First Edition News for April 10, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
Sea Otter men's race shortened
By Chris Baldwin
The opening stage of the 2003 Sea Otter Classic, a circuit race through the twisty hills of Redwood City, was neutralized by the riders this afternoon. With fears of an open course, parked cars and a rolling enclosure that would most definitely exclude the majority of competitors and jeopardize their safety, the men left the start/finish in downtown Redwood City and rode two uncontested laps around the course before stopping en masse. There they discussed several issues among themselves and with race director Terry Tupper before reaching a conclusion and resuming a shortened stage.
What they decided to do was clip two of the six laps from the circuit, remain compact and neutral until just before the end, and then send one representative from each team at the last kilometers to contest the sprint. Mike Sayers (HealthNet) won that sprint and is now the GC leader going in to tomorrow's time trial at Ft. Ord. There was no time bonus, and all winnings were donated to the family of Garrett Lemire, killed reccently in a race in Arizona.
John Lieswyn (Maxxis/7Up) made his criticisms of the race public the previous evening (see yesterday's news), citing the course's "dozens of turns ... through dense residential community" and telling Cyclingnews, "this course isn't safe and I don't believe I'm going to participate."
The women's race had passed without major incident, though the mood was nervous as the women were worried about the risk of cars coming out of driveways. The larger men's field took a lap to decide a change was needed and stopped the race for a meeting with Tupper.
Rick Sutton, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of the race, issued a statement after the riders' decision, saying, "I am very disappointed that the stage today has caused so many problems. The women enjoyed the course, however acknowledged that it was technically difficult. Clearly a lot of vehicles on the course that caused an unwanted level of stress."
Sutton continued: "We felt that moving forward and making adjustments to the rules of the men's race would solve a few problems. We offered that if the men decided not to finish the race due to safety, they could remain in the tour and would be given a pro-rated time.
"The riders realize that a lot of work has gone into the organisation of the race, which is why they continue to ride at least 4 laps. They have a job to do and they are out there doing it.
"The City of Redwood is still proud to host the SRAM Sea Otter Classic and will strive to find a safer course for next year's race."
Images by Stuart Bone
Armstrong abandons Sarthe
Lance Armstrong withdrew from yesterday's second stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe with stomach problems. He had been complaining of discomfort before the start and pulled out during the stage.
"It's nothing serious, but Lance felt bad and it wasn't worth extending the suffering," US Postal Service team manager Johan Bruyneel told Darren Tulett of the Bloomberg news agency. "At this stage of the season, there's no point."
Armstrong will now return to Spain to prepare for the Amstel Gold on April 20, a race in which he has twice finished second recently, in 1999 and 2001.
However, his sole goal for 2003 remains a fifth Tour de france victory. "I'm totally focused on trying to win the Tour de France," Armstrong said in an interview after the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. And it looks like being an American in France will be no hindrance, despite the opposition of the French public to the US-led war in Iraq. Armstrong has had a warm reception at Sarthe, being cheered by roadside spectators.
"With what's going on in the world today, and not being a French guy, you never know what the response will be," Armstrong said. "But the people were excellent. I didn't see any negative reaction."
Bettini recovering after Gent-Wevelgem fall
After his fall in yesterday's Gent-Wevelgem, Paolo Bettini will be off the bike for a few days before he and his team decide whether he will be fit to race Amstel Gold.
The Quick.Step rider was examined at Ostende Hospital after the fall, 52km into the race, and x-rays showed nothing broken. However, he has muscular bruising and a sprained ligament in his left shoulder.
"I was lucky, said Bettini, "even if the shoulder aches, the fall could have been even worse. Now I'll have to stay at rest for some days. In the next days I'll know if I can re-enter for the Amstel Gold Race."
Governor declares Tour de Georgia Week
Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue has declared April 22-27 official Dodge Tour de Georgia Week in the state, in honor of the upcoming race. Governor Perdue recently met with Greg LeMond to launch Tour de Georgia Week and the three-time Tour de France winner presented him with a signed race leader's jersey.
The court in Monza, Italy yesterday cleared Italian former world champion Gianni Bugno of charges of sporting fraud. Bugno had been accused of using corticoids in the lead up to the 1997 and 1998 world championships.
One of the top pro riders during the late 80s and early 90s, Bugno was world champion in 1991 and 1992, and world number one in 1990 and 1991.
Navigators to come home for Georgia and North Carolina
The US-based Division II Navigators team, currently campaigning in Europe, will return to the States for the Tour de Georgia (April 22-27) and South Carolina Heritage Series (April 29-May 2), according to Heritage Series organizers.
According to Navigator's Director Sportif, Ed Beamon, the team's projected roster for the South Carolina series includes Marty Nothstein, Henk Vogels, Siro Camponogara, Vassili Davidenko, Oleg Grichkine, Ryan Guay, Glen Mitchell, Ciaran Power and Chris Wherry.
The US Postal Service and Saturn teams have also committed to take part in the Heritage Series, which consists of four evening criteriums in the downtowns of Anderson, Walterboro, Greenwood, and Aiken.
Other teams expected to take part include Jittery Joe's, Healthnet, Colovita/Bolla, Schroeder Iron, Prime Alliance, and Ofoto.
The organisers of the captech Classic, the May 30 round of the US National racing Calendar series in Richmond, Virginia have announced the event's presenting sponsors.
Car maker Saturn, including its Richmond dealerships, Saturn of Richmond and Saturn of West Broad, will present the men's professional race which will be known as the Saturn Teamwork Challenge. The Center for Injury and Violence Prevention (CIVP), a division of the Virginia Department of Health based in Richmond, will present the women's race, the CIVP Women's Open.
Racing on the 0.9 mile course in downtown Richmond kicks off at 6pm May 30 with the BEA Corporate Challenge, followed immediately by the Police Grand Prix, both to benefit VCU Medical Center's Emergency Department. The final race of the evening will be the pro men's race, scheduled for 7:30.
The venue will center around the start/finish line and expo area set up on the corner of 2nd and Byrd Streets, and a total of $12,500 in prize money is up for grabs.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)