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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for November 12, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Freire signs for Rabobank

Oscar Freire has finally signed a contract with Rabobank, after reaching a verbal agreement with the team last month. The 1999 and 2001 World Champion signed a two year deal on Monday with the top Dutch squad, just four days before the UCI deadline for division I teams. Freire was ready sign earlier, until together with his manager, he introduced new financial conditions to the deal which predictably slowed negotiations. However last Sunday, Rabobank's Piet Hubert gave Freire a one week ultimatum to sign, and the Spaniard obliged on Monday.

Rabobank is very happy with its new acquisition. "Freire is one of the few riders with sprint qualities who doesn't need a complete team behind him," said team manager Jan Raas to ANP. "He can ride to his own plan and is strong enough in the finale to handle himself."

Raas added that Freire will form a key part of the Rabobank classics plan, which has top riders such as Erik Dekker and Michael Boogerd.

Cipollini looks ahead and back

Mario Cipollini enjoyed a double celebration on the weekend in Capannori and Lucca in Tuscany, where he was awarded the Gonfalone d'argento (silver banner) by the regional council of Tuscany. When the president of the council, Riccardo Nencini, listed Cipollini's palmares, which total 181 victories in 14 years as a pro, Cipollini was almost astonished.

"I feel awkward," he said. "To receive praise alone is embarrassing and when I remember everything I have done - which I often forget - I feel old. But looking the results I have been getting, I will continue."

He also said that he was ashamed by his announcement to leave cycling as a consequence of the non-selection of Acqua & Sapone to the 2002 Tour de France. But then Zolder washed all that away, and now Mario Cipollini is ready and willing to honour the World Champion's jersey.

Besides that, Cipollini wants to achieve two other goals in the 2003 season - one being to ride in the Centenary Tour and the other one being to help Marco Pantani to become "The Pirate" again. This last goal might turn out to be a Herculean task, but it confirms that the joint venture of Acqua & Sapone and Mercatone Uno is getting closer to reality. The name of this joint venture is still unknown, but with the November 15 deadline for Division I trade teams to register with the UCI approaching rapidly, it's not likely to remain a secret for long.

Stremersch completes Landbouwkrediet lineup

Team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will have 22 riders on its roster for 2003, with the last rider to sign being Tom Stremersch (ex-Lotto-Adecco). The team has thus added a number of new riders: Ludo Dierckxsens and Johan Verstrepen (both Lampre), Tom Steels (Mapei), Ludovic Capelle (Ag2r), Stremersch and Wesley Van Speybroeck (Lotto-Adecco), Volodymyr Duma (Panaria), and Tony Bracke (Palmans-Collstrop) along with neo-professionals Ruslan Gryschenko, Mikhail Timochine and Tomas Vaitkus.

They will join Ukrainians Sergey Avdyeyev, Volodimir Bileka, Yuriy Metlushenko and Yaroslav Popovych, Italians Lorenzo Bernucci, Salvatore Scamardella, Claudio Lucchini and Santa Anza, and Belgians Bert De Waele, Marc Streel and Kurt Van Landeghem to complete the 22 man lineup.

Tenax to take over Cage Maglierie

Fabio Bordonali, a former pro rider in the 80's and early 90's, has found a sponsor to replace Cage Maglierie, and therefore ensure the future of his Italian Division II team. The name of the firm is Tenax, a Verona based international company with branches in Spain, Brazil and the United States, that produces glues and abrasive stone products along with diamond tools for cutting marble.

The Tenax team will keep the light green colours of its last sponsor because Bordonali believes that those colours gives visibility to his team in the peloton.

Tenax will lose Colombian climbers Hernan Buenahora and Félix Cardenas, who are making their way back home to ride for the new Division II team Orbitel.

Courtesy of João Cravo

Barry Harcourt: A portrait of a photographer

By Alan Messenger, Cyclingnews correspondent

Barry Harcout
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

Just as the Tour of Southland is an institution in Southland, so is photographer Barry Harcourt. He's had a book of his work published and he's covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, but so much of his work has revolved around the Tour and so has his life.

"I first rode the Tour in 1961 and rode it three years in a row. I remember I finished third in it one year," Harcourt told Cyclingnews.

If Harcourt is a good photographer he was no mug cyclist either. He finished second in the big race of the sixties, the Dulux Tour. As far as his photographic career is concerned he became interested in photography in 1965 and began working for the Southland times in 1974. He has photographed most of the Tours when he has not been competing in them.

Among the Harcourt memories of the race is the year it snowed, and as far as cyclists are concerned he has a definite opinion as to who was the best. "The highlight for me were the Tabak years. Tino won it three times from three starts, that was really something."

It's now 2002 and the veteran photographer is still at it. His images appear daily in the Southland Times and in other Newspapers throughout New Zealand. Standing up on or sitting backwards on a motorbike, it's still no trouble, but the sixty year old says that it may be his last year on the Tour.

"The young photographers at the Times all want to go on the race so it might be my last" Harcourt said.

Don't count on it though.

Doble Copacabana once again hits the heights

By Tomas Nilsson, Cyclingnews correspondent

The Doble Copacabana (UCI 2.5) is the highest bicycle race in the world, at least on the international calendar. It starts in the Bolivian capital La Paz at 3760 metres altitude with several passages over 4000 metres. The Monastery Copacabana (quite different from its Brazilian namesake) at Lake Titicaca is the turning point after stage 2.

The race was started by the Jesuit padre Eduardo Perez Iribarne, who runs a Catholic radio station in La Paz where he comments the race live to the Bolivians. The race now draws huge crowds in a country that has very little cycle racing tradition compared to its neighbours Colombia and Chile.

Previously, European amateur teams have participated in the race, but this time the Doble was an exclusive South American affair with a Colombian, Francisco Colorado, winning. Most of the top riders from the neighbouring countries started with names like Hector Chiles (Ecuador), Gonzalo Salas (Argentina), Alfredo Reynoso (Peru) and the top teams of Chile (Lider Ariel) and Venezuela (Loteria Boyaca) and of course a couple of Colombian squads.

20 teams confirmed for Tour de Langkawi

Next year's Tour de Langkawi, scheduled for January 31-February 9, 2003, will feature 13 professional and seven national teams, announced the organisers Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd. Included amongst the pro teams is Division I Lampre, which will be making its debut in the Malaysian race. Also on the list are Gerolsteiner, Acqua & Sapone, Credit Agricole and Index Alexia, who will be amongst the teams vying for the total prizemoney of RM1.5 million (US$400,000).

"We are targeting a maximum of 23 teams and there are still two or three slots left for next year's race," said First Cartel Executive Chairman Datuk Wan Lokman Dato' Paduka Wan Ibrahim. "We are still awaiting confirmation from some of the division one and two teams in Europe." These include Quickstep-Davitamon, AG2R, Bonjour, CSC and Nürnberger.

Six division two outfits present in this year's race will also be back for a slice of the action in 2003: EDS-Fakta, Palmans-Collstrop, Colchon Relax Fuenlabrada, Ceramiche Panaria, Formaggi Trentini and Colombia Selle Italia. Also Slovakian outfit De Nardi-Colpack will race on Malaysian terrain for the first time. Finally, USA team Saturn has also confirmed its entry in the 10 day race.

Six national teams: Iran, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia and club team Telekom Malaysia make up the remainder of the 20 confirmed teams.

The UCI 2.2 classified race is in its eighth year in 2003, and covers a total of 1,343 kilometres in 10 stages. After skipping the East Coast of Peninsula this year, the race makes its return to Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan. Next year's Tour will cover 10 states which include Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. The 2003 race will also see the inclusion of six new venues namely Butterworth, Kulim, Tanah Merah, Marang, Chukai and Seremban.

Confirmed Teams

Division I: Credit Agricole, Acqua & Sapone, Gerolsteiner, Index Alexia, Lampre-Daikin
Division II: Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, Formaggi Trentini, Palmans Collstrop, Ceramiche Panaria, Colombia Selle-Italia, Team EDS-Fakta, De Nardi-Colpack
Division III: Saturn
National Teams: Iran, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia
Club Team: Team Telekom Malaysia

Tour Méditerranéen to go ahead

The 2003 edition of the Tour Méditerranéen, organised by Lucien Aimar, has been given permission to go ahead from February 12-16. According to a report in Reuters, The Professional Cycling Council threatened to stop the race if the prizemoney from last year wasn't paid out, however it will allow the race to continue on condition that 25% of the prizes are paid in advance.

Aimar announced this week that the race would finish in the Ligure region in Italy with a 48 kilometre team time trial. However, UCI rules state that a team time trial stage must take place within the first third of the event i.e. in the first two days.

Frisco Cycling Club to take over Superdrome

The Frisco Cycling Club is hoping to resurrect the Superdrome in Texas, which was shut down earlier this year due to the high operating and maintenance costs of the velodrome. The City Council gave its unanimous support for the project, which will be headed by FCC president Ryan Crissey.

"I'm confident that we'll be able to make this successful," said Crissey to the Dallas Morning News. "This is going to be a growing process. 2003 will have a large improvement over last year, and 2004 will be better, and 2005 will be better than that."

The FCC will take care of most of the costs, and hopes to find sponsors to cover the remainder. The plan is expected to be finalised within six weeks.

The Frisco Superdrome was opened in 1998 with the support of Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS). However just one year later, EDS withdrew from the agreement, and no-one stepped into the gap. When the velodrome closed this year, it was estimated that $200,000 worth of repairs needed to be carried out on the wooden track. However the Frisco Cycling Club believes that these can be done for less money.

24 Hours of Adrenalin NORBA National Championship

The fourth Solo and Team 24 Hours of Adrenalin NORBA National Championships will take place on May 17-18, 2003, at Laguna Seca Recreation Area. The event, promoted by Trilife Sports International and the National Off-Road Bicycle association (NORBA) is expected to be the biggest yet in the rapidly growing sport of 24 hour mountain bike racing.

Categories include: Solo, 4 Person Masters, 4 Person Open Male, 4 Person Open Female and 6 Person Junior. Riders in the Solo Category will also race to qualify for the 2003 World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin. Championships.

Granny Gear 24 Hour MTB Schedule

The dates for the 2003 Granny Gear 24 Hour MTB Schedule have been set as follows:

April 26-27: 24 Hours of Temecula, Temecula, California
June 28-29: 12th Annual 24 Hours of Snowshoe, Snowshoe, West Virginia
August 23-24: 6th Annual 24 Hours of Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
October 18-19: 9th Annual 24 Hours of Moab, Moab, Utah

Another Salas

Australian cyclist Eddie Salas and his wife Kelly are happy to announce the birth of their daughter Jasmine Claudia, who was born on Sunday November 11 at Nepean Private Hospital. Jasmine came in at a healthy 3.5kg and the mother and daughter are both doing fine. Eddie rushed back to his bike shop to find Jasmine a suitable bike to ride!

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