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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition News for August 17, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Merckx bounces back

Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) has found his form again after a disappointing Tour de France, where he was eliminated on the 15th stage. But less than a month later, Merckx showed that he had come back better than ever by winning the four day UCI 2.3 Tour de l'Ain. Merckx's last stage race victory was in 2000 when he won the Tour de la Region Wallonne.

The key to Axel's success in l'Ain was finding the problem that caused him to abandon the Tour. "It was a sort of fungal infection," he told L'Equipe. "I wasn't able to recover, nor digest any food. It was very encouraging to find the source of my problems after the Tour. I still have to pay attention that it doesn't flare up again, but since I've been taking the proper medicine, I feel like someone reborn. I can go deep again, and I can therefore also win."

Merckx's win comes on top of a relatively good week for Belgian cycling, which has come under fire of late in the Belgian press. Museeuw's win in a stage of the Tour of Denmark and Dave Bruylandts excellent performances in Spain in the last week (including a stage win in the Tour of Burgos) have helped to lift the gloom in the country with such a proud cycling heritage.

Main sponsor of Grande Boucle pulls out

Pierre Boue under pressure
Photo: © AFP

French supermarket chain Monoprix, which has been the head sponsor of La Grande Boucle Feminine for the last eight years, is stopping its involvement at the end of the season, leaving race organiser Pierre Boue with a large hole to fill. The incoming sponsorship money was down €225,000 this year, as Boue is finding it hard to convince French companies to sponsor the race. According to L'Equipe, Boue is looking for more European sponsors as opposed to French sponsors, and the race next year might not be the women's Tour de France but more of a European affair.

Cofidis thins track lineup

As part of its restructuring for next season, the French division I Cofidis team will shed two of its track specialists, Robert Sassone and Arnaud Dublé, keeping just Laurent Gané, Arnaud Tournant and Mickaël Bourgain. For its road squad, the team is still talking to Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) and Ivan Basso (Euskaltel), as well as Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez. Despite this, the team is taking on a more French outlook next season, with the signing of Jimmy Casper, Christophe Edaleine, Jimmy Engoulvent and Damien Monier, and the loss of Belgians Jo Planckaert, Chris Peers, Nico Mattan and possibly Peter Farazijn.

Vervecken operated on

Cyclo-cross rider Erwin Vervecken has been operated on in Herentals for his broken right wrist, a result of a crash two weeks ago. He had a bolt inserted in his hand and was able to leave hospital on Friday. Next Tuesday, the Spaar Select rider will travel to St Moritz in Switzerland for a training camp with his teammates.

Kaggestad injured in l'Ain

Norwegian rider Mads Kaggestad (Credit Agricole) crashed in Thursday's third stage of the Tour de l'Ain. He lost consciousness and was transported to Geneva hospital by helicopter. However there was nothing broken and he could leave hospital on Friday. He is expected to be out of action for a little while.

Vincent Cali's brother dies

Flanders-iTeamnova pro Vincent Cali has lost his brother Ivan Cali in a car accident. Ivan was also a cyclist, competing in the Elite 2 class in France. He was 28.

Memorial race for Andrei Kivilev

A memorial race is being planned in France in honour of Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev, who died in March this year as a result of a crash in Paris-Nice. The race, entitled "La Montée Andrei Kivilev" is an 8.9 kilometre hill climb time trial between Sorbiers and St. Christo. It will be organised by Kivilev's first club in France, EC St Etienne Loire and will take place on September 20.

USPRO Criterium Championships this Sunday

Vogels won last year ahead of Monahan, who was crowned national champion
Photo: © Ken Carl

Sunday, August 17 marks the annual USPRO Criterium Championships, held once again in Downers Grove, Illinois. With $20,000 in total prize money, the 100 km men's event is the main race of the program, which also includes the USCF Women's and USCF Elite Men's championships. The USPRO race is ranked as UCI 1.3, carrying 60 UCI points for the winner. As is the case with the USPRO Road Championships in Philadelphia, the race is open to non-U.S. riders, meaning that the first rider across the line will not necessarily be the national champion.

The race is open to UCI Division I-III trade teams, and there are 10 teams down to start: Sierra Nevada/Clif bar, Prime Alliance,, U.S. Postal Service, Schroeder Iron, Saturn, Ofoto-Lombardi Sports, Jelly Belly/Carlsbad Clothing, Navigators and 7UP-Maxxis.

Defending national champion Kevin Monahan will line up backed by a strong 7Up-Maxxis team, which includes John Lieswyn, Dan Schmatz, and Greg Henderson. They will face plenty of opposition from the likes of the Navigators' Marty Nothstein and Vasilli Davidenko, Saturn's Ivan Dominguez and Chris Horner, Schroeder's Chann McRae, Miguel Meza and Gordon McCauley, US Postal's Antonio Cruz, and Prime Alliance's Danny Pate, Jonas Carney and David Clinger.

The day's program will see the USCF Women's Championships run on Sunday morning starting at 10:00am over 31 laps (50 km) of the 1.6 km course. This will be followed by the USCF Elite Men's Championship at 11:30am over 50 laps (80 km), then the USPRO Men at 3:45pm over 62 laps (100 km).

54th GP Llodio

The Spanish GP Llodio will celebrate its 54th edition tomorrow (Sunday), with approximately 100 riders expected to take the start. All seven Spanish professional teams will be there, along with Vlaanderen-T Interim, Marlux, Domina Vacanze and Saeco. Last year's winner José Iván Gutiérrez ( will be on the start line as one of the favourites, along with Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze), José Antonio Pecharromán (Paternina), Nico Sijmens (Vlaanderen) and Dave Bruylandts (Marlux).

The 177 km parcours consists of a large circuit of 142 km, containing a Cat. 2 and a Cat. 3 climb, followed by two laps of an 18 km circuit, which contains two Cat. 3 climbs per lap.

IMBA talks with President Bush

International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) board member Jim Hasenauer raised the issue of mountain biking in National Parks with U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday, August 15th. The exchange occurred at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on the outskirts of Los Angeles following the President's speech on his National Parks Legacy Project, which calls for funding of park facilities and maintenance.

Hasenauer and long-time local mountain bike leader Peter Heumann were two of a small group of California government, civic and volunteer group leaders selected to attend this event. Hasenauer and Heumann also spoke about IMBA's National Park mountain biking agenda with Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and National Park Service Director Fran Mainella.

Hasenauer told the President that mountain biking is banned in most National Parks and that IMBA is working to change that, hiring two prominent D.C. law firms to push for better National Park access. IMBA views mountain biking as a National Park solution that will get people out of their cars, away from crowded parking lots and trailheads, and into the outdoors.

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