First Edition Cycling News for December 10, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Dave Zabriskie back on the program
"I just want to kick ass!"
By Anthony Tan
Still recovering from his season-ending crash at the end of May, US Postal presented by Berry Floor rider Dave Zabriskie is now back to a regular training program, and participated in the first of two team training camps in Lance Armstrong's hometown of Austin, Texas, last week.
"I'm still rehabilitating; there's still not the full range of motion back yet, and all my muscles aren't back yet, either," said Zabriskie in an interview with Cyclingnews. "I'm just working on the hyperextensions as far as the leg, though it doesn't really bother me when I ride, so that's what matters, I guess. It'll still take a little while, but I think I can definitely race."
Shortly before an unsuspecting motorist ploughed into him while out training in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah, where he broke both his leg and wrist, the third year professional was having his best season ever. In April this year, Zabriskie placed fourth and fifth overall at the Sea Otter Classic and Tour of Georgia before landing his best ever result a fortnight later at the Four Days of Dunkirk, finishing fifth overall behind Christophe Moreau and winning the young riders' competition. Remembers Zabriskie, "I was getting really excited for Philadelphia [the USPRO Championships], 'cos I was feeling amazing and that race was coming right up."
Not only that, but the program of races Zabriskie was scheduled to do coupled with his excellent form suggested that Postal team management may well have been thinking about slotting the 24 year-old in the team for the Centenary Tour de France - which, by the sounds of things, would have been a surprise the Utah lad would have only been too happy to accept.
"We didn't talk about that, but I guess it's always possible. They know every rider pretty well, and they may have thought that [saying the Tour de France is a possibility] might've freaked me out a little bit... If that was the case, they may have sprung it on me right before!" said an excited Zabriskie. "I also wanted to do World's and do well in the time trial there, and I wanted to do well at the Vuelta also and help Roberto [Heras] again."
Unfortunately, which way those situations or decisions may have gone, he'll never know. For now, it's a matter of putting the past behind him and concentrating on "kicking ass and then kick some more ass!"
"I just want to kick ass!" said Zabriskie. "I just want revenge - I just don't want the lady that ran me over... she's not gonna end my career - I'm gonna come back after what she did and do well."
Look for Cyclingnews' full interview with Dave Zabriskie to be posted soon.
Raas out of Rabobank
After eight years at the helm of the Rabobank team, Jan Raas has lost his position with the top Dutch formation. In a seemingly abrupt decision, announced as the title sponsor and team management were discussing plans for the 2004 season, Rabobank indicated that insurmountable differences had prompted Raas' removal. The company did not offer further explanation, saying simply "there would be no public evaluation, and therefore no more comment from us."
Raas helped bring Rabobank to cycling, and has been the team's directeur sportif since 1996. Team manager Theo de Rooij will take Raas' place in the interim, joining Geert Leinders and Pieter Hubert in the management team. For De Rooij, as well as the team's riders, the news came as a surprise.
"I don't know the reason," De Rooij commented to Dutch news agency ANP Tuesday. "It wasn't played out on my level. There was something in the air, but it wasn't my business so I kept to my preparations for the coming season."
Team leader Michael Boogerd was equally caught off guard by the news, as was Erik Dekker, who said he was shocked. "They always call me the figure-head of Rabobank, but in this case I wasn't involved," Boogerd said. "It's given me a strange feeling. We don't know anything more than what we got in an email and a phone call by Theo de Rooij. Thursday there is a briefing for the riders."
"I think he has to process this," De Rooij said of Raas, who himself did not offer a statement. "Jan was the beginning of this team and it isn't nice to end things this way."
McGee aims for big Tour Down Under
Brad McGee, winner of the the prologue and wearer of the yellow jersey in this year's Tour de France, has announced himself ready to aim for top honours at the Tour Down Under in January. McGee has enjoyed two months of rest after his highly successful season, but is back in training and thinking of victory in the Australian race, the first major international stage race of the 2004 season.
McGee also has plenty of confidence in his FDJeux.com team, which will include fellow Australians Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and Mark Renshaw, Nicholas Vogondy, Philippe Gilbert, Bernard Eisel, and Thomas Lövkvist.
"It's a really good team and I wouldn't be stretching it to say these guys, with the exception of Mark in his first year, would all be on the short list to start the 2004 Tour de France," said McGee. "Gilbert, Vogondy, Lövkvist and myself are all good for the [general classification] and Cooke and Eisel are the hot sprinters.
"I'll happily forgo my stage wins if it means we can win the tour overall," said Cooke, who claimed two stage wins in the 2003 TDU. "But if I can pick up a stage win as well that would really kick off me year."
"I'm confident I'll have better form than I did this year so I can attack the race because my goal is for a strong early season," McGee said of his own chances. "The best way to ensure I'll be firing when I get back to Europe is to be in the race and competitive in South Australia."
McGee has two main objectives in 2004: the Tour de France and Olympic glory in Athens. In 1996 and 2000 he claimed the Olympic bronze medal in the individual pursuit (1996 also team pursuit bronze) but is setting his sights higher in 2004.
"The individual pursuit is THE goal for me and, if they need me, the teams pursuit and road race in Athens," he explained. "I have a roadmap planned out to get me to the individual pursuit but I'll need to qualify myself so I'll have to ride a time in Australia before I leave and then race the Manchester Track World Cup."
The Manchester event clashes with Paris-Roubaix in April, but McGee is not unhappy about missing the "hell of the north".
"It's not really my event and I have to say I don't mind watching it on TV," he said. "We joke that I really should do it if I want to be considered a real pro bike rider but I'm not in a hurry to line up. I like being a spectator for that day."
McGee says he's pleased that Bathhurst rider Mark Renshaw will join the team this year after graduating through the ranks of the FDJeux.com - NSW Institute of Sport development team McGee founded with his brother Rod two years ago.
"It's perfect and shows the whole thing is running to plan which is a bonus really," he commented. " It's so tight now for riders to get contracts as new professionals and for us to come in and within two years do what we set out to do is impressive for all of us involved."
See also Cyclingnews' interview with Mark Renshaw.
Casagranda to Saeco
Stefano Casagranda became the 24th rider confirmed for the 2004 Team Saeco roster, switching from Alessio. Casagranda, 30, is from the Trentino region in Italy and is expected to be an important rider for Saeco's northern classics campaign. He will join his new teammates at Saeco's first training camp in Varese.
After the training camp the whole team will travel to the Saeco headquarters in Gaggio Montano near Bologna for the company's Christmas party. The official team presentation will be held in Turin on Wednesday, January 21.
Beuchat joins Vini Caldirola
Another Italian team, Vini Caldirola, continues to pick up riders for the 2004 season. Swiss rider Roger Beuchat, released from Phonak at the end of this season, will move south to join Vini Caldirola in 2004.
Bréard to Auber 93
Stemming the tide departing riders, Auber 93 (ex-BigMat-Auber) has signed David Bréard to his first professional contract. Bréard had already been given a ride as a stagiaire with BigMat-Auber in 2002, but was not offered a full contract for this season. In 2004 the team will drop to Division III and become know as Auber 93, after losing title sponsor BigMat at the end of this year.
Vandenbroucke seeks legal relief
Frank Vandenbroucke's lawyer has requested charges against the Belgian stemming from the seizure of suspected doping products from VDB's home in early 2002. Police at the time found banned substances in the car of French soigneur Bernard Sainz, who was staying at Vandenbroucke's house. Police recovered additional substances from Vandenbroucke's home, including EPO and clenbuterol.
This week Vandenbroucke's lawyer argued two points: first that only the possession of morphine represented a punishable offense, and that was not sufficient to pursue in a trial. Second, Vandenbroucke has already served a suspension of six months from the Flemish cycling federation, and in effect has paid for his mistake through the extensive media coverage of the affair.
Vandenbroucke himself is due before the court January 13th, when a decision on the case is expected.
Americans look for Euro 'cross experience
Twelve top American cyclo-cross riders will head to Europe for a two week racing camp in Europe following the national championships in Portland, Oregon in December. The objective of the camp, directed by Geoff Proctor, is to provide valuable racing experience in advance of the World Cyclo-cross Championships.
"With the way our US calendar goes, we arrive at World's at a distinct disadvantage, having not had any real competition for six weeks," Proctor explained. "This camp will give our riders a tough racing period followed by enough recovery time to then capitalize at Worlds. And, for the camp riders who don't make the USA team selection, there's nothing like racing against the best to gain experience."
Camp members include the entire Clif Bar Team of elite riders, Jackson Stewart, Andy Jacques-Maynes, Carmen D'Alusio, and Gina Hall, current US junior points leader Tucker Thomas (Rad Racing), espoir points leader Jeremy Powers (NCC/Bikereg.com), juniors Konrad Lebas (Richard Sachs), Will Freeman and Severin Skolrud (both Rad Racing), espoirs Matt White (NCC/Bikereg.com) and David Fleischhauer (Rad Racing), and elite stalwart Erik Tonkin (Kona).
Riders must cover their own airfare and daily travel/lodging expenses, but assistance from sponsors, family, and supporters has been overwhelming.
USA National Espoir Road Director Noel Dejonckheere and his staff in Belgium will offer facilities based in Izegem, giving riders easy access to some of the most important 'cross races. Events like Overjise, Diegem, Koksijde, Loenhout, Baal, and Hoogerheide will see a structured American presence.
Nice training for Vinokourov
After a stellar season including success in the World Cup (Amstel Gold Race), Tour de France (third overall and stage win), and 'local' race Paris-Nice (overall victory and stage win), T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov is enjoying his winter training in the south of France. Vinokourov trains around Nice on the Côte d'Azur, and has been taking advantage of mild temperatures while also escaping any damage from recent flooding in southern France.
"It depends on the temperature," Vinokourov said of the weather's impact on his training. "When the temperature drops below seven degrees I train indoors.
"We have a good group of four to five riders that always train together," he added, referring to his local cohort of professionals. "Our training is varied. Sometimes we ride in mountains, other times we stick to the coastal roads and the flats. Boredom isn't a problem."
José-Maria Jimenez tributes
Lots of readers have written to Cyclingnews asking if we know of somewhere they can send emails of tribute and condolence after the death of José-Maria Jimenez at the weekend.
We are trying to find this information, but in the meantime, if you would like to pay tribute to a rider whose spirit and style will be missed by all who followed his career, we'll run a special section in our next letters page.
Send your letters about Jimenez to firstname.lastname@example.org
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