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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Second Edition News for February 14, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Come in spinners - how Lance may inadvertently prolong Ullrich's career

Knees behind early season problems for Dekker, McEwen and Cooke

By Gerard Knapp

Jan Ullrich
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger

A legacy of Lance Armstrong's domination of the Tour de France may be a reduction in knee problems for his competition, given the breathless reports emanating about Team Coast rider and '97 TdF winner Jan Ullrich actually riding his bike in training and not suffering from knee problems, all apparently due to spinning smaller gears.

The world has taken notice of Armstrong spinning fluidly as he sits among the lead group of labouring riders on the most important climbs of the Tour. Armstrong's climbing style contrasts markedly with that of Ullrich, arguably his chief rival for the past four years.

Full report here, including updates on Dekker, McEwen, McGee, Cooke and Sunderland.

Gonzalez case goes to arbitration

The UCI's Alain Rumpf announced that the Aitor Gonzalez contract dispute will go before an arbitrator named by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC). Noting the inability to reach an agreement between the management of Domina Vacanze-Elitron and Fassa Bortolo, each of whom lay claim to Gonzalez's signature for 2003, Rumpf announced the UCI's position. "At the request of Mr. Gonzalez, and given that the parties have not reached an agreement, we have decided to begin an urgent procedure to resolve this case as quickly as possible. A decision should come next week."

Guess who's back? VDB

It's that time of the year again but already there are promising signs from Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick Step-Davitamon), who has shown himself to be in good condition in the Tour Méditerranéen. The Walloon Whirlwind finished 12th in stage 1 and was also a key part of the move that saw teammate Paolo Bettini and seven others escape. Vandenbroucke attacked at the base of the San Bartolomeo climb, causing enough damage to pave the way for a successful counter attack by Bettini and co., who stayed away until the finish.

In the difficult stage 2, VDB worked for Bettini, and finished in the front bunch again. "During the stage the team raced well, supporting Bettini," he said. "The condition of the team is good. The key stage of this Tour Méditerranéen will be tomorrow; the stage will finish on Mont Faron."

Paolo Bettini now lies in second after stage 2, and is one of the big favourites for the overall win. Vandenbroucke is 19th, at 1'35.

Martinez ready to climb

Miguel Martinez, reigning Olympic mountain bike champion and current member of Phonak's road team, is eager to confirm his abilities on the pavement. Whether or not he meets his objective of winning atop the Mont Faron in stage 4 of the Tour Méditerranéen, Martinez hopes to show in his second year on the road (he rode for Mapei in 2002) that he has a bright future ahead. Fighting for points in the Tour Med's mountains competition paid early dividends, even if the most difficult climb of the race were yet to come. Phonak directeur sportif Jacques Michaud believes in Martinez, telling l'Equipe "he has a terrific jump on the hills, an acceleration he developed in mountain biking."

Martinez performed modestly, but showed promise in his first Tour de France in 2002. He told Cyclingnews at the time that while his first Tour was a learning experience, he hoped to make the polka dot jersey a serious objective in 2003. Phonak has not yet received an entry into the Tour, but a strong early season showing by Martinez in the mountains, particularly in Paris-Nice in March, could help his team's chances for an invitation.

Moreau out of Tour Méditerranéen

Credit Agricole's Christophe Moreau decided not to start Thursday's stage 2 of the Tour Méditerranéen, citing fatigue following the Tour Down Under in Australia and the recent Etoile de Bessèges. Moreau told l'Equipe that he would have preferred to join half of his team at a training camp in Hyères rather than line up at the Tour Méditerranéen, but Credit Agricole was obligated to send its highest UCI-ranked riders to the five day stage race. "I'm going to rest a bit, then finish the week at Hyères," Moreau noted.

Hulsmans off crutches

Quick Step-Davitamon reports that Kevin Hulsmans, who broke his femur in mid-January, is now able to walk without crutches. Hulsmans walked again properly for the first time yesterday, and he trained for an hour on road.

"I am happy, but the return to racing is still distant enough," he said. "However for my morale it was important to return to the road with my bike. I was a bit scared, but after few minutes I had confidence on my bike. Now my only objective is to recover well from the accident and return as soon as possible to the races."

Meirhaeghe to try Paris-Roubaix

Top Belgian mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe, who joined Mario Cipollini's team last year, is keen to have a go at the classic of the pavé, Paris-Roubaix (April 13). The 31 year old, who gained a spot in Cipo's Domina Vacanze team through the connection with Specialized, will combine road and mountain biking throughout the season.

"It is important that I can ride good races as preparation for mountain biking," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. Paris-Roubaix forms part of this program, and Meirhaeghe added that "I will therefore also ride the preparation races in Flanders. Maybe even the Ronde van Vlaanderen. But I will know my exact program after speaking with the team management next week."

Accell interested in Cannondale

According to ANP, Dutch bicycle manufacturer Accell, which produces Koga-Miyata, Batavus, Loekie, Hercules and Sparta bicycles, is interested in acquiring the bicycle division of Cannondale, which recently filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Cannondale is a well respected brand in Europe, with 40% of its $US135 million annual turnover coming from there. If successful, Accell would gain a significant foothold in the American market.

BankGiroLoterij presentation

Despite having the points necessary for a promotion to Division I at the end of last year, Arend Scheppink's BankGiroLoterij team was forced to remain in Division II due to a lack of sponsorship funding. Scheppink's current budget, as BankGiroLoterij director Wibo van de Linde revealed at the presentation last Wednesday, is 1.13 million euro. Scheppink wanted 3.5 million, but will need an additional major sponsor if he is to realise his dream of riding in Division I in future.

"In this way, we can't ride the races we need to in order to prepare properly," said Scheppink to Algemeen Dagblad, who believes it's a Catch-22 situation. "We must become a Trade Team 1. In the top category we get not only financial possibilities, but also sporting ones. A team in the highest division may start in everything. We have to ask whether we are welcome and have to wait for whatever falls from the table."

While this year BankGiroLoterij will certainly remain in Division II, what will happen next year? The man responsible for the funding, Wibo van de Linde, was not swayed by Scheppink's pleas. "Arend always wants more," he said. "I know him a little. He is never satisfied, in the positive sense of the word. This man never really stops, but that doesn't bother me."

Van de Linde is sure that the additional funding for promotion will not come from BankGiroLoterij. "That will require an increase in turnover of 20 to 25 percent," he said.

The team's sponsorship contract runs through 2004, and by that stage Scheppink hopes to have some more funding to do more than just survive in Division II.

The team's main riders are Bart Voskamp, Jans Koerts, Matthé Pronk, and hopefully Jeroen Blijlevens, who is yet another victim of an early season knee injury. The latter wants to win a race - any race - but first needs to get back into top shape. Koerts, who was dropped by Domo-Farm Frites, is very motivated to race well, while Voskamp will remain as the team's star rider for the smaller stage races.

BankGiroLoterij Team roster

Rabobank riders train in Croatia

Three riders from the Rabobank team, Kevin De Weert, Maarten den Bakker and track rider Dimitri De Fauw (U23 team) are currently riding in Croatia, where they are contesting the GP Istria series. "It's necessary to work hard in training," said De Weert to Belgian TV. "After getting food poisoning in Qatar, I was out of racing for a few days and I can feel that. I am now preparing for the GP Haut Var and the Classic Haribo, but after that the season will really begin for me."

9th International Tour of Rhodes

The 9th International Tour of Rhodes (Greece) will take place next week from February 19-23. Organised by the Iviskos Cycling Club and the Tourist Office of Rhodes and directed by George Voyiatzis, the Tour of Rhodes starts on Wednesday with a short 3.4 km time trial, followed by four road stages for a total of 577.4 km. The race will include six climbs, with the highest being the 798m Profitis Ilias on the fourth stage.

20 teams will start the race, including Team Coast, Team CSC, Ag2r Prévoyance, Lampre (Jan Svorada and Rubens Bertogliati), Panaria-Fiordo (Julio Alberto Perez and Ruben Bongiorno), De Nardi Colpack (Serguei Gonchar), Sidermec, Palmans-Collstrop, Rabobank, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, and national teams from Australia and Greece.

The last two editions of the 2.3 classified race have been won by talented Swiss rider, Fabian Cancellara.

The stages

Prologue - February 19: Individual Time Trial, 3.4 km
Stage 1 - February 20: Rhodes-Gennadi-Apolakkia-Rhodes, 160 km
Stage 2 - February 21: Rhodes-Kolimpia-Apollona-Empona-Rhodes, 120 km
Stage 3 - February 22: Rhodes-A.Isidoros-Profitis Ilias (798 mt.)-Rhodes, 160 km
Stage 4 - February 23: Rhodes-Butterflies-Psinthos-Faliraki-Rhodes, 140 km

Women's World Cup opens in Australia

Top professionals of the women's peloton will gather in Australia for the Geelong Women's Tour and the Geelong World Cup, the opening round of the UCI Women's Road World Cup. The Geelong Women's Tour runs from February 23-25, providing an important rehearsal for the Geelong World Cup, which takes place Sunday, March 2. This year marks the first time the World Cup will come to Geelong, although Australia has hosted four previous rounds of the women's World Cup.

The top six women in the UCI rankings will be on the line for both events, including Germany's Petra Rossner (Team Nurnberger), who will look to defend her 2002 series title. Also joining Rossner will be ex-Saturn teammate and now Nurnberger teammate Judith Arndt. Miriam Melchers of the Netherlands, currently ranked second in the world, will join the City of Greater Geelong World team for the events in Australia. Melchers finished second in 2001 and 2002 in the World Cup overall.

The American contingent down under will include the T-Mobile team's Kimberly Bruckner and Mari Holden. Bruckner, current US time trial champion, claimed victory at the 2001 Tour de Snowy. All riders will have to contend with the in-form Aussies riding on home turf, including national road champion Sara Carrigan, racing this season for Power Plate-Bik, and teammate with Katherine Bates, winner of last month's Geelong Bay Series.

The Geelong World Cup will feature 18 laps of a testing circuit with the start/finish on the Eastern Beach foreshore. The Geelong Women's Tour (UCI 2.9.2) will be staged in and around Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula and You Yangs Regional Park.

Stage 1 - February 23 (6:00pm):Eastern Beach Criterium (1km circuit), 30km
Stage 2 - February 24 (11:30am): Drysdale Road Circuit, 84km
Stage 3 - February 25 (10:30am): Lara-Lara, 129km

March 2 (1:00pm) - Geelong World Cup

Maps of the World Cup and Women's Tour stage routes are available via the Geelong World Cup link on the Cycling Australia website at

2003 Giro della Liguria

The 2003 edition of the Giro della Liguria stage race was presented this week in Milan. This year's event will five stages in four days, running from February 19-22. Friday, February 21 will test riders with a double stage, including an 11.6km time trial in the afternoon.

Following the Giro della Liguria will be the 33rd Menton-Savona, a 144.7km road race for elite U23 riders, scheduled for February 25.

The stages

Stage 1 - February 19: Arenzano - Diano Marina, 141 km
Stage 2 - February 20: Pietra Ligure - Andora, 150.4 km
Stage 3a - February 21: Alassio - Alassio, 71.4 km
Stage 3b - February 21: Varazze - Alpicella del Beigua TT, 11.6 km
Stage 4 - February 22: Andora - Savona, 154 km

Funding increase for USAC Development Foundation

The USA Cycling (USAC) Development Foundation has announced an increase of $100,000 to its annual grant for athletic programs in 2003, a commitment made at the Foundation Board's bi-annual meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month. The Foundation Board has increased its annual grant total from $500,000 to $600,000, increasing its overall contribution for 2003 by 20%. The USAC Development Foundation has supported USAC athletic development programs for the past three years, with grants totaling more than $1.5 million.

According to USA Cycling Director of Athletics Steve Johnson the increase will make possible the launch of a mountain bike development program and the hiring of a national MTB development manager.

The Development Foundation has also provided support for USAC's European Espoir program, and enabled the launch of the T-Mobile women's road team. The USA Cycling Development Foundation is currently the second-largest cash sponsor of American development cycling programs. It additionally awards more than $60,000 annually to collegiate riders, outstanding clubs/teams through the Centers of Excellence awards and travel and training grants to junior riders through the Edmund R. Burke Fund for Cycling Development.




(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)