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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for November 22, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Société du Tour de France celebrates birth of the race

A small but historic meeting was reenacted Tuesday night in Paris at the Hollywood Savoy restaurant. Had the restaurant Zimmer existed today, situated near the Rue Faubourg Montmartre, Tuesday's piece of theater would have been held in its proper location.

The reason? It was 100 years ago that the Zimmer played host to an important meeting between Henri Desgrange and Géo Lefèvre, a lunch meeting to be precise, and 100 years ago that the Tour de France was born. It was Lefèvre who proposed to his boss the idea for the race, and the following summer, the first Tour began in front of the Réveil-Matin in Montgeron, just south of Paris. Some debate remains as to whether the meeting took place on the 19th or the 20th of November, but as Leblanc affirmed, "we are in any event at a historic juncture."

To celebrate the occasion, the Société du Tour de France hosted a small theatrical reenactment of the fateful lunch meeting between Desgranges, owner of the L'Auto-Vélo newspaper, and his assistant Lefèvre. "Déjeuner au Zimmer," was the name of the mini-play, penned by the patron of the Tour, Jean-Marie Leblanc, Serge Laget of French sports daily l'Equipe, and Denis Descamps of the Amaury Sport Organisation (owners of the Tour de France).

Source: l'Equipe

Gent candidate for Tour finish in 2004

The Belgian city of Gent is a candidate to host a stage finish of the 2004 Tour de France. Frank Wijnakker, the spokesman for sport in Gent, told Belga newsagency that he met Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc last December, and the idea was born then. "Within six months we will know if our submission is good enough, but I think we have a 95 percent chance," said Wijnakker.

Gent last saw the Tour de France in 1996 when it passed through the city. It also hosted a stage finish in 1958.

Tafi awarded Premio Sport 2002

On Friday, November 22, Italian national team director Franco Ballerini, along with Alfredo Martini, will present Andrea Tafi with the "Premio Sport 2002" award. The ceremony will take place at the Centro Congressi "Versilia 2000" at the Hotel Le Dune di Lido di Camaiore. Also invited will be Italian U23 world champion Francesco Chicchi. The Premio Sport award has been presented every year since 1960 to those who have promoted the Camaiore region and the Lucca Province.

Tafi, 36, has been a professional since 1989, and rode together with Ballerini for five seasons under the Mapei colours. Following the team's withdrawal from the professional peloton, the Italian classics specialist will head north to join Bjarne Riis's Danish CSC team.

Belohvosciks to Marlux

Lampre's Raivis Belohvosciks, who was Latvian Road Champion in 2002, will ride for Belgian division II squad Marlux next season. The team will probably end up with between 18-20 riders, which means that there are still some available spaces. Domo riders Romans Vainsteins, Marco Milesi and Enrico Cassani are still negotiating to join the team.

Courtesy of Joćo Cravo

Liese to Coast

German rider Thomas Liese (34) will leave Team Nürnberger to ride for Team Coast in 2003. Liese is a time trial specialist, and finished fourth at the German championships in 2002.

Courtesy of Joćo Cravo

Spaar Select problems: Vervecken not yet

The problems surrounding the Spaar Select cyclo-cross team are continuing to grow, with talk that the end of the team is nigh. 2001 World Champion Erwin Vervecken said that he has a verbal agreement for next season, but has not been able to sign anything yet. "The appointment has already been put off six or seven times," he told ANP. "I don't believe it will happen. I suspect that the end of the team is close. The contract is constantly put back."

The problems allegedly started when the Dutch arm of Spaar Select pulled out of its sponsorship of the team. However, the director of the Belgian part of the company believes that this has nothing to do with the current situation.

Vervecken is not counting on it though, and says that he has "...enough other contacts. If I get a good offer from someone else, then I won't be afraid to discuss it."

Another blow for Norwegian cycling

Norwegian Team Krone, a Trade Team 3, might lose its main sponsor Krone Gruppen AS after a finance scandal in Norway. Krone Gruppen is owned by one of the two businessmen behind Finance Credit, a finance and collection agency that may have siphoned funds it borrowed from six Norwegian banks to offshore tax havens. The Norwegian Orienteering Federation and a top division soccer team are also sponsored by Finance Credit companies. Team Krone and Ringerike SK, the cycling club behind the team, had a three year deal worth six million kroner (US$700,000).

Comments so far from the team management are "wait and see". "Obviously no other sponsor has two million kroner ready to spend for next season, but finding other sponsors is a process that we will have to start if necessary", says club chairman Birger Hungerholt.

Hungerholt was also the man behind the female Team Sponsor Service's sponsor deals. That team had to dissolve after its major sponsor, sports management company Sponsor Service, cut the deal short by two years some weeks ago. Hungerholt had then left his position with Sponsor Service to set up a sponsorship agency of his own.

Courtesy of Tomas Nilsson

New sponsor for De Nardi-Colpack Astro 2003

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italian firm Lovato Electric S.P.A. will co-sponsor the newly merged De Nardi-Colpack Astro 2003 team next season. With this deal, the eight year old first begins its first sponsorship in professional cycling.

Didier Rous creates U23 development program

Didier Rous and Eric Malbreil, former teammates of the defunct French club SC Montauban, have rejoined forces to create a development program for juniors in the Lot-et-Garonne region, according to Rous, a former French national champion, wanted to create a developmental framework for young cyclists in the region, and recruited his friend Malbreil to help work out possible ideas.

The program, whose full title is "Castelsarrasin Pôle Espoirs Didier Rous Tarn-et-Garonne," will focus its energy on twelve DN2 riders under 23 years of age with hopes of competing at the DN1 espoirs level. Rous, who will continue to ride for Jean-René Bernaudeau's Bonjour team (which becomes La Brioche in 2003), will function as manager and technical advisor for the group, while Malbreil will help oversee the program. Two directeurs sportif (Patrick Clot and David Périllaud) will be joined by a trainer (François-Xavier Patarca) and a logistical manager (Jean Subra).

Brixia Tour back

After first deciding to withdraw the Brixia Tour (July 25-27) from the 2003 road calendar, the UCI has opted to include the Italian race again. The 2.3 race was won in 2001, its inaugural year, by Australian Cadel Evans (Saeco), who was in his first year as a professional road rider after a career as a mountain biker. Last season the Spaniard Igor Astarloa, also Saeco, proved the strongest. The three day race has kept its status as a 2.3 event.

Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series Round 4

ChainBiter 4.0 Cyclo-Cross

The Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series picks up with Round 4 at the Winding Trails recreation facility, Farmington, CT on November 24, 2002. ChainBiter 4.0 features Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series leader Marc Gullickson (Mongoose/Hyundai) battling 2001 overall Verge Series champion Mark McCormack (Saturn). Gullickson leads the US Cyclo-Cross rankings for elite men, and has won each of the first three rounds of the 2002 Verge Series in dominating fashion. Defending Champion McCormack currently lies in second place, and hasn't finished outside the top 4 in any Verge Series race this year.

Challenging McCormack & Gullickson for top honours in CT will be U.S. U23 National Cyclo-Cross Champion Adam Craig (Giant). Craig is the top ranked US U23 Cyclo-Cross rider in 2002, and is in 4th overall (first U23) in the Verge Series. Another rider to watch will be Johs Huseby (Independent Fabrications), who is coming off an impressive win (over Craig) at the Palmer cyclo-cross, and has a number of top placings this season. Other top riders are Niantic, CT native Jeremy Powers (DEVO/Balance Bar), Josh Anthony ( and Mike Broderick (Seven Cycles). Curt Davis, Jon Hamblen, and Chris Peck will represent the CT based elite Wheelworks/Cannondale team.

Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) has finished first or second in each Verge Series race this year, in addition to winning the UCI Central Mass Cyclo-Cross to End Homelessness on October 12. She'll proudly wear the Verge Series leader's jersey into round 4. Her competition to retain that coveted jersey will come from former Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Champion Shauna Gillies-Smith (SRP/GearWorks), US Masters Champion Jodi Groesbeck (Putney/West Hill), US U23 and Collegiate Champion Alicia Genest (Richard Sachs), and Kathryn Roszko (NCC/

Jodi Groesbeck in particular is coming into top form, finishing a close second to McConneloug at the Putney cyclo-cross on November 10, then beating her outright at Plymouth on November 16. Groesbeck followed up her fine Plymouth win with another victory the next day at the Palmer race, and is clearly the favourite to challenge McConneloug again at Chain Biter 4.0.

ChainBiter 4.0 gets underway at 10AM at the Winding Trails recreation facility, Farmington, CT. All Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series races can be registered for on-line courtesy of For more information, log on to

Remaining rounds in the VNECC series

Round 4 - November 24: ChainBiter Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3
Round 5 - December 1: W. E. Stedman Co. Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3
Round 6 - December 8: American Express Financial Advisors Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3

Cycling Ireland AGM

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

On Saturday, November 23, in the Great Southern Hotel at Dublin Airport, Ireland's governing body Cycling Ireland will hold its Annual General Meeting, with a scheduled start of 10.30am.

In the past twelve months there has been an urgency to foster change which was initially brought about by the publication of the Strategic Development Document Plan. This came to fruition thanks to the work of the membership and the support of the Sports Council.

Under the leadership of the President PJ Nolan, things have moved forward at a steady pace. There is willingness amongst the rank and file for change. Like a number of sports, cycling will undergo change in the next few years that will launch it into a new era.

Unfortunately, because of the economic downturn, the sporting complex at Abbotstown has been put on the back burner for the time being. This would have been a real bonus, but hopefully the dream will become a reality.

Still the mood in cycling is upbeat and the promotions that were held throughout the year are a measure of the buoyancy that is within CI. For the first time in decades, there will be no need for the tellers to count the votes of the hopefuls for high office. On this occasion only ratification is required for the post of Hon. Secretary, held by Jack Watson, that of Hon. Treasurer, Peter Thornton and Ciaran McKenna as Director. It is a measure of the confidence of the membership that they also see the need for continuity, long may it continue.

An observer of many an AGM echoed the sentiments of change by reiterating that, "Everybody hopefully will move with the pendulum. In order for success, the support, help and encouragement of all membership is a vital ingredient."

A large attendance would be pleasing for the current administration that has certainly shown a lot of transparency and accountability in the last number of months. With the business of the meeting concluded a function will also be held at the hotel in the evening. For further information, please contact the ICF office on 01-8551521.

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