Latest News for June 2, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Simoni a proud winner
When Italy's three week grand tour finished in Milan yesterday, Gilberto Simoni finished with the Maglia Rosa on his shoulders for the second time in his 10th year as a professional cyclist. Simoni put all the problems of last year's Giro behind him, when he was thrown out for a positive test for cocaine, and proved that he deserved the favourites' status in this year's Giro by cruising to a crushing 7'06 win over Stefano Garzelli.
Cyclingnews interviewed Simoni last year, and it was clear then that he was a thoughtful, determined, hard working and serious professional, having put a lot of work into this year's Giro. His next objective is the Tour de France, where he will be one of the few riders capable of really challenging Lance Armstrong in the mountains. But even if the efforts of the Giro have taken too much out of him for the Tour, he can rest assured that this season's Giro has been an unqualified success.
Simoni himself is proud of his efforts, as all his hard work in the winter and at the beginning of the season paid off. "This victory is mine and only mine," he was quoted in Het Laatste Nieuws today. "I have been training like a man possessed. I reconnoitred the most important stages, sometimes in very bad weather conditions, I watched my food like a Spartan and worked fanatically on my position on the bike. OK, the team did a great job to defend the pink jersey, but even with a less strong team, I'd have won, that's for sure."
Simoni also thought that his victory would be harder to obtain from his rivals, especially from the likes of Casagrande, who abandoned in stage 18. "I expected more competition, but it's not my fault that Pantani rode like a shadow of his former self, and that Garzelli wasn't ready yet after his suspension. But I didn't have to take account of that all, I did my race, attacked and didn't give any presents."
Finally, Simoni was not happy with the treatment he received from the media and the fans (where were the Simoni Hooligans this year?). "If I say I don't need to thank anybody, it also applies to the media and the public," said a critical Simoni. "They only paid attention to Cipollini and Pantani. Me being the very best was of secondary importance. And if they hit me, I strike back, for myself and for the victory. When I had to leave the Giro 2002 without being guilty in the cocaine case, nobody - I say nobody - has defended nor consoled me, even knowing I wasn't guilty."
Born: August 25, 1971 at Palu' di Giovo, Italy
1994 Jolly Componibili
More Giro coverage
Tour of Germany preview
The 2003 edition of Germany's national tour kicks off in Dresden on Tuesday with a 178 kilometre stage to Altenburg. The Tour of Germany is a UCI 2.2 classed event, and is of course important for all the German teams, with Telekom (in particular) always under pressure to perform. On the German front there is also Gerolsteiner, with Bayern Rundfahrt winner Michael Rich in its ranks. Not forgetting Team Bianchi (the team formerly known as Team Coast), which contains the likes of Jan Ullrich and Angel Casero, as well as 2000 winner David Plaza. The final German team is Wiesenhof, with 1999 winner Jens Heppner the main star.
The rest of the 17 team field is well mixed, with three French teams, including Ag2r (Kirsipuu), La Boulangère (Nazon, Voeckler), and Crédit Agricole (Voigt, O'Grady), top Italian squads Fassa Bortolo (Bartoli, Basso), and Saeco (Celestino, Quaranta), Belgians Quick.Step-Davitamon (Museeuw, Rogers), Lotto-Domo (Merckx, Van Petegem), and Vlaanderen-T Interim (Devolder), as well as Bankgiroloterij (Voskamp, Koerts), ONCE (2002 winner Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano), Phonak (Strazzer), CCC Polsat (Nauduzs, Sosenka), and Team fakta (Sunderland, Bäckstedt and Arvesen).
The seven stage tour is generally hilly, although bunch sprints will still be quite common. The first two days contain a number of cat. 3 climbs, and these could be decisive in determining the overall winner. Stage 5 from Ravensburg to Feldberg is the toughest stage, measuring 191 kilometres and finishing atop a 1280m cat. 1 climb. The following day there is an undulating 40.7 km time trial in Bretten, and this will create some big gaps in the GC, before the final stage next Monday ending in Saarbrücken.
Zabel until 2005
Evergreen German sprinter Erik Zabel has prolonged his contract with the Deutsche Telekom team until the end of 2005. The current world number one began his career with the team in 1993, and intends on finishing it with them. Zabel signed after discussing it with team manager Walter Godefroot, who also has a contract until 2005.
"I'm very pleased that it has been done so smoothly, and also before the Tour," said Zabel. "I cannot imagine ending my career anywhere else other than Telekom."
Team spokesman Olaf Ludwig said that "This was a new situation for Erik. He will no longer be measured only by his personal successes, but also by his leadership strength."
Cappelle angry at Bruylandts
Andy Cappelle (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) was not at all happy at his teammate Dave Bruylandts after the final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg, won by Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo). Before the stage, Cappelle was lying in second overall, 28" behind Voeckler. But after getting dropped on the final climb in stage 5, Cappelle lost 1'44 and plummeted to 30th on GC. It wouldn't have been so bad for Cappelle had not Bruylandts attacked on the climb in pursuit of the stage win.
"What did Bruylandts say? That he was going for the stage? Pfff, I had second place in my grasp," said Cappelle in the Belgian press. "I had to drop off at the end of the last climb. Fifty metres, no more. At that moment, the man in question considered it necessary to attack five times, despite my request for assistance. He did not allow me that second place."
Bruylandts saw it differently: "Cappelle was already getting dropped earlier. I wanted to save the furniture through a nice stage win. That didn't happen, through the actions of Quick.Step. If I got a gap, they say on my wheel. It's been like that for the whole year."
Cappelle finished, "This cost me and the team 90 UCI points. I'll never do anything again for him."
Bruised ribs for Brentjens
Dutch rider Bart Brentjens has bruised a few of his ribs after crashing in the second round of the MTB World Cup in Fort William, Scotland. Brentjens fell on a descent, but was able to remount and finish 22nd. He will be examined on Wednesday in Freiburg hospital to fully assess the damage.
Tour coverage on SBS
Australian free-to-air broadcaster SBS is continuing its commitment to cycling, planning on screening three stages of the Tour de France live during July. Coverage will commence at 10:50pm AEST, with stages 8, 14 and 20 to be shown. In addition, SBS will be showing its usual 6:00pm half hourly program, with stage commentary by Phil Liggett and additional colour commentary from Michael Tomalaris, who will be reporting direct from France.
Its expected that there will be a strong Australian contingent in the race, including Brad McGee (who won stage 7 in 2002) and his FDJeux.com teammate Baden Cooke, who was one of the top sprinters in the race last year. Previous yellow jersey wearer Stuart O'Grady will be riding in his 7th Tour, while Robbie McEwen's priority will be to defend the green sprinter's jersey he won in 2002. Unfortunately, Telekom's Cadel Evans will probably not be racing in the Tour after breaking his collarbone for the second time in six weeks last Saturday.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)