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News for June 28, 2000
UCI Rankings - Ullrich creeps up
The Tour hasn't even started but already Jan Ullrich is making a run for the number one UCI ranking. That's probably the last thing on the German's mind right now as he has to do battle in a few days time with Armstrong, Pantani, Zülle, Olano, Escartin and co. In the latest rankings, calculated after the weekend's national championships, Ullrich has moved up to third position behind Francesco Casagrande and teammate and countryman, Erik Zabel. Ullrich performed well in both the German nationals (4th) and the Tour de Suisse (5th overall), thereby moving himself from 7th to 3rd.
Other movers include Lance Armstrong, who moved up a notch to 4th and USPS teammate, Tyler Hamilton, who broke into the top 50 (from 119th) courtesy of his strong performance in the Dauphiné Libéré. However, there was a further big drop for former number one, Laurent Jalabert, who now lies in 15th place after not matching his 1999 performance in the Tour de Suisse where he was 2nd.
Next month, this will all change of course after the Tour, where Casagrande is not competing. He may have enough to hang on to his number one spot, depending on what sort of performance wins this year's Tour. With the current starting list, the battle for yellow looks to be the closest yet in recent years.
Despite the fact that they have two riders in the top three, Telekom still remain in second position to Mapei in the teams rankings. Mapei win through sheer firepower and strength of numbers - for every two Telekom wins, there seems to be an extra one for Mapei. They won two of the toughest national championship races last weekend (Italy and Belgium), and have a healthy 500 point lead on the Germans. As mentioned above, the Tour could change a lot.
Lampre-Daikin are now up to fourth position after the Giro and several other strong performances. They are within sight of the ever consistent Fassa Bortolo, and must be wondering what on earth they had to do to get a Tour start. In the second division, Euskaltel-Euskadi has toppled Credit Agricole courtesy of several wins in major category races in the past month. The Basque outfit were well placed in the Dauphiné with Haimar Zubeldia who also won the Euskal Bizikleta in late May.
In the nations rankings, little has changed at the top - Italy still leads from Spain and Belgium. Switzerland and the Netherlands have displaced France for 5th and 6th spots, and Australia has moved to 12th in front of Kazakhstan.
Rankings - June 25, 2000
1 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 2,468.00 pts 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 1,631.00 3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 1,602.75 4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 1,570.00 5 Abraham Olano Manzano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 1,551.75 6 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 1,488.00 7 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 1,377.00 8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1,375.00 9 Markus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 1,351.25 10 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 1,349.25 11 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas-Pata 1,298.00 12 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Banesto 1,211.00 13 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Albacom 1,210.00 14 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 1,196.00 15 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 1,190.75 16 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 1,129.25 17 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei-Quick Step 1,117.00 18 Igor Gonzalez Galdeano Aranzabal (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros 1,096.00 19 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1,095.00 20 Jann Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon 1,072.00 21 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1,053.00 22 José Maria Jimenez Sastre (Spa) Banesto 1,046.00 23 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Banesto 1,044.00 24 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1,039.00 25 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1,036.00 26 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1,024.00 27 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 1,000.00 28 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 999.75 29 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites 973.50 30 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Cofidis 935.50 31 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain 923.00 32 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Saeco-Valli & Valli 922.00 33 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti 888.00 34 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 883.00 35 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina-Lotus 872.00 36 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) Liquigas-Pata 870.00 37 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour 865.00 38 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 829.00 39 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 824.00 40 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 818.50 41 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin 816.00 42 Alberto Elli (Ita) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 798.75 43 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Farm Frites 784.00 44 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 777.00 45 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 769.00 46 Fernando Escartin Coti (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 742.00 47 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 738.00 48 Tyler Hamilton (USA) US Postal Service 725.00 49 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 711.25 50 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 700.00 Teams, division I 1 Mapei-Quick Step 5,807.25 pts 2 Team Deutsche Telekom 5,396.25 3 Fassa Bortolo 3,844.00 4 Lampre-Daikin 3,480.00 5 O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 3,461.75 6 Banesto 3,437.00 7 Rabobank 3,261.75 8 Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 3,200.00 9 Kelme-Costa Blanca 3,031.00 10 Vitalicio Seguros 2,856.00 11 Farm Frites 2,457.00 12 Saeco-Valli & Valli 2,377.00 13 Memorycard-Jack & Jones 2,306.00 14 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 2,285.00 15 Mercatone Uno-Albacom 2,232.00 16 US Postal Service 2,079.20 17 Liquigas-Pata 2,021.00 18 Festina 1,945.00 19 Lotto-Adecco 1,911.00 20 La Francaise Des Jeux 1,757.00 21 Ag2R Prevoyance 1,744.00 22 Team Polti 1,608.00 Teams, division II 1 Euskaltel-Euskadi 2,333.00 pts 2 Credit Agricole 1,980.00 3 Cantina Tollo 1,817.00 4 Jean Delatour 1,175.00 5 Manheim Auctions-Mercury 1,158.00 6 Bonjour 1,021.00 7 Palmans-Ideal 968.00 8 Amica Chips-Tacconi Sport 851.00 9 Alessio 823.00 10 Team Gerolsteiner 754.00 Nations 1 Italy 12,642.00 2 Spain 9,174.75 3 Belgium 8,176.75 4 Germany 7,480.00 5 Switzerland 6,253.50 6 Netherlands 5,843.00 7 France 5,708.00 8 U.S.A. 5,070.55 9 Russia 4,322.00 10 Denmark 3,517.25
As his race draws nigh, Tour de France director, Jean Marie-Leblanc is getting edgy. The Tour - and cycling - in the past two years has undergone some important changes as a result of what happened in 1998. The drugs issue in particular is more in the open now, although there is still some way to go. While Leblanc wishes to make this year's Tour the cleanest ever, he was denied a potentially powerful weapon in the French EPO urine test that the UCI was forced to reject on the grounds that it needed more work.
The test will eventually be properly researched, although this may not be for some time. In the meantime, the UCI will apply a scare tactic of freezing riders' urine and blood samples during the Tour so that they can be retrospectively analysed. This is not a new thing - the French test used 102 samples from the 1998 Tour as part of their study.
Leblanc has other things to worry about as well, not the least being the public image of the Tour's champions. Although sport can just be judged on who wins, professional cycling is a lot more than this. It runs on sponsorship and media exposure, so the champions need not only have to be perfect physically, they also have to present some sort of an image. Like it or not, character is a big part of winning and losing.
In an interview with Radsport-news.com, Monsieur Leblanc rates a few of his favourites and their human qualities. He sees Jan Ullrich as "a machine - almost too perfect, because you get the impression that he outweighs human parameters, but is extremely introverted. Concerning the relationship between rouleur and climber, he is the most complete rider. I think that Armstrong is not as good a mountain climber, and they are both about the same in time trials. But, if I was forced to assign a number one, then I would give it to Ullrich. The only thing that is against him is that he is not more extroverted, more cordial and more exuberant."
Armstrong is fit this character when it comes to dealing with the French press, after his experiences last year. When asked about him, Leblanc expressed his admiration for the American. "Mainly for what he has overcome as a human being. To beat a serious illness like cancer and then become an athlete at the top level is amazing, but I also admire him for the transformation he underwent as a rider. Before his sickness, he was all muscle, energy and strength. Afterward, he returned slimmer, improved technically and had a better position on the bike. He became a better Rouleur and above all, a better climber. In other words, he's turned from a fighter to a stylist."
As to his human qualities, Leblanc rates Armstrong as the complete American professional. "Certainly he likes the money, but I feel that behind that he has a heart. I respect him as well for how he has had to bear a lot of disfavor."
As to the enigmatic Pantani, Leblanc sees him as a "rider with heart, fire and passion. I cannot ever remember seeing a rider climb like him. He has the typical physiology of a climber, but in addition he is also an attacking rider and has a strong image." He took a dim view when Pantani was thrown out of the Giro in 1999, but Leblanc says that he does not hold a grudge against anybody for their entire life.
This applies to both Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque. "I like Jalabert, even though he sometimes speaks too 'loudly'. When he left in 1998, I was bitter. Certainly others at the time exerted their influence on him. I don't want to talk about it any more. Jalabert became a good rouleur through a lot of diligence, and he can climb well up to 1,800 metres. Everyone has said that the Tour de France is not suitable for him, and now, with his career coming to a close, he wants to prove to everyone that this is not correct. I like that."
As for Virenque, it was well known that Leblanc did not want him in the Tour last year. "I never had anything against him personally, but his presence at that time was questionable given that we wanted a smooth running event. I erred at the time. I think this year, he will still surprise if one looks at the profile. I think that he can make the podium."
Boogerd takes a tent
Michael Boogerd will take an oxygen tent with him to the Tour, although he probably doesn't plan on camping in the Alps. The Rabobank team started using altitude tents this season as a test. Karsten Kroon was the first user and rode a good Giro, where he was the early leader of the King of the Mountains competition.
So Rabobank bought a second tent for Boogerd. He will use the tent the first couple of nights, and if he doesn't have any sleeping problems, he will use it later on in the Tour as well.
Farm Frites discussions
Albert van der Vlies, the commercial director of Farm Frites, will talk to Jacques Hanegraaf about his role in the team. "He has to take on the management side of things, not the team leadership," he said.
Last Sunday, Hanegraaf rode in the team leader's car during the national championship. Van der Vlies said that "there was some miscommunication, Johan Capiot was in Belgium as part of the audience...while Hendrik Redant led the Farm Frites selection in the Belgian championship. First, Johan had to accompany some guests in Germany, but that was cancelled. So it was possible for him to be in Holland instead of Belgium."
Hanegraaf has planned himself to be team manager for a few days in the Tour de France. However, Farm Frites will also ride the Tour of Bohemia, in spite of the fact that Jacques Hanegraaf has decided to ride in the second team car in the Tour.
Van der Vlies doesn't agree with this plan. "Jacques has to do what he can do best: manage. Capiot will not leave the Tour for the Tour of Bohemia. Jacques has to look for a partner in that tour."
Irish Olympic squad nears completion
By Shane Stokes, Irish Times cycling correspondent
The Irish Cycling Federation today announced the names of two of the remaining three cyclists yet to be picked for the Olympics in September. National team director Richie Beatty has selected Linda McCartney professional Ciaran Power for the Elite men's road race, while American based Deirdre Murphy will line out for the women's event.
Irish national mountainbike champion Robin Seymour was confirmed earlier this year as contesting the off road competition.
Both Power and Murphy qualified Ireland for the Sydney games last Autumn by placing third in the men's road race and fourth in the women's competition respectively in the B world championships in Uruguay. Power recently completed the Tour of Italy, recording two top ten placings in the three week event.
It was also announced that the final slot in the Elite men's road race would be filled by either Morgan Fox, David McCann, Eugene Moriarty or Tommy Evans. Selection will be finalised in the coming weeks, although with professional Morgan Fox out with a viral infection, the new national road race champion David McCann must be considered favourite to take the final Olympic berth. McCann bested domestic-based rider Brian Kenneally in last Sunday's championships in Cork, having placed third in the Isle of Man mountain time trial and second in the Manx International in the days beforehand. The 27 year old Belfastman also won the points jersey, the mountains classification and a stage in Ireland's FBD Milk Ras in May.
More signings: Jiménez and Jaksche
Banesto's José Maria Jiménez has been given another two years with his team, according to recent news. Although he has been asked to join with other Spanish teams, "El Chaba" has ridden with Banesto since 1992, and his loyalty is strong.
The money isn't bad either: At the moment he is making over $US 500,000, but this will significantly increase next year. He is well loved in Spain, and the public would like to see him on the podium in Paris this year.
Jörg Jaksche (Telekom) will not be seen on the podium in Paris, as he was left out of the German Tour team. He fancies the Spanish life though, and has already signed a preliminary contract with ONCE, especially after his strong performance in the Volta a Catalunya. He believes that Telekom have good GC riders in Ullrich and Klöden and wants a bit more room to move. Team spokesman, Olaf Ludwig denied however that his non-selection in the Tour team was the only reason that Jaksche jumped ship.
No team for Egbert
Egbert Koersen (former AGU-teammanager) had plans to start a new cycling team next season. "But it is not possible because of financial reasons. Now I hope to come back in 2002".