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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for May 4, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

MTB European Cup begins

Sunday marks the first round of the mountain bike European Cup, with the Trofee van de Vlaamse Ardennen, at the foot of Kluisbergen in Belgium. The five round series features events in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. Among the top names set to compete are Bart Brentjens, Roel Paulissen, and Filip Meirhaeghe. Belgian Meirhaeghe has been riding on the road this spring as well, in the colours of Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze-Elitron team. This will be for many the first major MTB test of the season.

29th Trophée des Grimpeurs

Sunday marks the 29th edition of the Trophée des Grimpeurs "Polymultipliée", a demanding circuit race held outside of Paris in Argenteuil. The 132km race tackles 16 laps of an 8.3km circuit, which begins on the banks of the river Seine and finishes atop the 300m (13%) Côte de l'Ermitage.

Last year's race saw the emergence of young French hope Sylvain Chavanel, riding in Bonjour team colours. The Trophée des Grimpeurs is part of the Coupe de France series, which is still led by Ag2R's Jaan Kirsipuu.

Rabobank pre-selection for Tour de France

Thirteen riders have been selected by the Rabobank team management for the nine possible spots on the Tour de France roster. The pre-selection includes the following team members: Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Addy Engels, Oscar Freire, Bram de Groot, Robert Hunter, Steven de Jongh, Levi Leipheimer, Marc Lotz, Grischa Niermann, Michael Rasmussen, Marc Wauters, and Beat Zberg.

Casar to the Giro

Sandy Casar will ride the Giro d'Italia for, replacing Australian Matthew Wilson, injured in last month's Paris-Roubaix. Casar, who last year finished second overall in Paris-Nice and also rode his first Tour de France, will ride the Giro to gain form for the Tour.

"I haven't had the early season I'd anticipated and I need the kilometres from racing to prepare for the Tour de France," Casar told l'Equipe. Casar is currently riding the Tour de Romandie, where he sat in 57th place overall, 11'27" down after stage 3.

Telekom in the wind

As part of its continued preparation for a full-on assault at the Tour de France, several key members of Team Telekom will test their riding positions in the wind tunnel. Santiago Botero, Cadel Evans, Paolo Savoldelli, and Alexandre Vinokourov will head to the factory of auto maker Audi to benefit from the wind tunnel testing. Audi is a sponsor of the team. The riders will also take part in a high-altitude training camp in June in the Canary Islands.

Hushovd still recovering

Crédit Agricole's Norwegian strong man Thor Hushovd is still recovering from fatigue and over-training in the early part of the season. After a break of nearly a month, Hushovd returned to competition Thursday at the Grand Prix de Villers-Cotterêts, but abandoned the race, still lacking form.

"I did too much cross-country skiing this winter, and too intensely," Hushovd explained to l'Equipe. "I think I started the season too quickly."

Hushovd's teammate Chris Jenner is also on the sidelines, but only for a week. Jenner crashed Thursday and suffered heavy bruising on his left knee, back, and thigh.

Telluride MTB World Cup cancelled

The Telluride 360° Adventure Festival featuring the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, scheduled for July 3-6, 2003 has been cancelled due to insufficient sponsorship funding. The town of Mountain Village, Colorado, home of the Telluride 360° Adventure Festival, joined with GaleForce Sports Marketing in 2002 to expand the 360° Festival and UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Despite interest from a number of potential sponsors, final commitments were not made in time to support the event.

"I am heartbroken that we cannot find a solution for this," said GaleForce President Rick Sutton. "GaleForce has a history of finishing what it starts, and this will be the first time in 13 years that we have needed to cancel an event."

Fatal motorcycle accident at Romandie

The organisation of the Tour de Romandie announced the death of a motorcycle pilot during Friday's stage 3 from Moudon-Lèoche les Baines. The pilot, who worked with the race security, was involved in an accident at Montreux, when a car entered the course and a collision ensued. The pilot was taken to hospital but passed away later. The organisation expresses its sadness and condolences for the pilot's family.

UK Promoter fills Bedford void

The UK Bedford women's 2 day stage, scheduled for May 24-25, has been cancelled. However, organiser Jon Miles has stepped in to organise another two day stage race in its place on the same dates to fill a potential void in the women's calendar.

The new race will begin with a 1.2km prologue on Saturday 24 May, followed by a criterium of 1.5 hours in the Milton Keynes area that afternoon. Sunday 25 May will feature a road stage at Keysoe, near Bedford, and will be over 90 kilometres. Apart from the top women in the UK, a team from Holland has confirmed that they will be taking part.

The race will be organised by Team Letchworth with help from Extran and Bikeshop Twente as sponsors. Competitors are encouraged to enter early.

TDS High-Speed update

The TDS High-Speed Cycling Team has added Christine White of Portland, Oregon, as a guest rider. White, who is coming off strong finishes at the Solano Bicycle Classic and other races in the Portland area, will join the team for the next three weeks of racing.

Meanwhile, the TDS team's Anne Samplonius will join the Canadian national team to compete in the Tour de L'Aude in France in mid-May. Anne will re-join TDS in early June, in time to race in the Wachovia Classic in Philadelphia on June 8.

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