News for December 8, 1999
Tour teams 2000
By Tomas Nilsson, cyclingnews.com correspondent
Seventeen teams are qualified for next year's Tour de France, La Société du Tour de France announced on Tuesday. The organizers have a different qualifying system this year, possibly because of the relatively weak season for the French teams. Qualified are the top twelve teams on the UCI ranking at the end of the previous year plus the team of the latest winner, US Postal. Also, all French teams among the world's top 20 are qualified. That means that seventeen teams are qualified. Three teams will get wild cards on May 31 next year. The old system qualified the sixteen top teams at the beginning of the year and then wild cards to the rest, last year four teams. This year there will also be twenty teams in the race.
The following teams are qualified by rank:
Previous year winner's team:
Other French teams among top 20:
So who will get the wild cards? Probably at least one of the new French teams Bonjour or Jean Delatour or maybe both. Bonjour are well ahead on the unofficial ranking for the 2000 teams at Cycling4All, but results during the spring will probably decide. Kelme, with last years third placed Escartin will be hard to leave out, which will get the other Spanish team, Vitalicio Seguros into trouble. Jean Delatour, Lampre, Jack & Jones, and for old times sake, Big Mat seem to be the other candidates.
However, the organisers also reserve the right to exclude any qualified team if any of its members should be caught with doping, so the number of wild cards might increase.
O'Grady on track?
Australia's leading road cyclist, Stuart O'Grady is considering returning to the track next year to represent his country at the Olympics. According to AAP, he has nominated for the squad, but is unsure of what events he will ride - they will be determined by the coach.
Although he has a very high profile on the road, especially after coming close to winning the green jersey in this year's Tour, he would still like to have a chance at Olympic Gold in his home country in 2000. The question is, will he do it on the road, or the track, or both(!)?
He told AAP's Krystyna Rudzki yesterday: "At the moment it's pretty open. Basically because my heart tells me it's the thing to do. All my history of the Olympics has been on the track and all the Olympic medals I've won have been on the track. I can see that as the best chance of getting an Olympic medal, which is my dream."
O'Grady already has a nice collection of Olympic medals - two bronze (points, team pursuit in 1996), and a silver (team pursuit, 1992) but would dearly love to have a gold. However, after he was beaten up in Toulouse several months ago, he is still suffering from the after effects of a blood clot in his brain.
"I still have to take medication everyday for the next year and I still have to have a test to see if the blood clot is still there," he said.
He is intent on defending his title in the Tour Down Under, which he won earlier this year, however he admits that it will be hard. Not only from a form point of view, but also from the pressure of being a "home town boy" (the Tour is based in Adelaide, South Australia).
"Obviously there's a lot of pressure. I never expected the people to come out like they did this year. It was just unbelievable. I think they're going to be very fired up again. Pressure will thrown on to me," he told AAP, but O'Grady said the home town advantage would help.
"On the last day there had 80,000 people watching a bike race in Adelaide and there were 25,000 watching Australia v England in the cricket. That's quite a bizarre feeling," he said, giving some indication of the popularity of both him and the race.
Although the withdrawal of several key riders has slightly dampened the profile of the track competition of the Oceania Games, tonight's action should still be exciting with some of the world's best competing in the men's kilo, individual pursuit and women's 500m time trial. In it's first test since being opened, the Dunc Gray velodrome has been filled with a third of it's 3000 seat capacity tonight. Tickets are not a problem!
The 250m wooden track has been described as "very fast" by top cyclists, Shane Kelly (Aus) and Arnaud Tornant (Fra), but it is unlikely that any World Records will fall, given the competition and the time of the season. However, come the national track titles in March and the Olympics in September, there should definitely be some quick times.
Also, with the qualifying round for the women's individual pursuit scheduled for tomorrow morning, Australia's 1998 World Champion, Lucy Tyler-Sharman had not been sighted at the track yesterday. However, team management were being fairly cagey when queried as to her whereabouts: "I can't confirm or deny whether she's here or not," said Australian team high-performance manager, Mike Flynn, while assistant national track coach, Gary Sutton gave a similar response.
Mapei gather next year
Number one trade team Mapei will have its official presentation and "plenary sitting" of all 39 members on January 21-29 next year, it was announced on Monday. The meeting will be held in the Tuscan region of San Vicenzo, and will be the first time that all members will get together, after following separate training programs over the winter. They had previously gathered last week in Arosa, on Lake Maggiore.
The official presentation of the team, which contains top riders such as Michele Bartoli, Andrea Tafi, Pavel Tonkov, Tom Steels, and Johan Museeuw, will take place on Friday January 21. The traditional appointment with the northern European media will occur on Monday, January 31 in the Belgian town of Tielt.
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