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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for February 17, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Major Refit: Panaria-Fiordo 2003

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Although the presentation of Marco Pantani's new squad stole the cycling show on Saturday in Italy, other Italian teams were also unveiled this past weekend, including Bruno and Roberto Reverberi's 13 man TT2 squad, Panaria-Fiordo.

Practically all new for '03, this version of the Panaria-Fiordo team still has Giuliano Figueras and Julio Perez-Cuapio as team leaders. Although P-F already made its race debut in the TDU and at Langkawi, Figueras has yet to pound a pedal in anger in 2003. Both he and Perez-Cuapio will race in next Tuesday's Italian early season classic, the Trofeo Laigueglia in Liguria.

Last year, Panaria-Fiordo almost imploded from drug scandals. Just prior to last year's Giro d'Italia, the talented Figueras was suspended for 8 months, then team rider Antonio Varriale was busted at home near Lake Garda for drug trafficking, then Nicola Chesini and Vladimir Duma were both 86'ed from the Giro for different drug related reasons.

Save Figueras, today those riders are gone and the Reverberis have tried to erase the spectre of the ugly episode and concentrate on their two stars Figueras and Perez-Cuapio.

The magic Mexican climber from Tlaxcala won two stages and the Maglia Verde of Best Climber in last year's Giro, pretty much saving the day for the decimated P-F squad and catapulting the smiling Perez to the top ranks of tifosi popularity. Perez has seemingly never met a mountain he doesn't like, as he demonstrated in his magnificent solo stage win to Corvara in Badia in last year's Giro.

The 25 year old has worked on his time trial and descending skills over the winter, and is seeking a place on the final Giro podium this season. With the tough climbing in this year's Italian Grand Tour, improved technical skills and the help of good climbers like Paolo Tiralongo, experienced Paolo Lanfranchi, and Aussie rookie Scott Davis, we may find out at just how good the always audacious Julio Perez really is.

Emerging Aussie road sprinter Graeme Brown has had a fast start to his season so far, with a stage win in the TDU, then two stage wins and the green points jersey in Langkawi. Brown will be looking for lead-out support from fellow Aussie Brett Lancaster and mercurial Argentine Buongiorno, who has already proved to have a mind of his own. Look for the speedy Brown to take a few scalps from the established sprinters like World Champ Cipollini and the already familiar Robbie McEwen this season.

As for Figueras, he seemed to finally be showing his enormous natural talent last May just prior to the Giro. The KO of his suspension was a major disappointment for Figueras, who after a great ride in Milano-San Remo won the tough Giro d'Appenine in early May, then was runner-up to a flying Stefano Garzelli a few days later in the GP Larciano.

Already down in the dumps, Figueras was further depressed by his father's death from cancer late last year. But the former U23 World Champ has picked up the pieces and moved on, finding new motivation on the comeback trail. Whether he can come back as far as his former rivals Ivan Basso and Danilo Di Luca is another matter after missing half of last season.

Panaria-Fiordo team roster

De Clercq bowed but not broken

2002 World Cyclo-cross Champion Mario De Clercq did not have a great day in yesterday's World Cup finale in Hoogerheide. De Clercq finished sixth in the race, which meant that he lost his second place in the World Cup standings to Sven Nijs.

"Today's race was a mirror of the rest of the year: full of bad luck," De Clercq told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I fell when I was riding with Wellens in the lead. Otherwise he had not yet done with me. Now yes, Wellens and Nijs are the best of the season. But I can in my old age make life painful for them. So no, I will not stop yet."

De Clercq has won seven races this year, including one Superprestige race, compared to Wellens' nine and Nijs' 17 wins.

Dutch and Spanish records fall in Moscow

During the first round of the Track World Cup in Moscow last weekend, Spanish cyclist Sergi Escobar won the gold medal in the 4000m individual pursuit, beating Germany's Jens Lehmann in the final. In qualifying, Escobar recorded a time of 4:22.591 (54.838 km/h), beating Miguel Indurain's Spanish record of 4:23.520 set in 1995.

Also in the men's 4000m Team Pursuit, the Dutch team of Jens Mouris, Peter Schep, Robert Slippens and Jeroen Straathof beat the existing Dutch record in a time of 4.08.787.

Flanders-iteamnova.com signs Laurent Roux

French rider Laurent Roux, who was suspended from Ag2r-Prevoyance last year following a drug affair, has signed a contract with the Belgian/Australian Flanders-iteamNova.com squad. Roux will be the 17th rider on the team and the team hopes his climbing abilities will help him play an important role in the team's planned extensive southern European program.

Laurent Roux won the Classique des Alpes and the Tour de l'Avenir in 1997, as well as wearing the polka dot jersey for several days in the 2001 Tour de France.

Geelong World Cup and women's tour news

The top five ranked female cyclists from last year's World Cup are expected to race in the Geelong World Cup on March 2 and the Geelong Women's Tour, which leads into it on February 23-25.

2003 World Cup champion Petra Rossner will lead the way, captaining her new Nürnberger outfit. Rossner will base herself in Sydney in the lead up to the event, racing at Heffron Park in Maroubra.

Last year's runner up, Mirjam Melchers, will also be back in Australia hoping to start her season on a strong note. In addition, Germany's Regina Schleicher, Swiss Priska Doppmann and Australian Rochelle Gilmore will all be present in Geelong.

The five will form part of a large contingent of international cyclists currently preparing in Geelong for both races. The Power Plate Bik professional team has already arrived there for training, hoping to get acquainted with the terrain before the first race starts on Sunday, February 23.

Heading the team is 2003 BMC Software Australian Women's Road Cyclist of the Year, Sara Carrigan (22) and recent winner of the Geelong Bay Series and the individual pursuit in the Track World Cup in Moscow, Katherine Bates (20). The team also includes New Zealand's Kirsty Robb (23), Norwegian rider Anita Valen (34), and Dutch pair Andrea Bosman (23) and Sharon van Essen (21).

The American T-mobile team arrived in Victoria today from New South Wales, where they competed in the Cooma-Snowy Women's Cycle Classic over the weekend. They will be based in Queenscliff until Thursday when they will move to Geelong. The team includes Sydney Olympic silver medallist and 2001 world road time trial champion Mari Holden (31), and Kimberley Bruckner (32), winner of the 2001 Tour de Snowy and the current US road time trial champion.

The Geelong World Cup will get underway at 1.00pm on Sunday March 2nd. The riders will contest 18 laps of a testing circuit with the start/finish on the Eastern Beach foreshore. Racing action will be broadcast to a big screen near the finish line to keep spectators up to date. The Geelong Women's Tour (2.9.2) will be staged in and around Geelong and the picturesque Bellarine Peninsula and You Yangs Regional Park.

Stage 1 - February 23: Eastern Beach Criterium, 30km
Stage 2 - February 24: Drysdale Road Circuit, 84km
Stage 3 - February 25: Lara to Lara (via You Yangs and Bacchus Marsh), 129km

2003 Tour de l'Aude

The parcours for the 2003 Tour de l'Aude women's stage has been revealed. Beginning with a prologue in Gruissan on May 16, the race will cover roughly 1,000 kilometres before winding up on the 25th in Limoux. The 2003 Tour includes two double stages, the second of which (stage 7a/7b) will test riders with a mountaintop finish in Saissac after a short morning road stage. A second individual time trial (stage 5) will also help shape the general classification.

Last year's race was won by German Judith Arndt (riding for Saturn), who convincingly beat Russian Valentina Polkhanova (Itera) and Lithuanian Edita Pucinskaite (Figurella).

The stages

Prologue - May 16: Gruissan, Prologue TT
Stage 1 - May 17: Gruissan - Port-la-Nouvelle
Stage 2 - May 18: Port-la-Nouvelle - Rieux-Minervois
Stage 3 - May 19: Rieux-Minervois - Lézignan-Corbières
Stage 4a - May 20: Thézan-des-Corbières - Saint-Laurent de la Cabrerisse
Stage 4b - May 20: Saint-Laurent de la Cabrerisse / Durban-Corbières
Stage 5 - May 21: Castelnaudary - Castelnaudary TT
Stage 6 - May 22: Castelnaudary - Castelnaudary
Stage 7a - May 23: Montréal - Bram
Stage 7b - May 23: Bram - Saissac
Stage 8 - May 24: Axat - Axat
Stage 9 - May 25: Saint-Hilaire - Limoux

Courtesy of velo-club.net

Courses au Soleil to stay in France

Two races forming part of the Courses au Soleil ("Races to the Sun") series, La Tramontane and the Ronde du Canigou, will take place solely within France next year. The Courses au Soleil, a major early season amateur series, normally includes racing in both Spain and France. However, following a tripling of fees for police protection (notably the rolling escort) on the Spanish side of the border, organisers have been forced to contain racing within France for 2004.

Courtesy of velomania.net

Girvan three day confirmed

The Girvan 3 Day Stage Race, which takes place over the Easter long weekend (April 18-20), has been confirmed as a part of this year's UK Premier Calendar Series. South Ayrshire Council confirmed that they would again be backing the race that has been in existence for over 30 years. It marks a resumption of backing by the South Ayrshire local authority that was only broken by the Foot & Mouth Epidemic.

Organiser David Miller is happy with the news, but stressed that the event would be monitored by the Council to see if it generated the desired interest in the Girvan economy. Thus he is looking for a solid entry from riders from all over Britain.

The event is also trying to attract sponsorship from adjacent local authority, Dumfries & Galloway and if this comes off then the event will probably follow the route that had been planned for the last race before the F&M outbreak. The format will be four stages over three days, including a Saturday Night Crit round Victory Park and the Nick O' Balloch, Glenalla and Tairlaw hill primes providing ideal vantage points.

The organisers are also considering a Cycling Challenge event similar to an Audax to complement the event, and to attract more cyclists to Girvan.

If you are interested in the race, please contact David Miller at david@wallacehill.freeserve.co.uk (for the race) and Ian Sinclair at wiskids@ukonline.co.uk (for the cycling challenge)

Carnegie change venues

One of Australia's biggest cycling clubs, Carnegie-Caulfield, has changed its regular racing venue. Commencing this Tuesday, February 18, the club's Twilight Criteriums will relocate to the Sandown Racecourse. Entry is via Gate 15, Sandown Rd (off Springvale Rd) from 5.30pm, with racing for all grades starting at 6.30pm. The club felt that the change of venue was considered necessary to avoid further anxiety to a small number of people who felt recreational uses of the Springvale Necropolis were inappropriate. The Trustees and management of the Necropolis at all times remained supportive of our use of the facility.

Also see: Carnegie announcement.

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