First Edition News for June 14, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Tour de Suisse preview
The 67th Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) begins Monday, offering 10 days of racing in the final period of preparation for the Tour de France. Of course, the Tour de Suisse is an important race in its own right, the biggest stage race after the three grand tours. Featuring a prologue and an individual time trial and plenty of climbing through the Swiss countryside, the Tour de Suisse provides all the necessary elements for an hors categorie stage race.
This year's follows a similar pattern to the 2002 edition, opening with the prologue and two rolling stages which could still suit the sprinters, before hitting the first climbs on stage 3 between Nyon and a summit finish at Saas Fee. The race route follows an arc, focusing the major climbing in the middle stages and testing riders against the clock in the prologue and the penultimate stage.
Among the top names lining up for the prologue in Egerkingen will be Team Bianchi leader Jan Ullrich, who chose Switzerland over the Dauphiné Libéré in his build up for the Tour de France. Other big names to watch will be Swiss native and defending champion Alex Zülle, eager to put in a good showing given that Phonak will not race this year's Tour de France, Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), and Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom).
Prologue - June 16: Egerkingen ITT, 7.1 km
Baden Cooke recovers at home
By Chris Henry
After a dramatic crash in the closing metres of the first road stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, Australian Baden Cooke of the FDJeux.com team has returned to his home in Nice, France for a few days of recovery before tackling his next race. Cooke was involved in a tangle of handlebars during a fight for wheels, which prompted some to criticise his riding style. Cyclingnews caught up with Cooke after a three hour training ride Friday to see how his wounds were healing and hear his side of the story.
"I'm really, really sore," Cooke said of his injuries. "It's pretty uncomfortable, I have to change the dressings every day." Despite the pain and loss of skin, Cooke carried on for two stages after his crash, but eventually decided enough was enough. As he explained, he is more uncomfortable trying to walk or sleep than riding the bike.
"I was in so much pain trying to clean my wounds that I went into shock," he explained. "I started shaking, got a fever, and the team got a bit worried about me. I only got about two hours of sleep that night (after the crash) I was in so much pain."
After two nights in a row of minimal sleep and maximum pain, Cooke decided it best not to compromise the coming weeks of preparation for the Tour de France and packed his bags for Nice. Originally scheduled to ride the Route du Sud, Cooke will now join the team for the Tour de Suisse, which he says is good and will give him a few extra days of racing, as well as the possibility for some results.
Cooke explained how the crash was provoked in stage one of the Dauphiné, and defended without hesitation his own riding. Laurent Brochard of Ag2R, also involved in the tangle, openly criticised Cooke for causing the crash due to overly aggressive riding, much to Cooke's dismay.
"I was really angry about what he said," Cooke commented. According to the Aussie, he was holding onto the wheel of his leadout man Brad McGee, while being squeezed on both sides by Dimitri Fofonov and Brochard. "[Brochard] pushed a bit, and I don't know whether he saw or realised, but I was getting pushed from the other side, and we all collided. He was coming into my space and pushing me, and as soon as something happened he said, see, it was all him'."
Just as Brad McGee commented after the incident, Cooke regrets the incursion of the non-sprinters into the leadout line. "Random climbers were trying to get a top ten finish, but they haven't got the experience," he said. "There aren't as many sprinters [in the Dauphiné], so the finale is not as quick and more guys can stick their noses in. Two sprinters would have known to only squeeze so far, but these guys kept squeezing until they got through."
As far as the accusations of dangerous riding are concerned, Cooke challenged Brochard to name one crash he has caused. "That's the first time I've even been in a fall in a bunch sprint," he noted. "I've got a reputation of being aggressive, which I admit. I don't get pushed around, but on the other hand, I don't cause crashes."
"I've got a lot of respect for Brochard as a rider, but it seems he was just itching to rag me about something," Cooke added.
Looking ahead, and barring further injury or illness, Cooke is confident of his spot on the FDJeux.com Tour team, and is hoping for a big result after a disappointing spring, which he had hoped would bring success in the big classics. "Even through I've had three wins it's been a big disappointment so far," he admitted. "I've had as good or better form than last year. I've just had some bad luck this year. Last year things swung me way, this year they haven't."
Once he gets a good night sleep, Cooke hopes things will now begin to swing his way.
Cipollini thinking retirement?
Mario Cipollini may once again be flirting with the prospect of retirement, something he threatened last year after his previous snub from the Tour de France, before returning to competition in the second half of the season to prepare for (and win) the world championships. Following the crash that ended his Giro d'Italia, and yet another exclusion from the Tour de France, Cipo could be looking once again to call it a career.
"For the moment it's up in the air," Cipollini's directeur sportif Antonio Salutini told Datasport. "We still have to talk with Mario and see what his intentions are."
Reportedly, exclusion from the Tour could be the biggest aggravating factor for the world champion, who despite a heartfelt letter to Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, was unable to successfully plead his case for a place in the centenary edition of the race. "I do know that Mario would be retiring without the satisfaction of competing in the Grande Boucle. Certainly, Mario is a rider who needs big motivations. The Tour could be one of these."
Without a clear plan for the remainder of the 2003 season, the Super Mario retirement saga could be just beginning.
2004 World's inspection
The UCI has paid a visit to the site of the 2004 World Road Championships, which will be held in Verona and Bardolino, Italy. A delegation headed by Pat McQuaid, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee for the World's, visited the road venue in Verona and the time trial course in Bardolino on Tuesday and Wednesday. The purpose of the early visit was to discuss preparatory work with the organisers and take note of progress to date.
WADA endorses EPO test
On June 7, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that its Executive Committee accepted the findings of an independent study that confirmed the sufficiency of urine tests for the detection of EPO. The UCI has accepted and used urine tests since April 2001.
Australians at World Cycling Centre
The Australian cycling federation has sent several riders from its endurance track group to train at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. Training at the centre from June 7 to 15 are Graeme Brown, Mark Renshaw, Mark Jamieson, Nic Sanderson, and members of the 2002 team pursuit, winners of the world championship title last year.
Reinhart Memorial Fund collegiate scholarships
The Nicole Reinhart Memorial Fund has established a collegiate scholarship fund for top young cyclists to pursue the dream of the competing in Olympic Games and attending a higher education institution. In 2003, $8,500 in scholarships will be awarded through a selection process that kicked off on June 6th during the Nicole Reinhart Women’s Cycling Classic in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.
Nicole Reinhart died at the age of 24 on September 17, 2000, after a tragic accident at the end of the BMC Software Tour of Arlington, in Arlington, Massachusetts. Following Nicole’s death, award money was donated to her family to establish a memorial fund. Reinhart's family has continued to raise money and the scholarship fund was created based on the initial success of the first annual dinner dance fund raiser and silent auction, held last November.
"Young riders, like Nicole, often have to choose between these two seemingly diverse dreams," commented Mike Reinhart, president of the fund. "We have set up a scholarship to assist these talented and dedicated athletes in both of their endeavours."
Scholarship applications are now available on the Fund website at www.nicolesbench.com and must be received by midnight July 26. Athletes must have a full time status during the fall or spring semester at a post secondary two year, four year, or trade school. They must also hold a USCF road and/or track license. The winners to be announced on August 29 during the Elite Track National Cycling Championships. For information on fundraisers or donations visit www.nicolesbench.com.
Hit and run driver sentenced
The driver who deliberately knocked Tasmanian cyclists and national calibre racers Garry Silk and Stephen Rossendell from their bikes last March was sentenced to 15 months in prison Thursday, with a non-parole period of ten months and a five year suspension of his driver's license. The verdict was read to the satisfaction of the two riders. "It's good, it's more than we thought," said Silk.
Steven Leonard Campbell, who had been driving under the influence of alcohol, admitted to having opened his car door and intentionally knocking one of the cyclists, Jason Andersch, to the ground. The accident happened on East Derwent Highway on March 5. "I just saw the car door, it all happened so fast," Rossendell explained. "Jason's gone down in front of me, I piled over the top of him." Mr. Rossendell dislocated his shoulder and suffered cuts and bruising. Not to mention damage to the riders' bikes.
Courtesy: The Mercury, Hobart
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)