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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for April 24, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Flèche Wallonne: comments

Igor Astarloa (Saeco, winner)

"When I was young, Miguel Indurain wasn't my idol. I wanted to be Andrei Tchmil," Astarloa explained. Always destined to be a classics rider, the Spaniard faced an uphill battle convincing the Spanish team directors of his value. "The directors didn't know anything about the classics. The only thing that interested them was stage racing."

Knowing his opportunities were limited, Astarloa decided to take his chances in Italy. He joined Saeco in 2002, joining single day riders such as Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino, after having spent two years with Marco Pantani's Mercatone Uno team. "I had to work very hard to earn their respect," he explained.

Now that he's achieved his first big win, after a string of strong performances in the World Cup classics, Astarloa has only one thing to do. "I just need to learn English so I can understand what the Belgians are saying to me," he laughed. "I'm in some way part of their group now."

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank, 12th)

"Thirteen teams weren't represented in the break, and we had Lotz, so we decided to give him a chance. It wasn't up to us to chase. Either way, I'm satisfied with my form; it's good training for Liège.

Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step-Davitamon, 24th)

"I flatted two times in the beginning of the race and during the first 100km, I really didn't feel good," Vandenbroucke explained to l'Equipe. "I felt plenty of force in my legs, but I had a hard time working on the bike, as if I couldn't find my rhythm. It's too bad nobody from my team was in the break. Up until the end of the race, Fassa Bortolo and Lotto were breaking their backs to close the gap, but up front it wasn't a bunch of amputees, rather 15 really strong guys."

Jan Ullrich (Team Coast, 31st)

"I'm satisfied with my race, even if it were quite hard. I wanted to do a bit better but the race was very fast. Plus, I was slowed a bit by Kessler's crash just before the finale, and I preferred to just do the final climb at my own pace, without forcing it. It was a good test."

Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère, 44th)

"As far as how I felt, I was a bit better than at Amstel," Chavanel told l'Equipe. "But frankly, that was fast! I'm here to learn, and I'm happy to have been with the peloton until the foot of the Mur de Huy. After that, I climbed as well as I could."

Giancarlo Ferretti (Fassa Bortolo manager)

Once again, Fassa Bortolo saw its chances evaporate after letting an early break go without a rider represented. Team manager Giancarlo Ferretti was not the least bit pleased with the performance, a virtual repeat of the mistakes made at Amstel Gold.

"You can lose a race at the finish, but to lose this early really upsets me," he said. "I asked [Lampre director] Algeri to help us. He kept saying, 'yes, yes,' but I'm still waiting."

Bruyneel: According to plan

Cyclingnews spoke with US Postal Service director Johan Bruyneel before the start of Flèche Wallonne, where the USPS team was lining up José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera as a protected rider. "Chechu is still a bit short of form, he had a bad start to the season," Bruyneel explained. "Last Sunday [when he got into the early break at Amstel Gold] was good training for him."

Bruyneel is confident that the team's preparation for the Tour de France in July is going according to plan. As far as the performance at Amstel, he seemed equally satisfied, even if Lance Armstrong once again animated the race but fell short of victory. "First it was good for us that Chechu was in the break," Bruyneel said. "It was more relaxing for the team. You don't have to be nervous, you don't have to chase. At the end it was the same result because they didn't get far enough. If they'd got five or six minutes then it would have been different."

Armstrong himself said he wasn't interested in another second place at Amstel, and had chosen not to contest the sprint behind race winner Vinokourov, and Bruyneel concurred. "But he was strong," he said of Armstrong. "The thing is that with that break gone, the race was very much under control. There were no attacks and we had 130 guys at the bottom of the two hardest climbs. So there was just one attack and the race was over. If the race had been a bit harder, then they could have got away on the Kruisberg or the Eyserbosweg. It's the riders who make the race though."

This year, thanks to some changes in the calendar, Lance Armstrong will also be racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where Bruyneel thinks the American could shine. "I think the most important thing is that he didn't have to make the trip to the States for the Ride for the Roses [which has been rescheduled for October]. So I think everything has gone following the plan."

Garzelli returns

Italian Stefano Garzelli returns to competition today, having served a nine month suspension after a positive doping test during last year's Giro d'Italia. Garzelli's tested positive for probenecid following stage 2, and was ejected from the race. Today, at the Giro del Trentino stage race, the rider returns to racing for the first time since May, 2002. The effects of his suspension have not dissipated, however, and the former Mapei rider remains outspoken about the events that took place, and doping controls in general.

"I still believe I am innocent," Garzelli said in an interview with Datasport. "I know I did not do anything... I know I did not take that substance voluntarily. Now I have found the will to work hard again, and thanks to the Vini Caldirola team, and to [Mauro] Gianetti, I will find the emotion to once again put on a race number."

Garzelli is still concerned about the difference in doping control methods in cycling versus other sports. "We submit to controls at every race, and in the mornings they can wake us up at 6am and we have to be ready to give a blood sample," he said. "If I go away for four days with my girlfriend I have to let them know where they can find me. It seems to me there are too many differences with other sports; I think we need to work to create uniform controls."

Pantani out

Marco Pantani, who could have been among the principal protagonists at the Giro del Trentino, will not start the race. Pantani has been suffering from a severe tooth ache, and is currently on antibiotics. After returning from racing and training in Spain, Pantani visited a specialist in Italy on Tuesday. However, the treatment has not been effective enough to permit a start today at the Giro del Trentino.

Among the favourites who will be present in what serves as one of the final Giro d'Italia tune ups are Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) and Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo). Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), who won the event in 2001 and 2002, preferred to contest the next round of the World Cup, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday.

Giro del Trentino:

April 24: Stage 1 - Arco - Moena, 170.5 km
April 25: Stage 2 - Moena - Ronzone, 166.5 km
April 26: Stage 3 - Fondo - Levico Terme, 165.4 km
April 27: Stage 4 - Caldonazzo - Arco, 156.4 km

Teams

Amore & Vita, Colombia Selle Italia, De Nardi Colpack, Fassa Bortolo, Flanders iTeamNova, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, Lampre, Mercatone Uno, Miche Components, Panaria Fiordo, Saeco, Tenax, Vini Caldirola-Sidermec

Moreau on the rise

Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole) has suffered a rather dismal early season, sidelined by fatigue and illness, and off the back in most races he has entered. Things took a turn for the better at Flèche Wallonne, however, when Moreau joined the early break and finished a solid 9th place on the Mur de Huy. "I haven't done anything exceptional since the beginning of the season," he told l'Equipe, "never had good sensations, and always finished in the grupetto or off the back."

"Today was the best Flèche of my career," he said after the finish. "I have always been consistent, around 20th place, and I thought I could be there in the end with the best guys, even if I still lacked a bit of form. I was impatient, but my time is coming, slowly, and if the bad luck will leave me alone, I think I'll do some good things in the coming weeks."

No surgery for Cooke

Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) is back in training, riding near Turino, Italy. Cooke had been suffering from a large saddle sore, but a new saddle tested in the mountains of Italy seems to be helping the cause. "Since I changed the saddle things have been much better," he said to L'Equipe. "I'm relieved, because I was beginning to think I would need surgery. Most importantly, I can ride, and that's what's important. I hate doing nothing."

Cooke should return to racing at the Grand Prix de Villers-Cotterêts in France on May 1.

Rebellin out five weeks

Davide Rebellin, injured in a crash in Flèche Wallonne, will be out of action for up to five weeks. In addition to a microfracture of the head of his left humerus, as reported earlier, Rebellin also fractured his collarbone. As a result, the Gerolsteiner leader will almost certainly miss the Giro d'Italia, which begins May 10.

Same name, different face

By Kathie Stove

Scott Sunderland is a name well known the Australian cycling enthusiasts. But now the name has another face - one that could become as well known and successful as its first incarnation.

The Australian Junior Track Championships brought the talents of several youthful Australian cyclists to national attention and one of these was 15 year old Western Australian Scott Sunderland - no relation to his more famous namesake as far as he knows.

Scott, who lives with his father in the small community of Busselton, 250km south of Perth, won gold in the 500m Time Trial, silver in the Sprint and bronze in the Scratch race and the Team Pursuit. He trains alone on the roads around Busselton because there is no-one else there who has the commitment and talent that he has. His father Neville goes out training with him - but in the car not on the bike because that's the only way he can keep up with him.

Scott won 6 out of 8 events at last year's national championships when he was in the under 15 section but was still very pleased with his performance in his first year at the under 17 level.

"Last year when I was under 15, I won 6. This year I thought I would go well but I didn't expect such success and I'm pretty pleased the results I got," Scott said.

"I won gold in the 500m time trial and that's my favourite event. In the individual pursuit I wasn't feeling that well that day so didn't qualify. Plus I had the sprints the next day and I was pretty full on so I saved myself for them.

"For sure I want to continue with cycling, it's fun. I don't really mind whether it's track or road, but track is a bit more fun. I have to train on the road because I live down south in the country at Busselton and have to train by myself.

"I started riding because my brother was riding and so I thought I would have a shot. I got second in the first race I was in so I kept going.

Neville and Scott's mother Linda were both in Adelaide for the junior championships because both are committed to helping the cycling careers of their sons (Scott's older brother Leigh will be competing in the under 19 juniors at the national track championships in Sydney in May).

"He is outstanding for sure," Neville said. "He wasn't on top of things yesterday [for the Sprint] but he did really well just keep doing that, he was just flat and he struggled to get through. That silver was the hardest medal he's got. The first day [of the championships] he was alright, the next day he was a bit tired but yesterday he was really flat but he pushed through it and got the results that he would have liked to have got."

"We are really proud of him. He puts a lot of effort into training. To go training he goes pretty much on his own. I go out in the car with him because I can't keep up anymore with him on the bike. Scottie is a good road rider as well, a good hill climber. He plays V8 supercars on the Playstation and he's still got to be Australian Champion.

"I'd say he has the mental capacity to keep going. Like yesterday he wanted to go home he felt so bad but he just kept on and did what he had to do. He stuck at it.

"My father was a cyclist and in the early 1950s got second in the national road championships. He's shown it's possible to go through and compete at a higher level. That makes it easier for the boys."

Easy or not perhaps Scott Sunderland is a name that will be in the cycling news for many years to come, long after the first one has retired.

World Of Difference sponsors women

World Of Difference Online Magazine has announced that it will be providing personal sponsorships for a quartet of promising young female racers for the remainder of 2003. The monthly publication will be providing a variety of financial, logistical and media-relations assistance to U.S. riders Allison Beall and Magen Long, Quebec native Audrey Lemieux, and Australian Emma Rickards. The program came about as a result of a recent story the magazine did on women’s racing in Lithuania.

As part of the sponsorship deal, Allison, Audrey, Magen, and Emma will be writing monthly journals on racing and a variety of other topics for World Of Difference, and will be featured in a special section of the website that will include biographical information, photographs, and race reports. Funds permitting, they may also do a few select events as a team, including the Wachovia Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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