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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 17, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Chris Horner signs for Webcor

Top US domestic rider Chris Horner has signed with the Webcor cycling team, the team announced this morning. The addition of Horner seriously strengthens the Webcor team, whose main achievement in 2003 was rider/manager Ted Huang's victory in the Univest Grand Prix.

"This is a huge step forward for Webcor Cycling," said Huang. "We're looking forward to an epic season and to making Chris feel at home here. We hope to announce the addition of one or two more top riders in the upcoming days."

"We're really looking forward to working with Chris for 04 and we are hoping that by having him on the team it will raise the performance of all of us on the team," Huang added. "This opens a lot of doors for us and we're excited and scared at the same time. I'm sure we're going to spend a lot of time on the front next year.

"I really should thank our sponsor Andy Ball, [CEO of construction company Webcor] for giving us this opportunity, it will really change the dynamics of the team. A couple of weeks ago, we had no idea we would be going in this direction."

"Andy is really excited about the new team, both the men and the women's team. Horner is happy to help achieve success, and we'd like to return the favor by giving him a really good season. In the words of Andy Ball 'Tell Horner we're going to have a good time,'" he said.

Webcor has benefited from the shake-out in the US domestic racing scene, following the demise of the powerful Saturn team, as well as the Schroeder Iron team. Horner was Saturn's top rider in 2003 but with Saturn withdrawing its support from that team, he and his team-mates were unemployed for 2004 and faced a competitive market.

The enhanced men's team won't be Webcor's only serious foray into cycling in 2004. "We have a really solid women's team, which prior to the recent decision to try and sign Horner, et cetera, we thought would be a lot more succesful than the men's team," said Huang. "Riders such as Christine Thornburne, Felicia Greer and some up and coming riders. Karen Kurreck will even race a few races next year."

Garzelli encouraged after 2003 comeback

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Garzelli time trials in 2003 Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti

After winning the 1996 amateur Giro di Lombardia, Stefano Garzelli burst onto the pro cycling scene as a support rider for Marco Pantani on Mercatone Uno, finishing ninth in his first Giro d'Italia in 1997. The year after, Garzelli had a surprise win in the '98 Tour of Switzerland, confirming his talent two years later by winning the 2000 Giro at just 26 years old.

Hired by Mapei in 2001, Garzelli looked to be on his way to another win in the 2002 Giro, but a surprise positive test for a little-used steroid masking agent, Probenecid, put him out of the race and out of the sport with a disappointing nine month suspension. His suspension ended in March this year, with the talented all-around rider from Varese surprising many by his strong second place comeback ride at the Giro d'Italia.

Cyclingnews: 2003 has been a big comeback season for you, Stefano... The podium in the Giro d'Italia, then an abandon in the Tour, a trip to San Francisco for the T-Mobile International and a vacation to the Maldives before training for the 2004 Giro. How are you feeling now?

Stefano Garzelli: I'd say I'm back to normal. I got better after the Tour from my breathing problems and the doctors thought I might have to have my tonsils out, but after a few visits, they told me I could keep (my tonsils). Usually, once a year, I have a big problem and I can't breathe. At the 2001 Giro, I had to retire from the race and also at the Tour this year, so you could say I have delicate tonsils.

CN: So here we are at the end of 2003 and I want to ask how you feel about your performance in this year's Giro d'Italia?

SG: In my opinion, I rode a good Giro. I was strong and found a Simoni who was very good. Plus the final was influenced by the crash I had with Pantani [on Stage 18 ], because that day I lost a lot of time... so for sure Simoni was strong on the climbs and in time trials, but without that crash, the Giro would have been closer. If someone had told me before the Giro that I would have been second after a year away from racing, I would have been happy. But in the moment you are there, going for the win, second place isn't good. But that's the past and it was a great Giro for Simoni; so next year I'll try to correct the mistakes I made this year.

Click here for the full Cyclingnews interview with Stefano Garzelli.

Illes Balears-Banesto unveiled

Lastras models
Photo: © Illes Balears
Click for larger image

The newly formed Team Illes Balears-Banesto, which succeeds as one of the top Spanish Division I teams for 2004, unveiled its team colours Tuesday in a presentation in Madrid. The team's jersey is designed to respect the tradition of the Banesto teams of recent years, while highlighting the new sponsorship of the four islands which now represent the title sponsor: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.

The team also provided a first look at its bicycles, which will be supplied by the Opera brand of traditional sponsor Pinarello. On hand at the presentation were managers José Miguel Echávarri and Eusebio Unzué, as well as team riders Pablo Lastras and Francisco Mancebo.

Mancebo is the team's designated leader, though the 20 man roster includes a number of talented riders. Four of the team members are originally from the sponsoring islands: Toni Colom, Antonio Tauler, Juan Sebastian Horrach and Vicente Reynes.

Climbers' Vuelta for 2004?

The 2004 Vuelta a España, despite a bypass of the Pyrenees mountains, looks to be one suited to the climbers of the peloton. As details emerge on the eve of the race's formal presentation, the difficulties look to be numerous. Seven mountaintop finishes are planned, including finishes on the climbs of Son Morella, Xorret del Catí, Aitana, and a 35km mountain time trial up the Sierra Nevada.

Climbing is not the only challenge on the menu, as the Vuelta is expected to start once again with a team time trial in León, followed by individual time trials in Almussafes, the climb to Sierra Nevada, and a final test in Madrid, using the circuit planned for the 2005 World Road Championships.

The defining mountain stage is expected to finish on the Calar Alto, more than 2,000 metres in elevation and preceded by several major mountains. Organisers hope that the inclusion of climbs in the final days of Vuelta, along with the Madrid time trial, will provide the race with another exciting finale as in recent editions, when riders like Roberto Heras, Aitor Gonzalez and Angel Casero have sealed victory only on the final stage.

Marsal to Road Runner-Guerciotti

Cathy Marsal of France has signed with the Italian team Nobili Road Runner-Guerciotti Cycling. Marsal leaves the RONA-Esker team, joining Australian riders Alison Wright, Kym Shirley and Hayley Rutherford as well as Italian riders Sigrid Corneo, Vera Carrara and others at Road Runner-Guerciotti.

"Nobili Road Runner-Guerciotti will be the perfect team for 2004," Marsal told Cyclingnews Tuesday. "We have a full schedule in Europe with the Tour de l'Aude and the Giro and the whole World Cup series. This will be a great challenge!"

Marsal is also determined to qualify for her fifth participation in the Olympic Games, and expects the team will provide the right opportunities to achieve her goal.

"I will be able to compete in all the Games selections races of the French Federation in the colours of my new team, and that will help a lot," she explained.

"I am motivated like it's my first year of racing and after a tough season, that is a great feeling," she said. "We are only in middle of December and I wish I could race tomorrow! Although I don't know the full roster of the team, I know that I will be surrounded by a couple of Aussies and that means having fun too! Aussies are a sure value for fun and it is important to have fun to succeed."

USA Automatic cyclo-cross world's selections

USA Cycling has announced the automatic qualifiers for the 2004 Cyclo-cross World Championships in Pont ­Château, France (January 31-February 1) following the national championships held last weekend in Portland, Oregon.

By virtue of their victories at the nationals, Jonathan Page and Alison Dunlap received automatic nominations in the elite men and elite women categories, respectively. In the U23 men's category, Jesse Anthony qualified for the World's as the newly crowned national champion, while Jeremy Powers was selected as the highest ranked American in the 2003-04 UCI Cyclo-cross rankings. 

In the junior men's category, new national champion Jamey Driscoll will travel to France along with Tucker Thomas, the highest ranked junior male 17-18 in the 2003-04 USA Cycling cyclo-cross rankings.

Discretionary nominations and the full American team for the 2004 cyclo-cross World's will be announced on January 7, 2004.

Cipollini plans early Giro exit

Mario Cipollini has announced a planned exit midway through the 2004 Giro d'Italia to prepare fully for the Olympic Games in Athens in August. Cipollini, who hopes to qualify for the individual pursuit in Athens, will ride the Giro until the first major mountains, then head to Australia for preparations on the track.

Van Moorsel to defend three medals

Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will aim for gold in three events at the Olympic Games in Athens in August. Already one of the most accomplished women's cyclists, and new holder of the world hour record, Van Moorsel will likely make a bid for the road race and individual time trial, as well as the 3 kilometre time trial on the track.

The goal isn't too tall an order for Van Moorsel, who won each of the events in Sydney, Australia at the 2000 Olympics, becoming the most successful cyclist and most successful Dutch athlete at the games. She has recently traveled to Athens to inspect the road parcours.

Kelme confident for Casero

Kelme-Costa Blanca's Pepe Quiles has indicated that his team will "more than likely" reach an agreement with former Vuelta a España winner Angel Casero to complete the roster for 2004. Casero, 31, is searching for a new employer after Team Bianchi and is expected to meet with Kelme on Wednesday to hammer out the details.

Popovych to start in Italy

Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych, one of the leaders of the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team, will start his season in Italy with the Giro della Liguria from February 12-14. The young Popovych confirmed his potential in 2003 with a third place overall in the Giro d'Italia. He and several teammates are currently training in Italy, with a second camp planned for January in Tuscany.

First Estonian trade team

Estonia's first Division III trade team has taken shape, with nine riders on the roster for 2004. Consisting of mostly young riders, the Kalev Chocolate Team-Merida will be sponsored by the countries biggest candy manufacturer. Experienced mountain biker Sigvard Kukk will lead the new road team, which will be managed by Jüri Savitski.

Team roster:

Mirko Põldma
Vahur Valvas
Priit Prous
Andrei Laptsenko
Martins Polakovs
Mart Ojavee
Sigvard Kukk
Oskari Kargu
Andri Lebedev

Coach: Andres Lekko
Manager: Jüri Savitski

Boom and Reus join Rabobank TT III

Fresh faces
Photo ©: Bert Geerts

Up and coming Dutch riders Lars Boom and Kai Reus have joined the Rabobank Division III team for 2004. Reus claimed the junior men's road race title at this year's World Championships in Hamilton, Canada, while Boom is the reigning junior men's cyclo-cross world champion. The two provide fresh talent for the team, while established riders Hans Dekkers and Pieter Weening have turned professional with the Division I outfit.

Rabobank's Division III roster for 2004:

Stef Clement, Thomas Dekker, Michiel Elijzen, Theo Eltink, Bas Giling, Mathieu Heyboer, Bernhard Kohl, Koen de Kort, Marc de Haar, Serge Pauwels, Joost Posthuma, Kai Reus, Tom Stamsnijder, Rory Sutherland and Jukka Vastaranta

Cyclo-cross: Bart Aernouts, Lars Boom, Richard Groenendaal, Gerben de Knegt, Sven Nys and Thijs Verhagen


Images by DCP/Bert Geerts

Glud & Marstrand Horsens keeps three

Morten Christiansen, Jacob Nielsen and Michael S. Larsen have all prolonged their contracts with Glud & Marstrand Horsens through 2004.

Last day for Cyclingnews reader poll

Cyclingnews' end of year readers' poll closes today, so if you haven't yet voted for your favourite riders, races, products and photos, today is the final chance. The polls will close December 17 at 5pm, USA Pacific time.

Results will appear daily from December 24, culminating with the Rider of the Year award on New Year's Eve. Each reader may only vote once.

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