Second Edition News for January 17

Cyclocross Nationals

With the world cyclocross championships due in a couple of weeks (February 3 and 4), the winners of some of the elite national championships this last weekend are of interest:

Italy -- Daniele Pontoni took his eighth national championship with 11 secs on World Cup leader Luca Bramati

Switzerland -- Reigning world champion Dieter Runkel held of Webel at 32 secs and former world champion Frischknecht at 37 secs

Belgium: Erwin Vervecken beat Paul Herijgers by 33 secs, with Mario De Clercq at 47 secs, Van Santvliet at 1.02 and former world champion Danny De Bie at 1.09

Netherlands: Richard Groenendaal, with De Vos at 1.11 and Van der Poel at 1.55

Germany: Mike Kluge in front of Ralph Berner and Jens Schwedier

Czech Republic: Jiri Pospisil in front of Lukes and the favourite Simunek

Spain: Former Orbea pro Jokin Mujika took the title but feels himself unprepared and will not ride the worlds race

French Teams: Another Update

This may be getting boring.... but heres the latest as of 16 January, with GAN, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne and Aubervilliers-93-Peugeot already home and dry.

Agrigel-La Creuse: The team is still to submit its guarantee of three months salaries for riders and staff. "I didnt realise immediately how urgent it was," team manager Jean-Claude Cluis told LEquipe. "I deplore the situation, but everything will be in order by the end of the week -- which must look like lack of professionalism on my part." Once again, Cluis insisted that the money was to hand, with 6 million French francs (US$1.21 million) of the FF8 million budgeted allocated to salaries. The salary of Jean-Francois Bernard will be taken care of by a separate sponsor and the three as-yet unnamed German riders will be funded by a German sponsor. Taking account of these amounts, Cluis says, the team has a budget of FF11 million. The team presentation is due to take place near Paris on January 23.

ForceSud, which will make its team presentation today is not yet registered, but only because its cheque -- which was not a bank-guaranteed cheque -- has yet to be cleared. The riders will also have to sign new contracts [I dont understand the technicalities of French contract law -- it says the contracts first signed "ont ete sur des formulaires perimes. Ils devront donc etre resignes sur des contrats types federaux" -- excuse lack of accents]. The team is hoping to find a last sponsor to augment the Grands Moulins de Storione, the city of Marseille, the departement des Bouches-du-Rhone and Zipp.

The team being put together by former Chazal-MBK-Konig manager Vincent Lavenu has not submitted its guarantee money but he says the team has a sponsor -- a single sponsor. Lavenu described this unnamed patron as "modest in its investment, but with strong potential." he cant name it because "the contract wont be finalised until the end of the week, but as confirmation of the teams going forward is pressing, it will be necessary to push for the money [for the guarantee]". The ten riders -- eight French (Agnolutto, Aubier, Bessy, Chanteur, Gougout, Jarno, Locatelli, Mengin) and two foreigners (Kasputis and Kirsipuu) have signed one-year contracts.

The mysterious sole sponsor will supplement the only budget so far known about, FF500, 000 (a little over US$100,000) raised by public subscription from supporters and a few small companies. "Morally, it would have been simpler to drop the project, and Im still worried that we might come up against a red light blocking our utopia," said Lavenu, "but the team has the merit to justify its existence."

Belgian team for Montreuil

The Belgian selection for the World cyclocross championships (Elite Open) in Montreuil, France, Feb. 4:

Erwin Vervecken, Paul Herijgers, Marc Janssens, Peter van Santvliet and Mario de Clercq. Substitute: Danny de Bie.

New pro-team in Germany

Die Nurnberger is the name of a new pro team in Germany, the second after Telekom. They will participate in second-category races.

Rabobank puts millions into Dutch cycling

The cycling federation in the Netherlands, KNWU, and Rabobank have signed a sponsoring agreement for three years, with an option for two more years.

Ten to twelve million Dutch gulden yearly ($6,25 - 7,5 million) is the sum the bank will put into the sport. Seven million gulden ($4,4 million) will go to the professional Rabobank-team and the rest to a youth-plan, talent development, neo-amateurs, cycling clubs and sponsoring the Dutch selections for the cyclocross World championships.

Theo de Rooy and Adri van Houwelingen will lead the pro team, Nico Verhoeven the amateur team (for 1997) and Frans Maassen the junior riders. Jan Raas will be overall manager.