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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for February 28, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

New assistant director for USPS

By Jeff Jones

At the presentation of the US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor's classics team today in Oudenaarde, a new member of staff was announced. Recently retired Belgian Six Day specialist Lorenzo Lapage (36) has been signed as an assistant directeur sportif to Johan Bruyneel and Dirk Demol. With the team adding Belgian sponsor Berry Floor this year, Lapage's role will partly be to assist in the PR side of things in Belgium, and partly to help Bruyneel and Demol during the races.

"We were friends for a long time," Bruyneel told Cyclingnews of his relationship with Lapage. "We started to race against each other in the juniors, and then as amateurs we raced together as a madison couple. Since then we have always been in contact, always good friends. The fact that I knew he was going to retire and we were looking for someone else...for me he was the ideal person. He has good knowledge, he speaks languages, he's a social guy. I think he can get along well with the riders."

Lapage also has the advantage that he's very close to the age of the riders, and that was in Bruyneel's mind too. "When I stopped racing and I started this, I was really close," he said. "Since then it's been five years. There's some young guys here and already I can feel the difference. In that way, I think getting a young guy keeps the link there. That is very important."

Lapage was in two minds about what to do this year, but in the end he accepted the position at USPS and hasn't looked back. "Normally I wanted to go one more year in cycling, so it was hard to stop," he told Cyclingnews. "Of course the chance Johan gave me was to direct a top team. Cycling was for me a dream. I dreamed as a child of doing it professionally and I did it for 14 years. With this, hopefully it gives me the chance to continue. No longer on the bike, but still with a lot of passion for cycling. It's great for me."

As to his role, Lapage said that "For the first year Johan said to me 'first I have to learn everything'. I was always on the bike but now when I was with Johan in Algarve in Portugal, I found that there's so much work behind everything. That's my first goal to learn everything and to do it in a good way. I'm very motivated for that, and of course I have Johan and Dirk in front of me. I'll follow them and what they say, I do."

A full report, interviews and photos from the presentation will follow.

Mondini back on Saturday

Italian rider Giampaolo Mondini will do his first race for almost a year this weekend since the Three Days of De Panne in April 2002. The 30 year old will ride in the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano in Switzerland for his new team Domina Vacanze-Elitron.

"I am determined and a little bit emotional," said Mondini, who was one of the few riders suspended (so far) for drug possession as a result of the Giro 2001 raids. "I want to demonstrate that I am still motivated to race and can reach important goals. In the past few months I have trained hard, but the physical condition should still increase. I will return to the peloton with the objective of getting rid of the past."

Power injury almost resolved

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Irish professional cyclist Ciaran Power is expected to finally make his 2003 season debut next Wednesday, with his troublesome knee all but recovered from injury. The 2002 FBD Milk Rás winner has been sidelined since the start of the season due to tendonitis, missing all of the Navigators squad's early assignments, but team manager Ed Beamon said that he expects the Waterford rider to be ready for action soon.

"Ciaran seems to be improving daily and I expect he will be racing in Feyt-le-Franc on March 5th. Hopefully it's straight up from there," said Beamon.

Power has trained hard during the off-season and, injury problems aside, the expectations are that he should be able to take his pro career to a new level this year.

Tour of Belgium 2003

The 2nd edition of the relaunched Tour of Belgium takes place between May 21-25 this year. With names such as Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Rik Van Looy, Rik Van Steenbergen, Patrick Sercu, and Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt on the organising committee, it's likely that this race is here to stay for a while. Indeed, the organisers have signed an agreement with the Belgian Wielerbond to hold it for the next 10 years, although of course that will depend on sponsorship.

The race will start in Oostende with a 176.5 km stage around the western part of Flanders. The following day will be similar, heading inland from Oostende to Tielt, Gent, and back via Eeklo to finish in Knokke Heist. The third stage will be the longest at 224 km, and takes the riders from Knokke Heist to Haacht, over some hillier territory. Stage 4 is a 21 kilometre time trial around Mechelen, and the race will finish the next day with a tough 201 km hilly stage between Mechelen and Liège.

15 teams with eight riders will start, including the likes of Frank Vandenbroucke, Tom Boonen, Tom Steels and Axel Merckx.

The stages

Stage 1 - May 21: Oostende-Oostende, 176.5 km
Stage 2 - May 22: Oostende-Knokke-Heist, 172.5 km
Stage 3 - May 23: Knokke-Heist-Haacht, 224 km
Stage 4 - May 24: Mechelen ITT, 21 km
Stage 5 - May 25: Mechelen-Liège-Ans, 201 km

Mechelen wants a Tour stage

The town of Mechelen, which will feature two stage starts in the Tour of Belgium this year, also wants to host a stage of the Tour de France in future. 2005 is the date, as it corresponds to the year that Eddy Merckx turns 60. The proposed stage would be a time trial, starting in Merckx's home town of Meise and finishing in Mechelen.

Dauphiné Libéré to start in Villard de Lans

The 55th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré will take place between June 8-15 this year. The race will start in Villard de Lans, in the Vercors mountain range, with a hill climb prologue. It will finish on the June 15 in Grenoble, but no further details have been released.

In 1996, the race finished in Grenoble on the short but steep climb of the Bastille when Luc Leblanc outsprinted Rominger for the stage, and Indurain won the overall. Lance Armstrong won last year and will probably be back, as the Dauphine Libéré often takes in the climbs that will be used in the Tour de France a few weeks later.

Courtesy of Russell Standring/grenoblecycling.free.fr

Geelong World Cup news

Aussie stars visit Belmont Primary School

The Australian Institute of Sport women's cycling team will ride into Belmont Primary School today (Friday, February 28th) at 10.00am to visit the students and talk to them about the world of international cycling. The team includes reigning Australian women's road champion, Olivia Gollan, 29, who this week won the inaugural Geelong Bellarine Tour. Gollan, before becoming a full time cyclist two years ago, was a school teacher in Newcastle.

Joining her at the school will be team mates, Natalie Bates (22), Emma James (26), Jennifer Manefield (27), Oenone Wood (22), and Australian individual pursuit champion and former international rower, Amy Safe (26).

The team was invited to visit the school to talk about the sport, their preparation for the Geelong World Cup and to answer any questions the children might have about cycling and being a professional sportswoman.

General Information

The Geelong World Cup will get under way at 1.00pm on Sunday March 2. The riders will contest 17 laps of a testing 7 km circuit (119 km total distance) with the start/finish line on Eastern Beach Rd at Steampacket Gardens on Waterfront Geelong. Racing action will be broadcast to a big screen near the finish line to keep spectators up to date with the racing action.

Cyclingnews will also be providing full coverage of the race, which is the first World Cup road race of the year.

Local Road Closures

The Geelong World Cup will be conducted on fully closed roads with details of the road closures being advertised through local media. "All businesses along Waterfront Geelong and in the central city area will open as usual, giving spectators an opportunity to combine the race with a day's shopping or a relaxing restaurant meal," City of Greater Geelong Councillor, Shane Dowling said.

Waterfront Geelong, Brougham and Moorabool Streets will be closed in stages on Sunday March 2 for the Geelong World Cup. All roads of the course and within the course will be closed to all traffic from 10.30am Sunday with restrictions along Waterfront Geelong from Saturday. The roads will reopen from 4.00pm on Sunday. Motorists should use McKillop St as an alternative route to get across town.

Tow away zones will apply on the race course from 5.00am on Sunday morning through to 4.00pm Sunday afternoon.

Boost for County Riders in FBD Milk Ras

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

County riders in the FBD Milk Ras, which is scheduled from May 18-25, are being recognised for their contribution. Hopefully they will be strongly contesting the stage finishes in Roscrea, Clifden, Ballina, Letterkenny, Buncrana, Donegal Town, Oldcastle and the final stage in the Phoenix Park with the news that Cuchalann Crystal is to sponsor a special award for the first county rider across the line each day. The successful competitor will be presented with a piece of the appropriately named Cuchalann Crystal on the Presentation Platform at each stage end.

On top of that, Cycleways, the well-known cycle shop in Parnell Street in Dublin, are acknowledging the contribution that these competitors representing their respective counties contribute to the success of the 'Ras' each year. They will be sponsoring a special classification that will award the leading county riders in the overall General Classification.

Race Organiser, Dermot Dignam, a former competitor in the event, said "The new awards are an acknowledgement of the commitment and courage of Ireland’s part time racing cyclists. The FBD Milk Ras is one of the very few multi-stage international races that pits part time amateurs against some of the leading professional riders, including World Championship and Olympic Medallists - cycling people from all over the world marvel at the willingness of the amateurs to take on, and beat, the pros."

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