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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for April 21, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & John Stevenson

Amstel Gold Race wrap-up

Vino winning
Photo © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov claimed his first World Cup victory in Sunday's Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands. This is the biggest single day success for Vinokourov, who most recently won the Paris-Nice stage race. The Kazakh was part of a 14 man move that went clear towards the end of the race and featured most of the principal favourites.

As Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) traded attacks, marked often by Lance Armstrong (US Postal), Vinokourov waited until just the right moment to launch himself down the descent into Valkenberg before the final ascent of the Cauberg. The other leaders chose to watch each other rather than chase Vinokourov, but they underestimated his staying power when it came to the climb of the Cauberg. After giving it everything to hold off the chase group, Vino claimed victory by just four seconds over pre-race favourite Boogerd.

"I felt very good from the start," Vinokourov commented after his win. "I looked for my chance, and I got away quickly. The Cauberg did not stop me. The fact that I can win a World Cup race after Paris-Nice surprises me, but I'm very, very happy."

World Cup leader Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) did not have the legs to stay with the leaders today, although thanks to his victories in Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, he will retain his World Cup leader's jersey. Notably absent from the finale was the Quick.Step-Davitamon team of Frank Vandenbroucke and Johan Museeuw, which once again found itself left behind in a major spring classic.

Other reactions

Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step-Davitamon)

Photo © CN
Click for larger image

"My chain fell off [on the Eyserbosweg] changing gears to the big ring. I put the chain back with my hand, but lost several seconds, so they (Casagrande etc.) were already gone. Bad luck, because I was having good legs. That's why I tried on the Keutenberg."

Asked if he's ready for the Walloon classics, VDB responded, "Yes, I only missed a chance today - pity!"

Dave Bruylandts (Marlux)

"On the descent of the Eyserbosweg, my front brake broke off, so using my rear brakes only I slipped away and went completely out of the bend, losing 20-25 places. I tried to chase after the bunch together with Vandenbroucke, but it was too difficult to get them. It was a fast race, but most of the riders were still very 'fresh' as they were still so many together at the end."

Marc Wauters (Rabobank)

"We put all of our chances on Michael (Boogerd). He was super but Vinokourov was too far away in the finale. In spite of the high speed, there was still a big bunch at the end together and there were no important breaks, probably because of the Cauberg at the finish."

Serge Baguet (Lotto-Domo)

"We started working for Peter Van Petegem, but once he let us know he was not super and still tired after his double triumph, I tried to go with the finale. Van Petegem had to lose, and so did I, as I was not super either."

"My last race was 10 days ago, but now I've got the climbing rhythm in my legs again. I only have to be better than today (in the Walloon classics)!"

Women's Amstel Gold

British rider Nicole Cooke (Ausra Gruodis-Safi) won the women's event at Amstel Gold, which was also a World Cup event this year. The women's race was not marked by any major breaks, and the peloton stayed grouped together for much of the race. Australian Oenone Wood attacked on the climb of the Keutenberg, joined not long after by Dori Ruano and Cooke.

The trio held a slim advantage over the field approaching the Cauberg. Onto the final climb, the three leaders were together until Cooke jumped with just 450m to go. The move was well timed, and she managed to stay clear by just a few seconds over the charging field, which swept up Wood and Ruano. Wood's Australian teammate Olivia Gollan claimed the bunch sprint for second, ahead of Lithuanian Edita Pucinskaite.

"To win a World Cup race is incredible," Cooke commented on her web site, "to ride away from all the best riders in the World. For me this is a very close second to winning the Commonwealth Games, though for my team I think they'll see this as the best win of my career."

See also:

Men's and women's results
Live report

Grande Boucle still in question

The Grande Boucle Fémine, the women's Tour de France, has yet to fully take shape for this season. The race is scheduled to begin August 3 on the French island of Corsica and end in Paris two weeks later, however it has not been officially registered on the UCI calendar. The Grande Boucle is the biggest and most important event on the women's calendar.

The organisation of the Grande Boucle Fémine has not yet convinced the UCI that the race is ready to go, and a number of issues remain which are preventing UCI approval. Of primary concern is the race route itself, which this year, as it has in the past, involves excessively long transfers between stages. "The organisers must fulfill several conditions," a UCI official commented Saturday. "The parcours that has been presented thus far is not acceptable."

Giant Asia aims high

With 67 teams this year, the TT III group of UCI-registered sponsored teams is huge and varied. Division III contains several serious, well-funded professional squads such as Saturn and Mroz, both former Division II players that have chosen to register in Division III this year. There are the development arms of Division I teams such as Credit Agricole and Rabobank, both fielding espoirs teams in Division III, and there are teams like West Virginia and Webcor that have moved up from the amateur ranks to mix it with the big boys.

In this sea of hope and developing talent, the second-year Division III Giant Asia RT is a team with a mission: to develop Asian - and especially Taiwanese - riders at world level.

Sponsor Giant claims to be the world's largest bike manufacturer, a claim that almost certainly holds if you discount the millions of 'basic transport' bikes cranked out by factories in India and China. Giant's association with the ONCE team has brought it considerable kudos, but Giant wants to go further.

Giant's international relations coordinator, Claire Chung, summed it up: "We are optimistic that we can compete with the very best in the world and it is only by doing this that we can prove it.

"We obviously have a long way to go but our aim at the end is to compete in the very biggest races such as the Tour de France, with local riders taking part," said Chung.

That's a long-term goal, though. For now Giant is aiming at the top spot in Division III, where it currently sits in fourth, behind Mroz, Perutnina Ptuj and Saturn. "The top three teams in division III all have racing experience from Division II, which is quite scary," said Chung. "[But] it can also be something exciting and inspiring for Giant A.R.T."

At the moment the team has six Taiwanese riders on its 18-strong roster and gets most of its strength from its international contingent which includes top Iranian rider Ghader Mizbani, Aussie Paul Redenbach and Mongolian Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh.

Chung concedes that the team's local riders aren't quite up there yet. In the meantime, Giant aims to encourage local riders by promoting the sport nationally and will carry on hiring foreign riders until the pool of local talent is deeper.

"At the moment most of our riders compete in domestic competitions and when someone is good enough they will take the next step and race in Asia, then Europe," Chung said.

The team has recently retained Mr Qiu Jijin and Mr Norman Shelmerdine as team consultants to analyze the races in Asia and Europe, to ensure that Giant picks races where success is achievable. It's a strategy that seems to be working with Paul Redenbach finishing third in last weekend's Prix de la Ville de Nogent-sur-Oise, and the UCI points gradually accumulating after results like the team's two top-ten places at the Tour of Hellas.

It's a sign of the increasing globalization of cycling that a Taiwanese team has the top of the sport in its sights. If teams like Giant Asia have their way, we might see a non-Western rider on the podium of the Tour sooner rather than later.

05 Orbitel heads for Europe

Following in the 20-year tradition of Colombian teams traveling to Europe to race, the o5 Orbitel squad has packed its bags and gone east for a month's racing in Spain and France.

After completing the domestic programme of the Vuelta al Valle, Clásica de Pasca, Cruce de Oriente Antioqueño, Vuelta a Cundinamarca and Vuelta al Tólima, a team of eight riders has traveled to Europe: Hernán Buenahora; Carlos Contreras; Félix Cárdenas; Marlon Pérez; Hernán Darío Bonilla; Jairo Hernández; Javier González and Javier Zapata.

These eight, plus team manager Raúl Mesa, doctor Alberto Beltrán and mechanics Robert González and William Serna, left Colombia for Madrid on Saturday and after a brief recovery period will kick off their racing programme with the Vuelta a la Rioja (April 24-26).

Orbitel's programme continues with a trip to France for the with the
GP Villers Cotterêts (May 1) and the Trophée des Grimpeurs (May 7 to 11). The team then returns to Spain for the Vuelta a Asturias (May 13 to 17) and the Subida al Naranjo (May 18), where Colombian hero Santiago Botero will also line up. Finally, the team will ride the Vuelta a Castilla y León (May 20-24) before returning to Colombia.

Volta do Rio de Janeiro

The second edition of the Volta do Rio de Janeiro de Ciclismo starts Wednesday. This year's race has attracted five international teams as well as the usual complement of Brazilian local squads.

The visiting teams for the five-stage, 633km race are Colombia's Orbitel squad, IMA from Italy, Trek's amateur squad (USA) and national teams from Argentina and Chile. They will be racing against local teams Memorial Santos, Caloi SA, Pedal Bike São José, Data-Ro - Paraná, SP/São Lucas/America, Vimotto Rio De Janiero, Peels Iracepapolis SP, Alfa Ciclismo - Goias, Seleção Mineira - MG, São João Da Barra RJ, Magalhães EC Go, Guarulhos EC SP, AD Blumenau - SC, and Amazonas Sundouwn - RJ.


Stage 1 - April 23: Rio De Janeiro - Angra Dos Reis, 150.1km
Stage 2 - April 24: Teresópolis - Nova Friburgo, 108.4km
Stage 3 - April 25: Nova Friburgo- São Pedro Da Aldeia, 186.3km
Stage 4 - April 26: São Pedro Da Aldeia - Niterói, 127.2km
Stage 5 - April 27: Rio De Janeiro Circuit, 61km

UPMC Riders head home

After competing in three UCI tours (Cuba, Chile and Uruguay) before the US road season had hardly begun, UPMC cycling team riders Gerardo Castro, Joe Papp, Mateo Sasso and Alvaro Tardaguila are heading to their respective homes for much needed rest before the team starts its domestic campaign. Papp returns to the United States on the 19th of April, while his Uruguayan teammates Castro, Sasso and Tardaguila will remain with their families in Uruguay until the 25th.

The team considers its early season campaign a great success, winning the general classification at the Vuelta a Cuba (2.5) and two stages, placing in the top 10 four times at the Vuelta a Chile (2.5) and winning for a day the consistency jersey at the Vuelta a Uruguay (2.6). The icing on the cake is the recent move of Todd Herriott, who represented UPMC in both Cuba and Chile, to the professional Healthnet squad. In doing so, he helps to fulfill the mission of the UPMC program: developing America's next class of professional cyclists.

“What we have done this spring is very satisfying,” said team director Mike Fraysse. “With a modest budget we created a team capable of racing, and winning, at the elite international level. Our next challenge is to secure additional funding to allow us to continue our efforts in the domestic arena.”

UPMC’s next goal is New Jersey’s Tour of Somerville on Memorial Day, one of the oldest one-day races in the country. Somerville is a target for team captain Joe Papp who won there as a junior. Papp will be supported by teammates Mike Friedman, Robby Ketchell and Mike Norton.


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