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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for February 25, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Latest UCI rankings

The UCI has released its ranking for elite men, as of February 23. The top three on the scale, Erik Zabel, Lance Armstrong, and Paolo Bettini, all retained their positions. Riders moving up the ladder include Dario Frigo , Davide Rebellin, and Joseba Beloki, among others. Italian Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo enjoyed the biggest improvement among the top 30, climbing from 21st to 16th position since February 9.

UCI Rankings as of February 23, 2003

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                                        2,237.00 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service Presented By Berry Floor     2,110.00
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon                             2,055.00
4 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                      1,702.00
5 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron                         1,698.20
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                                       1,667.00
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                   1,557.00
8 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa)                                         1,556.00
9 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre                                    1,468.00
10 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service Presented By Berry  1,455.75
11 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                          1,298.00
12 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 1,265.00
13 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe                       1,186.00
14 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col) Team Telekom                        1,131.40
15 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon                            1,085.50
16 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             1,068.00
17 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                      1,066.60
18 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com                                        1,062.00
19 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                  1,041.00
20 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano Aranzabal (Spa) ONCE-Eroski               1,007.00
21 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)                                              1,101.00
22 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance                                983.00
23 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                         975.40
24 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Team Coast                                          925.00
25 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Team Telekom                                   908.00
26 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                     880.15
27 Mikel Zarrabeitia Uranga (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                            859.25
28 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe                          823.00
29 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                       816.00
30 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                  790.00

Casagrande injured

Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) suffered a fracture in his right hand, following a crash in the final stage of the Volta a Algarve in Portugal. Casagrande, who is targeting the Giro d'Italia this year, faces at least two weeks off the bike.

VDB still concerned about knee

Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick-Step-Davitamon) is still suffering from the pain in his left knee that forced him to withdraw from Sunday's Classic Haribo after only 20km. Vandenbroucke flew home to Belgium last week for an examination of the knee, and this week has seen his personal physiotherapist, Lieven Maesschalk.

Maesschalk explained to the Belgian press that VDB's knee troubles, which stem from a childhood accident, will always pose a slight risk. At the same time, he said the current situation was not dire. "We'll see how it goes from day to day, but provisionally there is no reason to sound the alarm."

The latest round of knee troubles threatens Vandenbroucke's participation in Het Volk this Saturday. Even if the rider is worried about his condition, his Quick-Step team manager Patrick Lefevère assures that VDB will be on the road. "I spoke to Frank on the telephone and he was actually quite worried, but you never really know with him," Lefevère told La Dernière Heure.

Lefevère continued, saying that knee pain or no, VDB should expect to line up at Het Volk. "He needs to ride this race, but with modest ambitions and without too much pressure to avoid a new series of unplanned absences."

Vandenbroucke's physiotherapist Maesschalk noted that Tuesday "Frank may train one to three hours in easy gears- no sharp accelerations, just staying in the saddle. Then we'll wait to see how his knee reacts. We'll look at it day by day, along with (Quick-Step team doctor) Yvan Vanmol.

Quick-Step prepares

As Frank Vandenbroucke ponders his latest frustration with his left knee, his Quick-Step teammates will continue their preparations for the northern classics. On Wednesday, team leader Johan Museeuw will examine the parcours for this year's Tour of Flanders, along with Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Servais Knaven, and Frank Vandenbroucke, knee-permitting. The team will pay particular attention to the three new climbs of the race.

Museeuw, who will be shooting for his fourth win in the event, has already ridden the parcours of this weekend's Het Volk in preparation for his classics campaign. "" It was a good training," said Museeuw. "My condition is good, but I'm still twenty percent below my condition. [Het Volk] is shorter than the Tour of Flanders, so with 80% of my condition I can be among the protagonists."

Millar satisfied

David Millar, beginning what is clearly his final season with the French Cofidis team, has expressed his satisfaction with his racing debut at the Trofee Luis Puig. "I'm very happy with my race," Millar told l'Equipe. "I'm even a bit surprised, since the race was pretty fast, but I had no trouble following keeping the rhythm." Millar finished 34th, even testing his legs with an attack in the closing kilometres.

Millar lambasted his team a month ago over its structure, which he claimed promoted a lack of teamwork and inspired riders to race only for their own UCI points. However, he also noted that his time has come to truly confirm his talents. "This year I've got a different state of mind. If I want to be in a leadership position, I need to earn it."

Cofidis directeur sportif Alain Deloeil believes Millar's comments were not completely in vain. "Something positive has come of this, and that's the most important thing," he explained. Millar reserved judgment, noting that "I haven't raced enough with the team to know if things have changed."

Tessier to Marlux

Jean-Michel Tessier is expected to sign a one year contract with the Belgian Marlux team. Tessier, 21, won two French national championships in 2002 for Cofidis, but nonetheless was not offered a new contract for the current season.

Heulot looks ahead

Stéphane Heulot, who retired at the end of last season, appears eager to remain involved in cycling. Disappointed with the offer provided by his BigMat Auber team for 2003, Heulot decided it was best to retire rather than be talked into an unappealing contract. The Frenchman's plans include a possible post with the Fédération Française du Cyclisme (FFC), directing the "Cycling of Tomorrow" commission, according to l'Equipe. The FFC is expected to vote on Heulot's selection this weekend. The cyclist had reportedly already declined an offer to serve as the FFC's vice president.

In addition, the Ouest France newspaper reported last weekend that Heulot is looking to create a new professional team for 2004. The team could grow from the AC Noyal-Châtillon club, which was founded by Heulot's father Alain. The team's focus would be the development of younger riders.

San Diego hots up for track weekend

San Diego track
Photo: © Derek Wiback
Click for larger image

With most of the East Coast of the USA buried under three feet of snow and the rest of the country withstanding freezing temperatures, San Diego, California is the only place for outdoor track racing this weekend with the Hi-techbikes.com World Cup Qualifier set down for February 28 to March 2nd.

"Although there is some rain on the way early this week, it should pass by Thursday with the good weather returning for the weekend," said organiser Derek Wiback. The events at the World Cup Qualifier will be important qualifying races for North American riders to compete in the next round of the UCI's Track World Cup, which will be held in Aguascalientes, Mexico, from March 21-23.

U.S. Track talent
Photo: © Mike Gladu
Click for larger image

The women's races in San Diego will feature the nation's best sprint and endurance competitors throughout the three days. Sarah Uhl, the reigning points race champion, will be sporting the stars and stripes for team Saturn. Also showing off their colours will be Tanya Lindenmuth, currently the nation's best sprinter from Focus 2004, and Becky Quinn from Women First/Red 5 Racing. Quinn, the 2002 US scratch race champ, is still recovering from her long trip to Moscow where she placed fourth in the scratch race.

All three women will have a tough road to Mexico with the fields full of very competitive, up and coming youngsters and some seasoned veterans. A rider of the future to watch will be 14 year old Cindy Lakatosh, coming from the East Coast to compete for the first time on the San Diego track. There's also Erin Mirabella, a San Diego regular with plenty of international experience, including the 2000 Olympics, won't let any race go uncontested.

The Men's field brings talent from all three North American countries. Canadian nationals, Travis Smith, Mike McCorkell and Ryan McKenzie have all made the trip south. San Diego resident, Angelo Martorell, will be representing Mexico and although they won't be fighting for the qualifying positions, they will have their eyes set on the cash prizes and the opportunity to race against America's best.

The track event is being supported by local businesses, such as San Diego-based bike shop Hi-techbikes.com, as well as specialist frame-builder Campbell-Cunefare Cycles.

In addition to the World Cup qualifying events, there is also the Velodyne Sports Madison to be held on Sunday afternoon. The sponsorship by Velodyne Sports, a maker of indoor trainers, guarantees that the Madison will pay out at least $500 cash. Full details on the program can be found at www.velodromes.org.

24th Bayern Rundfahrt

Eighteen teams are set to contest the 24th Bayern-Rundfahrt. The German stage race begins in Grassau and will run from May 21-25, featuring six stages over the five days, including a 16.5km individual time trial on the first day.

The team list includes Ag2R-Prévoyance, Auswahl Deutschland/Bayern, Team Coast, Crédit Agricole, Team CSC, Team fakta, Gerolsteiner, Jean Delatour, Marlux, Merlin München, Palmans-Collstrop, Phonak Hearing Systems, Saeco, Sidermec, Telekom, Vermarc Köln, Team Wiesenhof, ZVVZ.

Stages

May 21 - Stage 1: Grassau-Reit im Winkl, 114.7km
May 21 - Stage 2: Reit im Winkl, TT, 16.5km
May 22 - Stage 3: Siegsdorf -Plattling, 200.5km
May 23 - Stage 4: Plattling-Grafenau, 167.7km
May 24 - Stage 5: Grafenau-Freystadt, 218.6km
May 25 - Stage 6: Freystadt-Höchstadt a.d.Aisch, 163km

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