News for May 16, 2001
84th Giro d'Italia news
Less than four days to go until the 7.6 kilometre prologue in Pescara, as we continue to profile the major favourites in the 84th Giro d'Italia. Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni and Abraham Olano were mentioned in yesterday's news. Today, three more candidates for the overall GC will be presented.
The 30 year old Italian world number one goes into the Giro as the strongest favourite, after he came so close to winning last year. A bad time trial on the second last day whilst hindered by a sciatic nerve problem gave the race into Stefano Garzelli's hands, and Casagrande was not amused.
He is a dual winner of the Clasica San Sebastian World Cup (1998 and 1999) and has won many other important stage and one day races. The most recent indication of his form was his win in the Giro del Trentino, considered a good predictor for the Giro d'Italia. Casagrande took the lead in the mountain top finish on the first day, and held it for the remainder of the race. So far this season, he has raced approximately 27 times, "4 or 5 less than last year."
He is supported by the strong Fassa Bortolo team managed by the experienced Giancarlo Ferretti.
If anyone would like to win the Giro with revenge as a motivation, it's Marco Pantani. He won this race in 1998, the same year that he gained the Tour de France. 1999 was not as kind, after he was expelled on the second last day while wearing the maglia rosa (leader's jersey) after failing a hematocrit test. It took nearly an entire season before he raced seriously again, being a last minute starter for the 2000 Giro. He showed flashes of his former brilliance in that race, before going on to ride the Tour de France and making life unpleasant for Lance Armstrong on more than one occasion.
This year, he has at least raced at a reasonable level prior to starting the Giro. His Mercatone Uno team was recently excluded from the final Tour de France selections, partly on the basis that Pantani's form was too unpredictable. If he finishes on the Giro podium this year, the disappointment in France in July will be even greater, as his attacking style is well liked by many cycling fans.
According to his team director, Guiseppi Martinelli, "I have seen a good Pantani, motivated and keen. In the team training camp he rode more than 150 km per day, testing himself on the climbs that he usually does before the big races."
The 27 year old German is riding the Giro for the first time, with the principal aim of finding better legs in time for the Tour de France in July. He is in a bit of a dilemma, as he will have to turn in a reasonable performance to be given credibility by the Italian media. His other option at this time was to ride the Tour of Germany, and he has been criticised for missing that in favour of the Giro.
He is unlikely to win the overall classification, but his progress will be watched closely by many, some who think he is the only real threat to Lance Armstrong in July.
Roland Meier positive too
Swiss rider Roland Meier (Team Coast) has become the second cyclist to fall foul of the UCI's EPO test, after his "A" sample taken at La Flèche Wallonne (April 18) was found to contain traces of the drug. The news was hinted at yesterday by UCI president Hein Verbruggen, speaking at an international hematology congress in southern France, and the rider's identity was subsequently confirmed by the Swiss Federation.
The Swiss have initiated proceedings against 34 year old Meier, who follows Dane Bo Hamburger as the second rider to test positive for EPO. His urine sample was taken and examined shortly after the finish of La Flèche Wallonne by the University of Lausanne laboratory, one of the few labs capable of carrying out the blood-urine test.
"It's a disaster for me, for my team colleagues, for our sponsor," said Meier to Swiss daily Blick. "A letter came from Lausanne yesterday that said 'parameters in my urine are consistent with doping with EPO. That was a slap in my face. I cannot believe it."
It was the seventh time in 30 races this year that he had been tested, including a hematocrit test before the start of La Fleche Wallonne which was 45.6 percent - well below the 'limit' of 50 percent. He rode the race and finished 57th, 3 minutes behind winner Rik Verbrugghe. Afterwards, he and four other riders from different teams were randomly selected to give urine samples as well, the first out of competition controls. Two have now returned positive A samples.
Meier will ask for a counter evaluation using his "B" sample within five days, and this test must take place within 10 days. If this is positive as well, then Meier will have to answer to an independent Swiss anti-doping tribunal. It is Roland's first drug offense and he could face between 6 and 12 months suspension, as well as a fine of between SFR 2000-4000 (US$1200-2400).
In addition, he will be sacked from Team Coast if found positive, which could mean the end of his career, which started in 1993 with TVM. He rode for PMU Romand in 1996, Post Swiss in 1997, and Cofidis from 1998-2000 before being signed by Team Coast this year. He has won a total of 7 races in his professional career, as well as finishing 2nd in stage 11 (and 7th overall) of the 1998 Tour de France, won by Marco Pantani.
18th HP Women's Cycling Challenge
There is less than a month to go before the start of the world's richest and best known women's stage race, the Hewlett Packard Women's Challenge in Idaho, USA. The 13 day race starts on June 13 with a 111.2 kilometre road race from Boise to Idaho City with more than 125 of the top female cyclists in the world will be taking part.
The starters include American Olympic Silver Medalist and World Champion Mari Holden, Australian cycling star Anna Millward, and French triple Olympic Medallist and multiple World record holder, Jeannie Longo.
Up for grabs in the 1100 kilometre challenge is US$128,000 in prizemoney, including individual general classification, team, stage win, points, mountains, sprints, most aggressive, most improved best young rider, and best senior rider prizes.
French Championships in Argenton
This year's French National Road Championships will be held from June 28-July 1 on a circuit around Argenton-sur-Creuse (Indre). Each lap will be 16.3 kilometres, including a climb with 6 kilometres to go. It is anticipated that it will be a race for the "rouleurs" as it was last year when Christophe Capelle outsprinted Jacky Durand and Anthony Morin.
Durand is a dual French Champion (1993, 1994) and after a training ride over the parcours with his friend Christophe Moreau (Festina), commented that he thought it would be a little harder. Moreau added that "It is sad to once again take the big main roads. The bump will not do much. It is unfortunately likely that the same situation will arise as last year, with a mass sprint."
"On the other hand, the time trial course, rectangular, slightly shaded with a beautiful covering, inspires me."
Scott McGrory on Australian radio
Australian Olympic Champion Scott McGrory is currently riding in the Peace Race for the Mapei team. Although the hills seem to be taking their toll on the Six Day specialist, Scott has been phoning home with a report on each stage in the morning before the start. To get your daily McGrory fix, tune into one of the following radio stations in the late afternoon (times to follow), Australian Eastern Standard Time.
VIC 3BA-FM Ballarat 102.3FM 3BO-FM Bendigo 93.5FM 3NE Wangaratta 1566AM 3MA-FM Mildura 97.9FM NSW 2BH Broken Hill 567AM 2BS Bathurst 1503AM 2CS Coffs Harbour 639AM 2DU Dubbo 1251AM 2EC Bega 765AM 2GF Grafton 1206AM 2GZ-FM Orange 105.1FM 2LF Young 1350AM 2MO Gunnedah 1080AM 2MC Port Macquarie 531AM 2NM Muswellbrook 981AM 2RG Griffith 963AM 2WG WaggaWagga 1152AM 1521QN Deniliquin 1521AM 2NZ Inverell 1188AM 2HD Newcastle 1134AM Radio 97 Tweed Heads 972AM SA 5SE Mt Gambier 963AM QLD 4BU Bundaberg 1332AM 4LG Longreach 1098AM 4VL Charleville 918AM 10714AM Kingaroy 1071AM TAS 7XS Queenstown 92.1FM NT SUN-FM Alice Springs 96.9FM 8HA Alice Springs 900AM WA 6AM Northam 864AM 6BY Bridgetown 900AM 6KG Kalgoorlie 981AM 6MD Merredin 1098AM 6NA Narrogin 918AM 6TZ Bunbury 963AM 6VA Albany 783AM 6WB Katanning 1071AM R'West756 Busselton 756AM R'West747 Esperence 747AM R'West1134 Collie 1134AM
UK event updates
The Surrey League Zipvit races due to be held on May 20 have been moved to June 17 at Cutmill. On May 20, to replace this event the Surrey League are putting on an event for 3/4 cats at Milland Valley near Liphook. The event will start at 9.30 AM.
The South East Region Championship support race due to be held at Benenden on June 3, has been postponed due to extensive road works in the area. This event will be held later in the year.
The South East Region Championship will be held on the Bletchingley circuit on June 3. This event is now open to 3rd and 4th category riders, but preference will be given to Elite, 1st and 2nd cats. Entries should be sent to: Keith Brooks, 65 Parkhurst Fields, Churt, Farnham, Surrey GU10 2PQ