First Edition Cycling News for January 4, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Beloki defends his new team
Joseba Beloki, the surprise signing for Brioches la Boulangère last year, has spoken out in defence of his team, which some people believe will not be strong enough to support him in the Tour de France. "My team is better than many people think," said Beloki in an interview with Marca. "It's a young team, full of ambition, with experienced riders like Rous and young talents like Chavanel. For them, the Tour is everything and I know that they are going to ride out of their skins to help me. If I explode down the road it won't be because of them."
The former ONCE-Eroski rider is full of hope for this season, after what he described was a "very bad" 2003. "Not just because of the crash in the Tour, but also for what happened in the team [ONCE], which hurt a lot more. I don't know exactly what happened, I only know that I have done things correctly and there were others that influenced the relationship of Manolo Saiz and I, because I have always been straight with him and was willing to ride for less money to continue at his side. I have to speak with him one day to clarify everything, although at the moment he is very busy."
Beloki admitted that he "wasn't surprised" that Saiz's new Liberty Seguros team signed Roberto Heras "...because it was already well known that Manolo wanted to sign an important rider and after three years with him I know him well enough. If my position depended on the acquisition of Roberto I would have felt angry, but I didn't feel anything because Heras is my friend...I would have been happy to race at his side, but..."
Finally, Beloki said that he hoped to come back to his level of June, 2003, a month before his fateful crash in the Tour. "I don't pray for victories because I know that I will have to win them for myself."
By Karen Forman
The first all professional team to ride the Jayco Bay Classic since ONCE in the mid 1990s will include a highly distinguished Australian having his first Bay Classic ride. Although the five day criterium series on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula has attracted some top class international riders in its 15 year history, FdJeux.com's Brad McGee has never been able to contest it until now.
Next Wednesday, the Sydneysider will line up with fellow Australian FdJeux.com team mates Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and first-year pro Mark Renshaw, along with Austrian team mate Bernard Eisel, to contest his first Bay Classic - and he's excited.
"Obviously (being the first all-pro team for years) with four Aussies can is pretty special," McGee told Cyclingnews. "It's the first step along the line to getting a real Aussie pro team going. Even the guys coming out (for FDJ) are all top guys - all have a very similar attitude. Bernhard Eisel and for the later races, like the Tour Down Under."
He said he had never been able to content the Jayco series before because he had never started a season this early. "I always start quite late compared to others," he said. "But I finished 2003 earlier and had a good rest. I have been training since late November, have been racing in Queensland through December and at Launceston last weekend and am really excited."
Plus there's the fact FdJeux.com is nominated for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under less than a fortnight later, and the guys have been able to extend their Christmas holidays at home to take in the Jayco Bay Classic and the Australian national road championships in between times.
McGee says he has heard "only good reports" about the Jayco series, which enters its 15th year next week, starting at Hastings on Wednesday, moving to Port Arlington and Geelong and then finishing up at Docklands in Melbourne the following Sunday.
"I have heard it can be a bit rough and rumble, with tight circuits, and that you really need to be on your game," he says. "On circuits like these, if you want to keep out of trouble, you need to be on the front. This year I think I can do that." The team is looking at the Bay crits as good preparation for the rest of the season and even if it doesn't post results, McGee says just the fact "the boys are clicking" will be enough. "We've got a good line-up, so we'll change the role each day," he says.
Tough competition will come in the form of five-times winner Robbie McEwen and McGee says it will be "good for confidence if can get on top early." As to the importance of the series in the big scheme of things: "Any race is important. The crit (Grand Prix) series in Queensland, they raced flat out from word go. Nowadays everyone races hard, that's why it's important to program your whole season. You can't race like that January to December, or you will blow up within a few years," he says.
Still, it will be a busy start to the season for McGee. After the Jayco series, he will contest the nationals before heading to Adelaide for Tour Down Under and in between those, he'll be doing his qualifying for the Olympic track team on January 14 at a local club meeting at Sydney's Dunc Gray velodrome.
"I've asked to do it there," he says, "it's the only time I've got. I think Mark Renshaw will be doing his time as well. It won't be easy, doing world-class times at a club race. You can do the qualifying in training, but I think that's the soft approach, I would rather there be a bit pressure."
He's got to be inside 4.27 but believes he should be well inside that time. His personal best is a 4.16.
But back to the Jayco Bay Classic: "I had heard rumours that it could be canned after last year and was disappointed, because I had never got the chance to do it. It gets good reviews. Look at the guys who are getting the results - and what else they are doing. Besides that, I love going to Melbourne, the reception for bike racing there is incredible."
As to whether he'll be back for a second year: "So far, everything is sweet, the organisation has been great and apparently Geelong is a really good training environment, everybody goes out on training rides together in the mornings. It should be great. I am really looking forward to it."
Ben Berden sick
Winner of the World Cup in Koksijde, Ben Berden (John Saey-Deschacht), could not take part in the 'cross race in Sint Niklaas last Friday, January 2 due to laryngitis. Berden has to take antibiotics for three days and although his participation in the Belgian Championships next weekend is not in doubt, this is not an ideal lead up.
Meirhaeghe to Vlaanderen 2016
World Mountain Bike Champion Filip Meirhaeghe and bronze medalist Roel Paulissen have signed contracts with the new Division III team Vlaanderen 2016, according to VRT Teletekst. Meirhaeghe, who rode for Domina Vacanze last year, will be the team's top rider and will have the freedom to choose his own program this year.
"He probably won't do too much on the road," said team manager Fons Leroy. "All of his preparation will be for the Games, where he wants to win gold."
Michel Zanoli cremated
Former Dutch professional Michel Zanoli, who died of heart failure aged 35 on December 29, has been cremated in the Netherlands. Zanoli, who in recent years suffered from mental problems, was active in the late '80's and '90's, winning the gold medal in the Junior World Championship in 1986 before turning pro in 1989 with ADR. He went on to ride for Tulip and Motorola, but was sacked from the latter after a punch up with Davis Phinney during the Tour du Pont in 1992. Zanoli eventually retired in 1996 with 13 wins to his credit, including the First Union USPRO Championships and a stage in the Vuelta in 1991.
Team Bianchi-ASC Olympia complete
The new Dutch women's team, Team Bianchi-ASC Olympia, has completed its lineup for 2004 with the signing of 18 year old Marlous Spaargaren. After being based in England's Velo Club Letchworth for the past two years, directeur sportif Han Leunk chose to move his team to the ASC Olympia stadium in Amsterdam, thus giving it a new name and also a new structure.
The team's 2004 program will include the Dutch Topcompetition races, Ronde van Drenthe (UCI 2.9.2), Bedford 3-day in the UK, Limavady 2-day in Northern Ireland, Rund um Straelen, Köln-Schuld-Frechen and Sparkassen Giro in Germany and Trophée d'Or and Tour Féminin Bretagne in France.
Nina Davies (Wales)
Help send Americans to 'cross World's
Each year, the American Cyclo-cross Foundation gears up to raise funds to help send American riders to the Cyclo-cross World Championships. Last season the ACF raised $8,000 and so far this season a $6,264 has been raised. The ACF will be running several eBay auctions over the next few weeks, with the first one at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3651068025 up and running now. Up for grabs is a 2003 U.S. team windbreaker signed by all the members of the national team that raced in Monopoli, Italy, on Feb. 1-2, 2003. An 11-by-14-inch photo of the team is included in the deal. As usual, all proceeds from the auction go straight to this year's squad.
For more information, visit the American Cyclo-cross Foundation's website at www.BikeGeek.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)