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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for June 11, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong on track in Dauphiné

Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

A third place in the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré sent a few alarm bells ringing among Lance Armstrong fans, who fear that he will not be in top condition in time for the Tour. However Armstrong, who is still one of the favourites for the Dauphiné, strongly denied that there is a problem. "Last year I came fifth in the prologue, now third. Is that enough to answer the questions about my condition?" he was quoted in Gazet van Antwerpen as saying.

"I'm not here to win this race," added Armstrong, who again pointed out that he hadn't raced the Midi Libre this year and therefore lacked some racing condition. "I'm here to get ready for a fifth win in the Tour. Now I've already got third in an uphill prologue: you can't call that bad."

"I'm feeling strong, I feel good, but am I? I'll learn that in the coming days. Already on Wednesday, in a time trial over 30 kilometres. That sort of race doesn't lie. What it doesn't mean is that I have to win it to be satisfied. Of course the result is important for the morale. But - and I repeat - just as important is how I feel in a time trial like this."

Armstrong has a number of objectives for this race, and none of them are necessarily to win it. "I want to see my teammates at work, I want to feel my condition improve, and I want to know where I stand in comparison to a few riders who will be on my wheel in July. I also want to know how my legs react after a long climb at race speed such as the Galibier on Saturday. That's all more important than winning. But if the victory offers itself, then I won't let it go. I have too much respect for this race."

Mayo relaxed in the lead

Photo: © AFP
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Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iban Mayo, winner of the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré, doesn't mind relinquishing the lead in today's 33.4 kilometre time trial, which contains 9 km of climbing. "This is really a parcours for me," he said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. "Armstrong and Millar will still be stronger, but I don't mind losing the leader's jersey. The pressure will shift to the others, so that I can save my team: they are all still young."

Mayo's contract with Euskaltel comes to an end this year. He is not interested in an extension because he wants a two year contract (Euskaltel ends its support for the team at the end of 2004). He won't sign before the Tour, but Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefevere has already expressed interest, as has US Postal. "Riding in the service of Armstrong, like Roberto Heras is doing, and being paid so well that you are sure for the rest of your life, that sounds good to me," said Mayo.

Mayo thinks he is now back to where he was in 2001, when he won the Midi Libre, Classiques des Alpes, and won the Queen Stage in the Dauphiné. Last year was a season of bad luck, and he finished 88th in the Tour. "This year I'm going for a stage victory in the Alps, or rather in the Pyrenees. Thousands of Basques encouraging and cheering for you there, and that gives you the shivers."

Boonen kicks himself

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has not had the best start to the Dauphiné Libéré, coming up short in both the sprint stages so far. "My Dauphiné can be quickly summed up," he said to Gazet van Antwerpen. "On Monday I was hindered by a fall, and today I blundered like a beginner. I sat on the wheel of Thor Hushovd, but I found that he was waiting too long. I looked for another locomotive and that was not the right choice. Hushovd won and I was only fourth. The loss is my own stupid fault."

Team Bianchi takes shape for Tour

According to an interview with Jacques Hanegraaf in "de Gooien Eemlander" last Saturday, eight of the nine riders for Bianchi's Tour team have been selected. With Jan Ullrich at the helm, the team will also include 2001 Vuelta winner Angel Casero, Spaniards David Plaza and Aitor Garmendia, Italian fast man Fabrizio Guidi, and Germans Rafael Schweda, Daniel Becke and Tobias Steinhauser. There is still one rider to be chosen.

Boogerd aims for World Cup

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) has his sights set on the World Cup this year, and will ride the Tour de France partly as preparation for the final five World Cups of the season. Currently, Boogerd sits second on the classification on 140 points behind Peter Van Petegem on 200 points. In 1999, he finished second behind Andrei Tchmil in the World Cup, and wants to try and win it now.

In his diary in De Telegraaf, Boogerd commented about the now mandatory use of helmets in cycling, introduced by the UCI following Andrei Kivilev's death in a crash in March. Currently riding the Dauphiné Libéré in 35 degree heat, Boogerd wrote that "Under this extreme heat in the Dauphiné, there is much more suffering on the climbs with a helmet on the head. On the Col de Premol, it felt like I had something cooking on my head, as if I had a casserole on. On the flats, I always rode with a helmet anyway, but on the climbs I really find it a disadvantage."

"It's still to come, but when we soon have to ride for around 30 kilometres up the Col de Galibier in the heat, then it will really be a horror. And let's assume that once Mont Ventoux is part of the parcours, but the finish is at the bottom. Then you're also obliged to ride up that col with a helmet. That is murderous...Maybe the UCI has to adapt the rules for such climbs."

Operation may be needed for Gonzalez de Galdeano

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will need more time off the bike than he first thought, as his collarbone is fractured in three places after his crash on Sunday in the Tour of Germany. The ONCE rider will probably have an operation on Thursday, thus his training plans will have to be delayed.

Locatelli and Dazzani to be questioned

Two Italian team directors, Olivano Locatelli (ex-Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and William Dazzani (Team Aurora 2002 RSM), will probably be interrogated in Brescia on Thursday by public prosecutor Roberto Spano, in relation to the doping inquiry that started a year ago when several riders were arrested just prior to the Giro d'Italia. Locatelli and Dazzani were arrested last week, and 22 people had their homes searched by police.

Vlaanderen needs to fill gap

The Vlaanderen-T Interim team, directed by Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, has concerns that there will be a mass exodus from the squad, even though this is in principle part of the objective of the development team. For example, Stijn Devolder is being courted by the US Postal-Berry Floor squad.

"We've had a good year," Heynderickx was quoted on Belgian VRT Teletekst. "We won just two races, but we've always been visible. Six riders have a chance of a contract with a bigger team. We have to wait to see who will go. That depends on the financial situation of the other teams. In any case we're following a few other young riders."

Stars set for NORBA round 2

The second round of the NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series will take place between June 12-15 in Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia. The field features some of the top stars in the sport, including Olympic cross country hopefuls Jimena Florit (RLX-Ralph Lauren), Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) and Todd Wells (Mongoose-Hyundai). These three riders will make an appearance at Fat Tire Cycle in Elkins, West Virginia on Thursday June 12, 2003 between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Florit, who resides in San Diego, is an Argentine National and has already competed for Argentina in the Olympics. She hopes to obtain USA citizenship in time to be considered for the 2004 USA team. Florit has been a consistent performer with her results improving each year and finally culminating with the 2002 NORBA NCMBS overall Cross Country Championship.

McConneloug is originally from Northern California and lives part of the year in Massachusetts near her sponsor Seven Cycles. She is having her best year to date and has embarked on a "race tour" with her Seven Cycles teammate and companion Mathew Broderick. The duo is traveling across the country in a van from race to race in pursuit of her Olympic dream.

Wells makes his training base in Arizona after leaving is full time job at IBM in 2001 to become a full-time mountain bike racer in his quest for the Olympic team. Having spent the past two seasons building up, he is now a contender on the world scene and is consistently one of the top performing Americans.

As well as Florit and McConneloug, 2001 world champion Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix) and Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing), first and second, respectively, at the series-opener race at Snow Summit, will make an impact in the Pro/Elite women's Cross Country. In the women's Short Track, local favourite Sue Haywood (Trek-VW) is hot off the World Cup circuit in Europe, and definitely will be a factor after winning four weeks ago at Snow Summit.

Along with Wells, the Canadian training partners of World Champion, Roland Green (Trek-VW), and Snow Summit winner, Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher), will push the pace in both the Cross Country race on Saturday as well as the Short Track Event on Sunday. Geoff Kabush (Kona-Clarks) and top American Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX-Ralph Lauren) will by vying for the win as well. Snow Summit Short Track winner Jose Bonilla (Costa Rica National Team) will also be one to watch.

The gravity events will be without injured World Champion Brian Lopes (Hyundai-GT-Fox) who recently broke his leg while in Europe. This invites World Cup and NORBA Series leader Eric Carter (Mongoose-Hyundai) to capitalize on his Snow Summit "double." In women's Mountain Cross, expect BMX-crossover Jill Kintner (Staats-Fox Shox) to challenge Australian Katrina Miller (Jamis). In women's Downhill, Britons Tracy Mosely (Kona-Clarks) and Fionn Griffiths (Foes-Azonic) are both prepared, as is Australian Tai-Lee Muxlow (Tioga Orange).

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