Danish Rider goes positiveThe Danish rider Michael Skelde from Horsens who last year rode for the German team PSV Cologne was suspended from all sports for two years on Monday because he was tested positive for the steroid testosterone during the Tour of Denmark last year.
Thanks to Kim Ravn-Mortensen
A Day with SaecoThe 21 riders for Saeco are refining their preparation for the season on the roads of Maremma. The band directed by Antonio Salutini has established headquarters at the Hotel Marinetta. The master of the house continues to be Mario Cipollini. But Ivan Gotti, the Bergamascan winner of the 1997 Giro d'Italia is considered the leader.
There are two groups crystallizing around Cipollini and Gotti, who will pedal next to each other with different goals at the Giro. The Lion King will have his train, while Gotti will have his men for the mountains. The differences can been seen in the training programs. While Cipollini leads his band for 5 hours in the up and downs of Maremma, Gotti is pedalling on a fixed gear (53x20) with Dario Frigo, Massimo Donati and the new acquisition Leonardo Piepoli. In the middle of the two teammates there is Roberto Petito, who will be the captain for the World Cup Classics.
The misunderstandings between team manager Claudio Corti and Ivan Gotti seem to have gone. Gotti says: "I have spoken to Corti and he has told me that I will soon have a proposal for a contract renewal. Now I will work towards a big season. I think that I have reached the athletic maturity and I think that the next two or three years will be my best". Gotti won the last Giro, beating Pavel Tonkov, but next time he will also face Marco Pantani and Alex Zülle.
Gotti further comments: "Tonkov continues to tell journalists that he lost the Giro due to a team error in Cervinia, but in reality I know that if he felt strong, how come he didn't attack me at the Mortirolo? Yes the rivalry is pretty strong with Pantani and Marco should be able to contest a great Giro d'Italia. He will be my number one adversary, because he's super motivated. But we have to take care that our rivalry won't favor Tonkov and Zülle".
For the great battles that will go on at the Giro, Saeco has reinforced with the arrival of Paolo Savoldelli and Leonardo Piepoli. Gotti: "Dario Frigo and Massimo Donati already brought some security, but with Savoldelli and Piepoli now we are very strong in the mountains. Piepoli has been a good acquisition, he will back me up in the mountains".
Gotti is very sure of himself: "The defense of the Pink Jersey is my main objective, but I also want to do well at the Tour".
Mario Cipollini is getting ready for his tenth season and wants to open it his way - winning. "In March I will turn 31 and will start my 10th adventure as a professional. Until now, I have never come out empty handed. The year that I won the least, I was first five times. I don't think that there are may riders who have been able to raise their arms ten years in a row.".
Cipollini has always been considered the number one sprinter in the world. While training one can see that the Lion King is as popular as always. In the short climbs and flats of Maremma, Cipo gets his teammates in difficulty and regularly wins the mini-sprints that they dispute for practice. Salutini has to brake his exuberance: "Mario is un uncontrollable volcano, but when the season gets closer, he becomes a very serious professional". Supermario has had a pre-retreat at his house for his 'train' with Mario Scirea, Giuseppe Calcaterra and Paolone Fornaciari. "We are friends outside of racing also and since our training is very similar, we have met to make things easier. Fornaciari, Scirea, Calcaterra and Fagnini constitute a sensational train, they have my complete trust. We will be a band of bounty hunters. We will conquer races". What are the goals for Cipollini's season? "As always: Milano-Sanremo".
Tour of Sardinia in doubtThe Organisation Team which stages the Tour of Sardinia seem to be up against a funding crisis which will probably see the race cancelled this year. The event which is currently listed between March 25-29 is in jeopardy unless the main executive Gino Mameli can persuade regional authorities to pay around 700 million lira ($US400,000).
The organisation already has around 500 million lira committed from local authorities and other sponsors. Mameli is reported as saying: "It's been hard enough to organise the last two editions. But this year, the situation is even worse. All the top Italian teams are calling us to ask what is happening, and we cannot contact the teams with the top international riders until we are sure of having the money."
Another Cross Rankings SchemeI had a discussion with Wim van Rossum overnight and suggested that we weight some of the events differently to the way he had initially approached the problem of aggregating the World Cup and SuperPrestige Trophy events into a single rankings list. So he went back to his spreadsheet and produced this.
The World Cup races are now considered twice as important as the SuperPrestige races which tend to be raced by fewer countries.
So the points used in the aggregate rankings are:
9 Super Prestige races (1-15):
6 World Cup races (1-20):
World Championship (1-25):
Sp after 13 of the 16 major races (two SuperPrestige to come plus Worlds) the rankings are as follows:
Wim W.C. S.P. 1 1 1 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) 422 points 2 2 2 Adri van der Poel (Ned) 335 3 3 7 Daniele Pontoni (Ita) 217 4 8 3 Mario de Clercq (Bel) 177 5 4 12 Marc Janssens (Bel) 164 6 9 4 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 155 7 6 7 Radomir Simunek (Cze) 143 8 7 10 Peter van Santvliet (Bel) 131 9 5 x Dieter Runkel (Swi) 113 10 24 5 Sven Nijs (Bel) 91 11 12 11 Wim de Vos (Ned) 89 12 10 21 Jiri Pospisil (Cze) 78 13 11 x Beat Wabel (Swi) 72 14 28 6 Bart Wellens (Bel) 70 15 19 9 Ben Berden (Bel) 60 16 16 15 Luca Bramati (Ita) 53 17 13 x Roland Schätti (Swi) 46 18 15 23 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) 43 19 29 14 Arne Daelmans (Bel) 38 20 x 12 Danny de Bie (Bel) 35 21 18 x Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) 34 22 14 x Jerome Chiotti (Fra) 31 23 22 x Christophe Mengin (Fra) 22 24 22 19 Dominique Arnoud (Fra) 19 24 16 x Henrik Djernis (Den) 19 24 20 x Christophe Morel (Fra) 19 27 21 27 Kamil Aushuber (Cze) 15 28 30 18 Erik Boezewinkel (Ned) 12 28 x 16 Alex Moonen (Bel) 12 30 39 17 Gretenius Gommers (Ned) 11 30 30 23 Maarten Nijland (Ned) 11 and 18 other riders with less than 10 points.