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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for August 19, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Bettini's next stop: the World's

By Chris Henry

Chasing two rainbows
Photo: © Sirotti

Paolo Bettini, perfectly content with his third place finish in Sunday's Championship of Zurich, is ready to tackle his next big objective: the world championships in Hamilton, Canada. Bettini, while acknowledging that the overall World Cup victory is not yet a done deal, is confident with his commanding lead in the ten race series.

"I couldn't have asked for a better result than two back to back victories and a third place in the second half of the season," Bettini commented in Zurich. "My condition is still good. I had hoped to gain some points [Sunday], but it wasn't necessary to win."

Increasingly tipped as the number one favourite for the World's road race in October, Bettini is looking forward to a short break from competition before building back up for his next target after what has already been an immensely successful season. His focus will be largely on the Italian race calendar in September to prepare for the World's, where he hopes to find Zurich winner Daniele Nardello by his side in the squadra azurra.

"Nardello is an important rider to have on the World's team," he said of his former Mapei teammate. Nardello and Bettini were equally complimentary of one another Sunday, as Nardello indicated his desire to work for Bettini in the World's, and Bettini credited Nardello with a well-timed attack and a hard-earned victory in Zurich.

Latest UCI rankings

Following round eight of the World Cup in Zurich, the UCI has updated its world men's rankings. Despite Paolo Bettini not finishing quite as high in Zurich as he did last year (2nd in 2002, 3rd in 2003), he still maintains the number one spot with a comfortable margin of 311 points over Erik Zabel (Telekom), who overtook Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) in the rankings. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is next in fourth place, followed by Iban Mayo, Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov and Lance Armstrong, the latter three all being separated by just 9 points.

Zurich winner Daniele Nardello scored enough points to move him from 110th in the rankings to 38th, although he now regrets signing too early with Telekom for 2004 as he could have asked for more money. Other movers up the ladder include Jan Ullrich (Bianchi), whose second place in Zurich lifted him from 19th to 12th. Similarly Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) jumped from 21st to 15th place after finishing 4th in Zurich. iBanesto's Pablo Lastras also moved up from 100th to 51st after he won the 2.1 classed Vuelta a Burgos.

In the Division I teams rankings, there is a close tussle at the top between Fassa Bortolo, Quick.Step-Davitamon, Saeco and Telekom, with Fassa still holding the edge. In Division II, BankGiroLoterij continues to lead the rankings ahead of Paternina-Costa de Almeria and De Nardi-Colpack.

The nations rankings saw the Netherlands (6th) and Belgium (7th) move ahead of Switzerland and the USA in the top 10, although this did not affect those countries participation in the World's (see separate story).

UCI rankings as of August 17, 2003

Elite men
 
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon        2,358.75 pts
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                   2,047.75
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco                1,997.00
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner              1,905.00
5 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi          1,735.00
6 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo         1,727.00
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom         1,726.00
8 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor     1,558.00
9 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre               1,421.00
10 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                  1,403.20
11 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                 1,364.00
12 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                 1,234.00
13 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco                1,203.00
14 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo     1,199.00
15 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                 1,151.00
16 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                1,145.00
17 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com                   1,113.00
18 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron   1,103.20
19 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor      1,085.25
20 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo            1,025.50
 
Top riders of 2003
 
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon        1,716.75 pts
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco                1,715.00
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom         1,638.00
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor     1,521.00
5 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi          1,425.00
6 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                   1,363.20
7 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo         1,295.00
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                  1,234.00
9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                   1,159.75
10 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner             1,086.00
 
Division I
 
1 Fassa Bortolo                                   6,729.75 pts
2 Quick.Step-Davitamon                            6,551.75
3 Team Saeco                                      6,476.00
4 Team Telekom                                    6,312.50
5 Gerolsteiner                                    4,649.00
6 iBanesto.com                                    4,636.00
7 Team CSC                                        4,497.60
8 Rabobank                                        4,318.75
9 Euskaltel-Euskadi                               4,314.00
10 US Postal presented by Berry Floor             4,065.75
 
Division II
 
1 Bankgiroloterij Cycling Team                    1,893.00 pts
2 Paternina-Costa de Almeria                      1,751.00
3 De Nardi-Colpack                                1,581.00
4 Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada                       1,345.00
5 L.A-Pecol                                       1,322.00
 
Nations
 
1 Italy                                          14,881.45 pts
2 Spain                                           9,581.25
3 Germany                                         7,343.60
4 France                                          6,371.95
5 Australia                                       5,579.60
6 Netherlands                                     4,904.00
7 Belgium                                         4,852.75
8 Switzerland                                     4,849.75
9 U.S.A.                                          4,826.45
10 Denmark                                        3,597.95

Full rankings

World Championships participation

The UCI nations rankings as of August 15 (not August 17) were used to determine the number of riders that each country is allowed to enter in the Elite Men's road race at the World Championships in Hamilton on October 12. The top 10 countries are all allowed a maximum of 12 starters, while the remaining countries are allocated fewer starters, depending on ranking. The country of the outgoing World Champion (Italy/Mario Cipollini) is allowed to enter its World Champion as a 13th rider. In addition, the host country (Canada) is given a higher ranking, and in this case can start with four riders instead of the allocated two.

Automatically qualified nations

18 enrolled of whom 12 may start
 
1 Italy*
2 Spain
3 Germany
4 France
5 Australia
6 U.S.A.
7 Switzerland
8 Netherlands
9 Belgium
10 Denmark
 
14 enrolled of whom 8 may start
 
11 Russia
12 Austria
13 Ukraine
14 Kazakhstan
15 Colombia
 
8 enrolled of whom 4 may start
 
16 Poland
17 Great Britain
18 Slovenia
19 Portugal
20 Czech Republic
 
4 enrolled of whom 2 may start
 
21 Estonia
22 Norway
23 Sweden
24 Lithuania
25 Latvia
26 Luxembourg
27 South Africa
28 New Zealand
29 Canada**
30 Hungary
 
4 enrolled of whom 2 may start
 
31 Croatia
32 Moldavia
 
2 enrolled of whom 1 may start
 
33 Belarus
34 Brazil
35 Ireland
36 Venezuela
 
*Italy may also enter last year's outgoing World Champion Mario Cipollini
 
**Canada, being the organising country, gets a higher ranking, and is
therefore granted 8 enrolled of whom 4 may start.

Phonak wants Hamilton

Let's make a deal
Photo: © C. Henry/CN

Rumours are swirling about where Tyler Hamilton will end up next year. Nearing the end of his two year deal with Team CSC, the Man from Marblehead is perhaps the most highly sought after rider in the peloton after his courageous 4th place overall (and stage win) in the Tour de France with a cracked collarbone. Current team sponsor Computer Sciences Corporation, a global computer services firm listed in the Fortune 130, has renewed their with Riis Cycling through 2005, but multiple sources report that Hamilton is being wooed with a two year deal estimated to be worth 3 million euros from ambitious Swiss squad Phonak.

In Zurich on Sunday, Phonak's American consultant Jim Ochowitz told Cyclingnews that reports indicating Hamilton had signed with Phonak were premature, but acknowledged that the CSC leader was talking to teams as the height of transfer season arrives. Phonak's Jacques Michaud, however, has confirmed that his team is very interested in signing Hamilton, and that talks are "advanced", but he aims to respect the September 1 date, after which transfers become fair game.

"We'll do everything to get Hamilton," Michaud commented. "He's a leader who corresponds well with a team like ours, both in an international sense and in view of the grand tours."

The Swiss team is also said to be talking to Spaniard Joseba Beloki, who is at the end of his contract with ONCE-Eroski. Cyclingnews' sources at Team CSC indicate that the Danish-based multi-national squad hopes to wrap up its contract renewal with Hamilton in the next week.

Change is in the air

As the great swap meet of professional cycling truly gets underway, other rumoured moves include some changes at Domina Vacanze-Elitron, which may see young talent Daniele Bennati switch to Phonak, while Giovanni Lombardi may also seek a change of scenery. Mario Cipollini's former leadout man Gian Matteo Fagnini, who left the Lion King's den to join Erik Zabel at Team Telekom, may return to the roost at Cipo's Domina Vacanze squad after frustration at not being selected for Telekom's Tour de France team.

Another Italian considering his options is Fassa Bortolo's Michele Bartoli, who could join Team Bianchi to bolster the classics squad. With iBanesto.com ending its sponsorship, Tour de France stage winner Juan Antonio Flecha is considering a move to Italy and Fassa Bortolo.

Spanish sponsors coming forward

All is not lost for Spanish cycling, as sponsors are beginning to come forward to help fill the void left by the end of sponsorship from ONCE and Banesto after the 2003 season. According to Basque newspaper Gara, supermarket chain Super Froiz will soon be able to confirm its intentions to sponsor a professional team for 2004, with an anticipated three year commitment. The starting budget is reported to be around 1.5 million€, increasing slightly over the course of three years. Support for the team would be shared by the Council of Culture and Sports of the Xunta of Galicia, although additional investors are still being sought.

Short but tough Tour of Holland in 2003

By Jeff Jones

Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Commencing with a 185 kilometre stage between Middelburg and Rotterdam on August 19, the 43rd edition of the ENECO Ronde van Nederland (Tour of Holland) will run through until Saturday, August 23 when it finishes in Landgraaf, in the south of the country. The six stages of Holland's national tour present the riders with a varying mix of challenges, and the race is likely to be decided on the final day.

The first stage looks to be quite important, as the riders will have to cross several long bridges as they hop between islands in the south west of the country. If the wind blows on this stage, then there will be nowhere to hide. Stage 2 from Apeldoorn to Nijkerk over 190 should be a less exposed affair, and will lend itself to a bunch sprint. The third day features two stages: a short 86 km dash between Coevorden and Denekamp in the morning, followed by a 23 km time trial starting in Nordhorn (Germany) and finishing in Denekamp.

The fifth stage also starts in Germany, taking the riders from Kleve to Sittard-Geleen, using a fair proportion of German roads. The Ronde van Nederland will conclude on August 23 with a tough 214 km stage between Sittard-Geleen and Landgraaf, passing through Maastricht, Valkenburg and Gulpen among other Limburg towns. This is the hilliest stage and can certainly turn the general classification on its head.

Fifteen teams are registered to start in the Ronde van Nederland, with Fassa Bortolo's Kim Kirchen wearing the number one as defending champion. He will be backed by a strong team that includes Alessandro Petacchi, who showed in Dwars door Gendringen that he doesn't always need to rely on his sprint to win races.

Being the big home team, Rabobank will again be under pressure to perform well in its home tour. In the last four editions, top rider Erik Dekker has managed to finish no lower than second on GC, however he is likely to play a supporting role for his teammates in this edition, as he is coming back from injury. Rabobank will look to riders like Michael Boogerd to take on the captain's role.

1999 winner Serguei Gontchar will line up with De Nardi-Colpack. The Ukrainian can certainly do well in the time trial, but will have a hard time on the final stage. Team CSC has as its big drawcard Tyler Hamilton, who finished 62nd in the Championship of Zurich, his first real race since the Tour.

US Postal's Victor Hugo Peña led the race for a time last year, but faltered in the final stage to lose time to Kirchen and Dekker. He is a top time trialist and can handle the climbs. BankGiroLoterij will rely on stalwart Bart Voskamp for the GC, while sprinters Jans Koerts and Rudi Kemna will aim for stage wins.

FJDuex.com's Brad McGee and Baden Cooke are back in action in Holland, together with Jimmy Casper, who is recovered from his Tour injuries. Speaking of sprinters, Lotto-Domo's Robbie McEwen and Telekom's Erik Zabel are both down to start, and with Petacchi there we could see a few Tour de France scores being settled (or not).

Finally, Quick.Step's Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen and Servais Knaven will be looking to mix things up, with Laszlo Bodrogi there for the time trial.

The stages

  • Stage 1 - August 19: Middelburg - Rotterdam, 185 km
  • Stage 2 - August 20: Apeldoorn - Nijkerk, 190 km
  • Stage 3 - August 21: Coevorden - Denekamp, 86 km
  • Stage 4 - August 21: Nordhorn (Ger) - Denekamp ITT, 23 km
  • Stage 5 - August 22: Kleve (Ger) - Sittard-Geleen, 191.6 km
  • Stage 6 - August 23: Sittard-Geleen - Landgraaf, 214 km

Tour du Limousin preview

Following the Tour de l'Ain last week, the Tour du Limousin carries on the stage race calendar in France with a typically challenging parcours. The 36th edition of the race begins Tuesday Limoges with a 157km road stage to Saint-Junien. Although the race does not feature an individual time trial, the topography of the Limousin region should prompt the necessary selections to shape the general classification.

"Around the Saint-Pardoux and Vassivière lakes, the routes for the four stages are truly unique to the region," race director Michel Conchon noted. "There is hardly a flat section, and the riders will always be at 100%."

French riders have won four of the last five editions of the race, with defending champion Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) lining up in search of a third win after his victories in 2000 and 2002.

The stages

  • Stage 1 - August 19: Limoges - Saint-Junien, 157 km
  • Stage 2 - August 20: Saint-Junien - Guéret, 189 km
  • Stage 3 - August 21: Aubusson - Vassivière-en-Limousin, 171 km
  • Stage 4 - August 22: Brive - Limoges, 178 km

Teams

Rabobank
Ag2R-Prévoyance
iBanesto.com
Team Barloworld
BigMat Auber 93
Team Bridgestone Anchor
Brioches La Boulangère
Cofidis
Crédit Agricole
Euskaltel-Euskadi
FDJeux.com
Jean Delatour
Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf
MBK-Oktos
French national team

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