News for September 4, 2000

55th Vuelta a Espańa news

Zülle's poor show

Abraham Olano took the lead in today's Vuelta in stunning fashion, putting over two minutes into Alex Zülle in the 37.8 km Tarragona time trial and a minute into Jan Ullrich (who unfortunately punctured early). The general classification saw Olano on top, followed by Festina's Angel Casero, Zülle and Ullrich in that order. However, there's still only a minute between the top four and it will be an exciting battle in the next two mountainous stages.

Zülle has looked in such excellent form this first week that it was a great surprise to see him lose so much time. The circuit was extremely technical, with three U-turns and seven hairpins which may have contributed to Zülle's loss. This made Olano's time all the more impressive as he averaged over 50 km/h in the scorching heat. Olano was fastest at all time checks, and may have been challenged by Ullrich had the German not punctured so early.

The course was an excellent form test for Sydney, which is similar in many characteristics. It may not be quite as technical however, but there are still a number of 90+ degree turns and it is not flat. Today, Olano along with Ullrich showed themselves as some of the favourites for September 30, with notable mention going to 'second' Spaniard Angel Casero, Czech Jan Hruska and Colombian Vitor Hugo Peńa (Vitalicio) who were 4th and 5th.

Olano admitted that he will continue to concentrate on Sydney, while in this race "the mountain finishes are my greatest difficulty. I will try to contest the General if it is possible, but there are too many mountain top finishes and too many climbers. That means that many things are against me," he said.

"It was my intention at the start to ride well in the races against the clock. The first part of the course today was complicated by the numerous changes of pace, but by kilometre 10 I could use my power and aerodynamics better."

On Zülle: "He did not do the time trial that he hoped for. Often he fails one day and the next he is a titan."

Echavarri on Zülle

The Banesto team director, Jose Miguel Echavarri was not exceedingly disappointed by his rider's performance, but was resigned to the fact that he didn't ride particularly well. "It was not the day for Alex," he told European Press. "It was not on a course that suited him. Alex is a specialist in races against the clock and not in corners."

"It is certain that from now on, the race takes on an interesting tone. Zülle must fight for a position on the podium," he said of Zülle's overall chances.

Sainz on Olano

Olano's ONCE team director, Manolo Sainz was also cautious as to his chances, "Olano is not a good climber, but this will give him confidence and security," he said. "It was a very good day for us and Abraham has demonstrated that he is in very good condition. This result, together with the good work of the rest of his teammates, certainly gives us security."

"He has been able to improve from the first time trial and I hope that that we will have the same progression in Molina and Andorra. Olano is not the best climber in the world, but he can be defended within his limits. I do not know if he will arrive in Madrid as leader, but this will give him much confidence," added Sainz.

Sainz considers Ullrich, Heras, and Zülle the favourites but at least gained a psychological edge today as well as a time gap. However, Casero can't be ruled out either as he is a noted climber and is within 21 seconds of Olano's lead.


Stage 10 is 165.8 kilometres from Sabadell to the ski resort of Molina and contains four categorised climbs, the last two being of first category. This combined with stage 11 will see some aggressive racing, as Olano will be put under severe pressure to maintain his jersey. You will be able to follow tomorrow's stage live on

World Cups finish

Several rounds of the World Cup were finalised over the weekend: the women's road, and men's and women's mountain bike cross country. Diana Ziliute's fourth place in the GP Suisse Féminin in Oberembrach gave her 30 points - more than sufficient to stave off Pia Sundstedt who won the race (75 points) and thereby finished second overall in the World Cup. Ziliute won the World Cup in 1998 and the World Championship in 1999 and has had an incredibly consistent season this year. She has dueled with Anna Wilson for the number one UCI ranking spot and will be one of the big favourites going into the Sydney road race. Following that is the World Championship race in Plouay, France in October. Could Ziliute take all three titles this year?

In the mountain bike stakes, Miguel Martinez and Barbara Blatter secured their wins in the cross country after placing 4th and 5th respectively in the final race at Lausanne, Switzerland over the weekend. The races were won by Filip Meirhaeghe and Marga Fullana, neither of whom were a threat to the overall lead of Martinez and Blatter.

In second place in the men's category was Dutchman, Bas van Dooren followed by Frenchman Christophe Dupouey, with newly 'officially' awarded 1996 World Champion Thomas Frischknecht in fourth and Christoph Sauser as fifth. The women's podium was Allison's Dunlap and Sydor in second and third, with Fullana fourth and Mary Grigson fifth.

Pantani aims for Sydney

Despite finishing behind his Olympic team colleagues in the past few races, Marco Pantani has reaffirmed that he wants to be 100% in Sydney. He was forced out of last week's Trofeo Melinda due to a tooth abscess, then rode the Coppa Placci and the Giro di Romagna on the weekend without result (25th and 43rd).

Meanwhile, his three other teammates (Di Luca is riding the Vuelta) were amongst the thick of the action: Bartoli was 2nd in the Trofeo Melinda, 3rd in the Coppa Placci, and 5th in the Giro di Romagna; Bettini was 5th in the Coppa Placci, and 2nd in the Giro di Romagna, while Casagrande won the Coppa Placci. Smiles all round if your name wasn't Davide Rebellin.

The latter has been performing at a similar level in the past two weeks and has openly criticised Pantani's inclusion in the Olympic team. The Sydney course is hilly but anything but mountainous and is likely to favour Rebellin over Pantani. However, them's the breaks and Pantani could well play a role in an Italian win should everything go to plan.

"The best cyclists in the world will be there, all of whom wish a gold medal. It will be necessary to be at one hundred percent," said Pantani.

He admitted that he suffered in the two races on the weekend, and was disappointed at his showing in the Coppa Placci, blaming the antibiotics. However, he remained positive that the work he had done in the Tour and the Giro would pay off. "I am in a preparation stage: I want to arrive at the Olympic road race gradually," he said.

What's up next for the Italian Olympic team? Paris-Brussels (Sep. 9), GP Fourmies (Sep. 10) and the Giro del Lazio (Sep. 16) before they fly out to Sydney.

The last race at Ordrup

By Tomas Nilsson, correspondent

Home rider Jakob Piil won the last sprint on the Ordrup velodrome in Copenhagen Sunday night, thus ending a 112 year epoch in Danish cycling. The 50 km Madison race "Derby of Nations" was won by Piil and Jimmi Madsen as pair no. seven ahead of Silvio Martinello and Marco Villa with Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart as third. Ordrupbanen started as a 333 metre sand track in 1888 that only six years later was replaced by a 370 metre concrete track with characteristic high bankings.

But results were not the most important thing this late summer's evening at the velodrome. Even the rain, an always unwanted but often appearing guest, wanted to say good bye so the final race had to be stopped for a little while as the slippery concrete dried up. In the future this won't by a problem when Ordrupbanen is succeeded by a 250 metre indoor velodrome at Ballerup, opening next summer. Who knows, maybe Marc Blauenfeldt will get even more applause there than he did today? The seven year old boy cashed in the first bend in the presentation lap and then abandoned the mini handicap after 100 metres with a broken chain. Keep the name in mind. There is a future for Danish track cycling. Indoors at Ballerup Super Arena.

Not only the present and future stars but also numerous riders from the past came to bid farewell: Axel Schandorff, Mogens Frey, Gunnar Asmussen, Niels Fredborg, Peder Pedersen, Hans Henrik Řrsted and Gert Frank all got their final applause from the crowd of 2000 people, as did old Dutch World Champion Jan Derksen to the tones of the song "Lange Jan fra Amsterdam".

Boscardin to retire

Swiss cyclist, Bruno Boscardin, currently riding for Post Swiss team, has announced his retirement at the end of this season. Boscardin, 30, has been professional for eight years and has ridden for Carrera, Gatorade, Polti, Festina and Post Swiss. He has won a total of eight races in his professional career, including stages in Paris-Nice and Setmana Catalana as well as winning the Tour du Haut Var in 1996 and the Tour du Lac Leman and GP Geneva in 1999. His best result this year was probably his second place in the Swiss national time trial championships