First Edition News for November 2, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Beloki explores Stayer's interest
Having essentially taken the possibility of signing with Manolo Saiz's new Liberty Seguros team for 2004, Joseba Beloki continues to explore his options for the coming season, including a possible new cycling team sponsored by Italian electrical firm Stayer. The Italian company was originally tapped as a likely replacement for ONCE, but in the end Liberty Seguros stepped in and reached an agreement with Saiz to save the team.
"I'm not in a hurry to decide what team I'll choose," Beloki told AS. "I think it will turn out for the best."
Beloki, and by extension a group of several ONCE riders, believes an option may exist with Stayer to form a new team. Accompanied by his lawyer Pablo Arregui, Beloki traveled this week to Milan, Italy to meet with Stayer representatives and negotiate with Manuela Ronchi, who also serves as Marco Pantani's manager [Pantani recently expressed interest in joining Manolo Saiz/Stayer as a team manager]. The possibility exists for Stayer to support a team, but no firm decisions have been made, notably concerning bank guarantees for any venture.
Zarrabeitia also linked with Stayer
ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia is also linked with the Stayer team in Italy, himself a member of Joseba Beloki's camp, deciding not to sign with Manolo Saiz and Liberty Seguros. According to reports in the Spanish press, Zarrabeitia has all but sealed a two year deal with Stayer, and will not wait for Beloki's signature to make his own move.
"The decision to ride in Italy is definitive," he told Basque newspaper Deia, "although I don't consider it an emigration because although the company is Italian, the headquarters will be located in Holland and half the team will be Spanish."
Other riders linked to Beloki and a possible move to Stayer include brother Gorka Beloki, David Arroyo, Angel Castresana, Xavier Florencio, Jonathan Gonzalez, and Mikel Pradera.
Cofidis tempts Casero
In a move to bolster its already impressive line up for 2004, the French Cofidis team has reportedly made an offer to Bianchi's Angel Casero. Spanish paper Marca reports that despite indications that Casero would sign for Kelme-Costa Blanca, delays in the negotiations have prompted other teams, notably Cofidis, to step in and make an offer for the former Vuelta a España winner.
Genesis Scuba/FFCC signs three
The American women's cycling team Genesis Scuba/FFCC, based in Georgia, has signed three strong riders for 2004, directeur sportif Michael Skop announced Saturday. Joining the team are ex-Diet Rite members Tina Mayolo-Pic and Kori Kelly, as well as Laura Van Gilder, who leaves Saturn after the withdrawal of the team's title sponsor.
Arnould's modest 'cross plans
France's last cyclo-cross world champion, Dominique Arnould, is marching to the beat of his own drum this season. Arnould has opted out of the first round of the Challenge National de Cyclo-Cross series in France, which begins Sunday at Athée-sur-Cher. Instead Arnould, who is the reigning French 'cross champion, will head to Switzerland for the race in Rüti, near Zurich.
"The Challenge National has never brought me success," Arnould said in Saturday's l'Equipe. "It's important to race to get a good start position for the French championships, but since I'm the defending champion I don't have to worry about that."
Choosing also to skip the coming rounds of the World Cup, Arnould seems to have modest ambitions for his season in the face of the powerful Belgian armada. The fact that this season's cyclo-cross world championships will be held in France does not spark any grand statements from Arnould.
"I'm not at a level to reach the podium in Pontchâteau [site of the 2003-2004 World's]," he said. "The Belgians have gone up another level, and Nijs and Wellens are untouchable."
Korff a lucky man
German Andre Korff makes no secret of his good fortune as he prepares to follow Jan Ullrich to Telekom (to be named T-Mobile) in 2004. Korff was hand-picked by Ullrich to join Telekom, along with the 1997 Tour de France winner's faithful friend and domestique Tobias Steinhauser. Korff considers himself a lucky man, and is eager to prove his value to his new team.
"I am so lucky," said Korff, quoted on the Team Telekom website. "Jan Ullrich said to me last summer 'if I go to another team, I'll take you with me,' and he kept his promise. Now a dream becomes a reality."
Korff, 30, fancies himself a potential helper not only for Ullrich, but for Erik Zabel in the bunch finishes. "I am fast in the final metres, and could do a good leadout for Erik Zabel," he said. "Marcel Wüst was happy with me in this role at Festina, and so too were Steffan Radochla, Torsten Wilhelms, and Sven Teutenberg at Coast and Bianchi."
Heras and Beltran in Criterium L'Hospitalet
Two-time Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras (US Postal Service) will keep the pedals turning in November as he lines up for the Criterium Ciclista Ciutat de L'Hospitalet Sunday in La Ribera del Duero, Spain. Heras will be joined by teammate Manuel Beltran and a host of international professionals including Félix Garcia Casas, Aitor Garmendia, Jaume Hernandez, Angel Edo, Claus Michael Möller, Fabian Jeker, Miguel Martin Perdiguero, and Iñigo Cuesta.
One of the oldest criteriums in Spain, the Criterium L'Hospitalet has offered victory to the likes of Pedro Delgado, Miguel Indurain, Abraham Olano, Melchior Mauri, Oscar Freire, and return customer Angel Edo.
One week until Giro announcement
After the Tour de France presentation in late October, the curtain will be lifted on the route for the 87th Giro d'Italia November 8. The annual presentation of the Giro parcours will take place in Milan's Gustav Mahler auditorium Saturday. The race is scheduled from May 8-30, 2004, beginning in Genova and concluding in Milan.
Verbruggen praises Italian federation
UCI President Hein Verbruggen has sent a letter of praise to the Italian Cycling Federation, complimenting its efforts in the fight against doping. "Dear Mr. President, permit me to express my sincere congratulations for the programs put in place by the Italian Cycling Federation to face the growing problem of doping in the amateur and junior ranks," Verbruggen wrote to federation president Giancarlo Ceruti.
Verbruggen noted specifically the federation's campaign to fight the use of recombinant EPO in the peloton, and added that his letter would be transmitted to the members of the Professional Cycling Council as a working document.
9 to 5 Race Day Series
Mountain Bike TV has announced the five venues for the 9 to 5 Race Day Mountain Bike Marathon Series in Florida. Boasting "one of the best-kept secrets in American mountain biking",Florida's wealth of quality trails, organisers also highlight the prospect of warm weather racing in winter. For more information and online registration, see www.mtbtv.com.
2004 Race schedule:
January 24: Job Interview/Blue Monday - Quiet Waters Park, Deerfield
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)