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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 24, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

David Clinger: "I'm going to ride with Cipo"

American talent to join Domina Vacanze in 2004; Health Net rumours quashed

By Anthony Tan

David Clinger (M), winner of the fifth stage of the inaugural Tour of Georgia
Photo: © Jonathan Devich
Click for larger image

Quashing any speculation and reports that have said otherwise, 26 year-old American David Clinger has confirmed he will be riding with Mario Cipollini and Domina Vacanze in 2004, not California-based Division III team Health Net.

The talented rider from Woodland Hills, California, said Health Net Cycling Team's manager and lawyer, Greg Raifman, offered a two-year contract "at this shitty price that I didn't want to sign for". According to Clinger, this was after he had already signed a contract sent to him earlier by Raifman, who then faxed Clinger a second contract with changed stipulations less than an hour later.

"There were two contracts [from Health Net] that I had already, so I signed the one I wanted to sign, and I sent it to him," said Clinger this morning from his European residence in Andorra, Spain. "One fax confirms the contract I sent with my signature on it, then about half-hour later, there was another fax, saying: 'No, you signed the wrong contract, here's the correct contract - can you please sign this and send it back.' And I never signed it - I wasn't going to sign myself for two years at a shitty price."

When Cyclingnews' US correspondent Kristy Scrymgeour attempted to confirm with Health Net's Raifman whether there was a legally binding contract in place or not, the CEO and chairman of Momentum Sports Group would not discuss the circumstances surrounding with Health Net and Clinger, refusing to comment on any of "their riders" or positions at the time.

Clinger added defensively, "They're not doing anything to me. They're [Health Net] just talking a lot of hot air, and they're just using it to gain press [coverage] for themselves so they can get Health Net and the Health Net name blasted out - just from me signing a contract that I agreed to, but one that he [Raifman] didn't agree to. He literally told me I better sign before I went on vacation or he wasn't going to sign me, but I wasn't going to negotiate with them anymore."

When negotiations stalled, Clinger went on holidays for two weeks, during which time he was courted by Vincenzo Santoni and Antonio Salutini from Italian Division I team Domina Vacanze, who he has signed a contract with for the 2004 season.

"Everything's done - I'm here in Spain waiting for next year to come around, and everybody's convinced I'm riding for Domina Vacanze," said an optimistic Clinger. "Health Net's pissed because I had to call them up and tell them I wasn't going to sign. He [Greg Raifman] knows as well, because the first thing he said when I called him when I got back to the US on the 15th or 16th of November was: 'Let's finish up your contract.' I went, 'Nup, sorry, can't do it - I've got another offer.'"

Although only 26, next year will be Clinger's seventh season as a professional rider, having begun his career at Mercury in 1998 with subsequent years at Festina (2000-01) and US Postal Service (2002). A knee injury and a falling out with US Postal team management led to him being dropped from the team and a return to the US domestic scene in 2003, where Clinger teamed up with his former national team coach turned directeur-sportif at Prime Alliance, Roy Knickman.

A solid season of results, including stage wins at the Tour of Georgia and Tour of Connecticut (as well as the overall classification) and third-best US rider at the USPRO Championships has seen a rejuvenated Clinger, and the Californian is delighted about the opportunity to return to the European racing scene: "I'm excited! They're not doing the Tour, but they're doing the Giro and the Vuelta and some Classics, so it looks like it's going to be a fun year," he said.

Look out for a detailed interview with David Clinger soon on Cyclingnews.

Cipollini, Petacchi and Nauduzs fined

Mario Cipollini
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

The UCI's disciplinary commission has fined Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi and Andris Nauduzs over two separate incidents in 2003. Cipollini received a CHF3000 fine for throwing two bidons at a Radio-Info motorcycle during the Gent-Wevelgem race in April. Alessandro Petacchi and Andris Nauduzs were respectively fined CHF200 and CHF3000 for their "boxing match" during Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia in May.

Lefevere wants Bodysol in Division I

Team manager Patrick Lefevere is disappointed that his second team, Bodysol-Brustor, did not make it into the UCI's Division I list that was released yesterday. Lefevere, who also manages the Quick.Step-Davitamon team, complained that he did everything right in regard to registering the Bodysol team on time.

"We had everything in order for a long time and still we don't get a chance in first class," Lefevere was quoted on VRT Teletekst. "Meanwhile other teams, which are not in order, get extra time to bring everything in order. Hopefully another team will drop out and we can substitute, but the chance is very small."

Crash for Quaranta

Italian sprinter Ivan Quaranta has suffered a heavy fall while training. The crash happened on the descent of Roncola, when Quaranta misjudged a bend and ended up on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, his soon to be Formaggi Pinzolo teammate Mario Manzoni was on hand to help and Quaranta was taken to hospital in Bergamo where he received five stitches to his head. He was subsequently allowed to go home.

Aerts wants more racing

After a disappointing 2003, Mario Aerts (T-Mobile) wants to have more racing in his legs before he tackles the spring classics. Aerts will therefore start in the Ruta del Sol in February - much earlier than his debut in the Vuelta a Valencia in April last year.

Museeuw to do charity ride

Johan Museeuw, who will hang up his wheels in April next year, plans to do a 900 km ride in September 2004 to benefit charity. He will be accompanied by legendary goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, who has created a foundation to help young people. The ride will start in Munich, Germany and finish in Pfaff's birthplace, Brasschaat.

Maxime Monfort joins Landbouwkrediet-Colnago

Young Belgian rider Maxime Monfort will make his professional debut with the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team as the 23rd and final member of the squad managed by Gérard Bulens. Monfort, who will turn 21 on January 14, 2004, measures 1.80m tall and weighs 68kg. He won 10 races as a junior, and finished 16th in the Junior World Championships road race in 2001. As an U23 rider, he has four victories to his credit in the past two years, and finished 15th in the Baby Giro and 17th in the U23 World Championships road race in Hamilton this year.

The full Landbouwkrediet-Colnago roster is as follows: Tony Bracke (B), Ludovic Capelle (Bel), Bert De Waele (Bel), Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel), Maxime Monfort (Bel, neoprof), Nico Sijmens (Bel), Tom Steels (Bel), Marc Streel (Bel), Geert Van Bondt (Bel), Johan Verstrepen (Bel), Jacky Durand (Fra), Sergey Lagutin (Uzb, neoprof), Tomas Vaitkus (Lit), Mikhail Timochine (Rus), Santo Anza (Ita), Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita), Cristian Gasperoni (Ita), Sergey Avdyeyev (Ukr), Volodimir Bileka (Ukr), Wladimir Duma (Ukr), Ruslan Gryshenko (Ukr), Yuri Metlushenko (Ukr), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr).

Di Luca to wed

Saeco's Danilo Di Luca will marry his fiancée Valentina on December 28, after a year of living together in Spoltore, near Pescara. The couple will then spend their honeymoon in the Maldives, before Di Luca gets more serious about the 2004 season.

"The next season will be an extremely important one for me," said Di Luca. "I can't put off an appointment with a major victory any more, and of course I will also aim for the World Cup classification. I've had a strange season without much luck, but I know that I am 28 years old and this should be the best time of my career. I've changed my preparation slightly to improve my endurance and power. I believe and hope that the results will justify this."

Di Luca said that his marriage will be "an additional element that can help me find the perfect balance and complete serenity. I am in the right team and I can feel the trust of everyone around me, therefore I can't fail. I am preparing myself for a big spring. And then I hope to do well at the Tour de France with the goal of taking home a stage win."

Liberty Seguros replaced by Navigators in JCTDU

The organisers of the 2004 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under confirmed that the US registered Navigators team will step in to replace Liberty Seguros. Despite having signed a contact to race in Adelaide in January the Spanish team has been forced to withdraw due to problems with setting up the team.

Liberty Seguros is the new team headed by ONCE director Manolo Saiz who contacted Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur to discuss the problems confronting his team. "Basically he has contacted us and explained that due to delays in confirming sponsors for bicycles and clothing they are in a position where they won't be able to start racing under their new colours until February," said Mr Turtur. "We have dealt with Manolo (Saiz) before and have accepted his explanation in good faith.

"Fortunately we had already had earlier negotiations with Navigators in terms of coming to the race and as soon as the international team spot opened up I contacted them again to see of they would like to compete," said Mr Turtur. "They were more than happy to agree and we look forward to welcoming our first US registered team on the Tour."

Australian rider David McKenzie has recently signed for Navigators and will head the line up which includes some former Russian road champion, Vasilli Davidenko and Irish star Ciaran Power. "I know most of the guys on the team because I've raced in the US against them in the past couple of seasons," said McKenzie who has no apprehension about joining his new team. "Normally I'd be quite nervous about starting with a new team but I actually already feel like I'm a part of it.

"The team they're bringing down is pretty strong one and I know they're all very enthusiastic about the race," said McKenzie. "My main aim is to go really well early in the season and make a good first impression on our team boss Ed Beamon."

McKenzie joined the Navigators after a roller coaster couple of years which saw he and wife Susan launch the member based iteamNova line up after the sudden collapse of the Linda McCartney Professional team at the beginning of 2002.

"Whether I liked it or not there was a deal of stress in having the responsibility of iteamNova, so now all I have to worry about is riding my bike and I'm really geed up for 2004," said McKenzie. "Morale is a big thing for a cyclist and if I can get some early results and the team gains confidence in me I will then feed off that to be more confident in myself."

McKenzie also has his sights set on victory in the road race at the Australian Open Road Championship near his hometown of Ballarat on January 18th. "I won it in 1997 and I'd love to have it again," said McKenzie who is currently staying with his parents at Dunnstown just outside of Ballarat.

In the meantime Liberty Seguros rider, Queensland's Allan Davis has been cleared to ride with the Australian National Team for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. His team mates will soon be announced.

For more information on the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, visit the official website

Brown and Pagliarini to lock horns in Langkawi

A sprinters battle is on the cards in Malaysia next year as Australian Graeme Brown (Panaria Margres) and Lampre's Luciano Mendoca Pagliarini lock horns again in the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi (TMLTdL). Both Brown, 24, and Pagliarini, 25, are set to renew their old rivalry as they lead their team's assault in the sprints competition of the Tour which starts on February 6.

Pagliarini won three stages in a row, while Brown claimed two wins and the overall sprint champion's jersey in 2003. But no small degree of rivalry is expected following this year's incident when both riders were involved in war of words and almost came to blows at the end of stage 4 in Tanah Merah.

In addition to Brown, Panaria-Margres has named Sergey Matveyev, Brett Lancaster, Fortunato Baliani, Fabio Gilioli, Filippo Perfetto and Ruben Bongiorno as its team for the TMLTdL. Lampre will take together with Pagliarini three-time Japan Cup champion Sergio Barbero, as well as the experienced Wladimir Belli, Mariano Piccoli, Matteo Carrara, Marco Pinotti and Alessandro Cortinovis.

Sparks expected at Launceston International Crit

A showdown is expected at this weekend's Launceston International Criterium as all three of Australia's recent Tour de France green jersey holders face off for the nation's richest criterium. Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke and Stuart O'Grady are the hot favourites at this year's event which has a strong international flavour as riders from all over the world come to Tasmania for the Christmas track carnivals, and for a little respite from the northern hemisphere winter.

Organisers say 105 riders are already entered in the elite event and they're hoping for 110. As well as track racers getting in a bit of criterium action, there are top Australian road riders making the trip over from the mainland. Joining the 'star attraction' Australian triumvirate will be Australian team pursuit squad riders Graeme Brown (himself no small talent in the sprint) and Peter Dawson.

Organiser Stan Siejka says last year's winner Hilton Clarke will be back to defend his title, and riders are also expected from the US, Britain and Japan. "It's looking like a great mix of everyone," an obviously delighted Siejka told Cyclingnews.

Siejka thinks the title this year will go to one of McEwen, Cooke or O'Grady -- with McEwen the hot favourite. "I know they are all keen to win it, and I hear McEwen has been training hard and is in great shape," said Siejka. "That said, I can't imagine Baden being happy not to win it either!"

Click here for more information on the Launceston International Crit

The British are coming - top trackies descend on Tassie

An eleven-rider contingent from Britain lands in Tasmania today to complete the overseas presence at this year's Tasmanian carnivals. The UK team includes kilo specialist and BBC Scottish Sports Personality of the Year Chris Hoy, sprinters Craig Maclean and Ross Edgar and Dean and Russell Downing. Crossing over from the road for the Tasmanian carnivals is the British trio that won three consecutive stages of the recent Herald-Sun Tour: Paul Manning, Kristian House and Kieran Page. Two other riders - Mark Cooper and Robin Thompson - are making their own way to Tasmania, not as part of the official UK team.

With the Athens Olympics now just eight months away, many of these riders see the Tasmanian carnivals as part of the long-term preparation for Athens (or for shorter-term goals on the way), and the British and American teams are planning to stay in Tasmania until the end of January.

US rider Jame Carney is here for his sixth Tasmanian carnival series, and this year has brought several of his compatriots including Sarah Hammer and Becky Conzelman with him. "We're preparing for the World Cup in Moscow and US Selection Races at the end of February," Carney told Cyclingnews. "There isn't a better place in the to be than Tasmania for this."

The international riders' extended stay will also give a welcome boost to the later events in the series. The carnivals at Latrobe (December 26), Launceston (December 28), Devonport (December 29-30) and Burnie (January 1) make up the 'core' of the season, but organisers hope the continued presence of overseas riders will help boost interest in the Hobart carnival (January 4), as well as the Mersey Valley (January 11) and St Helens (January 17) carnivals.

Click here for more information on the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

8th Tour of South China Sea

Following the success of the Tour of South China Sea over the last seven years, the race organiser is looking at expanding the Tour this year. As in past years, the Tour will start on December 25 in Hong Kong, and travel via Shenzhen, Dongguan and Zhuhai in the southern part of China, before finishing in front of the Jockey Club in Macau on January 1, 2004.

In a change from previous years, the first stage will not be a time trial, but a mass start road race. This is designed to enliven the race, which has traditionally been dominated by defensive tactics from the strongest riders after Stage 1.

The start list includes teams from all over the world, making this race one of the most international races on the calendar, in line with the UCI strategy of making cycling a global sport. Teams will come from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovakia, Taipei and the USA. Contenders for the title include Hong Kong's own Kam Po Wong, the winner of the 2001 edition and starting as number 1, but also Russian champion Oleg Grishkine, Wang Guozhang from China and Australian sprint ace Brett Aitken.

Added to the program of races in Hong Kong and surrounding areas, is the Hong Kong Cycle Classic, a 96 km criterium in the centre of Hong Kong which will take place on January 4, 2004. World Time Trial Champion and former Hong Kong resident David Millar will take part in this event, which has a prize list of US$60,000. Millar celebrates his birthday on January 4 and could be in line for a nice birthday present, however with top track riders such as Bruno Risi, Franz Stocher and Scott McGrory also present, it doesn't look likely that the rest of the field will give Millar an easy ride on his birthday.

The stages

Stage 1 - December 25: Shingmui Circuit, 98.8 km
Stage 2 - December 26: Wanchai - Tsing Yi (Hong Kong), 104.9 km
Stage 3 - December 27: Longhua (Shenzhen), 90 km
Stage 4 - December 28: LinJiang Road (Zhujiang New City), 121 km
Stage 5 - December 29: Xiaolan (Zhongshan City), 108 km
Stage 6 - December 30: GP Racing Circuit (Zhuhai), 108km
Stage 7 - December 31: Coloane (Macau), 90 km
Stage 8 - January 1: Jockey Club Square (Macau), 66km

Superprestige Diegem on Xmas day

The world's best cyclo-crossers will be in action on Christmas Day with the fifth round of the Superprestige series to be held in Diegem, Belgium. After three wins and a second place in the first four rounds, Bart Wellens (Spaar Select) is the man to beat, holding an 18 point lead in the series over his principle rival Sven Nys (Rabobank). But Wellens has never ridden well in Diegem, finishing 10th in 2000, 11th in 2001 and out of the points last year.

Aside from Nys, the usual suspects will be present in Diegem to try and claim some Christmas Day glory. Mario de Clercq (Palmans-Collstrop), second last Sunday in Overijse and smarting at being left off the Belgian team for the next World Cup in Koksijde, will be out for some revenge tomorrow, while Ben Berden, Erwin Vervecken, Tom Vannoppen, Peter Van Santvliet, Sven Vanthourenhout and Richard Groenendaal will all provide stiff competition.

Superprestige standings after round 4

1 Bart Wellens (Bel) SpaarSelect        115 pts
2 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank                97
3 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Quick.Step   68
3 Ben Berden (Bel) John Saey-Deschacht   68
5 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop  64
6 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) Rabobank     59

Solano Bicycle Classic cancelled

One of the USA's early season National Calendar races, the Solano Bicycle Classic, has been cancelled due to financial problems, the Fairfield Daily Republic reported. The organisers of the four stage race could not meet a $35,000 budget shortfall and unanimously voted to cancel it. The SBC has been run since 2000, but the fifth edition was already in trouble this November, when organisers called for more volunteers to help run the event. Although a number of people stepped forward, it still wasn't enough to meet the financial costs.

Swiss road championships in Pfaffnau

The 2004 Swiss road cycling championships will be held at the end of June in Pfaffnau, Luzern. The championships will for the first time feature all categories, with the professionals racing on June 27.

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