First Edition News for February 19, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson & Jeff Jones
USAC says no to Wordin
By Jeff Jones
Following yesterday's announcement that former Mercury director John Wordin was to be involved in a new US based Division III team, Monex, USA Cycling (USAC) has reacted with a strong note of disapproval. USAC and the UCI are concerned due to outstanding salaries and prize money owed to former Mercury riders such as 2002 USPro Champion Chann McRae, USPS rider Floyd Landis, former Dutch national champion Jans Koerts and others. All were members of the Mercury-Viatel team in 2001, managed by Wordin, which encountered financial difficulties when the co-sponsor, Viatel, filed for Chapter 11 mid-season.
For a TT3 team to be officially licensed and registered as a trade team with the UCI, its dossier has to first be approved by the national federation. Unless Monex is planning to register offshore, USAC will not give it the green light. In addition, the UCI has taken a firmer stance this year against re-registering teams which have 'issues', Index and Amore e Vita being two examples.
When contacted today, USAC's VP of Marketing, Sean Petty, told Cyclingnews, "As for John Wordin, we have received clear direction from the UCI that Mr. Wordin cannot be involved in the management, in any fashion, of a UCI registered team, since there are still outstanding issues related to claims made by riders against the Mercury Cycling Team bank guarantee from two years ago."
Petty added that he was "very surprised" to read of the announcement on Cyclingnews, "since first, the deadline for registering a team has passed and second, Mr. Wordin is fully aware that he cannot manage a UCI team until all past claims against him and his company are resolved."
"We agree with and support the UCI and will not approve a Tier 3 team application that includes John Wordin as manager, director or financially responsible party until all issues are resolved from the 2001 Mercury Cycling Team rider claims per UCI regulations."
All of this goes some way toward explaining John Wordin's reaction to the announcement, which was leaked to Cyclingnews by a source associated with the new team. Wordin claimed that our original version of the story contained incorrect sponsor and roster information, but did not deny that he was involved. He later clarified this, saying, "I may be involved, I am not in charge, it is not my team."
It all ads up for Armstrong
Lance Armstrong has been busy during the off-season as much in front of a video camera as on his bike preparing for his assault on Tour #5. The multiple TdF winner will be seen over the next few months in commercials for Coca-Cola, Subaru and new personal sponsor, cable network Comcast.
In the Coca-Cola ad, Armstrong explains to NASCAR champion Tony Stewart the benefits of shaving your legs, and convinces him to get the razor out, while the Subaru ad sees Armstrong passing a group of mountain bikers who attempt to keep up with him.
The Comcast connection is Armstrong's newest endorsement and the US Postal team leader will feature in three ads on the theme of gaining respect and overcoming obstacles. Comcast acquired rival cable network AT&T in November and now has to convince customers - some of whom have seen their service provided by two or three different owners in recent years as the cable industry has consolidated - that Comcast will provide better service.
To get the message across the ads, which will be seen by Comcast subscribers in Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta and 15 other new markets it has acquired as part of the AT&T merger, feature Armstrong passing other cyclists, mixed with shots of Comcast workers and a voice-over by Armstrong: "No one automatically gives you respect just because you show up. You have to earn it."
Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick Step-Davitamon) has given a positive verdict after the Tour Méditerranéen, where he finished 31st overall, working in the service of teammate Paolo Bettini. VDB together with Richard Virenque were an important part of the team's workforce in the mountains, ensuring that Bettini remained sheltered from any attacks.
"In comparison to 2002, I can again ride with a heart rate above 200 for several minutes. I can again go very hard," he was quoted as saying in Het Nieuwsblad.
His team manager Patrick Lefevere believes that there is more to come from VDB. "He is still a few kilos overweight," said Lefevre. "His eating habits are his main weak point. He eats too many sweet things and drinks too much cola for my liking."
Vandenbroucke's response was that he is only three kilos above his classics weight, "...but that will be gone by Paris-Nice."
ABC-Aitos gets bigger
The Belgian-run US development team, ABC-Aitos, (featured on Cyclingnews last year) is expanding in size and is rapidly becoming a second USA U23 national squad. Run by Bernard and Ann Moerman, the team has made a number of additions to its staff and program this season. They have a new place to house the riders, have signed several new sponsors and also have an official cooperation with the USA U23 team, meaning that some of the riders and coaches will work with the team.
The additions to the staff include US Postal's team doctor, Dr Dag Van Elslande, an assistant for him, Nico Vanmarcke, a mechanic who has previously worked with the US national team, a physical trainer (Tim Elebaut), and some new coaches.
ABC-Aitos started its season in the USA, with a training camp in Phoenix, Arizona followed by the Valley of the Sun stage race. The riders will arrive in Belgium at the end of February/beginning of March, ready for the season there.
19 teams to ride Giro Della Liguria
The 2003 edition of the Giro della Liguria (February 19-22) starts today with a 141km stage from Arenzano to Diano Marina. Among the big names expected to line up for the first significant Italian stage race of the season are Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), Giuliano Figueras (Ceramiche Panaria) and Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre).
Teams and star riders
Saeco (Di Luca, Simoni, Zanini)
Stage 1 - February 19: Arenzano - Diano Marina, 141km
South African selection showdown Saturday
High noon at the Bellville Velodrome, Johannesburg on Saturday, February 21 is the appointed hour for South Africa's top track riders to battle it out for Team SA places in SA Cycling's National Track Selection Meeting. At stake for riders such as Jean-Pierre van Zyl and Dean Edwards are places in the national team for the Tri-Nations International Track Challenge at the same venue Friday, March 14.
Contesting the sprint disciplines for places in the eight-man squad will be national champion Shawn Lynch, Morne Blignaut and Dean Edwards, all of whom are expected to make the cut to represent South Africa against the foreign invasion. The meeting is the only way track riders can gain national team selection for the Tri-Nations and riders planning to take part in the March 12-15 Giro del Capo will not be eligible.
SA 1000 metres time trial record-holder Garren Bloch will also be participating at the Bellville Velodrome on Saturday, as will Western Province star Robbie Dale, who recently competed as Van Zyl's Madison partner in the first leg of the UCI Track World Cup Classic in Moscow.
Apart from Team SA, the national selectors will also announce a SA Federation invitation team, a SA junior team and a national development side, to compete in the Tri-Nations event.
New Zealander Elden turns pro
New Zealand's small band of professional cyclists increased in number today with the announcement by Stephen Elden that he is to ride for the Bulgarian-registered, Italian-based Miche team for 2003. Elden joins fellow Kiwi neo-pro Geoffrey Burndred on the team which is mostly made up of Eastern European riders.
Elden will be based with the team near Florence in Northern Italy, and leaves to join the squad on March 5, just five days after he gets married. He plans to return to New Zealand in early October.
Elden said, "I am ecstatic with this exciting development in my cycling. Signing a pro contract has always been my main objective and dream. I know I will step up to meet the challenge ahead of me."
Motorex Bianchi rolls out
The Motorex Bianchi mountain bike team, managed by former Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner Felice Gimondi started its first training camp of the year yesterday at the Fiordaliso hotel, Terracina (Latina), Italy. And to keep the Italian cycling connections going, the Fiodaliso itself is run by ex-pro Massimo Ghirotto.
Eight Motorex-Bianchi riders are taking part in the camp which runs to February28: Under 23 world and European champ Julien Absalon; Thomas Dietsch; European champion José Hermida; Fredrik Kessiakof; Adam Quadroni and Simone Lanteri; Fabiano Ferrari; and Jenny Copnall.
The squad will focus on road training as preparation for its debut at the March 2 Winter Championship in Sellero, Brescia and the following weekend's Trophy 'Città di Brescia', the first race of the International Championship of Italy on March 8.
Motorex Bianchi's aims for the 2003 mountain bike season include the World Cup, which starts in St Wendel, Germany May 25; the European Championship in Graz on August 17, and the World Championship, August 31, in Lugano, Switzerland. The World's sees the debut of the new marathon discipline, in which Motorex Bianchi will be represented by Thomas Dietsch.
FIAC announces points series
The Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling (FIAC) has announced its inaugural 2003 National Points Series that will include eight race meets ranging from Illinois to the West Coast. There will be separate points competitions for Elite Women, Elite Men, Senior 3 Men, Junior Men and Master 35+ Men, though not all of these classes will compete in every race meet -- see www.fiac.us/npsevents.htm.
Points will be awarded in each class for the top 20 places regardless of the number of entrants, with 21 points going to first place, 19 to second and one less point for each successive place. Year-to-date points accumulations will be displayed on the FIAC web site. At the end of the 2003 racing season medals will be awarded to the top ten places overall in each class. In addition, NPS winners will receive identifying jerseys.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)