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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for March 26, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich clear to race, but no licence

Jan Ullrich (Team Coast) is finally clear to race again after his six month suspension for an amphetamine positive finished last Monday, March 24. His first planned race back is the Circuit de la Sarthe, which starts on April 8. However, Ullrich has not yet received his licence from the UCI.

Team Coast's manager Wolfram Lindner told that "Everything is in the bag, there are no problems. Jan will make his comeback in the French Sarthe race on April 8, and by that time he will have his licence."

The delay is reportedly due to bureaucratic difficulties that arose after Ullrich's move to Switzerland. The UCI is still examining Ullrich's contractual and insurance documents, and said that if everything is in order, then Ullrich will receive his licence in time. Ullrich will have to take out a Swiss licence due to his residency there.

Ullrich told German TV station ARD that his main objectives this year are the Tour de France, where "I want to see how I am against Lance Armstrong. My season high point could be the World Championships in Canada."

In more Team Coast news, Swiss rider Alex Zülle is still negotiating with the team about a possible departure to another squad, feeling dissatisfied with the team's suspension and also about salary payments from last season. Zülle's manager Tony Rominger will meet with the Coast management this evening to discuss a solution. Phonak and CSC are both interested in the 34 year old Swiss rider.

USA Cycling responds to track selection criticism

By Kristy Scrymgeour

USA Cycling Chief Operating Officer Steve Johnson has responded to criticism earlier this week by track riders Colby Pearce and Jame Carney that USAC's recently announced world championships selection criteria are different from the criteria they had been told would apply.

Asked to explain the reasoning behind changing the selection criteria, Johnson told Cyclingnews, "USAC in fact didn't change the selection criteria, we simply had not yet published them for this year. Jame and Colby have complained that the selections were different to what they had been told, but they hadn't been told anything, they had just assumed.

"[The criteria were different from last year for] two reasons: 1. We wanted to pick athletes from an international level of cycling so that we have the best athletes representing us at World Championships. 2. We now have a system in place where we use National races to qualify riders for World Cups and then World Cups to qualify riders for World Championships. There are several different avenues for athletes to qualify for World Championships."

Nevertheless, the criticism from riders has been strong. Had there been any support for the change? Johnson said that only two riders had complained and, "overall we think it's better to move forward. Colby made a good comment in his letter saying that it is important to have international events to select the very best riders for the World Championships and that is what we are trying to do."

Given that the complaints are about the timing of the announcement of the new criteria rather than the nature, is it fair to the athletes to change the criteria after the track season is well underway?

Johnson replied, "Well, so far there are no athletes who have qualified, so all spots are still open and riders still have two world cups remaining and plenty of opportunity to qualify. The complaining athletes made decisions based on their personal lives not to go to other World Cups. Jame for example chose to go to school, that was his decision. My job is to stimulate growth in the discipline of track cycling by making and to move the sport forward. In San Diego we had riders coming across from the road to compete on the track. This is what we want. By having this system in place it creates more interest. Riders can qualify at National events to go to the World Cup. So far it is working well."

Johnson said that USAC had no intention of changing the selection procedures "based on the complaints of two riders" and was blunt about the threat of legal action by Jame Carney: "It is Jame's prerogative to take legal action if that is what he feels he needs to do."

Teams for E3-Prijs Harelbeke

This Saturday, March 29, will see the classics riders battle it out in the UCI 1.1 ranked E3-Prijs in Harelbeke. The 209 km race contains 12 of the famous Flemish bergs that will be used in the Ronde van Vlaanderen the following weekend, and thus is one of the most important form testers. Hills included are La Houppe, Berg Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationsberg, Taaienberg, Berg Ten Houte, Kapelberg, Paterberg, Kwaremont, Kluisberg, and Tiegemberg, with the last hill coming at 16 km to go.

A total of 23 teams will race in Harelbeke, including Quick.Step-Davitamon (Bettini, Museeuw) Saeco (Dario Pieri, winner in 2002), Lotto-Domo (Van Petegem), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Dierckxsens), Marlux-Ville de Charleroi (Ruskys), Palmans-Collstrop (Van Dijck), Vlaanderen-T Interim (Devolder), Flanders-iTeamnova (The brothers Scheirlinckx), Fassa Bortolo (Bartoli), Alessio (Baldato), Sidermec (Bortolami), De Nardi-Colpack, (Casper), Crédit Agricole (O'Grady), Cofidis (Mattan, Planckaert), AG2R-Prévoyance (Kirsipuu), Rabobank (Freire), Bankgiroloterij (Pronk), CSC (Van Hyfte), Team fakta (Arvesen), US Postal presented by Berry Floor (Van Heeswijk), Telekom (Wesemann) and CCC-Polsat (Wojtas).

Pozzato out of Flanders

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Fassa Bortolo's young star Filippo Pozzato will be forced to miss the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 6 due to the leg wound he sustained in Milan-San Remo. Pozzato received four stitches after crashing into a barrier on the descent of the Cipressa.

Savoldelli won't defend Giro title

It's certain that Paolo Savoldelli will not be on the start line for Telekom in the 2003 Giro d'Italia, despite being the defending champion. The Italian rider will not be fit enough to race then, according to Telekom spokesman Olaf Ludwig. Savoldelli broke two vertebra in his back after a training accident in February, and is still suffering from an injured neck.

"He is still not certain to race at the beginning of May," said Ludwig. "He is back on his bike again at the moment, but you can't really call it training yet."

No break for Van de Vijver

Belgian cyclist Heidi Van de Vijver has not broken anything, following her two crashes in La Primavera Rosa last Saturday. However, she will still be out of action for three weeks. After an examination on Monday, it was found that the Vlaanderen-T Interim rider had bad bruising on her pelvis, and will spend this week on crutches. Next week she hopes to resume training on the rollers.

Manuel Sanroma's family awarded damages for his death

The family of deceased Spanish cyclist Manuel Sanroma, who was killed in a crash during a stage of the 1999 Volta a Catalunya, have been awarded €132,000 in damages by a Spanish court. The organisers of the race will have to pay the damages, as the court ruled them responsible for the accident, which occurred with 1 km to go in the second stage when Sanroma hit a barricade.

Zinetti signs for Amore & Vita

Italian cyclist Mauro Zinetti has signed a contract with the Division III squad Amore & Vita-Beretta. The 27 year old sprinter was looking at unemployment after the UCI refused to register the Index team in 2003, of which he was a member.

Mauro Zinetti began his professional career in 1998 with Team Polti. In 2000, Zinetti rode for Colpack before joining Alexia Alluminio one year later, and he stayed with the team when it became Index Alexia in 2002. During this time he won two races, both in 1999 - a stage of the Regio Tour and a stage of the Hessen Rundfahrt. He was also 14th in the 2002 Milano-Sanremo. Zinetti is a past Italian schoolboy and junior team time trial champion.

Courtesy of Joăo Cravo

Tour of Eritrea 2003

By Essayas Fessahaye

The 2003 edition of the Tour of Eritrea kicked off on Saturday, March 22 with an eight km prologue time trial around Tsaeda-Kristian, won by Efrem Tewold. More than 90 riders are taking part in the eight stage/1069 km tour, which includes a 237 km stage from Asmara to Barentu. The riders will also head to cities like Massawa, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Keren, Segeneyti and others. The race covers each zonal administration in the country, with the exception of the Southern Red Sea zone.

The race, dominated by the Central zone competitors, will include teams like Red Sea, Tele, Asbeco, Natna, Asmara, Gegante, Debub and Northern Red Sea zone. 32 individual racers will also take part, supporting themselves.

The prize money at stake is Nakfa 160,000 (roughly €12,000), which has been donated by Hamset Project. The top 10 overall and the king of the mountain winners will receive money, and stage winners will also get trophies and jerseys donated by the Eritrean Cycling Association in Europe and former racer Daniel Fessahaye.

The Tour of Eritrea is one of the biggest cycling events in the country, and has been held for a third consecutive year since independence. The tour was first run in 1946, but stopped during the forthcoming colonisation years. In 2001, on the 10th anniversary of the country's independence, the Tour of Eritrea reappeared. Habte Weldesimon (Red Sea) won the race that year, while Efrem Tewold (Tele) won the king of the mountains prize. Last year, Micheal Teku won the overall race and Awet Russom was declared king of the mountain.

More than half a million Nakfa (€38,000) is to be squandered to make the Tour of Eritrea 2003 a success. The head of the Eritrean Cycling Federation, Mr. Gebrengus Zere, is also commissioner of the tour as head of Central Zone Cycling committee Major Nerayo Tekle(Anwar) is nominated for an assistant commissioner.

Sid Patterson Grand Prix

Darren Young
Photo: © Mikkeli Godfree
Click for larger image

Australian cycling legend Sid Patterson will be honoured on Saturday night with the third hosting of the Sid Patterson Grand Prix, to be held at Vodafone Arena commencing at 7pm. Patterson was a fearsome and feared competitor, winning World and Australian Championships during his career.

In light of his success on the track, a Champion of Champions event has been established in his honour, whereby the place getters in all the major Wheelraces in Australia have been invited to contest the Champion of Champions final, which will crown the best wheelrace rider in Australia. This novel concept will see the cream of Australian cycling all on the track at the one time, in an attempt to become the Fitzroy Cycles Champion of Champions.

The Champion of Champions event will also be supported by the Business Objects Sid Patterson Grand Prix, a race format whereby riders qualify for the Grand Prix final by finishing in the top 5 of their graded scratch races. A strong field will be on hand to contest the night's racing, including recent Austral Winner Darren Young, Junior World Champion Mark Jamieson and young Daniel Thorsen who destroyed his bike after hitting the track in excess of 70 km/h two weeks ago.

The night will also feature an Aces Sprint derby between the speed demons, which will see them go head to head in a four-lap blast around the 250m board track inside Vodafone Arena.

Lyndelle Higginson, 2000 Sydney Olympian will return to the track to continue her rivalry with one of the up and coming riders of the sport, Lizzie Williams, the current National Criterium Champion.

Tickets are available now from Ticketek, priced from $15. Doors open at 5.30pm, and racing starts at 7pm.

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