First Edition News for April 28, 2003
Edited by Anthony Tan and Chris Henry
Tyler Hamilton (CSC) pulled off his biggest career win in the 89th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, beating Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and the consistent Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) in Ans. Hamilton surprised the others in the leading break when he attacked on descent of the Côte de Saint Nicolas, and was able to put his considerable time trialing and climbing skills to good use as he powered up the final drag to the finish.
"I don't think it's really sunk in a hundred percent," said a stunned Hamilton after the finish. "Everything's happened so fast. I'm still very shocked but extremely happy."
The race wasn't going entirely his way, as compatriot and former teammate Lance Armstrong was heading up a break that looked to have victory written all over it. "When the group with Armstrong went away," Hamilton explained, "I thought 'that's the move and I think I missed it'. I was disappointed that I wasn't there but I was happy that he was there, and I knew at the time he was the strongest in the group. If they were to stay away he would win the race. It was kind of a bittersweet moment for me."
Ultimately Armstrong's move was pulled back, and Hamilton profited from moments of hesitation among the leaders as the race came back together. He took off on his own and held off the chase behind, scoring a fine solo win in one of the true monuments of cycling.
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank, 3rd)
"Damn it. They were sitting on my wheel a lot," Boogerd told Belgian television. "I went on La Redoute, but it didn't force a real selection. Later on it was one breakaway after another, but I didn't have any teammates (besides Freire). A good team left and I was with them."
"On the Saint Nicolas I was alone but completely 'kaput'. Iban Mayo came and I jumped after him, then Tyler Hamilton, I tried to close the 5 metre gap (for the 4th time), but I didn't manage because my wheel slipped. So I stayed with Mayo. I also got cramps in my legs. Not to mention the wet cobbles at the end..."
"Ach, there is so little between winning and losing, I did my very best. The race was just 5km too long. I had to pass, and Hamilton was the best."
Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step-Davitamon, 11th)
"Maybe I could be a bit better, being 4th or 5th in the sprint (and taking more World Cup points), as I still had some reserves. But I wasn't able to close the gap. That was a problem. I still haven't got that 4 or 5% more, although I felt much better than I did on Wednesday in the Flèche Wallonne."
"I'm happy with my results in the spring, particularly considering I started again after 3 years and I was still seriously injured in the month of November. I'm sure that the little bit I'm still lacking will come. Then I'll go for the victory in all races. It's normal I'm not there yet; I don't think I have to tell my story again."
"It doesn't bother me some of my contemporaries are doing better. In fact, I wasn't dropped, I only came 50 metres too short. Next year I'll break through and I'll be on the top again, doing much better than I am now."
Jan Ullrich (Team Coast, 29th)
Among the riders satisfied with their performance was comeback kid Jan Ullrich."I am very content and proud of the level I've reached," an exhausted Ullrich said after the race. "The distance was new territory for me this year. The last 30 kilometres were incredibly difficult. To stay at the front it is not possible yet, but my foundation is good."
Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo, 30th)
"Racing is racing," Merckx explained to Belgian TV. "In a race you don't give presents, nor do you buy them. My legs were very good, until Lance came with an ideal group, then my legs weren't the same and it was finished for me. If they had only given me 15 seconds, I would have been able to go with them."
"I had promised Marc Sergeant I would be there. I was there, only the results were not. We discussed it last night and this was the way I had to race. I played my cards and I lost. But fine, I've had a lot of bad luck so far (with illness), and I didn't get in good shape on time. Peter (Van Petegem) took pressure off the team and the people around me kept believing in me and had faith in me. The season is still very long and what I did today is certainly hopeful. The results are not there, but the way I did it was satisfying."
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo, abandon)
Peter Van Petegem abandoned, but still leads the World Cup. "I feel very good because I still have the World Cup jersey. Today went perfectly for me; I only wanted to get some points. The two last weeks have been very hard for me, in previous years I was much more fresh".
"It was a very serious race and CSC and Saeco kept the speed very high. The proof is that all riders finished one by one. It was too hard for me. I went very deep in Paris-Roubaix, and it's normal to have a lull afterwards. I know Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde Van Vlaanderen are my two favourite races, and I won them."
"I'm certainly going to defend the jersey. That's why I'm going to work to peak for the races in August. After two weeks of rest now, I'll ride a few races and the Tour in preparation for the August races. Axel Merckx rode a perfect race. With a bit more luck, the chasers could have caught him a bit sooner, so that he would have been able to follow them."
Johan Bruyneel (US Postal Service director)
"The race circumstances weren't in Lance's favour," Bruyneel told Belgian Radio 1. "His form was very good though. Lance is really disappointed. He ran out of energy after 250km. Boogerd and Hamilton had that little bit more, which is understandable since we didn't see them during the whole race."
"Axel Merckx being a friend did not count in the race tactics; Lance wanted to win. In May he is going to explore all the major Tour stages. He is definitely going for a fifth victory."
Cyclingnews coverage of Liège-Bastogne-Liège
News from South Africa
Bellville velodrome nominated as Africa's cycling centre
In line with the UCI's view of structuring a training school facility in each of the continents around the world, Cape Town's Bellville velodrome has been identified to become Africa's number one cycling training centre of the future.
While the UCI will continue with its international training centre in Aigle, Switzerland, providing talent-identified scholarship holders to further their careers in cycling, the continent-specific training facilities will allow more riders to benefit from a high level of training and coaching in their bid to become international class participants.
South African Cycling Federation CEO Sylvia Dale said that the UCI would financially assist the continental training centres through the funding of internationally-qualified coaches and the provision of cycling equipment, while the local federations would be responsible for obtaining the venue and additional facilities.
"The SACF will apply for additional Lotto funding in a bid to create additional infrastructures at the Bellville Velodrome such as cyclists accommodation to ensure that the African Training Centre at Bellville will become a reality," said Dale.
Recently, the SACF received R3,809 815 in Lotto funding which will be used towards the provision of cycling equipment for the road, track, bmx and mountain biking disciplines in order to develop the sport through the provincial structures.
SACF President Gotty Hansen said that an international training centre for Africa fits in with the vision of the Confederation of African Cyclisma headed by Adamo Diallo of Burkina Faso. "This will go a long way to strengthening Africa's vision of building towards being a top class cycling continent in producing riders of international stature, able to put the best of other continents to the test," said Hansen.
SA U23 squad to race in Berlin
In a first for South Africa, their U23 national team has been invited to participate in the Tour of Berlin, a prestigious amateur road tour held from June 6-9 this year.
One of the toughest amateur road tours on the cycling calendar, the South African crew will be calling upon expert local advice and knowledge, with the tour organisers granting Team SA a German manager and mechanic, to be announced in due course.
"As the route is mostly flat, sprinting is a priority, and that is what our riders are best at," said Chris Willemse of Team SA. Having being a participant in last year's event, however, Willemse also said a large portion of the route consists of cobblestones that younger South African riders are unfamiliar with. "We will have to get used to the cobbled surfaces, the fast pace and the tight bunches constantly bumping each other," he added.
South Africa's best chance at success are with their sprinters Daren Lill, Eckard Bergh and Willie van Zyl, while Waylond Wilcock, Chris Willemse and Alex Pavlov provide climbing prowess to the team.
Riders begin itching for Fitchburg
The 44th Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, one of the oldest and most prestigious cycling races in the United States, will be kicking off in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in two month's time, with $33,000 in prize money up for grabs.
Over 900 riders are expected to congregate in Fitchburg for the three-day event, named in memory of Arthur Longsjo, the nation's first dual Olympian and Fitchburg, Massachusetts native, also a member of the Cycling Hall of Fame and Speed Skating Hall of Fame.
The event, which runs from June 26-29, will host riders from eight different categories, including pro men and women, Cat 3, 4 and Masters 35+. Racers in all categories are encouraged to register early to secure a spot, with the deadline for registration June 20, 2003.
Registration forms are available online at www.longsjo.com.
Volunteers wanted: 2003 Hamilton Worlds
The Hamilton 2003 organising committee has officially launched their volunteer program to assist with the staging and execution of the Canadian national road championships and the World Road Championships.
The committee has estimated that it will require 2,000 to 3,000 volunteers to assist with the Canadian road nationals from June 27-29 and the World Road Championships from October 6-12, 2003. Individuals wishing to apply or who have previously expressed an interest can now do so online through the official web site, www.hamilton2003.com.
Wil-Lec Panoramic Racing Team
The UK-based Wil-Lec Panoramic Racing Team recently held their team launch to announce their 2003 team roster and sponsors.
The team competes across all disciplines including track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike events, both nationally and abroad, traveling to France, Italy, Ireland and Belgium. Entering their second year of competition, the Wil-Lec Panoramic Racing Team hope to improve upon last year's performances, most notably winning the Lincolnshire Division Road Race Championship and the Scunthorpe Track League last season.
More information on these events and the team will be available on their forthcoming web site www.venga-venga.co.uk.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)