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News for May 2, 2001
Tour Teams: Today is D-Day
Well not quite, but the announcement of the final four wild cards for the Tour de France at 11am in Paris today will have great significance for some of the teams who need the exposure if they are to grow (or even survive) into next year. For other squads - in particular the Italian ones - it will not have as much affect, although the Italian press are already wondering what to do should Mercatone Uno and Marco Pantani not be selected.
That is a likely scenario at the moment, given the team's unwanted profile in the Italian courts this year. The only thing that will get them in is Marco Pantani's popularity in the race, and the fact that he won it in 1998.
Unfortunately, Pantani's early season has been only slightly better than Laurent Jalabert, whose CSC-WorldOnline team is a strong chance for selection tomorrow. Yesterday, Pantani finished over 6 minutes behind Francesco Casagrande in the first stage of the Giro del Trentino, and important lead up race for the Giro d'Italia in 18 days time. Pantani was also a little off the pace in stage 2, but he will at least have more racing in his legs before the Giro than last year.
Pantani and his directeur sportif Guisseppe Martinelli are approaching the decision tomorrow with serenity, as whatever happens, Pantani will be riding in two Grand Tours this year. If the Tour invitation is refused, then there is the Vuelta a España. "But I believe that a cyclist cannot be judged on his state of form in April," said Martinelli to La Gazzetta dello Sport today.
"I believe we have given a lot to the Tour, and obviously we would be sorry not to be there."
As far as Pantani is concerned, the Tour de France organisation will have to determine what at level of form he will be in July, and whether he can still turn it on. If he stays free of injury and sickness, then it's a good bet that he will be in form. His record in the Tour is: 5 starts, 1 win, two 3rds, and 10 stage wins.
Last year, fans were thrilled when Pantani went wheel to wheel with Lance Armstrong on Mt Ventoux, beating him in a controversial finish. He then proved himself on the stage to Courchevel where he won in typical Pantani style, before abandoning shortly afterwards.
Sixteen teams are already in the Tour, while there are another twelve battling for four places. As reported yesterday, nothing has been finalised, although there are good indications that Lotto, CSC and La Francaise des Jeux will take three of the spots. If that is the case, then Mercatone Uno has some serious competition for the last position. Euskaltel, Mercury, and Saeco all have strong cases for selection, and there will be some nervous team directors at around 1100 tomorrow, European time (watch this space for the early announcement).
After the initial announcement, cyclingnews will publish a full analysis of the final Tour teams selection.
Ullrich signs until 2003
Jan Ullrich has officially extended his contract with the Deutsche Telekom team until the end of 2003, it was announced on Monday evening in Frankfurt. The current Olympic Road Race Champion ended any speculation that he might ride for another team with the two year contractual extension, with the option to continue after that.
His manager, Wolfgang Strohband, did not reveal what the contract was worth, but it is rumoured to be at least DM5 million ($US 2.5 million). "I forget the numbers, but we made a reciprocally fair contract," he said. Ullrich also had serious offers from three other teams, but chose to stay with the team he knows so well.
"We are as one...the conditions in the team are optimal," said Ullrich at a press conference on Monday night, the day before the Rund um den Henninger Turm. So far, Ullrich has ridden for Telekom since the beginning of 1995, his entire professional career.
"I think that I can still celebrate some big victories with this team," added the 1997 Tour de France winner, who aims to repeat that feat this July.
There are no doubts about the fitness of his main rival in that event, Lance Armstrong, who finished second in the Amstel Gold Race on Saturday behind Erik Dekker. "Hats off to Armstrong, I congratulate him," said Ullrich. "His second place in Amstel Gold did not surprise me. I already knew that he was in good form."
Ullrich's palmares also include two World Championships (Amateur Road Race, Professional Time Trial) and the Vuelta a España. He will ride the Giro d'Italia for the first time this year, but not with the intention of winning it. His fitness as the moment has "somewhat stagnated" but he has ridden "far more kilometres" this year, and remained free from sickness.
Unfortunately for his German fans, that means that he will not ride in the Tour of Germany, that runs from May 29-June 4. One of the organisers of that race, Christian Toetzke, said that "it would be a PR debacle in Italy if Ullrich rides in the gruppetto," meaning that he had better perform in the Giro.
... and Armstrong until 2004
In case you missed it, part of the deal whereby the US Postal Service will support the team for the next three years is that Lance Armstrong will remain on board, also until the end of 2004. More to follow.
Garzelli checks out the Giro time trial
Defending Giro d'Italia champion, Stefano Garzelli (now riding with Mapei) took some time out last weekend to inspect the parcours of the 55 kilometre individual time trial in the Giro. The stage between Sirmone and Salo is "complicated" according to Garzelli, and it will be one of the key stages of the Giro.
Frank Vandenbroucke sick
Frank Vandenbroucke did not start in todays Rund um de Henninger Turm. Yesterday when he arrived at the hotel in Frankfurt, he had a temperature of 38°, probably caused by the bad weather conditions and the cold temperature during the opening of the Amstel Gold Race. VDB is now on a course of anti-biotics, and if he recovers normally he will race again this Saturday in the GP Larciano or on Sunday in the Giro di Toscana.
Oscar Camenzind also did not start today due to 'flu.
Wauters comes back
Belgian Marc Wauters (Rabobank) will make his return to racing this weekend in Keulen, after breaking his collarbone in a crash at the end of Milan-San Remo. He is disappointed at missing the spring World Cup season, but is looking at is positively. "Maybe I'll have more reserves for the Tour de France," he said.
His upcoming program will include the Four Days of Dunkirk, Midi Libre, Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.
Eugene Celebration Cycling Classic
The Eugene Celebration Cycling Classic, scheduled for September 15-16 this, is one of Oregon's biggest bike races and marks the close of the Oregon cycling season. Race director Jim Anderson has been at the helm for the last two years, and has increased the scope of the event for 2001.
There will be more prizemoney, a different parcours, and the race will be integrated into the Eugene Celebration, which is held in September. This will be facilitated via a management contract with the Downtown Events Management, Inc. (DEMI), who produce the Eugene Celebration.
"This race is one of the top three races in Oregon and Jim does a great job representing the cycling community as well as the festival interests," said Steven Remington, DEMI President.
USA Cycling will not appeal Earnest ruling
The USA Cycling Board Directors have endorsed a recommendation by USA Cycling President Michael Plant and USA Cycling Chief Executive Officer Lisa Voight, not to file any further appeals in the Earnest, et al vs USA Cycling, Inc., et al lawsuit.
The U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution in support of the USAC Board of Directors decision.
In the lawsuit, past USCF Board of Trustee member Les Earnest and co-plaintiffs Mark Estes and Tim Quigley challenged changes to USA Cycling bylaws passed under emergency declaration in February 1999.
"As I understand it, the complaint was with the process by which the board effected the changes, not with the modified bylaws and governance structure," said USA Cycling Chief Operating Officer Steve Johnson.
The changes put into affect at that time gave the Board of Directors the right to amend the USA Cycling bylaws and articles of incorporation. Such amendments could not be accomplished by a vote of the members due to the fact a quorum (10 percent of USA Cycling membership) has never been achieved in the USA Cycling membership voting process.
"As a result of the lack of a quorum, amendment votes were turned over to the USA Cycling Board of Directors anyhow. The February '99 changes were designed to create a more streamlined and efficient governance structure by shifting the voting from the membership to their elected representatives," Johnson said. "You have to realize that, under the old system, change was virtually impossible because the direct membership vote had never attained a quorum. The new system ensured that the organization would be more responsive to the members rather than being stuck in a legislative 'time warp'. The system proposed was nothing more than a system of voting through representation, just like our current system of governance in the United States."
He added the decision not to appeal was partly driven by the current changes at USA Cycling and the future planning processes currently in play. "At this time, we don't want to be distracted and lose any of the momentum for positive change in the organization by going further down the legal path."
The Colorado Court of Appeals will now review the actions taken by the USA Cycling Board of Directors since the amended bylaws became effective and instruct the board on which amendments are void.
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