First Edition Cycling News for December 15, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Pont-Château prepares for World's
The small town of Pont-Château in the Loire-Atlantique region of
France is gearing up to host the cyclo-cross world championships in January,
2004. The town has hosted the World's once before, in 1989, and the this
year's course will be similar to the previous edition. The cyclo-cross
World's have not been back to France since the 1996 race in Montreuil.
"The parcours will use 80% of the 1989 course," French national trainer
Jean-Yves Plaisance commented in l'Equipe. "It's a very fast circuit,
but one that's very demanding and likely to create an unpredictable race.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a finishing sprint among ten riders, depending
on the weather conditions."
Twenty three international delegations are expected at the World's, all
descending upon a town of some 8,000 residents.
Salvetat mends her wounds
Top French female cyclo-crosser Maryline Salvetat suffered a minor setback
when she crashed in training while scouting out the world championships
course in Pont-Château. Salvetat, who also works in the medical
profession, knew just what to do when she fell and dislocated her shoulder.
She faced the pain and reset the shoulder herself before heading to the
hospital for x-rays.
A short break from riding isn't expected to pose too great of a problem
for her World's preparations. Salvetat currently leads the Challenge National
standings in France and is considered one of the country's top medal hopes
Lademann finds form down under
By Karen Forman
German Christian Lademann, a former world teams pursuit champion, has
found a great new early season training destination for his World's and
Olympics gold medal bids: Australia. The 28 year old from Berlin, who
was part of the gold medal-winning German pursuit team in 1999, has come
down under to get into form for an assault on the 2004 world title and
the Athens Olympics - and he says it's a much better training ground than
the European "usual" of Spain.
"I am having a little holiday with my family," he said at the start of
the Surfers Paradise round of the Queensland Grand Prix Cycling Series
on Sunday, in which he finished fifth. "It's the warmest place in the
world at the moment, better than the usual (European) winter training
He has been in Australia for six weeks, keeping a fairly low profile,
racing in small club events in Victoria and Queensland. "I wanted to
start my training early because there are some important races in February
for me... including the qualification for the track teams pursuit. I am
using the racing here to form my sprint quality." He raced with pro
Czech road team eD'system-ZVVZ this year but said he won't rejoin next
year as it's "pretty hard for me to climb the hills".
"When I come here and do little criteriums I am getting back to my old
(pre-road-season) form," he said. "I am a track rider, not a road rider.
I know that now." He told Cyclingnews he had found the racing in Australia
to be very interesting and quite different to Europe.
"Here everybody is chasing everybody else, even when they are in the
same teams," he said. The Melbourne Cup on Wheels at Melbourne's Vodafone
Arena earlier in the month had been his first ever handicap event and
proved to be an unexpected challenge. "It depends so much on strength.
You have to choose to start early but we didn't." He was more at home
on the tight criterium circuit at Surfers Paradise on Sunday and showed
improved form after his weeks of Australian competition, finishing fifth.
He said the Australians would be the team to fear next year.
Flecha aims for classics
Classics in his sights
Photo: © Olympia
Juan Antonio Flecha, winner of stage 11 of the 2003 Tour de France, will
set his sights on the classics in 2004. Flecha has joined the Fassa Bortolo
team for the coming season and has set a strong performance in the World
Cup as a major objective, along with major races such as Het Volk. The
2004 Tour de France is less of a certainty, though the Spaniard is no
doubt eager to repeat his performance of this year.
"I will contest the World Cup races and the northern classics, include
Het Volk and the Three Days of De Panne," Flecha said in a Todociclismo
report. "I am going to race a calendar typical of a classics rider, but
I would also like to return to the Tour, although that is less clear."
The World Cup races are Flecha's goal, although the overall classification
in the season-long series is of less importance than victory in the individual
events. "There are people who ride conservatively to finish in a good
position and gain points, but that mentality doesn't suit me," he explained.
"I would rather take the risk of waiting for the last 300 metres than
worry about getting tenth."
Spanish riders do not normally make a name for themselves in the classics,
but Flecha is eager to prove himself in the one day races. While noting
that he can still improve in his race tactics, becoming a more calculating
rider, but expressed appreciation for the iBanesto.com team and the opportunities
he had to test himself in the classics. At Fassa Bortolo he will line
up with another classics specialist, Frank Vandenbroucke, looking for
glory on the cold, wet cobbles of Belgium and France.
Gonzalez wants a better 2004
Aitor Gonzalez, winner of the 2002 Vuelta a España, found himself
on the defensive and performing below expectations in 2003. A move to
the Fassa Bortolo team from Kelme was met with much hype, particularly
given the legal battle over his signature between Domina Vacanze and Fassa
Bortolo. A less than impressive Giro d'Italia was followed by abandon
in the Tour de France this year, but Gonzalez has owned up to his disappointment
and hopes to regain his best form in the coming year.
Gonzalez has fixed the Tour de France and the Vuelta as his two major
goals, but leaves the door open for a possible ride at the Olympic Games
in Athens as well.
"I haven't spoken yet with the selector Paco Antequera about this, but
I would like to participate in Athens in the time trial and the road race,"
Gonzalez said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The Games
are a unique opportunity for all athletes."
Gonzalez admitted that despite his confidence heading into the event,
he did not meet expectations in this year's Giro. He also considered his
difficulties in the Tour to be a result of the poor Giro. For 2004 the
Tour and Vuelta will take precedence, but the World's are less of a target.
VDB to Qatar
Frank Vandenbroucke will make his 2004 debut in Fassa Bortolo colours
at the Tour of Qatar in late January. The Belgian's ambitions will once
more be focused on the northern classics, and Vandenbroucke is expected
to race a somewhat lighter schedule in the very early season so as to
arrive at Het Volk, the traditional classics opener, in top form. Warm
weather racing in Qatar will be followed by racing in Italy, possibly
the GP Laigeuglia, but Vandenbroucke will skip the Tour Méditerranéen
Salanson case officially opened
The family of deceased French professional Fabrice Salanson, who rode
for Brioches La Boulangère, has formerly opened legal proceedings
to investigate the circumstances surrounding the rider's death. Salanson
died in his sleep on the eve of this year's Tour of Germany. An autopsy
revealed heart failure as the cause of death.
While the cause of death is not disputed, Salanson's family has become
concerned over revelations that medical examinations in the spring indicated
some abnormalities in Fabrice's heartbeat. At issue is whether or not
problems should have been brought to light that could have prevented his
Last week, the Salanson family formerly took action to take possession
of Fabrice's medical records. The decision to pursue further legal action
stemming from any possible negligence will be made after a review of all
Plaza to Antarte
Team Bianchi's David Plaza will join the Portuguese Antarte-Rota dos
Moveis team for 2004. Plaza was among the last of Bianchi's members facing
the search for a new employer after the title sponsor decided not to continue
with the team next season. Plaza will also be joined at Antarte by Paulo
De Moura Ferreira of Cantanhede-Marques de Marialva.
Hernandez to Liberty Seguros
Spanish neo-pro Jesus Hernandez has signed with Manolo Saiz's new Liberty
Seguros team for 2004.
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