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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition News for April 18, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Van Moorsel to skip Amstel

Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel won't ride this weekend's round of the women's World Cup, the Amstel Gold. Van Moorsel, who won last year's edition, says she does not feel fit enough to assist team-mate Mirjam Melchers in her pursuit of the World Cup title.

Rabobank adds De Jongh

Steven De Jongh will be the eighth member of Rabobank's team for the men's Amstel Gold on Sunday. De Jongh suffered a fall in Paris-Roubaix and was doubtful for Amstel as a result, but bounced back quickly to finish 32nd in Wednesday's Scheldeprijs.

International mountain biking comes to Ireland

By Shane Stokes,

Irish mountain bikers have the chance to pick up some valuable world-ranking points this Sunday with the hosting of an E2 event at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl near Belfast. Organised by the X-MTB club, the race will serve both as the first leg of the National Points Series and also round one of the Northern Ireland league. Besides the points and trophies on offer, a prize list of 800 euro is also up for grabs.

The course looks to be a selective one, with many short, steep climbs littering the 20 minute lap and also several technical/ fast descents. A good field is expected to be in attendance, amongst them those riders aiming to represent Ireland in the Olympic Games in Athens next year. The organisers have also had enquiries from riders from outside the country and it is hoped that they too will travel to Belfast to take part.

Racing starts at mid-day and the course will be open for practice between 5pm and 7pm on Saturday and between 10am and 11:45am Sunday.

Simona Parente joins Forno d'Asolo Chirio

Italian rider Simona Parente has joined the Forno d'Asolo Chirio team. Parente, who has ridden for the Italian nationl team at world championships and in the 2000 Olympics, rode for Edilsavino in 2002 and will ride in support of stage race specialist Zinaida Stahurskaia and sprinter Regina Schliecher.

Parente had originally planned to join the Spanish-based Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai squad of world champion Susanne Ljunskog for 2003, but seems to prefer an Italian team, saying, "I am very happy to have joined Forno d'Asolo Chirio, the team has a serene and serious atmosphere - optimal conditions for me to work in."

Parente will make her debut with the team at the G.P. Binda di Cittiglio on Monday.

Vale Liam Horner

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

A tragic accident at work last week, which resulted in the death of former international cyclist Liam Horner has numbed the Irish cycling world. Liam was one of those rare individuals who was a household name back in the mid '60s and early '70s because of his prominence as a competitor both on the domestic and international scene.

Throughout his entire career both as a competitor and leisure cyclist, Liam's fine performances added greatly to the sphere of cycling.

His contemporaries speak with affection of the young man who lived in the "Farm", Monkstown, Co. Dublin. There was no hint when Liam took up cycling that he would blossom into one of the finest amateurs that would grace the roads in search of glory for his club, the County Dublin Road Club and his country. A mentor of his, Michael Byrne was full of admiration for him. "He was very attentive and an inquisitor as to how he would develop his skills. I had no doubt that this lad was going to scale the heights of cycling. There are many memories of sitting around the fire in Killiney, Co. Dublin as we discussed cycling and how he might follow in the footsteps of Shay Elliott who was beginning to make a name on the Continental scene. I remember well the evening in June 1967 when Radio Eireann announced that Liam had won the Manx International against a star quality field. Ah yes, that was a day to remember. He had punctured on the last lap but came back to win against the crème de crème of talent," said Michael.

A couple of years prior to that, Liam had gone to France to see if the lifestyle as a full time cyclist would sit neatly on his shoulders. It was not to be and he came home though the benefits that accrued to Irish leading were a source of great pride.

He was a superb athlete and his conduct off and on the bike was impeccable. Without doubt he was the leading rider of his period, though one could debate for hours which of the country's later stars he was equivalent to; Kelly or Roche?

I was reminded of a story in the last couple of days, of how Liam forged a link between a certain gentleman, Herman Nys and his family who hailed from Belgium. It was in the '60s and Liam was the sole Irish representative at the World Championships in Sallanches, France. Herman encountered this determined young man who was staying in non-palatial surroundings and was impressed. From that day forward, the Nys family invariably looked after Irish representatives.

What of Liam's outstanding achievements on the bike? Naturally it would take a number of foolscap pages to do him justice. His victory in the Tour of the Gaps in Co. Wicklow and the Chemico Cup in his earlier years set the tone for future success. As a stage competitor the 1968 Tour of Britain brought him further recognition.

Whilst he was a roadman through and through he was well capable of punching in fast times against the clock.

The early '70s saw him at his peak when he won the Road Race Championship of Ireland (1971), then the Tour of Ireland the following year. He went on to represent Ireland at the Mexico Olympics in '68 and the Munich Olympics in '72. That was probably the icing on the cake for any cyclist, to be part of the premier event in the world.

Liam leaves his wife, Geraldine, daughters Celine and Jane, and sons Neil and Eoin. He also had five sisters, Lauri, Phyllis, Carmel, Evelyn and Pauline. A popular man, his immediate relatives and large circle of friends, all regret his passing. Their loss is immeasurable but we in the cycling world have lost a true friend and a wonderful ambassador of the sport of cycling. May he always be on our wheels.

The measure of how popular Liam was could be seen by the number of people from all walks of life who were present at the removal and prayer ceremony in the Church of the Assumption in Dalkey.

Present were representatives from the various cycling clubs both North and South, the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation, and Union Cycliste International. To just give the reader an indication of how popular Liam was, in attendance were, Sean Kelly and his wife Linda, Morris Foster, Billy Kerr, John McCarthy, Sean Lally, Con Enright, Owen O'Connor, Hughie Davis, and Harry Dawson all who would have contributed to the title he was best known by: "the savage roadman."

Liam was laid to rest in Shanganagh Cemetery near Bray, Co. Wicklow, on Thursday.

Ni beidh a leitheid aris. Codladh samh, Liam.

UCI anti-doping news

The latest communiqué from the UCI's antidoping commission includes decisions on four recent cases.

Stefano Zanini has been acquitted by the Court of Arbitration in Sport of allegations arising from the 2001 Giro d'Italia. Zanini was accused of possessing insulin after the June 6 police raid on the Giro.

Markus Koob, a rider in 2002 with the German Comnet Senges team, has been suspended for nine months from 15 November 2002 to 31 October 2003 and disqualified from the 2002 Int. Hessen-Rundfahrt.

Faat Zakirov, the Russian rider sacked by Ceramiche-Panaria last year for doping offences has been suspended for two years, including one year of deferment so from 23 July 2002 to 22 October 2003 and fined 2,000 Swiss Francs.

Portuguese rider Arnoldas Saprykinas has been suspended for two years from 13 December 2002 to 27 September 2004, and disqualified from the Volta ao Alentejo, 5 July 2002.

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