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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for January 6, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cyclingnews Top 10: Personalities

Who (was) who in 2002? Here are Cyclingnews' picks of the most colourful identities in the sport of cycling over the past season. Where did you rate?

Phonak steps up in Ullrich bidding

Swiss division I team Phonak Hearing Systems has become another player in the Jan Ullrich bidding stakes. In an interview with Spanish sports daily AS, technical director Alvaro Pino said that "The best offer that Ullrich has now is from Phonak. Neither CSC, nor Coast are able to guarantee that the rider will bring a sponsor with him. In our proposal to him, that is not a requirement."

Ullrich and his entourage are said to be worth around 3 million euros per year, however given that he has not raced for a year, his current worth is estimated at around half that figure, according to AS.

Pino added that "The performance of Ullrich is unknown after a year out of competition. But I have no doubt that if he fits in well with the team and recovers his form, he has sufficient class to win the Tour."

Copenhagen Six rescue plan

A few hours after the collapse of the roof of the Ballerup Siemens Arena, the management of Denmark's national stadium, Parken, offered to help the organisers rescue the Copenhagen Six Days, that was due to be held at the velodrome in Ballerup in the first week of February.

The old velodrome used by the Herning Six Days is still up in Herning, although it hasn't been used for some years. The track could be moved to Copenhagen and placed in one of the arenas in Parken, according to newspaper Ekstrabladet.

Six days race organizer Henrik Elmgreen will now contact Parken managing director Jørgen Glistrup on Monday to see if there is a possibility to organise the six day race in Copenhagen.

Jean Nuttli to Volksbank

Austrian Division III team Volksbank-Ideal has signed Swiss rider Jean Nuttli (St Quentin-Oktos). Nuttli, who lost 60 kilos to become a cyclist, is a time trial specialist and has twice won the Chrono des Herbiers, and has placed highly in the GP des Nations. Late last year, he made several attempts on the Hour Record, all of which were unsuccessful.

BankGiroLoterij in Spain

The Dutch BankGiroLoterij-Van Keulen team departed on January 5 for its first season training camp in Calpe, on the Spanish coast. The riders will remain there for the rest of January, hoping to take advantage of the warmer weather to train. The team will travel to Mallorca at the end of January to participate in the Spanish season opener, Mallorca Challenge.

The team presentation will take place on February 13 in Nijverdal at the Van Keulen headquarters. The team's second training camp will follow, starting on February 16 in Belgium and leading up to Omloop Het Volk on March 1.

National riders vie for spot in Telekom Malaysia team

The door is still open for national riders who hope to ride for Team Telekom Malaysia in the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2003, which runs from January 31 to February 9. Of the 10 national cyclists who are undergoing intensive training under national coaches Daud Ibrahim and Ng Joo Ngan, two will be released to the title sponsor's team.

Team Telekom Malaysia made its debut as an invitational team in 2000, and managed the 13th spot out of the 24 competing teams. In 2001 and last year, the team finished 7th overall in the team general classification.

This year, the seven man team will include at least two Malaysian riders, as well as three other Asian riders and two Europeans.

"We are leaving it to Telekom Malaysia (to decide on the final team members). As far as the organizers are concerned, the doors are still open for the national riders who aspire to ride for Team Telekom, irrespective of their past results or reputation," said First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd Executive Chairman Datuk Wan LokmanDato Paduka Wan Ibrahim.

Datuk Wan Lokman added Team Telekom Malaysia would want to retain their supremacy in the Asian competition, and also improve on their overall position. "As such, the team need to have the best lineup to shoulder their hopes."

The national riders currently under training are made up of old hands like Shahrulneeza Razali, Nor Effandy Rosli, Tsen Seong Hoong, Wong Ah Thiam, Musairi Musa and Mahazir Hammad, while the young bloods are Suhardi Hassan, Shahrizan Selamat, Sazlee Ismail and Yusof Abdul Nasir.

Since making its first appearance in 2000, national champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Nor Effandy Rosli and time triallist Musairi Musa were the only two riders who have donned the Team Telekom colours.

While Nor Effandy, based on his current form and vast experience in international races, looks like a safe bet for Team Telekom Malaysia, the fight for the other spot will be close and stiff.

Having been with the team twice in 2001 and 2002, Musairi, will again be the leading contender, but the current form of Wong Ah Thiam, who emerged champion in last month's national trials should also put him in a strong position to stake his claim.

Former SEA Games gold medallist Shahrulneeza could also make his way into the team for the first time but for Seong Hoong, it will all depend on his fitness and recovery following the accident in Tour de Taiwan.

In line with its efforts to unearth young guns, Telekom Malaysia might opt for the second echelon riders like Suhardi Hassan, Shahrizan Selamat or Sazlee Ismail. Suhardi, the national climber shot to fame following his fine performance in last year's Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia, is also a strong contender.

With Asian giants Iran in the fray for the first time, Team Telekom Malaysia are expected to face stiff challenge and a strong lineup would ensure their domination in the Asian competition.

Towering Insane

Photo: © Steve Thomas
Click for larger image

While much of the world was huddled around eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas Day, extreme mountain biker Steve Thomas from North Wales, UK, was becoming the first ever person to attempt to ride a mountain bike down one of the world's tallest buildings - the KL Telekom Tower.

Standing an impressive 421 meters high, the tower is the fourth tallest telecom tower in the world, and the tallest in Southeast Asia. The plan was to descend the tower by using the escape staircase. Which is something that has never been attempted in any of the other telecom towers around the world.

Riding a full suspension Saracen Recoil Steve hopped and bounced his way down the near vertical staircase and around its countless dead turns; "It was a whole lot steeper and twistier than anticipated, which made for a bouncy and interesting ride," he commented after the ride.

The Saracen Cycles sponsored rider has amassed a number of extreme feats over the years, including; riding across the world's highest plateau, down the Cresta Run, across the most dangerous ridge in the UK, setting an unassisted MTB land speed record, and becoming the first and fastest ever mountain biker to ride from Lands End to John O'Groats (tip to toe of the UK).

What comes next? That's not certain as yet, but watch this space for another possible first during the next few weeks.

Wildside MTB launch

Australian MTB race, Wildside 2003 will take place on the west coast of Tasmania between Saturday February 1 and Tuesday February 4, covering over 200 gruelling kilometres. Now in its second year, the event is well established with 270 confirmed competitors from around Australia and overseas. Paul Sproule, Director of Events Tasmania will be present for the official launch at Bells Parade, Latrobe on Thursday January 9 at 11.00am.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)