News for August 24, 2000

Spanish Olympic road team

Abraham Olano (ONCE) and world champion Oscar Freire (Mapei) are the top two riders in the Spanish men's road selection for the Olympics announced today by the Real Federación Española de Ciclismo (RFEC). The rest of the team consists of David Etxebarria (ONCE), Juan Carlos Dominguez (Vitalicio) and Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Vitalicio). Olano and Dominguez will ride the individual time trial.

This list of five has been submitted to the Spanish Olympic Committee for ratification, and will also depend on the outcome of the Vuelta. Notable absentees include the Galdeano brothers, who were overlooked in favour of their Vitalicio teammates, and Banesto's Jose Maria Jiminez. However, the RFEC issued a statement saying that "any rider who demonstrates good form during the Vuelta España could have their opportunity in case of any eventuality".

In the women's team, Joane Somarriba (Alfa Lum) will be accompanied by Mercedes Cagigas and Fatima Blazquez are her teammates ,with the latter riding the time trial. They will depart for Sydney on September 16, whilst the men will leave three days later after the Vuelta has finished.

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Vuelta team

The Basque Telecom team, Euskaltel-Euskadi have picked most of their best riders for the Vuelta, as they try and chase points to boost their team up into the first division. Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema del Olmo, Unai Etxebarria, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Ramontxu González Arrieta, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Munain, Alberto Martínez and Haimar Zubeldia are the nine.

Jiménez injured

One of Banesto's big hopes in the Vuelta, Jose Maria Jiménez, has had his last minute preparation interrupted by a training crash on the weekend. 'El Chaba' (the bad one) was descending the Serranillos climb on a routine training ride when a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction moved into his lane and he could not avoid it.

Although he hit the car head on, his wounds were not too serious and he will be able to start the Spanish race more shaken than hurt. He has abrasions to his thigh, right side and back. After he crashed, he did not think to inform team doctor Jesus Hoyos but did stay off the bike for three days. He is now training again in preparation for Saturday's time trial in Malaga.

Farm Frites update

Will they, won't they (merge that is). Piet de Bruijne of Farm Frites told that "There is a little delay, but we still know what will happen. We will follow the advice of Peter Post. That means 'work together with Lefevere.' But until the contract isn't signed, we can't say anything officially. First we have to solve some problems, like 'What will happen to Peter van Petegem?' He wants to go to Mapei, but he can go to Domo. Peter Post and the lawyers are looking about the effects of a merger; are the riders automatically free or not? Also, not all 19 riders with Farm Frites contracts can go over to Domo. At the moment, we are looking for solutions."

Peter van Petegem commented that "I have two options, so I'm not worried. But I will not pay a buy out when less important riders get permission to another team for free."

Teun van Vliet, ex-team manager of Farm Frites was somewhat more critical, saying that "The gentlemen Van Petegem and Knaven are the reason that Holland will lose its second biggest professional team and no other company will sponsor any more."

Johan Capiot, current Farm Frites team manager is unsure of his fate, "Hendrik Redant is going to Domo, but nobody said anything to me. So I think I will become the team manager with the shortest career in cycling history."

Bankgiroloterij team manager, Arend Schepping of has also had discussions with Peter Post about the fate of some of the Farm Frites riders. If a merge with Domo occurs, Schepping is interested in acquiring some of the Farm Frites riders who don't make the cut. "We want to contract more riders, maybe I can offer a job to five Farm Riders riders. The meeting with Post was very positive. But I will not talk about names at the moment," said Schepping.

Peter Post confirmed the interest from Bankgiroloterij, "But until the merger is signed, I can't do anything. At this moment the lawyers are writing the contract. That isn't easy, but I don't see a problem. For me the merge will happen."

More team negotiations

One Farm Frites rider who is unsure about his future with the team is Jans Koerts who is having discussions with the Danish MemoryCard team as well as Mercury for next year. The Dutch sprinter had several top 10 placings during the Tour de France and would be an asset to any team requiring his services. He still has a contract with Farm Frites but has gotten permission from Peter Post to leave. The burly sprinter is well known in Australia for riding and winning several stages of the Commonwealth Bank Classic.

David Cañada (currently ONCE) will definitely sign a two year contract with Mapei, along with Vitalicio's Pedro Horillo. In addition, Italian rider, Elio Aggiano will join them there.

Livingston gives his reasons

As reported last week, US Postal's climbing domestique, Kevin Livingston will join British outfit, Linda McCartney. It will be a significant loss to the team as Livingston was one of Armstrong's key helpers in the mountains during the Tour. Although Postal have contracted Victor Hugo Peña and Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil for the roles of climbers, Livingston was also a close friend of Lance Armstrong which does count for extra points when required to do the "dirty work".

Livingston is 27 and has spent two years at Postal. He is leaving to "spread his wings," according to the Linda McCartney team's official announcement. "At US Postal, my whole programme was geared to peaking for the Tour de France, so I would be in the best position to help Lance. But it also meant that I rarely had a chance to ride for myself and win races for Postal in my own right. At 27, I ought to be approaching my best years, and I need to find out how far I can go."

Prior to joining the Postal squad, he rode for the Cofidis team and finished 17th overall in the Tour in the absence of Armstrong. Then, he was a key member of the team that propelled the Texan to yellow in Paris twice in succession.

Of course, the McCartney squad are very pleased with his acquisition, especially team manager, Sean Yates who rode with him in Motorola. "I was impressed with Kevin's attitude, and when the chance came to work with him again I was straight on the phone to him," said Yates.

In addition, the signing didn't break the bank - an important consideration for a team striving for the first division next year. Livingston said that an important motivation was the fact that he would be given a chance to "move up...and that I found so attractive, not a vast chest of cash."

How far can Kevin go with the vegetarian boys? He certainly has the ability to be there when it counts.

Scanlon signs with Linda McCartney (and more)

By Shane Stokes*

19 year old Sligoman cyclist Mark Scanlon has signed a one year contract with the Linda McCartney squad, and will turn professional next season.

Scanlon is regarded as the most talented Irish cyclist to emerge in two decades, a accolade which he underlined by winning the junior world championship in Valkenburg, the Netherlands in October 1998. His move to the burgeoning British squad follows the signing of Waterford's Ciaran Power last autumn, and coincides with a team expansion which aims to qualify the vegetarian outfit for the Tour de France in 2001 or 2002.

The squad have signified their intent by pursuing a number of big names, and recently announced that they have coaxed Kevin Livingston away from the US Postal nest. Clearly a team which is on the up, making Scanlon's move seem a wise one. Since his world championship triumph two years ago, Scanlon has shown flashes of brilliance despite injury; he missed part of last season due to knee trouble, while his good run of form this year was interrupted when he broke his elbow in July.

He has, however, returned to competition and is targeting the under 23 world championships in Plouay, France in October. The great new hope of Irish cycling is currently at home in Sligo, but is expected to resume competing with the CC Etupes team in France next month.

In addition, Irish cycling got another boost today with the announcement of an Olympic place for moutainbike rider Tarja Owens. Owens was listed as a reserve for the Elite women's cross-country event, narrowly missing qualification last season, but since some of the countries awarded selection have opted not to travel to Sydney she has been given the nod by the UCI. She joins Ciaran Power, David McCann (Elite men's road race), Deirdre Murphy (Elite women's road race) and Robin Seymour (Elite moutainbike cross-country event) on the squad. Interestingly, the 24 year old is both Helly Hansen team-mate and girlfriend of Seymour.

Shane Stokes is a correspondent with the Irish Times

Ballanger delays retirement

French track sprinting star, Felicia Ballanger, has decided to continue her career past the Olympic Games, she announced today. Contrary to her earlier declaration that she would retire, the 29 year old holder of 10 World titles said that she did not see a reason to stop any more. Initially, it was because of her family as well as professional reasons, "but the circumstances changed, and I prefer to go on," she said.

She has been unbeatable at world level since 1995 and her decision to continue will probably not please those athletes who have been battling for silver and bronze medals in sprint events for the past five years. She still has the motivation to do well, and will begin by trying to conquer the rest at Sydney for a possible fourth and even fifth Olympic title.

When she does eventually retire, she has been offered a position by the French Ministry for sport as a professor of sport at the INSEP.

Voogt asked to reconsider

The UCI road committee have sent a letter to the organiser of the next women's World Cup race in Rotterdam on Sunday, Henk Voogt. Voogt has said that he would not allow three Dutch women's teams a start: Ondernemers van Nature, Westland Wil Vooruit and RWC Ahoy, because they 'do not have sufficient quality.'

The UCI's Committee have asked Voogt to make another decision, and they are supported by KNWU chairman Joop Atsma "Both the KNWU and the UCI would prefer more women at the start. Hopefully this letter will have that effect."

The UCI are also considering to introduce health controls in women's cycling as they do with the men. At the moment, only four controls per year are organized for the men's professional first and second division trade teams but none in the women's teams.

Triple teams for Zurich six?

Although six day racing is usually contested by two man teams, this year's Zurich Six (November 27-December 2) may see three member teams compete, harking back to a similar period 28 years ago. One of the three riders will be a roadie, such as Markus Zberg, Oscar Camenzind, Alex Zülle, and the Meier brothers Roland and Armin. They will each be assigned to and will score points for a normal pair e.g. Risi and Betschart, but will ride in different races such as a derny race.

Preston Mountain Classic

The Preston Mountain Classic in Australia has changed its format slightly, from a graded handicap to a scratch race (note that women will still have a handicap if there are sufficient entries). A and B Grade men will still do the 160km circuit, but C and D grade men will ride a reduced distance (about 90km). M19 and M17 will remain unchanged.

The closing date for entries until Friday has been extended due to the confusion.