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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for February 26, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Dekker's early season definitely gone

The early season ambitions of Dutch cyclist Erik Dekker have had to be put on the back burner for the second year in a row, as a result of his right knee problems. A freak accident on New Year's Day, when Dekker bumped his knee against a door, led to a series of knee problems, which made training and racing too painful.

After six weeks, he has finally learned that an imbalance in the muscles above his right knee is what's giving him all the problems. "I cannot say it with 100 percent certainty, but it is unlikely to be anything other than that by sparing the knee during training, it's caused a difference in the muscle mass on the inside and outside of my upper left leg," said Dekker to ANP.

Now that he knows the problem, he can work towards correcting it. "I have to activate the inside muscle by always tightening it," he said. All is not lost, as he can still train on the road at a light intensity. However, "The urgency that I had because I wanted to race as soon as possible is now gone. I know now that this needs time."

Now he will concentrate on getting fully fit in time for the Tour. "The season is in three parts: the pre-season, the Tour and the late-season. I won't ride the first part, but that doesn't mean I won't start anywhere. I want to be right for the next part. And then it will be best that I am fully well in May."

Gonzalez wants to focus on racing

Aitor Gonzalez has yet to calm the storm surrounding his contractual obligations for the 2003 season, but the 2002 Vuelta a España winner is keen to look ahead and focus on his future in the sport. Following his breakout success in the Vuelta, Gonzalez has been placed among the list of grand tour heavyweights of the current generation.

In an interview with Marca Tuesday, Gonzalez commented on the road ahead, and the inevitable specialisation riders face in cycling today. "I would love to have a classic in my palmarès," Gonzalez said, "or a world championship." However, given his capabilities and the importance of the grand tours, he is unlikely to shift his focus from the three week races. "At the moment I must focus on the grand tours. If something comes to me in the process..."

As the world wonders who might ever topple Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France, Gonzalez is not racing to declare himself the designated challenger. The Giro is the Spaniard's major goal of the season, though the Tour has not been excluded. Gonzalez cites the difficulty for riders in this era to be competitive in back to back grand tours. He added that "Ferretti is betting more on the Vuelta for that reason, and because Armstrong still seems very strong."

Eager to see the dispute over his signature settled between Fassa Bortolo and Domane Vacanze-Elitron, Gonzalez continues his training with an eye on a slow, steady build up to the Giro. "Until the Vuelta al Pais Vasco I do not want to be too competitive," he explained. Before he does any racing, however, Gonzalez will need the UCI's blessing on his team for 2003.

No room for Wellens at Saey-Deschacht

World Cyclo-cross Champion Bart Wellens' "second option", if things with Spaar Select don't work out, is to join the new John Saey-Deschacht team at the end of this year. However, according to manager John Saey, there is "no option" to include Wellens in the team.

"Besides Bart, I would have to take the whole family plus Danny De Bie and Paul Ponnet," Saey was quoted in the RUG newspapers. "I am not crazy. Furthermore, he is under contract through 2004. With Berden we have our top rider. Now we can fill our team with young riders such as Wesley van der Linden and Wim Jacobs."

The negotiations between Wellens and Spaar Select are still ongoing. Wellens has demanded that new riders be signed to the team to assist himself and Erwin Vervecken. It's expected that by this time next week, things will be clearer.

Fredrik Kessiakof joins Motorex Bianchi

Fredrik Kessiakof of Sweden has joined the Motorex Bianchi MTB team. Kessiakof and his teammates will make their 2003 racing debut on March 2nd in Sellero, Italy for the Winter Championships, followed by the first race of the 'Internazionali d'Italia' on March 8th in Brescia. The team's president is Felice Gimondi, while Massimo Ghirotto acts as team manager. Motorex Bianchi carries elite, U23, and junior cross-country teams.

The full team roster is as follows:

Elite: Fredrik Kessiakof, Thomas Dietsch, Julien Absalon, Jose A. Hermida, Jenny Copnall, Fabiano Ferrari, Daniela Bresciani

U23: Adam Quadroni, Simone Lanteri

Junior: Cristian Cominelli, Nicoletta Bresciani, Hilary Savoldi

Valen to Bik-Powerplate

Dutch women's cycling team Bik-Powerplate has signed Norwegian champion Anita Valen to a two year contract. Valen came back to competition in 2002 after a a thirteen year hiatus that followed a severe crash in the 1988 Tour de l'Aude.

Zülle on track

Team Coast's Alex Zülle has enjoyed a quiet but promising start to the 2003 season according to a report on In preparation for his first major objective, Paris-Nice, Zülle used the racing of southern France as a season warm up. "For the first time I rode the Tour Méditerranéen," commented the Swiss. "The short, intense stages were ideal for my preparation." On Tuesday, Zülle took his preparations one step further with a second place in the opening time trial of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valenciana, finishing just five seconds behind winner Dario Frigo. Zülle has won the Vuelta Valencia twice in his career, in 1995 and again last year.

Virus for Moreau

Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole), suffering from severe fatigue since his return to France from the Tour Down Under, has been diagnosed with a virus and low white blood cell count. Moreau has had to abandon his last two races, the Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var. Providing his treatment is successful, Moreau is scheduled to return to racing this weekend in Switzerland at the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano.

Dutch championships in Rotterdam

This year's Dutch road championships, over the weekend of June 28-29, will be held in Rotterdam. The parcours is 13.5 kilometres, fairly flat, starting and finishing on Olympiaweg opposite De Kuip, and passing over the Van Brienenoordbrug and Erasmusbrug. The women and U23 riders will race on Saturday, June 28, while the elite men (with and without contract) will race on Sunday.

Rotterdam will host the championships in 2004 as well, and has the option of extending for another year after that.

RONA adds sponsor

The Canadian RONA team, which contains Geneviève Jeanson, Cathy Marsal and others, has added a new co-sponsor for 2003. Esker Spring Water has signed a two year agreement with the team, which will now be known as RONA-Esker. The Quebec based Esker brand, operated Eaux Vives Harricana Inc., only launched in September 2002, and is seeking Canadian and global exposure to try and carve a niche in the spring water market.

Despite the team's new identity, the Esker logo will not appear on the team's jerseys in 2003. The official jerseys had already been made when the agreement was finalized with the team's new sponsor. The new team logo and the Esker logo will be seen on the team's street wear, vehicles and their water bottles (of course).

Virenque pitches for sponsor

Lance Armstrong is not the only cyclist set to hit the commercial airwaves this year. Richard Virenque will appear in television commercials in France, pitching vitamins for Davitamon beginning in June. Davitamon is the co-sponsor of Virenque's Quick-Step team.

Third Hamilton 2003 meeting Tuesday night

The third of four Community Town Hall Meetings held by the organising committee for the Hamilton 2003 Cycling Championships will be held Tuesday night between 7 and 9 pm in Queensdale Public School, 67 Queensdale Avenue East (located between Upper James Street and Upper Wellington Street).

Team BBC

The Florida-based amateur team BBC (Best of the Bay Cyclists) has announced its 2003 roster. The team will be racing both regionally and nationally focusing on events in the Southeast and the Florida Point Series. The BBC team's sponsors include TREK/ABC Bicycles, Tom Singletary Attorney, Rudy Project, Defeet, Suncoast Eye Clinic, PyroApparel, Livable Streets Civil Engineering, Inc. and Tom Kerr, MD.

Full team roster






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