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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for November 29, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Robert Hunter: Refocusing after a bad hunting season

Photo ©: J.F. Quénet

Robert Hunter helped put South Africa on the map of world cycling when he became the first rider from his country to take part in the Tour de France with Lampre in 2001. Now with Rabobank, the sprinter from the West Rand sets his sight on 2004 Spring classics after a very unsuccessful season, as Jean-François Quénet finds out.

Cyclingnews: So, what happened in 2003?

Robert Hunter: It first happened with a broken hand while I was training in South Africa in January. It delayed my preparation. At the classics, I was one step behind so I put myself at the disposition of the team. I helped, that was all I could do. Then I came back in South Africa and I trained really hard for the Tour de France. It worked. I came back to form and I finished fourth in my first race after that break, the Tour of Picardie.

I thought I was on schedule. But at the Bicicleta Vasca I crashed again and injured my coccyx. It was very painful. I was off the bike for a week and half. For sure that wasn't the ideal preparation for the Tour de France. I am type of rider who needs a lot of racing and I didn't have enough of racing condition.

CN: However you had high ambitions on the start line of the Tour de France in Paris.

RH: Yes but I was unprepared and I was riding all the time for Oscar. By the end of the second week, there was nothing left in me. My body wasn't recovering, my heart rate couldn't go higher than 160bpm.

CN: What did you do then?

RH: I went home and rested before I resumed training slightly. The plan was to head back to Europe to race again at the Tour of Denmark towards the World's. Once again I set goals and I thought I was on the right schedule. I was also very motivated for the Tour of Holland where I had done well in the past. But once again I had a crash in Denmark and I broke my wrist. It was pretty much where my season ended. At the very end I took part in smaller races in Italy and Belgium but above all I wanted to put the whole season behind me.

To read the full interview with Robert Hunter, click here.

Beloki gets to know his new team

Although still under contract with ONCE-Eroski through December 31, Joseba Beloki took some time this week to get acquainted with his new teammates at Brioches La Boulangère. Beloki joined the team for a first training session along with his younger brother Gorka, who followed him from ONCE to La Boulangère. The two remained outfitted in ONCE uniforms and rode their Giant team bikes, not wishing to provoke any conflict between sponsors old and new.

"Frankly, I hesitated to make this trip to the first training camp," the elder Beloki told l'Equipe. "I'm still under contract with ONCE through December and I respect my commitments. But, knowing that Manolo Saiz and Jean-René Bernaudeau spoke together and nobody opposed this trip to France, we came."

Beloki took the time to meet with the team's equipment sponsors, discuss bike fit, pedal choices, and explain his requirements on the technical front. "After all, it's the tool of our job, and you can't perform miracles without good equipment," he noted.

The Basque, who along with his brother represents the only foreign incursion into what this year was an entirely French team, was pleased anew with the team's close-knit group. Knowing communication will not be easy, he also vowed to devote himself to learning to speak French.

"I'm going to learn French as quickly as possible," he insisted. "It's a form of respect towards my teammates. But it's also good that the directors managed, for this first meeting, to bring an interpreter. That also shows their intelligence."

Abnormalities for Salanson?

Fabrice Salanson, the young professional from Brioches La Boulangère who died in his sleep on the eve of this year's Tour of Germany, was determined to have died of natural causes. A medical report from doctors in Dresden, Germany indicated heart failure, and no evidence of the presence of doping substances was found.

Questions have been raised, however, about Salanson's condition prior to his death. French newspaper Le Parisien has revealed that Salanson's medical files revealed "abnormal" conditions. According to the paper, a medical exam performed on May 12 (three weeks before Salanson's death) indicated that during a test of maximum effort, Salanson's electrocardiogram was interrupted. Physicians recorded the event as an abnormality, although no references were made to heart conditions which might have caused his death.

The Brioches La Boulangère team has countered that no tests or medical exams had ever determined an incapacity of Salanson to participate in professional sports, and in a written statement insisted that "the management of La Boulangère share the sadness of Fabrice Salanson's family, and like his family the team is committed to finding the truth."

Petersen to BankGiroLoterij

Danish cyclist Jørgen Bo Petersen is the 16th and possibly final rider to sign with the Dutch BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team for 2004. Team manager Arend Scheppink reached an agreement with Petersen on Friday. He is the third Danish rider in the team, joining compatriots Allan Johansen and Lars Bak. Petersen, 33, won the 2001 Tour of Luxembourg.

Castelblanco to Orbitel

The Colombian 05 Orbitel team will enter its sixth season in 2004, and this week the team announced its first new recruit for the coming year: José Castelblanco. The 28 year old was signed after his winning performance in the Clásico RCN, and is expected to be one of the team's leaders for the next seasons.

Thus far 14 riders are confirmed with 05 Orbitel, which will focus on the Colombian national calendar as well as major competitions throughout Latin America. Some races in the United States may also figure in Orbitel's plans. Further team announcements finalising the 2004 roster are expected in the coming weeks.

Saeco plans and plays

Team Saeco has started the build up to the 2004 season on the right foot with a productive and good spirited get together in Coccaglio near Brescia. Claudio Corti's riders and staff worked on training and race programs, aptitude tests and the selection of race materials for 2004.

The new riders for 2004 were warmly welcomed, with a soccer match between the riders and the team staff (the staff won) provided an enjoyable moment. During their stay at Hotel Touring which is the base for the Brescia soccer team, Gilberto Simoni and his teammates had a chance to meet and talk to Italian soccer legend Roberto Baggio.

Simoni is already thinking out his objectives for 2004. "I want to try and win a third Giro d'Italia, be in the action in the Tour de France, and work on my dream of competing at the Olympics," he said.

The spring classics riders will make their season debut at the Tour of Qatar. Dario Pieri is one of the key classics riders and after finishing second in Paris-Roubaix last year, he will make attack the cobbles again in 2004.

"I've got a great chance and a great team that will be able to help me make my dream come true, I've got to give it everything," Pieri said.

Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino will also be looking for big wins in the World Cup classics. The Saeco team will next get together again just before Christmas in Varese for the medical check-ups before traveling to Riccione on the Adriatic coast for a short stay between December 17-19. The team's official training camp will be held in Terracina, south of Rome, in two separate groups: The first from January 22-28 and the second from January 28 to February 7. The official team presentation will be held on January 21.

Superprestige #4: Gieten

Into the heart of the cyclo-cross season, the Superprestige series continues with round four this Sunday, November 30. The series heads to the Gieten in the Netherlands, where Belgian champion Sven Nys has claimed victory four times in the past five years. World champion Bart Wellens currently leads the series standings by 9 points over Nys, but Wellens has never won in Gieten. Dutchman Richard Groenendaal, winner in Gieten in 2000, will no doubt be looking to make his mark on home soil.

Superprestige schedule:

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

Cofidis honours Kivilev

The entire Cofidis team, including management, riders, and technical staff, gathered in Sorbiers, France Friday morning to honour fallen teammate Andrei Kivilev, who died after a crash in this year's Paris-Nice. Kivilev's closest friend, fellow Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov, was also on hand for the occasion. A plaque was unveiled, and on the Col de la Gachet, a climb frequented by Kivilev in training, Natalia Kivilev and her son Leonard planted a tree.

Civic reception for Navan

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

On November 25th a civic reception was held in the Chambers of Navan Urban District Council to highlight the Navan Road Club's 50th Anniversary. Mayor of Navan Alison Boyle, Mayor of Navan, outlined the achievements of the club and its members throughout the years.

Cycling Ireland's President, P.J. Nolan, shared some of his experiences as a member of the club. In attendance were founding members Tommy Flanagan and Dessie Clarke, Ràs winner Seamus Kennedy, Club President Mayphail Reilly and Rùairì Collins. Mayphail's late husband Frank and Rùairì's late father Leo, were also founding members of the club.

The numerous times that club members have represented Ireland at world championships and Olympic Games and also to the many national champions and Ràs winners the club has produced gave an insight into the work that has gone into making this one of the premier clubs in the country. However the club has always asserted that cycling is not just about competing and has always managed to find a successful balance between catering for racing cyclists and those who ride just for the fun of it.

Leisure organiser Larry Clarke was complemented for the phenomenal amount of work he has put in through the years. It's estimated that more than €200,000 has been raised in the past few years by club members, mainly through events spearheaded by Larry.

This year the club has raised over €34,000 for various charities and organisations. A total of 60 events were run through the year including 10 annual leisure "tours", the two-day "Roosky and Back" challenge and nine days of racing. Navan Road Club is always on the lookout for new members, regardless of age, sex or ability. If you would like to join the club or find out about any of their events you can contact Club Secretary Paul Nolan at 041-9825653 or Leisure Organiser Larry Clarke at 041-9824460 or e-mail

Colnago still working hard

November 25, 1945 marked the first day of professional life for a young Italian named Ernesto Colnago, who started work at the Gloria factory in Milan. This week, 58 years later, Colnago is still working as hard as ever at the bicycle company which bears his name.

For a glimpse of Colnago's history in the business, see Cyclingnews' visit to the factory and company museum.

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