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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 8, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

José Maria Jimenez dead at 32

El Chaba, a man for the Vuelta
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Spanish cycling lost a major figure Saturday when José Maria "el Chaba" Jimenez died of an apparent heart attack at a psychiatric hospital in Madrid, Spain. Jimenez, 32, had been suffering from depression, which had kept him from riding professionally since 2002. Jimenez had hoped to return to the peloton, but his inactivity eventually prompted to suspend his contract last year.

Jimenez rode his entire career for the Banesto formation, earning a reputation as an explosive climber and aggressive rider. Often tipped as an outside for victory in the Vuelta a España and Tour de France, Jimenez never reached the top step of the podium but succeeded in winning numerous stages in the Vuelta and the mountains classification on three occasions.

"He was a rider in the old style," former teammate Miguel Indurain said of Jimenez. "When things went well, they went very well. When things didn't go well, they didn't go at all. He lost a lot due to reasons beyond his work, leaving cycling like that... all of the sudden."

Jimenez will be buried in his hometown of El Barraco on Monday.

Major victories

Points and mountains jerseys in the Vuelta a España; victories in stage 8, stage 11 and stage 12

Classique des Alpes
Volta a Catalunya overall, stage 7 and stage 8

Mountains competition in Vuelta a España, stage 8 win

Mountains competition in Vuelta a España, victories in stage 6, stage 10, stage 11, & stage 16,
Stage 3, Dauphiné Libéré
Stage win, Vuelta a Asturias

Spanish national championship
Vuelta a la Rioja, overall victory and 1 stage win
Mountains competition in Vuelta a España, stage 19 win

Subida a Urkiola
Mountain competition in Vuelta a Burgos

Stage win, Volta a Catalunya

Subida a Urkiola

Reactions from Spain

The flood of reactions to the premature death of José Maria Jimenez Sunday was a testament to his character and how highly he was regarded as a professional. On the radio and in the Spanish written press, respect and admiration for El Chaba was evident.

Manuel Perez (President of Spanish cycling federation)

"I knew he was delicate. He was a rider who appealed to everybody because of his strong character. A great champion has left us... I'm very sad."

José-Miguel Echavarri ( manager)

"It's been a big shock and I'm very sad. José Maria was a man who inspired a lot of passion. He lived his life so quickly that it seems like a lie."

Miguel Indurain

"It's a tough blow for everybody. I knew he was facing problems, but he seemed to be doing better and recovering, except his body said enough. He was a great rider and a good person. We had very good times together and also some hard times, but you always remember the good moments."

Joseba Beloki

"These are things that happen in life, and we all have our destiny decided. José Maria died at 32 after suffering from depression for some time, and all we can do is offer our condolence to his family and the cycling community.

Paco Antequera (Spanish national team selector)

"Chaba was an idol. Without winning the Vuelta he still won everybody's affection, and when he won a stage the whole world rejoiced. He was loved by all those who loved cycling."

Nys sets World Cup record

Belgian cyclo-cross champion Sven Nys has set a new record with 13 victories in World Cup 'cross events. Three for three in this year's competition, Nys equalled Rabobank teammate Richard Groenendaal's record of 12 wins at the the last round in Saint-Wendel, Germany. This weekend he went one better by taking the top prize in round three of the World Cup in Wetzikon, Switzerland.

Nys and compatriot Bart Wellens, reigning world champion, have been the dominant forces in this cyclo-cross season. Ben Berden, a successful rider in his own right, summed up the lament of the rest of the peloton when faced with the Nys-Wellens juggernaut.

"It would be nice for once to interrupt the streak of wins by Bart and Sven at an important race," Berden commented in La Dernière Heure. "Most of the time Bart Wellens is just too strong. When he's not, it's Sven Nys... With those two, it's not easy, but I'll keep on trying."

Bartoli gets a break for Athens

Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

After being denied selection to the Italian national team for the world championships two years in a row, Michele Bartoli made no secret of his dissatisfaction with national selector Franco Ballerini's choices. Left off the Squadra Azzurra rosters for Zolder and Hamilton, Bartoli was twice spurred on to victory in the late season classic Giro di Lombardia, taking back to back 'revenge' wins in the final round of the World Cup, which comes after the world championships on the international calendar. Not one to mince words, the Fassa Bortolo rider had also threatened to emigrate to Belgium, where he felt more appreciated.

Now things may be looking up for the Tuscan. Bartoli will start 2004 with a new team, leaving Fassa Bortolo to join Bjarne Riis' Team CSC. Like many top riders, he is also keen to race for Olympic gold in Athens, and this time team selection may go his way. Ballerini has included Bartoli on his list of riders pre-selected for the Olympics, along with Mario Cipollini, Paolo Bettini, Luca Paolini, Danilo Di Luca, Mirko Celestino, Filippo Pozzato, and Daniele Nardello.

Petacchi ready to duel with Cipo

Alessandro Petacchi, undeniably the top sprinter of 2003, has declared himself motivated once more by the prospect of going head to head with Italian sprint king Mario Cipollini. While Cipollini's 2003 season in the rainbow jersey of world champion did not prove as fruitful as he might have hoped, Petacchi still holds his compatriot in high esteem.

"If Mario is concentrated on his training, then that gives me the motivation I need for the new season," Petacchi commented in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "My 24 victories from this season helped me establish myself, but it won't be easy to repeat. I'm already training a lot on the bike and the reaffirmation of my abilities will come by winning one more sprint than Mario."

Chocolade Jacques still building

With the addition of a new cosponsor, the Ambiorix shoe company, Belgium's new Chocolade Jacques team continues to solidify its position in the Division I ranks for 2004. The team roster is still open to expansion as well, and Saulius Ruskys could be the next signature added to the list.

"It's not official yet, but we're talking seriously," team director Johan Capiot said. Ruskys rode in the Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf colours this year.

2006 Belgian nationals to Antwerpen

The 2006 Belgian national championships will be held in the city of Antwerpen. The elite men's road race will be in Antwerpen while junior and women's events will be held in Zemst.

UF Scholarships Awarded

The 2003-2004 Thomas F. Hayes Memorial Scholarships have been awarded to two outstanding members of the University of Florida (UF) Cycling Team. The undergraduate student scholarship was awarded to first year cyclist Elisabeth Schneider and the graduate student scholarship was awarded to master's degree student Lori Palmer.

Thomas F. Hayes IV was a student in UF’s College of Health and Human Performance, which now administers this scholarship. A participant in the Team Florida Cycling Club, Thomas was killed while cycling through Payne's Prairie with Team Florida in 1992. His mother, Maryanne Cunningham, established this scholarship in memory of her son. These $1,000 and $500 scholarships are awarded annually to help defray the cost of cycling equipment, travel, and other school expenses.

Elisabeth Schneider is currently an undergraduate student studying exercise physiology at UF. Schneider will be competing for UF on the 2004 Southeastern collegiate cycling conference calendar.

Lori Palmer is a graduate student in the UF Sport Management program. While at UF, she claimed two national championship titles. She was a member of the 2003 UF collegiate national track championship pursuit team, and also won the women’s points race at the same event.  Also during her collegiate cycling career, Palmer won several team and individual medals at Collegiate Road National championships from 2001 to 2003.

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