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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest News for October 9, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Millar the favourite for Elite Men's TT

David Millar
Photo: © AFP
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British rider David Millar will line up for the Elite Men's time trial this afternoon as one of the big favourites for the 41.6 km event. Millar, winner of the final time trial stage of the Tour de France this year, has set the World Championships as a major gaol.

"This World Time Trial Championship is the big objective of my season," Millar told Reuters. "There were some others that were very important such as the prologue of the Tour de France [2nd], and the time trial stages of the Vuelta [2nd twice] but this is the most important one. I think I have a good chance."

Millar won the silver medal in this discipline in 2001, when he was beaten by Jan Ullrich. Since then he believes he has improved as a rider and has what it takes to win the World's. "I won the final time trial of the Tour de France and even though it's not necessary to compare a time trial at the end of a three week race to a World Championship, I think I have every reason to be optimistic."

Cyclingnews will be covering the event live from start to finish, beginning at 12:30 EDT/9:30 PDT/18:30 CEST. Full preview and start times here.

O'Grady not able to compete in Australia in 2004

Fatherhood approaching in December

By Jeff Jones

Stuart O'Grady in action
Photo: © CN
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Australian champion Stuart O'Grady will not be able to defend his title in January next year, nor take part in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, as his new team Cofidis requires him to be in Europe at that time of year. The 30 year old, who has been an integral part of the JCTDU since it was first run in 1999, is of course very disappointed by his team's decision not to come to Australia.

"It's definitely a big disappointment," O'Grady told Cyclingnews today. "The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under has been a really huge part of my season since the inaugural race. Racing in front of my home crowd in front of family and friends is really important. It's the only time in Australia that we can race with the European riders."

"Unfortunately, Cofidis can't come to the 2004 edition," explained O'Grady. "They'd prefer in my first year with the new team for me to come to Europe early for the team presentation and training camp. The only positive side of it is that they really want me to attack the classics a hundred percent next year. If I'm trying to win the TDU and National's I have to be going well in January. It's the first year I'll miss out, but hopefully the year after we'll be back."

Mike Turtur, Race Director for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under said that, "Obviously we are very disappointed for Stuart, but if the Cofidis team is not prepared to change existing plans then we have to understand this decision...I am very hopeful that we will see Stuart back again in 2005, perhaps even with fellow Australian and Cofidis team member Matthew White."

O'Grady added, "I've had a fantastic relationship with Mike Turtur and the TDU organisation, and also with Jacob's Creek who are my personal sponsor. It does put a completely different outlook on my whole summer. There'll be less pressure and I'll be a bit more relaxed than usual. I'm usually a 99 percent in January."

After finishing third in Paris-Tours last Sunday, O'Grady has finished his season. "I head back to Australia tomorrow and have three weeks off the bike. After that start my build up probably mid-November."

O'Grady confirmed that soon he will become a father for the first time. "Yes, our little boy's due in the first week of December, so it's going to be a different summer than normal!"

Nathan O'Neill back in the saddle

O'Neill training again
Photo: © Kokomotion
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Australian cyclist Nathan O'Neill returned to the bike last weekend for the first time since his terrible crash on July 31 that resulted in a dual break in his neck. "I am thrilled to be riding again," said O'Neill. "Right now I am doing about 90 minutes a day, but that will increase soon because things seem to be improving so well." In addition to cycling, O'Neill has begun incorporating some light work on a cross-country ski machine that will complement his rehabilitation process. O'Neill is preparing for the 2004 season, including the Australian National Championships in January.

O'Neill crashed on July 31 while wearing the yellow leader's jersey during the International Tour de Toona, He suffered a double post arch fracture of his C1 vertebra and a type 2 fracture of his C2 vertebra. The crash occurred a few hundred meters short of the finish line during Stage Three of the race in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, when another rider collided with O'Neill.

"I began my year with Saturn with a stage win and a week's worth of yellow jerseys followed by a serious crash in Malaysia," observed O'Neill. "It seemed to close in a similar way in Altoona. It's always difficult to have your season cut short like this; however, there is time to be ready for January. I am very excited and motivated for the 2004 season: I am rested, repaired and ready to start work again."

O'Neill's first year in the US saw him make 25 podium appearances, including nine victories and 16 race leaders' jerseys at the Tour de Langkawi, Redlands classic, Sea Otter, Tour de Georgia, Cascade and the Tour de Toona. Additionally, O'Neill won the Canadian Open National Road Championships on the Hamilton circuit where the 2003 World Championships will be held on Sunday, October 12, 2003.

O'Neill is under the care of Dr. Franco Cerabona, Chief of Spine Surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, where he underwent surgery to insert a two-inch titanium screw in the fractured C2 vertebra on August 20.

De Clercq may not be able to retire

This Sunday in Wortegem-Petegem should mark Mario De Clercq's last cyclo-cross race, after the triple World Champion announced his retirement last week. However De Clercq's sudden decision could have effects that he didn't take account of, and he may be forced into riding the whole cyclo-cross season.

"On November 1, a sponsor's name will appear on the jerseys of Palmans-Collstrop," De Clercq was quoted in Gazet van Antwerpen. "And it was brought in with my name. If I stop now, the team will end up without a sponsor. A tiresome situation. Soon everyone will think I'm mad. But, without sponsors there will be no team and then I'll be without a job on March 1."

De Clercq was due to take a role as a team director in Palmans-Collstrop next year in March, but may have to ride for a little while longer to ensure that he has that position.

Hermida to Merida

Spanish mountain biker Jose Antonio Hermida will leave Motorex-Bianchi for the German team Merida International next season. Hermida has ridden for Motorex-Bianchi for the last four years, and was looking for a change of scene rather than a higher salary.

"The proposal I had was very attractive, and I'm close to deciding to go with Merida," he told Todociclismo.com. "The good thing is that the Motorex company compromised to sponsor me personally because they wanted to be associated with me, and that opens more doors."

Hermida won bronze at the European championships this year, as well as finishing fourth in the World Cup (with three podium appearances) and 13th in the World Championships. He will celebrate his wedding on October 25.

The Merida team includes European champion Ralph Nšef, and the world's top MTB women Gunn-Rita Dahle, Sabine Spitz and Irina Kalentieva.

Jean Delatour to become RAGT-MG

The French division I team Jean Delatour will be sponsored by two new companies in 2004 to the tune of between 2 and 2.5 million euros. In addition to car manufacturer MG Rover, French farming co-op subcontractor RAGT Semences has signed on. The team will probably consist of 17 riders, at least half of which will come from the current Jean Delatour roster.

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