First Edition News for September 21, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
iBanesto.com close to finding a new sponsor
Unzúe will fight for the podium until Madrid
By Hernán Alvarez Macías in Albacete
The iBanesto.com team will lose its major sponsor for the next season, and the future of the squad is still not assured. There has been a lot of talk about team director Eusebio Unzúe finding a new sponsor to replace the bank, and while nothing has been signed yet it looks promising.
Cyclingnews spoke to Eusebio Unzúe in Albacete just before the second time trial of the Vuelta. "We are working on it, and you know, one can not say anything until something is totally arranged and closed," he said. "That's what I can tell you right now, things are going well and we hope we can close a deal one of these days."
It was known months ago that iBanesto.com was going to stop its sponsorship of a cycling team after a very long innings. "You know that all the sponsors have a cycle in this world," said Unzúe. "Fortunately, the Banesto period has lasted 14 and a half years, so we'd better thank them. It has a beginning and an end like everything in this life. It was clear that Banesto would abandon its sponsorship some day. Unfortunately that day will come soon and now we are forced to find someone to replace it and so we are working on it."
This team had five-time Tour and two-time Giro winner Miguel Indurain in its ranks between the mid 80's and 90's. Unzúe remembers that period fondly. "We have been very fortunate to be beside Indurain for 15 years when he lived so many good times. We enjoyed that era very much. We have also taken the responsibility of supporting him and we have been always with him, including the bad times. Everything has an ending in this life, but we kept good memories of such a good period."
The current Vuelta is not going as well for his team as Unzúe hoped. The team's top man Francisco Mancebo is now fifth in the overall standings, 7'12 behind the leader Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski). "So far he [Mancebo] is doing things quite well," commented Unzúe. "I hope today he makes a better time trial that the one he did in Saragossa [ed: he was 21st in the first time trial and also 21st in Albacete]. Right now we don't give up and we'll try to get as high as we can. However, being realistic and watching the coming days we realize it's difficult even to get on the podium. We will fight to reach the top three until we arrive to Madrid."
"I feel very satisfied about the team attitude in all these stages," he continued. "We knew that the route of this year's Vuelta is not very favourable for the characteristics of our riders. It's a race with many uphill mountain finishes, but the last climbs of these stages are somehow 'light', not too hard. So, there are not time selections and cuts without hard climbs at the end. We have to add also 100 absolutely flat time trial kilometres. Therefore it was a Vuelta made up for time trial specialists who defend themselves well in the climbs, and that what is happening right now. The first two positions in the general classification are for two great time trial specialists [Nozal and Igor González de Galdeano] who resist very well in the mountains."
Farazijn breaks collarbone
Belgian rider Peter Farazijn (Cofidis) did not start the 14th stage of the Vuelta due to a broken collarbone, which he suffered during yesterday's time trial. Farazijn crashed with around 2 kilometres to go in the stage, and although he finished it he was taken to hospital where the break was diagnosed. Farazijn's season is finished, meaning he won't get a chance to ride in the Belgian team in the World Championships.
Ullrich-Simoni not a match made in heaven
As talk continues concerning a possible Bianchi-Saeco fusion, whereby the Italian Saeco squad would take on Bianchi as its bicycle manufacturer along with Jan Ullrich and his entourage, Saeco leader Gilberto Simoni has let it be known that the match may not be one he was waiting for. Saeco is eager to win the Tour de France, and sees Ullrich as the ticket to success, as well as an important marketing force in Germany, but Simoni isn't doing cartwheels over the possibility of Ullrich's arrival.
"It's easier to talk with Armstrong than it is with Ullrich," said Simoni, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Jan is a gentleman, but he's a bit strange; he has his own ideas."
Simoni, despite having recently declared his own intentions to target the Tour de France once more, downplayed any potential friction with Ullrich as co-leader. "We wouldn't have any problems riding together," he said. "I have in my mind the Giro, the Olympics, the Vuelta, and the world championships. If [Ullrich] came, he would certainly be thinking of the Tour de France."
Not to mention Ullrich's own comments of late, expressing his own desire to win the Tour and the Giro d'Italia.
GP des Nations preview
The 67th Grand Prix des Nations time trial will be run Sunday in Dieppe, France. The prestigious time trial, run over two laps of a 35 kilometre circuit, is an important test for the specialists against the clock not competing in the Vuelta a España.
Heading the list will be Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel (defending GP des Nations champion) and Michael Rich, who together won last weekend's two-man GP Eddy Merckx time trial. Last year's U23 winner Thomas Vaitkus will test his legs against the top pros this year in the colours of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. Quick.Step-Davitamon's Michael Rogers and Laszlo Bodrogi, runners up together at GP Eddy Merckx in August, will both be present, along with Swiss time trial specialists Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) and Jean Nuttli (Team Volksbank). Crédit Agricole's Jens Voigt will be on the start ramp, but teammate Christophe Moreau was forced to withdraw due to illness.
One rider hoping for a good result, even if his ambitions are modest, is Frenchman Florent Brard. Back in competition after suspension, Brard will line up for his new Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf team. A specialist against the clock, Brard is happy to be racing again, and happier in a Belgian team after being dismissed by the French peloton after his positive test for corticoids.
"I'm motivated, but I'm not really sure what sort of result I'll get," Brard told l'Equipe. "The motor is good, but the body is a bit banged up," he added, referring to his multiple crashes in the Tour of Poland.
France's national time trial champion Eddy Seigneur also crashed in the Tour of Poland, complicating his preparation for the GP des Nations.
Ag2R-Prévoyance: Inigo Chaurreau, Nicolas Portal, Mikel Astarloza
Pinotti renews with Lampre
Marco Pinotti, winner of the fifth stage of the Vuelta a Pais Vasco this year, has extended his contract with Lampre for another season. After showing some good results in the first part of the season, Pinotti fell and broke his pelvis in the first stage of the Euskal Bizikleta, forcing him out of competition for a long period. He will use final race of this season to recover his physical condition and tune up for 2004, where he hopes to confirm the improvements he showed this year.
Scheirlinckx to Cofidis
Belgian rider Staf Scheirlinckx (Flanders-iTeamnova.com) will ride for Cofidis next season, according to Het Nieuwsblad. He will effectively take the place of Nico Mattan, who will join Bodysol-Brustor. "This is the acknowledgement for my good season," said the 24 year old. "I especially want to take part in the Flemish one day program."
Nico Henderickx, a former professional and now racing in the elite zonder contract class in Belgium, has tested positive for a banned substance after a race in Asper-Gavere in July this year. He has been given a six month suspension by the Belgian cycling federation, and will be able to race again on April 14, 2004. Henderickx was also one of the riders questioned in the José Landuyt affair.
Demeyere breaks wrist
Geoffrey Demeyere (Vlaanderen-T Interim) has broken his wrist in a crash in Friday's Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, won by Baden Cooke. Demeyere crashed in the closing stages of the race, along with Fabien De Waele, who was relatively uninjured.
FC Barcelona taking shape
Building on the success of its football team, sports club FC Barcelona looks set to enter the cycling ranks with a new Division III team in Spain. Former Vuelta a España winner Melchior Mauri will direct the team, which will focus on an entirely U23 roster.
Top field at K2/Widmer Brothers Star-Crossed Cyclocross
K2/Widmer Brothers Star-Crossed Cyclocross has attracted a top-notch field to kick off the international cyclocross season for 2003-2004 at King County's Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington on September 27th. Headlining the men's and women's fields will be US national champion Anne Grande (Kona/Kenwood) and U23 cyclo-cross and MTB cross-country national Adam Craig (Giant/Pearl Izumi).
"Last year we put on maybe the best cycling show the Northwest has seen in ten years," defending champion and co-promoter Jonny Sundt said. "With this year's national class field we should be able to elevate the event to the biggest show in US cyclocross."
Spectators can watch the entire race unfold on the challenging floodlit course at the Marymoor Velodrome. Races for beginning and intermediate riders start the day at 4:00pm with the headlining senior men's race at 8:00pm. Beginning riders are welcome on mountain bikes with the purchase of a one-day racing pass, available at the event. Rider entry fee $20, spectators $3. For more information, contact Terry at 425-462-1326, www.broadmarkcycling.com/starcrossed.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)