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Latest News for April 25, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Spring classics finish with La Doyenne

By Jeff Jones

2002 podium
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
Click for larger image

Somewhat fittingly as the oldest classic of them all, the 89th Liège-Bastogne-Liège will also serve as the last of the spring classics this season, having been swapped with the Amstel Gold Race this year. The race which is nicknamed 'La Doyenne' has a long history, first being run in 1892 when Belgian Léon Houa recorded the first of three successive victories. Only Eddy Merckx (1971-73) and Moreno Argentin (1985-87) have matched that feat, with Merckx also holding the record for the most number of wins in this classic (five).

Liège-Bastogne-Liège starts in Liège's Place Saint-Lambert, a large historical square near the centre of town. For the first 95 kilometres, the riders take a fairly direct route to Bastogne, which is nestled in the south eastern corner of Belgium, quite close to Luxembourg. The route coming back is a lot longer however (163 km), and takes in most of the climbs in the race, before finishing in the northern Liège suburb of Ans.

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Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 89th Liège - Bastogne - Liège from start to finish. Coverage begins at 10:00 CEST/04:00 EDT, 01:00 PDT, 18:00 AEST).

Virus still with Museeuw

The virus which affected Johan Museeuw's respiratory system a week before the Ronde van Vlaanderen is still there, according to his latest medical tests. Museeuw took some more tests after the Amstel Gold Race, his last classic of the spring season, and the results came back mid-week.

"I have actually had the virus in my body since a few days before the Ronde van Vlaanderen," wrote Museeuw on his website. "At that moment, we didn't know that it wasn't a normal respiratory infection. For that reason I could not be fully cured because antibiotics don't help to get rid of a virus."

Museeuw will now take two complete weeks of rest to try and get rid of the virus. "The most important thing now is for my body to completely recover. In any case I had planned a week's rest but now there will be an extra one."

Quaranta prepares for the Giro in Brescia

The Saeco team is continuing its build up for the 86th Giro d'Italia, one of the team's main objectives of this season. While Gilberto Simoni is at the Giro del Trentino, sprinter Ivan Quaranta is following an intense training programme in order to be ready for the Giro. Even though Quaranta has won two races this season, he is still not at his best and for this reason the team and manager Claudio Corti have planned a long training camp for him.

Closely monitored by D.S. Bruno Vicino, Quaranta is training near the Brescia area with team mate Antonio Bucciero. He will be doing six hours a day until Saturday and will then a follow a lighter programme until the start of the Tour of Romandie (April 29-May 4), his last race before the start of the Giro d'Italia.

Palmans annoyed at poor performance

After Thursday's Dutch classic Veenendaal-Veenendaal, won by Lotto-Domo's Leon Van Bon, the riders from the Palmans-Collstrop team came in for an earbashing by team director Charles Palmans after they all abandoned by halfway. "Only Omloop and Hammond were free of blame," said an annoyed Palmans to Het Nieuwsblad. "They had bad days, in better circumstances it's always those two who have the appetite to race. And Lembo rode Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. I'll also excuse him. But the others...Gert Vanderaerden, Hendrik Van Dijck, Kristof Trouvé, Karl Pauwels. No-one in the first break, no-one in the first fifty when we passed the finish line with 45 km to go. I was so deeply ashamed that I looked for a side street so that they wouldn't have to ride past the finish line to get to the changing rooms. The men would be better off riding with the cyclotourists."

Van Lancker signs for Flanders-iTeamNova

Ex-Lotto rider Kurt Van Lancker has signed a new professional contract with the Flanders-iTeamNova squad. Van Lancker did not have his contract renewed by Lotto this year, and now has another chance to ride professionally.

43rd Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja

Held over the three days between Friday and Sunday this weekend is the 43rd edition of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja, a Spanish UCI 2.3 stage race. The Vuelta a Rioja comes at a busy time, with the Giro del Trentino (2.2), G.P. M.R. Cortez-Mitsubishi (2.3), Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt (2.3), Tour of Georgia (2.3) and of course this Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège World Cup, however for the Spanish teams is the main race on this weekend. In addition to the seven Spanish squads, Credit Agricole and Jean Delatour (France), 05 Orbitel (Colombia), Carvalhelhos-Boavista (Portugal), Lokomotiv (Russia), Fassa Bartolo (Italy), Gerolsteiner (Germany) and Palmans-Collstrop (Belgium) are all sending teams.

The race consists of three varied stages, the first from Autol to Calahorra is suited to the sprinters, containing just one category 2 climb. The second stage starts in Albelda De Iregua and finishes atop the Alto Cruz De La Demanda, a 1958 metre category 1 climb that averages 9.6% over the last 8 km. The final stage is a 22.2 kilometre time trial in Logroño, to sort out the GC once and for all.

The favourites for the race include iBanesto's climbers Francisco Mancebo and Juan Miguel Mercado, ONCE's Jan Hruska, Kelme's Javier Pascual Llorente, and defending champion Carlos Torrent (Paternina-Costa del Almeria).

The Teams

ONCE-Eroski,, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, Paternina-Costa de Almeria, Labarca 2-Cafe Baque, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Credit Agricole, Jean Delatour, 05 Orbitel, Carvalhelhos-Boavista, Lokomotiv, Fassa Bartolo, Gerolsteiner, Palmans-Collstrop

The stages

Stage 1 - April 25: Autol - Calahorra, 129.4 km
Stage 2 - April 26: Albelda De Iregua-Cruz De La Demanda, 188.3 km
Stage 3 - April 27: Logroño -Logroño ITT, 22.2 km

History-steeped Bisbee offers challenging terrain

by Stephen W. Medcroft

The La Vuelta de Bisbee (LVDB) stage race kicks off Friday with a punishing time trial that gains 837 feet of elevation in just 2.8 miles. The three stages that follow will test competitors climbing, sprinting, and time-trialing skills. If the race has not sorted itself by Sunday, the final stage features an extended uphill finish that should leave all questions of who are the toughest racers answered.

A USA Cycling National Racing calendar event, LVDB has been hosted by this small, Southeastern Arizona community for 25 years. With a population of about 10,000, Bisbee sits at 5,500 feet and is about 100 miles Southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Unlike it's more notorious western-frontier town and neighbor, Tombstone, Bisbee has a relatively tame history as a copper-ore mining camp. Most of the mining operations shut down in the 70's though and the almost thousand-foot deep open-pit mines have since become tourist attractions. And once the mining community moved out of Bisbee, artists, hippies, and retirees transformed the town into what it is today; a quirky destination for historical tourism and art. A community into which cycling seems to be readily accepted judging by the effort put forth by local promoters to put on a nationally-sanctioned stage road race in such a small town.

The terrain that made Bisbee Queen of the Copper Camps, is a perfect challenge for cyclists. Nestled in a cluster of high-desert mountain ranges, rural highways both lace through mountainous desert canyons and slope down and away from town allowing event promoters several race course choices. Two of the four stages, of course, include the brutal climb up Mule Pass. These roads were even distinctive enough to attract the 1980 U.S. national championships.

A prominent National Race since the eighties, LVDB boasts past winners such as Greg Lemond (who won as a 16-year old in 1978), Bob Cooke (1977, 79), Alexi Grewal (1992), and most recently (2002), Scott Moninger and Jeannie Longo.

LVDB will be a different race this year because of the coincidental scheduling of the new Tour of Georgia (occurring simultaneously in and around Atlanta more than a thousand miles East). Although many top-level professional road teams have diverted their traffic to Georgia, the professional peloton will still make a respectable showing at LVDB. Notable entries include a team of seven from Saturn Cycling (Jessica Phillips, US National road champion, and New York City champion Ivan Dominguez), the Lemond Fitness / Cra-Z-Soap division 3 pro team, as well as a contingent of six racers from the USA Cycling T-Mobile National Women's Team.

The Stages

Prologue: Friday April 25's Mule Pass Individual Time Trial climbs straight up Tombstone pass ascending almost 900 feet in 2.8 miles.

Course records for the prologue are:

  • Men: 9:18 by Malcolm Elliot in 1993
  • Women: 10:33 by Leslie Schenk in 1987
  • Master Men: 11:22 by Mark Weideman in 2001

Stage 1: Saturday's Sulphur Springs Road Race tests riders on rolling rural highways around Bisbee on a two-lap circuit that includes 2,600 feet of total climbing.

Stage 2: On Saturday afternoon the riders get no rest with 10.6 mile time trial named for a city founder.

Course Records for the Warren Time Trial Course:

  • Men: 19:11 by Chris Wherry in 2002
  • Women: 23:02 by Marianne Berglund in 1994
  • Master Men: 21:35 by Mark Weideman in 2001

Stage 3: This short, sharp tour ends with a tough finale. The Tombstone Road Race starts and finishes in downtown Bisbee, and Sunday's 65 mile race promises to settle any tension and drama built over the weekend. The race gains more than 5,000 feet and finishes with a five-mile, six percent grade climb.


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