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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for March 19, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

2003 Boulder-Breckenridge in danger as Saturn pulls out

By John Stevenson

The 2003 edition of the Boulder to Breckenridge race, known for the last two years as the Saturn Classic, is in serious doubt this morning after the withdrawal of title sponsor Saturn.

Race director Len Pettyjohn told Cyclingnews that the race was unlikely to go ahead without the funding provided by a title sponsor. "I don't see how it could. It's expensive to close major highways like that. The police costs alone are pretty astounding," he said.

Saturn announced its withdrawal from the event in a press release, saying that although the company "had a positive experience with our sponsorship of the Cycling Classic, we have decided to focus on long-standing components of the Saturn Cycling program such as the 22-member pro men's and women's cycling team, [and] the Saturn Cycling Development Team."

The race organization has been in the process of seeking additional sponsors and will now redouble its efforts. "We have been pitching a number of sponsors as presenting sponsors and now we'll offer them title sponsor, but it's kinda late in the day and given the current situation it's going to be hard. We'll give it 30 days and see what happens," said Pettyjohn.

The loss of Saturn was "a big disappointment" for Pettyjohn as the race had been very successful in terms of media coverage. "It's one of the few things that gets a lot of mainstream media coverage. We had good national and international awareness," he said

Pettyjohn said Saturn would be a difficult sponsor to replace. "Saturn pushed the event to a high level of recognition and it will be difficult to get people to change from thinking about a low level of sponsorship to the title. We'll give it our best shot and try and put a positive spin on this, but it will be hard in the current conditions."

If the 2003 edition doesn't go ahead, then Pettyjohn intends to "regroup for 2004" and bring the race back next year.

Ullrich gives Coast two weeks

According to team manager Rudy Pevenage, Jan Ullrich has given troubled Team Coast - currently suspended from racing because the UCI is not happy with its financial status - two weeks to obtain UCI registration. If Coast is unable to get back on its feet by then, Ullrich will find another team.

Coast has still not paid its riders their salaries for January and February and remains suspended until the UCI is satisfied that it has met its financial obligations and can continue to do so.

Last year Ullrich left his previous team, Telekom, to sign a three-year deal with Coast reportedly worth two million Euros per year. However, Ullrich himself remains suspended after testing positive for amphetamine last year while sidelined with a knee injury. That suspension ends March 23 and Ullrich was planning to return to racing at the Circuit Sarthe et Pays de la Loire (April 8-11).

Several teams are said to be interested in providing Ullrich with a berth, including CSC, run by his former team leader at Telekom Bjarne Riis, and Quick.Step-Davitamon, whose manager Patrick Lefevere is reported to be lining up the necessary extra funding from the team's sponsors.

Sea Otter adds MTB playground

Next month's Sea Otter road and MTB races will have an extra attraction in the MTB Ride Zone, a 'freeriding' park built in the infield at Laguna Seca raceway. The Ride Zone will feature a roller coaster ramp, jumps, berms, a mini mountain cross course, bridges, and a multi-tiered drop that teaches riders how to jump down from heights of one to six feet.

The aim is to provide a place where riders can learn and practice advanced mountain bike skills. As MTB Ride Zone Director Joey Hayes, who designed and developed the Zone, puts it, "You can't ride in the North Shore or at a place like Whistler without these basic skills. It's also great for street riding."

On hand to pass on their skills will be British Colombian Rocky Mountain "North Shore" pioneers Richie Schley, Wade Simmons, and Thomas Vanderham, Each rider will host three clinics per day with just five riders in each class. Participation will be on a first-come first-served basis.

Funding boost for South African CF

The South African Cycling Federation has been awarded a grant of almost four million Rand (roughly US$500,000) by the National Lotteries Board.

The grant (R3,809,815 or US$465,884) comes about after an application and business plan submitted in July 2002 and full details will be made available to SACF affiliates at the Statutory Congress to be held in Cape Town on Wednesday 23rd April 2003.

SACF CEO Sylvia dale said she was delighted with the news and that the money would be used to develop the sport of cyclig through the SACF's four commissions, track, road, mountain biking and BMX.

The SACF is also set to receive a substantial grant from the Department of Sport for the financial year ending March 2004, but Dale was unable to comment on the details pending official documentation from Sport & Recreation South Africa.

Petacchi back on the bike

Fassa Bortolo rider Alessandro Petacchi is back on the bike after he dropped out of Paris-Nice on March 15 with the same intestinal virus that sidelined team-mate Dario Frigo. According to the team, Petacchi trained for two hours yesterday and will return to racing at Saturday's Milan-San Remo, one of his main objectives for the year.

IMBA lobbies Congress to save California singletrack

During the early March National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) representatives met with members of California's congressional delegation to ask them to keep singletrack trails open for bicycling by not designating new wilderness areas that overlap popular trails.

Bicycle use is prohibited in designated wilderness. Mountain bicyclists from across California are concerned they may lose access to trails they have ridden for decades if proposed wilderness areas are approved by Congress.

"We want to make sure our California delegation doesn't forget about the state's two million mountain bikers," said IMBA California representative Jim Haagen-Smit. "Many of the state's singletrack trails are already overcrowded. Restrictions imposed by new wilderness designations would only make the situation worse."

California mountain bicyclists carried IMBA's message to staff representing U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and U.S. Reperesentatives Mike Thompson, Hilda Solis, John Doolittle, Grace Napolitano and 20 other members of California's congressional delegation.

"We don't believe that wilderness is the only designation to protect the land," said IMBA California representative Daniel Greenstadt. "Why does land protection have to come at the expense of mountain bicyclists? Cyclists have enjoyed, ridden and maintained these trails and wild places for years. Kicking us off would create a rift in the conservation constituency."

National Bike Summit participants converged on Washington, D.C. to draw attention to major issues that affect cyclists. Nearly 400 bike advocates from 47 states gathered to lobby bicycle transportation and recreation issues.

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