Latest News for September 17, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
No polemics for Saiz
ONCE team director Manolo Saiz says that there will be no internal team politics governing his team's leadership during the second half of the Vuelta. Currently the young and relatively inexperienced Isidro Nozal is at the top of the general classification, with team captain Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano holding down second place. In last year's Vuelta, Kelme was faced with a similar situation whereby Oscar Sevilla was the team captain but Aitor Gonzalez was the stronger rider in the end.
"Last year there were real polemics because Aitor González and Sevilla were not getting on, but that is not the case here," Saiz told Europa Press. "We've had the lead since the first day and we've won in three different specialties. The truth is that I'm very proud of my riders. They've delivered a great deal while being in a difficult situation.
As to who should take the role of ONCE's leader, Saiz was quoted as saying, "The debate is so stupid that you can't understand it. It's not even worth me commenting why in order to fill space in a newspaper. Because that doesn't do anyone any good. You can't convert the world of sport into a soap opera."
"Who is the leader? The leader is ONCE. It doesn't matter to me who wins. I don't have problems if one or another rider wins, or even a third if he is one of mine. It's something that people don't understand."
Saiz ruled out any internal conflict between Isidro Nozal and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. "There are no problems with the character of Igor or that of Nozal. It is not correct to say that there is an internal problem and externally they are selling lies. There are people who can't live without creating polemics."
The ONCE director also defended the actions of Nozal on the descent of the Aubisque, when he had to chase down the break with Heras and co. as well as getting water bottles for Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. "20 years ago we would speak of the 'epic' that a leader condescended to give water to a teammate who is working and another one who is thirsty. As the strongest rider, he takes advantage of this and helps his teammates. It's spoken of with contempt now, but the Bible says that we must feed the hungry and give drinks to the thirsty."
Biblical allusions aside, Manolo Saiz will try to guide his flock of yellow and black clad men through the second half of the Vuelta without too many hardships. There's still a long way to go until Madrid, but ONCE is still in the best position.
Rheinland-Pfalz last race for Bölts
37 year old German pro Udo Bölts will ride his last professional race this week, taking part in the 38th Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt (September 17-21). The Gerolsteiner captain will lead a team containing last year's winner Ronny Scholz as well as René Haselbacher, Sebastian Lang, Robert Förster, Volker Ordowski and Peter Wrolich. The race will pass through Bölts' home town of Heltersberg on Saturday, and will finish in Ludwigshafen on Sunday.
Bölts has been a professional for 14 years, and his palmares include Clasica San Sebastian, Dauphine Libéré, stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse, GP Gippingen, GP de Wallonie, and the German Championships title three times. He raced for Telekom between 1990-2002 before changing to Gerolsteiner for his last season.
The Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt will also attract the a number of Division I teams including Telekom (Hondo, Nardello), CCC-Polsat (Romanik), CSC (Jalabert), Team fakta (Hřj's), Lotto-Domo (Merckx), Phonak Hearing Systems (Bertolini) and Rabobank (Boogerd).
Stage 1 - September 17: Ludwigshafen - Simmern, 145,7 km
Briek Schotte on Johan Museeuw
At the GP Briek Schotte in Desselgem yesterday, the former professional rider who the race is named after gave his opinions on the Museeuw/Landuyt affair. "Mark my words, the so-called affair with Museeuw will end in nothing, as usual" said Schotte to Het Nieuwsblad. "A lot of blabla, nothing more. Over his chances for Hamilton I don't dare to speak. We will wait and see."
No Pantani = No Mercatone Uno
There is a strong chance that Mercatone Uno's sponsorship will not continue in 2004, unless Marco Pantani comes back to the fold. Pantani had a falling out with the team, which suspended him two weeks ago because it didn't know his whereabouts. Team owner Romano Cenni told Tuttosport that, "It's a difficult decision, but I don't want to continue without Pantani, therefore I will leave cycling. Should Marco still come back, then I wouldn't say no. But the hope is slim."
There is a chance that co-sponsor Scanavino will continue its involvement, with a team of young riders directed by Davide Boifava.
Mattan signs for two years
Nico Mattan has officially signed a two year contract with the new Bodysol-Brustor division II team. The Cofidis rider will be the team captain there, and will lead a squad of young riders.
UCI approves 2004 World's TT course
The UCI has given its approval for the 2004 World Time Trial Championships course to finish in Lungolago di Bardolino. The organisers wished to take advantage of the more aesthetic surroundings of Lake Garda, rather than the original start/finish in Statale Gardesana, and UCI inspectors Pat McQuaid and Philippe Chevalier were asked to pass judgment on the new parcours. They did so, provided certain requirements are met such as the removal of traffic barriers near the entrance to Lungolago and the widening of the asphalt area in front of Villa Carrara Bottagisio.
183 riders for "The Grafton"
A record equalling field of 183 riders will line up for this Saturday's Eastmon Camera House Grafton to Inverell. The 43rd edition of Australia's toughest one day race will see four categories compete over the 228 km course. The Elite women's race will be staged over 140 km, starting after the 18 km Gibraltar Range climb [ed: that's the best bit!].
The C Grade and over 45's will be the first to leave Grafton at 7:30am with the B Grade field starting at 8:15am. The A Grade race, which is a category one race on the National Road Series, will start at 9:00am.
The Women's race will start around 10:30am at the Rangers Hut atop the Gibraltar Range. This is also a category one race in the Women's National Road Series. Former Olympic games gold medallist Kathy Watt is a late inclusion in the women's race.
Sydney Olympic gold medallist Brett Aitken is the early favourite for the men's A Grade. He is currently leading the National Road Series and will be looking to consolidate that lead on Saturday. A host of up and coming under 23 riders, including the AIS national under 23 squad, will make their presence felt with many of them in good form leading into the Grafton to Inverell.
Gale force winds have been prevalent over the past week and will be blowing straight into the face of the riders if they continue. Forecasts suggest the winds will ease by Saturday. A number of bushfires have been burning in the forests around the race route and smoky conditions could greet the riders.
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