First Edition News for March 30, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
McEwen takes a short break
Australian Robbie McEwen gave himself and his Lotto-Domo team a boost after winning the Dwars door Vlaanderen classic last Wednesday. Now McEwen will enter a short period of relative rest before tackling more Belgian classics in April.
"I'm aiming now for Gent-Wevelgem, just like the Scheldeprijs in Schoten," said McEwen. "Those are two important races for me." The Lotto-Domo rider will likely ride eight more races before starting the Giro d'Italia on May 10th, including the Rund um Köln and Veenendaal-Veenendaal.
Although he didn't start the final stage of Setmana Catalana, Dutchman Erik Dekker (Rabobank) is pleased with his riding since returning from a knee injury which disrupted his early season. "I'm satisfied," Dekker told Het Niewsblad. "I've ridden a lot kilometres in racing, and I've had four days without any knee pain."
Dekker won the GP Erik Breukink, his first race after some time on the sidelines after he bumped his knee against a door earlier this year. Next on the program for Dekker is racing in Spain. "The GP Indurain and the Tour of the Basque Country are the next objectives," he said, "but I don't think I'll be starting the classics."
Operation for Horrillo
Quick-Step-Davitamon's Pedro Horrillo will be out of racing for several months after undergoing an operation for a herniated disc. The Quick-Step team of Patrick Lefevère continues to have its share of riders on the sick and injured list, with Horrillo joining Kevin Hulsmans and Laszlo Bodrogi on the sidelines, although Horrillo is now the only one facing surgery. "I was expecting a lot from [Horrillo] in the early season," Lefevère told Het Nieuwsblad, adding that now "the Tour de France also looks unlikely" for the Spaniard.
Steels rides E3, will skip Flanders
Belgian Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) lined up for Saturday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, but is unlikely to ride next weekend's World Cup classic, the Tour of Flanders, according to Het Niewsblad. "I have trained lightly for two days," Steels told the Belgian paper. "The most important thing is that I'm ready for the Three Days of De Panne. Then there will be a week until Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix, and the Scheldeprijs."
Steels has been dogged by fatigue and illness in the early season, but is hoping to bounce back as the Belgian classics season heats up. Nonetheless, the biggest of the Belgian events, the Tour of Flanders, isn't likely to see Steels on the start line. "The Ronde van Vlaanderen I'll scrap in principle," Steels commented, "unless I come out of De Panne really good."
Meirhaeghe makes Domina Vacanze debut
Belgian mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe makes his debut for the Domina Vacanze-Elitron team of world champion Mario Cipollini this weekend in Belgium. Meirhaeghe will test his road form Sunday at the Brabantse Pijl, and will likely ride the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix World Cup events.
Casero tries to keep morale
The instability within Team Coast, highlighted this week by the departure of Alex Zülle and Luis Perez to Phonak, has prompted team officials to keep their riders quiet on the subject. Spaniard Angel Casero, co-leader of the team along with new recruit Jan Ullrich, spoke to Marca about the low morale among team members and the order not to divulge details of salary payments.
"I can't say anything on those issues," Casero told Marca. "I received a fax saying that the team will withhold one month's pay if I say anything."
The departure of Zülle was a blow to the team, and Casero believes the team's troubles could continue to affect the riders throughout the season. "The consequences could be felt until the Tour," he explained. "We don't know who will be on the Tour team, but it's clear that for that race we must be motivated. If you are not a hundred percent prepared physically and mentally, you can't do anything at the Tour." Casero has tried to maintain a positive outlook, saying that "the only thing left is to hope for the best. We hope the problems are solved, because morale is very important in this job."
Spanish teams less likely for Giro
Difficulties remain in finding agreements for the transmission of Italian racing outside of Italy. Spanish network TVE appears unlikely to strike a deal for the transmission of the Giro d'Italia, which may compromise the participation of two of the country's principal teams, ONCE-Eroski and iBanesto.com.
ONCE manager Pablo Antón explained that if the Giro is not televised in Spain, his team would likely not choose to ride, unless substantial financial compensation were offered. Eusebio Unzué, directeur sportif at iBanesto.com, echoed these sentiments, saying simply, "we will only ride the Giro d'Italia if it is shown in Spain."
The limited broadcast of Italian races, even within Italy, has prompted concern and even protest among riders and teams, notably with world champion Mario Cipollini, who urged his fellow riders not to speak to the Italian media at the recent Tirreno-Adriatico stage race.
Knobby Tire Series goes NORBA
Idaho's Knobby Tire Series has obtained official sanctioning from USA Cycling as the Idaho NORBA State Championship Race Series. The Knobby Tires Series consists of four races: The Coyote Classic (May 10), the Kelly Canyon Challenge (July 12), the 19th Annual Intermountain Orthopaedics White Knob Challenge (August 2-3), and the Idaho Cross Country NORBA Championship Finals at Soldier Mountain (August 30).
The Knobby Tire Series was founded this year by long-time Idaho cyclists Davey Moore and Cynthia Gibson. The NORBA state championship series is being organised in association with the Lost River Cycling Club, promoters of the Intermountain Orthopaedics White Knob Challenge.
The Coyote Classic and Soldier Mountain races will be held on all new courses. "Lots of time and sweat has gone into building the Coyote Classic course," said Moore. "We've just about finished and riders will find it amazing." The Kelly Canyon course is returning to the Idaho race scene after a few years out of the spotlight. More information is available about the Knobby Tire Series on-line at www.knobbytireseries.com.
The Intermountain Orthopaedics White Knob Challenge, a NORBA Classic race, is the longest running mountain bike race in the Northwest. Held for the past 18 years in Mackay Idaho, this year's White Knob also will also see riders competing for a stage race championship with a mountain bike short track race stage and head to head drag race stage. More information is available at www.lostrivercycling.org.
TechnoCycle BRC Cycling Team
TechnoCycle BRC, a newly formed USCF Category 3 & 4 team from Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania will make its debut to the Pennsylvania Cycling Association on April 12th at the Diamond Circuit Race in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. The team will also be competing at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in Massachusetts in June and the Tour de 'Toona in August.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)