By Jeff Jones
The last, the shortest, and perhaps the hilliest of all the Grand Tours this year is the Vuelta España. 21 stages in 23 days, 2986 kilometres, 4 time trials, 2 rest days, 9 flat stages, 8 mountain stages (7 mountain top finishes), 3 Special Category climbs (the hardest), 10 Category 1 climbs, 8 Category 2 climbs, and 3 Category 3 climbs (the easiest). The race starts with a 12.3 kilometre individual time trial in Salamanca on Saturday, September 8, and will finish in Madrid on Sunday, September 30 with a 38 kilometre individual time trial.
That's the Vuelta in a nutshell, and it promises to be a great race this year. The reduction in the average stage length compared with the Giro and the Tour may make the Vuelta easier in some respects, but it means that most of the stages are also raced hard from the start. The cross-winds that are often present in the flat stages can play havoc with the peloton, with it being more important than ever to maintain a good position at all times.
Cyclingnews will be providing the usual in-depth, quality coverage for the Vuelta España as we have done for all the major races in 2001. Daily stage reports, post-stage news, photos, rider interviews and live coverage of most stages will all feature in the Vuelta 2001 coverage.
This year's edition of the Vuelta España promises to be the strictest yet in terms of anti-doping controls. Starting today, the entire peloton was subject to a general health check, which included obligatory hematocrit controls as well as the fourth stage of the UCI's annual medical checkup. Depending on the outcome of these tests, riders could be excluded from starting the race or other measures taken.
The race will have an official UCI race doctor, who will "control the use of the products which are permitted only under certain circumstances. This doctor will travel with two other doctors who will attend the riders in the race, with an inspector and the two doctors who control the drug-taking."
The UCI 'vampires' may take blood or urine tests "whenever and wherever they want". To detect EPO, both blood and urine tests must be carried out. This includes the days before the race, and the rest days.
Each day, the stage winner and the leader on general classification will be urine tested, along with two to eight riders chosen at random.
Samples will either be sent to the Consejo Superior de Deportes in Madrid or to the University of Lausanne. EPO analyses will only be conducted in Lausanne.
Defending champion Roberto Heras will lead the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team in the Vuelta España, which begins on Saturday. Heras, who won the race with the Spanish-based Kelme team last year, will try and give the USPS team its second Grand Tour victory of the season, following Lance Armstrong's third consecutive victory at the Tour de France.
"The ambition of the team is to win the Vuelta with Roberto," said Johan Bruyneel, USPS director sportif. "I think we have a well balanced team with nine fresh and very motivated riders."
"The fact that Roberto has not been 100% fit until now is, in my opinion, a good thing," Bruyneel added. "He's ready to go for it and he is super motivated. He wants to prove that his average Tour de France didn't really satisfy him."
Joining Heras on the start line in Salamanca will be American Antonio Cruz, Julian Dean of New Zealand, Benoît Joachim of Luxembourg, Levi Leipheimer of the U.S., Colombian Victor Hugo Pena, Jose Luis Rubiera of Spain, Matthew White of Australia and American Chann McRae, formerly of the Mercury team. McRae left the Mercury team and has signed an agreement to race for the USPS team for just the Tour of Spain.
Paolo Savoldelli and Salvatore Commesso will lead the Saeco Macchine per Caffe' team at the Vuelta a Espana which starts this Saturday, September 8 with a 12.3 kilometre time trial in Salamanca. For Savoldelli, the Vuelta will a chance to make up for a unlucky season. After winning two stages at the Tour of Romandie he seemed set for a great Giro d'Italia but instead failed to show his class and talent. For Salvatore Commesso, the Vuelta will be another chance to confirm the form he showed at the recent Tour of Portugal, where he won two stages.
Directeur Sportif Antonio Salutini will also have Biagio Conte - a recent dual stage winner at the Regio Tour where he beat Danilo Hondo, and Alessio Galletti, Dario Pieri, Igor Pugaci, Pavel Padrnos and Jörg Ludewig and Torsten Nitsche.
The other Saeco Macchine per Caffe' team which today rode the Trofeo Melinda with Guido Bontempi as directeur sportif, will ride the Coppa Placci race on Saturday, September 8 and then the Giro di Romagna the following day. Tre Valli Varesine winner Mirko Celestino will be the team leader as he continues his quest for a leading role in the Italian national team for the world championships in Lisbon in October. Along with Celestino there will also be Dufaux, Sacchi, Secchiari and Wegmann.
Restricted to riders aged 25 and under, the Tour de l'Avenir is appropriately named, as it showcases future stars and is considered the most important stage race for young riders. As a 2.5 race, it carries some UCI points, but is more valuable to cyclists looking for a contract next season. Many directors from top teams show up at the Tour de l'Avenir with contracts in hand.
The race is organised by the Sociètè du Tour de France, and some of the starters actually rode in the Tour this year: Florent Brard (Festina), Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour), Loïc Lamouller (BigMat), Eladio Jimenez and Denis Menchov (iBanesto), but there are plenty others to challenge them here. Laszlo Bodrogi will spearhead Mapei's young star studded team, while successful Bulgarian Ivaïlo Gabrowski (Jean Delatour) should also be included in the favourites.
Several stagiaires will be riding amongst the pro teams, and there will be three national teams. In addition, the Colombian division III squad 05 Orbitel-Berry Floor has sent over eight of its best young riders.
The first five stages are fairly flat, but the second half of the race goes into the mountains. Stage 6 from Ancerville to Gérardmer finishes with an 870m category 2 climb; Stage 7 is a flat 26 kilometre individual time trial; Stage 8 from Gérardmer to Belfort has the category 1 climb of Le Ballon d'Alsace 30 km from the finish; Stage 9 finishes atop the category 1 climb of Montbenoit (1068m); and the final stage (Morteau - Morteau) is five laps of a 27 kilometre circuit, with one category 1 climb per lap.
Teams: Euskaltel-Euskadi, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Mapei-Quick Step, iBanesto.com, Festina, Crédit Agricole, Bonjour, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Jean Delatour, Phonak, Colpack, BigMat, 05 Orbitel, Mercury, Vlaanderen-T-Interim, Post Swiss, Saint-Quentin, and national teams from Norway, USA, and the Czech Republic.
Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is now focussing all her efforts on her attempt on the women's hour record, to take place in Manchester next Wednesday, September 12. She rode the first two days of the Holland Ladies Tour, a lot of it at the front, and has now switched to her track bike for the final preparation.
She trained with both a 53x15 and 54x15 gear; she said the first was too light, the other too heavy. However, she hopes to make up the difference by using 19 millimetres time trial tyres, and will therefore opt for the bigger gear. Her target is 19.8 seconds per 250 metre lap (Longo's lap times in Mexico City last year averaged 19.98 seconds).
"I expect to ride 182 laps in one hour and that should break the record by more than 300 meters," said Leontien. The official mark to beat is 45.094 kilometres.
She has also secured a sponsor for the event: Dutch energy company ENECO, which also sponsored the men's Ronde van Nederland. NOS TV will be broadcasting the attempt live next week.
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
Speculation was rife for the last few days that it was imminent that a domestic cycling club were on the verge of plumping for a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) one-day race. In the end it was the Bray Wheelers Cycling Club who were the main shakers and movers in relation to the bush telegraph which was keeping the airwaves busy.
The veil of secrecy surrounding the intentions of Bray Wheelers CC and the promotion of a one-day UCI race was made public yesterday with the announcement that they intend proceeding with a race on the 28th of April next year.
“It was imperative that we kept the lid on our intentions for next season," said Brendan O’Leary, Chairman of the Bray Wheelers. "It is a big undertaking and will need quite a substantial amount of sponsorship. Fortunately we have in house expertise, which will soothe the path to a successful promotion next season. A select group will be in place next week and it will be their responsibility to work on behalf of the club,” he said.
At least five international teams will line-up for this plump promotion, which will add a lot of spice to the calendar for next year. The event will incorporate the Shay Elliott which has been organised by the Bray members for many a long year. Also a number of their members have been involved with promotions virtually in every corner of the globe.
Olympic Gold Medallist in the 1,000 metre time trial, Jason Queally, is attempting to become the 'fastest man on earth', at least as far as his own two legs allow. Queally wants to break the Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) world land speed record, which currently stands at 117.2 km/h (72.7 mph), set by Canadian Sam Whittingham in Nevada last year. He will aim to top 120 km/h, when the HPV 'World's' are held at Battle Mountain in Nevada, USA between October 1-6.
His machine is called the Blueyonder Challenger and reported to be worth $US144,000, combining bicycle and Formula 1 technology.
Jean-Cyril Robin will be one of two riders leaving Bonjour at the end of this season (the other is Frédéric Gabriel), but it seems as though he has found a new team in Cofidis, directed by Alain Bondue.
Yesterday afternoon there was a meeting between Alessio's team director Bruno Cenghialta; the owners of the Alessio Company, Celeste Alessio and Andrea Alessio; Mercatone Uno rider Daniele De Paoli and his representative Alex Carera in order to formalise De Paoli's transfer. The rider has signed for 1 year with Alessio.
Also, De Paoli's friend and teammate Oscar Mason will leave Mercatone Uno for Mapei-Quick Step, where he will be reunited with Stefano Garzelli.
Ukrainian Vladimir Douma has decided to extend through 2002 his contract with Panaria-Fiordo. "I want to repay Bruno Reverberi's confidence in me with at least 2 victories, and I hope that I can gain those in the Vuelta España," said Douma.
Massimo Giunti has signed for another two years with Vincenzo Santoni and Palmiro Masciarelli's Cantina Tollo-Acqua & Sapone team.
Andrea Peron (Fassa Bortolo) will leave the team for Bjarne Riis' CSC-Tiscali squad, with the signature being made today.
Finally, Saeco manager Claudio Corti met with ex-Italian champion Salvatore Commesso in order to extend his contract for next season.
The Danish cycling federation has announced its 13 member preliminary team to compete in the World Championships in Lisbon next month. Only eight are allowed to race in the road race, with two in the time trial.
Michael Blaudzun (CSC-Tiscali)
Bjarke Nielsen (CSC-Tiscali)
Jakob Piil (CSC-Tiscali)
Nicki Sørensen (CSC-Tiscali)
Rolf Sørensen (CSC-Tiscali)
Bekim Christensen (Team Coast)
Frank Høj (Team Coast)
Lars Michaelsen (Team Coast)
Lennie Kristensen (Team Fakta)
Jørgen Bo Petersen (Team Fakta)
Morten Sonne (Team Fakta)
Michael Skelde (Team Fakta)
Michael Rasmussen (Volksbank-Schwinn)
Michael Blaudzun (CSC-Tiscali)
Frank Høj (Team Coast)
The German division III team, Agro-Adler Mark Brandenburg, may cease to exist next season unless a new sponsor steps in soon. The team, which has Andreas Kappes and Christian Lademann as its top riders, missed all the classics this season after being 'demoted' by the UCI to division III at the beginning of the year. Team found and chairman of the Brandenburg sport federation, Edwin Zimmermann, thinks that the Brandenburg Rundfahrt (September 12-16) will be the last race for the team.
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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