|Sponsorships Web Hosting Event Promotion Search Feedback|
News for November 8, 1998
Contracts and Transfers* 28-year old Italian Michele Bartoli has now signed with Mapei and will ride for them in 1999. In 1998, riding for Asics, he won Luik-Bastenaken-Luik, the GP Suisse and the overall World Cup competition. Mapei were very keen to get him as they are losing some of their top names including Frank Vandenbroucke (Cofidis), World Champion Oscar Camenzind (Lampre), Franco Ballerini (Lampre) and Gianni Bugno, who has retired. The Italian team will also secure the services of Max van Heeswijk (ex-Rabobank) and Axel Merckx (ex-Polti). There is a possibility that they will sign three of Bartoli's teammates at Asics. At the moment they are talking to Paolo Bettini, Luca Scinto and David Tani but nothing has been concluded yet.
* Belgian Robbie Vandaele (Ipso) has retired. It is now confirmed that Sébastien Demarbaix will ride for Lotto next season.
* The US Amateur Team Toko/STC is near to completing their team for 1999. Returning Matthew Svatek, who is also the team manager. Joe Ackerman will also return. Alex Grabau, a top US U-23 Cyclocrosser, has also signed to ride for part of the season. He said: "Cross is such a demanding sport, much of his road season is spent preparing for the next Cross season." The team will use him to advantage in the Criteriums. Former One+ Pro Matt O'Keefe is currently in negotiations and is said to be quite pleased with his offer. Mike Cahill, Mike Weh, and Rob Hult are also expected to sign soon.
Reactions to the Tour de France 1999Jose Maria Jimenez (Banesto): The next Tour is very similar to the last editions: "The mountains are concentrated in the Alps and Pyrenees and there are too many flat and time trial kilometers. I haven't studied the route in detail, but from what I can see in the map, there are no major variations. There are no surprises, it would have been a surprise to get a mountain time trial. I'm not sure what my calendar is going to look like, since I haven't talked to my director about it, but I think that I will once again ride the Tour and the Vuelta". José María Jiménez assured that the 1999 Tour will be good for his new teammate Alex Zulle. "He is one of my favorites for the final win, since he rides better in the mountains than other riders with his characteristics". Jimenez added: "Zulle's arrival is not an obstacle for me. I think that it benefits me. It's better to have him as teammate, than as a rival".
Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno-Bianchi): "After seeing the route I can't guarantee my presence at the Tour. A priori, it isn't the best for me. I'm going to wait to find out the routes of the Giro and Vuelta to decide on the two major races, even though the Giro is practically certain to be in my schedule. If La Vuelta a España is tough, that would be good to train for the Worlds in my country. I don't like the 1999 Tour route. It's a route that doesn't adapt to my characteristics. The organizers have not given me a present. The climbs are not very useful. Tourmalet, for example, and Aubisque are both 100 kms before the finish."
Jan Ullrich didn't seem to be happy with the route which should fit him well. "I get nervous with this talk that this Tour is easier or more difficult than another. All editions require a high intensity effort throughout three weeks. The Tour is not decided by the route, but by the form of each rider".
Frenchman Christophe Rinero, who was 4th in 1998 and winner of the Mountain's jersey was happy with the route. He said: "I think there's enough climbing for me. And I've made progress in the time trials and 110 km seems to me a good distance. What bothers me most are the two rest days because I tend to relax too much and, in fact, that tires me more than anything."
The Tour to Guadaloupe?Jean Marie Leblanc, confirmed the interest of the authorities of the island of Guadaloupe (French Antilles) to host the start and first stages of Tour de France in 2000. He said: "It is an official petition and we are studying the project. No decisions will be made until early next year, since it has to be analyzed by our whole team and all parties have to be consulted - the teams, the strategic organisation and the like."
The other candidate for the start of the Tour 2000 is the German city of Frankfurt.
World hour record attempt failsJeannie Longo has failed in her attempt to break her own world hour record for women at the velodrome in Mexico City. The 40-year old French rider made the attack in virtual anonymity. She set the record on October 26, 1996 - 48.159 kms.
The French veteran had three attempts on Friday to better the mark. The first attempt was stopped because she punctured after just one lap. After a restart, she rode for 19 laps and then stopped with a broken spoke. The third and last attempt for Friday went better. She rode the first 14 kms in 17.45 and was holding an average speed of 48.8 km/h, above the record pacec. The high initial speed, however, took its toll and she stopped after 42 kms with cramp in the legs.
The attempt was done with the temperature at 18 degrees and a light wind. The humidity was 80 per cent. She first set the World Record in 1989 when she rode 46.352 kms.
International Women's ChallengeThe top American womens race - the International Women's Challenge will continue under a different name until the year 2000 as a result of a new arrangement with its sponsor. The event, in its 16th year, attracts the best female riders in the world to the United States to compete for a prize purse of $125,000, the richest in the Western Hemisphere for road cycling.
The 1999 event will be held from June 9 to June 20 in southwest Idaho in 13 stages over 12 days, covering 693 miles and 13,870 vertical feet, making it the longest race on the UCI North American schedule. The race will include three time trials; two closed-circuit races; and eight road races, one with a total climb ofmore than 3,000 feet. Last year's competition attracted the highest-ranking UCI field in women's cycling history, including Jeannie Longo of France, a 12-time world champion.