Latest News for April 9, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Rest period recharges McEwen
With Tour of Flanders winner Peter Van Petegem thinking ahead to Paris-Roubaix, Australian Robbie McEwen will play more of a leadership role for today's Gent-Wevelgem. "Gent-Wevelgem wasn't a goal for me in 2002," McEwen told the Belgian press. "I only decided the evening before to participate. I was in the right escape but had to let go on the second climb of the Kemmelberg."
This year things are a bit different, although McEwen is still thinking of the grand tours to come. "It is more important for me this year, but the Scheldeprijs just fits better into my build-up to the Giro and the Tour," he explained. "I need to race to get into top form. I hope my shape is a bit better than this moment last year. I always start with the idea that I can win."
After a short period of rest, McEwen is feeling recharged. "I don't have to be good the whole year," he said with some confidence. "I really have to pick my races. The rest I had now has done the world of good. Last year it was a bit longer, but then you loose more of your form too."
On the morning of Gent-Wevelgem, McEwen offered a thought on his chances. "Cipollini will be the man to beat today," he said. "I watch the finale of all the classics, I do so while training on the home-trainer in front of the TV. I saw that he had to brake to get dropped on Sunday. But a good McEwen can beat him."
Steels has modest ambitions
Modesty could be the middle name of Tom Steels, Belgium's favourite sprinter. Heading into Gent-Wevelgem, Steels was still keeping his ambitions realistic. "I am at the start of the most important week of my season, but I'm completely in the dark," he said. "If I get to sprint for the victory, I'll be a very happy man." Dogged by illness and injury in the early season, Steels does not arrive in his best form. "I missed out on Waregem because of the 'flu," he explained, "and the three days of de Panne I had to abandon because of a strained wrist. It's not going my way."
How does he see his chances for today's mid-week classic? "I don't know if I'm 100%," Steels admitted. "I'll just have to hope for a good day. There are no such things as miracles in this profession. It's hard to get started in the middle of the spring season. I'll have to be a bit lucky to last until the finale."
Ullrich planning ahead
Now that he's back in the peloton, Jan Ullrich (Team Coast) has been outlining his schedule for the coming months. His ambitions are modest as far as results go, but there will be plenty of racing to get the German back in fighting shape for this year's Tour de France. Included are several events in Germany, which should make the local fans happy.
"I'll ride the Rund um Köln (Tour of Cologne, April 21) and the GP Frankfurt (May 1)," Ullrich told AFP. "That's definitely on the program. In June the Tour of Germany is also on the program."
Immediately after the Circuit de la Sarthe, Ullrich will head to Spain for the Vuelta a Aragon, which he will use as additional preparation for a possible return to World Cup racing at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "If all goes well, it's possible I'll be there," he added.
Rumsas on defensive
Lampre's Raimondas Rumsas, currently racing in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, is still fending off accusations surrounding the doping scandal which followed his third place at the 2002 Tour de France. "I don't have anything to hide, and the proof is that there was nothing suspicious in any of my controls at the Tour de France," Rumsas told the Spanish press. "The issue is settled, despite the smear campaign that still exists against me."
Rumsas, who won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2001, is still searching for form at the moment. Sitting in 56th place (at 41") after stage 2, Rumsas has been quiet but is preparing steadily for the Giro d'Italia. "I like the Vuelta al Pais Vasco," Rumsas explained, "but I know I'm not at my best to contest the general classification. Although I will try to win a stage. My objective is the Giro and in the first week I'll know whether or not I can fight for the podium."
Safety concerns for new Sea Otter stage
On the eve of the opening stage of the Sea Otter Classic in California, members of the 7Up/Maxxis team expressed their reservations about the racing conditions of the opening pro road circuit in Redwood City. Team member John Lieswyn told Cyclingnews that his former Shaklee team manager Frank Scioscia, a former Redwood City resident, noted that it would be difficult for the organisers to secure the course from local traffic, and the race could be dangerous.
"We did a lap of the course on our bikes in the evening, and it is laughable," Lieswyn said. "The terrain suits me and I think if it wasn't over dozens of turns and through dense residential community I would be excited about it. But this course isn't safe and I don't believe I'm going to participate."
Lieswyn noted that he would discuss the situation with his fellow professionals and await a decision this morning. "In our team meeting, our director Jeff Corbett's first words were 'we may not race'," he said. The stage 1 circuit race is scheduled to begin a 9:00am local time.
"Peers is not a cry-baby"
Bernard Vandekerckhove, organiser of the Three Days of De Panne, offered an apology (of sorts) for his remarks about Chris Peers. Vandekerckhove had referred to Peers as a cry-baby, following the protest mounted by Peers and others concerning the dangerous conditions of riding the Kemmelberg.
"It is silly that that word 'bleiter' (cry-baby) kept ringing in people's ears," Vandekerckhove said. "Why did I say that? Well, on TV I had seen Chris cry before, giving emotional remarks. But I didn't know that his brother has been paralyzed for life in an accident. That scars any human being. I was angry about the Italians stirring things up beforehand. I already eliminated the Paddestraat, the Eikenberg, the Taaienberg and the Kruisberg at the riders' request. I do have a sponsor for the Mountain Jersey, and the Kemmelberg has determined the final result in this race before."
27th Giro del Trentino
A challenging parcours awaits the riders who will contest the 27th Giro del Trentino. The race features four stages, running from April 24-27. With several climbs included in each stage, including a mountaintop finish on stage two (with a final kilometre at 8.5%), the race will serve as a key test before the Giro d'Italia, which begins May 10. A strong climber is favoured to win the race, which is anything but flat.
Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), and Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) are expected to line up at the start, although two-time defending champion Francesco Casagrande will be leading the Lampre charge at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
April 24: Stage 1 - Arco - Moena, 170.5 km
Amore & Vita, Colombia Selle Italia, De Nardi Colpack, Fassa Bortolo, Flanders iTeamNova, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, Lampre, Mercatone Uno, Miche Components, Panaria Fiordo, Saeco, Tenax, Vini Caldirola-Sidermec
2002 Francesco Casagrande
Lehigh Valley Velodrome to Host Weekly Jazz/Blues Musicians
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome and WDIY FM 88.1 are working together on a project that will combine live jazz and blues music with international cycling. This joint venture brings the best Lehigh Valley jazz and blues artists to play weekly at the Velodrome. The schedule of artists is to include Todd Wolfe, Illinois Slim, the Roamin Gabriels, The Eric Steckel Band, BC and the Blues Crew, Uncle Jed's Original House Recipe, The Thom Palmer Band, The Difference and the Blues Sisters.
The combination of jazz/blues music and track cycling is not a new concept. The sport of track cycling in the 1920's reached a popularity level equal to its contemporaries of baseball and football. On a weekly basis at velodromes across the nation, top level cycling events were joined with the sounds of some of the best jazz/blues artists of the day.
Each band will complete a set from 6pm - 7pm on International Race Nights throughout the summer. There will also be a new section on the velodrome website, www.lvvelo.org, where music downloads and artist information will be available. The velodrome will host international racing Friday nights from May 30, 2003 through August 29, 2003.
NEBC/Cycle Loft Masters
The Northeast Bicycle Club (NEBC/The Cycle Loft) Masters racing team located in Eastern MA (USA) has announced its team roster for 2003. The team focuses on races in the northeast and focuses on grassroots development of bicycle racing in the New England area.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)