Latest News for February 28, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Gonzalez clear to join Fassa Bortolo
The UCI's Professional Cycling Council (PCC) announced today that Aitor
Gonzalez has been cleared to join Fassa Bortolo, effective immediately,
following a lengthy contract dispute between Fassa Bortolo and Domane
Vacanze-Elitron over the 2002 Vuelta winner's signature.
Domane Vacanze-Elitron manager Vincenzo Santoni still maintains that
he never signed the release for Gonzalez to join Fassa Bortolo, and indeed
the UCI's arbitrator in the case had been unable to verify just whose
signature is on that release. The dispute over the release from the original
contract with Santoni will likely be pursued by further legal action,
which would not affect the UCI's decision to allow Gonzalez to join Fassa
Armstrong more motivated than ever
In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, US Postal director Johan
Bruyneel affirmed that Lance Armstrong is hard at work, preparing for
a possible fifth consecutive Tour de France title. Although this could
be a record-tying year for Armstrong, Bruyneel noted that the pressure
on his star rider and the team is not necessarily greater this year, because
each year Lance 'starts from zero' in his build up to the Tour. "Just
because you have won four Tours, you are not automatically going to win
five," said Bruyneel.
Armstrong makes his 2003 debut at the Vuelta a Murcia next week, but
the team's focus will be on building fitness. "Lance is going well because
he has trained a lot, but I don't believe he'll be among the best, and
in fact I would prefer he not be at his best," Bruyneel explained. "But
I repeat, Lance has trained hard this winter."
Armstrong will race the Setmana Catalana and Circuit de la Sarthe stage
races, before he makes another run at his favourite spring classic, the
Amstel Gold Race. A calendar change this year means Amstel will come a
week before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which Armstrong will likely
ride, along with the Flèche Wallonne. Another scheduling change
for 2003 is the shift from spring to fall for the Ride for the Roses,
meaning Lance will not have to travel to the United States in the middle
of the classics season.
Does Bruyneel see Armstrong riding beyond 2004? "I don't know, but it's
possible," he said. "I wouldn't say yes for sure, but nor would I count
it out; I think he is more motivated than ever."
On the subject of Armstrong's separation from his wife Kristen, Bruyneel
noted at Thursday's team presentation with Berry Floor in Belgium, "the
same thing happened to me in 1992, and I had a good year that year!"
Zülle to retire this season
Thirty four year old Alex Zülle (Team Coast) has indicated that
he will retire at the end of the season, according to an SID report. Speaking
during the Vuelta Valenciana, where he is in third overall, the Swiss
rider said he hopes to ride the Tour de France one more time. "Eleven
years ago I got my first yellow jersey on my birthday," he explained.
"The prologue of the Tour is again on my birthday this year. I hope that
I can take the jersey once more."
Zülle started his career in 1991 with ONCE, where he rode for for
seven years and won the Vuelta España twice. He joined Festina
in 1998 and was embroiled in the doping affair during the Tour de France.
After his suspension, he came back in 1999 and 2000 with Banesto, before
moving to Team Coast in 2001.
Pantani still on ice
Although Marco Pantani is impatiently waiting the decision of the CAS
(Court of Arbitration for Sport), the embattled Italian is biding his
time by training intensively with some outings up to eight hours a day.
Pantani is in Spain, where he's training with faithful teammate Daniel
Clavero. Reports are that Pantani is in great shape, looking to ride well
once he returns. The question remains whether or not he will even be able
to race until May. Pantani had hoped to come back either at Sunday's Clasica
de Almeria, or next week at the Vuelta a Murcia, but it looks unlikely
he'll line up for either race. At this point, the decision is expected
to come next week.
Bad luck for Scheirlinckx
Flanders-iteamNova.com rider Bert Scheirlinckx will not ride in Saturday's
opening Belgian classic, Het Volk, after suffering a couple of recent
setbacks. He was run over while in Italy and received bruises on his upper
calf. He was also sick last week and has thus been placed on the reserve
list for the race. The Flanders-iTeamnova.com squad for Omloop Het Volk
and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne will be Ronny Assez, Bjorn Cornelissen, Jamie
Drew, Scott Guyton, Jurgen Landrie, Thierry Masschelein, David McKenzie
and Staf Scheirlinckx. Frans Assez and Franky Van Haesebroucke will direct
Wauters out of Het Volk
Following substitutions for three riders suffering from Bronchitis, Rabobank
has made yet another change for its Het Volk roster. Belgian Marc Wauters,
suffering from the flu, will be replaced by Maarten den Bakker.
Irizar looks to Armstrong for inspiration
Seven months ago, 23 yea old Spanish elite rider Markel Irizar was diagnosed
with the same disease that had changed the life of his idol Lance Armstrong.
Fate can be a strange path. In 1997, as a teenager, Markel wrote a letter
of support to Armstrong. Little did he know that a common bond might bring
the two riders together in 2003.
At least that is the hope of Euskaltel-Euskadi manager Miguel Madariaga,
who has found the ideal messenger in Armstrong's teammate, Roberto Heras.
Irizar is not likely to become another Armstrong, but surely Markel has
the same inner will that allowed the four time Tour winner to return to
the sport stronger than ever.
Whatever Irizar's future in the sport, it will certainly be less painful
than the cancer, the sacrifice of a testicle, and undergoing chemotherapy.
"People try to encourage you, saying you're a tough guy," Irizar told
the Basque paper El Correo, "and you find yourself a lot much tougher
than they think you are."
The first thing that Armstrong did after he underwent surgery, and after
the few first chemotherapy sessions, was ride a bike again. So did Irizar,
despite his weakness and the loss of muscular tissue. The Orbea-Olarra-Consultec
rider is training with rides up to 60km, thinking of an eventual return
to racing. "The day I compete again [possibly next July], I want to be
back for good," said an enthusiastic Irizar. "I expect the difficulty
will be trying to recover my past level, but I believe I can do that."
Irizar had come close to signing a professional deal with Euskaltel-Euskadi
team. That opportunity has been delayed, but team manager Miguel Madariaga
announced at his team's presentation this year his intention to keep the
door open for Markel in case of a future full recovery.
Courtesy of João Cravo
McCauley signs with Giant Asia Racing
Only two weeks after announcing his retirement from International racing,
New Zealand Road Champion Gordon McCauley has announced that he has signed
with a new Asian-based team. McCauley has signed with Giant Asia Racing,
a new Division III team of about ten riders, including three Australians.
The team will focus on Asian racing and on the program are the Tours
of Japan, Hokkaido, Taiwan and Malaysia. McCauley also said that the team
will leave for Europe on 5 March for a few months racing before returning
to racing in Asia. "The main reason for joining the team and going back
to International racing is that I haven’t ridden an Olympics yet," said
Courtesy of Alan Messenger
GP Erik Breukink
The GP Erik Breukink, a three stage race in the Netherlands and Belgium,
will take place March 14-16. Twenty three teams are confirmed for the
event, lining up with eight riders each. Breukink describes the race as
a course for younger riders, and those who are building up for the classics
the next month, but not ready to over extend themselves in bigger events
such as Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico.
March 14 - Stage 1: Bladel (Netherlands) - Riemst (Belgium) - Bladel,
March 15 - Stage 2: Riemst - Malmédy - Riemst, 207.5 km
March 16 - Stage 3: Bladel (Netherlands) ITT, 18.7 km
Ag2R-Prévoyance (Agnolutto, Aus)
Alessio (S. Casagranda, Casarotto, Furlan)
Axa Cycling Team
Brioches la Boulangère (Magnien, D. Nazon)
Team Coast (Radochla, Wilhelms)
Cofidis (Farazijn, Gaumont, Peers)
CCCPolsat (Baranowski, Brozyna, Tonkov)
Team fakta (Bäckstedt, Sunderland)
FDJeux.com (Casper, Durand, McGee)
Jean Delatour (D. Lefèvre)
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Steels, Capelle)
Mercatone Uno, Index (Sgambelluri)
Rabobank (Den Bakker, De Groot, Wielinga)
Van Hemert Groep
Vlaanderen T-interim (Kleynen)
South Africa set for Tri-Nations track
South African cyclist Garth Thomas is confident for the Tri-Nations International
Track Challenge, to be held at the Bellville Velodrome on Friday, March
14. Thomas, 20, will represent South Africa in the madison, points and
elimination races, along with JP van Zyl, Shawn Lynch, Charl Jubber, and
Morne Blignaut, and Robbie Dale.
"I am proud to represent Team SA and a few good rides could well keep
me on the national selectors shortlist for World Cup action later this
year," said Thomas.
Eager to compete on home soil, the full Team SA lineup is as follows:
Team SA elite: JP van Zyl, Shawn Lynch, Charl Jubber, Garren Bloch, Garth
Thomas, Morne Blignaut Robbie Dale
SA Junior team: Raynold Smith, Nolan Hoffman, Stefan Geldenhuys, Dean
Hopf, Gurswin Daniels, Pierre Mouton, Derwin Benjamin
SA Federation team: Wikus Esterhuizen, Mario Nell, Oscar Cloete, Liam
da Roche, Ashley Kulsen, Emile Steenkamp, Avron Idas
SA Development team: Brinley Hector, Stefan Lombard, George du Toit,
Leroy Thomas, Lucian Adonis, Jason Berry, Glynn Moolman
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)