First Edition News for February 15, 2003 - updated
Edited by Jeff Jones
Gordon Fraser to join Health Net
By Gerard Knapp
Canadian super-sprinter Gordon Fraser will be the latest signing for new US division 3 pro Team Health Net, which is expected to make a formal announcement next Monday, February 17.
His appointment will bolster the team's finishing power for the all-important US series. Fraser was one of the most successful sprinters in the US pro racing scene during his tenure with Mercury, where he won many races in tight sprint finishes. With the dissolution of the Mercury squad, Fraser was left without a ride for 2003 and his signing is a huge boost for the new Health Net squad that was only announced earlier this week (see report).
The hiring of Fraser is not only big news for Health Net, it will also help the cause for Canadian male road cyclists, who are on the hunt this year to acquire all-important UCI points in an effort to increase their participation at the 2003 World Road Championships to be held in Hamilton, Canada, from October 7 - 14.
Currently, the Canadian men are ranked 31st among all cycling nations and need to secure as many points as possible to increase their ranking - which in turn will allow them to put more starters on the line of the men's road race.
Yesterday, Canada's reigning world mountainbike cross-country champion Roland Green told Cyclingnews that he will have a combined road and MTB program this year (see interview). The two major objectives of Green's foray onto the road are to use the road races to assist his form for the big MTB races and to "collect as many UCI points as possible for my country."
The world's leading male cross-country rider is expected to conclude a deal this week which will see him riding for the US Postal Service squad in selected US races this year, while he has confirmed he will be riding for the Trek-Volkswagen squad on the dirt.
When he hits the road, Green is arguably Canada's best all-round road performer, with time-trials and climbing his strengths. However, these skills are more suited to European stages races, rather than the all-out criterium style racing in the domestic US scene. Fraser has a great record at winning US domestic races and his appointment by the Health Net squad will allow the sprinter to go after UCI points for Canada and wins for his new team. Health Net will be led by long-time strongman veteran from the Mercury era Mike Sayers, while the team director is Kevin Klein, an eighteen-year veteran at the elite level that includes two years of racing in Europe.
Cipo in Milan
World Champion Mario Cipollini will take time out of his busy training schedule next Monday to be present at the Borsa Internazionale del Turismo (Bit) show in Milan. Re Leone will be on the Regione Marche stand from 13:30 in Pavillion 19, lanes C08-E17, and will also make an appearance at the Domina Vacanze stand (Pavillion D11, lane E38-E50) together with other riders from the team. Cipollini will be presented with his new World Champion's jersey, which he will wear in his first scheduled race of the season, Trofeo Luis Puig on February 23.
Milan-San Remo goes back to its roots
The 94th edition of Milan-San Remo, which takes place on March 22 this year, will return to a more traditional parcours, announced the organisers RCS Sport today. Gone will be the Bric Berton climb, which has been used for the last two years in place of the Passo del Turchino, which could not be used in 2001 after an avalanche blocked the descent. The Turchino will be back this year, meaning that the race distance of La Primavera will also lengthen to 294 km.
Giro dell'Etna confirmed
Taking place on March 11 in the earthquake affected province of Catania (Sicily), the Giro della Provincia di Catania-Trofeo Etna hopes to re-establish some confidence within the local community, which has been shaken both literally and figuratively by the recent eruptions.
"This is a classic case of cycling assisting tourism and the recovery of the environment," said Stefano Fisichella, the provincial councilor for sport in the region, in an official statement. "Aside from the community interested in the problems arising from the eruptions of Etna, these same towns asked us to bring the race to their streets to give them more exposure: exposure and tourism to show that the worst is behind them."
The Giro dell'Etna will run through S. Venerina a Zafferana, Nocolosi and Patern˛. Two days prior to the race, on March 9, Italian cycling legend Francesco Moser will lead a mass participation ride through the region of Catania.
Sea Otter gets bigger on the road
The Sea Otter Classic, powered by SRAM will be held April 9-13, at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California, USA. In an attempt to increase the breadth of the road events, the organisers have added in a new criterium course in downtown Santa Cruz. The seaside circuit will loop around Lighthouse Field with the start-finish on West Cliff Drive. The riders will race along the ocean on West Cliff Drive before making clockwise turns on to Columbia Street, Pelton Avenue, and back to West Cliff Drive.
Sea Otter Classic CEO Rick Sutton described the course as a "...crowd pleaser. This is a photogenic course right on the ocean, looking out across Monterey Bay," said Sutton.
The road events will kick off on Wednesday, April 9 with a tough circuit race in Redwood City. The time trial on Thursday will be held on a new course, and that will be followed by Friday's Santa Cruz criterium. On Saturday the riders will encounter another new road race course which winds through both the Salinas and Carmel valleys.
Prime Alliance on Pinarellos
The Prime Alliance Cycling Team is finishing up its preparation for the 2003 season, with team mechanic Ken Whelpdale building up the team's blue and white Pinarello Prince SL framesets in the PA warehouse in Boulder, CO. The bikes will feature Campagnolo 10 speed group sets, Bontrager wheels, handlebars and stems, Speedplay pedals, Fizik saddles, Vredestein tires, King Cages and Cat Eye computers.
Each rider on the team has up to four bikes, most built with custom measurements: training, racing, TT and spare bikes. That equates to nearly 40 bikes and 60 pairs of wheels to build up or true.
"I'm a one man show, so organization and time management are critical," said Ken. "It is a big job, with some long hours, but it is rewarding to see these beautiful bikes take shape."
The Prime Alliance team will be able to ride their bikes at the upcoming training camp which takes place between March 1-10 in the Los Angeles area and will include the Pomona Valley Stage Race.
Navigators train in Italy
The Navigators Cycling Team have spent the past week training and preparing in Castegneto Carducci, near Donoratico, Italy. The activities included the usual road training, bike setup, photo sessions and meeting the new teammates. There was some relief from the routine when, on February 10, three riders celebrated their birthdays: Marty Nothstein, Oleg Grichkine and Vassili Davidenko. There was some more relief after the photo session on Thursday when team members 'borrowed' the team van for a trip into Livorno, and did not return for some time.
The Navigators will start their season at Trofeo Lagueglia on February 18 instead of the Giro Della Liguria.
Index asks UCI to reconsider
The would-be Italian Division II team Index held a meeting today with the Italian Cycling Federation's Professional Cycling Council director Claudo Santi, to discuss the current situation concerning the team's non-acceptance in Division II by the UCI. Team Index manager Piercarlo Pedruzzi asked Santi to persuade the UCI to re-evaluate the team's registration documents, and give them permission to race this year.
NZ mountain bike team for Oceania champs
The New Zealand Mountain Bike Team has been finalised for the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships which take place between February 21-23 in Eildon, Victoria. The Oceania Championships are open to all Pacific Rim countries and last April the competition was held in New Caledonia.
Among the Cross Country Pro-Elite Men competing are Stuart Houltham of Taupo (2001/2002 National Series Winner), Tim Vincent (Nelson), NZ's second ranked rider, and Jason Clement (Levin), the 2002 National Champion. Marcas Roy (Te Anau) will be competing in the under 23 class.
The Cross Country Pro-Elite Women selected include Manchester Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist, Susy Pryde (Auckland), Robyn Wong (Wellington), who is the 2002 National Series Winner and ranked 33 in the world, Rebecca Cullen (Nelson), 2002 NZ Champion and currently in first place in the 2003 Series, and Sadie Parker-Wynard (Auckland), ranked second in NZ and a Commonwealth representative.
In the Downhill Pro-Elite Men, Nathan Rankin of Levin (2001 & 2002 National Series Winner) and Tim Nelson (Nelson) will represent their country in Australia. Both are currently tied in first position in the 2003 National Series with the final round in Auckland on March 8. Justin Leov of Blenheim is also heading across the Tasman.
There are no Downhill Pro-Elite Women competing, as New Zealand's top rider Vanessa Quin has had to pull out due to injury. However, Scarlett Hagen of Queenstown (16 yrs) will be representing New Zealand for the first time at an international competition in the junior class.
NEBC/The Cycle Loft Women's Team
The Northeast Bicycle Club (NEBC/The Cycle Loft) women's racing team located in Eastern MA (USA) has announced its team roster for 2003. As in years past, the Cat 1/2 team races nationally and internationally on the road and track while the Cat 3 and 4 teams focuses on regional road, cyclocross, and mountain bike races.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)