By Jeff Jones
As early as July 19 it was reported that the status quo wasn't going to be maintained chez Pantani in 2002. Mercatone Uno was going to remain as the sole sponsor, and Bianchi as a partial bike sponsor, but the management team of Giuseppe Martinelli and president Felice Gimondi was going to be scrapped, along with several riders. In fact, the team issued a statement today that said that Martinelli would be sacked immediately, and will not be taking part in the Vuelta.
This sort of thing does happen in professional teams but the strange thing about the Pantani situation is that the sackings have started from the top, and Marco himself will have a big role in managing the Mercatone Uno team next year, although he probably won't be asked to drive the team car.
"Marco will decide who he wants in the team, who will be the manager, everything," said Mercatone Uno spokesman Damiano Basso to Darren Tulett (Bloomberg News). Basso confirmed that former riders Alessandro Giannelli, Riccardo Magrini and Massimo Podenzana will manage the team under Pantani's guidance. Pantani's agent Manuela Ronchi will be the team's general manager.
Simone Borgheresi, Daniel Clavero Sebastian, Fabiano Fontanelli, Ermanno Brignoli, Riccardo Forconi Marcello Siboni and Luca Mazzanti (Fassa Bortolo) are riders who have been named as part of the team.
Pantani broke a 33 year Italian drought of victories in the Tour de France (Felice Gimondi won in 1965) when he won the 1998 edition in front of Jan Ullrich. However, less than a year later his career has in turmoil when he was sensationally expelled from the Giro d'Italia on the penultimate day for having too high a hematocrit, while wearing the leader's jersey.
He returned to some semblance of his former self in the 2000 Tour de France, winning two stages before abandoning. However, the last two years have been fairly lean in terms of big wins. At the end of last year, Pantani was given a three month suspended prison sentence when he was found guilty of sporting fraud (falsifying race results through taking illegal drugs), after his hematocrit was measured at more than 60 percent following his crash in Milan-Turin 1995.
In May 2001, Pantani's team was not given an invitation to this year's Tour de France, the first time that any former champion has been excluded. He is currently preparing for the Vuelta España, and hopes to come back to his best in 2002.
In a few days time, Richard Virenque (Domo-Farm Frites) will be facing his greatest challenge since returning to competition in mid-August. He is part of Domo's squad for the Vuelta España, the last three week stage race of the year and one that certainly suits his abilities as a climber.
In a pre-race interview with L'Equipe, Virenque says that expects "highs and lows" during the race, but he will improve as the stages unfold. He will also be keeping in mind the World Championships in Lisbon in October, which he would like to win. "I know that the circuit is hard there and that I have a chance for the title. If I go, it will be with the goal of taking the victory."
Virenque said that one of the big motivations for him during the "difficult moments" of the last 10 months has been the thought of this title. Also, he looks forward to riding with Laurent Jalabert, should both of them be selected for the World's.
He doesn't want the Festina affair to be the "definitive end" of his career. "I will stop riding when I want to. I feel that I am always capable of good things on the bicycle. If I had not had this feeling, I would have put myself as the key under the door mat."
However, Virenque hasn't yet assured his future. "After the Vuelta, I will see what Domo, or others, propose to me."
"Domo is a well structured team, which gives me the desire to do my job well. Currently, it is mainly a team for the Classics. It must recruit if it wants to aim for the Grand Tours."
At the end of this season, the Festina team will finally stop, and Virenque has clear views about the end of his former team. "Perhaps I will feel a small tug at the heart when I re-examine photos of me with the Festina jersey on my shoulders, but that is all. Today, Festina stops. It's finished. Period."
This Sunday, September 9, sees the running of the 21st Grote Prijs Eddy Merckx, which has been held as a paired time trial since 1998. Despite the late scratching of Max van Heeswijk (Domo), who is sick, and Michael Sandstöd (CSC-Tiscali), who is injured, the field this year looks to be quite good.
Top seeds are Andreas Klöden/Jan Ullrich (Telekom), who will depart as the last of the 24 teams. They are preceded by Marc Wauters/Erik Dekker (Rabobank), and Tristan Hoffman/Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali), with teams leaving at 2 minute intervals. The first team off are Belgians Renaud Boxus/Sébastien Mattozza (Ville de Charleroi) and they will leave at 15:00 CEST. Other important names on the start list include Ief and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto), Jacky Durand/Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux), Chris Peers/Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Jonathan Vaughters/Bobby Julich (Credit Agricole), Peter Van Petegem/Leon van Bon (Mercury), and Uwe Peschel/Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner).
The parcours is new this year, going via Wemmel, Merchtem, Londerzeel, Meise, Grimbergen and Brussels, starting and finishing at Koning Bodewijnstadion.
15:00 Renaud Boxus/Sébastien Mattozza (Bel/Ville de Charleroi)
15:02 Jean Nüttli/Lukas Zumsteg (Swi/Phonak)
15:04 Björn Leukemans/Jurgen Guns (Bel/Vlaanderen-T Interim)
15:06 Cyril Dessel/Eddy Seigneur (Fra/Jean Delatour)
15:08 Jorgen Bo Petersen/Marcus Ljungqvist (Den-Swe/Fakta)
15:10 Fabian Cancellara/Filippo Pozzato (Swi-Ita/Mapei)
15:12 Bart Voskamp/Remco van der Ven (Ned/Bankgiroloterij-Batavus)
15:14 Gilles Maignan/Arturas Kasputis (Fra-Ltu/AG2R)
15:16 Tony Bracke/Marc Streel (Bel/Collstrop-Palmans)
15:18 Uwe Peschel/Michael Rich (Ger/Gerolsteiner)
15:20 Jacky Durand/Bradley McGee (Fra-Aus/La Française des Jeux)
15:22 Mario Aerts/Paul Van Hyfte (Bel/Lotto-Adecco)
15:24 Alexandre Vinokourov/Kevin Livingston (Kaz-USA/Telekom)
15:26 Chris Peers/Nico Mattan (Bel/Cofidis)
15:28 Michel Vanhaecke/Bert Roesems (Bel/Landbouwkrediet-Colagno)
15:30 Andrey Kasheckin/Servais Knaven (Kaz-Ned/Domo-Farm Frites)
15:32 Ludo Dierckxsens/Marco Serpellini (Bel-Ita/Lampre-Daikin)
15:34 Jonathan Vaughters/Bobby Julich (USA/Crédit Agricole)
15:36 Peter Van Petegem/Leon van Bon (Bel-Ned/Mercury-Viatel)
15:38 Johan Museeuw/Axel Merckx (Bel/Domo-Farm Frites)
15:40 Rik Verbrugghe/Ief Verbrugghe (Bel/Lotto-Adecco)
15:42 Tristan Hoffman/Laurent Jalabert (Ned-Fra/CSC-Tiscali)
15:44 Marc Wauters/Erik Dekker (Bel-Ned/Rabobank)
15:46 Andreas Klöden/Jan Ullrich (Ger/Telekom)
The contract between the city of Landgraaf and the Ronde van Nederland has been extended for another two years, and Landgraaf will host the finish of the Dutch national tour until at least 2003. This year's final stage was an unprecedented success, as some attacking riding by Leon van Bon and Erik Dekker snatched the lead from Ukrainian Serguei Gontchar over the final 70 kilometres. Dekker won the stage, after bridging up to Van Bon's breakaway group and attacking, but Van Bon had enough time in hand to stave off Dekker for the overall victory by 6 seconds.
The Ronde van Nederland will be one week earlier next year, so the finishing date in Landgraaf will be August 24. The race will start on August 20 in Utrecht, with the first stage travelling to Leeuwarden. The race will remain in the eastern part of the country, and the time trial will be held in Amelo.
If it's September it must be trade show season, and the first one, Eurobike in Friedrichschafen, Germany, has just ended. Cyclingnews reporter Tim Maloney was there to scope out the latest tech goodies. Highlights include surprising new bikes from Litespeed and De Rosa, and startling prototype pedals from Time. The first installment of Tim's report is here
By Tomas Nilsson, cyclingnews.com correspondent
Swedish rider Nicklas Axelsson will not ride the Vuelta for Alessio as planned. The paperwork regarding his transfer from Mercury is not yet finalized. According to Michel Lafis' web site Cykel-Nytt he will race in Italy instead, where he is right now trying out bikes and other equipment.
Last year's bronze medallist at the World's in Plouay, Swedish Madeleine Lindberg in once again injured after a fall in the second stage of Holland Ladies Tour. Lindberg had six teeth broken and the rest of the season is in question. She also fell badly in the Giro d'Italia earlier this season.
Koos Moerenhout will not start in the Vuelta España. The Domo-Farm Frites rider is still suffering from an Achilles injury that forced him out of the Ronde van Nederland.
Tom Steels may have to finish his 2001 season early, after he was forced to abandon stage 1 of the Tour of Poland, from Gdansk to Sopot. Steels was struggling to hold the wheels all day, according to Mapei team leader Serge Parsani, and stopped in the feed zone. He will undergo further medical tests to try and determine what has been weakening him all season. Last year, he was diagnosed with glandular fever (mononucleosis) which forced him to finish his season shortly after he won two stages of the Tour de France.
Australian cyclist Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) was involved in the massive pile up in stage 2 of the Tour of Poland and is out of the race with a suspected broken rib. He and about 40 others were deafened by a TV helicopter that got too close on a slippery descent. Carnage followed, as no-one could hear the squealing brakes of the other bikes in front of them. O'Grady may (once again) have to cut his season short, although 2001 has certainly been memorable for him.
Dutchman Raymond Meijs (Team Cologne) may have to finish his season early, after crashing heavily on Sunday in the Rund um de Nürnberger Altstadt in Germany. He fell after there was an argument between two riders in the peloton and hit the ground hard. He suffered serious bruising and cuts on his back, and was taken to Nürnberg hospital for examination. He can not start in the Hessen Tour and thinks that his season may be over.
About a month ago we published a story on Cyclingnews entitled Waiting for Lance by Greg Taylor, Team Lardbutt correspondent, which described his day at the White House waiting for a certain Tour de France winner to show up. Greg and "about a dozen or so cycling nuts" hung around, exchanged email addresses, cheered a car full of suits (not Lance) and had a good time. However, the main objective of getting various trinkets signed by Mr "It's Not About The Bike" was not accomplished.
Fortunately, Lance read and liked Greg's rather humourous account of his day at the White House, and generously agreed to sign said trinkets. With the help Chris Brewer (Lancearmstrong.com webmaster), Greg and a few other hard core fans got their greatest wish. We're not sure whether the baby got signed though...
Greg expressed his admiration in his own words:
Well, Lance came through like a champ! On Friday I received a package from Austin, Texas, full of treasures that Lance graciously agreed to sign.
On top of my stuff (a killer picture of him and me at the 2000 Ride for the Roses, a couple of things for my family, and a special note for a co-worker), he also took care of the guys that were standing with me outside of the White House.
All I can say is that the guy is 100% class. And it's not just about getting a few autographs either. Heroes accomplish great tasks, shatter records, or commit amazing feats of skill or bravery. True heroes, however, are those who are able to accept with grace the blessings and burdens that accompany their worldly accomplishments. Their actions off of the bike or away from the ballfield do honor what they have achieved. Lance's work in the cancer community and the Foundation that he created exemplify the fact that he has the big stuff covered - it's the little stuff like an unexpected kindness to this particular fan that pretty much leaves me speechless. It is certainly wonderful to know that the rider that we all root for is also a nice guy.
Lance, thank you for your autograph. But, more importantly, thank you for being a true hero.
Team Lardbutt Correspondent
It is finally official that Saeco's super sprinter Mario Cipollini will ride for Cantina Tollo next season, which will be known as "Acqua e Sapone". Cipollini signed along with Giovanni Lombardi and Mario Scirea for the team. Danilo Di Luca, who is the current Cantina Tollo leader, will in turn ride for Saeco in 2002.
French division II squad Jean Delatour has officially announced the of three riders from other teams: Frédéric Finot (Crédit Agricole), Stéphane Augé (Festina) and Laurent Lefèvre (Cofidis) will ride for Michel Gros' team next year. In addition, it has previously been reported that the team signed former Finnish pro Joona Laukka (Bressuire) and two neo-professionals Christophe Laurent (La Creuse) and Yuriy Krivtsov (Nantes 44).
The team, which has as its star riders Laurent Brochard, Patrice Halgand and Laurent Roux, now has 17 riders for 2002, with some places left over for either Bruno Thibout, Eddy Lembo, Florian Germain (neo) or Sylvain Calzatti (neo).
Four riders will leave: Christophe Oriol and Olivier Trastour (to Ag2r), and Grégory Lapalud and Samuel Plouhinec. The final Jean Delatour line up will be announced on September 16.
Cyclocross rider Camiel van den Bergh and road rider Gerben Löwik will leave the Rabobank team next year. Van den Bergh will go back to riding for an amateur team, Bert Story-Piels. He claims that he wasn't able to ride a "decent road program" with Rabobank - that was meant to supplement his cyclocross.
"With this [Bert Story-Piels] team, I can also ride properly on the road," said Van den Bergh. "Furthermore I can now completely ride for myself in cyclocross and maybe later merit a professional contract. Raas [Rabobank manager] told me that to come back and ride with them is certainly not out of the question."
Gerben Löwik will ride next year with Bankgiroloterij-Batavus, the Netherlands' second best pro team. BankGiroLoterij will may lose Belgians Steven De Neef, Tom Desmet and Wim Omloop, and have already lost Stefan van Dijk to Lotto. They have secured Dutch TT champion Bart Voskamp for next season.
Belgian Cyclocross World Champion Erwin Vervecken (RVS Liege-Record Bank) will break his contract to ride for Danny De Bie's Spaarselect team the next two seasons. According to his lawyer, he can make use of the 1978 Belgian employment law, which allows professional sportsmen and women dissatisfied with their contracts to buy themselves out. He may have to pay some compensation to his former team, but his new contract will presumably outweigh that.
Before he won the World's in Tabor, he had contacts with Spaarselect, but after he won, there were no further negotiations with Record Bank-RVS for a transfer.
September 5: 10th Trofeo Melinda Val di Non (Italy)
Riders: Davide Bramati, Allan Davis, Stefano Garzelli, Paolo Lanfranchi, Daniele Nardello, Michael Rogers, Luca Scinto, Patrik Sinkewitz. DS: Fabrizio Fabbri
September 6-15: Le Tour de l'Avenir (France)
Riders: Laszlo Bodrogi, Graziano Gasparre, Kevin Hulsmans, Evgueni Petrov, Filippo Pozzato, Charly Wegelius. DS: Roberto Damiani
Stage 1 - September 7: Merbein Criterium, 33 km
Criterium, 30 laps of 1.1 km circuit
Finish: 12.40 p.m.
Stage 2 - September 7: Merbein - Red Cliffs, 88.9 km
Via Cabarita, Lake Hawthorn, Irymple, Cliffside, Koorlong
Start: 2 p.m.
Finish: 4 p.m.
Stage 3 - September 8: Buronga - Euston, 75.5 km
Via Gol Gol, Trentham Cliffs, Monak
Start: 10.00 a.m.
Finish: 11.45 a.m.
Stage 4 - September 8: Euston Criterium, 52 km
Criterium, 40 laps of a 1.3 km circuit
Start: 2.00 p.m.
Finish: 3.15 p.m.
Stage 5 - September 9: Cardross Kermesse, 55.2 km
Kermesse, 12 laps of a 4.6 km circuit
Start: 9.15 a.m.
Finish: 10.35 a.m.
Stage 6 - September 9: Mildura, 63 km
Kermesse, 30 laps of 2.1 km circuit
Start: 12.30 p.m.
Finish: 2.00 p.m.
Total number of sprints: 58
Total kilometres: 367.6 km
The organising committee of Ciclismo Lorosáe (the East Timor Cycling federation) has been invited to the UCI Congress in October to be held in conjunction with the World Championships. They wish to send three people but do not have the resources to fund the trip.
We urgently need assistance to get to Lisbon so that Timor can become a full member of the international cycling family. Once a member of the UCI, Timor will have taken the first important step in becoming eligible to participate in the 2004 Olympic Games. Any reasonable help would be greatly appreciated.
Please contact Martin Hardie if you can help.
Major Races and Events
September 7-29, 2002: Vuelta a España (GT) - Preview, stage list
May 11-June 2, 2002: Giro d'Italia (GT) - Preview, stage list, photos
July 6-28, 2002: Tour de France (GT) - Full preview & official route details
December 8: Superprestige Rd 5 (Cat. 1) - Erwin Vervecken
November 29-December 4: Six Days of Noumea (6D) - Sassone/Neuville victorious
November 26-December 1: Six Days of Zurich (6D) - Day 6 - McGrory/Gilmore/Schnider win
December 1: Melbourne Cup on Wheels (IM) - Scott Moller, Keirin, Sprint, Support races
December 2: Cyclo-cross World Cup #2 (CDM) - Sven Nijs again
November 24-December 3: Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos (JR) - Final results
December 8-9: Frankfurter Rad-Cross (Cat. 2) - Alex Mudroch, UK National Trophy Series #4 (Cat. 3) - Roger Hammond, Grote Prijs Industrie Bosduin - Kalmthout (Cat. 1) - Bart Wellens, Int. Radquer Obergösgen (Cat. 2) - Björn Rondelez, Trofeo Mamma e Papa Guerciotti (Cat. 3) - Enrico Franzoi, Premio Egondo (Cat 3) - David Seco, Irish cyclo-cross championships - Robin Seymour
Results: local racing
Australia - CycleWest Promotions Omnium Series #2, Eastern Suburbs Summer Criterium Series, Carnegie Caulfield Tuesday criterium, Southern Cross Junior Track Open & Madison Cup, Manly Warringah CC, George Town Track Carnival, Carnegie Caulfield CC, Randwick Botany CC, Gold Coast CATS CC, Caesar's Illawarra CC, Caesar's Illawarra (track)
Denmark - Danish cyclo-cross Post Cup #3
Italy - Gran Premio Città di Bassano
Luxembourg - GP De Kopstal
New Zealand - Cyco Criterium series
Spain - Elorrio cyclo-cross
USA - Georgia Cross Series Championship, Chimborazo Grand Prix cyclo-cross, Boulder Cross Rd 6, New Mexico State Cyclo-x Champs, Sorrento Cyclo-x & California State Champ's, Boulder Cross Rd 5, Verge New England series, Northampton CC Cyclo-cross Championships, Chris Cross International CycloCross
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