News for May 16, 2001

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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.

Francesco Casagrande

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Francesco Casagrande
Photo: ©Sirotti

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.

Marco Pantani

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Marco Pantani
Photo: ©Sirotti

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."

Jan Ullrich

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Jan Ullrich
Photo: ©AFP

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.

Latest start list

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.

The Stages

  • Stage 1 - June 13: Boise - Idaho City, 111.2 km
  • Stage 2 - June 14: Lowman - Stanley, 93.6 km
  • Stage 3 - June 15: Stanley - Ketchum, 99.7 km
  • Stage 4 - June 16: Sun Valley ITT, 5.1 km
  • Stage 5 - June 16: Elkhorn Village Circuit Race, 46.1 km
  • Stage 6 - June 17: Shoshone - Burley, 128.3 km
  • Stage 7 - June 18: Burley - Pomerelle, 92.3 km
  • Stage 8 - June 19: Burley - Magic Mountain, 97.1 km
  • Stage 9 - June 20: Twin Falls - Buhl, 107.2 km
  • Stage 10 - June 21: Twin Falls - Mountain Home, 155.2 km
  • Stage 11 - June 22: Middleton - Firebird Raceway ITT, 21.3 km
  • Stage 12 - June 23: Downtown Boise Criterium, 55.5 km
  • Stage 13 - June 24: Middleton - Boise (Hyde Park), 88.3 km

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.

Station list

3BA-FM Ballarat      102.3FM
3BO-FM Bendigo        93.5FM
3NE Wangaratta        1566AM
3MA-FM Mildura        97.9FM

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

4BU Bundaberg         1332AM
4LG Longreach         1098AM
4VL Charleville        918AM
10714AM Kingaroy      1071AM

7XS Queenstown        92.1FM

SUN-FM Alice Springs  96.9FM
8HA Alice Springs      900AM

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

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