First Edition News for August 19, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Bettini's next stop: the World's
By Chris Henry
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
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
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.
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.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)