News for May 18, 2001
84th Giro d'Italia news
Who could ignore Ivan Gotti, Paolo Savoldelli and Serguei Gontchar as contenders for the Giro? Here they are in concise form. Two days to go until the field blasts around Pescara.
Ivan Gotti is a twice former winner of the Giro (1997 and 1999), benefiting from Marco Pantani's exclusion two years ago. He rides for top Italian division II squad Alessio, one of the success stories of the year so far. However since 1999, Gotti has struggled for form, and was not really a contender last year.
He has not raced a great deal this year, limiting himself to the Ruta Del Sol, Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and the Lombarda, Trentino and Appennino races. "I am presenting myself at the Giro like in other years, with the single difference that I skipped the Tour de Romandie, as our team wasn't invited," he said.
"At home though I found warmth and have improved my condition. In 1996, I had a so-so Spring, but then I came 5th overall with a win in Aprica."
The comparatively young but quite talented Paolo Savoldelli will be Saeco's principal man for the general classification in the Giro. Savoldelli finished second overall in the 1999 edition, although he failed to improve upon that last year. This year, his best result has been in the recent Tour of Romandie, where he won a couple of stages and finished 12th overall, failing on the mountain top finish in Nendaz.
He has one week less competition in his legs this year, according to director Salutini, and has not yet reached top shape. "The condition will improve, even if I was further ahead last year," said Savoldelli.
Liquigas' Serguei Gontchar can also be counted amongst the favourites for the Giro. Although he probably won't win overall, the world TT champion is a capable climber, and should remain in contention. He has worked all winter for this race, and has managed to win the Settimana Lombarda this year with an impressive ride.
"In Trentino he raced without forcing it, in Larciano he came fifth while helping Davide Rebellin win," said team manager Fabio Bordonali. "I have never seen him more determined."
Gontchar has ridden over 35 races this year, and is the top GC man for Liquigas, being ably supported by Rebellin.
Pantani's Giro history
He went from one extreme to the other after he won the race in 1998, and lost it in 1999 due to a high hematocrit. Marco Pantani's Giro history has been up and down, ever since he first raced it in 1993. He abandoned that race, but came back in 1994 to take second behind Russian Evegeni Berzin, who burned like magnesium that year. Along the way, Pantani collected the stages of Merano and Aprica.
He didn't race it again until 1997, after being hit by a car in early 1995, and again in late 1995 in Milan-Turn. But in 1997 he only rode 8 stages in his comeback before he hit a cat and fell off, once again abandoning. He had to wait another year before he could make an assault on the overall victory, and he certainly did that in 1998, winning two stages and the overall classification, going on to beat Jan Ullrich in the Tour de France a couple of months later.
In 1999 he was in devastating form, winning four stages (Gran Sasso, Oropa, Pampeago, Madonna di Campiglio) and leading the race until the second last stage. But the UCI vampires disqualified him on that day, after he recorded a hematocrit of over 51% and he was forced to go home amidst a huge scandal.
He didn't really return to racing until the Giro 2000, when he started with no ambitions of the overall GC, but still managed to ride himself into form to finish 28th. Towards the end he showed he was still capable of hurting the others in the mountains, and rode in aid of his then teammate, Stefano Garzelli.
This year, he comes in as a favourite, even though his results of late do not indicate that he is in top shape. "There are a lot of possible winners this year," he said in today's Corriere dello Sport. "The route has been designed so that it will be a close race for as long as possible,"
"There are only two stages for the climbers and a fairly long time-trial. This means that the number of potential winners is much wider than usual for a three-week stage race."
He cited the main contenders as defending champion Stefano Garzelli, Francesco Casagrande, Jan Ullrich, Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca. "I also wouldn't underestimate Ivan Gotti (winner in 1997 and 1999) and Wladimir Belli," he added.
As for his own chances, "I've raced very little this year but I've trained a lot at home. I feel good and want to do well and physically I feel strong. There is a question mark on my psychological condition because to win a three-week race like the Giro you need to be mentally strong."
"To win or finish second or third would be good, to show that I'm still up there and that I haven't given up wanting to fight to the end."
Hundertmarck replaces Heppner
Telekom have made one late substitution in their Giro squad, with Kai Hundertmarck coming in to replace Jens Heppner. The team announced this today, after Heppner was suffering from a cold and fever.
Despite the presence of 'Der Kaiser', Jan Ullrich, Telekom's Giro assault will be built around young talent, Roberto Sgambelluri. The team: Jan Ullrich (Ger), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Kai Hundertmarck (Ger), Matthias Kessler (Ger), Kevin Livingston (USA), Alberto Elli (Ita), Giuseppe Guerini (Ita), Giovanni Lombardi (Ita), and Roberto Sgambelluri (Ita).
500 bottles of wine for winner of first stage
The first road stage of the Giro takes place on Sunday, from Pescara to Francavilla, after Saturday's prologue decides who will wear the first Maglia Rosa. The competition two win stages is always quite intense in these Grand Tours, but there is even more incentive in this stage. The winner will get 500 bottles of local wine, which have been put up by the wine growers in the area.
Although 500 bottles might seem a bit excessive to split between nine fit racing cyclists, if you factor in the soigneurs, mechanics, directeur sportif, manager, and associated hangers on, then it might be just enough, depending on how many journalists are invited.
Casey update: France 3 apologises
One week after US Postal Service's Dylan Casey crashed in the Four Days of Dunkerque, French television channel 3 has offered an apology, accepting responsibility for the incident.
"I have spoken with Gael Chabot (of Channel 3) and Jean Bodart (event organizer) and both have been very cooperative. They have been more than willing to extend any assistance they can offer and we appreciate the good will," said Casey's agent Clay Young, president of Sotox Sports Management. "We have reached an amicable agreement."
Casey suffered a broken pelvis and clavicle when he crashed into a soundman from Channel 3 at the end of the first stage of the Four Days of Dunkerque. The soundman was standing in the middle of the racing area at the finish line, causing Casey to crash at near full speed.
"I am feeling better, but I have been under doctor's orders to do nothing for a while, at least until the Cat Scan results are back," said Casey, who is able to walk for limited periods of time.
Casey was flown back to the United States last Friday and has undergone tests at Stanford University Medical Center. Results from his Cat Scan are expected back this week.
Bassons misses out on Tour this year
Outspoken anti-doping cyclist, Christophe Bassons (Jean Delatour) will not be riding the Tour de France this year, according to his directeur sportif Michel Gros. In comments made to a regional newspaper (Le Progrès), Gros said that "Christophe is at a turning point of his career...The peloton have not forgiven him for some of his remarks, particularly the riders who have put in a lot of effort. He doesn't have a good life in the peloton, he is the object of mockery."
"When he is in less prominent races, he does better. Also, I gave him a free run to establish his own program," added Gros. "He was going to do the Midi Libre, but he didn't want to go, preferring the Grand Prix Wallonie. He is still a rider, but for how long?"
Christophe Bassons became famous (although not as a rider) during the Tour de France in 1999 when he pulled out of the race after claiming the majority of the peloton still wasn't clean. He was subsequently shunned by many of his colleagues, and several of his Jean Delatour teammates do not shake his hand any more.
His team manager has confirmed that any negotiations with Richard Virenque for the future have "stopped completely", which might please Bassons a little.
UCI want easier races in future
The UCI wants bicycle races to be easier in the future. Scientific research has shown that in cycling there is a relationship between the difficulties of the sport and using forbidden substances.
We will see the effects of this policy next season. So, it won't be easy to make stage races longer than they are now. The Giro, Tour and Vuelta will keep their 23 days, but their total distance will be limited to 3,500 kilometers, including two rest days. It is also suggested that stage-stage transfers are kept to a minimum, and mountain top finishes are reduced.
Races that are ranked just below the big tours (e.g. 2.HC) will have to change their parcours. Events like Paris-Nice (8 racing days and two Sundays) will only have 7 days in 2002. There is one exception: the Tour de Suisse, which runs for 10 days.
Stage races in the first category (i.e. 2.1) can have a maximum of 5 racing days, an exception being national tours, which can run for 7 days. For some national tours this gives them the chance of increasing their length (e.g. Tour of Germany), but the Tour of Portugal (now 14 days) will gradually be reduced to 10 days in 2004.
One day races will also be affected by the new rules. A World Championship on the road, an Olympic road race and the World Cup races will have a maximum of 250 kilometres. With one exception: Milan-Sanremo, because there is no shorter distance by road than 280 kilometres between these two cities.
For all the other one day races, the absolute maximum will be between 180 and 200 kilometres.
17th Tour de l'Aude
The next major women's stage race commences tomorrow in Gruissan, France with a 3 kilometre individual time trial. The 17th Tour de l'Aude runs for 10 days, and includes 12 stages and half stages, finishing in Limoux on May 27.
The race was started by former men's race organiser, Jean Thomas in 1985, who was helped by Charles Anduze and Jean Dousse to put a women's race on the map in a male dominated sport. The first Tour de l'Aude was only 4 days long, held around Carcassonne.
The race has since grown to be one of the premier women's events on the UCI calendar, and it is given a 2.9.1 ranking (along with the Giro d'Italia, Grand Boucle, HP Women's Challenge, Tour de Snowy, Challange Mallorca, Gracia Cez, Giro del Trentino Alto Adige, Int. Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen, and the Tour de Suisse feminin). It is now run by Jean Thomas' daughter Anne-Marie, who took over after he died, and she is supported by a team of 50 volunteers during the race.
Over the years the world's best female cyclists have competed and won the Tour de l'Aude, including Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo, Leontien Van Moorsel, Cathy Marsal, Valentina Polkhanova, Lyne Bessette and Fabiana Luperini.
This year, 12 teams of six riders will take part, including six national teams (Australia, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Ukraine, and Morrocco(!)), and six trade teams: Vlaanderen-T-Interim, Autotrader.com, CA Mantes La Ville, Carpe Diem Itera, Sponsor Service and Ciegi.
Riders to watch for the overall GC include the world number one Anna Millward (Australia), her Saturn trade teammate Lyne Bessette (Canada), Joanne Somarriba, Fany Lecourtois and Edita Pucinskaite (Alfa Lum), Kim Smith (Autotrader.com) and German sensation Trixi Worrack.
McGrory (and more) on Australian radio update
We have recently received more information about the Scott McGrory segments on Australian radio. Contrary to what was previously published, the segments are weekly, not daily. Broadcast times are on Wednesdays in Australia between 1745-1800, and will be 2-3 minute updates.
In addition, it is anticipated that other Australian pro cyclists (especially those European based) will be featured in these weekly programs.
French journalist to ride in Midi Libre
The editor-in-chief of Le Monde, and author of many books, Eric Fottorino, will take part in the Grand Prix Midi Libre, that starts next Tuesday May 22. In order to get a real feel for the action, 40 year old Fottorino will ride in the peloton each day in one of the hardest stage races in France.
He has written a book "Je pars demain" which describes how he came up with the idea, which was born on Christmas Eve (December 24), 2000. His mental and physical preparation are detailed. It is 265 pages long, and costs FF102 (US$15).
Cadel Evans joins Australian cyclists commission
Atlanta and Sydney MTB Olympian and two-time winner of the MTB World Cup, Cadel Evans, has joined other athlete representatives on the Cyclists' Commission following endorsement by Cycling Australia at the April Council meeting in Melbourne.
All three male commission positions had been vacated in 2001, with Scott Sharples and Danny Day standing down for work reasons after their 2-year term expired. Stephen Hodge re-nominated for the road rep position.
Cadel Evans' endorsement for the next two year term was accompanied by new track member and Australian Team rider Brent Dawson and returning road rep, ex-pro Olympian Stephen Hodge.
In discussing the athletes commission, Cadel Evans said he could "hopefully give some more back to the sport, I like to help out where I can".
Brent Dawson has played a seminal role in the Commission's establishment when he helped Tracey Gaudry, Stephen Hodge and Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks draft the first Commission proposal in mid-1999.
Stephen Hodge was endorsed for a second two-year term, after serving as Commission Chairman and Director on the Board of Cycling Australia since the Commission's inception in late 1999. Hodge was happy to continue his work with the Commission after a long career, the last 10 years spent as a professional cycling for some of the World's major teams.
"Our biggest challenge now is to reach as many of Australia's cyclists as possible," said Hodge. "To this end we have created what should become the largest mailing list in Australia for cyclists, which can be joined by going to our Athletes Commission page at www.cycling.org.au or at the www.bicyclingaustralia.com Cyclists' Commission page".
The three new members join Olympian and current leader in the Women's World Cup and UCI World Rankings, Anna Millward, MTB downhiller and AMBA Commission Chair Shelley Kamevaar and track rep and women's commission member, Sandra Smith, on the CA Athletes Commission.
All members contribute their time on a voluntary basis and can be contacted on the following addresses (text only please!):
Brent Dawson, Track rep, firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd Cloudsplitter Classic
The third annual Cloudsplitter Classic kicks-off on Saturday, May 26 with a 7.5 mile individual time trial. Sunday features a mountainous 73 mile road course for the pro men and women and a 63 mile course for all other riders. The village of Saranac Lake hosts the Veteran's Day Criterium on Monday, which features the "Olive Street Wall."
Participants this year include Genevieve Jeanson and the Rona Cycling team, and Trek-VW, Canada, with three national champions.
Two US Champions in Arkansas
US National amateur Road Race Champions Steve Cate and Brice Jones will both be competing in Fayetteville, Arkansas, this weekend (May 19-20) in the 24th Annual Joe Martin Memorial Stage.
Junior training skills at Dunc Gray
Organised Junior Training and Skills sessions will start next week at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome on Wednesday, May 23. The sessions will be held each Wednesday from now on, and all Juniors U19, U17, U15, U13, both male and female, are welcome. All Track Bikes must be suitable to ride the velodrome. U13 riders need to check their bikes.
The sessions will commence at 6:00 pm, finishing no later than 9:00 pm. If you cannot make it by 6.00, don't worry, come when you can.
For more info, contact Barrie McLean at Cycling NSW office or email@example.com