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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for April 2, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Museeuw's woes continue

Despite a large peloton finishing the first stage of the Driedaagse Van De Panne in Zottegem yesterday, there were no fewer than 26 abandonments during the stage, including Max Van Heeswijk, Leon van Bon, Baden Cooke, Servais Knaven and Ivan Quaranta, most of whom were sick. In 103rd place at 34 seconds down was Johan Museeuw, who is also suffering from illness and did not start stage 2.

"Luck is against me," Museeuw told the Belgian press yesterday evening. "But even if I manage to be in Brugge [on Sunday] it will be a battered Museeuw riding the Ronde. First that crash, now I'm sick: this never happened to me before in the lead up to the Tour of Flanders."

His knee problems took the attention away from the first bouts of coughing he had over the weekend. "I thought it was an allergy. My knee was giving me more worries. It was only on Monday that I really started to get problems breathing properly and I started taking antibiotics. As things are now, it would have been wiser for me not to start in the Three Days. Today, I thought about stopping three, four times. I felt bad, even dizzy at times."

Quick.Step's team doctor said that Museeuw is suffering from an infection of his lower bronchial tubes, and the sickness has also affected other members of the team, including Servais Knaven, Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini. "I think it would be better if we forfeited on Sunday," said a grim humoured Patrick Lefevere. "One rider infected the other. Only Jurgen Van Goolen is still feeling fit. Bettini called me from Italy and said that he hasn't improved one bit as yet."

Max van Heeswijk, who is US Postal's leader for Sunday, says that he's also been on antibiotics since last Friday, however he will definitely start in Brugge.

Tafi still not right

2002 winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Andrea Tafi (CSC), is not confident of successfully defending his title this Sunday. He contracted an illness after Tirreno-Adriatico, and then raced Milan-San Remo and Setmana Catalana. He is not riding the Driedaagse van De Panne, saying that he needs "rest and no cobbles."

"I've raced for twenty days, now I have to recover," he was quoted in Gazet van Antwerpen. "Furthermore, I'm afraid of a crash. At the moment, I'm 30 percent below my condition of last year. Only those who are in top condition can say that the Ronde is not hard. For everyone else, it's the Way of the Cross."

Bortolami better

Gianluca Bortolami
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

One of the riders on the favourites list for the Ronde van Vlaanderen is Gianluca Bortolami (Caldirola-Sidermec), winner of the first stage of the Driedaagse Van De Panne yesterday. The Italian won the RVV two years ago, narrowly beating Erik Dekker in a small group sprint. This Sunday, he hopes that he can repeat that.

"I am better than two years ago," he said. "Today I got the confirmation, also I felt that my muscles were not one hundred percent after last weekend. I won't say that I'll win, but I will certainly play a role, together with Vainsteins. It only remains to be seen how strong our team is in comparison with the Quick.Step and Rabobank squads."

Another rider who seems to be on the improve is Peter van Petegem, who finished in third place yesterday, 20 seconds behind Bortolami and 14 seconds in front of the bunch.

Other De Panne news

Belgian champion Tom Steels fell during the first stage after a rider in front of him came down. Although he found he couldn't pull on the handlebars afterwards, there was no serious injury, and he was able to start stage 2.

Before the start of the first stage, the UCI carried out blood tests on four teams: Lotto-Domo, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Palmans-Collstrop and Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf. All were declared fit to start.

Giro teams confusion: fakta definitely in

The press release issued by race organisers RCS Sport announcing the 18 teams invited to the Giro d'Italia caused no small degree of consternation in Danish Team fakta, which had earlier received an invite but was not on the official list of teams.

Team fakta manager Peter Sejer Nielsen has however confirmed the participation of the team in the Giro. "I spoke to about 20 journo's last night," he explained. "We have an official written invitation, signed by [race director Carmine] Castellano. Last night we called Stefano Allochio who was very confused as we were on their list. Apparently the bureau who made the release for RCS made an error. They corrected it last night. We have been invited and our name is also in the latest release from the organisers."

The correct list is as follows:

Italian squads: Alessio; Ceramiche Panaria - Fiordo; De Nardi-Colpack; Domina Vacanze-Elitron; Fassa Bortolo; Lampre; Mercatone Uno - Scanavino; Saeco; Tenax; and Vini Caldirola-Sidermec.

International squads: CCC Polsat (Poland); Colombia-Selle Italia (Colombia); (France); Gerolsteiner (Germany); Kelme-Costa Blanca (Spain); Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Belgium); Lotto-Domo (Belgium); and Team fakta (Denmark).

Two more spots open for Spanish teams

Noticeably absent from the Giro team list were the two Spanish teams ONCE and iBanesto, which have once again opted to stay at home due to the lack of TV coverage in Spain. The sole Spanish team in the Giro at the moment is Kelme-Costa Blanca. However, according to the Spanish press, ONCE may end up riding if negotiations for TV rights are favourable for the Spanish. If ONCE does ride, then Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano would probably go as team captain.

ONCE's participation would mean that 19 of the theoretical maximum of 20 spots would be filled. The other position is open to Italian team Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, which is currently non grata due to the potential doping affair surrounding Massimiliano Mori and team director Gabriele di Francesco, who were excluded from Tirreno Adriatico under suspicion of trying to defraud the anti-doping controls. Should Mori and Di Francesco be cleared of any wrongdoing, then Formaggi Pinzolo will be invited back to the Giro.

Bichot to Barloworld

Freddy Bichot
Photo: © JF Quenet
Click for larger image

French rider Freddy Bichot (Nantes 44 Cyclisme) will ride for South African Team Barloworld this year, joining compatriots Sylvain Calzati and Eric Berthou in the division III squad. Bichot is a past amateur French champion, and joined Nantes 44 after serving a four month suspension from racing.

The Barloworld team, which is directed by Michel Gros (ex-Jean Delatour), will race in the GP de Denain (April 17), Tour de Vendee (April 20), and Circuit des Mines (April 26-May 1). Bichot will debut with the team in the Tour de la Manche (May 8-11).

Lehigh Valley Velodrome helps Olympic hopefuls

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will be introducing a new program for 2003 intent on helping potential Olympic athletes reach their goals with the support of local businesses. Entitled The Athlete Promotional Program, it will match athletes who are on track to make the 2004 Olympic Team with businesses in the area that are interested in added exposure.

"With the 2004 Olympics only one year away and a group of talented cyclists in our area we want to make sure our (Lehigh Valley) athletes are ready," said Pat McDonough, Lehigh Valley Velodrome Director. "The cost of being an Olympic hopeful is high and many of the expenses are not covered by clubs or the national cycling federation, so these athletes are in need of financial help. By teaming them with a business to make appearances and assist in marketing a product they earn cash and learn skills that will help them down the line. In addition, the business gets to play a part in the Olympic Dream."

Sarah Uhl, 2001 Junior World Champion and 2004 Olympic hopeful, is the first rider to be accepted into this new program. Red Robin, managed locally by The Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, Inc., signed the soon to be 20 year old for local promotions and appearances.

"We have been following Sarah's cycling career ever since she won the Junior World Championship in 2001. She's friendly, motivated and great with children so when we were informed of this new program we knew she would be a perfect fit for Red Robin," said Jim Mitich, Director of Operations for The Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, Inc. "We look forward to helping Sarah bring home an Olympic Medal to the Lehigh Valley."

The Athlete Promotional Program will accept a maximum of seven athletes. Other athletes are currently under consideration.

Joe Miller injured

Elite cyclist and Olympic hopeful Joe Miller, was seriously injured while training near his home in Daytona Beach, Florida. Miller, 25, was preparing for this past weekend's World Track Cup Qualifier in Miami when he was struck by car not far from his home. The driver, who left the scene, was apprehended a few days later.

Miller, who is slated to ride for the Bici Imports-CSN-Rudy Project team at the upcoming FBD Milk Rás, was upbeat but cautious about the remainder of his season. "I still have good legs, but I now have six fractured vertebrae in my neck which makes it impossible to ride on the road," said Miller.

After preparing quietly for the season in Florida, Joe showed good form at the recent Festival of Speed NRC race in Orlando. To complicate matters, Joe Miller is without medical insurance and is facing a tough recovery. Despite the injuries, Miller's friend and trainer, Chris Harnish, was optimistic about his recovery, "Joe's got a ton of talent and knows what to do. We're trying to get him to the right doctors then back to racing as soon as possible. I wouldn't count him out just yet!"

If you would like to help Joe on his road to recovery you can send tax donations to:
People Cycle
89 Alexander Booker Rd.
East Falmouth, MA 02536
Or make an online donation at

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)