News for January 22, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Millar wants out of "Cofidis system"
In an in-depth interview with l'Equipe, David Millar left no doubt that he is ready for a change, ready to leave the French Cofidis team with whom he turned professional in 1997. Millar pulled no punches when speaking of the team's structure, whereby riders are paid according to their individual rankings, fostering a disunity within the team. "At the end of last season, I understood that with the Cofidis system we couldn't build a palmarès," Millar confided. "Everything is based on UCI points and the goal in races is not to win but to have the highest number of placed finishers. As a result, we hardly ever won."
Despite an offer from the Cofidis management to renew his contract for another three years, Millar declined. His employers felt his demands were too great, but as Millar said frankly, "when someone doesn't want to re-sign, placing the bar too high is one way of refusing without having to explain why."
Millar has been tipped on many occasions as the next big star in cycling, particularly after his prologue win in the 2000 Tour de France. In his six years as a pro, however, Millar has not amassed the victories many expected, and he knows it. "Everybody has spoken about me for years as being capable of winning a grand tour, but me, when I look at my results, I know that I haven't accomplished much."
"Cofidis is a team loyal to its riders... Since my start in 1997, nobody put any pressure on me," he continued. "They always told me, 'You're young, you have time, don't worry.'"
Acknowledging the freedom afforded to him as a leader of the team for the past several seasons, Millar nonetheless remains critical of the individualistic performances of his teammates, spurred on by the promise of higher salaries based on personal achievements. "The sprinters in the team, at the end of the season, they have no one to work for them," he explained. "For me, at the Tour of Spain, there were two guys who didn't wait for me in the mountains. With a system like that, you can't have a real team."
So what next for 26 year old Millar? For one thing, he's ready to take a tougher approach to succeeding as a top level pro. "I used to go see friends the four corners of the world," he explained, "I had a good time with them and I tried to be different because I didn't want to accept the image of a professional cyclist who could never let himself be distracted. Today I see things differently. I've told myself that, finally, the end is not that far away and I can give more without a problem."
Giving more, oddly enough, could even mean accepting greater responsibilities as a teammate rather than a team leader. Millar even went so far as to say he'd prefer, for example, to experience a Tour de France win in the service of Lance Armstrong than to continue on his current path. "That's what I miss, victory. Not my own victory, but a collective victory, one that sparks emotions."
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago takes shape
Dierckxsens and Capelle motivated
Ludo Dierckxsens, 36, is looking forward to the next two years with as much motivation as he's ever had. The Belgian classics specialist is embarking upon the first season of a two year deal with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, where he will be joined by compatriots Ludovic Capelle and Tom Steels, each of whom is also seeking a fresh start with team manager Gérard Bulens.
"Gérard Bulens has, I believe, created the perfect blend of youth, talent, and experience," Dierckxsens told La Dernière Heure, speaking of his new boss. "The arrival of Tom Steels and Ludovic Capelle in the team has only increased our confidence for the future. Tom is a classy rider who will bring a lot to the team." After two week-long training camps in Spain, Dierckxsens will join the team in Italy for final preparations for the season before beginning competition at the Etoile de Bessèges in France. "I am really anxious to see us all working together."
Equally anxious is Capelle, who joins Landbouwkrediet-Colnago after a less than stellar stay at the French Ag2R-Prévoyance team. Happy to be joining what he believes will be a more congenial atmosphere, Capelle had no ill feelings towards the structure of his former team, but felt the personal touch was lacking. "The three times that (Ag2R team manager) Vincent Lavenu spoke to me, each time was to speak to me negatively... I've had more contact with Bulens in a few weeks than I did with Lavenu in two years!"
Capelle, a former Belgian national champion, looks forward to the spring classics, with a special yearning for the pavé of Paris-Roubaix. "I love the pavés of the 'Hell of the North.' To imagine a top ten at the Roubaix velodrome doesn't seem a fantasy to me."
Source: La Dernière Heure
Pressure continues at Team Coast
Team Coast's payroll woes continue, highlighted by the end of the month deadline set by the team's four Spanish riders to pay disputed back salaries. Lawyers for several riders have begun to make an appearance, visiting the team hotel Tuesday during the first training camp of the season. Swiss rider Alex Zülle, though not threatening any legal action of his own, is himself concerned about the financial situation in Team Coast, noting that "All of the foreign riders are concerned. Now it will probably go before the court."
Meanwhile, l'Equipe reports that Coast management have been in talks with Russian sponsor Itera about a possible deal to reinforce the team's finances. Itera, which has already been linked to a possible team deal with Andrei Tchmil, offered no comment on the situation.
Grönkvist to Team fakta
Team fakta has signed a two year contract with 27 year old Swede Tomas Grönkvist. The contract was made possible through a sponsorship deal with Swedish company Kvalitena AB, based in Stockholm. Grönkvist joins fakta from Amore & Vita, and is ranked 573 in the UCI standings, the 7th highest ranked Swede. With the addition of Grönkvist Team fakta brings its roster to 18 for the 2003 season.
iBanesto encourages Jiménez to lower expectations
Unsure of the possibilities of a new contract for 2003, José Maria Jiménez nonetheless stated that it would iBanesto or nothing should he continue in the pro ranks. It appears a place could still be available for Jiménez, who has suffered from severe depression, provided he keep his own expectations in check concerning his program and goals for the season.
iBanesto manager Eusebio Unzúe reportedly spoke with the rider last week, discussing the options for this season. "He's obsessed with returning to win the Tour and the Vuelta, because he can't conceive of training four hours a day without these goals, but we hope he can see things another way: as therapy," Unzúe said to Spanish daily Marca.
The team wants to offer 'Chava' a program that would, as Unzúe put it, "avoid placing overly demanding expectations on him, to be sure that it would not cause a relapse." Unzúe maintains that the door is open to Jiménez, so longer as he understands the conditions surrounding the offer and does not carry unrealistic expectations about his own comeback.
Tour Féminin not yet registered
Could the women's peloton be facing a year with only one grand tour? In addition to news that the Vuelta a España Femenina will be postponed due to a lack of sponsorship, it is possible the Grande Boucle Féminine (women's Tour de France) is facing similar troubles. Despite the popularity of the 2002 edition of the race, and announcements of a race start in Corsica, race organisers have yet to register the event with the UCI for 2003. According to the race organisation, the 12th edition of the Grande Boucle is scheduled for August 3-17.
Webcor Cycling Team for 2003
Veloce Sports, LLC announces the formation of a new American Division III professional road team, the Webcor Cycling Team, managed by former Shaklee Team director Frank Scioscia. The team will contest the Sea Otter Classic, Tour of Georgia, the USPRO Championships, and the San Francisco Grand Prix, in addition to other events throughout the United States.
The Webcor Cycling Team will ride Bianchi framesets equipped with Ritchey components and wheelsets. Product sponsors include Voler Cycling apparel, Kaenon Polarized sunglasses, Sidi shoes, LOOK pedals, and Vredestein tires. The Webcor Cycling Team grew out of the Alto Velo Bicycle Racing Club, one of the largest amateur clubs in the country. Pro Team members Ted Huang and Dario Falquier played a key role in founding the club's elite squad.
2003 Webcor Cycling Team roster:
American Bicycle Racing declines USAC offer
The Board of Directors of American Bicycle Racing (ABR) has voted to decline an offer by USA Cycling to serve as a local association. "While the ABR Board is encouraged by changes and initiatives made at USA Cycling under the leadership of CEO Gerard Bisceglia," commented ABR President Sue Hefle, "it was felt that to accept a local association offer at this time was premature. We certainly are interested in keeping the lines of communication between ABR and USA Cycling open."
American Bicycle Racing is an independent bicycle racing sanctioning body, formed in 1995 with the goal of supporting grassroots cycling. The group sanctions bicycle racing and touring events, as well as biathlon/triathlon events in 29 states. ABR is a member of the Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling (FIAC), whose members also include the American Cycling Association (ACA), The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA), and California Bicycle Racing.
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