Flashes of News- Oliverio Rincon decided to stop as professional. Colombian sponsor Gaseosas Glacial didn't pay.
- Tonkov will start training again next week
- Richard Virenque will get the Prix Maurice Garin (a day before Milano-San Remo)
- Uwe Peschal (28, Germany) signed for 2 years by Cantina Tollo (Italy). Peschel won bronze in Colombia 1995.
First Race on International Road CalendarFirst Italian victory on a race on the International Calendar, la Vuelta a Tachira, which is being disputed in Venezuela. Twenty three year old Fulvio Frigo, who races for Team Kross-Montanari, directed by Gianni Savio, won the first stage ina sprint finish, Valencia-San Carlos: 194 kilometers in 3.31'25", average speed of 42,340. La Vuelta a Tachira will conclude on January 19.
ChiappucciThe bad weather has made Team Asics change their plans, Chiappucci and Zaina's team, which was supposed to go at the end of the month to Palma de Majorca. Composed of 17 riders, guided by Davide Boifava and Sandro Quintarelli, will be in Varazze (Savona) from January 13 to 21. The team presentaion will be on January 21 at the Circolo della Stampa di Torino; and then they will head to Palma de Majorca from January 28 to February 14.
Pantani can't stay away from jeansRifle Jeans has signed an agreement with Mercatone Uno, Marco Pantani's team.
Virenque wins awardThe third Garin d'Or Award has been given to Frenchman Richard Virenque. The award, a gold ingot weighing 1 Kg, will be given on March the 20th at Arvier in Valle d'Aosta.
JaskulaPolish cyclist Zenon Jaskula, already over the accident that he suffered in Atlanta during the Olympic Games has announced that 1997 will be his last season. "I still have a small pain in my leg, but that is the only thing that I feel. I will go back to Italy and prepare for the 1997 season which I believe will be my last season", declared Jaskula. The best Polish cyclist, who was run over in a street in Atlanta when he was coming back from a training ride and wasn't able to participate in the Olympic races added that he hasn't been to interested in the damage payments which will be taken care of by the court. "This matters take a long time in the U.S. and I don't expect to get anything for another year" concluded Jaskula.
Jeff Pierce to BicyclingJeff Pierce, one of only five Americans in history to win a stage in the Tour de France, has joined the Bicycling Magazine team as an Eastern Sales Representative. Pierce has been a mainstay of U.S. cycling, with 22 seasons of international competition under his belt.
After earning posts on the 1983 Pan American team and the 1984 Olympic Team, Jeff was named the country's top amateur cyclist in 1985. Turning pro in 1986, he raced the Tour de France with Team 7-Eleven as his first professional event. The following year he produced the solo victory in front of 500,000 spectators on the Champs Elysees in the Tour's final stage. In 1995, Pierce shifted focus from the road to the velodrome, and captured a National Championship with Chevrolet/LA Sheriff teammate Steve Hegg in the Madison event. Jeff finished third in the Olympic Trials for the points race in 1996 and scored more than 30 other victories on the track.
In 1996, Pierce entered his first mountain bike race; the Tour de Wolf in Tennessee. Finishing third, he shared the podium with Tinker Juarez and Steve Tilford. Jeff joined Bicycling January 2. He will be based in the New York office, and will handle part of the eastern and southeastern territory.
Lance Armstrong interviewSickness has struck him this Autumn and he's fighting against it like a great champion that tries to K.O. a terrible enemy, an illness that has threatened and still threatens him, even if doctors are extremely hopeful, but it will change his professional career. Lance Armstrong has decided to come back to Europe in the beginning of January. He will meet his new managers, Bondue and Guimard who for months have been encouraging him in his struggle.
Cofidis a financial company which had hired the ex- World Champion when he was in perfect health has remained in solidarity in the most difficult moments. He will hopefully be joining his new teammates Toni Rominger and Maurizio Fondriest if everything goes OK in mid-May to share in their program and objectives. Guimard's right hand, Alain Bondue was the one that went to the airport to pick-up Lance Armstrong and he has been the one who has taken care of the relationship between the American and the team during this delicate times.
The "jumbo jet" , flight 914 of the UA, was announced for a 7:10 AM arrival but arrives 20 minutes early due to favorable winds. Bondue is impatient to see Lance, to see how he looks and feels to see if he has turned the page and if the '97 will be a good year for the American. He's wearing a blue hat [cappellino], beige trousers a red and white squared shirt and a Navy blue jacket. He smiles while he awaits his luggage. As he looks about he answers the questions of an Rai television crew and takes the flashes from out photographs and at the right time he leaves with Bondue in his car to take refuge in his hotel in Lilla, where he awaits Guimard and his teammates.
Smiling and in a good mood, Lance tells us about his trip: "It was almost 13 hours long. What is the weather like here in Europe? A degree below zero? In Miami where he departed from it was 27 degrees. In the last few days i have ridden about 500 [km] with friends: with ideal temperature and a splendid sun. I trained almost everyday from 2 to 4 o'clock without straining myself, but I've been able to ride between 100 and 120 [km] in a day. How do I feel? I feel healthy, in good shape. I have finished the fifth cycle of chemotherapy in December. The doctors have told me that everything is [ok], that the worst is definitely behind me. I hope so.
I have faced this sickness like if it was a fight, I hope to have definitely defeated it, but I have prepared to continue to fight because sickness of this kind at times are not defeated in a few months. When will I resume competition? I don't know. I have to speak to Guimard and the doctors, not before May. Now, I will stay in Europe for one week. I will meet the new [staff], the new teammates, I will discuss about '97 and about so many other things. Then I will participate in the official presentation of the team and then Maurizio, Tony and my teammates will retreat to south west France and I will leave again for the States where I will continue to train and to be subject to examinations as I prepare for the gradual re-entry into competition".
Lance is calm: "When would I like to start competition? That is not important. I intend to recover and gain my form, I'm impatient to be able to defend the colors of Cofidis together with Maurizio, Tony and my other teammates. During the flight I have thought about the importance of this trip. This visit is not for promotional purposes, but a trip of thanksgiving. In these days will say thank you a thousand times and I will shake a thousand hands. I want to stay together with my other half of my family: my cycling family which has done so much for me during this difficult months.
Lance Armstrong smiles. He takes off his blue hat [capellino] which has become his inseparable friend and lucky charm for three months and which covers and protects his shining head caused by the aggression of the chemotherapy and he puts on the light blue color of Cofidis.
CyclocrossAdri Van der Poel has defended his world cyclocross champion's jersey with honor and distinction this 'cross season. The lanky, 37-year-old Dutchman has been riding well all year, trading top placings and wins with countryman, Rabobank teammate, and heir apparent Richard Gronendaal. The two have been atop the superprestige and world cup 'cross classifications all season. Belgian road pro Mario DeClercq has also been consistent and competitive all season, but perhaps the biggest surprise has been Frenchman Jerome Chiotti, the new world mountain bike cross country champion.
Chiotti is riding better than ever this season in 'cross, perhaps due to increased confidence in his racing, not to mention a reported $300,000-plus, two-year mountain bike contract from GT Bicycles. Chiotti will continue to race on the road as well, riding for the Festina pro team in 1997, competing on the tarmac aboard a Peugeot bicycle.
The young Miguel Martinez, last season's mountain bike revelation from Team Sunn-Chipie, has been concentrating on the French national 'cross series, in which he finished third overall. Martinez will defend his world 'cross Espoir title in Munich. His win of the final round of the French national 'cross series bodes well for "little Mig."
Italians Luca Bramati and Daniele Pontoni have been less evident this 'cross season. Bramati, who dominated last season with wins in both the world cup and superprestige series, has had decent results, but nothing spectacular. Pontoni took one much-needed superprestige win just after Christmas in Belgium, and a runner-up superprestige spot behind Gronendaal in France in early December. He hopes to peak for the world championships in Munich.