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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for June 9, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Domina Vacanze's sponsor hits out

Mario Cipollini
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

In an open letter to Jean-Marie Leblanc, published in La Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere della Sera, Domina Vacanze boss Ernesto Preatoni has hit out at the exclusion of his team from the Centenary Tour de France. In it, Preatoni described himself as "horrified...at someone who organises sporting events...who could exclude one of the most popular figures in cycling, one of the best known talents, one of the most loved champions...His decision to exclude Cipollini is absolutely without sense and doesn't do any honour to the great prestige of the sporting event that he 'directs'."

Preatoni commented that the sport of cycling is a delicate balance between young hopefuls and great champions, and to exclude Cipollini "ruins all the balance: to eliminate a grand champion, or rather the World Champion, is a serious action."

The letter finished with Preatoni saying that he hopes that the World Champion will be seen at the start of the Grand Boucle. "If only so that this competition remains the prestigious sporting spectacle to which millions of Europeans have become used to watching."

Tour of Germany TT: Problems for Peschel and Cancellara

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Alexandre Vinokourov weren't the only two riders to experience bad luck in yesterday's time trial stage of the Tour of Germany. German Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner) crashed in the final kilometre and ended up losing his fourth place spot to teammate Michael Rich. Swiss Fabian Cancellara's (Fassa Bortolo) crashed with 150m to go and damaged his bike, meaning that he had to complete the stage on foot. Cancellara still finished 9th at 2'53, and was relatively uninjured.

Telekom's core in place

Alexandre Vinokourov
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

The Deutsche Telekom team is gradually firming up its core line up for the next two seasons. After Erik Zabel, Andreas Klier and Alexandre Vinokourov all extended their contracts through 2005, also Matthias Kessler (2 years) and Rolf Aldag (1 year) have been confirmed, with Steffen Wesemann and Danilo Hondo likely to renew in the near future. Most of the team's other riders have contracts that do not run out this season.

"This was an important step in our intentions to extend the contracts of the nucleus of the team before the Tour de France," said team manager Walter Godefroot. "Matze [Kessler] and Vino are cornerstones of our team."

A stagiaire for Saeco, new riders for Euskaltel

Team Saeco has recruited French rider Wilfried Marguet as a stagiaire for its squad in September this season, according to l'Equipe. Marguet has based himself in Italy this year, and attracted the notice of the world's top team.

There will be two new riders for Euskaltel-Euskadi next season: 23 year old time trial specialist Markel Irizar Aramburu, who has also overcome testicular cancer, and 22 year old climber Antton Luengo Celaia

Courtesy of Cycling4all

Irish Downhill team hit rock bottom

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Ireland's downhill team suffered a crushing blow this weekend when €75,000 worth of bikes and equipment were stolen from the team hotel at Alpe d'Huez in France. The squad were there to take part in the second round of the UCI downhill world cup, but discovered early Saturday morning that thieves had broken into the hotel during the night and made off with their bikes and those of Portuguese teams. The Spanish team were staying in a different hotel but also suffered the same misfortune.

"The lads are devastated," said team manager Jim Smith. "When we checked into the hotel the staff kindly agreed to store the bikes in an unused bar, which seemed secure, but thieves came with bolt cutters and got into the place during the night. It is a massive blow for the team as the hotel has no insurance to cover the loss, and the whole squad have now been left without their equipment."

"We see this as the end of the Irish downhill team unless we can get bikes to compete in the next world cup in Canada. The way the UCI system works, we need points to qualify for next year. Without points we can't qualify, and without bikes we can't get points. All of the riders finance themselves - they get a little assistance from Cycling Ireland and Hibernian Insurance, and some from Stena Line, but most of the costs of racing are met by them personally. So this really is a huge blow to them, and something which is very difficult to deal with."

The team managed to borrow bikes from competing squads but racing on unfamiliar machines meant that Ben Reid was the only rider able to post a qualifying time. He finished 60th in the competition.

The theft means that the Irish squad are under enormous pressure, particularly as the next round of the world cup in Canada just two weeks away. Smith says that funding is the only way that they will be able to get back on track, and is hoping that a benefactor can be found. "It really would take something like that. Some of the guys have parents that might be able to help them, but the majority of them are not in this position. They had already worked very hard to try to get bikes for this year and so it is very, very difficult to see them being able to cope with this unless help is found."

The Irish team is currently ranked 19th in the world with the junior riders 10th. The squad had been aiming to get at least eight riders into the world's top 150 by the end of the season.

NORBA Series round 2 preview

The West Virginian venue of Snowshoe Mountain is ready to host the second round of the 2003 NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series between June 12-15. The state's Governor Bob Wise has even designated June to be the official "Mountain Bike Month" in West Virginia.

For the third consecutive year, some of the world's best off road riders will compete in Cross Country, Short Track, Downhill and Mountain Cross events on the technical, wooded courses at Snowshoe Mountain. The finals of all Pro/Elite categories will take place on Saturday and Sunday, while the compact Pro/Elite Cross Country format gives amateur classes even more on-course racing time.

Saturday's schedule will see the Pro/Elite men and women race in the Cross Country event at 10:30 a.m. The women's field starts a few minutes ahead of the men, and by racing a slightly shorter version of the course, finishes a few minutes ahead of the men. This format was successfully piloted at Snow Summit in Round One, and will continue throughout the series.

One of the weekend's main features for families is the Shimano Kids Race, which takes place at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, and then starting at 4.30 p.m. is the Pro/Elite Mountain Cross finals, dubbed "mountain biking's answer to Supercross racing."

Sunday's highlights include Pro/Elite women racing in the Short Track at 12:30 p.m., closely followed by the men's event at 1:00 p.m. The Pro/Elite women's Downhill starts at 2:00 p.m. while the men begin their final runs at 2:30 p.m.

Lehigh annual Veloce to benefit charity

The Lehigh Wheelmen Association (LWA) announced that the annual "Veloce" will be held on June 14, 2003 and will be expanded to include non-members. The "Veloce" has been a successful annual meet-and-ride for over a decade, but this year will be open to non-members for a nominal fee, with all proceeds to benefit Community Bike Works. The charity cycling ride will begin and end at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, Pa.

The ride features four options: 22, 38, 50 and 56 mile loops, and it's also possible to combine loops. Each loop has a rest stop with water and bathroom facilities, and the 50 and 56 mile loop rest stops will also have food.

Community Bike Works develops and uses peer role models, adult mentors, and bicycles to encourage boys and girls between 9 and 17 years old into the Earn-a-Bike program, and hopefully away from drugs, crime and violence. In the 13 week Earn-a-Bike program, kids learn mechanics, teamwork, commitment, responsibilities and deferred rewards. Kids earn a recycled bike and a new helmet for their efforts.

Registration fee is $15 with the post-ride meal. Lehigh Wheelmen members receive a $5 discount. To download a registration flyer or join the Lehigh Wheelmen, visit the website at www.LehighWheelmen.org.

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