News for January 18, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry and Jeff Jones
Has Pantani found his team?
French sports daily l'Equipe reported Friday that after several failed negotiations with possible teams and/or team mergers, Marco Pantani may have found his home for 2003. Dubbed Mercantone Uno-Scanavino-La Verve, the new team- which in effect is Pantani's old Mercatone Uno team- is expected to be finalised by next Monday or Tuesday. Faced with a diminishing number of possibilities for the coming season, Pantani seemed humbled by the latest decision.
From his training camp in Majorca, Pantani offered little bravado concerning the new arrangements. "I'm no longer the man people knew the last few years," he acknowledged. "I have matured, and I don't want to avoid the reality. Either I will be capable of having a big Giro, at which point the organisers of the Tour could always invite me, or I will be beaten, and in that case there would be nothing I could do in a race like the Tour."
The next week will tell whether or not this round of contract talks will provide the Italian with a launch pad for a much-needed comeback season.
Dekker hopes to be back soon
Rabobank presents strong team for 2003
Erik Dekker's 2003 season has not begun in a particularly auspicious manner, but he hopes that the worst is out of the way early this year. Last year, a crash in Milan-San Remo in March saw him break his left hip, an injury that plagued him for the rest of the season. This year, while at the Rabobank team's training camp in Javea, he bumped his left knee against a door, forcing him to take the rest of the week off the bike due to the pain.
At Rabobank's team presentation in Papendal on Wednesday, Dekker was hoping for good news soon. He described the accident as "Completely stupid. But at the moment it happened I thought that it would not cost me too much time."
Dekker has not ridden since the accident, flying home from Spain immediately. He left with the Rabobank squad on Friday for a training camp in Italy, where he hopes to be able to train "pain free" again.
Injuries aside, Rabobank is hoping for a solid year in 2003, with new signings Oscar Freire and Robbie Hunter joining experienced campaigners Erik Dekker, Michael Boogerd and American Levi Leipheimer. Freire, who is brilliant but fragile, is one of the team's big hopes for Milan-San Remo, a classic that Rabobank normally finds it hard to do well in. A top placing by Freire in that race could really set the team on its way to win the team prize in the World Cup, as it did in 2001.
Of course, Dekker and Boogerd will be the main men in the other spring classics, while Freire (if fit) could be a handy third man for Amstel Gold. For the grand tours, Rabobank has pinned its hopes on Levi Leipheimer for the Tour de France, and will also send a strong team to the Vuelta, again with Freire targeted to win stages.
Overall, Rabobank 2003 looks better than Rabobank 2002. If the stars stay out of trouble, then we should see some orange fireworks in the big races this year.
Kupfernagel aims for Monopoli
Hanka Kupfernagel, who considered skipping the upcoming cyclo-cross world championships after a knee injury, will indeed line up for the start in Monopoli, Italy. In only her second outing since the injury, Kupfernagel had a strong showing at the German nationals last weekend. In the end her chances for victory were dashed by a fall, but her second place performance was a good omen for the world's.
Although she feels the course in Monopoli could suit her, Kupfernagel is still guarded in her expectations for the event. "It's only my third international event in the season," she commented. "The competition will be tough, and there will be strong riders from the USA and Canada. I might be disappointed if I don't finish in the top five, but it is still early and I'm concentrating on my preparation."
End of season for Groenendaal?
Any Dutch chances of winning the World Cup or the World Cyclo-cross Championships have more than likely been dashed, as their top rider Richard Groenendaal has injured his hamstring. Groenendaal said that he doubts whether he can start in the next World Cup in Wetzikon on Sunday, "unless the situation improves very quickly."
Groenendaal is currently the leader in the World Cup, but missing a round would be disastrous.
Inaudi out of JCTDU
Adding to the growing list of pre-race injuries, Ag2R's Nicolas Inaudi has pulled out of the upcoming Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. Inaudi has been forced to rest for two weeks due to pain stemming from the cartilage in his knee. Andy Flickinger will assume Inaudi's spot in the Ag2R-Prévoyance roster.
Preliminary UCI Division II registration
The UCI has released the preliminary list of Division II professional teams for the 2003 season. The deadline for teams to register with the UCI has been extended from January 15 to the 31st, and at this point six teams remain which have not satisfied the necessary requirements. Until officially registered, teams are not permitted to race in UCI-sanctioned events. Finally, if these teams' records are received by January 31yet still do not comply with the rules, their candidature will be rejected.
As of January 15, the following teams are recognized by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) as TT/II for the 2003 season:
05 Orbitel (Colombia)
Amore e Vita - Beretta (Poland)
Also see: Cyclingnews' Team Database
Jimenez: iBanesto or nothing
By João Cravo
José Maria Jimenez might be near to his retirement. After a blank 2002 season due to his never ending depression, Jimenez says that he's ready to race again. Unfortunately, his former team iBanesto.com does not seem to be convinced about Jimenez's self-pronounced recovery. For iBanesto's team manager Eusebio Unzue, things aren't that clear. Unzue has strong doubts about Jimenez' aptitude to ride again, and doesn't look like taking the risk of seeing Jimenez break down under race pressure.
While iBanesto is still keeping its 'no, but maybe later yes' tactics, Jimenez believes that his career isn't finished yet, and goes riding his bike every morning, four hours a day. He wants to be prepared for the hour that Eusebio Unzue calls him back home. "There are still mountains to climb and to beat," states Jimenez, "and I want to win races for the team I was on for so long."
"It's not a matter of money for José Maria," he emphasises, "it's just the love of cycling and the will to remain useful, alive maybe."
But what will happen if iBanesto doesn't trust in his full recovery? Then Jimenez, who is still undergoing psychotherapy, will give up. Despite offers from teams like Milaneza-MSS and Team Coast, José Maria Jimenez is too attached to iBanesto to accept alternatives. It's iBanesto or nothing at all. Jimenez can't be anybody else but himself.
De Paoli's three year suspension confirmed
The Italian Cycling Federation's Appeals Commission has confirmed the disqualification of Daniele De Paoli for three years. The former Alessio rider was implicated in the 2001 Giro raids in San Remo, and in 2002 was recommended for a four year suspension by the CONI anti-doping commission. At first, he was only given six months by the Italian Cycling Federation, but this was subsequently increased to three years. De Paoli's appeal to have his sentence reduced was rejected today by the FCI.
The FCI Appeals Commission also rejected an appeal by CONI to change the verdict in the Davide Casarotto case. Casarotto was also implicated in the Giro raids, but has now been cleared of any involvement.
Moriarty, Evans prepare for top level pro events
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
This Sunday Irish international Eugene Moriarty will rub shoulders with riders of the calibre of Tour de France Green Jersey Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke, Brad McGee and Cadel Evans when he lines out as part of a record-sized field in the BMC Software Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat, Victoria.
The Listowel rider showed he is in promising condition of late when he rode strongly in last week's Geelong Bay Classic amateur events. Moriarty was 6th in the opening event at Rye and also collected sprint points in the opening three races of the five-race series (Rye, Portarlington and Geelong), eventually finishing tenth overall and an excellent second in the points classification. He will be hoping to carry some of that sprinting form into Sunday's Australian championships, although given Robbie McEwen's devastating finish, the defending champion's rivals will surely do everything in their power to break up the field long before the final kilometre.
Meanwhile, another Irish amateur is preparing for his forthcoming appointment with some of the world’s big professional names in the Tour of Langkawi. Northern rider Tommy Evans had indicated that he was to scale back his international racing due to marriage plans, but his fine stage win in the Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia last August has led to an invitation to compete with Team Telekom Malaysia in Langkawi. Evans is expected to act as team sprinter in the race, which runs from January 31st- February 9th.
Team Telekom Malaysia won the best Asian team prize in last year’s race and will be hoping to make a similarly good impression this season. Tonton Susanto of Indonesia, Wong Kam Po of Hong Kong, Malaysian duo Tsen Seong Hoong and Nor Effandy Rosli, plus the Italian Simone Mori (winner of the Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia 2002) comprise the remainder of the team line-up.
Scanlon to make pro debut Tuesday
Former world junior champion Mark Scanlon will this Tuesday make his professional debut with the Ag2R-Prévoyance team when the Tour Down Under kicks off in Adelaide, Australia with a 50 kilometre criterium. The 22 year old Sligoman secured a place on the first division French team when he rode impressively in a five week trial last autumn, taking a number of strong placings and showing that he has the ability to make a big impact in the pro ranks.
Scanlon will be joined on the team by a number of their established professionals, including Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu. A strong field has been amassed for the season opener, with defending champion Michael Rogers, Quick-step teammate Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo), Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole), Cadel Evans and Steffan Wesemann (Telekom) and the FDJeux.com trio of Brad McGee, Baden Cooke and Jacky Durand all traveling for the race. Also appearing will be a team ONCE selection, with Tour yellow jersey holder Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano likely to attract much interest from the cycling-mad crowds.
Scanlon's goals in the race will be to ride well for the team and log some good-quality racing miles in advance of a spring campaign which may see him ride some of the World Cup classics. However, considering the ambitious and focused way he tackled his stage last autumn, it is quite possible that somewhere along the roads of the six stage event, the Sligoman will try to get his Irish champions jersey to the front of the action.
CTC denounces 'paltry sentence' for driver
Cycle Touring and Campaigning (CTC) has condemned the 'paltry' sentence handed out to a driver after her actions caused a cyclist's death. The woman was not banned from driving and was fined just £135 with six penalty points when she pleaded guilty to careless driving after her car hit cyclist Jason Salter causing him fatal head injuries in a crash in Norfolk, UK last August.
The driver attempted to overtake 17-year-old Jason as traffic approached but gave him too little room and did not even cross the central white line. The woman said Jason wobbled as she passed him and lost control of his bike but admitted in court that she should have waited before overtaking. He died of his injuries the day after the crash.
Rule 139 of the Highway Code states that drivers should "give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would a car when overtaking."
CTC recently backed plans by the Director of Public Prosecutions David Calvert-Smith to encourage prosecutors to bring tougher charges when custody is justified.
"The court in this case has sent out a frightening message: it is fine to drive in a way that you know will endanger others," said Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Manager. "The driver has been largely absolved of responsibility for Jason's death despite admitting in court that her action was wrong. The least that the court should have done was ban this woman from driving. The message for government is clear: motorists must be forced to take more responsibility for road safety."
For more information on CTC's efforts, see www.ctc.org.uk
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)