Latest Cycling News for April 15, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Astarloa on the market
World champion Igor Astarloa has grown restless amidst the Cofidis team's
break from competition, and could be back on the market, looking for a
new employer. Having focused his early season training and his season's
objectives largely on the Ardennes classics (Amstel Gold Race, Flèche
Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège), Astarloa now finds himself
sitting on the sidelines as the peak classics period arrives. Cofidis'
management appears prepared to let the Spaniard out of his contract if
he so desires.
Astarloa has yet to formally request a transfer, but with no date set
for Cofidis' return to competition, a move would appear quite possible.
"I know this is hard for him," Cofidis manager Alain Bondue commented
in l'Equipe. "If he asks us to join another team, if he confirms
that he's found a new employer, we'll let him go without any opposition.
We would do that for the man, and for the jersey he has on his back."
Astarloa reportedly sent Bondue a text message expressing his solidarity
with the team, followed several days later by a fax requesting confirmation
of Cofidis' plans to compete (or not) in Amstel Gold. Not surprisingly
the answer remains no.
"Our interest is not in punishing [Astarloa]," Bondue added. "He's the
reigning world champion, he's just joined the team, and he shouldn't pay
for the damage done in previous years."
Early theories on a new destination for Astarloa would seem to focus
on the Italian teams. While he would likely be happy to return to his
former Saeco squad, no places exist. Lampre, desperate for results and
a leader for the Tour of Italy after Francesco Casagrande's injury-plagued
sprint, could ink a deal in the near future. Lampre president Galbuseria
is an avid cycling fan and would be more than happy to have the world
champion sporting his colours. Fassa Bortolo is another interested party,
but Astarloa has thus far made no indication of specific plans.
The Cofidis situation
Voluntarily removing itself from the peloton on the eve of Paris-Roubaix
to regroup after the widening revelations and allegations of doping within
the team, Cofidis has yet to offer a clear indication of its intentions
for the coming weeks or even months.
"The decision has allowed everyone to realise now just how serious the
situation is," Bondue explained. "The team's existence is what's at stake.
Everyone needs to reflect. Right now we're not going to stop. But, if
the measures I propose to Cofidis aren't convincing, the team will stop."
The team's three track riders, Arnaud Tournant, Mickaël Bourgain,
and Laurent Gané, are in fact clear to race in competition in the
colours of the French national team. The entire road squad remains in
a waiting game pending developments within the team direction.
"I know that a rumour has hinted at the Four Days of Dunkerque in May,
but that would be an ideal scenario," Bondue said of a possible re-entry.
"I would rather be pragmatic. We shouldn't rush just because of the time
passing, rather we should do things right. I have to propose to Cofidis
measures that guarantee an ethical program following the values of the
Super Mario comes to Georgia
For only the second time in his long and illustrious cycling career,
Mario Cipollini will be racing on the shores of USA this month. The last
time Cipo pounded a pedal in anger in America was at the 1996 Olympics
in Atlanta, Georgia. Next week he'll be back in the same state, riding
stage 1 of the Dodge Tour de Georgia which begins in Macon. Thursday's
La Gazzetta dello Sport confirmed that Cipollini will participate,
although there has been no official announcement yet from the race organisers.
Cipollini will reportedly bring his sprint train of Lombardi, Scirea
and company, for what is expected to be his only race before the Giro
d'Italia beginning May 8th. Cyclingnews will have live coverage and extensive
reports from the second edition of the Tour de Georgia, April 20-25.
Garzelli on track
With a strong second place in the tough opening stage of the Vuelta a
Aragon Wednesday, former Giro d'Italia winner and Cyclingnews diarist
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) is pleased with his progress as his
national tour looms on the horizon (May 8). Garzelli was quite happy with
his form, finishing on the mountain summit at the Valdelinares ski station,
a Cat. 1, 1430m climb, just behind a flying Denis Menchov (Illes Balears-Banesto).
"I thought I could have won, but I had to make a big extra effort to
catch Gil in the last 700 metres and Menchov took advantage of that,"
Garzelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Perna. "I've only
had ten days of racing so far this year and I didn't think I'd be that
strong on the climbs. My form has just come along naturally and now I
have to really focus on quality."
Garzelli's chief rival and defending Giro champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco)
rode a steady tempo on last climb and lost nearly 22 minutes. Simoni may
be behind on prep for Giro but says he is still feeling good. This may
indicate that Simoni is serious about going to the Tour de France with
good legs, aiming for a peak in form later in the Giro than in previous
Enough bad luck for Nazon
French sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon, winner of the final stage of the
Tour de France in Paris last year, has decided he's had enough bad luck
during this classics season. The Ag2r-Prévoyance rider is hoping
for a turnaround at Thursday's Grand Prix de Denain, run in similar territory
as Paris-Roubaix but without the emphasis on the pavé.
"It's a flat race, so a lot of riders have ambitions," Nazon told l'Equipe.
"You can't get fooled by a breakaway. But if it finishes in a sprint,
we have our chances."
Nazon suffered a poorly-timed puncture before the Oude Kwaremont in the
Tour of Flanders, a bout of conjunctivitis which forced him out of Gent-Wevelgem,
a cold before the GP Pino Cerami, but finally finished Paris-Roubaix.
"It was important for me," he said of Roubaix. "My family was waiting
in the velodrome, and it's good experience for the years to come. Nazon
finished 88th, half an hour behind race winner Magnus Bäcksted.
Nazon's last victory was the opening road stage of this year's Critérium
Australian masters championships
Sydney, Australia is set to play host to more than 300 competitors for
the 2004 Australian Masters Road & Track Cycling Championships from April
18-24. Cyclists from Australia and New Zealand will line up in a host
of track events at Dunc Gray Velodrome including individual pursuits,
time trials, teams sprint and scratch races. The track events will run
from April 18-20.
The competition moves onto the road with the road races on April 21-23
at Landsdowne Park, the individual time trial on April 22nd at the Sydney
International Regatta Centre at Penrith Lakes and the criterium on April
24th at the Dunc Gray Velodrome circuit.
Favourites for gold in the men's events are dual 2004 masters sprint
world champion, Geoff Stoker, 2003 Australian men's masters cyclist of
the year, Ron Boyle, who claimed two gold and set a new masters best time
at last year's world championships, and Dennis Fahey, the 2004 individual
pursuit masters world champion.
In the women's racing Lorraine Schutz, a dual gold medallist at the 2004
world championships, will be hard to beat on the road. Further details
are available on the CNSW web site: www.nsw.cycling.org.au/news.html
Tour of Hope: Two wheel inspiration
Join the 2004 Tour of Hope Team of Twenty
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Looking for twenty
Photo ©: Tour of Hope
Hope can be defined as a theological virtue as the desire and search
for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.
In the case of the Tour of Hope, cancer survivor and five time Tour de
France champion Lance Armstrong is involved with this week-long journey
across America by 20 cyclists, chosen from the cancer community that Armstrong
and Bristol-Myers Squibb hope will inspire and inform people about the
importance of participating in cancer research. As in 2003, the 20 riders
will ride over 100 miles a day for eight days this October from Los Angeles
to Washington, DC.
The Tour of Hope Team will be organized into smaller teams that will
ride each stage together. Each team member will participate in an individualized
16-week training regimen developed by Lance Armstrong's coach Chris Carmichael.
In addition to their cycling adventure, team members will also have the
opportunity to share their personal stories with the media and audiences
along the route, bringing life to the importance of cancer research.
Research is our hope for the future. The nearly nine million cancer survivors
living in America today are a testament to the miracle of cancer research.
Cancer research offers the ultimate miracle—the cure. Hundreds of potential
new treatments could become the next cutting-edge therapies. More people
are needed to participate in clinical trials so these therapies can become
life saving cures. Bristol-Myers Squibb is a leader in discovering innovative
therapies to treat cancer and provided the medicines that helped Lance
Armstrong beat his cancer.
You can join them and help fight cancer. Lance Armstrong and the Tour
of Hope are still searching for "20 outstanding men and women" to ride
across America this fall and help the search for a cure for cancer. The
application deadline for the 2004 Tour of Hope Team of Twenty has been
extended until Tuesday, April 20th. Check the Tour Of Hope website www.TourofHope.org
for more details. Each of the 2004 Tour of Hope Team of Twenty members
will participate in an personalized 16-week training program devised by
Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training Systems, better known as Lance
Although some cynics may dismiss the Tour of Hope as a commercial for
Bristol-Myers Squibb, talking with Bart Knaggs of Capital Sports & Entertainment
will quickly change your mind. Knaggs, one of Armstrong's business associates,
might be familiar to readers of Armstrong's recent book. But Knaggs participated
in last year's Tour of Hope as one of the group of twenty-six cyclists
for anything but prurient commercial reasons; his younger brother David
was in a desperate struggle against cancer and Knaggs told Cyclingnews
that this was what inspired him to take part in the Tour of Hope.
"There are three types of people that become involved with the Tour of
Hope," explained Knaggs. "The cancer survivors, who believe anything is
possible, the cancer caregivers, who understand how important it is to
spread the message of cancer research and prevention, and the nurses doctors
and cancer researchers who live with cancer every day."
Knaggs and Williams
Photo ©: Tour of Hope
Besides the obvious inspiration of Lance Armstrong, Knaggs also singled
out inspirational cancer survivors like Ron Williams and Jodi Gold.
Ron is a para-Olympian and cancer survivor who lost his right leg to bone
cancer at 15 and Jodi Gold is a marketing executive for Hilton Hotels
who had an inoperable brain tumor but was cured with drugs in a clinical
"When I met people like Ron and Jackie, I was inspired myself to do the
Tour Of Hope. It was really helpful for me to have this outlet to direct
my anxiety over my little brothers fight with cancer and feel like I could
do something myself to help fight it," said Knaggs.
After his transcontinental travel via the Tour Of Hope, Knaggs felt a
catharsis as the group arrived in Washington, DC. "After 3,200 miles in
seven days non-stop, we rode the last forty miles into Washington with
Lance, the US Surgeon General and the CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb among
others." Knaggs related his 'ah-ha' moment when he "realized then that
I was making a difference in the fight against cancer by participating
in the Tour Of Hope. The right people were getting the message, the right
people were working to get everyone together to find a cure for cancer."
As Knaggs and the other 25 riders arrived at the finish in the US capital,
it all came together for him. "It was such an emotional moment for all
of us... We were all crying and I slowed down because I didn't want it
to end. It was a moment that the Tour Of Hope was filled with magic and
we all knew that we had give our all to promote cancer research, promote
cancer survivorship and lead in the fight to find a cure."
Regrettably, Bart Knaggs' brother David passed away late last year and
Knaggs remains a strong advocate for the Tour of Hope to continue to inform
and inspire in the fight against cancer.
"I encourage interested people to go to the website www.TourofHope.org
and sign up," says Knaggs. "We only have 20 spots but we really want the
twenty best people to participate." The deadline for sign-up to join the
2004 Tour of Hope Team of Twenty is Tuesday, April 20th, so don't delay
if you want to inspire yourself and others to join the fight against cancer.
Dick Lane Velodrome update
The month of March has brought several major developments for the East
Point Velodrome Association (EPVA), which operates the Dick Lane Velodrome
near Atlanta, Georgia. The EPVA has been in the process of securing funding
for major renovations for the velodrome, which it will assume operational
control via a long-term lease from the City of East Point. Efforts to
secure donors and sponsors for the EPVA are starting to bear fruit, and
the EPVA has announced two major fundraising efforts for May.
eBay benefit Auction: The EPVA will be holding a benefit auction on eBay
from May 19-25. Cycling-related items will be auctioned off, including
a copy of the 2003 Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year - Lance Armstrong"
issue autographed by the Armstrong himself. Check the EPVA website at
www.dicklanevelodrome.com for an auction flyer and further details as
items are added to the auction.
Lenox Square Spin-a-Thon: The EPVA's other May event will be a Spin-a-Thon,
in conjunction with The Forum Athletic Club. On May 15th, local cyclists
are invited to help the EPVA Spin to Win. There will be prizes for the
largest single donation, the largest number of donors, and most importantly,
the largest team presence. This is a chance to put your club or team in
front of a large audience, and claim bragging rights for the most team
spirit. Sign up at the EPVA website and download the pledge form (http://www.dicklanevelodrome.com/forms/spinpledgeform.pdf).
The EPVA is also pleased to announce the arrival of its "Velodrome Angel",
who has stepped forward and committed to match all donations (up to $50,000
total) that the EPVA receives from March 23rd on. This means that the
EPVA is now only $75,000 away from commencing repairs to the facility
and now is the time to donate, as donations will be matched dollar for
dollar. The EPVA is a registered 501c3 Non-Profit Corporation, and all
donations to the EPVA are tax deductible.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)