News for February 16, 2001

Recent results and new features

Ricardo Ochoa killed

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Ricardo Ochoa
Photo: © AFP

Kelme rider Ricardo Ochoa (26) has been killed in a car accident in Malaga today. He and his twin brother Javier (a stage winner in the 2000 Tour de France) were training in Cártama, near Malaga when they were both hit by a car on the exit of freeway A-357. The first reports are that Ricardo is dead and Javier is in a coma, suffering from cranial trauma and various upper and lower body injuries.

Ricardo Ochoa turned professional in 1996 with ONCE, before changing to Kelme in 2000 after spending a year as an elite cyclist. His best result was 3rd in the 2000 GP Llodio, a year in which he also finished the Giro d'Italia and several classics. Ricardo joins Saúl Morales, Manuel Sanromá, José Antonio Espinosa, Mariano Rojas and Antonio Martin as Spanish professional cyclists who have been killed last decade.

Cut off controversy in Langkawi

By Mark Cassley-Sharon, correspondent
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Koerts hurts
Photo: © Mark Cassley-Sharon

While Paolo Lanfranchi winning his second stage in a row and seizing the leadership provided another day of joy for Mapei at the 2001 Tour de Langkawi, the topic dominating post race analysis right across the peloton was the elimination of 18 riders who finished outside the stage 9 cut-off time.

The reason is that this wasn't any old bunch of riders, but included Jan Koerts leader of the points competition, Gordon Fraser and Henk Vogels of Mercury. Enrico Degano of Panaria, Rene Haselbacher of Gerolsteiner. In addition Collstrop-Palmans lost three men, and Alexia Alluminio four!

The result is that there are now hardly any of the top sprinters left in the race - with two potential sprint finishes on the cards in the remaining three days - and many of the teams who dominated the race are down to four men or fewer from the original seven who started.

The cutoff time for the stage was 112% (3h55'50") of the winner's finishing time (3h30'34"). 17 riders, who arrived as a "gruppetto", finished between 27'59" and 28'7" (113.4%) behind Lanfranchi. Despite vigorous lobbying by Panaria, Mercury and Collstrop in full view of riders, which continued into the Hotel lobby two hours after the race, the Commissaires refused to budge from their decision to eliminate the riders, citing that the rules are clear and the elimination time clearly known.

The sentiment amongst teams affected by the decision is very different and can be summed up by the following comments made by Fraser, who has raced professionally since 1994, "The riders eliminated were mainly from teams were actually making a race of it. We went all out to take the race to the foot of the mountain and now I feel we are being penalized for making the effort. The 12% takes no account of the speed of the stage, which was very fast, and gave no cushion at all. The faster the stage the smaller the margin. Commissaires could have used discretion, but they are acting like rookie cops who think they have to be tough.

"Some will be saying that we were taking it easy, but sprinters can't be expected to give more than their all on this vicious climb. At any one time we had six or seven guys who were struggling and pro etiquette means we stay to help. The thing to remember is that the gruppetto went up this year faster than last year, but the margin is even smaller.

"Yeah, I and some of the other guys misjudged the pace, but we had guys in the group who were crying out for it to slow down. Extending the time cut would have been a good thing and a fair thing to do. There is a pride thing too. We got eliminated because of the extreme effort we put in, not because we were riding badly. Jans was even up the road defending his jersey! I will definitely be able to look anyone in the eye knowing I worked hard.

"Ironically the situation may make the race wide open. Mercury won't be there to chase the breaks down or pull the peloton to the line. Some of the other teams with sprinters still in the race are going to feel the heat now they have to do some work."

For Mercury Team Manager,Whitney Yost, this incident is proving to be a further test of character. The Tour de Langkawi is his first race as a team manager, and for arguably the youngest Manger of a Division one cycling team it is proving a baptism of fire. In the brief interlude between arguing his case with the commissaries and calling boss John Wordin to tell him the news, he had this to say, "The precedent being set is that they [the commissaries] want to eliminate riders who worked hard. The decision also highlights the difference between being an official and being a good official".

The result has polarized riders and race-observers, with many of the latter subscribing to the view that the rules are there for a reason and that the riders had their chances and blew it. The riders on the other hand say that, when you are soaked in sweat, exhausted, struggling up the world's steepest climb in full sun, the arguments are not so black and white.

Rights but no Tour for Channel 4?

British TV broadcaster Channel 4 may be forced to continue paying the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for the UK TV rights to the Tour de France, despite its decision to drop the race from its programme schedule.

The European rights for the Tour are held by the EBU who have paid for them up until 2004. Channel 4 has a four year contract with the EBU and will be obliged to meet it, whether the Tour airs or not. The only solution at this stage would be for Channel 4 to sub license its rights to another broadcaster in the UK, as Channel 4 is intending to broadcast the 'Ashes' cricket series in place of the Tour.

However both UK free-to-air broadcasters, BBC and Channel 5 have said that they are not interested in the rights, as the Tour clashes with the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Channel 4 will have to wear the cost, or the EBU will not be able to afford to pay the Société du Tour de France for the rights.

A spokesman for the EBU said that he would accept the rights being passed on to a non-member, and even to a pay-television broadcaster. It is understood that one pay TV broadcaster has shown interest in the rights, but would not be prepared to sub-license them from Channel 4. In addition, they would have to compete with Eurosport's live Tour coverage.

In 1999, nearly 1 million viewers had tuned into Channel 4's tour coverage, the only major road cycling event on British TV. In 2000 however, a change in programming left many viewers wondering when the Tour would be shown, as it was typically late in the evening. This was also the case in Australia, where Tour coverage was presented by SBS at irregular times, being based on Channel 4 coverage.

One less climb for Het Volk

March 3 is a date for Belgians to celebrate, as their first road race of the season, Omloop Het Volk will be held. Sponsored by the newspaper of the same name, this semi-classic is used by the pro's to prepare for the Spring Classics in April, in particular the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Unfortunately for die hards this year, there will only be 9 instead of 10 climbs in the race, because of roadworks in Michelbeke [note: roadworks in Belgium are almost as common as chocolate shops and cafés]. The works are in the centre of Michelbeke meaning that the riders won't be able to reach the Berendries. They can't be postponed either because otherwise the roads won't be ready in time for the 3 Days of de Panne and the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Therefore, the Molenberg will follow the Leberg this year, before the race heads to Lokeren for the finish.

Saeco want to keep momentum at Laigueglia

The first major Italian test of the season is the Trofeo Laigueglia, a UCI 1.3 event taking place on the Italian west coast. With their wins in the Tour Down Under and the GP Etruschi (not a UCI event), Saeco Macchine per Caffé are looking to continue their success in the early part of the season.

Directeur sportif Bruno Vicino will bring three star riders, Mirko Celestino, Laurent Dufaux and Paolo Savoldelli to Laigueglia next Tuesday (February 20). Celestino will be racing on home roads (he was born in Albenga, just 10 km from Laigueglia); Laurent Dufaux is looking for a win to dedicate to his daughter Ines who was born just ten days ago; and Paolo Savoldelli will be aiming to repeat his win of 1999 in this race.

But wait, there's more as Fabio Sacchi will also take up a position in the Saeco team for this race. Sacchi has started the season in the best possible fashion, with two stage wins in the TDU and the win in the GP degli Etruschi in Tuscany. He and the other three riders will be supported by Pavel Padrnos, Igor Pugaci, Oscar Cavagnis and Lithuanian neo-pro Marius Sabaliauskas.

A similar team will then participate in the new Italian race, Giro delle Riviera Ligure di Ponente from February 21-24. Celestino, Sacchi, Pugaci, Cavagnis and Sabaliauskas will be joined by Italian U23 champion Nicola Gavazzzi, Torsten Nitsche and Justin Spinelli in this race.

New McRae

Jennifer and Chann McRae have celebrated (we are told) a new addition to their family. Henna Alexi McRae was born on On February 13, 2001.

Mathew Hayman's big day out

Last week, young Australian pro Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) put over four minutes into a top class field in stage 2 of the Mallorca Challenge to win his first ever professional race. Although the Challenge is not classed as a UCI stage race (it consists of five separate one day races), there is an overall classification at the end which was also won by Hayman.

How did he pull off this unlikely coup? Mathew tells it in his own words, courtesy of Canberra CC newsletter guru, Mark Carter.

"I could tell you some story about how I thought about this attack and had it all calculated, or I could tell you the truth, which is: We rolled out of the start, it was really windy, a head wind. The guys on the front were just rolling along quite slowly. I saw Dekker put up his hand to call some riders to the front, I was down the back and wanted to move up anyway. So I rolled up. I said 'what's the story?'. He said 'attack'. I said 'yeah right!' He said, 'I will come out after you'. I went 'whatever'. He said something else jokingly and I thought, all right I will. So I put it in the 11 and went. I hit them and thought, shit nobody even moved a muscle. Even my teammates thought that I was going to go and relieve myself or pull in at the next service station as a joke.

No, I was gone. Now for the first 5 km there were a lot of things going though my mind, like how long was this stage? Just haw many climbs were there again? If I get in big trouble for this attack what is my excuse? (Blame it on Erik because he makes too many jokes anyway so I though this would teach him.)

First time check after about 5 km was three minutes, I thought that was pretty good. But they will probably react soon. I kept going into the head wind (for the next 30 km) and the lead just kept growing. It got out to about 20 minutes by the time I started the first climb of the day. It was hard to change from time trial mode to climbing. I focused on using small gears and keeping the fluids and food up.

I was nearing 100 km almost at the top of the second climb when Adri came up in the car. He said that I still had about 19 min and there was only 60 km to go. He said 'I don't think they will catch you, how are you feeling.' I told him that I was still fine. Got over the climb and if I remembered the profile of the stage it was all down hill and flat from here, How wrong could I be, there were a number of small climbs still to come and all but the last 10 km was crosswind.

People have asked me when did I know that I was going to win. I have always maintained that it wasn't 'til I went over the line, but when Adri came up beside me and said, when I was passing the 5 km to go sign, 'The bunch is just passing 10 kilometres to go.' I knew they couldn't get me now. (I was doing 50 km/h at this point and thought if they want to catch me they will have to do 100.)

It was a good great feeling crossing the line to win my first pro race. (Forgot to pull the jersey down so the sponsor's name could be read in the paper the next day. But I have to have something to improve on for next time).

FBD Milk Ras revealed

Ireland's premier stage race, the FBD Milk Ras will take place from May 20-27, and has been given UCI category 2.5 status this year. The race looks to be one of the toughest yet in its 48 year history and is 1,119 kilometres in total, taking in the first category climbs of Conor Pass, Ladies View, Molls Gap, Turners Rock, Corrabutt Gap, the Heights and Mount Leinster. With a longest stage distance of 184 kilometres the winner is sure to be a strong climber and a good all rounder.

The race has been sponsored by FBD Insurance and the National Dairy Council for the past 19 years, and they have made it possible, along with the Irish Sports Council, to increase the status of the event.

In a break from the traditional start in Dublin the race will begin its 8-day journey around Ireland from the heart of Meath cycling territory, the booming town of Navan. Stages 2 and 3 pay first time ever visits to Ballaghaderreen in County Roscommon and the Shannonside, Galway town of Portumna.

The huge, colourful spectacle will then move on to Castleisland, Killorglin, Skibbereen, Dungarvan with the stage into Bunclody having a real sting in the tail for the international field. Having crossed the finish line in the town the riders are faced with a 50 kilometres loop taking in six King of the Mountain climbs before the finish proper back in Bunclody, famed in the ballad, The Streams of Bunclody.

The stages

Stage 1 - May 20: Navan - Ballaghaderreen, 155 km
Stage 2 - May 21: Ballaghaderreen - Portumna, 131 km
Stage 3 - May 22: Nenagh - Castleisland, 184 km
Stage 4 - May 23: Castleisland - Killorglin, 119 km
Stage 5 - May 24: Killorglin - Skibberreen, 150 km
Stage 6 - May 25: Skibberreen - Dungarvan, 164 km
Stage 7 - May 26: Dungarvan - Bunclody, 171 km
Stage 8 - May 27: Dublin City Circuit, 45 km


KHS Bicycles and New Mexico Championship Cycling have combined to form Team, an elite level amateur cycling team based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sponsored by KHS Bicycles, the team will focus on regional stage and one-day races including the Tuscon Bicycle Classic, the Tour of the Gila, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Hotter than Hell for example. Additionally, team riders Doug Campbell and Alex Andel will focus on regional mountain bike competitions including Tour of Canyonlands, Iron Horse, and Chihuahuan Desert Classic. The team will also field a cyclocross lineup at Supercup and National Championship events.

In addition to Campbell and Andel, former Pan Am Games Champion Clay Moseley joins the team for 2001. Ken Zimmerman, 1999 30-34 year old Masters National Road Race Champion will continue with the squad. Other members include Todd Bauer, Stephen Knight-Williamson, Mike Hernandez, Jamie Ryan-White, Mike Hasselbeck and Brooke Cody.

Team riders will be outfitted with the new KHS Flite 2000 bike on the road and a softtail cyclocross bike during cross season. MTB'ers will ride either the Alite 4000 aluminum hartail or the Pro ST softtail model.

Sponsors other than KHS include Enterprise Builders Corporation, a New Mexico commercial construction firm, Argus Investment Realty,, Rudy Project, Velocity Rims, American Classic, Louis Garneau and AXO/Gaerne.

The team will focus efforts on promoting junior racing and development. In this vein, 3 promising young teenagers will join the squad and be linked with mentors on the team to help them develop as young cyclists.

Team Roster

Alex Andel (Director)
Todd Bauer
Doug Campbell
Brooke Cody
Mike Hasselbeck
Mike Hernandez
Stephen Knight-Williamson
Clay Moseley
Jamie Ryan-White
Ken Zimmerman


Stuart Knight-Williamson
Mike Neal
Chris Osburn


KHS Bicycles
Enterprise Builders Corporation
Argus Investment Realty
Rudy Project
Velocity Rims
American Classic

Montana Bill update and STTR team

The Montana Bike Bill HB 212 (proposing that cyclists ride against traffic when riding outside city limits) has been tabled in committee and will probably not be discussed again in the current legislative session. There were many strong points made against the bill at the meeting, but it has yet to be voted on.

According to cyclists lobby group Share The Roads Racing, the bill "was not intended to be anti-cycling", although its intentions may have not matched with the reality. The group has actually formed a US Elite team of its own, made up of Category 1 and 2 racers, as well as NORBA Expert and Semi-Pro MTB'ers. They will be racing in large regional road events in the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies, in addition to getting the "Share the Roads" message out.

Team Roster

Director: Cory Custer
Assistant: Pete Lacny (Cat. 3/Expert)

Joel Biederman (Cat. 2)
Tommy Bass (Cat. 1/Expert)
Owen Murphy (Cat. 2/Semi-Pro)
Jason Dykstra (Cat. 2)
Pete Vordenberg (Cat. 2)
John Yarington (Cat. 2)


Allied Land Title
Mike Herrick of Bozeman
First Interstate Bank
D.A. Davidson
AIM Funds
Chalet Sports (team shop)
Equipment: LeMond, Northwave, Limar, Biemme, Rudy Project, Kestrel, Extran, Pedros, Cateye,
American Classic, Chris King and Profile Design


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