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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for November 30, 2002

Edited by Chris Henry

Pirate dreams

By João Cravo

Marco Pantani, the winner of both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 1998, and winner of four stages in the 1999 Giro, arguably finished his career on the penultimate day of the 1999 Giro, that he was about to win. Due to a high hematocrit and suspicions of doping, Pantani couldn't conquer Rome for a second time in a row, and didn't ride the 1999 Tour de France, won by Lance Armstrong. From then on, with the exception of a brief period of brilliance in the 2000 Tour, the sporting life of "Il Pirata" has been a succession of failed comebacks.

Now after riding only five kilometres in a six month period, Marco Pantani says he is ready to make the true comeback that many people still see him capable of. Being a man without a team doesn't preoccupy him. He may end up with Mario Cipollini at a joint venture between Mercatone Uno and the team formerly known as Acqua & Sapone, or he may create his own team. No matter with whom and no matter where, he believes that he will ready in July to defy and beat Lance Armstrong.

Today, November 30, Marco Pantani will be in Milan to attend the presentation of the 2003 Giro. A Giro that he will ride not for the win, but merely to prepare for his encounter with fate. Pantani is sure that from a physical point of view he will be at the top level next July. He just can't be sure that his morale will follow.

Armstrong, Pantani and Ullrich at their best level, climbing the mountains of France, would be the greatest show in the world.

Labarca-2 Baqué team presentation

The new Labarca-2 Baqué team was officially presented in Durango, Spain. The Basque team, which (regional politics aside) will be the seventh Spanish pro team, will include between fourteen and fifteen cyclists and will have an annual budget of 1.3 million Euros.

Fernando Etxabe, representing Cafés Baqué, Erkaitz Elkororibe, the president of the team, Jon Zengotitabengoa, the team's Sports Manager, and Sabino Angoitia, the team's Sports Director took part in the presentation held in Durango.The team was also presented in Valladolid, Spain by Javier Minguez, the team coordinator, and Fernando Quevedo, representative of the Labarca-2 construction company. Team president Erkaitz Elkororibe, said that the project "is guaranteed for two or three years," and the Labarca-2 Baqué team "plans to go on for many years."

Source: Egunkaria

Quick Step adds third directeur sportif

The new Quick Step team has added a third directeur sportif to the roster for its debut season in 2003, according to Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws. Joining Serge Parsani and Wilfried Peeters will be Italian Luca Guercilena. Parsani and Peeters will assume responsibility for most major races and the classics, while Guercilena is expected to focus mainly on Italian races.

New cosponsor for Palmans-Collstrop

The Belgian Palmans-Collstrop team will have a new cosponsor for 2003, as joins the group. The company, an internet betting site, also has an eye on becoming a primary sponsor for 2004.

Cassani to Alessio

Enrico Cassani has joined the Italian Alessio team for 2003. Cassani rode with Domo-Farm Frites this season, and becomes the 19th rider in the Alessio roster. The Alessio team is managed by ex-pro Bruno Cenghialta.

Eric Berthou joins Team Barloworld

By Jean-François Quénet in Johannesburg

The second Frenchman to join the new South African Team Barloworld is Eric Berthou, 22, who hails from Brest, Brittany, the old hot bed of French cycling. The first French rider signed was Sylvain Calzati. Also on the roster is one Australian, Sean Sullivan, along with six South Africans.

Berthou has already raced successfully against the professionals. He won the Route du Pays Basque in February 2002 when he surprised the Bonjour and Jean Delatour teams in a solo attack in the last 15 kilometres. Michel Gros, who will be the directeur sportif of Team Barloworld in Europe, noticed his agressive spirit in the Tour de l'Avenir in September, where he competed under the colours of the French national team. He later came 10th in the U23 World Championships in Zolder.

Berthou also captured the bronze medal in the French U23 national championship for his first year as a full time cyclist. Beforehand, Berthou was mainly a student, so he's likely to progress when racing in the professional ranks. "Joining a new team from South Africa is a bit of an adventure," he said. "But all the people I have consulted, including the French directeurs sportifs I was talking to for the year 2004, have encouraged me to go for it."

One of these advisers is former pro Laurent Madouas, who retired one year ago. Madouas has plenty of experience to offer, having ridden as a teammate for no less than Greg LeMond (Z), Tony Rominger (Toshiba), Luc Leblanc (Castorama), Lance Armstrong (Motorola), Andrei Tchmil (Lotto) and Christophe Moreau (Festina). At the end of his career, Madouas rode under the guidance of Gros.

New Spanish women's team taking form

Embutidos Mauco appears poised to form a new women's pro team in Spain for 2003. In 2002 the company sponsored Spaniard Rosa Bravo individually, and at the end of the year has expressed sufficient satisfaction with the results to expand the sponsorship to fund a team.

The team expects to begin with four to five riders, concentrating on the national calendar in Spain. However at this point, details remain sketchy. Neither the team name nor the roster have been determined, other than Rosa Bravo.

New unofficial record in women's 500m

At the Central American and Caribbean Games this week, Mexico's Nancy L. Contreras Reyes set what on the face of it should be a new world record for the 500m time trial of 33.605s, breaking Felicia Ballanger's 1998 mark of 34.010s, recorded at the Bordeaux velodrome.

However, according to Games spokesman Jose Manuela Cardenas, Ballanger's record is safe for the time being. The Games track racing venue, the San Salvador velodrome, is not certified by the UCI, so record-breaking rides there don't qualify for the history books.

Cooke tests Launceston International Classic

by Matthew Conn professional Baden Cooke took his first look around the street circuit for next month's Doherty Hotels Launceston International Classic, and has given the ocurse the thumbs up. Cooke was in Tasmania to preview the course for the $20,000 event and to film a television commercial to promote the December 27 race.

After driving the course with race director Tom Sawyer (himself a former European professional who now resides in Launceston), Cooke was quietly confident when he sat down to meet the local media. "It's a good circuit that suits me a lot," he smiled when asked what he thought of the 2.4km course. "There's a slight pinch up the back that will be a good launching pad for the guys."

Race director Sawyer has taken one or two concerned phone calls from the other professional riders who are coming to Launceston for the event. Robbie McEwen took a particular interest in just how slight is 'slight'. Cooke feels the uphill section will provide riders with a chance to break the race up, but is not enough to trouble their legs, even at that stage of the season. The Victorian has started his pre season training a week earlier than normal and expects to cover nearly 4000km in December.

"All the best pros in Australia will be here, which will make it a very hard race to win!" Cooke also commented that with the important races that occur in January, most of the riders coming would be approaching top form for the event.

When asked who he saw as his main rival for the $10,000 first prize, Cooke pointed to both Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady. "Australia has big depth with sprinters at the moment; if the race comes down to a sprint finish, the bunch going five wide through the last two corners will be a great spectacle for the crowd."

The Launceston International Classic is part of the Telstra Country Wide Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series, however Cooke will not contest the track races that make up the other events on the ten day programme.

Another award for Indurain

Five time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain has been awarded the Trofeo Pedro Gonzalez at a presentation in Cuenca, Spain. The award is offered in memory of Spanish TVE journalist Gonzalez. "Pedro Gonzalez was a person who loved the cycling," Indurain commented. "To receive a trophy in his name is a source of pride for me, and I will keep it in a special place in my display cabinet."

New Zealand's junior woman downhill hope

With her selection for the Oceania Championships in February 2003, Scarlett Hagen becomes the first junior woman to represent New Zealand in the downhill at an international mountain bike event. The NZ Mountain Bike Association selected the 15 year old to go to the 2003 Oceania Championships at Mt Beauty, 350 kilometers north of Melbourne, Australia.

If Hagen lives up to expectations, she will be a candidate for selection for the World Championships, to be held in Switzerland in September 2003. If she is selected then this will again be the first time a junior woman will represent New Zealand at the World Championships in the downhill event.

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