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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for June 5, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong faces last challenge before Tour

The 55th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (June 8-15) will mark Lance Armstrong's final race before the Tour de France this year, where he is going for a record equalling five straight wins. Should he ride into Paris in yellow on July 27, he will join the likes of Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain as the only rider to have won the race five times.

Armstrong has raced a lighter schedule this season, and has spent time in May training over the Tour's key stages. The Dauphiné Libéré will provide him with eight days of tough racing in and around the French Alps, including a 33.4 km individual time trial on Stage 3 and a difficult sixth stage between Challes les Eaux and Briançon that includes the notorious Col du Telegraph/Col du Galibier combination.

Armstrong won the Dauphiné last year and went on to dominate the Tour de France, his prowess in the mountains clearly a level above that of his rivals. In this year's Dauphiné he will face competition in the form of Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole), winner in 2001 and also winner of the Four Days of Dunkirk this year. Another rival for Armstrong will be Tyler Hamilton (CSC), who had a very good spring, winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Romandy, among other good placings. Another Tour of Romandy performer Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) will line up in the Dauphiné on Sunday.

The remainder of the field is quite strong, including David Millar and David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangère), Richard Virenque (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto), Baden Cooke, Brad McGee and Nicolas Vogondy (, Michael Boogerd and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), Laurent Brochard (Ag2r), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Miguel Martinez (Phonak), and Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour).

The stages

Prologue - June 8; Villard-de-Lans ITT, 5.1 km
Stage 1 - June 9: Méaudre - Vaison-la-Romaine, 198 km
Stage 2 - June 10: Bollène - Vienne, 195 km
Stage 3 - June 11: Saint-Paul-en-Jarèz ITT, 33.4 km
Stage 4 - June 12: Vienne - Morzine, 237 km
Stage 5 - June 13: Morzine - Chambéry, 192 km
Stage 6 - June 14: Challes-les-Eaux - Briançon, 153 km
Stage 7 - June 15: Briançon - Grenoble, 174 km

Cyclingnews Dauphiné Libéré coverage

Preview and course description
Stages & profiles
Start list

Two Italian team directors arrested

Two Italian team directors, Olivano Locatelli (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and William Dazzani (Team 2002 Aurora RSM) have been placed under house arrest and 22 others have had their houses searched as part of an anti-doping operation in Brescia today. The two directors have been accused of receiving and supplying doping products to athletes.

The operation was carried out as part of an investigation led by public prosecutor Mario Conte, and according to ANSA, phone tapping was used to determine the targets. More details are expected to be announced at a press conference at 15:30 CEST today (Thursday).

Gonzalez won't defend Vuelta title

Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) will not defend his title in the Vuelta España this year, after team management confirmed that he will ride the Tour de France instead. Gonzalez finished 19th in the Giro, after not performing particularly well in the mountains. His original plan had been to ride the Giro and Vuelta this year, but Fassa Bortolo decided otherwise.

Devolder getting closer to US Postal

Stijn Devolder (Vlaanderen-T-Interim) may join the US Postal-Berry Floor team next year, and would be the team's first Belgian rider since the early departure of Tom Boonen to Quick.Step. With Belgian parquet floor manufacturer Berry Floor as a sponsor of the Postal team, having a Belgian in the team is desirable for the team's exposure there. Dutchman Max van Heeswijk's presence helped in March and April, but it was plain that a lot of the media focus was on the Quick.Step and Lotto-Domo teams.

Team director Dirk Demol watched Devolder come up through the ranks when he coached the Kortrijk Groeningespurters, formerly one of the top amateur teams in Belgium. Devolder turned pro in 2002 with Vlaanderen-T Interim, and this year finished an impressive third in the E3 Prijs Harelbeke behind De Jongh and Wesemann.

"After the Tour of Catalonia, which finishes on June 22, we'll start talking," said Demol to Het Laatste Nieuws today. "Hopefully we'll reach an agreement."

Bartoli, Van Petegem, Sunderland sick

Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) and Peter van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) were forced to pull out of the Tour of Germany in stage 2 yesterday due to stomach problems. Van Petegem had diarrhoea on Tuesday, which left him completely drained for Wednesday's stage. If he recovers, he hopes to ride to the GP Gippingen (June 15) and the Tour de Suisse (June 16-22).

After finishing the Giro d'Italia, Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland flew straight to Germany for the seven day race. Unfortunately he came down with the 'flu on Monday, and was forced to pull out early on Tuesday in stage 1.

Giro more popular in Italy

The scandal-free 2003 Giro d'Italia was more popular than the 2002 edition, according to figures released by RAI television. Over the three weeks, a total of 47,850,000 viewers watched the race on TV, an average of 2,278,000 per stage, and an overall increase of 4,108,000 viewers from 2002.

"It has been a great Giro," said RAI director Paolo Francia. "It was well organised, very competitive, and with a popular winner in Simoni. Beside, RAI has done an optimum job, improving the level of broadcasts and therefore, the level of the audiences. The Giro has helped RAI and vice versa."

Utrecht candidate for 2007 Tour de France start

The Dutch city of Utrecht has submitted itself as a candidate to host the start of the 2007 Tour de France, according to De Telegraaf. The city is working with the "Le Tour sous Le Dom" foundation to try and make the campaign succeed. The foundation has made a feasibility study, which it will present to the city council and members of Utrecht's business, sporting, cultural and tourism communities.

Final countdown to Wicklow 200

By Shane Stokes,

One of Ireland's biggest rides takes place this Sunday, June 8th, when an estimated 1000 cyclists wheel out from the Tallaght Basketball arena and embark on two testing trips around Wicklow. The shorter Wicklow Gap Challenge takes the riders over a 100 kilometre route while the full Wicklow 200 is double the distance, making for a tough but rewarding day in the saddle.

Both routes share the same early section, with riders travelling to Manor Kilbride, up the first major climb of the Sally Gap and then past the stunning scenery around Luggala down into Roundwood. From here the riders will drop down into Laragh, towards Glendalough and then take the right hand fork which brings them up to the top of the Wicklow Gap. Once over the summit, the riders will plunge downhill to the checkpoint at Valleymount where free food and drink will be on offer.

This marks the turning point for those taking the shorter challenge, as they will take the N81 back in towards Dublin and to the finish at the Basketball Arena. Those doing the full Wicklow 200 aren't getting off so lightly; from here, the test will bring the riders in the opposite direction down the N81 to Donard, up the Ballinabarney Gap and over the un-named, but draining, climb before Aghavannagh. The gruelling climb of Slieve Maan is next on the schedule, its tough slopes ensuring riders will be resorting to the granny gears as they head up and over the top. From the summit, the participants will head down to Drumgoff and Greenane and on to the second checkpoint in Rathdrum, where complementary food and drink will be once more up for grabs.

After Rathdrum the riders will head back to Laragh and then take the climb past the Glenmacnass waterfall back up to Sally Gap, down into Glencree and up the final drag to the Featherbeds. There remains but one final descent, down to Old Bawn and then on to the Basketball Arena in Tallaght.

Although the organising Irish Veteran Cyclists Association have this year been accepting online entries in order to make applications easier, they expect some riders to leave it until the day itself to sign up. The entry fee of €45 covers the cost of the ride itself, a commemorative jersey, a bike bottle plus a complimentary energy drink and bar. There will also be complementary food and drink at the checkpoints.

There are two big changes this year. The first is a mass start - instead of riders heading off as soon as they have checked in, as was previously the case, the participants will instead all leave the National Basketball Arena at the same time. There will be two starting times: the Wicklow 200 group will depart at 7 am, while those doing the 100 kilometre Wicklow Gap challenge will begin at 8 am.

The second change is the addition of large sign boards to the route. These will be situated at the top of the eleven climbs en route, giving details of the name and height of the climb. The organisers suggest that riders may like to bring a camera to get pictures of themselves beneath the signs, as a pictorial record of what should be a tough, but enjoyable, day.

Start and checkpoint times

Start: Wicklow 200 (200km): 07:00 (check in from 06:00).
Wicklow Gap Challenge (100km): 08:00 (check in from 07:00).
Check-points: Valleymount (at 80km), 10:00 - 14:00.
Rathdrum (at 150km), 12:00 - 17:00.
Cut-off: After 12:30 participants arriving at the 100km / 200km division just after Valleymount will not be allowed to choose the 200km route.
Finish: Final checkpoint at the National Basketball Arena will close at 21:00.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)