Latest News for June 10, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Millar gets ready
By Chris Henry
David Millar has seen his hard work of the last few weeks pay off, finishing off a training camp with the Cofidis team in the Pyrénées mountains before tackling the Classique des Alpes and the Dauphiné Libéré. Millar surprised even himself with a third place in the Classique and a second place in the following day's prologue at the Dauphiné.
"I'm really satisfied," Millar told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 1 in Méaudre. "Classique des Alpes was a good test for me. I was a bit insecure going into it because I hadn't raced in a while. I knew my training was good, but I was trying to decide whether I was going to take it easy, whether I should go for the prologue or really hang it out and test myself in the Classique. I'm happy."
The week prior, Millar and his Cofidis teammates tested the Pyrénées stages of the Tour de France. "I definitely have my climbing legs on," Millar laughed. The camp went well, but Millar expects tough days in the Pyrénées, calling the stages quite hard. He cited in particular Stage 14 from Saint-Girons to Loudenvielle, which features six climbs over 191 kilometres.
Millar plans to use the Dauphiné to continue working on condition, also setting Wednesday's time trial as a possible objective. Following the race, Millar will continue training for the Tour, possibly with another trip back to the mountains.
"Since my crash [in the Critérium International] I've just been coming up non-stop," he said. "I don't want to fall in the trap of thinking I'm going well and getting results just in the short term. I'm going to have a break, have a few days easy, then go and train in the mountains again. I might do the Pyrénées stages again."
FDJeux.com defends Dauphiné sprint
In the wake of a crash with 500m remaining in stage 1 of the Dauphiné Libéré, the accusations started to fly. Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) was both on the ground and at the centre of the controversy surrounding the finish, which saw Cooke's leadout man Bradley McGee hang on for second place after his sprinter hit the ground.
Laurent Brochard (Ag2R-Prévoyance) was also taken down in the crash, and expressed his anger with Cooke's riding after the stage. "As usual, Cooke wanted to pass where there wasn't any space," an angry Brochard told l'Equipe. "It's starting to become a problem, Cooke causes too many crashes."
Cooke's team had a different take on the accident, and regretted that too many riders were trying to push their way into the leadout train. "You never knock a guy off his train because it's suicide," said McGee. "Any sprinter is going to hold the wheel and that's what Baden was doing but two guys, at the same time, insisted on pushing him off and they all locked handlebars."
Directeur sportif Marc Madiot also lamented the incursions from the non-sprinters into his team's sprint leadout for Cooke. "Today we were leading out the sprint for him, and nobody should have tried to disrupt it," Madiot told l'Equipe. "If we have to start again, we'll do the same thing tomorrow. His rivals won't try that again next time."
Cooke was not seriously injured in the crash, and started Tuesday's stage 2. "He went down hard and lost a heap of [skin] but today's another sprinter's stage so we'll go for the revenge sprint," McGee promised.
Boost for BigMat but questions remain
Bulgarian Plamen Stoianov gave BigMat Auber 93 a much needed victory when the crash at 500m to go helped propel him to his stage 1 win in Vaison-La-Romaine. BigMat, which has steadily dwindled in recent years, is eager to bounce back with new sponsorship for 2004. Due in large part to the team's non-selection for the 2002 Tour de France, title sponsor BigMat announced it would end its support for the team, which this year dropped to the Division II ranks.
"I hope this beautiful victory will show potential sponsors that we're worthy of their support," team manager Stéphane Javalet told l'Equipe. "Today we're living in the short-term. The question is, what will the team look like next year? I have several contacts, but now we need to act quickly. If there's going to be a present under the tree, it needs to come before July 15."
Stoianov was certainly pleased with his own win, and though he admitted it wouldn't have come without the crash, he has plenty of confidence in his own abilities. "Of course the crash helped me but I'm also good in a sprint," he explained. "I'm no Cipollini, that's true, but I'm also pretty fast."
Rogers thanks team
Australian Michael Rogers claimed his second stage race win in two months at the Tour of Germany. The Quick.Step-Davitamon rider already won last month's Tour of Belgium, and continued his winning ways in Germany, capitalising on his excellent condition.
"Races like this are really suited to my style of riding," Rogers explained. "I am a comprehensive rider with good qualities as a time trial man but I also know how to suffer during the climbs."
Rogers did once again lay the foundation for victory in the time trial, and praised his teammates, particularly veteran Johan Museeuw, for their hard work. "Johan is a great professional and is a perfect example for all of us," Rogers commented. "His presence during the race made everyone in our team feel secure and calm and I'd like to thank him and the rest of the team for their hard work today."
The 23 year old Rogers added that while the 10 day stage races suit his capabilities, he is anxious to try his hand at the grand tours. This year he will ride his first Tour de France with Quick.Step.
After a disappointing Giro d'Italia, where he was forced to abandon on stage 18, Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) has regained his morale. Casagrande finished third overall in the recent Euskal Bizikleta stage race, behind overall winner Jose Antonio Pecharroman and second placed Joseba Beloki.
"I'm satisfied with the result, and it helps the morale after what happened in the Giro," Casagrande told Datasport, commenting on the illness that forced him out of his national tour. Next up for the Italian is a short rest before tackling the Tour de Suisse and the national championships.
"It's a parcours that suits me," he said of the Italian nationals. "After eleven years as a professional it would be fantastic to win the national title."
Koehler to Palmans-Collstrop
Another Frenchman on the move is Philippe Koehler, who leaves the MBK-Oktos team to join Belgian formation Palmans-Collstrop. With the move to the Division I Palmans team, Koehler hopes to ride this year's Vuelta a España if the team is granted a wild card entry.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)