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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for September 29, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Tour de France beckons for Heras

Heras and Bruyneel
Photo: © AFP
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Fresh off winning his second Vuelta España, Roberto Heras (US Postal-Berry Floor) is already thinking about the future. The 29 year old from Bejar, considered one of the best climbers in the world, believes that he can challenge for the Tour de France in future.

"Next year I'll help Lance Armstrong win his sixth Tour de France," was Heras's first reaction after today's final stage. "Then I'll come back for the Vuelta. And in 2005, I'll try myself to win the Tour. I'll be 31 years old then."

Heras is in his seventh year as a professional, and besides winning the Vuelta in 2000, he also has seven stage wins to his credit in this race. He won the GP Primavera in 1998 and 1999, Volta a Catalunya in 2000, and even a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 1999. He has ridden for Kelme (until the end of 2000) and US Postal during his career, and has a contract until the end of 2004 with the American team.

Heras's 28 second victory in this year's Vuelta came at the expense of Isidro Nozal, who led the race since stage 4, building up a five minute plus lead but crumbling in the final week to eventually lose an amazing 2'23 in the final 11 km time trial. Strangely enough (or perhaps not given the Vuelta's recent history), Heras lost the Vuelta in a very similar fashion to Aitor Gonzalez in the final time trial into Madrid last year.

The winner had the following to say about Nozal: "I would tell him that what he is living now is the same as we lived last year, but the most important thing that I would tell Nozal is that he must see the positive side of these things. Nozal had the victory on his legs, he has a lot of quality. He must think of the future and not on what happened yesterday."

Sevilla satisfied with his performance

By Hernán Alvarez Macías

Oscar Sevilla
Photo: © Unipublic
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Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca) was second in the 2001 Vuelta and is considered the most popular Spanish rider because of his excellent character. Sevilla came to the Vuelta short on training, but rode himself into form during the three weeks. Cyclingnews spoke to Sevilla before the final stage and asked him about his impressions of this year's race.

"We finished up well, happy as we got onto the podium (Alejandro Valverde moved up to third on GC yesterday). As for me, I am satisfied and content after what happened to me (Sevilla crashed in the third stage in Santander)."

Sevilla is in the same team as one of the revelations of the race, the aforementioned Valverde. "Yes, I'm happy with the third place of Alejandro," said Oscar. "We all have been working. I think we are all satisfied after the positive results."

Maybe this season wasn't as good as the last two for Oscar: "Well, this 2003 has been different because of my bad luck. At the end we fixed it. I hope I can get a victory before the end of the season".

Sevilla didn't get a stage win in this Vuelta, and he told us that this remained "a debt" but he is still pleased with his performance.

Riis satisfied with his riders

By Hernán Alvarez Macías

Team CSC director Bjarne Riis also spoke with Cyclingnews today to offer his opinions about the Vuelta. "It's been an interesting Vuelta for sure, especially yesterday that I think it was a big spectacle," said the Dane. "It was not OK for us because we didn't get the results that we wanted. We hoped that Carlos (Sastre) could have done better in the classification, but he was sick with fever and bronchitis in the Pyrenees. It was not possible for Sastre to do anything and, of course, that hurt the team a lot."

This year's Tour de France brings better memories for the Team CSC. "Of course the Tour was better than the Vuelta for us," said Riis, who assessed the team's whole season. "I think that with the team we have, we had a very good season. In the spring we did very well with (Tyler) Hamilton and in the Tour with the whole team as well. I think that was more than we could ask for our team."

2004 is on everybody's minds and the directors are searching for new riders for their teams. Riis commented about his new signings. "I've already got good riders. I will have [Ivan] Basso and [Jörg] Jaksche in the squad, so I will have a good team for next year."

Bettini a father

Paolo Bettini has become a first time father with the birth of his daughter today. His wife Monica Bettini gave birth to Veronica, weighing 2.670 kg, at 5:40 p.m. at the Hospital "Carreggi" in Florence. Paolo was informed of the imminent birth of his daughter while he was riding in the GP Beghelli today. The Quick.Step leader stopped at the feed zone and reached his wife at the Civil Hospital in Florence with his teammate Domenico Passuello.

"I'm very happy for the birth of my little Veronica," said Paolo Bettini. "She represents the most prestigious goal of my life."

The joy didn't end there, as Bettini's friend and teammate Luca Paolini won the GP Beghelli in the final sprint in front of Elmiger (Phonak) and Luca Mazzanti (Panaria).

"I'm very satisfied," said Paolini. "When Paolo left the competition, he told me that I would win. It's a great joy to me to dedicate this my first seasonal victory to Monica, Veronica and Paolo."

Vasseur looking forward to Hamilton

Vasseur strong in Paris-Correze
Photo: © JF Quenet
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Frenchman Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis) is enjoying an excellent second half of the season, winning Paris-Correze, Hessen Rundfahrt, a stage in the Tour Du Limousin, second place in Memorial Rik van Steenbergen, third in GP Isbergues and fourth in Druivenkoers Overijse. Super strong at the moment, Vasseur will be a key man for the French World Championships squad, and he can be considered an outside favourite for the road race.

"I think I'm benefiting now from the all the work done during the Tour de France," Vasseur told L'Equipe. "I don't like really hot weather, and I rarely felt good in July, but I kept going. The result is that I've lost three kilos and now my condition is perfect. I really want to challenge in the World's."

Vasseur will have to take on more responsibility than ever before, and the recently turned 33 year old is not sure how it will go. "Leader is an awfully big word, but it's true that I'll surely have a leadership role," he said. "I'll be among the protected riders, and if I have the opportunity, I'll try to take it. Right now the others better not let me get too far ahead!"

In Paris-Correze, "The goal here is to come as close as possible to the race conditions that we'll face in Canada. I'm here to put in some big efforts, with a lot of intensity, without worrying about the general classification [ed: well first place isn't bad then]. I wouldn't be satisfied if I ended up in the final in Hamilton without all of my possibilities still with me."

Cooke signs for two more years with FDJ

Baden Cooke
Photo: © JF Quenet
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Before the start of the final stage of Paris-Corrèze, Australian sprinter Baden Cooke signed a new contract with Marc Madiot. He'll ride for (the name of the team may change) for two more years at least, 2004 and 2005.

"I'm very happy with the support in this team so I didn't see any good reason to change," Baden commented. "I had an option to stay next year but now I'll ride for FDJ for two more years for sure. We have a good group of mostly young riders with an Australian atmosphere. It's a Tour de France team, so it's perfect for me."

FDJ is Baden's second pro team after Mercury (June 2000-October 2001). He's one of the four Aussies in the roster for next year with Bradley McGee, Matt Wilson and new recruit Mark Renshaw. "Since I got the chance to work with them I've had no reason to complain," Marc Madiot said. "Australian cyclists are generous, talented, honest and very much of team players. It's a pleasure for me to continue working together with Baden."

Courtesy of

Quick.Step-Davitamon complete for 2004

Patrick Lefevere's Quick.Step-Davitamon team is finalised for next season, with a squad of either 24 or 25 riders ready to line up for 2004. The 25th rider is Johan Museeuw, who has not yet decided whether to continue his career. If he doesn't, then Lefevere says the team will have no more than 24 riders.

Five riders are definitely leaving the squad: David Canada, Andrei Kashechkin, Domenico Passuello, Kurt Van de Wouwer and Piotr Wadecki, while five riders are joining: Laurent Dufaux, Jose Antonio Garrido, Juan Miguel Mercado, Jose Antonio Pecharroman and Stefano Zanini. The core of the squad has thus been kept very much intact.

Of the existing riders, Patrick Lefevere is particularly concerned about Frank Vandenbroucke, who started off very well in 2003 but was somewhat disappointing after April. "Vandenbroucke's credit is up," Lefevere said in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. "Compare it with a rechargeable phone card that has zero units left. I went over everything theoretically with him. In the next few days I'll speak about the practicalities. I've given him a vacation until September 30. From October 1 he'll receive a program that must be followed strictly. Since the end of the spring classics there was always something."

As for Museeuw, "If I was Museeuw, then I would stop now," said Lefevre frankly. "But the decision will be up to him. I haven't told him in so many words, but he knows what I think. I'll speak with him in the next few days. If he comes out of Franco-Belge in good condition, then he'll go to Paris-Tours."

Existing riders: Frederic Amorison (Bel), Paolo Bettini (Ita), Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Tom Boonen (Bel), Davide Bramati (Ita), Aurelien Clerc (Swi), Wilfried Cretskens (Bel), Pedro Horrillo (Spa), Kevin Hulsmans (Bel), Servais Knaven (Ned), Nick Nuyens (Bel), Luca Paolini (Ita), Michael Rogers (Aus), Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger), Bram Tankink (Ned), Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel), Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel), Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel), Richard Virenque (Fra). Johan Museeuw is uncertain.

New riders: Laurent Dufaux (Swi - Alessio), Jose Antonio Garrido (Spa, Paternina), Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa,, Jose Antonio Pecharroman (Spa, Paternina), Stefano Zanini (Ita, Saeco).

Departures: David Canada (Spa), Andrei Kashechkin (Kaz, Credit Agricole), Domenico Passuello (Ita), Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel), Piotr Wadecki (Pol).

McCann, Jennings for Irish World's team

By Shane Stokes,

David McCann and Sinead Jennings secured their places at the world championships in Hamilton, Canada, when they won their events at the time trial selection race held in Ballyboghal, North County Dublin on Saturday. McCann started strongly to lead David O'Loughlin (Ofoto Lombardi) by sixteen seconds at the end of the first of two laps of the tough Noel Hammond memorial circuit, and then accelerated over the second 20 kilometre loop to finish 52 seconds clear.

"It was a horrible course," said McCann, with a smile. "I hope Canada is not going to be like that. It was up and down, twisting and turning throughout and so it was very hard to get into a good rhythm. I was eighteenth in the Championship of Flanders last week so I knew I was in good form coming into today's race, but I didn't know what to expect. I haven't raced against the other guys in a long time so had no idea how I would compare. Tommy (Evans) has been struggling a bit lately with a knee injury, but did do a great ride in the ten-mile time trial earlier this month."

McCann has been racing this year with the Team Endurasport pro squad. His programme is now finished, so he will concentrate his efforts on honing his form before the World's time trial. "I have just finished my season with the team - we were doing a a lot of very hard races in Belgium lately," he said. "I plan to do my own thing from now as there are no more races left - a lot of time trial training, basically, to get ready. My goal would be to qualify the country for the Olympics at the world championships. The top fifteen nations get to Athens. A few riders from the same countries will be taking part so that means I can be a bit further back in the individual standings, but it will still be very tough. Hopefully it will work out well."

The women's race saw a highly impressive ride by newcomer Sinead Jennings, who beat Siobhan Jacobs (Usher IRC) by one minute and two seconds and Phoenix CC's Cheryl Fisher by a further eight seconds in their 20 kilometre time trial. Jennings won gold in the world rowing championships two years ago in the lightweight single sculls category, but recently returned to cycling after a long absence because the rowing season was at an end.

"I had a couple of weeks scheduled to take off and decided to get back out on the bike to keep in shape," she said. "To tell you the truth, I only really started cycling training about ten days ago, and so I am absolutely delighted with today's result. I was hoping to win today but didn't know how it would turn out. It is hard for me to pace myself, as rowing events are seven minutes in length while today's was quite a bit longer. I went out a bit hard but then backed off a bit in the middle section before going for it toward the end. It worked out well and I am very happy."

As a result of her efforts Jennings has booked her place in Canada, where she will take part in both the time trial and the road race. Although she will have quite a bit less experience than the other women there, her strong showing today proves that she has a very impressive engine and so she is hoping to fare respectably on the tough course in Hamilton. "My climbing is okay, so that will be a help - I race lightweight in the rowing and so make sure to keep my weight below nine stone for that. It will be interesting to see how I get on."

"I am not sure where my cycling will go from here. I will wait and see how I get on in Canada before deciding what my future direction will be. I was actually due to start back training for rowing tomorrow, but that is obviously going to be affected now! My big priority is to try to qualify a boat for the Olympics - I missed out this summer at the world championships but there is another chance next year, if I am in the first or second (fastest) boats at the Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne. The thing is, there a quite a few rowers who use the bike to supplement their training, including the German heavyweight world champion from last year. Rowing uses the arms and back but also the thigh muscles, and so the two sports complement each other."

Knee surgery for Evans

Tommy Evans' below-par performance in Saturday's world championship qualification time trial was a surprise to many. It emerged after the race, however, that the rider is due to go for knee surgery in early October to correct the after-effects of a crash earlier this year.

"I broke my kneecap in April when my forks snapped during a race and I landed on it," he explained. "I only discovered the extent of the damage three weeks ago after getting MRI's and X-Rays. I have a large chip at the left hand corner which must be removed - they have to unattach the muscles and then reattach them to my kneecap - that should be fun!"

Given the nature of the problem, Evans has had some remarkable rides this season. One month after that crash he won the opening stage of the 2.5 ranked FBD Milk Rás and held yellow for several days. He took a string of victories in Irish domestic competition and then rode a superb time trial at the recent Jim Traynor memorial, recording 19 minutes and 23 seconds for the distance. Once ratified, this will improve on David McCann's 2001 Irish record by 15 seconds, putting Evans back into the history books.

Evans will undergo surgery in early October and expects to be out of action for ten weeks.

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