Latest News for April 4, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Vandenbroucke steps up
With Johan Museeuw and Tom Boonen sick and unsure about starting in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Quick.Step-Davitamon will be relying on Paolo Bettini, Frank Vandenbroucke and Luca Paolini to carry the flag on Sunday. For any lesser team, having riders like Museeuw and Boonen handicapped would greatly reduce the chances of success, but it seems that Quick.Step has enough big guns to cope.
Patrick Lefevere says that the team will ride in a "defensive role" on Sunday, letting the other teams such as Rabobank do the aggressive riding. Lefevere will rely on the strength of World Cup leader Paolo Bettini to be there when it counts, although it could be that Frank Vandenbroucke finally has a chance to show his return to form.
Vandenbroucke was one of the sick brigade earlier this week, but it was only a light cold, rather than a full-on bronchial infection as suffered by Museeuw. "Ach, that doesn't bother me," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "And when I see how things are going with the others - especially my teammates - then I can consider myself lucky."
Things have indeed gone smoother for Vandenbroucke than he hoped this season. "I've been able to work on having a perfect preparation, without sickness, without crashes. I know that I can play with the best riders at the moment. That means that I can be in the finale. And he who makes it to there, automatically ends up with a top placing. I am not a top favourite, but certainly have a chance."
What the other favourites are saying
Peter van Petegem (Lotto-Domo): "I was fully in doubt after my sickness before Milan-San Remo. That is now gone. In Waregem and Harelbeke I suffered a lot, but now I'm back to the old me. A comparison with last year is hard. Then I was in super-super condition, but I still didn't win the Ronde. And you know how it goes. Sometimes you win a race if you are only at ninety percent, and lose when you are a hundred percent. But the important thing is: the leader is good."
Steffen Wesemann (Telekom): "The Belgians always have an advantage over the foreigners. I also don't have the team. With Zabel, we already have a sprinter who can go a long way."
Dario Pieri (Saeco): "The condition is excellent, but I will share the leadership with [Mirko] Celestino. The Ronde is a more formidable challenge than Paris-Roubaix. It's something to dream about."
Dave Bruylandts (Marlux): "I am just as good as Boogerd. The Brabantse Pijl made me stronger. I won't try ten times unnecessarily, I'll wait for the right moment to attack. We all start with the same bike. The legs make the difference."
Eeckhout out of Ronde
Lotto-Domo's Nico Eeckhout finished the Driedaagse van De Panne in 38th place, 5'23 behind the winner Raivis Belohvosciks. However he does not think that his condition is good enough for the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, and will not start with the team. "If he thinks he can't do anything for the team, it's better that he stays home," team manager Marc Sergant said in Het Nieuwsblad.
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).
Lembo close to Palmans
The Palmans-Collstrop team is close to signing Eddy Lembo (MBK-Oktos), according to Belgian sources. Lembo (22) won a stage of the Tour de Suisse last year and is considered a good climber, however he doesn't have the opportunity to start in the bigger races with his current team. Palmans is now waiting for a release letter from MBK-Oktos before officially signing him.
Daelmans extends with Vlaanderen
Belgian cyclo-crosser Arne Daelmans has extended his contract with Vlaanderen-T Interim until the end of 2005. After excellent performances this past season, Daelmans was also given a pay rise by his team. Next season, he'll aim for the Belgian Championships in Lille as well as the Superprestige series.
Cipo back in Zolder?
While in Belgium this week, World Champion Mario Cipollini may revisit the scene of his greatest triumph: the motor racing circuit in Zolder where he was crowned World Champion last year. According to Het Nieuwsblad, World's organiser Rob Beenders has programmed a session in a racing car for Cipollini between 11am and 4pm on Monday, April 7.
"Everything depends on how Super Mario comes out of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. If it doesn't go well, then he'll skedaddle. If everything goes well, then Cipo will also be distinguished by the province of Limburg."
Busy schedule for Power
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Confidence boosted by his sixth place on the recent third stage of the 2.3 ranked Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale, Navigator's professional Ciarán Power will be chasing more results in European races over the next three weeks. Power's outfit is currently fielding two teams - a home squad taking part in races such as the Redlands Classic, and his European-based selection, while will compete in Gent-Wevelgem, GP Pino Cerami, Ronde van Drenthe, Ronde van Noord Holland and the Scheldeprijs before heading back to the US for the Tour of Georgia later this month.
O'Loughlin on a roll
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Five starts and four wins plus a second - that's an impressive start to the season with only one month gone. Irishman David O'Loughlin has certainly put Co. Mayo on the map.
Last Sunday in England he had his most memorable and important success in his career so far. He opted to race in England in pursuit of UCI points and caused a hiccup on the Richter scale when he won the 192 km Archer Grand Prix, one of only four UCI events in Britain.
O'Loughlin from the outset, was always in control, despite the quality of the competitors from Japan, Holland, Germany and the USA, and the leading British competitors including the World Points race champion, Chris Newton, who returned from Mexico to be at the start.
"I just kept a watching brief as to what was developing around me. I knew that I had the legs and as the event ebbed and flowed, I kept up with the moves that would ultimately decide the outcome," said O'Loughlin.
"When the event retraced its way back after three circuits of the big loop to Hazlemere taking in Pennwood, Penn Street village and Wenchmore village, the action upped a gear for the seven laps of the 5-mile circuit. With two laps to go, Newton and John Tanner moved ahead, and I just clipped across to them, closing the door behind me on anybody else who had aspirations.
"There was a slight hesitancy on the final lap as Mark Lovatt, Tanner's stable mate was attempting to make the junction. Obviously they wanted the extra legs to deprive me of a win. In the end I relied on my sprint finish to upset the party.
"At least it's some compensation that an Irishman upstaged two of the most respected road men in Britain, when I told him of the result in Lansdowne Road," said David, won gained 15 UCI points for his American based team, Ofoto Lombardia in San Francisco.
By a strange quirk, Cycling Ireland opted to stay way from Archer, citing that the expense of a one-day in Britain was too exorbitant, and that they would be better served investing in races further afield. O'Loughlin, who incidentally received no funding from the Irish Sports Council when scholarships were announced last week, could be included on appeal.
One of the first people to congratulate O'Loughlin on his win was the new CEO of Cycling Ireland, Englishman Stuart Hallam, who takes up his post next week. "Well done on your victory David. On the evidence of this win I am looking forward to the challenge that faces me in Ireland."
Unfortunately the appointment has had some repercussions with the resignation of Ciaran McKenna and Paul Butler, both highly respected individuals who had been instrumental in moving the High Performance Committee forward.
David heads to Balbriggan on Saturday and Sunday where he expects to cover himself in glory at the expense of Adrian Hedderman, who opened his account in the Des Hanlon Classic last Sunday. Unfortunately David, who is a mature student at Limerick University, will leave for San Francisco to link up with his team, Ofoto Lombardia for the Tour of Georgia within the next week, missing out on the Credit Union Ras Mumhan at Easter and the UCI ranked Elliott Memorial the following Sunday.
Irish racing this weekend
Connacht: Mooney Trophy, Collooney, 2.00.
Leinster: Ben McKenna Memorial, Balbriggan, 11.00.
Bike For Shelter
The Bike for Shelter is a charity event held in Missoula, Montana, to help raise funds for the Watson Children's Shelter, which is dedicated to providing a "safe, nurturing environment for children who are victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment or family crisis." The event will take place on Saturday, May 10 between 9:00am and 2:00pm starting at 2901 Fort Missoula Road, and includes a bicycle rodeo for children, and 2-mile, 12 mile or 24 mile bicycle rides. Participants don't need to collect pledges. The cost to participate is $9 for children, $15 for adults or $30 for a family, and all proceeds go to the Shelter.
For more information, visit: www.shelter4children.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)