News for June 26, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Mapei to stop sponsorship at the end of 2002
The multi-million dollar global floor adhesives company, Mapei, has announced that it will cease its sponsorship of the world's number one cycling team at the end of the 2002 season. Mapei issued a press statement citing the main reasons as being "the current problems in cycling and sport in general".
Mapei has been involved in cycling sponsorship for the past 10 years, and the team has won over 500 races, including just about every major classic and stage race. This year the team was forced by UCI regulations to split into two, with an division I squad of 25 riders as well as a division III team of younger riders. Both teams have dominated the rankings with an impressive win ratio.
The head of the company, Giorgio Squinzi, said that "We have given a lot to cycling in the past decade; but from this sport he have also received a lot, in terms of competitive satisfaction."
Squinzi's main beef with the sport has always been the problem of doping, which has still not disappeared and has touched members of his own team (Garzelli and Zanini) recently. He has always been outspoken on this topic, often at loggerheads with the UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who he thinks hasn't done enough to combat the problem.
At Mapei's 2000 team launch, Squinzi said "The current situation in cycling is very confusing; we are just now at this late date finding out the new regulations from the UCI on medical controls...and they are very disappointing. Of the four parameters, there is only one (haematocrit) that offers the possibility to suspend a rider. I'm in favor of more stringent medical controls; like those suggested by the Italian Olympic Committee that offer a continual check of the riders health throughout the year. We hope that in 2000 that we have more 'real' controls of riders and that all the teams can compete on an equal basis."
Two years down the track, and this has happened, but Squinzi believes it has taken too long. "Finally there seem to be changes in motion, that are indispensable to give the sport of cycling the credibility that its popularity and history deserve: but the changes are still too weak, the progress too slow, with respect to the seriousness of the situation, to justify an engagement such as ours."
Squinzi feels that his $US10 million a year investment is not being treated seriously by the UCI. The strange circumstances of the Garzelli affair in the Giro d'Italia brought this light, when the UCI didn't step in to sort out the problem. Despite the threats that Mapei were reconsidering their position, there seemed to be no desire from the UCI to keep the number one team in the sport. So, Squinzi is taking his bat and ball and going home.
"I don't hide the fact that I am leaving this sport with a lot of satisfaction, but also with bitterness at being misunderstood at times, and the opposition to new ideas that we proposed for the organisation and management of teams (refer to the Certificate of Quality ISO 9001:2000). There is also bitterness about not being able to see the fruits of an important project that we undertook: the creation of a very young group of professionals, who I hope will characterise the future of cycling. And competitively speaking, we regret never having won San Remo or the Tour, the sole races that are lacking in our palmares."
Vandenbroucke wins CAS appeal
Frank Vandenbroucke is free to race again, after a six month suspension imposed by the Belgian Cycling Federation (BWB) was ruled "illegal" by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. The CAS made their ruling after a hearing on Monday, after Vandenbroucke and his lawyer Luc Deleu claimed that the BWB were not allowed to suspend him in March for possession of doping substances. According to Belgian law, the decision can only be made by a disciplinary commission set up by the Flemish government.
Vandenbroucke is due to meet the Flemish disciplinary commission on Thursday, who may bring back the ban. However it's unlikely that they could prevent him from racing outside Belgium.
The UCI may also ban Vandenbroucke, but they have not yet acted in this case. They did however release a statement criticising the lack of standards in international doping regulations, which vary from country to country.
"It seems extremely illogical that one body should deal with the testing and another with the disciplinary procedures, based on different regulations," read the statement. "The UCI will have to consider whether doping tests on races taking place in Flanders are still necessary or whether it wouldn't be more opportune to leave them to the government."
The affair started when EPO, clenbuterol and morphine were found by police in a search of Vandenbroucke's home in late February. The products are banned under Belgian law, and VDB has been charged with illegally possessing these substances. He currently without a team after he was fired by Domo-Farm Frites.
Casagrande to leave Fassa Bortolo?
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Francesco Casagrande is going to leave Fassa Bortolo, as he doesn't get along with team manager Giancarlo Ferretti. He may end up with Banesto, after contact was made via their bike sponsor Pinarello. Banesto need a leader for the grand tours, to help their younger riders such as Denis Menchov learn the ropes.
Vuelta news: Unipublic still keen on new plan; venue for finale in Madrid TBA
The general director of Unipublic, Enrico Franco, has reiterated his idea for radical changes to be made to the format of the Vuelta España. Speaking at a conference in Madrid's city call, Franco said the plan was "a formula to renew cycling, a sport that is more or less stagnant in its format. It has always been said that we must seek new formulae for cycling, but as yet no project has been presented and we have been brave enough to do it."
To recap, the plan involves a 'qualifying week', whereby two pelotons of 16 teams race the Vuelta's first week approximately an hour apart, covering the same parcours. At the end of the week, the best 9 teams from each peloton are determined and combined into a single 18 team peloton. The race will effectively begin again for the final two weeks, with this new peloton. The plan already has the approval of the UCI, but has yet to get the nod from the various teams. One of the motives behind it is for the organisers to be able to invite the smaller Spanish and Portuguese teams, although this has already been criticised by Kelme's DS Vicente Belde, who believes that the public want to see the best teams in action from the beginning.
Enrico Franco said at the conference that up till now he has received more pros than cons for his "modernisation" of the Vuelta. There is no doubt that it will change the character of the race, with one week effectively being scratched from the time sheet, but not from the riders' legs.
He also commented about the location of the final 41.2 km time trial in Madrid. It will either be held around the Warner Bros movie park in San Martín de la Vega, or finish in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Puerta de Alcalá. The latter would depend on whether a football game was being held there or not.
USA Cycling names Gerard Bisceglia CEO
Former restaurant and convenience store chain executive Gerard Bisceglia has been appointed the new chief executive officer of USA Cycling.
Bisceglia will take up his new position on July 1 after the board approved the appointment on a conference call on June 25.
"I plan to get out in the field as quickly as I can to learn first hand from the members, officials, promoters and sponsors about their issues and to hear their ideas on how we can expand competitive cycling. I am also eager to immerse myself in all the disciplines of bike racing, especially mountain biking and BMX, so I can better understand their unique needs."
Bisceglia, 52, was most recently president of Shogun Express, a restaurant operator in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was a trustee of the United States Professional Racing Organization, an association of USA Cycling, from 1997 to 2001. He is a former executive of The Southland Corporation from 1972 to 1991, the parent of retailer 7-Eleven, who later left Southland and helped lead a turnaround at Circle K Corporation, a major competitor of 7-Eleven.
As an executive at The Southland Corporation Bisceglia rose to become national sales manager, overseeing store operations for 7-Eleven's 8,000 stores. While at 7-Eleven he managed the sports marketing department that managed the company's sponsorship of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team. Subsequently he was recruited to join Circle K Corporation as vice president of marketing.
"Gerard's experience managing mass-market retail organizations will be important in addressing the membership challenges USA Cycling has faced in recent years," said Jim Ochowicz, president of USA Cycling. "He also brings a reputation for fair dealing and financial responsibility."
Born in White Plains, New York, Bisceglia presently resides in Fountain Hills, Arizona. He will relocate to Colorado Springs to join USA Cycling.
Steve Johnson, who was interim chief executive officer of USA Cycling, will remain on staff in his previous position of chief operating officer.
US team hit by Hammer injury
The collarbone injury to Sarah Hammer has put a nail in the coffin of the US track team's hopes in the final World Cup event in Kunming, China on August 9-11. Hammer sustained the injury during the recent World Cup in Cali (results), where the USA dominated proceedings and finished on top of the points table. Although Hammer will miss the China event, she is expected to be back in action by the US Track Championships in late August.
English team announced for Commonwealth Games
England has announced its cycling squad to compete at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. Having failed to win a gold medal at the last Commonwealth Games, England's cycling team is determined to make amends at Manchester 2002 and looks to have the firepower to do so. The team boasts both Olympic and World Championship medallists in an experienced line-up.
Heading the list is Olympic kilometre time trial champion Jason Queally, who also has medals to his credit at the last three World Championships. Jason also won silver in the event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games at Kuala Lumpur.
Riding with Jason in the team sprint event will be Jamie Staff, a recent convert to track racing following a highly successful career as a professional BMX rider in the USA. Jamie also looks likely to ride the kilometre time trial, an event in which he became the third fastest British rider to date in only his second race at the distance at the beginning of June.
Other Olympic medallists in the team include Paul Manning, Chris Newton, Bryan Steel and Bradley Wiggins, who all picked up bronze medals at Sydney 2000 in the team pursuit, a discipline in which England are joint favourites with Australia at Manchester 2002.
Filling the shoes of recently retired Yvonne McGregor, the last English cyclist to win Commonwealth gold (points race, Victoria 1994), is Emma Davies, who was fourth in the women's individual pursuit at last year's World Championships and a clear medal hope at Manchester.
Mountain biking makes its first Commonwealth Games appearance at the Manchester 2002 Games, and in Liam Killeen and Sue Thomas, England have two athletes who already know what it is like to win over the Games course. Liam and Sue were the winners at the England selection race last week, the first and only time that the course will be used before the Games.
The six riders who will compete in the men's road race team will be announced on 1st July following cycling's final selection event, the National Road Race championships over the Games course on Sunday 30th June.
Team England roster
Men's Track Endurance Events Tim Buckle - High Peak, Derbyshire Stephen Cummings - Wirral, Merseyside Tony Gibb - Stanmore, Middx Paul Manning - Stockport, Cheshire Chris Newton - Stockton on Tees Kieran Page - Ryde, Isle of Wight Bryan Steel - Rugby, Warwickshire Bradley Wiggins - Maida Vale, London Women's Track Endurance And Road Events Sue Carter - Harlow, Essex Emma Davies - Alsager, Staffs Rachel Heal - Oxford Frances Newstead - Holmfirth, W Yorks Melanie Sears - Rushton, Northants Sara Symington - Alsager, Cheshire Melanie Szubrycht - Sheffield Men's Track Sprint Events Jason Queally - Chorley, Lancs Andy Slater - Preston, Lancs Jamie Staff - Ashford, Kent Women's Track Sprint Events Julie Paulding - Manchester Victoria Pendleton - Hitchen, Herts Mountain Bike Events Oli Beckingsale - Nailsea, North Somerset Barrie Clarke - Cumbria Jenny Copnall - Barnet Liam Killeen - Malvern, Worcs Sue Thomas Formby - Merseyside Victoria Wilkinson - Ambleside, Cumbria Men's Time Trial Stuart Dangerfield - Willenhall, W Midlands
2002 Junior World Track Cycling Championships launched
By Karen Forman, Cyclingnews.com correspondent
'Get out there, enjoy the buzz and advantage of performing in front of a home crowd - and then keep going in the sport whether you win or lost at the 2002 Junior World Track Cycling Championships.'
That's the message Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken - who is "the face" of the event to be held at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena velodrome from August 21-25 - aimed to get across to the Australian team, when he spoke at the official launch in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, there were only two riders at the gathering to hear him - dual gold medallist from 2001, Mark French, and 2002 hopeful, Belinda Goss. All the other invited guests were be-suited dignitaries, and mostly politicians at that, including the Victorian Minister for Sport, Recreation and the Commonwealth Games, Justin Madden, who conducted the launch.
Still, Minister Madden made an effort to show his interest in bikes, good naturedly agreeing to take part in a roller competition with Aitken prior to the serving up of scones and cream for morning tea. Even with slacks rolled up around his knees and somebody to hold him upright, he was no contest for the Adelaide based Aitken, who pedaled through the three "laps" without even raising a sweat.
A second roller derby between French and Goss proved somewhat more competitive, with sprint king French beating out recently turned endurance specialist Goss in the final sprint.
All in all it was a somewhat subdued launch as far as launches of major international events go - but promoters are promising a full range of promotional school visits, roller derbies and press calls in the leadup to the event.
While Aitken, 31, spoke from the heart about the sport to which he has devoted his life and encouraged the 14-strong Australian team (which includes five Victorians) to "ride on the wave on the home town crowd", Madden extolled the virtues of the event being part of a lineup of world class sports events for Melbourne this year.
Aitken: "As a current cyclist who has been in the sport for 25 years plus, I know what it is like to have a dream to compete at world level. But to have a dream to compete at world level on home turf...that is a dream that finally came true for me at the Sydney Olympics. It was a dream that started in 1989, 11 years before. at the World Junior Championships in Moscow. And there is nothing like the feeling when it comes true."
"To the Australian team, I say ride on the wind of the home town crowd - there is no more motivating feeling than knowing the crowd is with you."
(For the record, Aitken rode senior world championships that same year - but had to pull out of the madison after 25 laps, due to problems with his asthma).
Madden: "This is the pre-eminent junior cycling event on the international cycling calendar. Victoria has a fantastic history in terms of cycling events and has produced outstanding champions. Michelle Ferris, Shane Kelly and Gary Neiwand all started their international careers as junior world champions."
"Here at Vodafone area, we have one of the most outstanding facilities anywhere in the world. The World Junior Track Championships is the beginning of a number of major events - the AFL final, the World Masters Games, the Spring (horse) racing carnival and the World Cup swimming."
Thirteen national cycling federations have nominated teams for the championships.
South Korea will bring a team of eight (four men/one woman), Germany 28 (15 men/three women), Great Britain seven (two men/one woman), Netherlands 15 (six men/four women), Australia 14 (10men/four women), New Zealand 12 (seven men/one woman), Belgium seven (four men/three women), Denmark nine (six men/three women), Liechtenstein nine, Switzerland three, France (19 men/seven women), Malaysia four (two men, two women) and China 11.
The five-day event will be run in nine sessions, with events including the key Olympic races such as the individual pursuit, keirin and team sprint.
French, 17, will be out to defend his world titles in the 200 metre sprint and the Olympic team sprint.
"It's gonna be really exciting, competing in front of the home crowd, but I do feel the pressure," he said.
"I think the Victorian riders - Jonni Clarke, Brad Norton, Nick Sanderson and Sean Finning - will do well. All won medals in the nationals this year and we are all the best of friends." ,p> French said he had quit school at the end of Year 11 last year to concentrate on his cycling full time this year, but would finish Year 12 by correspondence next year.
"I've turned full time and I haven't trained as hard as this forever," he said.
He is doing 300km on the road each week, along with three track sessions, four gym sessions and two or three ergo sessions, under Melbourne coach John Beasley.
"Last year I was with Hilton Clarke but he works as a full time carpenter and hasn't really got the time. He is friends with John and now they are both working with me, which is great. I needed it, specially as I was training by myself in Melbourne."
He said he thought the French and Germans would prove his major rivals, although isn't sure of the names of the riders to watch. ,p> "I had a bit of a look at the times from the European championships and I am doing ok compared to that," he said. "They were 11-flats and my personal best is 10.63. The Australian record is held by Ben Kersten and that is 10.59."
Goss, who has collected 14 national titles during her four and a half year career and was fourth in the points race at last year's Junior World Championships, has also been working hard.
"My cycling has taken a new turn," she said. "I have been training a lot harder and concentrated more on endurance. I like the road, too, which complements my track racing. "
Goss, similarly, has deferred an education degree at university this year to concentrate on her cycling. She will contest the pursuit, points and scratch races and guesses she will find out who the riders are to beat "on the night". She has ridden on Vodafone's track on a number of occasions and likes it, although she says it is not as fast as the Dunc Gray velodrome in Sydney.
Besides the junior world tracks, she is also targeting the junior world road championships. She will be heading to South Australia after a two- week pre-world juniors training camp in June-July to contest a two-day selection race.
Tickets for the 2002 Junior World Track Cycling Championships went on sale yesterday through Ticketek in Melbourne, by phone or the web.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)