News for January 19, 2001

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JCTDU news

Saeco start well
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Cracks appear
Photo: © CN/JDW

Team Saeco Macchine per Caffé has made a strong impression on the JCTDU so far, winning both road stages and being placed second and third overall in the general classification. Galletti's win in yesterday's 165 km headwind slog from McLaren Vale to Victor Harbor was a result of director, Antonio Salutini's tactics:

"Australians are further ahead physically than us, so we couldn't control the race in order to defend Sacchi's yellow jersey. We then decided to get through the breakaways and Alessio did it the best way!"

Galletti escaped only after 9 kilometres with Australian Steve Cunningham and the pair gained a maximum advantage of over 15 minutes before Galletti rode away from Cunningham with 70 kilometres to go. He finished 3.18 ahead of the bunch, calling it "an immense satisfaction...I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all those green-white-red flags on the finish line."

He was commenting on the many Italian immigrants who were on the finish line to support their riders. The Italians aren't the only people who are out to cheer the race on. Across the fairly barren Fleurieu Peninsula yesterday, it seemed as though wherever there was the slightest hint of population, they were out in support of the race, enjoying the hell out of it. This is certainly a big event for South Australia.

Lotto sick

As the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under reached its halfway point in Victor Harbor yesterday, there were already some riders who were feeling the effects of either too little or too much early season racing. The Lotto team has been hit by a virus, forcing the withdrawal of Jeroen Blijlevens and Nico Eeckhout.

For Blijlevens it was a particularly hard blow, as he will have to serve a one month suspension beginning in February. A win, or at least some quality racing miles, would have been a more auspicious start for 2001. Kurt Van Lanker is also infected, with headaches and pains in his legs. It is not sure whether he will start in today's stage 4.

Verbruggen talks
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Hein Verbruggen
Photo: © CN/JJ

Prior to the start of stage 3 yesterday, UCI president Hein Verbruggen spared some time for to give his comments on the race, the first time that he has seen it. He said that he was "very impressed with the Tour Down Under. The organisation is better than a lot of the big European races, and the promotion by the government is excellent...I should have come here earlier."

Verbruggen was adamant that the only place on the calendar for the race was in January, as the UCI wished to see more races in the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year.

Today's stage

Stage 4 will take the riders on a 157 kilometre journey from Unley, just outside of Adelaide, to Strathalbyn. The main climb of the day is Old Willunga Hill (km 73), and we should see an aggressive stage. The heat could be a crucial factor though: a maximum of 39 degrees is predicted for Adelaide and surrounds (issued at 5:30am this morning) and this is sure to add to the suffering.

Of course, you can follow the stage live from your desktop via's 10-15 minute live updates - don't miss a thing!

2002 Luxembourg Tour start confirmed

The 2002 Tour de France will start in Luxembourg. It will the second time in its history that the Tour has started in the tiny country that snuggles into the corner of the borders of France, Germany and Belgium. The Tour visited Luxembourg during the famous 1989 edition in which Pedro Delgado was late for the prologue and Greg Lemond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds. Three years later in 1992 it was the scene of Miguel Indurain's punishing victory in the time trial, that secured him the whole Tour.

In an agreement signed Thursday between the Societé du Tour de France and the city of Luxembourg, Luxembourg will stage both the 6.5km prologue on July 7 and the 195km first stage. The remainder of the route is yet to be announced, but it would be very straightforward for the race to detour into Germany. Luxembourger Charly Gaul, winner of the 1958 Tour, was in attendance for the signing ceremony.

Ullrich's training plans stolen

A bag belonging to Jan Ullrich's personal coach Peter Becker was stolen from the Telekom training camp in Majorca on Wednesday. The bag contained the Telekom team leader's personal training plans as well as some valuable items of Becker's.

Becker had briefly left the bag at the side of the road while he waited for a Telekom team vehicle. "I just hope the training plans don't fall into the hands of the competition," Becker said. "The rest of the things that were in the bag are not so important."

Thijs hopes

Erwin Thijs was given a three month suspension after high levels of caffeine were found in his urine during the Belgian Championships last year. His new team, Lotto-Adecco, immediately fired him and he has yet to find a new team.

However, Thijs doesn't believe he was guilty. "The caffeine level was only just over the limit. I was taking a product for bronchitis that contained caffeine. I am waiting for the decision of the disciplinary commission, but I may have to take it to the State Council."

St Helens track carnival preview

Tasmania's track cycling summer series looms to a close this weekend with the 48th annual running of the St Helens Athletic Club Carnival. Many of Tasmania's cyclists, runners and axemen treat the carnival as an end-of-season jaunt, but the reality is, there is almost $10,000 in prizemoney on offer.

For the cyclists, the main event is the $1200 Trevor Richards Memorial St Helens Wheelrace. To be raced over 2000 m, the St Helens Wheel has attracted 54 senior cyclists, including Tasmanian scratchmen Darren Young, Nathan Clarke and Gareth Atkins. However there is serious doubt as to whether Young or Clarke will be able to make the trip to St Helens.

Young has work commitments in Melbourne and Clarke is currently competing in the Oceania Games in Sydney and may be unable to organise connecting flights to Launceston, which therefore will enable him to get to St Helens in time for carnival start time.

If Young and Clarke don't make, that would leave Atkins - the former Launceston and dual Rosebery Wheel winner - stranded on scratch and almost certainly without any reasonable chance of victory in the 2000 m St Helens Wheel. With only Swiss rider Franco Marvulli (30 m), Stephen Rossendell (40 m), John Abblitt (50) and recently crowned Launceston Wheel champ Caleb Manion (70 m) the only other "recognised" riders behind 100 m, victory in St Helens is therefore likely to go the front markers.

With that in mind, the main chances could be Brendon Geale (110 m), veteran Laurie Venn (130 m), youngster Mark Jamieson (90 m), or promising Devonport duo Shawn Denney (190 m) and Simon Elliott (200 m) to greet the judge for the $800 first prize spoils.

The St Helens Athletic Club have also included a 1000 m Lightning Handicap, scratch races and invitational events for all senior riders, while there will also be handicap and scratch races for Tasmania's promising junior cyclists. Starring in junior ranks at the moment are Brett Schnitzerling, Natasha Mapley, Jarrod Harman, Carrie Douglas, John Rayner, Adam Mapley-Morris, Ben Fielding, Carrie Price, Ben Laskey and Matthew Bonham.

Tasmania's next major track cycling carnival will be held in Devonport on January 26 and hosted by the Mersey Valley - Devonport Cycling Club.

Report by Rod Morris/Morris Media

Luxembourg World's team

Four riders will represent Luxembourg in the World Cyclocross Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic on Febreuary 4, 2001.

Elite men: Pascal Triebel
Espoirs: Gusty Bausch, Steve Fogen
Juniors: Marc Ernster

Budget boost for Rabobank

Sponsor Rabobank has decided to spend around 3 million guilders (US$1.3 million) more on its team in 2002 and 2003. The decision was made in late 1999, so it was not possible for the extra funding to be made available for the 2001 season.

Rabobank directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen: "I hope everybody doesn't expect the same results from us in 2001 as in previous years. We lost riders like Leon van Bon, Rolf Sörensen and Niki Aebersold. Objectively our team is weaker, especially in the cobblestone-classics. But with Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Maarten den Bakker, Marc Wauters and the brothers Zberg we can do a lot in the coming season too."

Two years ago Rabobank had the World Cup champion and was second in the UCI rankings, but this year the emphasis is different. "You can't expect that from us this season. We chose younger riders and now we really hope they will develop."

For the last five years Rabobank hasn't developed any espoir talent, but new riders like Karsten Kroon, Addy Engels, Bram de Groot and Matthé Pronk will be in the picture in the coming months. "We expect results from these guys now," van Houwelingen confirms. "They have had two or three years on the pro circuit, so now they have to show themselves in the finals. When you are 25 or 26, your time comes."

Michael Boogerd is still the real leader in the training campaign. "I'm still leading the training sessions. I had a good winter. Next week we will do an intensive training camp in Italy."

Erik Dekker can't follow the top eight and trains in 'group two'. But he's not panicking. "I have trained more up to now than last year. I will be there in February. I can say all successes of last year were lucky ones [three stages in the Tour de France, the San Sebastian world cup and the Ronde van Nederland], but facts don't lie. In Milan-San Remo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Luik-Bastenaken-Luik and the Amstel Gold Race I will play a big role in the race. I know I'm healthy and that is the only thing which counts. So I don't care that I can't follow the best in our training camps at the moment."

Mercury-Viatel training camp

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Mercury train
Photo: © Speedplay

The Mercury machine finally got out on the roads of Woodland Hills, CA as the women's squad, the junior and under 23 riders from the development program combined with the men's professional squad in a monster training group. The riders trained for 95 kilometres along the Pacific Coast Highway, giving the juniors and U23's ample opportunity to talk to experienced pro's, Peter van Petegem and Leon van Bon.

The training camp will end on January 24, with more riding, physiological testing and photo sessions being planned.

Mercury Tour cancelled for 2001

The National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) announced on Thursday that the Mercury Tour will not take place in 2001. The year 2000 marked the end of the Mercury Tour's four-year corporate sponsorship contracts, but NORBA has been unable to secure sponsorship in time to plan or execute the event in 2001. The August 31 deadline for placement on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) race calendar was also a factor.

NORBA Managing Director Leslie Klein emphasized a mountain bike stage race is not off the calendar forever. "NORBA would very much like to hold a UCI calendar stage race in the United States. One of NORBA's goals for 2001 is to secure the sponsorship necessary to host one in 2002," Klein said. "We know the race has been a highlight for many professional teams and racers, and we hope to relaunch an event of this caliber."

Klein expressed NORBA's appreciation for the hard work and support of those involved with the Mercury Tour: race organizer Len Pettyjohn, title sponsor Mercury, presenting sponsor and broadcast partner Outdoor Life Network and venue host Steamboat Springs Ski Resort.

SIME confident of UCI leniency

Despite missing the December 12 cut-off for UCI team registrations, it may not be all over for the Spanish SIME squad. SIME manager Vicente Martinez says he is confident that the Executive Committee of the UCI will approve the registration of his team, which was delayed by the late signing of its major sponsor. "Certainly there are deadlines for these things," he said" but when the result would be good for cycling, I believe they are not so strict."

The committee of the UCI meets today or tomorrow to consider SIME's case, which is that the sponsor was unable to sign until the end of the year, and Martinez did not want to find himself with a registered team but no sponsor if the deal fell through. If the UCI refuses to recognise the team, the project will simply be put on hold for a year, though that means some riders would probably leave the team, but Martinez is calm at the prospect.

Bayes confirms change to Nettisport-UC Ibérica

The new Portuguese team, Nettisport-UC Ibérica, will contain five Spaniards who were professional last year. Daniel Bayes, Óscar López Uriarte (Benfica), Jose Manuel Uria Gonzalez (Polti), Álvaro Forner (Kelme) and Ginés Salmerón (Jazztel).

With other riders such as Joaquim Andrade, Joaquim Gomes and Quintino Rodrigues, the team should be strong within Portuguese cycling, and the sponsors have committed for the next three years.

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