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Photo ©: Schaaf

News for June 20, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Lotto and Domo working towards combined team

The two Belgian division I teams Lotto-Adecco and Domo-Farm Frites may come together next season to form a Belgian super team. Domo team manager Patrick Lefevere has confirmed the rumours, saying that there are negotiations going on between Domo (a carpet manufacturer) and the national lottery. What's more, Belgian cycling icon Eddy Merckx is involved, and is one of the key men behind the project.

The plan would involve the creation of several teams: a "top club" division I team with 25 riders, a division III trade team for younger riders, an amateur team and a junior team. The combination of a division I and III team already exists with Mapei-Quick Step, Rabobank and Credit Agricole, and Lefevere strongly supports this idea.

Lefevere would be the biggest winner in this deal, as he is losing co-sponsor Farm Frites at the end of this season. He would prefer not to have to look for another big sponsor if Lotto agrees to come on board. Also, as Domo-Farm Frites is currently ranked 14th while Lotto-Adecco is ranked second, the merger would help Domo jump back up the rankings.

Lotto too would benefit, as it is losing co-sponsor Adecco at the end of the year. Domo has no problem with being the second name in the team, so a Lotto-Domo team could result.

There is also the question of team politics, with Lefevere looking to be in a leading role in managing the team. What will happen to current Lotto-Adecco manager Christophe Sercu is uncertain, as there are two factions within the team at the moment, with Sercu/Walter Planckaert/Dirk De Wolf on one side and Jef Braeckevelt/Claude Criquielion on the other.

"Two years ago I discussed it with Christophe Sercu," said Lefevere today. "I was of the opinion that in Belgium there is not enough room for two teams at the level that I envisaged. He was not enthusiastic about it. It is usually a good idea: a strong national flavoured team like Rabobank in the Netherlands and Telekom in Germany has the whole country behind it."

Either way, the plan is to be finalised before the national championships on June 30, to give some riders a chance to look for new contracts during the Tour de France, as obviously quite a number of them will not fit into the combined team. The four riders with contracts for 2003 (Van Bon, Virenque, Van Goolen, Vanhourenthout) will have to renegotiate.

"Now the news is out, it would be good if the fusion comes as quickly as possible," commented Lefevere to Belgian TV1 today. "A number of riders and other personnel want to know about the future, so the situation can not stay this way for long. For us and for Lotto it would be good if the matter is settled before the Tour starts."

Eddy Merckx said that it would be good for the young riders: "Lotto can invest a lot in the young riders in this way. The whole philosophy why the National Lottery decided to get involved in cycling is captured in this profect. And the future is assured."

A spokesman for Lotto, Paul De Belder did not wish to confirm the deal yet, saying that "In principle, Lotto will stay in the peloton for two more years, on the condition that Lotto is the head sponsor and has the main financial responsibility. In a few weeks, more will be known."

Sevilla's dilemma

Oscar Sevilla will race the Tour de France with Kelme, but also wants the team to pay his salary that is owed to him for the months of April, May, and soon June. Tired of the team's promises to pay him, Sevilla went to the UCI on Monday, June 17 to ask them to draw upon the bank guarantee that all teams must deposit at the beginning of the year in case of situations like this. The guarantee is worth a quarter of the team's salaries budget, and has a minimum value of 250,000 euros in the case of a normal division I team.

According to UCI rules, Sevilla is owed his 2.5 months pay plus approximately an extra 50% interest (1% per day after the fourth day of non-payment, up to a maximum of 50%). The Spanish press reports that this could be as much as 330,000 euros. It's unlikely that Kelme, a manufacturer of sports shoes which has been sponsoring a cycling team for 22 years, will be able to meet this as the parent company has been in financial difficulties this year.

This presents a problem for the Kelme team because although Sevilla wants to remain with them for the Tour, if he draws on the guarantee the team will be suspended in a month's time (July 17) unless they replenish it. There is no question yet of dissolving the contract, as an unconfirmed report in De Telegraaf suggested on Monday. However, Sevilla's case puts the team and the rest of its riders in a difficult situation.

Help may be at hand from the team's co-sponsor Costa Blanca. They will more than step in and pay the salaries of the team's personnel including Sevilla. Also, all is not lost for Kelme, who have been in talks with the Diputación de Alicante (Costa Blanca) and the Comunitat Valenciana to stay involved with the team until 2005.

On a sporting level, Sevilla says he is concerned about the injuries that he sustained during the Dauphiné Libéré which are making it difficult to move his leg, but he still has a lot of ambitions for the Tour. He feels that he is riding better than ever, especially in the time trials.

Thanks to Miguel Chico/Jefe-Ciclismo a Fondo for his help with this article

32 teams to start in the Vuelta?

The organisers of the Vuelta España, Unipublic, have proposed a radical plan to allow 32 teams to start in the race instead of the usual number of 22. Prompted by an overwhelming requests for invitations each year, and perhaps influenced by World Cup football fever, Unipublic wants the first week of the race to be a "qualifying week" with two essentially equal pelotons of 16 teams each. The best nine teams from each division will be selected to continue the race from then on. The rest will be eliminated.

The idea already has the approval of the UCI, and it is now up to the teams participating in the race to decide on the plan, which would give the Vuelta a totally different complexion compared with the other two three week tours. In recent years, the Vuelta has introduced shorter and more explosive stages to make the competition closer, while still retaining the character of a grand tour.

The Vuelta starts on September 7 in Valencia, and if approved, the 32 team plan will be put into action this year. The main problems to overcome would be the increased used of the highways, increased television coverage and an overall increase in costs of approximately 1 million euros.

Riders tested in Baby Giro

76 riders from the 19 teams taking part in the Giro d'Italia U26 (Baby Giro) were given blood tests before the start of the fifth stage in Porto Sant'Elpidio. The riders were tested between 6:30 and 8:40am by members of the Italian Cycling Federation. All were declared fit to start.

Italian road championships program

  • Day 1 - June 25: Time Trials (all categories), Roncadelle di Ormelle - Ordezo
  • Day 2 - June 26: Elite Without Contract Road Race, Vittorio Veneto
  • Day 3 - June 27: Junior Men's Road Race, Loria/Asolo
  • Day 4 - June 28: Junior Women/Elite Women Road Race, Col San Martino (Farra di Soligo)
  • Day 5 - June 29: U23 Road Race, Paderno di Ponzano
  • Day 6 - June 30: Elite Men's Road Race, San Vendemiano

Vannoppen out for three weeks

Cyclocrosser Tom Vannoppen (Palmans-Collstrop) will be out of action for three weeks, after undergoing a knee operation last week. Vannoppen finished the last 'cross season with a pain in his right knee, caused by a torn muscle. Upon examination, his only option was to have an operation to fix it.

Vannoppen will therefore miss the Belgian road championships in Maldegem on June 30, but he should be able to start training again in July.

De Knegt extends with Rabobank

Dutch cyclocross champion Gerben de Knegt has renewed his contract with Rabobank for another year. According to team management, the value of his contract has also been increased. De Knegt recently finished second in the Dutch mountain bike championships, and hopes to finish on the podium in the next cyclocross championships.

Farm Frites-Hartol and Ton van Bemmelen Sports-Novilon for Ster van Walcheren

Team Farm Frites-Hartol will go into this weekend's three day stage race, Ster van Walcheren, with a team of eight riders, led by Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel. However, there will be no Mirjam Melchers in the squad, as the World Cup leader has earned some time off after winning a stage in the Emakumeen Bira last weekend.

The team is as follows: Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, Sissy van Alebeek, Madeleine Lindberg, Arenda Grimberg, Elsbeth Vink, Kirsty Nicole Robb, Sonja Pfister-Van Kuijk, Anouska van der Zee. Team leader: Michael Zijlaard.

Farm Frites Hartol's sister team Ton van Bemmelen Sport-Novilon will enter a team with Sandra Missbach as captain along with top junior rider Suzanne de Goede.

The team is as follows: Sandra Missbach, Olga van Velzen, Wendie Kramp, Caroline Slikker, Catharina Mulders. Team leader: Michael van der Wolf

Irish Provincial Championships preview

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

With the national road championship just over a week away, attention this weekend is focussed on the Provincial Championships. All four provinces will stage their respective championships on Saturday, June 22. Evidently there will be a lot of interest in these races as it will indicate who should be watched come Sunday week in Stamullen. There is no indication if the Irish professionals who are based all over the world will be on hand to compete on Saturday. They are currently in action at various locations on behalf of their employers.

In the respective provinces; Leinster should see Philip Cassidy of the Cycleways-Lee Strand stamp his authority, while in Munster it looks as though that Paul Griffin will be the victor. Paul should have fully recovered from his exploits in the recent FBD Milk Ras. David Gardiner looks as though he may be the one to topple the top favourites in Ulster championship. In Connacht, nobody springs to mind as a likely champion, but Simon Kelly may just be the one to succeed.

All events will be approximately 60 miles in distance.

On Sunday the action switches to Currow for the Drumm Memorial, which is run over a testing 100 km. The Tour of the Sperrin in Cookstown on paper looks the more formidable with a number of climbs to be negotiated on the 100 km of competition.

Last weekend's Meath Grand Prix, which was won by Denis Easton unfortunately turned out to be a bit of damp squib because of the over-run of the Ireland/Spain game and the weather. Queries in relation to its status as a 'Classic' will have to be sorted out because the event was less than 50 miles but under no circumstances should the winner be the fall guy. He simply won the race on merit.

Tasmania again to host Tattersall's Cup round in 2002

By Rod Morris

Tasmania has again been included in the prestigious Tattersall's Cup - Australia's premier road cycling race series. The 150 km Tour of Tamar, will round off the five race series, which begins in Victoria next month. The Tour of Tamar will be held on August 28 (Wednesday) and more than 80 riders - both International and Australian - will compete.

The Tattersall's Cup started in 1996 with a three road race series, but its popularity and success grew to such an extent that race promoter, John Craven, had no hesitation in increasing it to a five race programme shortly after. Mr Craven is currently in Tasmania, tying up some loose ends for the Tour of Tamar with Tasmanian Cycling Federation, Launceston City Cycling Club and Launceston City Council officials, as well as liaising with Tasmania Police and other race personnel.

Last year's Tour of Tamar was a tremendous culmination to the Tattersall's Cup series, with Sydney 2000 gold medal Olympian Brett Aitken being overhauled as the series leader - and eventual winner - by Victorian, David McKenzie. The Tasmanian leg of the Tattersall's Cup was won by New South Wales rider, Phillip Thuaux, a member of the Australian Institute of Sport's elite road racing squad.

This year's Tattersall's Cup will carry total prizemoney of $25,500 and will include individual races, such as Tour of the Ballarat Goldfields (July 31), Tour of the Goulburn Valley (August 7), Tour of the Southern Grampians (August 14), Tour of Latrobe Valley (August 21) and Tour of Tamar (August 28).

The Tattersall's Cup series also includes the Sid Patterson Rider of the Future Award, won last year by Tasmanian Caleb Manion, who is currently racing in Europe. The award recognises riders under the age of 23, who represent tenacity, strength and ability, traits that were evident in the rider, who the award is named after.

The Tattersall's Cup offers points and prizemoney in each of the five races and the top 10 riders in the aggregate points tally, win automatic selection in the Herald Sun Tour, one of Australia's top stage races. This year's Herald Sun Tour will be held in Victoria from October 18-27.

The Tour of Tamar will start at Launceston's City Hall and will race via Legana, Exeter, Beaconsfield, Beauty Point, Sidmouth, Bell Bay, George Town, Piper's Rover, Mt Direction and Dilston before finishing outside the Rocherlea School. Starting at 10 a.m., the Tour of Tamar is expected to take almost 4 hours to finish.

Missing: contents of one Kona/SRAM truck

The entire contents of the Kona/SRAM truck were stolen en route from Alpine Valley to the Snowshoe NORBA event last weekend. The goods were stolen when some of the team staff stopped overnight at a Super 8 Motel in Plymouth, Indiana. Anyone spotting them should give Mike Geraci, Base Camp Communications, a call on (307) 734-7575.

The heist

Team Kona Mt. Bikes (2)
- full suspension, w/ the King Kikapu design
- team colors, navy blue and red w/ "Kabush" and "Wedge" respectively on
the top tubes
- custom (these bikes only) cable stops on down tube for Fox lock out
- custom (these bikes only) gusset between the non-drive side seat and
chain stays
- full Shimano XTR group w/ Race Face seat post, stem, bars and headset
- shiny red & silver Tioga saddle

Schwinn Madison Track Bike
- custom red & black paint with "Conundrum Cycling" on the downtube and
"Robin" on the top tube
- Campy Record track cranks
- custom Vicious Cycles fork
- rare steel Kiron bars
- red Chris King headset

Kona Kapu Scandium Road Bike
- custom red & black paint with "Conundrum Cycling" on the downtube and
"Robin" on the top tube
- full Shimano Durace group w/ downtube, Lance style, shifter for front
- Reynolds carbon fork, Easton carbon bars, custom titanium seatpost

Cannondale Cad3 Mt. Bike
- black w/ red & yellow decals
- Marzocchi suspension
- Sun Ringle S.U.V. wheelset

Tools & Equipment
- custom bicycle repair stands with Park Tools clamp and Ultimate
Support folding base (x5)
- Snap-On yellow, plastic, 5 drawer tool case choked w/ specialty
bicycle tools custom fit to foam cut outs
- Howe professional tool case, yellow, w/ DeWalt cordless drill &
specialty tools
- Park Tools TS-2 wheel truing stands (x2)
- dozens of Plano boxes with small parts
- dozens of red bins with bicycle parts, cleaning and shop supplies,

Michelin Products and Equipment
- an arse load of downhill, mt. bike & road tires and tubes
- colorful Bib jerseys, t-shirts, caps, socks, buttons, stickers,
banners and other soft goods
- 10x20 blue & yellow tent and frame
- unique blue table covers
- small compressor

Kona Equipment
- brand spankin' new 10x20 black & blue tent and frame w/ sidewalls
- loads of stickers and banners
- tiki lights

Sun Ringle Equipment
- 10x10 tent tops (x2), black, red & silver
- several wheelsets, pedals, skewers and a small parts kit
- banners