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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 7, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Ullrich's sights set on three Tours

Three more Tours?
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Jan Ullrich, winner of the 1997 Tour de France, commented Saturday that he wants not one, but three more Tour victories before his professional career comes to a close. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ullrich insisted that he wants to make the most of the few years he has left at the top of the sport.

"I know how many years I still have to race for victory in the Tour de France: the next three," the German said. "It would be a shame to waste two out of the three."

Ullrich has most often been seen as Lance Armstrong's number one rival in the Tour, but has yet to interrupt the American's record-equalling feat of five victories in a row. This year's Tour was the closest margin of victory for Armstrong, and Ullrich believes he can once again reach the top step of the podium.

"On paper, we have one of the strongest teams in the world," he said of T-Mobile (ex-Telekom), to which he returns in 2004 after a season with Teams Coast and Bianchi. "I joined the team because I knew with [T-Mobile] I would have my best chance to win the Tour de France again."

Armstrong recently joked that his US Postal Service team had a homing device implanted in Ullrich's head so they could track their rival's every move. Ullrich offered his own good-natured quip, commenting on Armstrong's motivational techniques.

"I think he puts a photo of his rival by his mirror and tells himself every day, you're the one I have to beat," he said.

Since 1996, Ullrich has won one Tour de France and finished second on five occasions. He has never finished lower than second.

Bettini eyes third World Cup and Olympics

Italian champion Paolo Bettini, winner of a second consecutive World Cup with an unprecedented three rounds of the prestigious series to his credit this year, will once again target the trophy in 2004. Nonetheless, the year-long competition is not Bettini's only objective. As with many top professionals, the Olympic Games represent a special ambition for the Quick.Step-Davitamon rider, who indicated that he would trade a gold medal in Athens for a third World Cup win.

"To win a third World Cup would mean setting a record nobody has achieved yet," Bettini commented. "The Olympics in Athens, for which I will prepare by riding the Tour de France, is my top ambition along with the World Championships in Verona, Italy."

Tonkov to Vini Caldirola

Russian veteran Pavel Tonkov will return to the Italian peloton with a contract to join Vini Caldirola in 2004. Tonkov, winner of the 1996 Giro d'Italia, makes his fourth team change in four years, after single seasons spent with Mercury, Lampre, and CCC-Polsat. Plagued by back problems this season, he never reached his best condition.

Vini Caldirola team management expects Tonkov's experience to provide a significant boost to team leader Stefano Garzelli, who remains team manager Enrico Maggioni's main man for the Giro, while the Russian could have his own cards to play in the Vuelta a España if the season progresses well.

French nationals head to the Alps

The 2004 French national championships will be held in the Champsaur valley in France's Hautes-Alpes region. A demanding 22.4 kilometre circuit has been designed, including a 6 km climb in the early part of the course. The nationals will be held from June 24-27, with the 224 km elite road race wrapping up the events.

"It will be even more selective than at Briançon in 2002," said national technical director Patrick Cluzaud. The Briançon course, while exciting from a racing perspective, was not sufficiently accessible to the general public, something organisers hope will improve with another Alpine test in the Champsaur valley. The course will also serve as a test case for future bids for international events such as the European Championships.

A New O'Grady

Stuart O'Grady and his wife Anne-Marie became first-time parents with the arrival of son Seth on Friday, December 5. The baby was born in Adelaide, Australia and weighed in at a hefty eight pounds 10 ounces, measuring 51cm long. Congratulations to the proud parents.

W.E. Stedman GP postponed

The W.E. Stedman Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross has been postponed due to the snow storm currently hitting the northeastern United States.  In the interest of safe travel for competitors trying to get to the race, race organizers, Pavé Productions, in conjunction with the VERGE Series organizers, have decided to postpone the race.

Round 5 of the VERGE New England Championship Cyclo-cross Series, originally scheduled for Sunday, December 6th, will now take place on Saturday, December 20, 2003, the day before the final race in the series, the Patterson Construction/NEBC Cyclo-Cross in Merrimack, NH.

This will make for a very exciting final weekend to the VERGE New England Championship series with, in essence, triple points up for grab one week after Nationals.  For more information please visit the Pavé Productions website at or the VERGE New England Series website at

Heritage Cyclo-cross Series

For some, December 14th marks the culmination of the American cyclo-cross season with the U.S. National Championships. However, for those unable to travel west, December 14th will also mark final race of the inaugural Heritage Cyclo-cross Series. The Mike Wiley Memorial will be held at the Trotting Park Fields in Falmouth, Massachussets and will feature races for all ages and abilities.

Despite a change in venue from 2002, the race will offer up a challenging course for the riders, including a long set of stairs, tricky off-camber sections, long riding segments exposed to the wind and some tricky BMX style double track. Riders can also expect plenty of great food and drinks for their efforts, while supporting the People Cycle Junior Development Program.

The Mike Wiley Memorial is presented by People Cycle, Inc. with the support of George Sykes and Corner Cycle of Cape Cod. Stelvio Teamware Champion's jerseys will be awarded courtesy of Bici-Imports. Other sponsors include the gracious support of Rudy Project and Honey Stinger. For more information go to

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