promoted by Team Keyne-Trek (Milton Keynes) are still looking for entries, with only 36 riders pre-registered so far. The closing date of June 16 is fast approaching, so organiser Bob Varney has gained British Cycling's approval for him to accept 'entries on the line'.

However to make the organisers job easier and to ensure that you receive a race programme, please enter in advance. All race entries should be sent to:

Bob Varney, 4 Goldmark Close, Old Farm Park, Milton Keynes, MK7 8PE.
Cheques for £ 10-70 should be made out to Team Keyne.
Entry on the line, if places are still available, will be £ 15-70.

According to Varney, the race "will have the support of the Bedfordshire Police Motor Cycle Club who will provide a full marshalling team to ensure as much race protection as possible and although we have a clash with the World Cup Final, if England were to get to the final, we will arrange a giant screen at the Race Headquarters."

The race will be held on the Cublington circuit which Varney considers "tougher than the Peter Buckley promotion last year, but not as savage as the last two National Junior Road Races held on the Oakley circuit near Brill. The course should provide a good test for the best of our British young talent, with the climb up into Cublington from Whitchurch demanding but not too steep. The heavy roads around the back of the circuit will prove to be just as decisive during the later stages of the 120km race."