Latest News for April 18, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
38th Amstel Gold Race news
Cauberg the decider
The talking point of this year's Amstel Gold Race is the dramatic change to the parcours, which will see the Cauberg climb used as the finish. The well known climb, which has been used in four previous World Road Championships as well as in the Amstel, is not the toughest climb in the race, but should prove to be a sufficient challenge. It's a total of 1300m long, with the main part of the climb in the first 500m. It will feature three times in the race this year: after 61 km, 170km and the finish at 250km.
Rabobank's race favourite Michael Boogerd rode over the parcours on Wednesday, and called it "Brilliant, a super finale. The wide road and the good asphalt can be misleading. It's an easy climb, but when you have to do it three times in such a long race, it's a completely different story."
Two time Amstel winner and now Dutch national coach Gerrie Knetemann was also enthusiastic. "Which Dutch climb is now as well known in other countries?" he said. "The Cauberg and thus Valkenburg is furthermore cycling city number one. For the effect of the race it's totally a good idea. The race parcours is more interesting now that the last climbs are closer to the finish. The last hour will go down to the wire. It will be a fair individual race. And a madhouse in Valkenburg."
Length: 500 at 9% (main climb) + 800m at 2.6% (false flat)
One of the key climbs in the Amstel Gold Race, the Keutenberg (nicknamed the Muur van Schin Op Geul), will not contain any fans or press this year. The 22 percent climb which comes at 12 km to go in the Gold Race will be reserved for the riders, team leaders and race officials only. The climb has featured in the race since 1997, but the organisers want to prevent destruction of the surrounding countryside, hence the ban. There will be 20 extra policemen patrolling the entrances to the climb to prevent people from sneaking through.
Length: 500m at 12.6% (main climb) + 1200m at 3% (false flat)
Cyclingnews will be covering the 38th Amstel Gold Race from start to finish. Coverage begins at 10:20 CEST/04:20 EDT, 01:20 PDT, 18:20 AEST).
More Amstel Gold coverage
Saeco looking for an Easter egg
The Saeco team will be looking for a big Easter egg on Sunday as it fronts up to ride the 38th Amstel Gold Race in Maastricht. Having finished second on two occasions in World Cups so far this season (Celestino in Milan-San Remo and Pieri in Paris-Roubaix), Saeco wants to move to the top step of the podium.
The teams selected for Amstel and La Flèche Wallonne next Wednesday are both very strong therefore. Capitalising on his good fitness, Dario Pieri will ride the Amstel Gold Race, even if the hilly parcours doesn't exactly suit him. Two riders who suit the course perfectly are Mirko Celestino and Igor Astarloa, and both will act as team captains during the race. The rest of the squad includes Italian national champion Salvatore Commesso and Stefano Zanini, who crashed out of Paris-Roubaix. Finally Fabio Sacchi, Alexandr Shefer and certainly Danilo Di Luca are all expected to ride well. For Di Luca the Ardennes classics are some of his biggest objectives of the season.
Saeco for the Amstel Gold Race: Dario Pieri, Mirko Celestino, Igor Astarloa, Salvatore Commesso, Stefano Zanini, Fabio Sacchi, Alexandr Shefer, Danilo Di Luca
Saeco for La Flèche Wallonne: Danilo Di Luca, Igor Astarloa, Mirko Celestino, Stefano Zanini, Fabio Sacchi, Alexandr Shefer, Andrea Tonti Gerrit Glomser.
Museeuw will finish season
The question most asked of Quick.Step's Johan Museeuw - "When will you retire?" - has been laid to rest for another season. The Lion of Flanders has announced that he will continue, despite being disappointed by his performances in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.
"It's certain: I will finish this season. Then we will see," he said in interviews with the Belgian press on Friday. "I was disappointed after Paris-Roubaix. I am still convinced that without bad luck I would have finished in the top three. After Sunday I reacted as a man of flesh and blood. But I have learned in such situations to first let things settle down. On Monday I visited Patrick Lefevere and he showed me some photos that a fan had sent him. That man had a leg amputated after a compartment syndrome in his calf. I had the same thing after my fall off the motorbike, but I had more luck than this fan. Then you realise that the bad luck in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix are just peanuts."
Museeuw will start in both the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Then he'll ride the Four Days of Dunkirk, Tour of Belgium and the Route du Sud. He will not ride Tour de France, and will instead opt for the Uniqa Classic, before taking a holiday with his family in St Moritz. He will start the second half of the season with the HEW Cyclassics Hamburg, but will not ride Classica San Sebastian and the Championship of Zurich.
EPO found in Cassani's urine
The urine of Enrico Cassani (Alessio), which was tested during Tirreno-Adriatico, reportedly contained traces of EPO. The rider has been provisionally suspended by his team while they wait for the results of the counter analysis. If that is found to be positive, then he will be fired.
More searches by NAS in Italy
The Italian drug squad (NAS) was in action again yesterday under instruction from Padua prosecutor Paola Cameran, searching the houses of 50 Italian athletes, including several cyclists, on the lookout for illegal substances. Among those searched were Gerolsteiner pro Davide Rebellin and U23 World Champion Francesco Chicchi (Fassa Bortolo).
It was reported that the searches uncovered around 100 boxes of doping substances, however it's not clear yet which athletes houses contained them. Late on Thursday evening, Fassa Bortolo issued a press release stating that no banned substances were found in Francesco Chicchi's house.
Main contenders for La Flèche Wallonne
The A.S.O. has released the list of teams and principal riders for next Wednesday's Ardennes Classic, La Flèche Wallonne, which starts in Charleroi.
Domina Vacanze signs Valoti
Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze team has signed 32 year old Italian rider Paolo Valoti, previously with the now defunct Index team. Valoti did his first race with the team last week in the Giro d'Abruzzo.
Mizourov to MBK-Oktos
French division II team MBK-Oktos has signed Kazakh rider Andrei Mizourov, formerly with Mercatone Uno. The 30 year old has also ridden for Collstrop and Telekom, and is considered a fair climber. He joins Laurent Paumier as one of the team's recent new additions.
Duijn takes the low road
Dutchman Marcel Duijn has retired from professional cycling, having left the Van Hemert Groep team in favour of De Jonge Renner, a Dutch amateur team. Team leader Arthur van Dongen told ANP that, "Marcel has chosen for a social career. Furthermore, he misses the drive to ride professionally."
Marcel Duijn, who is in perfect health, is also a technical draughtsman for an engineering firm.
Three more for Saey-Deschacht
Roger de Vlaeminck's new cyclo-cross team Saey-Deschacht has signed three young riders in addition to team leader Ben Berden. Belgian Tim Van Nuffel, Dutchman Camiel van den Bergh and Brit Matthew Ellis have all been added to the roster.
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