First Edition News for September 23, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Ballerini bets on Bettini
Italian technical director Franco Ballerini will have a tough task repeating his team's impressive triumph at the World's in Zolder last year, which was led by Mario Cipollini and backed by a top quality team. The World's course this year in Hamilton will be completely different than last year's super-fast motor racing circuit. Fortunately for Ballerini, he has an embarrassment of riches to choose from when it comes to picking the squadra azzurra. Riders like Francesco Casagrande, David Rebellin, Michele Bartoli, Danilo Di Luca, Daniele Nardello and last, but not least, Paolo Bettini.
"The man who gives most guarantees for the 250km race and who has proven himself in the past is Paolo Bettini," Ballerini said in an interview. "In fact this year he won three world cup events. Nobody has ever won three world cup events in the same year . He has won San Remo, Hamburg and San Sebastian. It makes him very important in the world championships. I am planning to make up the team having him as a leader and having some alternatives within the team.
"Definitely he is the most important member of the team. The world knows because of the performances at the world cup. The alternatives, it depends on how the race develops, they may turn out to be the winner."
Ballerini rates the Spanish, the Dutch and even the Americans as the strongest rivals for the Italians. "For Spain it is very easy to make the team because most of the athletes are very good for the multi-stage races: the Tour De France and the Vuelta," said Ballerini. "They have fewer cyclists who are very strong in a single day race. Oscar Freire for example, he is a very strong rival, a proven competitor in a single day race and he can count on the support of athletes who are good in the multi-stage races."
" With the type of course in Hamilton the Spanish will do well and also the Dutch will do well. Then too the Americans are to be watched, especially George Hincapie (US Postal Service) is one who has been training well for the world championships. According to the structure of the team, those three are definitely competitive and it is most likely that the world champion will come out of one of these three teams. But let's not forget that there may be individual athletes who have a great day from other countries."
Freire on track
It's that time of the year again, and Oscar Freire is thinking about the World Championships. A highly scientific and statistically solid two point extrapolation reveals that the winner of the 1999 and 2001 World's must be due for another one this year. It is not as far fetched as it sounds, as Freire has been honing his condition away from the Vuelta, preferring to concentrate on the single day races in Belgium and Italy, rather than ride in the Spanish peloton for three weeks.
"I've raced the Tour and I have never finished a three week tour," he told Europa Press. "If I did the Vuelta and tried to finish I would have arrived at the World's very tired. I spoke with the team and said that the best option would be to race in Italy and then the World's."
Freire rates Paolo Bettini as the top favourite for Hamilton. "He has done a spectacular year: three classics and the leader of the World Cup as well as other victories. And the World's suit him very well." He also rates the Swiss team as very complete, and a big rival.
Freire said that his preparation this year has been good and injury free, unlike other years where his back has troubled him. "The preparation is very similar to that of other years. It's important to arrive fresh at these World's because it will be the hardest that I have competed in."
"It is very hard because there are no flat kilometres and there are two climbs, one of 1 kilometre and another of 1.8, and they will be ridden very hard. It will be very selective."
Freire was a surprise when he won the 1999 World Championships in a seven man sprint, but it became apparent that it wasn't a fluke. "When I won the first World's nobody knew me, but the next year was good: I had many victories and finished third again [in the 2000 World's]. The year after, another first. The pressure of the media and the fans is great because 10th place is a bad result. But now I know that I can win the World's."
Gaumont selected for France in TT
Philippe Gaumont (Cofidis) has earned a spot on the French World Championships team after his eighth place finish in the Grand Prix des Nations yesterday. Gaumont was pleasantly surprised with the result: "I had come to Dieppe without doing any specific training, without big ambitions, and finally I surprised myself," he told AFP. "I have twenty days to improve my physical condition."
A second French rider still has to be chosen to contest the time trial. It is likely to be French champion Eddy Seigneur, however the Jean Delatour rider only finished 17th in the Grand Prix des Nations.
Irish teams announced for World Championships
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Cycling Ireland has confirmed that Ag2r professional Mark Scanlon will spearhead the Hibernian Team Ireland squad's campaign at the 2003 world road race championships in Hamilton, Canada, next month. The Irish road race champion will compete in the Elite men's road race on October 12th, gathering experience for what is expected to be a top level pro career in the years ahead.
Philip Deignan, Denis Lynch and Nicolas Roche, the son of 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, will represent Ireland in the under 23 road race, while Roche will also take part in the time trial. Theo Hardwick, Barry Woods, Paul Brady and Mark Cassidy have been chosen to ride the junior road race, with Hardwick and Woods also taking part in the junior time trial.
The entries for three of the Elite events have yet to be decided; those to go in the men's time trial, the women's time trial and the women's road race will be announced after the TT qualification event to be held in Ballyboughil this Saturday.
Nauduzs to Domina Vacanze
According to the Latvian press, Latvian rider Andris Nauduzs (CCC-Polsat) has signed for next season with Domina Vacanze-Elitron. Last week, the team's figurehead Mario Cipollini was in Riga, Latvia as the main guest of the newly opened supermarket "Domina". Super Mario was asked whether Nauduzs was good enough to help him win, to which he replied that Andris was very good, and also able to win himself.
Roster changes for Team Basis
Team Basis Women's cycling has announced some very late season changes. Founding member Sarah Konrad is leaving the sport after being picked up by the US National Biathlon team, and her sights are now set on the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. On the other hand, the team has added two riders to its roster, including 2003 Collegiate National Champion, Stephanie Hannos (Canada), and cycling newcomer Chrissy Ruiter (Durango, Colorado).
Hannos joins Team Basis from a long family line of cycling success. Her father was a member of the 1956 Hungarian Olympic team, her uncles raced professionally in Australia, and her sister, Andrea, currently races for RONA.
Chrissy Ruiter, a former collegiate runner at University of Oregon/Ft. Lewis College began riding last year after completing her NCAA running eligibility. She represented Ft. Lewis at the 2003 Collegiate National Championships taking second in the road race behind Team Basis rider, Kate Maher. Ruiter first joined team Basis at the Tour de Toona where she proved an invaluable asset.
These new additions are part of the team's expansion leading into the 2004 season. The team's sponsor Basis (a line of facial soaps and cleansers manufactured by Beiersdorf Inc.) intends to increase its involvement in cycling by adding new riders, stepping up the promotions effort, and expanding the race schedule.
Greensboro to kick off North Carolina 'cross series
The 2003 North Carolina Cyclocross Championship series will commence on October 26, 2003 in Greensboro, NC. Held in Bur-Mill Park in Northwest Greensboro, the 1.7 km course is known for its bruiser climbs, fast sweeping descents, and spectator vantage points. The racing begins at 11:00am, and more information can be found at www.cyclesdeoro.com/Cyclocross.htm.
Wedding bells for Ric Stern
Cyclingnews fitness panel member, coach, and Ph.D. candidate (not necessarily in that order) Richard Stern has given a new twist to the bikie wedding concept by marrying the beautiful Helen Brook on Saturday, September 20 at the Pontypridd Registry Office, Wales. The wedding reception was at Pontyclun Rugby Club, and Ric reported that "just like the rest of the summer, the weather was glorious with bright sunshine."
Cyclingnews congratulates the happy couple and wishes Ric and Helen all the best for their honeymoon and in future years!
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)