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News for February 3, 2001
Hope Fading For Power And Scanlon
Ireland's former McCartney riders face return to amateur ranks
Just over one week after the unexpected collapse of the Linda McCartney team, two of Irish cycling's most promising young riders remain in limbo. 24 year old Ciaran Power and 20 year old former world junior champion Mark Scanlon had travelled to London last week for Friday's scheduled team launch; now, the two are back at their respective bases in Toulouse and Sligo contemplating the bleak probability that they will have to return to the amateur ranks this season.
For Power, the prospect is an especially heartbreaking one. A fifth and a sixth place finish on stages of last year's Giro marked an encouraging debut for the tactically astute, fast finishing rider from Waterford, Ireland. His three top ten placings and 23rd place overall in the season-opening Tour Down Under suggested that even better things lay in store in 2001. At the time, Power was frank that his best form was still months away; if he doesn't secure a contract soon, he may never make the most of all the winter's hard work.
1998 junior world champion Mark Scanlon is similarly disappointed, but he has the small consolation that his 20 years give him greater room for manoeuvre. Two stage wins and the points jersey in the Tour of Hokkaido last year showed that he had reclaimed his speed after an injury-affected 1999, yet now the rider regarded as the most promising Irishman since Roche and Kelly is also left picking up the pieces of the McCartney debacle.
Time drags on. Their agent Frank Quinn continues to woo professional teams on their behalf, but each passing day casts a further shadow on their hopes. "We are still trying to get Ciaran and Mark a slot with a team, but time is certainly running out," the Dubliner admits. "We just have to keep plugging away -- the next few days will be crucial."
Other riders have faced similar problems: British champion John Tanner is reportedly going back to his former ProVision team, with an official announcement expected in the next few days. Spanish riders Juan Carlos Dominguez, Iñigo Cuesta and Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero are in negotiations with Banesto, ONCE and Mercatone Uno respectively.
Courtesy of Shane Stokes, The Irish Times (www.ireland.com)
Cross World's snippets
The world cyclo-cross championships roll out today in Tabor, 90km south of Prague in the Czech Republic. The women's race is scheduled for 11:00 Central European Time and the Espoirs event at 14:00. Sunday sees the same time slots occupied by the juniors and Elite men respectively.
The 2.85 km (1.8 mile) course is reported to be snow-covered. It includes 1.8km of grass and 520m of asphalt, with four descents and 150m of running.
The Swiss team in Tabor is looking unusually depleted, with just three riders, the smallest ever from the traditional cross stronghold. Only Roland Schätti, Alexandre Moos and Jan Ramsauer will fly the red cross; Beat Wabel is injured and other riders are ill or not in a good shape. Thomas Frischknecht, the 1991 world champion, is concentrating on preparation for the mountain bike season.
Some good news from Tabor on the anti-doping front. The medical committee of the UCI checked 36 riders (from Spain, Italy, Slovakia, France, Japan and USA) on Friday. No one had a too high haematocrit level.
Erwin Vervecken fell during training on the Tabor parcours and sustained a minor injury to his left knee. He will start the race, but isn't in a 100 per cent shape.
Lotto plan for Bessèges, Ruta del Sol and Laigueglia
Lotto directeur sportif, Jef Braeckevelt will take Andrei Tchmil, Hans De Clercq, Fabien De Waele, Nico Eeckhout, Thierry Marichal, Guennadi Mikhailov, Hendrik Van Dijck and Paul Van Hyfte for the GP La Marseillaise that starts the racing season in France on Tuesday, February 6.
The same eight riders will start on Wednesday in the Etoile de Bessèges, and then Claude Criquielion will take them to the Ruta del Sol (February 18-22), with one change: Rik Verbrugghe instead of Paul Van Hyfte.
Walter Planckaert will take a different team to Italy: Jeroen Blijlevens, Gorik Gardeyn, Roel Paulissen, Kurt Van De Wauwer, Fulco Van Gulik, Wesley Van Speybroeck and newcomer Tayeb Braikia. One of the races that they will start is the Trofeo Laigueglia (February 20).
Memory Card goes bankrupt
Former Danish cycling team sponsor, Memory Card Technology, has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the continued downward spiral of DRAM chip prices. Talks last weekend with investors failed to provide a solution to the company's problems, which arose after poor sales forecasts of its DRAM chips.
The company, which has outlets in Australia, Europe and the USA, expected to record a loss of 195 million kroner ($US 24.1 million) for the last financial year. It withdrew from cycling sponsorship late last year when it realised that fabulous profits were not on the horizon. However Bjarne Riis, the incumbent team manager, managed to negotiate new sponsorship deals with IT consultants, CSC and Internet provider, World Online.
Magné appointed to head World Cycling Center
Recently retired French track rider Frederick Magné has been appointed head of the UCI's World Cycling Center which is due to open in Aigle, Switzerland. Magné won the world kierin championships last year and will start the job October 1.
Future World's venues
The UCI has announced that the 2004 cyclo-cross world's will be held in the French town of Pontchateau; and the 2005 in St Wendel, Germany. Pontchateau previously organised the world's in 1997. The 2002 cross world's will be in Zolder, Belgium next year and in Monopoli, Italy in 2003.
The UCI decided on Friday that Copenhagen will be the host of the track world championships in 2002.
Larsen's 2001 sponsors
NORBA national champion Steve Larsen will continue to be a one man band in 2001, with help from a long list of sponsors, chiefly LL Bean, his main sponsor from last year. New on the Larsen jersey for this season is Stairmaster, which Larson says is a valuable cross-training aid.
The NORBA series will once again be Larson's principal target for the season, and he will also compete in the XTERRA mountain bike biathlon series.
Thos Steve Larsen sponsors in full
Back in the dark days of the Soviet Empire being sent down a salt mine was a feared punishment for subversive elements who had the temerity to challenge the system. Criticise Brezhnev's tie, or suggest that maybe cabbage wasn't something you wanted to eat seven days a week, and boom, you found yourself deep underground hacking seasoning out of the rock.
We don't know if the salt mine at Sonderhausen, Germany ever played host to dissidents, but we do know it's a damn unpleasant-sounding place: hot, dry, dark and salty. Not a great venue for a downhill mountain bike race, you'd think.
We'll find out next weekend when Red Bull's Race Down to the Middle of the Earth invites 24 of the world's best mountain bikers to race over a 1.5km course with 200m of vertical drop. Just to make it interesting, it's a head-to-head format with only the trickier parts of the course illuminated. And as if that's not bad enough the mine's galleries meet at 90 degree turns, there are 25 per cent grades between horizontal sections and the surfaces vary from loose rock salt to glass smooth.
The organisers invited a selection of the world's best downhillers to take part, and 16 men and 8 women were foolhardy, er, brave enough to accept. Leigh Donovan's mechanic and webmaster Stikman will be there and covering it for Cyclingnews, though how much the Stik's camera will be able to record remains to be seen. You can get a bit of a taste at the event's web site here.
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