News for November 30, 1999

Sid Patterson, 1927 - 1999

Australian and world cycling fans were greatly saddened to learn of the death of Sid "Patto" Patterson, who passed away last night aged 72. He was diagnosed with cancer of the liver during the Herald Sun Tour this year, and lost his battle with it after just a few weeks.

Patterson dominated Australian cycling in the later 1940's, 50's and 60's, winning numerous national titles, as well as representing Australia at the World's and Olympic games with great success. As an amateur, he had the rare distinction of holding world titles in both the sprint and the pursuit over a 12 month period in 1949. When he turned professional, he won two world pursuit titles - Paris in 1952 and Luxembourg in 1953. He was also a bronze medallist in the sprint in 1951.

Patterson won a total of 16 six day races, two Austral Wheelraces, three Melbourne Cups on Wheels, and also held the world record in the 1 km time trial (1.04, Milan, 1952). This was just a sample of his achievements in cycling.

He was also a great character off the bike, renowned for his sense of humour, his showmanship and his "larrikin" nature. Always fond of a beer and a chat with friends, and was loved by many. When he was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and pancreas, he opted not to undergo chemotherapy - instead preferring to have a beer with his mates. He then outlined his funeral plans, taking special care to sort out the guest list and pall bearers. The cancer was too far advanced for him to have a good chance of surviving, and he calmly accepted the inevitable.

Profile: Clark Sheehan

By John Alsedek, correspondent

If there's any truth to the maxim "good things happen to good people," then 7Up-Colorado Cyclist's Clark Sheehan should just order his rainbow jersey now. Despite having a promising professional career plagued by illness, serious injury, and sometimes just rotten luck, Sheehan has never lost his love for the sport - or his sense of priority.

A native of Denver, Sheehan found himself drawn into cycling in much the same way as other Colorado natives during the late '70's and early '80's - by the Coors Classic. "I grew up in Denver and watched the Washington Park Criterium, the pack passed me the first time and I was hooked!" He began racing in 1983 at the age of 14, and soon showed his aptitude for the sport by winning a junior national time trial title. There followed an 'apprenticeship' under the then national coach Eddie Borysewicz at the Olympic Training Center, as well as a stint racing in Belgium.

However, by 1989, things had begun to stagnate for Sheehan, largely because he had been racing overseas the previous year. He became a 'forgotten man' - he wasn't selected for the U.S. National Team, and the non-national team racing opportunities were few and far between. Then came an offer from the AC-Pinarello team to turn pro at the tender age of 20. "It was a really good bunch of riders, like Matt Eaton and Randy Whicker, guys who were just excellent tacticians and racers." After getting his feet wet in big North American events like the Pepsi Tour of the Americas and the Branders Tour of Texas, Sheehan made his big splash at the Tour de Trump, finishing seventh overall in a field that included eventual winner Raul Alcala, Soviet wunderkind Viatcheslav Ekimov, '88 Giro champ Andy Hampsten, and a Tour de France-bound Greg LeMond. It should have been the harbinger of greater things for Sheehan in the next few years, but it didn't quite work out that way.

When AC-Pinarello disbanded at the end of 1990, Sheehan joined the powerhouse Coors Light squad, whose director Len Pettyjohn had pegged him as the 'next big thing'. However, 1991 and 1992 were basically lost seasons for the Coloradoan - he was sick for much of '91, and was injured in a freak accident early the next year (he was hit by a wind-blown cattle trough while out training). When he was able to race, he was slotted in the role of domestique. Sheehan got another chance in '93, when he joined the nascent Saturn team. He went into training camp fit and highly motivated to prove himself and in his first race with Saturn, won the prologue of the Ruta Mexico, finishing ahead of the likes of Euro's Laurent Fignon and Gianni Bugno. But ill fortune struck again. During Stage Five, a drunk driver swerved into the pack, causing a massive pileup. Sheehan got the worst of it - he was pinned between the driver's pickup and a press van suffering three compacted vertebrae, which put him in the hospital and off his bike for several months. After months of physical therapy, he was able to come back- but the Saturn team had opted not to renew his contract, leaving him without a team for 1994. Eventually, he was picked up by the low-budget Guiltless Gourmet team, and managed some credible results, including eleventh in the KMart Classic and fourth in the Casper Classic. However, things were not going well until his former coach entered the picture.

After going through a rough year himself (Subaru had withdrawn from sponsorship of his European-based pro team), Borysewicz was rebuilding for 1995 with a new squad sponsored by Montgomery Securities, and offered Sheehan a contract. Sheehan didn't disappoint, rising back to prominence in the same race that he'd first made his mark in US pro cycling: he won Stage Eight of the Tour DuPont in the longest breakaway in the race's history, on his way to 23rd overall. He quickly followed that up with eighth overall in the KMart Classic, and then nearly won the US professional title when he joined the decisive break at the CoreStates Championship where he eventually finished third.

1996 was expected to be even bigger for Sheehan, but once again, he was hampered by circumstances beyond his control. "I was really psyched for that year, and I was really, really motivated to do the Tour DuPont again." Only one problem: he was left off the DuPont-bound team. Instead, he was slated to race several big European events, such as the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Henninger Turm, an opportunity he would have relished under different circumstances. "It was really hard for me, because I had to do all these press conferences and everything for the Tour DuPont. I went to all these towns, and I was really motivated - and then they didn't even put me on the team. I had a really great opportunity to race in Europe, but my heart and desire and passion weren't there after getting left off the DuPont team - it was really frustrating."

Following his return from Europe, he finished sixth at CoreStates, but then opted out of riding the Tour of Switzerland. He wanted to stay home with his wife Sandy (whom he had met as a result of his Ruta accident - she was his physical therapist), for the birth of their first child, Paisley. His team saw it as a lack of interest in racing, but Sheehan saw it differently: "My family is my priority. I love racing - racing is how I define myself, but my family is even more important."

After leaving the US Postal Service team at the end of 1996, Sheehan found a balance between racing and family, riding solidly, if unspectacularly, for lower-profile teams Colorado Cyclist (1997) and 7Up (1998-99). It was during the '99 season that it occurred to Sheehan that the two teams might be more successful if they combined their resources. The result? The 2000 7Up-Colorado Cyclist professional team, led by Sheehan and another ex-Postman, Anton Villatoro. That Sheehan is looking forward to the team's first campaign is pretty evident: "I am really excited about the season and the great group of guys we have...I don't know if I've ever been so motivated for racing." He hasn't set any specific goals for himself, other than to help his new team come together. But one can't help but think that the newly-announced Heritage Tour in South Carolina, running so close to the scene of his greatest cycling triumph, will be his season's focus.

And if there's any justice, he'll have the same kind of success he had back in '95.

Injured Dufaux skips cyclocross

Laurent Dufaux broke two ribs at a local cyclocross race in Wallis, Switzerland, last week. Dufaux will be OK for the road season without any important loss in training, but he will not fulfill the cyclocross engagements he had for this winter.

"Even if I really want to come back to my old "darling" the cyclo cross, risks are to high and I don't want to take any more risks," he said according to Swiss Velo News.

Dufaux had a contract with VMC Hombrechtikon for some races, among them the second qualification race for the World's in December.

Watt trial continues

The Kathy Watt trial vs. the Herald Sun newspaper trial continues this week, with Watt currently giving evidence. In the hearing yesterday, she recalled how she had been close to quitting the sport after two defamatory articles were published about her in 1996.

According to a report in "The Age", after the articles were published, Watt was abused by motorists whilst out training - one group yelling that she "was a bitch and that Lucy Tyler-Sharman kicks your arse." Others made more physical attempts to harm her, which disturbed her greatly.

She considered retiring: "I just lost a lot of enjoyment...I thought about maybe even quitting cycling," she said. She was also loathe to answer any phone calls in case they were from journalists who were harassing her.

NZ Oceania Team

Courtesy of John Cardwell

The Kiwis have announced their team to compete in the Oceania Games in Sydney from December 8th - 16th:


Women: Joanne Kiesanowski, Elisabeth Williams, Annalisa Farrell, Marina Duvnjak, Fiona Ramage
Men: Mathew Randall, Shane Melrose, Mathew Anderson, Anthony Chapman, Gavin Lee, Dayle Cheatley, Mathew Sinton, Anthony Peden, Nathan Seddon.
Under 19 Men: Jason Allen , Richard Bowker, Hayden Roulstan, Greg Ardell, Marc Ryan


Men: Karl Moore, Robin Reid, Jeremy Robinson, Greg Scott
Women: Kirsty Robb, Nora Moeke
Under 19 Men: Jonathon Vahry, Jeremy Yates, Chris Boersen, Denny Hillary, Michael Leaf

Mountain Bike:

Men: Karl Mclean, Duncan Palmer, Steve Bale, Jaremey Houltham, Bryce Shapely, Paul Struthers, Lawrence Mole, Dean Hill, Paul Bishop
Women: Brenda Clapp, Robyn Wong, Sharon Harris, Freya Johnstone, Sarah King, Christina Sergeant, Kris Snow, Susy Pryde, Sadie Parker, Lisa Savage, Rebecca Cullen

Under 17 Road & Track:

Jonathon Hamlin, Damien Jager, Chris Hooper, Simon Greenall, Joe Barnao, Bryce Lyall, Saul Gudsall, Scott Hodges, Ross Machejefski, Tim Gudsell.

Great Lake Cycle Challenge

Almost 5,000 riders took part at the weekend in the annual Great Lake Cycle challenge at Taupo. For the first time the four hour mark for the 160 km journey around Lake Taupo was broken by the elite riders. Palmerston North's Lee Vertongen took line honours, winning in 3 hours 54 minutes.

Aucklander Susy Pryde was the first woman home, also beating the 4 hour barrier and setting a new women's record of 3 hours 57 minutes.

Fleming injured

One of Australia's top mountain bikers, Josh Fleming will be unable to start in the upcoming MTB events scheduled for the next few weekends. He broke his collarbone at whilst competing at Thredbo last weekend and is out for at least a month. This is a great disappointment for Fleming, who was looking forward to using his good form in the Oz MTB Tour and the Oceania Games.