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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 6, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Team Bianchi to stop

With its future in question since the departure of top rider Jan Ullrich, Team Bianchi formally announced at the end of the week that it will not go forward in 2004. The title sponsor originally planned to support the team through 2006, but that support was almost entirely dependent upon the presence of Ullrich at the head of the roster, according to an ANP report. With Ullrich returning to the Telekom (T-Mobile in 2004) fold, Bianchi team manager Jacques Hanegraaf has decided to pull the plug.

Orbitel to sponsor Café Baqué

Stronger Café...
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Colombian telecommunications company Orbitel, current sponsor of the 05 Orbitel professional team, has reached an agreement to cosponsor the Spanish Café Baqué team for 2004. Café Baqué lost its main cosponsor Labarca 2 at the end of this season, making Orbitel's arrival welcome. Orbitel is venturing into the Spanish phone market, and the new deal will provide valuable exposure.

The two teams were already linked in some sense as one of Orbitel's key riders, Félix Cardenas, was permitted to ride the Vuelta a España in Café Baqué colours this year. Cardenas rode a solid race, including a stage win and the mountains jersey, and reached an agreement to stay with the Spanish team to race full time in Europe. Now the two teams may be heading towards a fusion, meaning Cardenas will see several of his Colombian teammates join him once again.

McKenzie joins Navigators

Australian rider David McKenzie will be heading to the USA next year as part of the Navigators team after the two parties reached agreement this week.

McKenzie finished his year with a win in the inaugural Tour of Queensland stage race in November, at a time when he knew that his then team, the Belgian/Australian squad, would be unable to continue in 2004 (see story).

The move to the US team is the next step in a career dogged by teams folding and unfortunately-timed accidents. By joining Navigators, McKenzie becomes the 13th rider for the strong US squad that includes his fellow Australian, Henk Vogels, who is well on the path to recovery after a horrifying accident this year.

He will also be joining former team-mates Ciaran Power (Ireland) and Vassili Davidenko (Russia) at the New Jersey-based division 2 team. This year the Navigators spent some time racing in Europe and not without making their presence felt.

Winning in the Giro
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

The appointment of McKenzie will help bolster its ranks for the European races, as that is where McKenzie has raced for most of his career. He was a stage winner in the 2000 Giro d'Italia with the ill-fated Linda McCartney team and was one of that team's shining lights. He capped it off with recognition at home with the male road cyclist of the year award, but then spent most of 2001 in the wilderness after the failure of the McCartney team. At the same time, he still recorded wins at important home races, such as a stage of Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. He was back the following year with the formation of the division 3 squad, helped in no small part by his partner and wife, Susan Stewart, who was the driving force behind establishing the team.

However, his start to the 2002 season was ruined by a serious accident while out training. It came when he was well-prepared for the all-important early season races in Australia where some strong local performances would have helped drive memberships to the team. The iTeamnova squad was the first Australian-based team to source funding via memberships.

McKenzie came back and continued to record race wins, particularly at the Herald Sun Tour, where has a record 11 stage wins.

He has also raced and won in the US, including a stage of the 2001 Tour de Beauce, but his main focus has been Europe, recording victories in Belgium, Spain, and Italy.

Navigators team director, Ed Beamon, said a spring campaign in Italy, France, Benelux, and possibly Germany and Switzerland, will augment the American domestic calendar. "David brings another dimension to what I believe will be a very competitive Navigators team. He is a proven winner, and a tireless teammate, and he has a great nose for the finish.

" I expect his leadership qualities will add depth to the team's assault while providing valuable support for his new companions," Beamon added.

UCI Plans cyclo-cross reform

The UCI has announced it is in the midst of a restructuring and reform of the cyclo-cross calendar in an effort to make the discipline more successful. Among the principal ideas under consideration are a lengthening of the season to up to 22 weekends and a more expansive and formal ranking system for both riders and nations.

Also being evaluated is a redesign of the major 'cross events into a new series that would replace the World Cup. Events at the highest level would be classified"hors catégorie" and would be organised in different European countries on a weekly basis. All of these ideas will be discussed with riders and race organisers, as well as at the UCI's Management Committee meeting in January 2004 at the cyclo-cross world championships in Pont-Château, France.

Early Vuelta details

While the full route for the 2004 Vuelta a España is to be revealed on December 17, several details are starting to emerge. Next year's Vuelta looks set to be another grand tour for the climbers, with as many as six mountaintop finishes during the three weeks of racing. Among those finishes will be the climb of the Col de la Ragua, to be featured for the first time and as the principal difficulty of an uphill individual time trial. Another new mountain making its debut in the Vuelta is said to be the Alto Calar, thought by some to be the new Angliru.

New dates for Ster Elektrotoer

After several years of a September slot in the calendar, preceded by an April date, the 2004 Ster Elektrotoer is moving to June and organisers hope that the new schedule will allow more high-profile riders to start the five-day Netherlands event.

While the 2004 edition will still overlap with some high-profile tours - including the Volta a Catalunya, Tour of Switzerland and Route du Sud - the new dates avoid the clashes with major one-day races that have been a problem for the race in the past. Organiser Gerrie van Gerwen hopes that riders not selected for the other tours will use the Ster Elektrotoer as preparation for their national championships at the end of June, a role previously filled by the now-defunct Tour of Sweden.

Van Gerwen also hops that the new dates will avoid the problem of riders being tired at the end of the season. "We are convinced that we will have representative teams in 2004," said Huub Snoeks, chairman of the organizing body, Stichting Wielerbelang Schijndel. "There's a lot of interest in cycling this close to the Tour [de France], and the riders are motivated. In the past we have noticed that some of the riders are very tired and unmotivated in September. Now they will be able to prove themselves for the Tour or sharpen their form for the national championships."

The organisers of the Ster Elektrotoer are also delighted that de facto Dutch national team Rabobank will take part in the race in 2004, as announced recently by the team. While Rabobank's climbers will doubtless be honing their form in the Tour of Switzerland, flat-stage specialists such as De Rooy and Van Houwelingen are likely to put in for the Ster Elektrotoer, especially as race's route on the roads through Limburg and the Belgian Ardennes will be very similar to the first few days of the 2004 Tour: not mountainous, but not lacking in challenges.

While it's too early to name Rabobank's riders for Ster Elektrtoer, Rabobank assistant directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen recently made it clear that Rabobank would field a strong team. Rabobank's main team last rode Ster Elektrotoer in 2002, when Michael Boogerd was third overall and Bobbi Traksel won a stage. In 2003 Rabobank's Division III development team took part, with Thomas Dekker winning two stages and three Rabo riders finishing in the top ten.

Killeen full-time for Gary Fisher

Liam Killeen of Malvern, Great Britain has signed a new contract with the Subaru Gary Fisher team for the 2004. Killeenm 21, rode part-time with the team in 2002 and 2003, riding in the same seasons for the Great Britain national team, from which he received financial assistance and coaching and other support services.

Under the new arrangement Killeen will continues to receive coaching assistance and support from the national program, but will be able to race full time in the colours of Subaru Gary Fisher.

The 2003 Under 23 World Cup Champion, who recently won the first international race held on the near complete Athens Olympic course, has set himself clear targets for 2004, specifically the U23 World Championship title and a solid performance at the Olympics in August.

Zintsjenko to Milaneza

Andrej Zintsjenko, 31, will move from LA Pecol to the Portuguese Milaneza-MSS team for 2004.

24-Hour team looking for riders

Cateye and Giant USA have joined forces to create a 24-hour racing team in the United States. The roster is nearly complete, but team managers are looking for one or two more talented riders. Interested cyclists should have 24-hour racing experience and potential for podium placement. Candidates are invited to submit resumes to

Two Leipheimer jerseys on auction

Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer has offered two of his 2003 jerseys- from the world championships and the Vuelta a España- for auction on eBay, with proceeds set to go to a pair of charities: Forgotten Felines Of Sonoma County and the USA Cycling Foundation.

"These auctions are important for my wife Odessa and I," Leipheimer explains. "Since we have had our share of success, this is a way for all of us to give back. Thank you."

Item number 2769990898 is a Levi Leipheimer 2003 Vuelta Jersey, signed by the entire Rabobank team from the Vuelta, including Michael Rasmussen, a top-ten finisher overall, and team director Joop Zoetemelk, winner of the 1980 Tour de France. The jersey still has Leipheimer's Vuelta numbers attached. It is Euro size 1 (small) with short sleeves and a 3/4 zip. Proceeds from auction of this item benefit Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County. Click here for this item.

Item number 2769991845 is a 2003 USA World Championships Jersey, signed by Leipheimer. The numbers, which are signed on the back, are still attached. It is size small, with short sleeves and a 3/4 zip. Proceeds from auction of this item benefit the USA Cycling Foundation. Click here for this item.

Winner bidders for the auctions will receive a personally signed card from Levi.

TV Time for 2004 Track World's

Australian viewers are promised extensive live coverage of the 2004 World Track Championships, to be held in Melbourne at the Vodafone Arena from May 26-30. SBS Will act as the domestic broadcaster for the World's and will offer exclusive coverage.

The 2004 Track World's will feature more than 200 athletes from 40 countries contesting a total of 15 events- six for women and nine for men. The World's will be the final qualifying event for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Eddie Tobin: Simply the Best

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

In the Market Square in Enniscorthy, Ireland, there is a 1798 memorial by Oliver Sheppard with bronze figures of Fr. John Murphy of Boleyvogue and a Wexford Pikeman. A short distance away in the '98 Centre there now stands a commemorative plaque to Eddie Tobin the cyclist who created a unique piece of history for the town, picturesquely sited where the road from Ferns (7 miles) to Wexford (15m) crosses the Slaney at the head of the navigable tidal waters. It is also the cathedral town of the Catholic diocese of Ferns.

Enniscorthy and the Town Council recently honoured the memory of the late Eddie Tobin on the occasion of the unveiling of a plaque in his honour at the '98 Centre Mill Park Road in the town. Many tributes were paid and they centred mainly on Eddie. And how, he was instrumental in getting the biggest sporting event in the world to come to town in 1998 for the start of the second stage of the Tour de France.

The list of dignitaries present to show their admiration was a who's who from the business community, the cycling world, politicians and the Town Council, which hosted a reception. Sean Kelly, one of the greatest ambassadors on behalf of Ireland and the cycling community, performed the unveiling and admitted that he was honoured to be asked along for this special day. "In cycling terms, he was a fabulous man, and it was a shock to learn the news of his untimely death last year," said Sean.

"This is a day with a lot of emotion for me, but it is also a very special day for us, and on behalf of myself and Rachel may I express my appreciation for this lovely tribute to Eddie and I'm sure Eddie's parents and family who are here today will echo those sentiments," Linda Tobin said at the occasion.

The remarks by Tom Mooney of the Echo, said it all."The Tour was expecting a grand Irish welcome at the beginning of the second stage in Enniscorthy, but received much, much more," he wrote. He headlined his article, 'Simply the Best'. It was- and what Eddie Tobin is.

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