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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition News for April 4, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Museeuw's prognostic hasn't improved

Although some team managers think that the "Quick.Step sick brigade" is merely a bluff to lull them into a false sense of security until the Taaienberg on Sunday, the Quick.Step camp maintains that it's genuine, and that Johan Museeuw is in serious doubt for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Suffering from an infection of the lower bronchial tubes since last weekend, Museeuw said he will decide on Friday whether to start.

Quick.Step-Davitamon postponed a press conference today owing to Museeuw's illness, and team director Patrick Lefevere said that Museeuw is steadily losing his morale, after showing no signs of improvement in the last few days. Lefevere told Belgian television that Museeuw's chances of starting are less than 40 percent.

"On Thursday at midday Johan felt terrible," said Lefevere. "His bronchial infection has not improved. He had a lung capacity test that was a complete catastrophe."

It could be that the Lion of Flanders is denied a chance of riding his last(?) Ronde van Vlaanderen, like Andrei Tchmil was last year when he crashed in the Driedaagse van De Panne. But Museeuw has said that if he recovers, he could refocus his energies on the Amstel Gold Race in just over two weeks' time, although it's clear that he's a man for the cobbles of the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.

Museeuw's teammate Tom Boonen, who is suffering from a similar illness, was also interviewed, and he said that he will wait until Saturday to decide whether to start. "I'm sick and not in top condition," he said. "If I'm not OK, it's pointless to start. There are still two more days for the symptoms to maybe improve."

Quick.Step's leaders on Sunday are therefore likely to be Paolo Bettini and Frank Vandenbroucke, with Luca Paolini also in good condition and able to play a role.

Weather report

Weather conditions can play a big role in a race such as the Ronde, as the narrow roads and cobbled climbs are significantly harder to negotiate in the wet. However it looks like Sunday - once again - will be dry and sunny with a maximum of around 12 degrees celsius. The wind will be from the north east blowing at a moderate strength, thus it will probably be a headwind for most of the hilly section.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen in numbers

6: Number of starts in Brugge, including this one
19: Number of climbs in this year's race
19: The age of the youngest RVV winner, Rik Van Steenbergen, in 1944
22: TV and radio stations with commentators in Ninove
26.223 (km/h): The average speed of the slowest Ronde ever, won by Swiss Henri Suter in 1923
31: Number of times the race has finished in Ninove-Meerbeke
37: The age of the oldest RVV winner, Andrei Tchmil, in 2000
43.580 (km/h): The average speed of the fastest Ronde ever, won by Gianluca Bortolami in 2001
87: Number of times the race has been run, including this one
150: Organisational staff
280 (km): The longest Ronde ever, in 1988, won by Eddy Planckaert
450: Accredited journalists
8,000: Estimated number of spectators in Ninove-Meerbeke
15-20,000: Estimated number of spectators in Brugge
22,000: Metres of cobbles in this year's edition
600,000: Spectators along the parcours
41,500,000: Television viewers of the 2002 RVV

Live coverage

Cyclingnews readers can follow the 87th Ronde van Vlaanderen live from start to finish on Sunday, April 6. Tune in at 10:00am CEST (Europe)/3:00am EST (America East Coast)/0:00am PST (America West Coast)/18:00 AEST (Australia East Coast).

Also see:

Preview and history
Course map, time table and description
Start list

Bad break for Andy Cappelle

Andy Cappelle could not really celebrate his Marlux teammate Raivis Belohvosciks' victory in the Driedaagse van De Panne, after falling in the morning's stage and breaking his elbow. Cappelle may have also broken his wrist, according to his team.

Other riders to fall include BankGiroLoterij's Bart Voskamp and Jans Koerts - the former having to abandon the stage and thus his excellent chances of winning the overall, and the latter being taken to hospital in Veurne for treatment to deep cuts to his knee. Koerts is in doubt for the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Route Adélie preview

Friday marks the fourth round of the Coupe de France series, with the Route Adélie in Vitré. The course covers 185.3km, following two 23.3km circuits and a number of laps of a smaller 8.6km circuit. Two time Adélie winner and current Coupe de France series leader Jaan Kirsipuu will not be at the start, sidelined by a cold. A number of top French riders will be looking for big results, including Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère), David Moncoutié (Cofidis), and Critérium International winner Laurent Brochard (Ag2R-Prévoyance).

The Route Adélie comes just ahead of the GP de la Ville de Rennes, another Coupe de France event and part of a big weekend of racing in the Bretagne region of France. For teams not racing the Tour of Flanders, these two events provide an opportunity to test form on tough circuits which tend to favour strong finishers and 'puncheurs'. The slightly shorter GP Rennes swings somewhat in favour of the sprinters with a criterium style finishing circuit.

Last year's edition of the Route Adélie was won by Swede Marcus Ljunqvist (Team fakta).

Somarriba to ride Grande Boucle with Bizkaia-Sabeco

After a long period of concern about finding a team for the 2003 season, Spanish pro Joane Somarriba will have the opportunity to compete in this year's Grande Boucle Féminine, an event which she has won on two occasions (2000, 2001). Somarriba will race with the Bizkaia-Sabeco team, presented Thursday in Durango, Spain.

The agreement covers competition for this season, although no agreement has been reached for 2004. The team will also include Arantzazu Azpiroz, Leticia Gil, Gemma Pascual, Cristina Alcalde, Agurtzane Elorriaga, Ziortza Jauregi, Iosune Murillo, and Maitane and Naiara Telleria.

"At the moment I was very unmotivated," Somarriba told Marca. "Now everything has changed and my head is turned around. I'm motivated to race the Giro d'Italia, as preparation for the Tour de France."

Moninger appeal denied

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Thursday the decision by a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA)/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arbitrators concerning the case of Scott Moninger.

Moninger tested positive at the Saturn Classic race in Colorado on August 10, 2002 for 19-norandrosterone, a prohibited anabolic agent under UCI rules. Moninger appealed the original decision, but the AAA/CAS Panel has ruled against the rider and handed down a one year suspension from USA Cycling and UCI -sanctioned competition, beginning on April 3, 2003.

Moninger will receive credit for the period of time that he was provisionally suspended, which began October 6, 2002. Therefore, the suspension will conclude on October 5, 2003. In addition to the suspension, Moninger loses his third place finish at the Saturn Classic and will also receive a fine of 700 Swiss Francs ($500 US), in accordance with UCI rules. USA Cycling will carry out the sanction.

New advocacy group for NZ cycling

New Zealand cycling groups representing a wide range of activities within cycling agreed to form a new governing body at a meeting held in Wellington last week. Announcing the launch of the new organisation, SPARC-contracted coordinator Bruce Stokell said, "in an age of increasing car use, and alarming trends away from physical activity around the world, it is important for all bike activities to plan together and present a united approach when dealing with government departments and funding organisations."

Among those who attended the meeting were representatives of the NZ Mountain Bike Association, Cycling NZ, BMX NZ, NZ Secondary Schools Cycling Association, NZ Masters Cycling Association, The Cycling Advocates Network, Cycle Support NZ Inc, and industry group BIANZ.

The meeting appointed a 5-person interim board to oversee the setting up process. Stokell also said that most of the organisations would be seeking approval for membership of the new body at their annual general meetings over the next few months. In the meantime Stokell and SPARC have been asked to handle the appointment of a CEO for the new body.

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