News for January 31, 2000

Rincon released

The former Colombian professional cyclist, Oliverio Rincon, was released yesterday by the guerrillas of the Army of Liberación Nacional (ELN) who kidnapped him ten days ago from his property in the city of Duitama.

Rincon revealed that his release was ordered by the headquarters of the ELN, who indicated to him that in the next few days they will send an official notice to explain the reasons for his kidnapping. The 32 year-old stated that he was in good health and was treated well by kidnappers.

The rebels left him in the countryside between the localities of Santander and Boyacá, to which Duitama belongs. Their relatives were notified on Saturday night that he would released and went to collect him at the indicated place. Yesterday, hundreds of Colombian sportsmen marched along with hundreds of people along an avenue of Bogota to request the freedom of Rincon, as well as journalist Guillermo Cortés, of 73 years, kidnapped last January 23.

The cyclist, considered one of the best Colombian climbers of recent years was a member of Spanish teams, ONCE, Seguros Amaya and Kelme, was kidnapped on January 20 when he was with several of his relatives in a property belonging to him in the municipality of Duitama. Three armed men arrived at the property and they along with them his sister-in-law whom they released hours later.

Although a few days after the kidnapping the wife of Rincon, Yilma Janeth, received a call from the second largest guerilla group of the country (ELN) who claimed responsibility. "They said to me that it was an order from above, and that's all I know," commented Rincon in a radio interview. The cyclist thanked the support he received from his Colombian and Spanish colleagues, of whom he knew by watching television that they were clamouring for his release.

"I felt very supported. This was what motivated them to give me back," said Rincon. He added that he also acknowledged the support of his old companions and directors of the Spanish teams "It filled me with hope. I must thank them for all the gestures that they gave".

AG2R: New name, same winning ways

By Tim Maloney, correspondent

After an incredible 4 year run of 140 wins as Casino, second sponsor AG2R has stepped up to sponsor Vincent Lavenu's French squad for the 2000-2001 season after the French supermarket chain pulled out of cycling sponsorship at the end of 1999.

Lavenu's new team, AG2R Prevoyance, has a smaller budget ($US 3 million/year) and fewer riders (15) is still the #1 UCI ranked team, and AG2R Preyvoyance has already maintained the winning tradition to start the year, when French TT champion Gilles Maignan won the Tour Down Under a week ago in Australia.

"We've had some tough breaks," Vincent Lavenu told cyclingnews at the AG2R Preyvoyance team presentation in L'Isle sur le Sourge, France, "but we have won despite all of that. Even if we have changed our main sponsor, our team is still mostly the same."

Lavenu and his right hand man, directeur sportif Laurent Biondi have a different approach to pro cycling than most of their contemporaries. "What has always characterized our team is that we have had a tight group; we go into the races to give our best and not be intimidated by anyone...and this approach has brought us a lot of success in the past few years."

Despite the departure of rising talent Alexander Vinokorov, who went to Telekom after winning the Tour of Valencia and Dauphine Libere, AG2R still has plenty of talent. Estonian Jan Kirsipuu is back with AG2R and as the world's winningest rider over the past two seasons (34 wins). The quiet 31 year-old from the Baltics has even more motivation for 2000 after wearing the Maillot Jaune and winning a stage at the Tour De France last year. The hard working Kirsipuu has been doing a lot of work over the winter and with three training camps in his legs already, look for him to start racking up the wins early and often in 2000.

Like Kirsipuu, 25 year old climber Benoit Salmon had a big Tour De France last year where he was best young rider. Salmon and his wife are expecting their first child any day now and once baby is born, Salmon will be looking to better his 14th place on GC at the Tour. The diminutive Breton will be backed by new arrival Andrei Kivilev from Festina. Kivilev, a lanky Kazakh countryman of Vinokorov is a talented climber in his own right and should help Salmon in major stage races.

As on Casino, Pascal Chanteur will be team road captain, watching the race strategy and keeping the team together and focused. Kirsipuu's fellow Balts Aus and Kasputis will continue to maintain their roles as solid team rouleurs, while neo-pros like experienced Ludovic Turpin, '99 French amateur champ and Russian Alex Botcharov, an excellent climber will add new blood to the AG2R Preyvoyance squad. Despite a change of sponsor, smaller budget and loss of a major talent like Vinokorov, Lavenu's dynamic and opportunistic AG2R Prevoyance squad should continue to win in 2000.

Liquigas: aims for the top

The Liquigas Pata team, headed by Italian Davide Rebellin believe that they can go for the top spot in the future. The 18 member team had their presentation in the Castle of Tolcinasco (Milan) and has a budget of some 6 billion Italian lira ($US 3 million).

Team manager Fabio Bordonali believes that Rebellin "is one of the best riders to the world. With the arrival of Gontchar, we are ready to make the jump to the top," he said.

"We will therefore participate in all the races of the World Cup, and many of the big stage races. Rebellin will be our captain in the World Cup, while with Gontchar we will aim for the GC at the Giro d'Italia. He will then try for the Olympic title and the World Championship of his specialty: the time trial."

"I want to put a word in for Denis Zanette, he will be our man for the classics of the North and also for Marco Zanotti, who has been the best sprinter in the amateurs last year."

Rebellin wants to aim for the "Milan-San Remo, as well as Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Amstel Gold Race before the Giro d'Italia, where I want to win a stage and wear the maglia rosa. Then I will draw breath in order to prepare for the Olympic Games and the World Championships," he said at the presentation. "I feel as though I have earned my place in cycling feel ready to head for the top. Yes I can become number one in the world, but it is not that statistic that interests me. I want to be at the top from winning the biggest races.

"I am supportive of the UCI controls. The CONI protocol of "I do not risk my health?" I will undergo those tests if I am selected for the Olympics or the World's."

Mercatone Uno-Albacom presentation

No surprises here from Marco Pantani's team at their presentation on the weekend. Although he is still wavering at whether to return in the Ruta del Sol on February 13, or the Tour of Valencia on February 22, Pantani is calm. "I will make the decision next week," he said "I don't want to show too much weakness in front of my rivals, by racing when I am not ready."

The team's number one goal will be the Giro, according to president Felice Gimondi.


Team manager: Giuseppi Martinelli
Director Sportifs: Orlando Maini and Allessandro Giannelli
General Manager: Manuela Ronchi


Marco Pantani
Daniele De Paoli
Igor Askasibar Astarloa
Massimo Cigana
Oscar Mason
Marco Artunghi
Simone Borgheresi
Ermanno Brignoli
Maurizio Caravaggio
Michele Coppolillo
Fabiano Fontanelli
Riccardo Forconi
Stefano Garzelli
Giammario Ortenzi
Massimo Podenzana,
Marcello Siboni
Marco Velo
Enrico Zaina

Freire's first win

World Champion, Oscar Freire pulled off his first victory of the 2000 season when he won the 10th Open Monte Naranco mountain bike race. A total of 191 competitors, including some professionals, contested the six lap event which took place on Mt Naranco in Oviedo.

Freire took advantage of a puncture suffered by Marco Buy, who was leading up until the last lap to win the race, while Margo Fullana won the women's category. Other cyclists present included current U23 World ITT champion, Iván Gutiérrez (ONCE); Coque Uría (Polti); and Samuel Sanchez, of Euskadi, however none of them managed to finish the race.

Results, men:
1.Óscar Freire         1.13.03
2.Christophe Herisset     0.17
3.Roberto Lezaun          1.21
4.Guillermo De Portugal   2.10
5.Juan Carlos Garro       2.11
6.Massimo Induni          2.38
7.Leonardo Zanoti         2.59
8.José Márquez            3.39
9.Marco Bui               4.07
10.Fernando Ocaña         4.20

28."Chechu" Rubiera      12.12
29.Manuel Beltrán        12.12

1.Marga Fullana          44.49
2.Janet Puiggrós          2.44
3.Cristina Roza           7.10

Ride against violence

The Movement against Intolerance held a mass ride for peace yesterday starting in Paloma de al Paz and proceeding to El Peine del Viento. The ride coincides with the anniversary of the death of Ghandi, and is designed as a solidarity "march" in support of victims of terrorism.

"We aspire to live in one society, in which freedom is priceless, in which the right to life is a treasure to preserve, and diversity is considered one of the best exponents of our wealth," said the group in their official press release.

Six day ranking

Silvio Martinello has topped the winter's madison ranking from the Union Internationale des Velodromes after all the winter races have been counted. The rider won all three six day races this year, as well as Munich last year.

1 Silvio Martinello (Ita)   225 Pts
2 Andreas Kappes (Ger)      210
3 Marco Villa (Ita)         195
4 Adriano Baffi (Ita)       150
5 Scott Mcgrory (Aus)       100
6 Jimmi Madsen (Den)         90
7 Olaf Pollack (Ger)         85
8 Erik Weisspfennig (Ger)    85
9 Etienne Dewilde (Bel)      80
10 Gerd Dörich (Ger)         70
11 Matthew Gilmore (Bel)     65
12 Bruno Risi (Sui)          60
13 Stefan Steinweg (Ger)     60
14 Isaac Galvez (Esp)        55
15 Juan Llaneras (Esp)       55
16 Robert Bartko (Ger)       50
17 Andreas Beikirch (Ger)    50
18 Andrea Collinelli (Ita)   50
19 Kurt Betschart (Sui)      40
20 Jens Lehmann (Ger)        40
21 Guido Fulst (Ger)         30
22 Thorsten Rund (Ger)       30
23 Lars Teutenberg (Ger)     15

Points scale for the first eight pairs:
75 - 60 - 50 - 40 - 30 - 25 - 20 - 15

Attention race organisers

As part of cyclingnews increasing service to its readers, we have recently added a means whereby race organisers (of non-UCI races) can enter the full details of their race online, which will then be available as a listings indexed by country, followed by a brief and more detailed description. This is intended to allow our readers to keep in touch with races that are on in their area.

The basic listing service will be free, and we are now asking potential race organisers to submit their details via our event form, and to provide us with any feedback before we go "live" with it. We anticipate this will be by the end of the first week in February.