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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for November 16, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Cyclo-cross World Cup heads to Germany

Belgium the nation to beat
Photo ©: Olympia Photo

The second round of the cyclo-cross World Cup will take the discipline's top riders to Germany Sunday, meeting in Saint-Wendel. Belgian champion Sven Nijs claimed the series' first round in Turin, Italy, and remains a favourite, alongside a host of compatriots including world champion Bart Wellens and Ben Berden. Dutchman Richard Groenendaal took fourth place in Turin, ahead of another Belgian, Sven Vanthourenhout.

Erwin Vervecken, another member of the powerful Belgian armada, was selected for Sunday's second round of the competition, but considers himself far from his best form. He could muster only 12th place in Turin.

"Since I've returned to competition, I've had to fight against riders that I could normally beat without a problem," Vervecken commented in La Dernière Heure. "In Ruddervoorde and in Turin, I felt like I was coming back into good condition. These last few weeks, however, I feel like I've been going the other way and things aren't going as well."

World Cup standings after round 1:

1 Sven Nijs (Belgium)                60 pts
2 Bart Wellens (Belgium)             50
3 Ben Berden (Belgium)               45
4 Richard Groenendaal (Netherlands)  40
5 Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium)      35
6 Francis Mourey (France)            30
7 Christian Heule (Switzerland)      28
8 Enrico Franzoi (Italy)             26
9 John Gadret (France)               24
10 Gerben De Knegt (Netherlands)     22 

Pozzato's San Remo obsession

Young Italian star Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) is gearing up for another season, and another dream of winning "la primavera", Milan-San Remo. For Pozzato, just 22 years of age, the opening World Cup classic is the number one goal, and given his talents as a sprinter, one that he assumes is attainable.

Winner of the early season stage race Tirreno-Adriatico in 2003, Pozzato was primed to lead the Fassa Bortolo charge to San Remo, particularly given team leader Alessandro Petacchi's poorly timed bout with the 'flu. Plans unraveled as Pozzato crashed on the descent of the Cipressa with just 12km to race, but 'Pippo' is ready for a return to the fore in 2004.

"I've always been fascinated by [Milan-San Remo], but it's difficult to win," Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The things that I can't have easily... I want them at all costs."

Seven-time Milan-San Remo winner Eddy Merckx has simple advice for Pozzato. "When you race, don't pull on the breaks, and don't think about the fact that you're young," he says. "When you race, you must think only of winning."

Møller to Alessio

With the final agreement in place between Team fakta and Alessio to join forces for 2004, Team fakta manager Peter Sejer has confirmed the addition of Claus Michael Møller to the line up, following recent deals with Allan Bo Andresen, Rene Jørgensen, and Marcus Ljungqvist. Møller's signature Friday brings the Alessio roster to 19 riders, and Sejer expects that 2-3 more riders could be hired.

Jeanson calls press conference

Star Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson (RONA-Esker) has called a press conference, scheduled for Monday, November 17. The precise reason for the press conference was not announced, and the impetus is Jeanson's, not her team's, according to RONA spokesperson Daniel Larouche.

"It is in response to the overwhelming number of request for interviews she has received," Larouche commented Friday in a La Presse article, noting that Jeanson's decision to speak to the press was made several days ago.

Canadian cycling is currently stewing over the revelations of Dr. Maurice Duquette, that he prescribed EPO to a world class female cyclist from Québec. Duquette pleaded guilty to giving the prescriptions, only to present a letter denying the allegations a day later. A court-issued gag order has prevented the release of the name of the cyclist in question, but the Canadian and Québec cycling federations are both eager to begin their own investigations into the claims.

Ferretti: no slack from VDB

Fassa Bortolo manager Giancarlo Ferretti has made his thoughts known concerning his latest acquisition, Frank Vandenbroucke, and the Belgian's troubled past. Eager to see Vandenbroucke regain his former glory, Ferretti told De Morgen that he would not tolerate any diversions from VDB.

"A cycling team is made up of riders, not clowns," Ferretti said. "I won't work with that, and I've made that clear to Vandenbroucke. His head is back in racing, and he listened intently.

"With Vandenbroucke I plan to work step by step," Ferretti added. "After about two months we will evaluate him and make a new program."

Big ambitions for Bollekescross

Assessing the course
Photo ©: L. Claessen

The second annual Bollekescross cyclo-cross race, to be held November 29, was presented at a press conference Friday in Hamme-Zogge, Belgium. The event's organisers hope to build it into one of the cyclo-cross mad country's biggest races, and have submitted a promising candidature for the 2007 Belgian national championships. Former world champion Mario De Clercq and his Palmans-Collstrop teammate Tom Van Noppen were both on hand for the occasion, along with VRT commentator Michel Wuyts and national selector Rudy De Bie.


Images by Luc Claessen/

Italian hopeful Rusconi dies

The Italian cycling community was shocked by the unexpected death of young Italian cyclist Marco Rusconi, who died on the night of Friday, November 14. Rusconi, who had just turned 24, rode for the amateur team Ceramiche Pagnoncelli, and came from Binago, Italy. The cause of death appears to be heart failure, according to a Datasport report.

Tribute to Salanson

A tribute ride was organised Saturday at Landeronde, in the Vendée region of France, for deceased Brioches La Boulangère professional Fabrice Salanson. The whole of the Brioches La Boulangère team, along with the amateur Vendée U development team, was expected to attend the ride, organised by Salanson's fan club. Salanson died in his sleep on the eve of the Tour of Germany this year at the age of 23.

Courtesy: Velomania

Pick'n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge

HSBC local stars look like the world's toughest people

By Jean-François Quénet in Johannesburg

On Sunday, November 16, at 5:30am, the 7th edition of the Pick'n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge will be held, finishing on the car racing circuit of Kyalami in the province of Gauteng, South Africa. The first winners were Nicholas White (1997), Ryan Cox (1998), Robert Hunter (1999), Malcolm Lange (2000 and 2001) and Daniel Spence (2002). The TT3 HSBC from South Africa has won the event for the past three years and will clearly stand as hot favourites again.

Defending champion Daniel Spence doesn't have the same condition as one year ago, "But for sure our team will be up for the win," he said. Three weeks ago, Neil McDonald won the Amashovashova Pietermaritzburg to Durban and two weeks ago Ian McLeod claimed the OFM classic in Bloemfontein. Nic White is also reported to have great condition before the 94.7, whose distance will actually be doubled compared to the previous years, going from 94.7km to 180km.

A strong opposition will come from Microsoft, riding for super sprinter Malcolm Lange. Simon Kessler will therefore do his last race for the team before emigrating to Tampa, Florida, in the US. Minolta's Reinhardt Du Plessis and Adrian Maaske (2nd in the 94.7 last year and winner in Kempton Park last Sunday) also look competitive, while there are many questions around South Africa's number one international team Barloworld. They've had a very promising and successful season, finishing 5th in the TT3 category, but there are many changes in the air.

Only one third of the riders are expected to stay on the team's roster for next year: South African champion David George, Ryan Cox, Tiaan Kannemeyer and Sean Sullivan from Tasmania, Australia. The other Australian, Hilton Clarke, will join French TT2 Oktos together with Sylvain Calzati and the two other Frenchmen, Freddy Bichot and Eric Berthou, will ride for and RAGT (formerly Jean Delatour), respectively. Berthou and Sullivan are the only foreign imports lining up for Sunday's race.

South African races are open to a large public of competitors, and 25,000 participants have entered this year. The 94.7 radio station boasts that this is "Joburg's toughest race for the world's toughest people". There will be two guests of honour, both from Rabobank: local hero Robert Hunter and former world champion Oscar Freire, but neither will compete.

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