Latest News for April 16, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
McEwen ready for Scheldeprijs
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) says that he's ready for a repeat victory
in today's Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, that will be held around Antwerp.
McEwen, winner in 2002, is the top favourite for today's 200 km sprinter's
classic. However only a handful of riders have recorded back to back victories
since the war: Rik Van Looy (1956-57), Piet Oelibrandt (1962-63) and Endrio
"Of course the team is very motivated, after the successes of Peter
van Petegem," McEwen told Het Laatste Nieuws today. "This race is ideal
for me: fast, 45 km/h, cobbles now and then, very technical too, especially
in the finishing circuits."
"Mostly it's a sprint finish, but not always a large peloton, sometimes
only 30-40 riders. So you need to be there in every break instead of waiting
for the last kilometres. I'm sure my teammates - even after Paris-Roubaix
- can bring me up to 200-250 m from the finish. And then it's up to me,
with legs good enough to be stronger than the rest."
Tom Steels hopes for a good result
Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet) reckons that he's "only at 80 percent now.
That little extra is still lacking, but I keep believing in my comeback."
He finished second to McEwen last year in the Scheldeprijs, and hopes
to go one better today.
Steels made it into the lead group in Gent-Wevelgem last week, but couldn't
make it over the Kemmelberg. He also was in the main part of the peloton
in Paris-Roubaix until the last third of the race. He is still struggling
with his reserves for these races, but wants a chance to use his sprint
power again. "I'm only worried about my sprint speed: bring me 'fresh'
and in a good position to the last 200m and everything is possible," he
said. "I don't care about all the critics, because I know exactly how
I'm improving. I hope to have my old legs back at the end of this season."
Steels wears the colours of the Belgian champion, and he admits the
jersey is heavy at times. "The tricolor is not easy to wear now, but I
wouldn't like to exchange it. Without the jersey, there would only be
10 percent of the interest I'm having now."
Steels says that he does not live for racing. "I've got my priorities
now: if Lobke, my handicapped daughter needs me, I'll be ready for her.
And I'm glad the team understands me about that: if I ask for two weeks
physical and mental rest, I get it. This is only possible in a team like
Landbouwkrediet, and I couldn't afford it with Quick.Step or Lotto. I
know the combination - concentrating on my job and on my private life
at the same time - is sometimes difficult, not ideal circumstances at
all. I know I'm a bit stressed sometimes, but I'm enjoying small things
now, like five minutes rest in the house, or having a laugh with my teammates,
that's my ideal outlet."
Other favourites for the Scheldeprijs include Frank Vandenbroucke, winner
in 1996: "I haven't got this explosive attack anymore, but I can still
ride very fast." Also 1997 winner Erik Zabel, who complained about the
dangerous parcours after his win. "I was very angry, yes, but one year
later the organisers took measures and the race looked much nicer. Now
I really look forward to this race."
Team Coast close enough for the UCI
The issue of Jan Ullrich's half a million euro bank guarantee has more
or less been resolved, with Ullrich being allowed to start in today's
Vuelta a Aragon. "He can race, but we are still waiting for the original
of the bank guarantee," said UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani. "It's on the
way. When we get it, Ullrich will be authorised to start for the whole
Van Heeswijk to ride in Amstel Gold Race
Dutchman Max van Heeswijk (USPS-Berry Floor) has sufficiently recovered
from his crash in Paris-Roubaix to start in this Sunday's Amstel Gold
Race, the fourth round of the World Cup. Van Heeswijk injured his shoulder
and arm in the crash during Hell of the North, but x-rays confirmed that
nothing was broken. "The pain that I feel is a result of the hard impact
and the fluid build up in the muscles," he said. "Now that's gone away,
my arm feels a bit better. The pain hasn't completely gone, but if the
recovery continues as quickly as it did today, there will be no problem
to be fit in time for the Amstel Gold Race."
Max Van Heeswijk and Viatcheslav Ekimov will be joined by team leader
Lance Armstrong in Sunday's classic, a race that Armstrong has come close
to winning several times.
Van Petegem to ride Made criterium
Peter Van Petegem will start on Easter Monday in the Profronde van Made,
the only early season criterium in the Netherlands. The winner of Paris-Roubaix
and the Ronde van Vlaanderen will be the top attraction in the race, which
will also feature Gent-Wevelgem winner Andreas Klier. The organisers will
also invite another big name rider, likely to be either Johan Museeuw
or Michael Boogerd. "We'd gladly give them both contracts," said organiser
Leo van der Pluijm. "But I don't think we have the money."
Quick.Step-Davitamon's team director Wilfried Peeters had a successful
operation on his elbow on Monday evening, after he broke it in a crash.
Doctors in the Maria Middelares hospital in Antwerp took two and a half
hours to operate on the break, which was described as "complicated". Peeters
will have the elbow in plaster for the rest of the week, and it will take
at least two weeks to fully recover. In the meantime, Patrick Lefevere
will take the wheel of the team car in the upcoming races.
Helmet discussion continues in France
Although the UCI have in principle decided to make it compulsory for
riders to wear helmets during competition, the rule has not yet come into
force, and there is still a lot of discussion about it, particularly in
France. The French minister for sports, Jean-Francois Lamour, met with
the French cycling teams association recently to talk about helmet use
in the upcoming Tour de France. The conclusion of the two parties was
that they were in favour of the idea of making helmets compulsory.
"As employers, we should be in charge of safety, that is our main concern
although the cyclists are not of the same opinion," said Philippe Raimbaud,
president of the French teams association. "We are asking that it become
compulsory to wear an approved helmet in all conditions, including the
Team Minute Maid/Dasani-La Grange
Minute Maid/Dasani-La Grange
Photo: © Minute Maid/Dasani-La Grange
Velo Club La Grange Westwood has presented its elite men's racing team
for 2003. Sponsored by Minute Maid and Dasani Water, the team's racing
schedule includes the California racing circuit as well as many national
calendar races. Based out of Los Angeles, California, the club has a legacy
that includes Olympic medalists, Tour de France stage winners, World Champions,
National Champions, and State Champions.
Unity ride for earthquake victims
Italian/American cyclist Giorgio DiPaolo will set off on Friday, April
18 on a return trip from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA and back, on the
2003 version of the Unity Ride. In doing the ride, DiPaolo hopes to raise
funds for several different causes, including for earthquake victims in
Italy and needy families in Chicago.
DiPaolo's parents are from the same region in Italy where the earthquakes
hit last year. "The town, San Giuliano di Puglia, is similar in size to
my parents' town and to imagine half of the children no longer living
in the town is unbearable," says DiPaolo. "Also, the families in the community
surrounding my church in the south side of Chicago will benefit greatly
from these donations toward food, scholarships, and youth programs."
Unity Ride 2003 will depart from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago,
IL on April 18, 2003. DiPaolo will average approximately 125 miles (200
km) per day, taking about 20 days to get to the shores of the Pacific
Ocean in California. He will then turn around and arrive back in Chicago
somewhere around May 27, 2003.
To find out more about the ride, visit www.teammackracing.org and click
on the Unity Ride 2003 link.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)