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Photo ©: Schaaf

News for November 5, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Belgians cross with UCI

The Belgian cyclo-crossers are continuing with their campaign to change the UCI cyclo-cross rules, which they believe discriminate against them. "The UCI wants to break the Belgian supremacy," said spokesman Erwin Vervecken to Belgian teletekst. "That is the biggest gripe of the Belgian cyclo-crossers."

A delegation of Belgians will meet UCI cyclo-cross coordinator Sylvia Schenk on November 23 to discuss their grievances. These include: The start order is by country, not by individual; In World Cups, there must be at least one U23 rider as part of the six man selection; The winner of the World Cup is not guaranteed an automatic start in next season's World Cup races. Because this rider is often Belgian, it disadvantages the Belgian team; In World Cup races, riders must wear their national jerseys rather than their trade team ones.

However the UCI sees things differently, that the Belgians are threatening to choke the sport which they have dominated for so long. Not all of the Belgians' requests will be for the good of the sport, thus a middle ground has to be found. The Belgians should still be able to win, despite the new rules.

Back to work for the French

By João Cravo

The French teams are about to get back to work, in the hope that hard work will lead to good results, and good results will lead to an invitation to the 2003 Tour de France. Only Cofidis has already qualified for the centenary edition of the Tour next July - all the others will need to get a wild card. Being a French team might be an advantage but it's by no means the key that will open the doors of the Tour to them.

The successor of the late Bonjour, Brioches-La Boulangère, will be the first team to return to work. A training camp will be held between 23 and 28 November in Sables-d'Olonne. After that, Walter Beneteau, Franck Bouyer, Emmanuel Magnien, Sylvain Chavanel and the rest of the boys will gather from 12 to 16 December in Nantes and from 12 to 20 January, 2003, in Saint-Raphael or Antibes. The effectiveness of their off season work will be tested first in the Tour of Qatar (January 31-February 4).

The Aussies Bradley McGee, Baden Cooke and Matt Wilson will reunite with their colleagues for the first time in Rènazé (November 25-29). They will be together again between December 15-20 in La Baule and between January 2-5 in Lalonde-les-Maures. Two other training camps are scheduled to the same month. Sandy Casar, Jimmy Casper, Jacky Durand and the Aussies will be present at the Tour Down Under (January 21-26).

For an ambitious MBK-Oktos-Saint Quentin, the pre-season will also start in November (26 to 28) at its home in Saint Quentin. Christophe Rinero, Stéphane Barthe and the Aussie Jay Sweet, who transferred from Saturn, will then gather in Marseilles (December 14-20). Finally, a ten day training camp will take place in January at Amélie-les-Bains. The Tour Down Under will be the first test of the team's real ambitions.

Amiens is the town that from December 2-6 will welcome David Moncoutié, David Millar, Andrei Kivilev, Iñigo Cuesta and all the other Cofidis riders on their return to work. The less well known Saint Aygulf will be the team's HQ between January 7-24. Camels and Bedouins will be the first to see the team in action during the Tour of Qatar that follows.

The second day of December will be the first point of contact for the riders of the Jean Delatour team. Until December 7, Patrice Halgand, Eddy Seigneur and colleagues will be gathered in Isle-d'Abeau. After New Year's Eve, the team will be reunited (place and date not yet determined). The GP La Marseillaise, the race that opens the French cycling season (February 4) are set to be the first one for the Jean Delatour boys.

Florent Brard, who was caught up in a doping affair and dismissed by Crédit Agricole, will not be present on December 13 for the team's eight day training camp in Gréoux-les-Bains. But Christophe Moreau, Stuart O'Grady, Jens Voigt, Thor Hushovd, Sébastian Hinault and all the rest will be there laying the foundations of the season. Crédit Agricole will be another French team to ride the Tour Down Under.

Finally, BigMat-Auber 93's future is still not clear at this moment.

Freire hasn't signed yet

Two time World Champion Oscar Freire still hasn't signed his contract with Rabobank according to Gazet van Antwerpen. Team leader Adri van Houwelingen says that Freire has introduced some "new details" but expects to close things within a week.

Zarrabeitia extends

The ONCE team has extended the contract of Mikel Zarrabeitia for another year. Zarrabeitia wore the leader's jersey in the Vuelta for a day this year.

De Waele finds a team

One of the many Mapei riders looking for a job next season, Fabien De Waele, has found a place at Palmans-Collstrop. De Waele was hoping to move to Landbouwkrediet-Colnago with his friend Tom Steels, however that did not eventuate.

It's also reported that Lotto's Tom Stremersch, who was a victim of the fusion between Lotto and Domo, will probably sign with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. Another victim of that fusion is American Fred Rodriguez, who is still looking for a team. One of the more consistent classics riders early in the season may sign for an Italian team (Saeco, Acqua e Sapone) or a French one (Credit Agricole). Other riders with Belgian teams looking for work included Dave Bruylandts, Thomas Konecny, Bart Leysen, Jeroen Blijlevens and Max Van Heeswijk.

Courtesy of Fred Borgers

Vervecken hopes to renew contract

2001 World Cyclo-cross Champion Erwin Vervecken is hoping to extend his contract with Spaar Select next week. He is negotiating for a new deal, and has been given the insurance that the sponsorship of the team will continue, despite problems within the Spaar Select company.

Bekim Christensen stays at Coast

Dane Bekim Christensen stays with Team Coast, according to his home town paper Horsens Folkeblad. The one year contract will be signed in Essen on Wednesday.

"I've received a mail with an offer for one year and despite the fact that I want a bit more pay, I have decided to say yes to another year. It's a question of survival, of keeping one's job. I earn like any Danish craftsman. In this business you need at least one really good result to raise your pay by two or three times," said Christensen, who is home in Horsens for a couple of weeks holiday with the family before next season starts.

Christensen has been on the team since its days in the lower ranks and has ridden most of the bigger this season, stage races as well as classics.

Team Coast has had to shrink its roster next season by seven riders due to budget constraints. Amongst their top men, Angel Casero has already signed, but the team has yet to reach an agreement with Alex Zülle.

Norwegian amateur team on the way up

Norwegian amateur club Frikransen Elite will make an effort for the top level in their country by cooperating with the cycling centre in Montecatini in Italy where Frederico Morini (ex Gerolsteiner) will take care of the club's riders during the training camps in February and April. The team also hopes to start in the Ringerike GP, the only international Norwegian stage race late April, plus other races in Italy, Denmark and France. It is quite possible that Morini might also occasionally ride for the team, according to team manager Njål Engløk.

The aim for the coming season is the Norwegian Cup with all the major domestic races and to get someone into the pro ranks within three years. So far the club has Espen Bjervig, Jarle Wermskog, Ola Magnus Laugaland and Sveinung Vea in the ranks. A squad whose riders could be described as more promising than established. More young riders are also contracted.

The club Frikransen started as late as 1998 and now counts more than 140 members, not only cyclists but also triathletes and multisporters. The club is quite unconventional by Norwegian standards and has established a number of new races in the Oslo area and has also introduced cyclo-cross in Norway.

Courtesy of Tomas Nilsson

Danish rider injured in Tour of Thailand

Danish rider Rasmus Madsen (Marco Polo) was seriously injured after being hit by a car during the first stage of the Tour of Thailand. He was in the lead group of the peloton but crossed onto the other side of the road as he was trying to move up at high speed. Unfortunately there was a car coming in the opposite direction which had refused to slow down, despite warnings from the race officials. Madsen collided with the car and suffered serious back injuries.

The Marco Polo team reported that he was taken to a hospital in Bangkok 600km away for treatment, and although he has some problems stretching his right arm, it's expected that he'll be allowed to return home on Friday at the latest.

His German teammate Kay Kermer, who was close behind him when the crash happened, stopped racing immediately and went with Madsen to hospital.

Obree film gets small boost

The lottery funded Scottish Screen organisation has given a boost to the hopes of the Graeme Obree film "The Flying Scotsman", which suffered nearly a £1 million setback when one of its backers pulled out recently. Scottish Screen has advanced the film's production team a big chunk of the £500,000 due to it on completion of The Flying Scotsman, reports Scottish Screen was the organisation that gave life to the project in the first place, granting £500,000 lottery cash in 2000.

The cash is paid out in stages, and following last week's news about the film's problems, Scottish Screen agreed to advance more of the cash so that filming can begin on November 15. However, the film is still in need of a replacement backer, to make up the £900 000 budget shortfall.

Bikebiz calls for "any millionaires out there who would like to shell out some cash to make sure an all-star film about cycling is printed to celluloid should contact Scottish Screen on tel +44 (0)141 302 1700."

It's hoped that the film will surpass Breaking Away (1979), starring Dennis Quaid, and American Flyers (1985), starring Kevin Costner as a classic of the cycling movie genre.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)