Second Edition News for February 18, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Savoldelli scheduled for operation
Paolo Savoldelli, injured in a collision with a motorcycle during a training camp in Tenerife on Saturday, is now in hospital in Bergamo, Italy, where he will undergo x-rays and further tests today prior to surgery scheduled for Wednesday. The Italian cyclist, who this year joins Team Telekom, suffered a broken nose and broken left thumb in the accident. While doctors will likely give Savoldelli the go ahead to resume training (at least indoors) in a week, the longer term implications of the injuries remain unclear.
Oscar Freire, riding his first season in Rabobank colours, has started with a bang. With back to back stage wins in the Ruta del Sol, the two-time world champion has been quick to express his satisfaction with his new team. Freire won bunch sprints in the opening two stages of the Ruta del Sol, thanks in large part to a cohesive effort by his teammates in the final kilometres.
"In Mallorca I had already noticed that the team had a lot of trust in me," Freire told Spanish paper AS. Somewhat critical of his former Mapei team, Freire underlined the greater sense of unity at Rabobank when preparing him for a final sprint. "With Mapei there was always one or another Italian who would go himself in the closing kilometres, but here I saw seven teammates working shoulder to shoulder. I thank them."
Off to a good start, Freire nonetheless knows there is work to do in his preparation for bigger objectives, including Milan-San Remo. "I am following the same preparation as in previous years, and I always arrived at San Remo in good shape. I'm quite confident that the planning will go well once again," he added. "I am not yet in top form, but I'm progressing."
Armstrong and Casagrande in 23rd Vuelta a Murcia
As he has already confirmed, Lance Armstrong (USPS) will begin his European campaign with the 23rd edition of the Vuelta a Murcia (March 5-9), a 2.3 race that was won in 2002 by his teammate Victor Hugo Peña. Although the Tour de France is several months away, the Vuelta a Murcia appears to fit Armstrong's abilities perfectly. The race includes four Category 1 climbs in its five stages, including one mountaintop finish (stage 2), as well as a final 12.9 km time trial.
Another rider lining up for Murcia is Lampre's Francesco Casagrande, who is preparing for the Giro d'Italia. Aside from Casagrande and Armstrong, the Vuelta a Murcia will feature top riders such as Armstrong's US Postal teammate Roberto Heras, Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) and Erik Zabel (Telekom), among others.
Seventeen teams will compete, including all 10 Spanish professional teams. The winner of the teams classification in 2002, Milaneza-MSS, will not compete this year following confirmation of its invitation to Paris-Nice, which could be a decisive stage on the hard road to a Tour de France wild card. The Division II team Vlaanderen-T Interim filled the vacant slot left by Milaneza.
The teams participating on the Vuelta a Murcia are iBanesto.com, ONCE-Eroski, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Relax-Fuenlabrada, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Paternina-Costa de Almeria, Labarca 2-Café Baqué, Sidermec, US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor, Rabobank, Team Telekom, Lampre, Vlaanderen-T Interim, Alessio, Gerolsteiner, Phonak Hearing Systems and Team Coast.
Stage 1 - March 5: Murcia - Ceuti, 162.1 km
Courtesy of João Cravo
GP Rudy Dhaenens
Belgian VRT reports that the fifth edition of the GP Rudy Dhaenens, held in memory of the prematurely deceased Belgian World Champion, will take place on Sunday, March 23. The 1.3 classed race measures 186 km and includes the climbs of the Tiegemberg, Kluisberg and Côte de Trieu.
2003 Copa de España
The fifth edition of the Copa de España for elite and U23 riders will commence this Sunday, February 23 in Alcantarilla with the 14th Trofeo Guerrita. The 10 race series is considered an important test for up and coming professionals, and the top riders in the series are often chosen to ride for Spanish teams the following year. Past winners include Vázquez Palomo, Iñigo Landaluze, Alejandro Valverde and Francisco Gutiérrez, all of whom gained pro contracts.
Pfannberger to Voksbank-Ideal
Austrian cyclist Christian Pfannberger, 23, has joined the Volksbank-Ideal team for 2003. Pfannberger rode for the Nurnberger team in 2002.
The return of Dr. Mabuse?
Bernard Sainz, aka Dr. Mabuse, has evidently made an unexpected (and it would seem unappreciated) return to cycling. Reporting from the Tour of Cameroon (February 1-11), l'Equipe revealed that Sainz was present in Africa alonside the Véloce Club Beauvaisien Oise (VCBO) amateur team from France. Sainz, who spent three months in prison and remains under judicial investigation for his role in several doping affairs, is forbidden by the French authorities to leave the country, and is forbidden as well to take part in any cycling endeavours.
Nonetheless, registered as an 'assistant' to VCBO, Sainz made an appearance in Cameroon, much to the surprise of the team's management. Laurent Delafontaine, president of VCBO, was quick to distance himself from any involvement with Sainz. "I was more or less aware that he might show up at the race, but I've never seen him in my life and I know nothing other than what the press says about him." For his part, VCBO directeur sportif Marc Freze opted not to comment on the issue at all.
Campers for Team fakta
Team fakta has closed a sponsor deal with Slovenian camper maker Adria, worth around $140,000 US. "We are happy with the deal, it means a lot to us, and not the least for the riders that will have better conditions around the races," said manager Peter Sejer Nielsen. "They no longer have to dress in the back of a car after a rainy spring race."
Colombian cycling woes
The Colombian 05 Orbitel team will not start in the Vuelta a Aragon in Spain, denied an invitation to the race. The team will instead travel to Europe on April 24 to compete in the Vuelta a Rioja.
Colombian cyclist Mauricio Ardila (Marlux) has not been able to travel to Belgium to join his team, as the Belgian embassy in Bogota has not sent off his visa. Ardila applied for his visa two months ago.
Finally, Gonzalo Bernal, longtime mechanic for the Kelme Costa Blanca and Flavia Telecom teams, has passed away in Tunja, Colombia due to a cardiorespiratory illness.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)