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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for November 23, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

No more road racing for Martinez

Second wasn't enough
Photo ©: Sirotti

France's Olympic mountain bike champion Miguel Martinez has put a definitive end to his career as a road racer. The 28 year old Martinez explained in an interview in Saturday's l'Equipe that he gave road racing a chance for two seasons, but has decided to devote himself to his first love, mountain biking. The 2004 Olympics in Athens remain his number one goal. Martinez rode for Mapei-Quick.Step in 2002, followed by a season with the Phonak Hearing Systems this year.

Martinez underlined his preference for an individual riding style, which he felt was not available in the peloton on the road. After a season of learning the ropes with Mapei, the expectations for results at Phonak were not matched by the freedom to ride his own races.

"I found myself in a situation that I didn't like," Martinez said. "I was only capable of being a simple teammate. I would have liked to have had my own card to play, to test myself on my own terrain, the mountains."

Martinez is honest about his abilities on the road, and at the same time reveals that he was "born to win", and victory was something he never achieved on the tarmac, something he desperately misses.

"Above all, the feeling of a victory, of raising my arms and sensing the excitement of the crowd," he said. "In two years on the road, I never felt that pleasure... In fact, I think there are too many constraints on the road for a rider like me."

Martinez's only regret is not having fulfilled his goal of winning the king of the mountains prize in the Tour de France. His 2002 Tour will remain his only ride at the Grande Boucle, as Phonak was not selected for the 2003 race.

Moving ahead, Martinez is dabbling in cyclo-cross this winter, but with no serious ambitions. He will focus on the 2004 Olympics, and even hopes to remain competitive until the 2008 games in China. Martinez will not likely remain in Phonak colours as he heads back off road.

"I asked Phonak if my riding the mountain bike season in their jersey would interest them, and the answer was a timid yes," he explained. "So, I went looking elsewhere, to Commençal Oxbow. My decision was made: I'd never go back to the road."

Vainsteins to Lampre

Latvian former world champion Romans Vainsteins will move from Vini Caldirola to Lampre for 2004. Vainsteins, 30, is a rider for the one day races, and won the 2000 World's in Plouay, France. Vainsteins follows his teammate Gianluca Bortolami, who has also signed with Lampre.

"The addition on Vainsteins, 3rd in the 2000 Tour of Flanders and at Paris-Roubaix in 2001, will give us a presence in the big northern classics, particularly in Belgium in April," team manager Giuseppe Saronni commented. "With Bortolami, he'll form a powerful tandem, particularly on the pavés."

Van Petegem wins Sprint d'Or

Peter Van Petegem has been awarded Belgium's prestigious Sprint d'Or award for best Belgian cyclist of the season. The award is the Wallonne region's equivalent to the Flemish Kristallen Fiets. Voting for the prize, awarded by television network RTBF, is conducted by a panel of retired professionals. Dave Bruylandts came in second, followed by Johan Museeuw. Philippe Gilbert was awarded the prize for best hopeful.

De Moor to sponsor again

Remi De Moor, owner of the firm RDM and a mainstay of Belgian cycling sponsorship, plans to return to the peloton in 2004 after a year's absence. Although a final decision has not been made, De Moor has his eyes on two teams.

"I'm negotiating with Quick.Step and [Chocolade] Jacques," he said, quoted on Belgian Teletekst. "We're talking about a possible collaboration over three years."

Italian website withdraws Cipollini story

Following the high-profile flap caused by a supposed professional rider's confessions of doping on Italy's Striscia la Notizia television program, Italian website Dagospia has withdrawn its own article announcing that the disguised rider featured on the program was in fact Mario Cipollini. The former world champion Cipollini reacted quickly with outrage at being named by Dagospia, saying he had never spoken to Striscia la Notizia and the information was not grounded in any fact.

"We were given the information [concerning the rider's identity] by an authoritative source who had personally validated facts," said Dagospia's director Roberto D'Agostino. "In spite of that, we've taken action based on Cipollini's firm denial and we thought it best to remove the article from the site."

Superprestige #3: Gavere

The third round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series will take place Sunday in Gavere, Belgium. The series lead is held in a tie by Bart Wellens, winner of the first round in Ruddervoorde, and Sven Nys, winner of the previous race in Sint-Michielsgestel. Wellens won last year's race in Gavere. The elite men's race caps the day's events and will begin at 3pm.

Superprestige schedule:

October 19: Ruddervoorde (Bart Wellens)
November 2: Sint-Michielsgestel (Sven Nys)
November 23: Gavere
November 30: Gieten
December 25: Diegem
January 25, 2004: Hoogstraten
February 8: Raismes
February 21: Vorselaar

Women's Tour of Spain for 2004

Plans for a women's Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) for 2003 were not realized, but organisers are trying again with the hopes of introducing the event in 2004. The UCI has offered a ranking of 2.9.2 for the planned 11 day event. The women's Vuelta is scheduled for April 29-May 9, 2004, and could bolster the women's calendar, particularly in light of continued questions over the future of the Grande Boucle Féminine (women's Tour de France).

The women's Vuelta would become the third UCI stage race in Spain, along with the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (March 24-26) and Emakumen Bira (June 10-13). The only other events with UCI points on offer in the country are the Gran Premio Castilla y Leon, a World Cup event (March 28), and Durango-Durango Emakumen Sarria.

Zabel slower than Ullrich

When he needs to be, ace sprinter Erik Zabel is a slower finisher than past and future teammate Jan Ullrich. The German sprinter was pitched in a duel against Ullrich on German television, but not under the normal circumstances. The two German stars were given utilitarian "Dutch" bikes, but without working brakes, and challenged to a race whereby the slowest rider over a 30 metre studio course would be declared winner.

"Scandal," said commentator Stefan Raab from TV Total. "Not only can Erik ride faster, but he can also ride more slowly than Jan Ullrich."

Noting that Ullrich's deficit to Lance Armstrong in the 2003 Tour de France was little more than a minute, Raab marveled at Zabel's finishing time, over three hours down on the American, and asked how he managed to lose so much time.

"Well, in the mountains," Zabel joked, "since I stopped to talk with a lot of fans."


Minnaar named SA MTB rider of the year

South African Greg Minnaar has been named mountain bike cyclist of the year at the Pick 'n Pay South African Cyclist of the Year Awards. Minnaar was recognized for his season which included a world championship downhill victory and the NORBA downhill series title. Popular commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were on hand on hand at the event to present the awards in Johannesburg.

"It tops off a brilliant year for me and I'm already looking forward to 2004," Minnaar commented. Minnaar will ride for the new Team G Cross Honda next season after being released from his Haro-Lee Dungarees team this week.

Krause suspended

American mountain biker Kathi Krause has been suspended after a positive test confirmed from the NORBA National Championship Series on June 22, 2003 in West Dover, Vermont. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Saturday that Krause tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol acid, a metabolite of marijuana and a banned substance under UCI rules.

Krause has accepted a one-year sanction in accordance with the UCI rules, beginning on June 22, 2003. All results which she obtained on or after the date of the positive test are declared invalid. USA Cycling will carry out the sanction.

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