Edited by Jeff Jones
Two top tour riders who had no luck in 2001 due to team machinations will lead the Italian Lampre-Daikin squad in the major tours in 2002. Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas (ex-Fassa Bortolo) and Russian Pavel Tonkov (ex-Mercury) both rode for teams that did not allow them to reach their potential this year. Rumsas, who in 2000 finished fifth in the Vuelta España and won the Giro di Lombardia, was all set to ride at least one of the grand tours this year. Despite a second place finish in Paris-Nice, he was overlooked for the Giro d'Italia and then, surprisingly for the Tour de France.
"In Fassa Bortolo I did not have room and Ferretti (directeur sportif) does not favour the foreign riders," said Rumsas at Lampre's team presentation today in Lake Garda. "I, a Lithuanian, did not have the same treatment as the Italians."
Rumsas, who will turn 30 next January, started his professional career in 1996 with Polish team Mróz, gaining several successes in the smaller races before he transferred to Fassa Bortolo in 2000. Although he won less races that year, his performances in the classics and the Vuelta lifted him to 26th on the UCI rankings - he seemed certain to be given a proper leader's role in 2001.
That did not eventuate, and a promise to ride the Tour de France was not fulfilled. Instead, an injured Francesco Casagrande was put into the Tour squad after he missed his chance in the Giro following a crash in the first stage. Casagrande did not last the first week in the Tour, and Rumsas was left wondering what might have been.
Not for too long however, as he realised that he must focus on the next season, and getting a new team was a priority. "I will also aim for short stage races, like the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country before the tour. The classics? At the top of my objectives is Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This team already won it with Camenzind, history can repeat itself."
Pavel Tonkov is three years older than Rumsas, turning 33 in February. Although he is in the final years of his career, he thinks he can still be a protagonist in the big tours. In 1996 he won the Giro d'Italia, after an epic battle with Abraham Olano. He signed for Mapei and followed that up with two second placings in 1997 and 1998, then a fourth in the Vuelta España in 1999, and a fifth in the Giro and third in the Vuelta in 2000.
Unfortunately, his team for 2001 (Mercury) did not ride any of the major tours and Tonkov was left high and dry. In the second half of the year, he barely raced, in the meantime negotiating with various teams (iBanesto, Team Coast and Big Mat) for his signature in 2002. Tonkov eventually found a place in Lampre, his former team from the end of 1992 to 1995.
"Here I feel comfortable, with my family, and this is a great advantage. After the past four years with Mapei there was this terrible season with Mercury. It happens in this sport: if your team finishes, you are helpless, you lose your image, contracts, and confidence with the big teams."
He is now hoping to do something in the major tours in 2002, and believes that although he missed out completely on this season, he still has a good chance. "The basis of the result is the class and the personality of the athlete," he said. "I know the Giro will, I only hope I have the condition in order to fight to the end. I feel able to continue at a high level for about three years.
Tonkov will start his 2002 season with the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal from February 9-13.
The final of the SuperCup cyclo-cross series has been run in Baltimore USA today. The event held straight after the US Nationals was an opportunity to settle some scores for a number of riders. Alison Dunlap made it two wins for the weekend and the mens race was won by Jonathan Page. Page has spent the past season living in Switzerland and dueling with the European professionals. For full race results, report and photos.
After having decided to race another year in cyclo-cross, and then winning both events in Belgium on the weekend (GP Rouwmoer and the World Cup in Wortegem-Petegem), Mario De Clercq now has to choose which team he will race for next season. The former World Champion currently rides for Domo-Farm Frites, but he is said to be considering offers from other teams.
He has had offers from Flanders-Prefetex and Vlaanderen-T-Interim, but the most significant is from Collstrop-Palmans. De Clercq rode for Palmans between 1996 and 2000, and achieved some of his best results there, and it's highly likely that if he does change teams, then it will be to Collstrop-Palmans.
"On Thursday I paid a visit to Charles Palmans," said De Clercq. "Just a formality...I did not sign a contract. I want to give Patrick Lefevere a chance, because through my own stupid fault I gave Domo-Farm Frites problems."
"Because I said that I would stop after the World Championships (February 2002), Patrick did not take me into account, and he has 25 riders under contract for the next year. The limit of the UCI means that normally, there would be no more place for me at Domo-Farm Frites. Patrick is looking to see if he can find a solution. I want to know before the start in Wortegem-Petegem, because I don't want to keep Collstrop-Palmans waiting any longer."
Patrick Lefevere will have to pare his squad down to 25 by the end of next season, and may have to get an exemption from the UCI if he is to keep De Clercq until the 2003 World's. A decision about this by the UCI is not expected until after Christmas.
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
"The Maestro," Sean Kelly, was back to winning ways yesterday when he won an uphill sprint in Mothel close to Carrick in Co. Tipperary. The race was the annual Hamper Cycling Event, which has been part of the festivities leading up to Christmas for close on 30 years. This was Sean's 10th win in the event which has attracted cyclists from near and far over the years.
Click here for the full report and results
The UCI carried out blood testing for the first time this season before today's third round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in Wortegem-Petegem, Belgium. In the early hours of Sunday morning, 29 riders from Belgium, Slovakia, Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark were blood tested, but no-one had a hematocrit over the limit.
A couple of big names turned out for races in Australia over the weekend. Olympic Madison champion and Mapei road team member Scott McGory fronted for the St Kilda CC. McGory didn't ride, but helped with the prize-giving and entertained his club-mates with his tales of Six Day racing. McGory has had a very successful Six Day season winning the Six days of Zurich, and Mexico among others.
Over at the Randwick Botany club, Carlo Ghisolf a member of the 1956 Italian Olympic Cycling Team that competed in the Melbourne Olympics won the D Grade event.
The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) will award the best Spanish cyclists of the year at its annual general meeting next weekend. Those to be awarded include Alexander Valverde (RFEC U23 series winner), Antonio Hermida (MTB cross country), Oscar Sáiz (MTB downhill), Margarita Fullana and Josefina Soler (women's MTB). The meeting will take place in the polideportivo Cagigal de Madrid, and will include the usual AGM details (2001 reports, 2002 calendar).
What was the best performance of 2001? Who was the best rider? It's time for you, the readers of Cyclingnews, to tell us the stand-out riders, rides and equipment of the year.
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Major Races and Events
September 7-29, 2002: Vuelta a España (GT) - Preview, stage list
May 11-June 2, 2002: Giro d'Italia (GT) - Preview, stage list, photos
July 6-28, 2002: Tour de France (GT) - Full preview & official route details
December 8: Superprestige Rd 5 (Cat. 1) - Erwin Vervecken
November 29-December 4: Six Days of Noumea (6D) - Sassone/Neuville victorious
November 26-December 1: Six Days of Zurich (6D) - Day 6 - McGrory/Gilmore/Schnider win
December 1: Melbourne Cup on Wheels (IM) - Scott Moller, Keirin, Sprint, Support races
December 2: Cyclo-cross World Cup #2 (CDM) - Sven Nijs again
November 24-December 3: Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos (JR) - Final results
December 8-9: Frankfurter Rad-Cross (Cat. 2) - Alex Mudroch, UK National Trophy Series #4 (Cat. 3) - Roger Hammond, Grote Prijs Industrie Bosduin - Kalmthout (Cat. 1) - Bart Wellens, Int. Radquer Obergösgen (Cat. 2) - Björn Rondelez, Trofeo Mamma e Papa Guerciotti (Cat. 3) - Enrico Franzoi, Premio Egondo (Cat 3) - David Seco, Irish cyclo-cross championships - Robin Seymour
Results: local racing
Australia - CycleWest Promotions Omnium Series #2, Eastern Suburbs Summer Criterium Series, Carnegie Caulfield Tuesday criterium, Southern Cross Junior Track Open & Madison Cup, Manly Warringah CC, George Town Track Carnival, Carnegie Caulfield CC, Randwick Botany CC, Gold Coast CATS CC, Caesar's Illawarra CC, Caesar's Illawarra (track)
Denmark - Danish cyclo-cross Post Cup #3
Italy - Gran Premio Città di Bassano
Luxembourg - GP De Kopstal
New Zealand - Cyco Criterium series
Spain - Elorrio cyclo-cross
USA - Georgia Cross Series Championship, Chimborazo Grand Prix cyclo-cross, Boulder Cross Rd 6, New Mexico State Cyclo-x Champs, Sorrento Cyclo-x & California State Champ's, Boulder Cross Rd 5, Verge New England series, Northampton CC Cyclo-cross Championships, Chris Cross International CycloCross
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