Latest News for March 7, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Reactions to Team Coast suspension
The decision Thursday by the UCI to suspend Team Coast from competition has not surprisingly elicited a number of reactions from team management, riders, and observers. Team management has been quick to downplay the suspension, insisting that it is only a matter of paperwork and will be rectified quickly. Other observers have seen this as the latest development in an ongoing saga surrounding the team's finances, particularly in light of salary disputes which linger from the 2002 season.
Several foreign riders, including Frank Høj, Lars Michaelsen, Mauro Gianetti, and Alex Zülle, have lodged complaints with Coast over the delayed payment of their 2002 salaries. Team Coast manager Marcel Wüst insists that the current suspension was independent of any prior salary concerns. "This problem [of last year's salary disputes] has nothing to do with the UCI's decision," Wüst told l'Equipe. At issue is the withholding of VAT, which Team Coast is required to pay the German tax office, from foreign riders' salaries.
"Last year, the management sought to rectify the situation and reclaimed the amount that was still owed to the tax office, something the riders have not accepted," Wüst continued. "This year the tax is being withheld prior to payment."
Concerning the UCI's reason for suspending the team, Coast president Günter Dahms insists the matter was simply a 'misunderstanding', and that it should be cleared up quickly. "We had until March 5 to provide proof of the salary payments to the UCI," said Dahms,quoted in Spanish daily Marca. "We sent the copy of the bank transfer, but the UCI did not recognize that." Citing an early bank closure due to a local carnival, Dahms added that the originals of the bank papers were being sent to the UCI.
Two of Team Coast's top riders, Angel Casero and Jan Ullrich, have expressed their confidence that the situation is but a minor glitch. Casero and his teammates competing in Murcia were surprised to learn of the UCI's decision, but will continue in the race. "I do not know the story behind this," Casero said, "but I think if the payments are made, things will be solved."
While other teams, notably Bjarne Riis' Team CSC, have left the door open to Jan Ullrich in the event of a Team Coast collapse, the German gives no hint of plans to jump ship. "I've never thought about leaving Coast," Ullrich told l'Equipe on Thursday. "I have total confidence in Günter Dahms to rectify the situation."
Bjarne Riis told Danish paper BT that he has been in contact with Ullrich's manager, Wolfang Strohband. "First of all I feel sorry for all Coast riders. I have been in contact with Wolfgang Strohband earlier, just to hear how things are going and to keep myself up to date on the situation. But it must be up to Jan to come to us," Riis said.
BT also reported that Swedish Team Coast rider Stefan Adamsson got his paycheck from January refused by the bank. The source of this information is former Coast rider Frank Høj, who lives in the same apartment building as Adamsson in Luxembourg.
"I'm really happy that I have moved on and can concentrate on racing," Høj told BT. The only Danish rider left on Coast, Bekim Christensen, stated that "This is sad but in some way it should have happened a long time ago."
No substitutes for Paris-Nice
If Team Coast is unable to provide satisfactory documentation to the UCI by Saturday, the team will remain suspended from competition, missing most notably the start of Paris-Nice. In which case, the number of teams taking the start in Paris-Nice will drop to the original total of 20 (US Postal was recently added as the 21st team).
Daniel Baal, director of cycling at race organiser ASO, affirmed that there would be no substitute team for Coast in the event of a forfeit.
Teams for Paris-Roubaix
The full list of teams for the 2003 Paris-Roubaix has been announced. As a World Cup event, twenty five teams are invited to race in the "Hell of the North", which this year falls on April 13. Two wild-card selections were offered to the Belgian teams Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Palmans-Collstrop. Team Coast was the 25th team selected, however its participation is not certain given the recent suspension by the UCI.
Defending champion Johan Museeuw (Quick Step), recent winner of Het Volk, will be looking to defend his title and add a fourth Paris-Roubaix to his palmarès. A number of riders have won three times in Roubaix, but only Belgium's Roger de Vlaeminck has won four.
Boogerd to ride Ronde
Dutchman Michael Boogerd will ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 6 for the first time in his career this year. In the past, Boogerd has usually ridden the Tour of the Basque country, but this year he will concentrate more on the Ronde.
The Rabobank team has also been selected for Milan-San Remo (March 22) as follows: Oscar Freire, Karsten Kroon, Bram de Groot, Marc Lotz, Jan Boven, Marc Wauters, Robert Hunter and Beat Zberg.
43rd Ronde van Nederland
The 43rd Eneco Ronde van Nederland (Tour of the Netherlands) will include six stages, running from August 19-23, 2003. The race begins in Middelburg and wraps up in Landgraaf. Riders will face a double stage August 21, with an 86km road stage in the morning followed by a 23km individual time trial that afternoon. The race's longest stage is also its last, covering 214km between Sittard Geleen and Landgraaf.
Last year's edition of the Eneco Tour was won by Fassa Bortolo's Luxembourgeois Kim Kirchen, ahead of local hero Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal).
Stage 1 - August 19: Middelburg - Rotterdam, 180km
Henk Vos Memorial cancelled
The 5th edition of the Henk Vos Memorial will not be held this year. Scheduled for July 18, the organisers requested a date change to late June, preferably taking place during the week before the Dutch championships. Race committee chairman Gerrit Vixseboxse told ANP that "We were not satisfied with the current date. It's holiday time, there won't be too many spectators, and the cost of the police is a problem."
Next year, it may be possible that the race be turned into a two day event.
The French Elite 2 classic Paris-Evreux, scheduled for Sunday, March 9, has been cancelled. Organising club VC Evreux has cited financial constraints and is therefore unable to promote the event this year.
Steels and Capelle sick
Tom Steels and Ludovic Capelle (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will not race in the Driedaagse van Vlaanderen, which begins today with a time trial in Bellegem. The pair are suffering from the 'flu that has affected a not insignificant part of the peloton. Both riders do not want to take risks before Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
Hendrik Van Dijck (Palmans-Collstrop) is also ill.
Carmichael in Hall of Fame
Chris Carmichael will be inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame during a ceremony scheduled for May 25, 2003. Carmichael is a former professional and was a member of the first American team (7-Eleven) to race in the Tour de France in 1986. Following his racing career, Carmichael became involved with USA Cycling, developing its program to educated and develop coaches for cycling. He served as the USCF's men's road coach from 1990-1997 and also directed Project '96 in preparation for the 1996 summer Olympics.
Carmichael, who now runs Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), is perhaps best known as the coach for Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, and a number of other cyclists and professional athletes in other disciplines. His induction will be into the Hall of Fame's 'contributor' category, acknowledging his coaching achievements. The ceremony will take place at the US Bicycling Hall of Fame in Somerville, New Jersey.
106th Austral Wheelrace
Saturday, March 15 will see the 106th running of the world renowned Austral Wheelrace. The historic event will be staged in Australia’s newest indoor cycling velodrome, the Vodafone Arena. The Austral Wheelrace is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest track cycling event. First staged in 1887 at the MCG, the Austral is now the oldest track cycling race in the world.
Over the years, the Austral has visited a number of venues. This event has been held at the MCG, the Exhibition Buildings, Olympic Park, North Essendon Boardtrack, Brunswick velodrome, Coburg Velodrome, Northcote Velodrome and now Vodafone Arena.
The Austral is a handicap race, where riders are handicapped according to ability over a series of heats. The finals are run over a distance of 2000m. A number of top tides will compete in the Austral, including world champions Sid Patterson, Danny Clarke, Gary Neiwand, and Stephen Pate, the only rider to have won the event four times.
This year over 200 cyclists have registered for the Austral. Along with the feature event of the night, the Wheelrace, fans can also enjoy the Victorian Keirin Championship, the Aces Scratch Race and the elimination. A lap record attempt will also be contested during the evenings racing.
The Austral Wheelrace is sponsored by Fitzroy Cycles, and tickets are available now from Ticketek (132 849 or www.ticketek.com), priced from $15. Doors open at 5.30pm, and racing starts at 7pm. For further information, contact Adam Murchie on 0412 879 871 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Ciavola on 03 9439 7921.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)