Latest News for July 30, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Track World's qualifiers begin
Bradley Wiggins threw down the challenge to his world championship opponents when he posted a scorching time in qualifying for the men's 4,000m individual pursuit in Stuttgart. The Briton rode four minutes 17.342 seconds, miles ahead of his nearest rival, last year's silver medallist, Luke Roberts of Australia, who clocked 4:21.822. Wiggins will go up against Russian Alexey Markov in the first round.
While Australia's Mark Jamieson also made it through to the first round, he qualified seventh with a time of 4:26.121, meaning he will meet his compatriot next. Frenchman Philippe Gaumont, attempting to back up after riding for Cofidis in the Tour de France, bombed out, finishing 11th. German champion Daniel Becke was fifth fastest.
Robert Bartko was unable to contest the national titles due to commitments with his professional team, Rabobank, and secured Germany's second start after beating Jens Lehmann in a 2,000m time trial at the weekend. German cycling federation director Burckhard Bremer said, "Bartko's performance leads one to the conclusion that he is capable of winning a medal at the world championships, whilst Lehmann was not able to confirm his form."
Bartko went some way to justifying the decision when he finished sixth in qualifying.
Another Briton, Paul Manning, qualified fourth with a time of 4:22.491 behind Spain's Sergi Escobar Roure. Reigning champion Bradley McGee of Australia was ruled out of the championships last week after suffering hunger flats throughout the Tour de France. He is in Paris having tests in a bid to find the cause of the problem.
Hoy set to defend at Track World's
Great Britain's Chris Hoy finds himself in a unique position when he lines up to defend his world 1,000 metres time trial crown here tomorrow night. Never before has the strapping Scot been the last rider to set off on the painful journey against the clock.
But this time, as reigning title holder, he will set off well aware of the time he needs to beat to again wear the rainbow jersey of world champion. Then and only then will he be able to turn from the hunted into the hunter.
"I've never been in this position before, it's a bit more pressure but I quite enjoy that," Hoy said. "You've gotten to see all the riders race before you, you know the time you've got to beat, that's a new thing for me.
"You can't ignore the times that go up before you. You can try and block them out but you still see the scoreboard, you still know there's good times up there. You've just got to relax and deal with it."
Hoy has been suffering bouts of cramping in his thigh in recent days but is confident physiotherapy will solve the problem. And he is predicting it will take an outstanding time - probably a low 1m01s to win the kilo on an extremely quick 285m track.
In one of Britain's best chances of a gold medal along with the team sprint, two of Hoy's compatriots - Jason Queally and Jamie Staff - will be gunning for the winning time too. Olympic champion Queally is back from time off after last year's Commonwealth Games, while former BMX world champion Staff has already tasted world championship success in last year's team sprint with Hoy and Craig McLean.
Far from being a problem, Hoy believes the competition his countrymen pose on the track - at training and on the main stage - has made him the rider he is now.
"If you know that there's someone there either ahead of you or behind you that's snapping at your heels, it always pushes you that little bit more than you can do yourself," he said. "The competition, the fight, to try and get in the team, never mind win the actual race itself . Getting into the (Olympic) team is going to be very difficult for Athens.
"It can work against you to a certain degree. The French I think suffered from that in Sydney in the sprint competition because there were so many of them competing. "They basically raced against themselves before they even got to the final. Florian Rousseau was against Laurent Gane in the semifinals and they had three really hard rides before the winner went on to the final against Marty Nothstein, who had a relatively easy ride through.
"As long as you don't let it become such a competition within the team that it takes away from your preparation, it's good."
Outside of camp Britain, Australian journeyman Shane Kelly looms as a threat after winning the final World Cup round in Sydney. "The lead-up has been probably the best I've had," Kelly said. "Personally I feel I'm stronger and definitely a lot faster than I was at the World Cup in Sydney and also at last year's World's.
"This year I'm probably more confident than I've ever been because the preparation has been pretty good and because of the times I've been doing."
Also sure to be in the medals mix is German duo Stefan Nimke and Soren Lausberg. Meanwhile France's Arnaud Tournant and Mickael Bourgain are dangerous, although Tournant has been troubled by a back injury this year. One to watch will be Colombian Wilson Meneses, who secured two third places at World Cup events this year.
Follow Cyclingnews' full coverage of the World Track Championships here.
Organisers hopeful of Armstrong racing down under
By Gerard Knapp
With his plan to go for a sixth straight Tour de France victory next year, the organisers of Australia's Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under are hoping to secure five-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to Australia's largest stage race, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, to be held from January 20 - 25 next year.
Pressure is on the organisers to bring cycling's biggest name to the race, considered one of the Australian State's major international sporting events. An editorial in the South Australian newspaper, The Advertiser, insisted that race director Mike Turtur be armed with a "fabulously fat contract" to secure the presence of Armstrong and US Postal Service.
However, Turtur insists it is not (entirely) about money. "It's not just a question of going over with a suitcase full of money," he said. "Even if we had it, it's not about that. It's about timing."
Armstrong had been in discussions with the organisers for himself and the then US Postal Service team to compete in the 2003 JCTDU last January, but timing conflicts with the team presentation in the USA prevented their participation. Armstrong had spoken to Australian riders Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole), a two-time winner of the JCTDU, as well as his USPS team-mate Matt White, at last year's Clasica San Sebastian. Discussions with Turtur followed and the American rider expressed interest in bringing his family to Adelaide for some early season training, as well as competing in the six-stage race.
"However, due to commitments with his team in the United States he couldn't make it," Turtur said. "The good thing is that he's fully aware of the race. He's heard so much about it and he was pretty keen to come."
"We're confident we'll have a top line-up of teams, like we have in past years," Turtur said of the 2004 race.
A cycling gold medallist from the 1984 Olympics, Turtur keenly watched this year's Tour de France and noticed how many of the active break-away riders in the Tour also competed in the 2003 JCTDU, while other stars of this year's Tour had also been in Adelaide in January. The Tour's green jersey competition was largely a battle between the same riders who went shoulder-to-shoulder in the sprints at the JCTDU earlier this year.
Turtur said the stage race continues to gain momentum in Australia and in international cycling. The parcours and relatively-short stages (all are less than 160km) are designed to accommodate the training plans of the world's top professional riders, who are normally in training for the spring classics and full European season.
The race regularly features several Division I teams, world champions and the winners of many of cycling's monuments. Nonetheless, expectations in South Australia are high, given that the race is partially under-written by the State Government. "There is no doubt Armstrong's presence would raise the prestige of the event as high as the French Alps he so relentlessly ascends each July," said the editorial in the newspaper.
Organisers have also added the National Women's Criterium Series to be held on the same race parcours, as well as veterans race series, the Be Active cycle tour open to all cyclists. For further details, see the official site: www.tourdownunder.com.au.
Leblanc more than satisfied
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has declared himself "immensely happy" with the centenary Tour, which came down to the closest victory margin in years and presented a rekindled battle between now five-time winner Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich. Leblanc, who is already thinking ahead to 2004, revealed to l'Equipe some of the moments which defined the historic Tour and set it apart from recent editions.
When asked at what point he knew the Tour would be a special event, Leblanc didn't hesitate in his reply. "Since the start at the Réveil Matin in Montgeron, an incredible place full of intersections, railroads, traffic circles... everything but a place for a formal start," he said. "Despite all that, there was an abundance of people, sunshine, and joy, and that brought out the beauty of the race."
Leblanc did not contain his own joy in the heated battle between the Tour's two biggest riders, Armstrong and Ullrich.
"To see this magnificent blue machine- Ullrich- take 1'30" from Armstrong [in the first time trial] who found himself diminished in the extreme heat... That was magnificent," Leblanc said enthusiastically. "Then there was Luz-Ardiden, with Armstrong winning after catastrophe, and the 'fair-play' of Ullrich. I had asked that of the riders at the briefing in Paris, and it was a great satisfaction that they heard me. The spirit of the centenary shined through in this Tour, a spirit of chivalry."
Casper seals deal with Cofidis
French sprinter Jimmy Casper is set to seal the deal with Cofidis, leaving behind his FDJeux.com team for a change of scene. Casper is expected to sign a two year deal with Cofidis.
"The contract is in my hands, I just have to drop it in the mail," he told l'Equipe. "I had three very good years at FDJeux.com, but it's always good to try something new. It's a challenge, and a new motivation which will afford me some new opportunities."
Botcharov joins Crédit Agricole
Russian climber Alexandre Botcharov has joined the post-Tour transfer fray, signing a two year contract with Crédit Agricole. Botcharov, 28, who currently rides for Ag2R-Prévoyance, turned pro in 2000 and counts among his best performances a second place behind Richard Virenque on the Tour de France stage to Mont Ventoux in 2002.
Organisers lament McEwen's disappearing act
The organisers of the criterium in Aalst, Belgium tried their best to keep the tension high after the finishing sprint by declaring a photo-finish, according to a Het Nieuwsblad Wednesday, two days after the first post-Tour evening criterium in Aalst. But according to many cycling connoisseurs it was clear that winner Alessandro Petacchi had thrown his front wheel across the line with a significant advance on Robbie McEwen.
The "kangaroo from Everbeek couldn't handle another defeat and disappeared like a thief into the night," wrote the paper. The organisers went looking for McEwen but he was nowhere to be found. "Revenge in Aalst has no meaning, I have to beat Petacchi and Cooke in the Tour next year," McEwen had told TV1 before the start.
Now who said criteriums are fixed?
In the mean time, Tour green jersey winner Baden Cooke clearly enjoyed his trip to the 'city of the onions' and the carnival. "This city is really nice, a beautiful place," he said. "Next year I'll be back here to win."
OLN Audience grows
Just as the CBS network posted higher ratings for its 2003 Tour de France coverage relative to last year, America's primary broadcaster of the race, the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) enjoyed a notable increase in its viewing audience. The network registered some of the highest ratings in its nine year history, averaging over 300,000 homes for the nightly prime time coverage. The rating of 0.58 for the evening broadcast more than doubles the 0.34 calculated in 2002, when only 145,000 homes tuned in.
The network, which remains a niche in the sea of cable television channels, was available to 52 million homes this year, compared to 42.5 million in 2002. As OLN chairman Roger Williams explained in an AP report, "Outdoor Life Network's coverage of the Tour de France shows that niche networks can attract large audiences for major events."
The live coverage of Saturday's individual time trial from Pornic to Nantes received a 1.5 rating, a new record for the network, equalling roughly 806,000 homes. The final stage into Paris, however, was not broadcast live.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)