First Edition News for April 9, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
Ullrich back, but Coast not quite out of the woods
Jan Ullrich made his long-awaited return to racing yesterday at the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. Ullrich, who has been on the sidelines since January 2002 with knee troubles and a suspension for recreational use of amphetamine, was very happy to be back in the saddle.
At a post-race press conference, a smiling Ullrich said, "My knee was fine and I was satisfied to have finished among the front group." He admitted to having sore legs, "near the end but that's normal. I just wanted to finish as quickly as possible."
Most of all, though, Ullrich said he was happy to be back among familiar faces. "I had a warm welcome on the start line," he said. "I even had time for a chat with Lance Armstrong about my future baby." Ullrich and girlfriend Gaby are currently expecting their first child.
However, the 1997 Tour de France winner was cautious about his chances in this year's Tour. "Making it to the podium of the Tour is a dream, of course, but I have to take my time coming back. In 2004-2005, my ambitions will certainly be bigger," he said.
Ullrich's 2003 program will include the Tour of Switzerland and Tour of Germany as preparation for the Tour.
And while he might be fit for another battle with Armstrong by July, he certainly isn't planning a show-down in tomorrow's time trial stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. "There will be no duel with Lance," he said. "You've seen out there that Lance was racing whereas I'm keeping my racing role in this race at a minimum."
Meanwhile, Ullrich's Coast team is only taking part at Sarthe by the skin of its financial and administrative teeth. Despite a rescue package from bike maker Bianchi and special permission from the UCI to start the race, the team still has to provide the UCI with financial guarantees of future payments to riders. Without those, Coast might not make it to the finish line in Le Mans on Friday.
However, according to Coast spokesman Marcel Wust, the money is there and it is "no longer a problem of finances, just a problem of clarification."
Images by AFP from Jan Ullrich's pre-race conference
USAC reverses track selection procedures
US governing body USA Cycling has reversed its selection procedures for the 2003 track world championships after strong protests from a number of riders in the last few weeks. It's understood that the revision was thrashed out in a conference call last week involving riders Jame Carney, Colby Pearce and USAC CEO Gerard Bisceglia and COO Steve Johnson.
The USAC execs then took the agreed changes - described by one rider as "about 3/4 of what I wanted" - to the selection committee over the weekend. The changes were approved and announced via a new link on their Web site, but no official release was issued to the media. Previously, USAC's Johnson told Cyclingnews "I believe Jame (Carney) and Colby (Pearce) have just been recruiting people to back them up on this issue. We are not going to change our position".
The changes in selection procedure only affect the men's endurance events: the points race, Madison, scratch race and individual pursuit.
A statement on the site says, "This change was made in recognition of the effect that the timing of the announcement in 2003 of the initial Elite Track World Championships selection procedures had on the men's endurance events. Many of the top endurance men's track riders who are employed by professional trade teams had conflicts with some of the initial World Cup selection events and UCI Track World Cup events."
There are no changes to the previously posted selection procedures for women's events, although it is understood that some female riders are concerned with this omission.
Previous reports on Cyclingnews.com:
Katie Brown injured
Australian rider Katie Brown, younger sister of sprinter Graeme found herself in hospital last Thursday after a training crash. Katie, who rides for the Italian-based Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai team was training with her boyfriend and others in France when a vehicle cut across the front of them and came to a complete and rather sudden halt, leaving Katie with no where to go. She attempted to brake but was unable to stop in time, hit the back of the vehicle and was catapulted through the back window.
Katie needed five stitches to close a wound in the bottom of her chin and later said that she felt lucky it was a cold day and she was kitted up in full thermal wear or she might have been more seriously injured.
McKenzie fit for Gent-Wevelgem
David McKenzie of Flanders-iteamNova has declared himself fit to ride the Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow. McKenzie sustained fractured ribs in the 30 rider fall at Dwars door Vlaanderen recently, however, on doctor's advice, has not missed a day's training since the accident.
"My doctor said there is no point not riding, so I have kept my fitness level up and have just been a bit more cautious than usual out training," he said. "I felt pretty good out motor pacing today and have decided to race tomorrow."
"I'll probably be taking it a bit easy to not aggravate the problem and, although this is a big race, I have to look beyond that to be sure I'm in good shape for the Tour de Georgia later this month."
Cooke out of next two Classics
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) will sit out the next two Classics, today's Gent Wevelgem and Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, according to his team manager Marc Madiot. Cooke is suffering from 'induration' - stiff muscle tissue - a condition that can require minor surgery. "He woke Monday morning with this problem," said Madiot. "We hope an operation will not be necessary."
Cooke's team-mate, 1997 Paris-Roubaix winner Frédéric Guesdon, is also doubtful with the beginnings of a cough.
New cycling organization for New Zealand
By Alan Messenger
Most of New Zealand's cycling groups, representing a wide range of activities within cycling, agreed at a meeting at Wellington recently to form a new governing body.
Announcing the launch of the new organization, SPARC (Sport and Recreation NZ) 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 organizations."
Among those who attended the meeting were representatives from New Zealand Mountain Bike Association, Cycling NZ, NZ Secondary Schools Cycling Association, NZ Masters Cycling Association, the Cycling Advocates Network, Cycle Support NZ Inc, and the industry group BIANZ.
The meeting appointed a five person interim board to oversee the setting up process. "In the past there have been a lot of overlaps as well as a lot of gaps in what people do. The new organization will have sections dealing with junior development, road use and land access, and be able to make authoritative comment on a range of sporting , transport and health issues," Stokell said. "Individual organizations, committees and disciplines which will make up the new body will still carry on their main activities, but within an overall strategic framework and supported by joint administrative services. It is a commonsense model which will allow each group to do what it does best."
It all began back in August last year when the three major players, Cycling NZ, NZ Mountain Bike Assn and NZ BMX considered amalgamating at the instigation of SPARC, the major Government funding organization.
SPARC could have an additional $22m to allocate to sport by 2006 but expressed concerns at Cycling NZ's falling numbers and regards cycling as a far broader activity than the road and track racing as governed by Cycling NZ.
A driving force behind the new organization Bikenz is Auckland lawyer Wayne Hudson who will take over as president of Cycling NZ later this year. He is the chairman of the interim board appointed to oversee the setting up of the new organization.
Flèche Wallonne Féminine teams
Ten national and 17 trade teams have signed up for this year's Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the fifth round of the World Cup, April 23, according to organizer ASO.
National teams have registered from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, France, Canada, Great Britain, Belgium, Australia and Austria while the list of trade teams and their top riders means this 97.5km race will be tougher than mere distance might suggest.
Team Catalunya - Aliverti - Kookaï: Susanne Ljungskog (world champion)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)