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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition News for September 13, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Rabobank breaks the drought

Rasmussen and Osa
Photo: © Unipublic
Click for larger image

Michael Rasmussen's win in the seventh stage of the Vuelta a España has broken a victory drought for the Rabobank team, which has not won a World Cup race or a Grand Tour stage so far this season. The 29 year old Dane formed part of the breakaway on the Col d'Aubisque, but when it was caught he launched himself off the front again with Aitor Osa (iBanesto.com). Rasmussen surged away from Osa on the last climb to Cauterets, and held off the nearest chasers by a minute to win the stage.

Rasmussen's win could not have come at a better time, as Rabobank has been under pressure of late to perform in the big races. Their hopes of finishing on the podium in the GC had been resting on Levi Leipheimer, who clearly has not recovered from his crash in the Tour and has lost too much time already. Rasmussen is now up to ninth on GC thanks to his ride today, and if he continues climbing like this could move up even further.

That is a secondary objective now, according to Rabobank team director Frans Maassen. "You're better off winning a stage than finishing ninth in the final classification," he was quoted by ANP. "That we really needed. Rasmussen is a climber. I'm sure that we can win another stage here."

As for the man himself, Rasmussen declared this his Vuelta stage was "the most important victory of my career," which is a telling comment given his 1999 cross-country win at the 1999 World MTB Championships.

Rasmussen echoed Maassen's comments somewhat, saying "My team came here with the objective of two top 10 places and a stage win, and now we have attained one of those aims."

Vandenbroucke running on empty

Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke abandoned the Vuelta a España on Friday, suffering due to poor condition. For Vandenbroucke the inability to adequately has proven a frustration, and something of a mystery.

"For the past three days I haven't been able to get over that day's race," he explained. "This is strange because I haven't been suffering with any specific ailment. My legs felt empty today. I started off the Vuelta in discreet conditions bearing in mind that I had had to slow down my training sessions a couple of times before the race due to a few problems."

With the Vuelta as preparation, VDB was once more being listed among the possible protagonists of the Belgian team for the world championships in October. Friday's Vuelta withdrawal does not bode well for a top performance in Hamilton.

"It's a shame. I'm leaving the race with a bit of bitterness, but honestly, my legs just wouldn't do what I wanted them to do today," Vandenbroucke added.

After returning to Belgium Friday evening, Vandenbroucke will undergo a physical examination in an effort to determine a cause for his fatigue.

Ullrich lays out ambitions

Second in this year's Tour de France after a year out of competition, Jan Ullrich has openly stated his grand ambitions for the coming seasons. The Team Bianchi leader is first and foremost eager to win his second Tour de France, and his ambition since returning to racing this spring after a knee injury and a suspension for failing an out of competition doping test (Ullrich used ecstasy at a night club in Germany) has always been to beat five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong in 2004.

Beyond the Tour, however, lie other ambitions for the talented German. Ullrich hopes to defend his Olympic road race title in Athens next year, but also look ahead to the world road race championships and the Giro d'Italia in the coming years.

"I'm not just thinking about next year, but the next three or four," he said on his website. "Naturally my first objective is a second Tour de France victory. But the Giro is also very important for me."

Ullrich used the Giro as preparation for the Tour de France in 2001, and left the race with both good form and a desire to one day win. He has already won the Vuelta a España, in 1999. "At my last Giro d'Italia, I promised to return and to win," Ullrich said.

Finally, the world road race championships remains the final major objective for the man who has already been twice world time trial champion. Ullrich, however, has put an end to his 2003 season and therefore will not contest this year's world's in Hamilton, Canada.

Big test for Saeco stagiaires

Sunday's Grand Prix de Fourmies, an important single day race in northern France, will offer a trial by fire to two young stagiaires on the Italian Saeco team. While team leader Gilberto Simoni races in San Francisco at the T-Mobile International, along with Damiano Cunego, Leonardo Bertagnolli, and Andrea Tonti, former Italian champion Salvatore Commesso and classics specialist Mirko Celestino will head the Saeco charge at the GP Fourmies, considered by some to be just shy of World Cup status.

French rider Wilfried Marget and Swiss David Loosli will both be given a chance to show their talent in a major international race. Saeco was particularly pleased with the performance by Loosli in the Giro di Romagna.

London's Tour bid evolves

Representatives from London, England have disclosed further details concerning the city's bid to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2006. With Liège, Belgium hosting the start in 2004, London's earliest opportunity remains two years later, as the Tour never starts outside of France in consecutive years.

"Staging the Grand Depart in London in 2006 would be a great honour," London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced. "We have submitted our proposal and are awaiting a decision from Tour organisers."

According to a report in London's Guardian newspaper, a planned 8km prologue would see riders leaving from Trafalgar Square and passing by Buckingham Palace. A Sunday road stage of 163km would leave central London and cover a parcours in Essex before returning to a finish on The Mall, while Monday's Stage 2 would take the peloton southwest from Rochester to Portsmouth on the English Channel before a return to French soil the next day.

Hamilton to chair MS Cycling Series

Tyler Hamilton has been named National Chair of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's MS Cycling Series. Hamilton became active with the Central New England Chapter of the Society in 1996, and has worked with his chapter to build visibility for its bike tours. He has also helped develop routes, donated equipment, provided autographed jerseys as prizes, and hosted VIP cycling recognition events. 

Because of the demands of his cycling career and his long absences from the States, his dad Bill has often represented the family at the Society's MS 150 events forming a cycling team called the Jagerdogs, which has become one of the chapter's top fund raising teams.

"Every cyclist I've met through the National MS Society has inspired me through their show of strength and perseverance," Hamilton said. "I'm happy to endorse the MS Cycling Series and hope that whether people are seeking a personal challenge or want to make a differences in the more than 400,000 lives touched by MS that they'll join me and this incredibly motivated, selfless circle of cyclists."

Hamilton's next appearance for the Society will be in the September 28 - October 5 MS Global 2003 ride in France and Switzerland.

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