Second Edition News for February 20, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Fewer teams for Vuelta, emphasis on national selection
Vuelta a España organiser Unipublic announced Wednesday a new limit of 20 teams for the three week stage race. This reduces the number of teams from the 22 which raced last year, the same number originally planned for the 2003 edition. As Unipublic president Enrique Franco explained, a bigger peloton does not necessarily equal better racing. "With the experience of last year, we learned that quantity does not necessarily bring quality. We don't want to see that any more at the Vuelta. "With 18 teams already announced, the final two teams should be announced in late July.
Perhaps of even greater interest in the announcement was the decision of the association of Spanish professional teams to guarantee selection for all Spanish teams for each of the next three editions of the Vuelta. The association, headed by Euskaltel-Euskadi manager Miguel Madariaga, signed a formal agreement with Unipublic to assure a complete Spanish presence in the race.
Given the persistent criticism of the Société du Tour de France and its supposed preference to French teams in wild card selections for the Tour, Unipublic seems to have taken the issue several steps further in signing a formal agreement in favour of Spanish squads. Indeed, many may find the issue of race quality unresolved if higher-ranked Division I teams continue to be excluded from the grand tours in favour of smaller teams from the home country.
The 18 teams already selected are Alessio, Team Coast, Cofidis, Colchon-Relax Fuenlabrada, Team CSC, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Fassa Bortolo, Gerolsteiner, iBanesto.com, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Labarca 2-Café Baqué, ONCE-Eroski, Paternina-Costa Almeria, Rabobank, Saeco, Sidermec-Saunier Duval, Telekom, US Postal Service
51st Circuit de la Sarthe
The 51st Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire will take place April 8-11 in western France. The UCI 2.3 stage race will begin in Nantes, capital of the Pays de la Loire region. Said by organisers to be the most selective parcours in 20 years, the race is expected to bring together a number of top riders, notably US Postal's Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, embarking on an eagerly anticipated comeback with Team Coast. A total of 18 teams will compete in the event, won last year by Didier Rous.
Down by Law: Cipo gets a ticket...On his bike!
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Italian traffic cops are not that well known for their stringent enforcement of the law, but yesterday on the so-called superstrada, a divided highway from Livorno to Florence, the long arm of the law caught up with World Champion Mario Cipollini. Making final training preparations for his 2003 season debut at Trofeo Luis Puig this weekend, Cipollini & his faithful leadout man Mario "Avvocato" Scirea were motorpacing behind a Smart car driven as usual by Cipo's faithful mechanic Roberto "Carube" Lencioni.
As the Mario & Mario show streaked by the PolStrada (Italy's version of the Highway Patrol) at almost 90/km per hour on their way to the Cascina exit, the PolStrada boys hopped in their blue Alfa 156 station wagon, did a 180 and hit the gumball lights, pulling Mario, Mario & Carube over at the Lavoria exit. They weren't speeding, since the limit on that stretch of superstrada is 110km/h, but bicycles simply are not allowed on the limited access road, not even Cipo!
Although the police seemed somewhat embarrassed by the situation, they still had their quota to meet before the lunch break and a steaming bowl of spaghetti, so both Marios were fined 63 euros each for use of a "mezzo non idoneo" (means of transport not permitted). The PolStrada boys were not too harsh on Cipo. "We're sorry to have to do this, but it's our job." said the cops, and suggested that next time Cipo wanted to use the superstrada, he should request the OK of the regional office of the PolStrada.
This isn't the first time that Cipo has almost been busted for speeding on his bike; at last years Ghent-Wevelgem, he tripped the radar cameras at over 50km/h in the centre of Ostend, Belgium. Instantly recognizable, the Bruges prosecutor wanted to give Cipo a fine of 100 euros for speeding, but the Belgian Justice Minister intervened and Cipo walked. Mario is hoping the Spanish police won't bust him for speeding in the final sprint at Puig, where the World Champ is looking to notch his first win of the 2003 season.
Hamburger to Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave
Danish pro Bo Hamburger has signed for Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, according to Danish television station TV2. Hamburger had a contract with Index Alexia, but has moved on after the team was denied Division II status by the UCI. "It’s not a big team but I am as happy as if my career just had started," Hamburger commented.
Figueras back in the saddle
Cyclingnews had a brief chat with Giuliano Figueras of Team Panaria-Fiordo after his return to competition after a 10 month hiatus at Trofeo Laigueglia Tuesday. "I felt ok, considering I've been away from racing for almost a year. I was dropped on the last climb (Passo Ballestrino) and above all, I was suffering from the changes of rhythm... I'm just not used to it."
Figueras is looking forward to building up to Milano-San Remo with a solid performance in Tirreneo-Adriatico, but look for the Neopolitan "fuoriclasse" to come into his own in this year's Giro.
Campagnolo 2003 Pro Team Sponsorship
Cyclingnews caught up with Campagnolo's Media & Sport Manager Joseba Arizaga at Trofeo Laigueglia where he was checking out their Tech Support program at the race, as well as visiting with their sponsored pro teams. Arizaga, a former pro team mechanic, really understands the "ambiente" of European pro road cycling and told us that "Campagnolo has always been with the great cycling champions. Once again in 2003, Campagnolo will sponsor 20 of the leading international teams."
Team: LANDBOUWKREDIET-COLNAGO, Bike: COLNAGO
Team: SELLE ITALIA, Bike: DACCORDI
Team: BRIOCHES LA BOULANGERE, Bike: TIME
Team: COAST, Bike: BIANCHI
Team: ALESSIO, Bike: DE ROSA
Team: iBANESTO.COM, Bike: PINARELLO
Team: PHONAK, Bike: BMC
mtbchick.com women's MTB team
The roster for the 2003 mtbchick.com women’s mountain bike racing team has been announced. The pro team consists of two women,Tarrah MacBeth and 24 hour and cross country specialist Tonya Laffey. These two will focus on the NORBA National Championship Series, the AMBC schedule, and selected World Cup and 24 hour races.
The team also includes two junior developmental racers: Mara Abbott and Shaina Maytum of Boulder, Colorado.
While the team focuses on racing, the pros will also be conducting women's mountain bike clinics and mountain bike outings for kids. The team will work this year with Girls, Inc. of Denver, and clinics will raise funds for Girls, Inc. and Camp Joy's "Summer of Dreams", an outdoor program for inner-city youth in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.
The mtbchick.com team is sponsored by Cannondale Bicycles, PowerBar, Pedro's, Suunto, Carnac shoes, Hutchinson tires, and Invesco.
2003 Polaris Challenge
On the weekend of March 8-9, over 600 mountain bikers will head to the rugged bush and forests around the tiny village of Burraga, Australia, some 70km south of Bathurst in the Central Tablelands, to compete in the 7th Polaris Challenge. The Polaris event moves to a different area of the country each year and the location is only released 2 weeks before the event.
Two-rider teams compete in two days of of riding, navigation and camping covering a large area (25km x 25km) of rough country. Teams will camp in Burraga, the event centre, on Friday night ahead of the Saturday morning start (8am to 9-30am). They then have 7 hours to find as many checkpoints as possible scattered throughout the area which includes the Abercrombie River National Park, Vulcan/Mt David State Forests as well as private plantation and farmland. There is no fixed route and all teams must carry with them equipment for an overnight camp, the location of which is kept secret until the start on Saturday.
The Polaris Challenge will be fundraising for a number of causes, including 4Wheels4Sean, a charitable trust set up by the event organizers to initially provide a specially adapted vehicle for Sean Fitzgerald, a rider made a quadriplegic in a mountain bike accident. The group's initial goal of $50,000 has almost been reached and the fund will continue to offer support for any cyclists severely disabled as the result of a cycling accident. See www.polarismtb.com.au/4w4s for details. The event also raises funds for the Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) and the community of Burraga.
The Polaris Challenge is sponsored by State Forests of NSW, Mountain Biking Australia, Ultimate Direction, Princeton Tec, Old Man Mountain and supported by Evans Shire Council and Oberon Shire Council. Full event information can be found under the Events section of www.polarismtb.com.au.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)