News for April 26, 2001

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Amstel Gold Race news

The last of the World Cup races this spring is the Amstel Gold Race, held over an very challenging 254.6 kilometre parcours, containing 29 climbs. The race has been altered somewhat this year due to the Foot and Mouth crisis, but the organisers have rerouted it so that there is minimal contact with any affected areas.

The alteration will change the face of the race, as the riders have to negotiate the tough Cauberg three times during the race, the last at 16 kilometres to go. This hill could cause more of a selection than in previous years, with a small group going away over the top.

Den Hartog: Fastest average

The fastest ever edition of the Amstel Gold Race was in 1967, when Arie den Hartog averaged 43.917 km/h to win the 213 kilometre event. After the parcours was lengthened, Italian Stefano Zanini and Dane Bjarne Riis, recorded the next fastest average speeds.

Amstel Gold Race record averages

1 Den Hartog (Ned, 1967) 43.917 km/h
2 Zanini (Ita, 1996) 42.688 km/h
3 Riis (Den, 1997) 41.851 km/h
4 Steevens (Ned, 1968) 41.704 km/h
5 Raas (Ned, 1980) 41.457 km/h

Zoetemelk: Most finishes

The most number of times that anyone has finished the Amstel Gold Race is 14, by Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk, who holds similar records in other races. In 1987, 40 year old Zoetemelk won the race on his last ride in it. Zoetemelk's record can be equalled on Saturday by Swiss rider Mauro Gianetti, who has finished 13 times.

Most finshes in AGR

1 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 14
2 Mauro Gianetti (Wwi), Hennie Kuiper (Ned) 13

"Tour de New York"

This is the unofficial name for a new 100 kilometre race to be held in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, August 4, a week after most American cycling fans will have watched the finish of the Tour de France with bated breath. It's official title is the New York City Professional Cycling Championship, and it will feature 72 of America's top ranked pro cyclists, including two-time (and perhaps three) winner, Lance Armstrong.

The 1.6 kilometre circuit will take in some of the city's best known landmarks, stretching along Water Street between Whitehall Street and John Street. The race should be spectacular, fast and thrilling, as criteriums of this type are designed with the spectator in mind.

"As the world capital of sports and a city that is making a strong bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, New York City is the right choice to host the first annual Professional Cycling Championship with Olympic great Lance Armstrong," said Cristyne L. Nicholas, President and CEO of NYC & Co., the City's tourism marketing organization.

Event proceeds will go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center - the world's oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer.

David Chauner, president and CEO of Threshold Sports, the event organizer, and a former US Olympic cyclist, said, "It is an honour to work with Mayor Giuliani, Lance Armstrong and other top-ranked cyclists to bring this exhilarating sport to this great city."

Lance Armstrong said, "It is a real thrill for me to be able to compete in front of an audience of American fans in the greatest city in the world. I am excited that New York City is enthusiastically welcoming professional cycling."

New York's cycling heritage has many highlights, such as the grueling six-day cycle races that began in the old Madison Square Garden in 1891; the creation of the Century Road Club Association in 1898; the great races in the New York Velodrome in the 1920's; and the development of 1904 Olympic Gold Medallist Marcus Hurley, and Olympians Joseph Kopsky ('12), Jack Heid ('48), Herbie Francis ('60), Arnie Uhrlass ('64), Oliver Martin ('68), Nelson Vales ('84), Mike McCarthy ('88) and George Hincapie ('92, '96).

42nd GP de Denain: Leoni to defend trophy

A day after his victory in the 89th Grote Scheldeprijs in Schoten, near Antwerp, Italian sprinter Endrio Leoni (Alessio) will go to France to try and defend his title in the 42nd GP de Denain, part of the Coupe de France.

21 teams and 168 riders are on the start list for the 190.6 kilometre race, including Scheldprijs runner up Jeroen Blijlevens (Lotto), along with Jans Koerts (Mercury), Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), Jo Planckaert (Cofidis), Gianluca Bortolami (Tacconi), Fabio Fontanelli (Mercatone), Pascal Hervé (Alexia), Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) and Florent Brard (Festina).

54th Peace Race/Course de la Paix

By Daniel Marszalek

This year's 54th edition of the Peace Race has been upgraded again by the UCI, and it is now a 2.3 category stage race. It will be held between May 11-19, and will for the first time start in Poland's second biggest city - Lodz. The race will consist of 10 stages, with two half stages on the penultimate day and it will be 1610.7 kilometres long.

First two stages are relatively flat, with the mountains starting on third day. The hardest stages are expected to be stage 4 to Olomuniec with five mountain sprints (GPM's), including the 1280 m climb of Mravenecnik - the highest point of the race; and stage 7 to Zwickau, over 200 km long with no less than seven GPM's. After these "attractions" there is still a 25.8 km time trial to decide the race outcome (Stage 8a).

Whether they will be the decisive moments of the race, no one can guarantee, since the 53rd edition was won (by Piotr Wadecki and Piotr Przydzial) on relatively easy and short morning half-stages, just before the ITT. After that, pre-race favourite Steffen Wesemann from Telekom, although at peak form, could do nothing more than jump to third position overall.

After the race's upgrading to 2.3 category, the provisional starting list includes 22 teams, with 6 teams from Division I (Domo-Farm Frites with Piotr Wadecki and Tomas Konecny, Telekom with possibly four time winner Wesemann, Mapei, Team Coast, CSC-World Online and Festina), 14 teams from Division II and III and two U-23 national teams from Germany and the Czech Republic. These young riders also can't be underestimated , after 20 year old Torsten Heickmann, who is now with the "mighty" Telekom team, was 4th overall last year).

The main sponsor of the Peace Race is German dairy company, Milram, which also sponsored it last year. The overall winner will get DM 13,000 prize money, while the total prize pool is DM 180,320.

The Stages

  • Stage 1 - May 11: Lodz-Lodz, 141.6 km
  • Stage 2 - May 12: Pabianice - Czestochowa, 177.6 km
  • Stage 3 - May 13: Kluczbork - Kudowa Zdroj, 196 km
  • Stage 4 - May 14: Bystrzyca Klodzka - Olomuniec (Cze), 194.8 km
  • Stage 5 - May 15: Olomuniec - Idar nad Sazavou, 168.2 km
  • Stage 6 - May 16: Idar nad Sazavou - Pilzno, 234.5 km
  • Stage 7 - May 17: Pilzno - Zwickau (Ger), 209.2 km
  • Stage 8a - May 18: Greiz - Plauen ITT, 25.8 km
  • Stage 8b - May 18: Plauen - Gera, 97 km
  • Stage 9 - May 19: Schkeuditz - Potsdam, 166 km

Olympia's Tour cancelled

The anticipated 50th edition of the Olympia's Tour in the Netherlands will not go ahead, due to the Foot and Mouth situation that has forced the cancellation of many cycling races in The Netherlands, France, and Great Britain. The 2.5 category event starting on May 19 is aimed at U23 riders, but this year they will not be allowed to race.

"For the last 7 days, we have spoken about the options," said organiser Wim van Drunen. "From the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to the provinces and municipalities. We had to inquire about all the places that we passed through. The outcome was that it was better that we did not hold the race."

Van Drunen also had problems in securing a sponsor for this year, but he is optimistic about 2002: "We are negotiating with a sponsor for the next three years," he said. "We have practically got all the finishing sites secured for next year. I am sure that we will hold number 50 in 2002."

Three Peaks in doubt

The 41st edition of Britain's best known cyclocross race, the Three Peaks Cyclocross Race, scheduled for Sunday, September 30, could be a further victim of the ongoing Foot and Mouth crisis according to the British Cycling Federation.

Although over five months away, the event runs through open moor and farmland in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, an area likely to be amongst the last to see restrictions lifted, even after the outbreak has been declared as officially over.

Organiser John Rawnsley said: "This weekend's fell-running version of the race has been postponed until 9th September, but even that must be regarded as provisional given the current circumstances. For the cyclo-cross we rely tremendously on the goodwill of a variety of landowners, and I wouldn't want to abuse that goodwill by going ahead prematurely and jeopardising the viability of future editions of the race."

A decision will be made in June whether to cancel the 2001 race or to continue to accept entries in the hope that all will be clear by September. If the latter option is chosen then entry cheques will be returned if the race does not go ahead.

The Three Peaks cyclocross has run annually and uninterrupted since 1961, and last year celebrated its 40th edition with over 300 entrants. John Rawnsley holds the unique record of having both organised and successfully completed every edition of the race.

Five arrested in doping investigation

Five people involved in the cycling world have been arrested in Antwerp today, after they were found to be in possession of forbidden doping products. The case began last October when former racer Ronny Vansweevelt was found by the police to have taken amphetamines and other doping substances.

After house searches in Antwerp, Oost-Vlaanderen and Limburg, police arrested more people within the framework of the investigation, and these were also associated with cycling, possibly former riders and soigneurs.

Stephens joins Bikestyle/Cyclingnews TdF trip

Seven-times Tour de France veteran and legendary super-domestique Neil Stephens will be an added attraction on Bikestyle's Tour de France cycling trip this July. The Tour stage winner will accompany the trip and provide a unique insight into the workings of the world's greatest sporting event. The former ONCE and Festina pro will will be riding with the group, an added incentive to make sure you're fit for the trip. More details here.

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