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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for June 22, 2002

Edited by John Stevenson

Wladimiro Panizza dies of heart attack

Italian former professional rider Wladimiro Panizza has died of a heart attack at his home in Cassano Magnago, northern Italy. He was 56 years old.

Panizza, a diminutive and lightly built climbing specialist was one of the stars of Italian cycling during the 60 and 70s. His career was marked by stage wins in major tours, and culminated in a second place in the 1980 Giro d'Italia, behind Bernard Hinault. He was selected three times to represent Italy at the world championships.

Panizza rode 18 Giros d'Italia, finishing all but two, and four Tours de France. Despite a career that was conducted in the shadow of Italian great Francesco Moser – Panizza rode for some of his career with Moser's Gis team as well as for Bianchi – he won 28 professional races, including the Midi Libre (1977), the Gran Premio di Monaco (1970), the Giro di Reggio Calabria (1973), and Milano-Torino in 1975.

Coppi's bike to be auctioned at the Tour

The July 6 start of the Tour de France in Luxembourg will include an unusual bike sale: an auction of the bike ridden to victory by the campionissimo, Fausto Coppi in the 1950 Paris-Roubaix.

Two years later Coppi gave the bike, Bianchi number 231560, to a new professional on his team, a young rider called Raphael Geminiani.

It's unusual for a bike to become available that can be traced to Coppi with this degree of certainty. Coppi's legend means there are many claims that this bike or that bike belonged to the rider who is generally considered Italy's greatest ever cyclist. But in this case, the bike's history is clear.

Geminiani and Coppi were firm friends and the bike has been in Geminiani's possession almost continuously for half a century. It was restored by Gipiemme at the beginning of the 90s and returned to Geminiani in November 1995 in a ceremony attended by Coppi historian Gino Bartali.

At the beginning of this year Geminiani donated the bike to the Vel'Auvergné cycling development association, of which he is president, and this is the body that will benefit from the proceeds of the auction.

The reserve price has been set at 15,245 Euro, but a piece of cycling history this rare and in this good condition is expected to fetch over twice that.

Route du Sud starts today

Fourteen teams will start today's 26th edition of the Route du Sud, the last significant French stage race before the Tour de France. The race covers 570km in the Midi-Pyrenees area.

The Route du Sud was born in 1977 as the brainchild of former rider Jacques Esclassan. The race was originally known as the Tour du Tarn, became the Tour Midi-Pyrénées in 1982 and took its current name in 1988.

The head of the race organisation, Francis Auriac, has aimed to create a high-quality route keeping in mind that French teams will use this race as final preparation for the French national championships at the end of June and the Tour de France.

The four-day race should suit the climbers, with two mountain stages; an individual time trial up the Plateau de Beille on Monday and a 190km stage to Ax-les-Thermes on Tuesday that takes in the first category col de Coudons and second category col de Chioula.

Prominent riders in this year's Route du Sud include Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali), who hopes to repeat his 1996 win, former world champion Laurent Brochard and Erik Dekker (Rabobank), currently ranked fourth in the world.


Stage 1 - June 22: Castres-Castelsarrasin, 180.8 km
Stage 2 - June 23: Castelsarrasin - Saint-Gaudens, 180.8 km
Stage 3 - June 24: Aston-Plateau de Beille ITT, 18.1 km
Stage 4 - June 25: Luzenac-Ax 3 Domaines, 189.5 km


Crédit Agricole, La Française des Jeux, Cofidis, Big-Mat, AG2R, Bonjour, Jean Delatour, CSC, Fassa Bartolo, Banesto, Rabobank, Domo, Telekom, Lotto

Vuelta gets natural boost

Natural medicine supplier Soria Natural has again signed up as a sponsor for the 2002 Vuelta Espana, according to Vuelta organiser Unipublic.

Soria Natural makes herbal medicines that, in addition to being natural products, do not contain substances that could cause a rider to return a positive dope test.

Women's Giro launches today

The 13th edition of the women's Giro d'Italia, the Giro Rosa, will be officially launched today in Peccioli, Italy. The race, which runs July 5-14 will start with three stages in the Pisa area, including a prologue time trial in Pontedera on July 5.

Melbourne ready for junior track worlds

By Karen Forman in Melbourne

A politician, an Olympian, a world champion and a would-be world champion will host the official launch of the 2002 Junior World Track Championships in Melbourne next week.

The first world championship ever to be held in Victoria, the five-day event - which will be contested at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena from August 21-25 - will be launched by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and the Commonwealth Games, Justin Madden, during an invitation-only function at the venue next Tuesday.

Mr Madden will be supported by Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken from Adelaide, defending Junior World Champion Mark French from Brighton (Victoria) and event hopeful, Belinda Goss from Tasmania.

Event director, Barry Langley says this year's junior worlds will bring together the best young riders from more than 25 countries for five days of what will doubtless be some super-fast and highly competitive racing.

The timber track at Vodafone, just three years old, is known for its speed, although it is said to not be quite as fast as Sydney's 2000 Olympics Dunc Gray Velodrome.

Certainly the junior worlds will put the venue to the test before it is used for pre-training and competition during the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Teams already committed to travel to Australia to vie for the medals include the USA, France, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany and South Korea - and entries are still flowing in.

"The championships will provide a rare opportunity for young athletes to see Australia and to meet fellow athletes from around the world," Langley said in Melbourne today.

"It also provides Australian cycling fans with a great opportunity to see the up and coming seniors of the future, both from within Australia and overseas."

"A lot of the riders competing at the junior worlds will be the athletes of future Olympic and Commonwealth Games. This is probably the best lineup of junior international talent seen in Australia for years."

Organising committee member and technical committee chairman, Adam Murchie, said with the addition of the madison, keirin and scratch races, this junior worlds would be the most exciting yet.

"It will showcase the Australian riders who have a genuine chance of winning titles in Melbourne," he said. "I think it is going to be a superb spectator event. The madison and keirin events in particular will be really spectacular with plenty of thrills and spills."

Australians to watch will include French in the sprint and keirin, Goss in the points race and pursuit, if not the scratch race and Nicholas Sanderson and Jonny Clarke in the madison.

Based on their performances at the Australian championships in Sydney in April, the Australian boys should also do well in the mens teams pursuit. To be selected during pre-event training, the team will probably include Matt Farmer (NSW), Sanderson, Clarke and Chris Sutton (NSW).

Gamuda Eagle Tour re-opens Malaysia to the world

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

Asia as a continent seems to be moving ahead in the cycling stakes with a new event being added to the Union Cycliste Internationale calendar with a proposed date in August.

Initially when the Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia was launched in 1996, cyclists from 'minor' cycling nations like Ireland were always invited. In latter years, as the event was upgraded to a 2.3 stage race with more trade teams, Ireland and others were too far down the pecking order and fell off the invite list.

Now with a new event being organised in Malaysia in August, and with a world ranking order of 2.6, Ireland are back to participate in Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia.

Currently invites have gone out to at least 25 teams who will compete over five stages from August 14 to 18.

With the Le Tour de Langkawi reaching the dizzy heights in worlds cycling the organisers of that event felt it appropriate that an event that could cater for Asian teams would be welcome.

The five day stage event will be based on the island of Langkawi and will start off with a time trial followed by three road stages and finally a criterium in the capital of the island Kuah.

Obviously there will be a lot of interest for selection, as they certainly know how to organise events to a high standard.

In the past Ireland did exceptionally well in that part of the world with Ritchie McCauley winning a stage back in 1998.

Also the prize money is 200,000 Ringgit will make the event very competitive.

Lehigh's Pee Wee Pedalers gets funding

Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley Velodrome has won a grant from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation for its Pee Wee Pedalers Program, which teaches cycling skills and techniques to children aged 5-8 in the Lehigh Valley community.

Pee Wee Pedalers learn the physics of bicycling, building character and team work, teaching children the discipline of physical fitness and allowing them to move around their neighbourhoods with friends and family in a safe manner. The program has been in existence for over a decade and has produced 2000 graduates.

As well as showing kids how to ride on the Lehigh Velodrome, the program teaches bike safety, stressing basic bike etiquette, the basic mechanics of the bicycle, the rules of the road and helmet fit and use. The children master elementary cycling skills including basic manoeuvres, emergency manoeuvres, stopping, riding uphill, riding downhill and safe bike operations allowing them to safely ride their bicycles in their community. Children learn the pleasures of riding their bicycles with their friends and families, increasing the amount of physical activity they undertake.

"Working with the Pee Wee Pedalers programs is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job," commented Nancy Seay, assistant director of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. "I want to personally thank the Community Foundation and Air Products and Chemicals for keeping this program going."

Samplonius joins Trek team

Talented Canadian rider Anne Samplonius has joined the Trek Plus women's cycling team. Samplonius' career record includes numerous appearances as a member of the Canadian National team, a silver medal at the 1994 world time trial championships, second place on GC at that year's HP Women's Challenge and victory at the 2001 Solano road race.

In a statement from the team, Trek Plus team manager Frans Verstraeten said, "Anne brings a tremendous amount of strength and knowledge to the TREK Plus Team, especially in its upcoming stage races in Fitchburg, Altoona and Transocean. Anne will also be a critical factor in helping Laura [Van Gilder] defend her Wendy's title and US PRO Criterium championship where Laura finished 1st in 2000 and 2nd in 2001."