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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 14, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Bettini aims for Athens

Paolo Bettini at the Clasica San Sebastian, after racking up three World Cup victories in 2003
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Italian ace Paolo Bettini has just one date in 2004 circled in his calendar: August 14, the day of the road race at the Athens Olympics. The world number one and winner of the 2003 and 2002 World Cup series has told La Gazzetta dello Sport that his 2004 season will be built around the Games.

"In 2004 the world championships will be run in Italy, in Verona, but first there is the Olympics," said Bettini, "Every sportsman dreams of winning an Olympic medal because it takes you out of the boundaries of your discipline and into the story of all sport."

Bettini started his preparation for Athens on December 2, and this weekend has a training camp with his Quick.Step-Davitamon team in Marina di Cecina, Tuscany, riding the roads where he grew up. "I had planned to start on December 1, but it rained," said Bettini. "I went out with my usual group of amateurs and bike fans. After Lombardia I didn't want to see or think about the bike. I did nothing, absolutely nothing except for a bit of work in the garden; I cut the hedge. After a while I started to hear my bike calling again."

And after a long break, getting back on the bike isn't trivial even for a rider of Bettini's caliber. "The bike was exactly the same as ever, but it felt like everything was changed. It seemed I was sitting too high. It's always like this when you start again. On my first ride, we all noticed the same thing: how hard it is to ride a bike! We did a small climb, just four kilometers long, near Livorno. In the summer you don't even notice it, but now it's a lot of work! Our sport is always like this: sacrifices, sacrifices."

Bettini will return to racing in Mallorca on February 1, and his 2004 program will follow much of its usual shape, with targets including "the Spring Classics, the Tour, the Athens Olympics and the World Championships." And Bettini is still hungry. "I want to win the World Cup for the third time, too."

The attention brought by his standing on the world stage obviously pleases Bettini. "In the French Velo d'Or prize this year I was second only to Lance Armstrong. I am not known only in Italy and Belgium, what I do in the saddle makes a mark on the whole world of cycling. Plus, I'm the world number one aren't I? I am not planning to leave the top."

Tour of Britain to return

A British sports promotion company is planning the return of the Tour of Britain as a six-day stage race from September 1 to 5, 2004, according to a report by William Fotheringham in the UK's Guardian newspaper.

A 29-page dossier leaked to Cycling Plus magazine details the plan. The body behind the return of the Tour of Britain - not held since 1999, making the UK one of the few remotely significant cycling nations without a national tour - is Sweetspot, the promotion company that organizes the Nokia Open, the Bahamas Masters and the UK snooker championship. Former track star Tony Doyle, winner of multiple Six-day races and two world pursuit championships in the 80s, is named as cycling director for the event.

The race is planned to start in Manchester and finish with a circuit race around Westminster and a gala dinner at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Sixteen teams of six riders will take part and possible stage venues include York, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newport, Slough and Reading.

Previous British tours, such as the pro/am Milk Race, the Kelloggs Tour and the PruTour have been tied to an overall naming sponsor, but Sweetspot's plan is reportedly to have no main sponsor. Backers named in the dossier include Sport England, UK Sport and Visit Britain and it claims the organizers "have now secured an agreement with the BBC to be the official TV channel of the Tour and we will enjoy coverage of the race during the last weekend and also an hour highlights coverage in the Grandstand programme".

Hoy awarded

Former double World and Commonwealth Games Kilo and Team Sprint Champion, Chris Hoy was yesterday honoured with the BBC Scottish Sports Personality of the Year award. The presentation was made by former Scottish Rugby and British Lions player John Beattie as part of Radio Scotland's Sports Weekly programme. Chris was interviewed live from the GB Training camp in Perth WA. He gave an extended interview in which he discussed his early years, how the current camp is going and what his plans are for Olympic Year.

Tour to select Italian team for Athens

Italian national team manager Franco Ballerini says the Tour de France will be used as the selection race for the team that will represent Italy in the road race at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

Speaking at a provincial cycling festival in Milan, Ballerini said, "The Tour de France will define for me the national team hierarchy for Athens. In previous years it has always been the best indicator of the condition of our riders."

Victory Brewing

The Victory Brewing women's cycling team has announced its roster for 2004, with six riders staying from the 2003 squad and three additions.

New to the team are American Brooke Ourada, New Zealander Johanna Buick and Australian Emma Rickards. "I am excited about the 2004 roster and the new blood we are bringing onboard," says team director Mike Tamayo. "Brooke Ourada and Johanna Buick are both very hungry riders that have shown they have the talent to climb with the front group. Their raw talent, coupled with the experience and leadership of Sandy Espeseth and Nicole Demars could prove to be very dangerous. On the other side, Emma Rickards comes to us motivated to work for the team. Her assistance as a pace setter and lead-out will be much welcomed by sprinter Gina Grain."

The team continues to be supported by Victory Brewing, Amoroso's Baking and Specialized Bicycles and will focus on US National Racing Calendar and UCI events.

Victory Brewing 2004 roster

Sandy Espeseth (Team Captain)
Nicole Demars (Co Captain)
Gina Grain (Sprinter)
Lauren Franges (Sprinter/Domestique)
Johanna Buick (Climber)
Brooke Ourada (Climber/Domestique)
Emma Rickards (Pace Setter/Domestique)
Kirsten Robbins (Domestique)
Sophie St-Jacques (Domestique)

Sponsors: Victory Brewing, Amoroso's Baking, Specialized Bicycles, Voler clothing, Northwave shoes, Maxxis tires, Honeystinger, Saris racks, Cycle-ops trainers.

Team Coastal

Team Coastal Racing of Vancouver, British Columbia Canada has announced the line-up of its new team for 2004. "Our Team is small but we're organized, motivated, and love what we're doing," says director of racing Todd Hansen.

The team will be led and anchored by veteran racer Larry Zimich, with talented young Saskatchewan rider Derek McMaster, climbing talent Damien Waugh and Vancouver rider Jim Tsilemos.

Ford Racing

The Ford Racing team has expanded for 2004, with a line-up of Lisa Matlock, Melanie McQuaid and Dara Marks-Marino who will be competing in road and mountain bike events and XTerra adventure races, plus putting on clinics for female riders.

"Ford is not only giving us incredible support, but they also have a regional Cat 1 Women's team as well as a junior development team," Dara Marks-Marino told Cyclingnews. "How refreshing to see a company expanding their support of cycling, rather than pulling their sponsorship!"

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