First Edition News for May 1, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
Armstrong responds to Merckx
After Eddy Merckx's outburst in L'Equipe on Tuesday, where he heavily criticised Lance Armstrong's performance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Armstrong has hit back in defence. The four-time Tour de France winner finished 20th in the race after a late attack failed. Significantly (for Eddy Merckx), the move involved Armstrong, Sanchez, Bartoli and Shefer chasing down and dropping Belgian favourite Axel Merckx, who happens to be Eddy's son. Eddy also criticised the US Postal-Berry Floor team's tactics during the race, and Armstrong's apparent overestimation of his abilities.
In response to the comments in L'Equipe, Armstrong told Cyclingnews, "I'm sorry Eddy feels this way but we must all remember a few things: One, he was clearly upset as it involved his son. I just hung up the phone with Axel and he was far from upset. Did he want to win L-B-L? Of course! But he knows that bike racing is bike racing and he was far from guaranteed a victory."
Armstrong was also disappointed at reading the comments in L'Equipe, rather than hearing them from Eddy directly. "Secondly, Eddy has said things like this about many past/current riders whether they are champions or not," he said. "I guess I'm just another in a long line. I still love and respect the man, but it's not my style to 'lash out' in the press. If I had feelings like this then the way to express them is 'man to man' or 'face to face'. No other options... especially when it involves close friends. And until now, I have not received a phone call from him expressing his concerns."
"As for my poor form? Well good, it will be a great Tour then. It will be close, I will suffer like hell, and probably lose. But, I will give it my best. That's all I'll promise. If victory goes to a better man then there will be no crying, whining, or excuses. Not from me at least."
Finally, Armstrong wished to clarify his status as a favourite for Liège, which was (in part) bestowed on him by Eddy Merckx (See April 27 news). "I never even came close to insinuating that Liège was a 'sure' victory," said Armstrong. "I simply said I feel 'okay', it's a beautiful race, and we'll see how it goes. Let's not let the facts get in the way here."
Tour of Picardie teams announced
Organisers ASO have announced the 19 teams that will take part in the Tour of Picardie, May 16-18. The three-day, four-stage event will feature 14 Division I teams, four from Division II and the French national team.
Division I: Lotto-Domo, Team CSC, Cofidis, Rabobank, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Palmans-Collstrop, Quick.Step-Davitamon, Team Fakta, AG2R Prevoyance, Brioches La Boulangere, Credit Agricole, Jean Delatour, FDJeux.com, Phonak Hearing Systems
Division II: Bigmat.Auber 93, MBK-Oktos, Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf, Vlaanderen-T Interim
National teams: France
Stage 1 - May 16: Beauvais - Cayeux-sur-Mer, 157.5km
Wells Fargo Criterium adds women's race
The Boise Idaho Wells Fargo Criterium (July 26) will include a women's race for the first time this year, according to race director Mike Cooley.
Women have entered the Wells Fargo Criterium in previous years, but this will be the first time the race has included a women-only category. "To help fill the void in women's cycling created by the cancellation of the Women's Challenge, we decided that adding a women's event to the Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium would be the right thing to do," Cooley said.
The women's race will be open to USCF-licensed Pro, 1, 2 or 3 category riders and offers a $3,000 purse with prize money down to tenth place.
Cooley says that more that 12,000 spectators are expected to fill the streets of downtown Boise for the evening's racing which starts at 5.30 pm with the Cat 4/5 men's race and culminates at 9.00 pm with the pro men. Women will race at 7.30.
Colombia gets ready for Pan-American MTB Championships
Fourteen countries have so far committed to sending riders to he VII Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships in Medellin, Colombia June 13-15. The Pan-Am Championships will see three countries qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics, giving an extra edge to the racing.
The downhill, scheduled for June 14 will take place on the Hill of the Three crosses in the Belen area close to Medellin city. Colombian mountain bike coach Gonzalo "Parlante" Agudelo said, "the down hill track is very, very good, and very technical. The track has some areas where the rider must show great ability, I mean cyclists must know the track perfectly and ride by heart."
Agudelo has also been involved in the creation of the cross-country course. "we have tried to extend it to the maximum, looking for an extension of at least 6 kilometers. It is already a track for rider of a lot of ability."
But he doesn't think there will be much of a home-town factor. "Colombian riders should not have many advantages, because our cyclists win more easily when it is necessary to pedal in the style of a road rider. However in the two cases, in the down hill and in cross country, we have the advantage of being locals, because we can train a great deal more on these tracks."
Agudelo has already preselected Colombia's team for the MTB Pan-Am's, and says he is "very satisfied" with the quality of the squad. Now, the riders just have to train and get familiar with the courses. "The important thing is to continue attending the national races," he said, "with the aim of giving the optimum performance in an event as important as the Pan-American one, keeping inmind that we are in our own country. We should know each the tracks, down hill and cross country, by heart to make the most of them."
Colombia's team for the Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships will be:
Elite men: Diego Garabito, John Jairo Botero, Camilo Morales,
Fredy Restrepo, Carlos Andrés Trujillo.
Past and present stars for European Cup
The second round of the European MTB Cup, in Bad Wildbad, Germany, May 17 has attracted a world-class field to race the course designed by '90s German cyclo-cross and MTB star Mike Kluge. Kluge, who won two World Cup rounds back in 1993 and caused considerable amusement among British mountain bikers when he complained about the water crossings in the 1992 Scottish World Cup round, has designed a 5.1km long course with 195m of climbing per lap - and, we assume, no water crossings.
World champion Gunn-Rita Dahle will be among the top riders to start at Bad Wildbad, along with German national champions Lado Fumic and Sabine Spitz and German series champion Carsten Bresser. The full merida and T-Mobile MTB teams have also committed to attending.
Multiple German cyclo-cross champion Tobias Nestle is mountain bike project manager with the race organizer, the STADA Radsportakademie. Nestle said, "Bad Wildbad's topography is ideal for cross-country races. For the European Cup we have stringent course selection standards and anyone who wants to win here will have to be in excellent condition."
Rides for all mark CTC's 125th birthday
Cycle rides for all abilities are being staged this weekend to mark the 125th anniversary of the formation of UK national cyclists' organisation CTC. Local CTC groups all over the country are hosting rides ranging from five to 125 miles aimed particularly at those who rarely cycle or never ride at all.
CTC was formed in 1878 and has become one of the UK's leading cycle campaign organisations. But CTC was originally called the Bicycle Touring Club and has its heritage in cycle touring. Day rides, weekend events and worldwide cycling holidays remain an important cornerstone of CTC activity. All rides this weekend will be at a sociable pace and many will include refreshment stops, the chance to buy commemorative medals and certificates and could also involve visits to places of interest.
Distances will range from an easy 25 miles to a tougher 125 miles or 125 minute challenge. Some groups are planning historic tours or picnics and barbecues in conjunction with rides.
Director Kevin Mayne said: "Cycling is one of the best ways of exploring your local area and the rides that CTC groups are running will be ideal for anyone who has not cycled for some time or is new to leisure cycling. This anniversary is a fantastic milestone for us and we would like as many people as possible to join our birthday celebrations."
For details of Bank Holiday rides visit www.ctc.org.uk/services/Celeb.aspx.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)