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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition News for April 17, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Bianchi guarantees Coast and Ullrich's future

Jan Ullrich and Team Coast were able to start in yesterday's first stage of the Vuelta a Aragon in part because the team's new co-sponsor Bianchi provided the necessary financial guarantees, according to a Bianchi spokesman.

Bianchi's eleventh-hour agreement on the eve of the race means the legendary Italian bike maker will back the team for the rest of 2003, and Jan Ullrich will ride Bianchi bikes for the foreseeable future. However, contrary to earlier reports, the team's new name is likely to be Coast-Bianchi and not Bianchi-Coast.

Before the stage Ullrich said he was looking forward to getting to know his Spanish team-mates but it was early days as far as his comeback is concerned. "During the Tour of Sarthe I did very well. This time the race is more demanding. The mountains are more exacting and the team is top-level. I don't expect great results, it is important for me to ride without being under pressure," he said.

Ullrich finished the hilly stage in 39th place, 1:24 down on the winner.

Frankie Andreu signs up with Schroeder Iron

Frankie Andreu, former US directeur sportif for US Postal and one of the US cycling community's most-respected characters, has joined the Schroeder Iron team as its race director for major races in the 2003 season. Andreu, who retired from the pro ranks in 2000 after a career that included nine Tours de France, three Vueltas and a Giro, will start his tenure in Schroeder's team car with the Tour de Georgia (April 22-26).

Andreu is looking forward to being involved in Schroeder Iron's further development. "Over the past year and a half, I've watched Schroeder Iron develop from a small squad into one of the powerhouse teams in America," he said. "[This is a] fantastic opportunity for me to help Schroeder Iron win races, and also to help these riders develop their careers as professional cyclists."

The team's eponymous owner Frank Schroeder says he sees Andreu joining the squad as "another paramount step in building a great team that is destined for the number one position in the US. Frankie brings years of experience and a huge amount of respect to the team."

While the team's riders greeted the arrival of Andreu enthusiastically, t he only problem might be rider confusion at having two Franks in charge. As team rider Jakob Erker puts it, "I think the addition of Frankie will be very confusing, because sometimes I call Frank Schroeder 'Frankie.' What am I supposed to do now? What if their voices sound similar on the radios? Then I won't know what's going on in an already confusing situation. God help us!"

Herriott turns pro

Former UPMC-Fuji rider Todd Herriot, winner of the recent Vuelta a Cuba and the first American ever to take the top spot in that race, has turned pro for the Healthnet team.

Verbruggen sets helmet deadline

UCI president Hein Verbruggen has set a deadline of May 10 - the start of the Giro d'Italia - for the complete adoption of helmets in the pro peloton. In a letter to Francesco Moser, the president of the pro cyclists union the CPA, Verbruggen confirmed that he wanted this measure to be adopted quickly, at least by the start of the Giro.

The mandation of helmet use by pro riders follows the March 12 death of Kazakh racer Andrei Kivilev after a crash in the Paris-Nice stage race.

Liam Horner RIP

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Irish cycling is mourning the unexpected loss of Liam Horner, a former national champion and highly respected international, who passed away following an accident last weekend.

The 59 year old won many big races during his cycling career, including the prestigious Manx International in 1967 and the Tour of Ireland in 1972, and was regarded as one of the best competitors in the country. "Liam was a fantastic rider," says Phil O'Brien, who raced against him on many occasions. "He was at the top for many years, and had only Peter Doyle as a rival. The two of them were far ahead of everyone else."

Liam Horner began cycling as a touring rider, regularly going on hostelling trips around Wicklow, but gradually drifted into competition while riding with the Lorraine club. As O'Brien recollects, he was the first rider from Ireland to finish the Tour of Britain when he lined out as part of a international all-stars team in 1965. He spent a season racing in Brittany around the same time, and after returning went on to record great success on the domestic front and in the UK.

1967 brought that famous win in the three-lap Manx International, while in 1968 he finished seventh in the Milk Race and represented Ireland in first of two Olympic games in Mexico. In 1971 he won the national championships and then, the following year, raced to a fine win in the Tour of Ireland.

Besides being a fine role model, his dedication to cycling also helped young Irish riders in an indirect way. "Liam went to the world championships - I think it was 1965 - and stayed in a tent before the race," says O'Brien. "He came to the attention of a Belgian called Herman Niis, who looked after him and then went on to help out many Irish riders over the years." One of these was a young Sean Kelly, who lived with Niis' in the early stages of his career. And so while Liam Horner did not compete as a professional, he paved the way for Ireland's future world number one and Classics King.

"Liam's passing is a real shock," says O'Brien. "His 60th birthday was to be this June and he had a lot of plans for his retirement. He was still in good shape and enjoyed leisure cycling. He had been planning on going to Greece in a few weeks."

"I will remember him as a real winner - he was brilliant on his day, really unbeatable. He was a good climber, a good sprinter, a good time-triallist - he had it all, really. He was a super rider with exceptional class."

Liam Horner will be laid to rest Thursday morning at Shanganagh Cemetery, following 11 o'clock mass in the Church of the Assumption in Dalkey. He is survived by his wife Geraldine, daughters Celine and Jane and sons Neil and Eoin. May he rest in peace.

Peter Keen moves on

British Cycling Performance Director Peter Keen, perhaps best known for training Chris Boardman to his Barcelona pursuit victory and Hour Records, is moving on to a new role in the UK high performance sports field at the end of June. However, Keen will continue to work with the UK's Cycling World Class Programme as an expert advisor to the staff and athletes in their lead up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.

According to a statement from British Cycling, Keen feels it's a 'my work here is done' situation. "Working with British Cycling to develop a long-term performance strategy has been an immensely rewarding experience for me," he said. "I have such confidence and belief in the present GB team, both staff and riders, that I am one hundred percent sure my move will not reduce their capability to deliver Olympic medals in both the short and long term. Indeed it was my growing sense of awareness that my mission to establish the programme was complete, that persuaded me to consider new challenges.

"In every area of staffing the programme now has people whose specific expertise surpasses mine, so there is little left for me to do."

With a solid programme of coaching and development in place, Keen feels the one remaining part of the jigsaw that presents problems is funding. "If I could have changed one single thing in the last five years it would have been this," he said. "The National Lottery has breathed new life into British sport, but the complexity with which funding is distributed threatens to limit future progress if this is not tackled soon. Governing bodies like British Cycling have to be trusted to invest the funding available more than they are at present, and should be judged on their medium to long term performance."

Coast-Bianchi at Denain

Coast-Bianchi will field the same team for today's GP de Denain as yesterday's Grote Scheldeprijs - Vlaanderen. That squad is: Stefan Adamson (Swe), Christoph von Kleinsorgen (Ger), André Korff (Ger), Steffen Radochla (Ger), Thorsten Rund (Ger), Sven Teutenberg (Ger), Malte Urban (Ger) and Thorsten Wilhelms (Ger).

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)