News for February 14, 1997

Jalabert wins while training

Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, commented that he likes the race because it is a sort of training 'but competing'. "I like this type of race to start the season, because even though they are relaxed, they are much more important than specific training", said Laurent Jalabert. "My team worked for me to defend my overall leadership, since the members of Kelme, my main rivals, made it tough from beginning to end". "There were some times when I could have won, but in the end, due to the battle, I decided to go for the overall, since there's no need to force myself on my first races and that's why I didn't dispute the sprint". Jalabert spoke of his objectives for the '97 season: "I haven't changed the preparation or mentality of other years and that's why, I will race to win in every race that I ride. My next serious commitment will be la Vuelta a la Comunidad de Valencia. The Tour, la Vuelta and other big ones in the calendar are too far away. I prefer to look at the day to day".

Tony Rominger Interview

Swiss cyclist, Toni Rominger, one of the greats of the international peloton, has commented that he has yet to assimilate Indurain's retirement. "Although there were talks since September that he might leave cycling, sincerely I trusted that at least he would continue one more year. I don't think that he was finished, like some of the more irreverent have said", said Rominger. For the Swiss cyclist, born 36 years ago and who's riding his 12th season as a professional, he doesn't know who will be the one to fill the gap left by the best rider of the last few years and one of the best in history.

"It is difficult to say who will emulate the achievements of Indurain, specially the young ones like German Jan Ullrich, Spaniard Abraham Olano or Russian Eugeni Berzin, amongst others, because if they keep progressing they will triumph, although that doesn't mean that they'll be Indurain's substitutes", said Rominger. "To these -added Rominger- I have to add illustrious like Danish Bjarne Riis, Frenchmen Laurent Jalabert and Richard and my compatriot Alex Zuelle. I think that at this time there are a dozen riders that can win the Tour de France, a race which is always associated with Indurain's name".

Toni Rominger, also spoke about his objectives for the season, amongst them the Hour Record and la Vuelta a Espana, who he has won three times. "I'm focused on regaining the Hour Record and although I don't know where, I'll attempt it. For now, I'm getting ready to try some first tests, possibly in April, to see how I am", he said. About la Vuelta a Espana: "It is a good "It is difficult to say who will emulate the race for me, like all my victories there show, the three straight wins, which is a record, only I have achieved". To speak about the Tour de France is a major deal. "It is not my favorite race, but I'm conscious of my possibilities, although I admit that I would have to get there too good and the rest too bad".

Rominger, who this season will defend the colors of French Team Cofidis under the orders of Cyrille Guimard, said: "It is a small challenge, since things at Mapei, team which brought me a lot of happiness and with whom I achieved important victories, were not going well and that's why it was better for me to leave. One thing was clear for me and that is that if Juan Fernandez would have secured sponsorship, I would have gone with him and the Spanish 'clan'".

Pantani to race Tour and Giro

Italian cyclist, Marco Pantani from Team "Mercatone Uno", has confirmed today, Thursday, that this season he will dispute both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, although he admitted that he had doubts about how he would respond. Pantani will resume official competition, next Tuesday, at the Trofeo Laigueglia, after almost one and a half year of suffering an accident during Milano-Torino, on October 18 of 1995, when he crashed into a vehicle that was going in the opposite direction.

"I certainly am tense and face a responsibility for what is coming up. But that is part of the game when you are at the highest levels. I try to deal with the pressure that I carry inside in the best way possible. Plus I have a team where the environment is deal", says Pantani.

The Italian cyclist reveals that he has "a great desire to return to competition, to begin". "When I figure out how I am and how the others are, I will plan my major stage races. I will certainly, at first, hold back a little. I'm not at 100% and I should reach that point". Pantani mentions how the Giro d'Italia would be the most beautiful moment to return to winning: "The Giro has always been for me the most interesting event. But yet I want to ride both, the Giro and Tour de France. I know that people expect me to be one of the riders contending. I still have doubts about myself and i expect to put them away by returning to competition".

The programs for Pantani's 1997 season will include, after his debut at the Trofeo Laigueglia, the Copa Alassio, Trofeo Luis Puig, Vuelta a Valencia, Milano-San Remo, Semana Catalana, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Giro d'Italia, Trofeo Industria y Comercio, Giro d'Toscana, Giro di Friuli, Italian National Championship road race and the Tour de France.