First Edition News for February 18, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson & Jeff Jones
UCI 'cross rankings: Nijs to number 1
A win in the final World Cup round of the season last weekend has propelled Belgian champion Sven Nijs to the top of the UCI Cyclo-cross rankings for 2002/2003. Nijs (27) has won 19 races this season, far more than anyone else, even though he again missed his chance at the World Championships. He now has 1,835 points compared to World Cup winner and World Champion Bart Wellens on 1,751 points, while the former number one but still evergreen Mario De Clercq holds down third place on 1,599 points.
Of the non-Belgians in the top 10, Richard Groenendaal (Ned, 4th), Jiri Pospisil (Cze, 7th) and Gerben De Knegt (Ned, 10th) are the highest ranked riders. The nations ranking remains unchanged with Belgium on top, followed by the Netherlands, Czech Republic, France and Switzerland.
Rankings as of February 16, 2003
Individuals 1 Sven Nijs (Bel) 1,835.00 pts 2 Bart Wellens (Bel) 1,751.00 3 Mario De Clercq (Bel) 1,599.00 4 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) 1,445.00 5 Ben Berden (Bel) 1,099.00 6 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 744.00 7 Jiri Pospisil (Cze) 556.00 8 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) 550.00 9 Arne Daelmans (Bel) 543.00 10 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) 542.00 11 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) 505.00 12 Petr Dlask (Cze) 476.00 13 Peter Van Santvliet (Bel) 462.00 14 John Gadret (Fra) 357.00 15 Vaclav Jezek (Cze) 341.00 16 Marc Gullickson (USA) 340.00 17 Dominique Arnould (Fra) 314.00 18 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) 308.00 19 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) 307.00 20 Dariusz Gil (Pol) 301.00 Nations 1 Belgium 7,028.00 pts 2 Netherlands 2,627.00 3 Czech Republic 1,695.00 4 France 1,226.00 5 Switzerland 1,185.00 6 U.S.A. 1,018.00 7 Italy 856.00 8 Poland 705.00 9 Great Britain 648.00 10 Spain 463.00 Full rankings
Wordin returns with new Division 3 team: Monex
Controversial former Mercury team manager John Wordin is once again involved with a pro squad with the new Division 3 Monex professional cycling team. Full details are yet to be announced, but the roster is rumoured to be headed by former Mercury pro Scott Moninger.
Title sponsor Monex is a precious metals investment service. The team is expected to make its debut in Southern California races and appear at UCI, NRC and regional events in 2003.
40th Trofeo Laigueglia
By Jeff Jones
Until the GP Etruschi was elevated to UCI status a couple of years ago, the Trofeo Laigueglia was considered the first 'real' race on the Italian professional calendar. And in many ways it still is, gaining 1.2 status from the UCI this year. The 40th edition promises to be an excellent showdown between the Italian top guns, with last year's winner Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), Tour of Med winner Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), the rehired Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), the returned from exile Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) and Giuliano Figueras (Panaria), the in-form Fabio Baldato (Alessio), the experienced Gianluca Bortolami (Sidermec), competing along with a smattering of foreign pros. In total, there will be 26 teams at Laigueglia, with 197 riders down to start.
Saeco has a good record in this race in recent years, with Paolo Savoldelli winning it in '99, Mirko Celestino in 2001 and Danilo Di Luca last year. The team directed by Giuseppe Martinelli is looking to make it four out of five, with Gilberto Simoni, Mirko Celestino, Fabio Sacchi, Alessio Galletti, Leonardo Bertagnolli and new signings Stefano Zanini and Alexandre Shefer likely to be able to provide strong support for Di Luca.
The race is held over a tough 183.3 km parcours, starting and finishing in Laigueglia, passing twice over the Passo del Ginestro (677m) and once over the Passo Balestrino (690m). The latter comes at 32 km to go, and normally forces a selection of some sort.
Cyclingnews will be providing detailed coverage of this Italian opener, with European editor Tim Maloney present in Laigueglia to get all the action.
Cipollini presents his colours
World Champion Mario Cipollini has introduced the Domina Vacanze-Elitron branded rainbow jersey that he'll be wearing this year while racing. The Tuscan sprinter, who intends making his season debut in the Trofeo Luis Puig next Sunday, made the presentation at Milan's Borsa Internazionale del Turismo (BIT) which he attended today.
"It's an important moment for me: for the first time, since the World's in Zolder, I have presented the rainbow jersey with which I hope to win important races," said Cipollini to the gathered fans and journalists.
Also present were Cipo's faithful lieutenant Mario Scirea and the latest addition to the team, Giampaolo Mondini, as well as Elitron director Giuseppe Gallucci, and the principal of the Salumificio Portalupi, Giancarlo Garetto.
20 teams selected for Tirreno-Adriatico
The 38th edition of the "Race of the Two Seas" will start in Sabaudia on March 13 and finish in San Benedetto del Tronto on March 19. The official route will be presented on February 24, but the organisers RCS Sport today announced the 20 teams that will be participating in this important stage race. Of the 20 sqauds, nine are Italian and eleven are foreign, with each team containing eight riders for a total peloton size of 160.
Adventures with Aki-Prato
New Italian women's team Aki-Prato Marathon Bike has commenced its 2003 season training camp in Cecina, Italy. The new squad, directed by Swiss-Italian rider Felice Puttini will have two female directeurs sportifs, experienced Italians Gabriella Pregnolato and Roberta Bonanomi, who both retired last year.
Leader for Aki-Prato will be 2002 World TT champ Zoulfia Zabirova, with other top riders on board for the 2003 season such as Svetlana Boubnenkova, former winner of Giro d'Italia Femminile, top Swiss female rider Nicole Brändli and Italian women's road champ Rosalisa Lapomarda. After a two week training camp in Tuscany, Aki-Prato will start the '03 season at the Italian women's season opener at Castenaso in early March.
Images by Photo Ianuale
Upbeat Wiggins happy after Moscow & Qatar
Up-and-coming UK pro Bradley Wiggins (FDJeux.com) is happy with his form and preparation after the recent Tour of Qatar. Wiggins finished mid-pack in 48th on general classification, but ended four of the five stages with the leaders, indicating his preparation is paying off despite a later start this year.
Wiggins' 2003 program was delayed by the late end of his 2002 season which ran to the Gent Six at the end of November - Wiggins' second place finish there with Belgian Matthew Gilmore was the best result by a British rider in a Six Day competition since Tony Doyle's heyday ten years ago.
Since then, Wiggins has ridden the Moscow Track World Cup but was disappointed with his fifth-place ride in the 4000m individual pursuit. "I was up for it," he said,"but chose too high a gear and with hardly any preparation could not pull the extra out on the day, but I wasn't too far off the best times."
For his 2003 road season Wiggins hopes to ride Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix, but is likely to miss the Tour of Flanders. Despite the Moscow setback, Wiggins says he's "happy with my form and I am looking forward to my next races. The stage race in Italy this week [Giro della Liguria] should help my condition and I am looking to the next few events to hone my form and it feels great to be racing on the road again."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)