News for February 3, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
World Cyclo-cross Championships wrap up
The World Cyclo-cross Championships in Monopoli by the sea wrapped up on Sunday with the Elite Men's and Women's races. In muddy but relatively dry conditions, Belgians filled the top five places of the elite men's race, while Daphny van den Brand (Ned), Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) and Laurence Leboucher (Fra) shared the honours in the women's.
Bart Wellens put in his best ride of the season to take the men's race, coming back from a flat early in the race to lead home Mario de Clercq and Erwin Vervecken. Ben Berden and Sven Nys rounded out the top five, with Francis Mourey (Fra) the first non-Belgian finisher in 6th.
If the pre-race comments were anything to go by, there will be four unhappy Belgians on the plane home, because all of them wanted to become World Champion. However few could begrudge Wellens his win, as he was clearly the best in Monopoli.
"Bart was the strongest today," said Mario De Clercq (2nd). "After his flat he came back very strong. I had problems in the first lap with the bike, but couldn't win today. But I'm glad with my 6th time on the podium."
Third placed Erwin Vervecken added that "I'm glad with bronze. Bart was the best one."
Ben Berden (4th) was happy at beating Sven Nys. "Without flat maybe I could have made the podium. But there is only one place important: number one. It's nice to finish in front of Nys, but not important.
Belgian TV commentator Eric de Vlaeminck (former Belgian coach) gave his views on the clean sweep. "The guys were a year older and you could see that. Bart rides very well, also on the last part of the parcours. He said before he should win, and he was the strongest rider today. It wasn't necessary to make predictions before, but that you can only tell after the race."
"In the first lap Sven Nys wasn't in the front, that was already a signal. He came back and even in front - when Wellens flatted. But you could see Nys wasn't good after Mario de Clercq asked him to take over. That wasn't possible for him.
"After lap two all six Belgian riders came separately over the finish line. That was a nice view. No cohesion in that team. Everybody on his own. But you can see our guys are stronger than the rest of the world. And if Daelmans started instead of Vannoppen [8th] we probably would have had the top 6. And we can still grow. If we can win a classic too, you will see we'll be better in the 'crosses."
Finally, De Vlaeminck commented on the problems that Sven Nys has in a big championship. "There are some races which give a lot of stress to Sven Nys. I send him mental helpers. But he deserves to win a World Championship once.
"I worked with Sven Nys for 6 or 7 years. But he did not even call me last year. And when he won the national title he ran to me and gave me his flowers. Unbelievable. He is so concentrated; but it's strange to me that he doesn't contact me anymore. I was the basis of his 'cross career. I called him just before the World Championships, because my wife got his flowers..."
U.S. comments post World's
Elite Women and Men
In finishing 10th in the elite women's race, Ann Grande posted the best U.S. result of the Cyclo-cross World Championships. However, she wasn't overjoyed by it. "Today's result was a disappointment for me - I was hoping for something like 6th or above," said Grande. "The course was slippery and muddy after last night's rain. There were a lot of 180 degree turns in the course and the ends of all the turns were slippery, which meant that we had to plan ahead of our turns."
"As far as the race goes, I got going out of the start pretty well...it was a clean start, without any crashes on the first straight. But in one of the serpentine turns, I got tangled up in the tire of another rider, and that cost me several places. I was also really disappointed in my finish. I believed I had one more lap to go, when in reality the race was over. That was frustrating because my strategy was to get on the tail of the leader in the last lap, but I wasn't gunning it because I believed I had one more lap to go. So that was frustrating.
"We don't race as aggressively as the women here in Europe, and that's what got me...I wasn't as willing to push back," said Grande. "But I learned a lot from this experience. And I was really excited to be on this team, because at one point I didn't think I'd be here because of some back problems - that kept me off my bike for a long time. It was also really great to spend time with my teammates and get to know them."
In the men's race, Marc Gullickson was the top U.S. finisher in 25th. "This race was one of the muddiest I've done," said Gullickson. "The mud here is almost like clay, which makes it really slippery and greasy. Although the sun did come out towards the end of our race, but it was a bit too little, too late....and that also sums up my race! I got caught up in a couple of crashes at the start of the race, which relegated me to a placing somewhere in the 30's after the road stretch at the start. Throughout the race, I worked my way up about 10 places and I felt good...but I was not quite prepared for these conditions. I was hoping for a top-10 finish, but that obviously didn't happen."
"In the U.S. we don't race as much in these mud conditions...our courses are usually dry and fast," said Gullickson. "The Europeans are used to mud, and they've learned how to be more proficient in going fast in muddy conditions. But the whole trick is to do the best you can in the conditions you have."
Bruce Fina, team manager for the elite men and women, commented about some of the difficulties and bad luck the riders had during the race, but also said that the World's were a "learning experience for most of our riders. Except for Ann, Carmen and Mark, everyone else is either riding at the World Championships for the first time, or racing in their category for the first time."
"In past years, we've taken our team to some World Cup races before the World Championships, to get them used to the competition. But because of the location of these World Championships, we weren't close enough geographically to other World Cups. In the future, we want to have our riders compete regularly in Europe...they must, in order to be really competitive."
Junior and U23 Men
Junior rider Jesse Anthony commented after his 16th place finish on Saturday that "I feel great - like I could do it all over again. It rained a little last night but not much, so we didn't have deep mud on the course. But it was a little slick on the corners and kept getting more slick as the race progressed."
"I was hoping to be in the top 15, and I thought that a top 10 result was definitely possible," said Anthony. "But I wasn't warmed up enough at the start and I lost a bit in the first 300 meters of the 1st lap...I was in the top 15-20 after the 1st lap. But then I got into a good rhythm. We were fighting with lots of really competitive guys for position, and I just tried to move up as best I could.
"I was much better prepared for these World Championships than I was for last year's World Championships in Zolder [Belgium]. Those World Championships were my first European races. But then I spent time in May training and road racing in Europe with the Saturn development team, and I felt much more prepared this year...I knew what I was in for. I was still surprised by the strength of these European riders, though. Right now, it's all about getting experience."
Barry Wicks (Portland, Ore.) finished 30th, the top U.S. rider in the U23 men's race on Saturday, but the team suffered a setback when Adam Craig broke his chain on the first lap. He eventually finished 37th. "It was for sure disappointing," said Craig. "I had a great start position on the first row. The start is crucial, and I had a fantastic start - I was probably the 3rd guy out of the start - but then my chain broke 10 meters into the first lap. I was pretty-much stunned because that's never happened to me before."
"So I had to run with my bike to the U.S. pit station, which was 1 km into the first lap. That run took the wind out of my legs and back...my calves were super tight, and my legs were extremely mad at me for running on them like that! But once I got a new bike I felt really strong. The weather conditions today really played to my favour. My laps after than were on average five seconds faster than the 2nd place rider [van der Linden]. But everything has to come together in order to win, and everything didn't come together today."
Jeff Proctor (junior and U23 men's team manager) "The competition level is so high right now, and I'm proud of our guys. They worked extremely hard. Jesse had a solid finish [16th place in the Junior Men] - the 5th best ever for a U.S. junior racer in World Championships competition. He rode a good race, but he lost a little bit of time at the start. Konrad Lebas [Ansonia, Conn.] was 29th, which was a great result for him. And Steve Cozza [Petaluma, Calif.] was 44th. And the junior men have moved into the 8th spot as a team, which means a great start position for next year's Worlds."
On Adam Craig's misfortune, Proctor said "Today was kind of a downer - Adam's race was tough. I wish you could have seen our faces when we heard that his chain broke at the start...our start strategy went right out the window. He was dead last in the field after the 1st lap. But he's so strong...he just kept working his way back up the ranks, and only finished 4 minutes back from the winner. He has so much power."
Milaneza-MSS hopes for Tour wild card
By João Cravo
July 3, 1984. On that day the Portuguese rider Paulo Ferreira won stage 5 of the Tour de France after a 200 km breakaway where he was accompanied by the French riders Barteau and Le Guilloux. In doing so, Ferreira added to the five victories of Portugal's Joaquim Agostinho (including Alpe-d'Huez in 1979). But Ferreira's win will forever be engraved in Portuguese cycling history, because it was the first win by a Portuguese squad in the Tour of France.
It's also the first and only win at the moment. It happened in the second and final participation of a Portuguese team, Sporting-Raposeira, in that event.
Nineteen years later, Milaneza-MSS is ready to make a good use of a possible wild card that would open the doors of the Tour de France to them. "We'll be prepared to justify our presence there if we're invited," Milaneza manager Aires Azevedo da Silva told Cyclingnews. "We have the human resources [riders] we need to warrant an invitation. Our initial plans for 2003 didn't include the Tour. At least at a conscious level."
Probably not, but the squad of team manager Manuel Zeferino (who was one of the riders on the Sporting-Raposeira team in 1984), offered itself as a candidate for the 2003 Paris-Nice, and was accepted.
"Participating in Paris-Nice is an honour but isn't a good operation from a financial point of view," says Aires Azevedo, "But we're sure it will give us a good return on our investment in the short or medium term."
Never mind if you're not familiar to economics, this return on investment isn't a financial balance sheet - it's just another term for the Tour of France. And short term means 2003 while medium term applies to 2004. "Our priorities for 2003 remain the same as for 2002," insists Aires Azevedo. "We want to win the Volta a Portugal and do at least as well as last year in the Vuelta, where we were third on the teams classification and managed to put three riders amongst the first 16 of the overall classification."
Azevedo is understandably cautious. In just two years, Milaneza has leapt from Division II to Division I and an invite to Paris-Nice, and he knows that a false step in this race could break the Tour dream. "Paris-Nice is the strongest French race after the Tour," says a more excited Aires Azevedo. "We'll go there to show our full potential, collectively and individually. It's all we can do."
In the battle for one of the four remaining wild cards that will be given out on May 19, Milaneza also realises that the way to the Tour passes mainly via French roads, so it will compete in the Critérium International, Midi Libre, Classique des Alpes and Route du Sud.
Back to Paris-Nice, and Milaneza-MSS will not be taking Swiss climbing specialist Fabien Jeker to the race. "Jeker is recovered from his injury but isn't in good form yet," revealed Aires Azevedo. "But we'll present a very strong and very mountain driven roster under the leadership of Claus Möller."
Other riders who will not start in Paris-Nice include Txema Del Olmo, who will finish his UCI suspension on the last day of the race. A failed drug test on the prologue of the 2001 Tour forced the former Euskaltel rider and 2nd in the 1998 Tour de l'Avenir into an involuntary sabbatical year. Despite that, Milaneza never broke its deal with Del Olmo. "Txema has a great potential," assures Aires Azevedo, "And he will for sure be the reinforcement he wasn't allowed to be last season."
On Milaneza's tradition of taking and rehabilitating riders who are at a low point in their careers, team manager Manuel Zeferino confirmed to Cyclingnews that "José Maria Jimenez engagement was considered by us, yes. Jimenez' management offered us the riders' services about a month ago, and we had conversations with them."
"What can I say about it?" asked Zeferino. "Conversations can lead somewhere or just be a nice chat."
The Milaneza-MSS roster for Paris-Nice will be as follows: Claus Möller, David Bernabeu, Francisco Perez, Renato Silva, Rui Sousa, Pedro Cardoso, Angel Edo, Rui Lavarinhas
Laszlo Bodrogi injured
Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick Step-Davitamon) has been injured, after crashing today during the third stage of the Tour of Qatar. In his first stage race of the season, Bodrogi fell with 5 kilometres to go until the end of the stage which ended in a bunch sprint. The 26 year old Hungarian was immediately taken to hospital where he underwent X-rays, which indicated that he had probably fractured his pubic bone. Bodrogi will undergo further examinations when he returns to Europe.
28th Vuelta Ciclística a Cuba
The 28th edition of the Vuelta Ciclística a Cuba takes place from February 11-23 this year. Starting in Baracoa with a 153 km stage to Guantanamo, the race concludes in Havana after 1918 km. The two week tour will feature teams from the USA, France, Spain (Cropusa Burgos), Italy (Pinnielli Cinnielli), Guatemala, a mixed international team, and various Cuban teams, totaling around 100 riders.
The event features 34 intermediate sprints, six Cat. 4, two Cat. 3, and four Cat. 2 mountain climbs. The key stage will be Stage 12 from Pinar Del Rió to Viñales, an uphill 28 km time trial.
Stage 1 - February 11: Baracoa-Guantanamo, 153 km
Michael Johnson wins Tasmanian Rider of the Season
By Rod Morris
Burnie based cyclist Michael Johnson has won the second annual Rider-of-the-Season award, conducted by Cycling Tasmania (formerly known as the Tasmanian Cycling Federation). The award is a consistency based recognition of the best performed riders in all handicap finals and graded scratch races conducted at all Tasmanian track carnivals over the summer months. The inaugural winner was American Jame Carney, who this season finished eighth.
The first four riders in category race win a sliding scale of 5-3-2-1 points and Michael Johnson held on to win by just 2 points from his Launceston namesake Ryan Johnson.
Ryan entered the season-ending St Helens Carnival, 3 points behind Michael, but with a fourth placing in the Lightning Handicap and another fourth in the St Helens Wheel, edged to just 1 point in arrears with only the B Grade Scratch race remaining to determine the 2002-03 winner.
"I have never been so nervous," Michael said after claiming fourth position in the deciding race. "It was an award I really wanted to win - its a title of consistency and one I am very pleased to have my name."
Former scratchman, Gareth Atkins of Devonport capped off a good season to finish third, while current Tasmanian scratchman, Nathan Clarke, who ended the season with a win in the St Helens Wheel (as well as the 1000 m Hcp) claimed fifth placed behind Rosebery Wheel winner Adam Hartley.
Cycling Tasmania also conducted similar awards for senior females and junior riders. NSW cyclist Rochelle Gilmore capped off a hit and run mission from the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals with a clear win in the female section, while promising youngster Will Robinson claimed the junior award.
Cycling Tasmania Rider-Of-The-Season Awards
Males Michael Johnson 53 pts Ryan Johnson 51 Gareth Atkins 24 Adam Hartley 23 Nathan Clarke 22 Laurie Venn 21 David Oliver 20 Jame Carney 19 Dwayne Smith 19 Nathan Kean 18 Females Rochelle Gilmore 26 pts Kirby Piscioneri 18 Belinda Goss 12 Liz Williams 12 Kerrie Meares 9 Stephanie Williams 5 Louise Yaxley 3 Natasha Mapley 2 Grace Sulzberger 1 Juniors Will Robinson 64 pts Alex Holden 48 Matthew Bonham 43 Jarrod Harman 36 Brendan Sutton 35 Ed Robinson 35 Natasha Mapley 35 Cameron Flint 34 Josh Myers 31 John Rayner 29
Cycle for Sight: Father to raise money for charity
In May 2003, Kevin Kandalaft and others will ride their bicycles across New Mexico to raise money for the Institute for Families of Blind Children, a nonprofit organization that offers counseling and support to families facing the diagnosis of blindness in their child.
Kandalaft's daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer occurring from immature retinal cells in one or both eyes. Now he wants to help other families suffering from retinoblastoma and other eye diseases.
"In a moment, my life was changed forever," Kandalaft said. "When Tess was diagnosed, we witnessed firsthand the wonderful work of the Institute for Families. As I learned of their budget challenges, I knew I found my call: make a difference for others through Cycle for Sight."
Cycle for Sight will begin at the Arizona/New Mexico border on May 15, 2003. Cyclists will pedal approximately 80 miles per day, ending at the Texas/New Mexico border on May 19, 2003.
Cycle for Sight is seeking corporate and individual sponsors for the event. For more information about becoming a sponsor, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2003 Campione Cycles/Cramerotti Cycling Team
The 2003 Campione Cycles/Cramerotti Cycling Team consists of seven riders this year, led by past Masters World Champion, Larry Zimich, and National Champion, Michael Ryan. the team will contest races throughout Canada and the U.S.A. leading up to the Masters World Championships in Tirol, Austria.
One of the goals of the team is to foster up and coming riders in the sport, allowing them the opportunities to ride and learn from the more experienced. "We decided to form the club with an open membership to allow people the opportunity to train and race with others that have competed and won at National and World levels," said Larry Zimich. "And the results have been very rewarding!"
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)