Belgium, October 24.
"It has taken quite a while, but I have succeeded in synchronizing professional and private needs during the last couple of weeks.
For ...[Bill notes: personal reasons]...it was an important factor in my choice to ride for the Belgian Palmans formation next season.
The main element in this decision was not on the fact this team was willing to meet my financial demands. Wilfried Nelissen, a personal friend and a great cyclist, has been working on his come-back after the heavy accident he had in 1996, with the people of Palmans and is ready now to show his incredible capacities during the next road season. it will be a pleasure to ride alongside this strong personality...and knowing "Willy", a lot of fun too.
Furthermore, I am willing to admit that the directors at Palmans kind of flattered me by saying they had heard I had been a good support and teacher to the younger riders in both Lotto and GAN. They were very convincing in their explanation of their view on what I can bring to the team, being an "experienced" rider, as they so respectfully put it.
Because the team is working a mainly Belgian program (with Tour of Flanders, Luik-Bastenaken-Luik, Fleche Wallone, etc) I wil be spending more time closer to home, which was my wish, as I feel I have missed out on too much this year. Seeing my son Saen grow up is very important to me. A lot of my colleagues have expressed their regrets not having been there for their family during those vital childhood years.
Another aspect is the different structure of Palmans, in which I will find myself in the ability to play my own part and work mainly for my own palmares, instead of being in the less rewarding (and lucrative) role of domestique that I have happily been in for so many years now. Mr. De Meulenaere, the big "boss" at Palmans and Walter Planckaert, team-director, have approached me with this tempting offer I could not refuse, regarding all the other positive deals that come with it.
Anyway, as I am aiming to stay in this profession quite a few years longer, I can really use this "break" to catch my breath and go for it again.
For now, I am really looking forward to competing in the National Championships in OZ. It has been 11 years since I last became Australian Champion; it seems so long ago. Since then, I have not been able to ride them because they coincided with my job over here in Europe.
I realise I will not be there to win as I will be chased down with every attempt I'd make to break away from the pack, and the weight of a full year of competition on European level is getting heavy at this time of the season. I have just finished riding Paris-Tours (WC, I finished 26th), Milan-Turin (Cat 1, I finished 10th) and Lombardy (WC, finished 15th) and the colder weather over here isn't doing me any favours while training.
Fact is that being around Henk Vogels and Stuart O'Grady has kept me "in touch" with Australia so much more than previous years and I look forward to tasting the atmosphere in the Australian peloton again, have a chat to the guys, and that kind of thing. And besides that, I am very proud to represent "my" NSW in Perth.
DCR Ballerup (Denmark) - 107 years old The North Road Cycling Club (London, UK) - October 23 1885 St. Louis Cycling Club (Missouri, USA) - 1887And now Tom James writes:
Dear Bill, you were asking for old racing clubs - well my club in Britain, Oxford University CC was founded in 1873, which makes us one year short of 125. I think this makes us the oldest cycling club still in existence, at least in Britain. However, there is some controversy over it because, although the 1873 date is undoubtedly right (and the first Oxford vs. Cambridge cycling varsity match seemingly took place in 1878), the club went into abeyance for a number of years early in the century. Cambridge University CC are newer; I thnk they claim the longest continuous existence, but I'm not totally sure of that. There are quite a number of other rather elderly clubs in Britain; one random (and by no means the oldest) example is my father's club, Brighton Mitre CC, which has been in existence for 103 years. best wishes, Tom
So this club is winning so far.
Team Selection Criteria for the Tour de France 1998
Entry to the 1998 Tour de France will be restricted to 20 -- and possibly 21 -- nine-man teams, compared with the 22 teams in the 1997 Tour. Race director Jean-Marie Leblanc noted that this slight reduction in the size of the field was a first response to the problem of the large number of crashes in the early stages of the 1997 Tour. The 20 (or 21) teams will be selcted as follows. Automatic qualification goes to the 16 top teams by UCI points as of January 1 1998 (that is, point totals as of the end of the 1997 season before transfers) as long as a team is still is still in the top-20 after the January 15 rankings (that is, taking account of transfers). However, five French teams (which happen to be in the current top 16) -- Festina, La Francaise des Jeux, Cofidis, GAN and Casino -- are automatic qualifiers. Four further teams (to make 20) will be selected as wild cards after the Giro d'Italia and the Criterium du Dauphine Libere. The organisers reserve the right to add one additional team (making 21) as a "joker".
Tour 98 -- Mountain Stage Details
Stage 10, July 21 Pau--Luchon 197km km54 Col d'Aubisque 1709m, 16.5km at an average 7.2% km63.5 Col de Soulor 1474m km121.5 Col du Tourmalet 2115m, 18.4km at 7.7% km151.5 Col d'Aspin 1489m, 13km at 4.7% km 182.5 Col de Peyresourde 1569m, 9.7km at 6.7% Stage 11, July 22 Luchon--Plateau de Beille 170km km28 Col de Mente 1349m, 9.3km at 8.9% km43.5 Col de Portet d'Aspet 1069m, 4.4km at 9.7% km79 Col de la Core 1395m, 14.2k at 5.8% km126.5 Col de Port 1249m, 12.6km at 4.8% km 170 Plateau de Beille (summit finish) 1747m, 16.2km at 7.3% Stage 14, July 26 Valreas--Grenoble 185km km16 La Montagne de la Serie 486m km38.5 Cote de Puy-Saint-Martin 387m km106.5 Col de Rousset 1238m, 19.5km at 4.3% km137.5 Cote de Saint-Julien-en-Vercors 912m Stage 15, July 27 Grenoble--Les Deux-Alpes 189km km69 Col de la Croix-de-Fer 2067m, 24.5km at 5.1% km123 Col du Telegraphe 1566m, 11.9km at 6.7% km146.5 Col du Galibier 2645m, 18.5km at 6.6% km189 Les Deux-Alpes (summit finish) 1644m, 8.8km at 6.8% Stage 16, July 28 Vizille--Albertville 204km km37.5 Col de Porte 1340m, 15.1km at 7.2% km50 Col de Cucheron 1140m, 4.3km at 7.3% km68 Col du Granier 1134m, 8.5km at 5.5% km113 Col du Grand-Cucheron 1188m, 18.5km at 4.3% km158.5 Col de la Madeleine 2000m, 19.4km at 7.7% Stage 17, July 29 Albertville--Aix-les-Bains 149km km59.5 Semnoz - Cret de Chatillon 1635m, 17.5km at 6.7% km97 Col des Pres 1110m, 3.3km at 6.8% km124.5 Le Revard 1428m, 16.1km at 5.4%
1. Riis/Martinello (Den/Ita) 100 points At 1 lap: 2. Veggerby/Madsen (Den) 131 points At 2 laps: 3. Piil/Braykia 110 points 4. Lombardi/Baffi (Ita) 68 points 5. Risi/Betschart (Swi) 66 points