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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 3, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Popovych to Discovery: It's official

Yaroslav Popovych
Photo ©: Sirotti

Confirming rumours reported last week, Ukrainian talent Yaroslav Popovych will leave Landbouwkrediet-Colnago to join the new Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team next year, the successor to US Postal. The team's management verified the news, stating that Popovych has signed a three year deal, with the option of a fourth, to race with them through 2007.

"I'm really excited to get Yaroslav on the team," said team director Johan Bruyneel. "He's a young rider who has shown his talent on numerous occasions. He was the World U23 champion (2001) and he has done some great performances at the Giro d'Italia (3rd in 2003, 5th in 2004). I'm sure he still has a great margin of progression (to make) and I see him as a future contender for the Tour de France in a few years. It's great to have a big talent like him joining us. He really believes in our program."

The 24 year old Popovych was equally happy with the prospect. "Riding for the Discovery team in 2005 has been my ultimate dream," Popovych said. "It's a team in which I believe in and a team where I'm sure to receive the proper education from directors such as Johan Bruyneel and Dirk Demol to become a three week stage racer."

Popovych's friend and teammate at Landbouwkrediet, Volodymyr Bileka, will also join the Discovery Channel team.

Tour 2005 kicks off in Vendée

The organisers of the Tour de France have officially announced the route for the first three stages of the 2005 edition, as a prelude to the announcement of the full route in late October. The Tour will start in Vendée next year, the first time it has done so since 1999, when the prologue was held in Puy du Fou.

The 1999 Tour was a landmark in the race's history as it struggled to regain credibility after the Festina affair the previous year. 1999 saw the emergence of Lance Armstrong, who won the prologue in Puy du Fou and went on to win the entire race ahead of Alex Zülle by 7'37. Interestingly, Zülle lost most of that time when the race went across the Passage du Gois, a treacherous cobbled causeway connecting the Île de Noirmoutier to the mainland that can only be passed at low tide. Zülle, along with several other favourites, were caught up in a crash near the start of the causeway and fought a losing battle against US Postal, ONCE, Casino and Cofidis for the rest of the stage, eventually losing 6'03.

The Passage du Gois was also used in 1993 (with a similar result), but next year the organisers have decided to do something different in this particular region of France. The Tour will start with a flat time trial, but instead of being a short prologue to seed the competitors, it will be 19 km in length, starting in Fromentine (on the mainland) and finishing on the Île de Noirmoutier...but using the D38 instead of the D948 (Passage du Gois).

The second stage will start back on the mainland in Challans, before heading out to the Atlantic coast and travelling southeast for some 90 km before turning back inland to finish in Les Essarts. The third stage will commence in La Châtaigneraie and head northwards towards Cholet, but the race organisers haven't announced yet where the stage will finish.

Tour 2005: First three stages

Stage 1 - July 2: Fromentine - Île de Noirmoutier ITT, 19 km
Stage 2 - July 3: Challans - Les Essarts, 185 km
Stage 3 - July 4: La Châtaigneraie - ?

Svorada ready for his third Olympics

There are very few male road riders who can lay claim to representing their country in three consecutive Olympic Games, but Czech sprinter Jan Svorada (Lampre) is one of them. In 1988 at the Seoul Olympics, Svorada got his first taste by being a reserve for the Czech team in the Team Time Trial. In 1991 he turned professional with Colnago-Lampre, and thus was not eligible for the still amateur Olympic road events in Barcelona in 1992. But Svorada got his first real chance to ride in 1996 in Atlanta, where he finished 27th in the road race.

Svorada's second Olympic ride came in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Road Race, which he described as, "A race rich with opportunities and initiatives, but unfortunately the attack by Ullrich along with Vinokourov and Klöden saw me trapped in the middle of the group, and so the result vanished."

Now, at almost 36 years of age, he will line up in Athens for his third Olympics. "I believe that this finish line is sought after and highly merited. To be selected by my country in a race such as this is a great honour in my athletic career," he said. "The selectors have shown faith in me and I hope to live up to it in a race of great quality."

Svorada will be joined by Rene Andrle, Ondrej Sosenka and Pavel Padrnos in the Czech Olympic team.

Speaking about the Athens circuit, Svorada noted that, "It will be a city circuit with few rough areas but full of corners on the roads, even on the periphery, and the many nations participating will have an open race. It is a course where we will need to be always very careful in how much we can sprint ahead and for those like me who always finish at speed."

Svorada said that not doing the Tour will not adversely affect his chances. "I think that the possibilities for those that did the Tour (Ullrich) and those that didn't will be equal, in as much as even after racing different races, all will arrive in Athens in peak condition."

Svorada will head to Athens on August 10, two days after completing the Volta a Portugal, with time for a brief stop at home "just to change my luggage".

Fracture or no, Jaksche will race

Team CSC's Jörg Jaksche will ride the Tour of Denmark this week, despite fracturing his shoulder in a crash last Saturday. Jaksche, who has already had to miss key races such as the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de France due to poorly timed crashes/breaks earlier this year, is determined to race in Denmark.

"After having received treatment, the fracture in his shoulder doesn't bother him when he's on the bike," said CSC's director Bjarne Riis on the team's website, "This means he has been able to train without problems, and as he's very motivated to get back into action, it was a natural decision to put him back on the start list for Tour of Denmark."

Nicki Sørensen, who was to replace Jaksche in Denmark, will now ride the Tuscan one day race GP Camaiore on August 4 and the Clasica San Sebastian World Cup on August 7 as preparation for the 2004 Olympics.

Bartoli out of Olympics

Michele Bartoli has decided to withdraw from the Italian Olympic team due to poor condition. Bartoli pulled out of the Tour de France in stage 17 due to a strained hamstring, but was optimistic that he would regain his form in time for Athens. However, after finishing 57th at 4'11 down in Sunday's World Cup race in Hamburg, Bartoli met with Italian selector Franco Ballerini and decided to opt out of the Games. His place will be taken by Luca Paolini.

Dajka's appeal will be heard, says Coates

The Australian Olympic cycling saga took on a Days of Our Lives soap opera feel with the news that banished Olympic cyclist Jobie Dajka's appeal to be reinstated in the team will be heard. Earlier on Monday, a spokesman for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Sydney said Dajka had failed to meet a deadline for lodging his appeal papers.

But five hours later Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates said in Athens that the appeal from Dajka had come via fax to the AOC's office at St. Leonards in Sydney. He said they had no issue with the appeal which was likely to proceed in the next couple of days.

Coates said the onus would be on Dajka's legal team to show that the decision to dump him from the team had been made with either bias by the AOC or had been an unreasonable and perverse decision.

"I thought it was the right decision," he said, adding that the Court of Arbitration for Sport would sit in Sydney and may want him to make a statement about his decision.

If Dajka's appeal was successful it would affect Wollongong' cyclist Ben Kersten who has been in and out of the team on two previous occasions and Kersten's appeal against Sean Eadie would then be back on the table. "I hope it does not (affect the team) but it must have some sort of impact I would have thought," Coates said about the sprint cycling team, which was considered a gold medal chance heading into the Athens Games. "If Jobie was successful in all of that, then yes Ben's appeal is still on the table so these Days of Our Lives will just continue."

Before hearing news of the fax was found, Coates, who took the decision to drop Dajka last Friday, doubted the cyclist could provide any extenuating circumstances to excuse his tardiness. "I find it difficult to see that those extenuating circumstances exist, but that is a matter for the court," Coates said today. "Certainly he has had the opportunity over that period to instruct his solicitors what he was going to do."

Coates hammered Dajka for twice lying about whether he had self-injected at an Australian Institute of Sport facility in Adelaide late last year. "He has brought himself, the sport of cycling, the team and the AOC into disrepute and censure," Coates said.

The 22 year-old was forced to leave the Australian team training camp in Buttgen, Germany, but is still training in that country hoping to get back in the team. His replacement, Ben Kersten, arrived yesterday.

Kersten taking it steady

Kersten has had a less-than-ideal buildup himself, having been in and out of the team several times in the past month, first for Sean Eadie and now for Dajka. And he could still lose his place if Dajka appeals successfully against his expulsion.

However, head track cycling coach Martin Barras believes the Wollongong sprinter has the right stuff to overcome all the obstacles.

"The way Ben looked after himself in Sydney during the appeal, we're confident he'll get back to Olympic form," Barras said. "Ben went on the road today and he'll resume proper training tomorrow but we intend to take it easy on him in the first two or three days...see how he goes with the jet lag.

"You can do a lot of damage in the early days and pay for it later so we must be mindful of that. The next couple of days we need to work on him integrating well into the team."

Eadie in good form

Sean Eadie, the 2002 world sprint champion, has also had a disjointed and mentally draining buildup after being dumped from the team and then reinstated when he was cleared of trying to import an illegal substance.

Barras admitted the preparation has not been ideal for the sprinters, but was pleased with Eadie's progress. "Sean is going extremely well. He did his homework back in Sydney and after some fine tuning he came here in good form," he said. "We're yet to see Ben on the track. But with Sean, we're confident we'll be able to get him to 100 per cent. These guys have got the background. It's not about the last week, it's about the last couple of months."

Barras now has several ways to employ his four sprinters in Athens. Originally Ryan Bayley and Dajka were the certainties for the two places in both the sprint and the keirin while they were joined by Eadie and Shane Kelly in the three man team sprint.

Bayley will still ride the sprint and keirin, but Kersten is no guarantee to replace Dajka in the events, nor to be a part of the team sprint, and will probably have to battle Eadie for a seat.

Barras said the dramas had been unsettling, although the team had remained focussed. "The atmosphere is fine, people have a tough time believing that, but it really is," he said. "Everyone is very, very happy with the way training has gone. They are difficult circumstances, we've been dealt some difficult cards. But it's the old cliche, it's all out of our control. Training is what we can control. And it's a great credit to the guys, their number one priority is to train and focus on getting ready for the Olympics and they are."


Fassa Bortolo for Clasica San Sebastian

The Fassa Bortolo squad for this Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian has been named with the following riders: Marzio Bruseghin, Fabian Cancellara, Dario Cioni, Massimo Codol, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez, Volodimir Gustov, and Kim Kirchen.

M Donnelly Junior Tour is go

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

The 27th edition of the Junior Tour, sponsored by M Donnelly takes to the roads in various counties that straddle its base in Waterford City, which like so many other Irish seaports, traces its origin back to the Vikings. The event gets under way on Tuesday evening with a time trial in Portlaw at seven o'clock, and for the next six days will take in various locations and testing courses which should add spice to an already tried and trusted event.

Hopefully the Irish can reverse the export of this particular title that has been dominating the race. Kai Reus from the Netherlands, last year's overall winner, crowned a great year when he won the Junior World Championships in Hamilton, Canada. Similar to the identical feat that Mark Scanlon achieved in 1998.

The Tour is specifically for juniors and is now sponsored by M Donnelly. Since their involvement, the event has taken on a new meaning. Firstly, the numbers of overseas competitors have increased dramatically and the fact that the Irish lads are not having it all their own way speaks volumes for the promotion. At the helm now is Alice Sherratt, who along with a very dedicated committee has overseen many changes.

"I am very happy the way the promotion is gaining momentum, particularly on the world stage," said Sherratt. "It also gives the opportunity for the domestic lads to taste the continental opposition. Of course the race historically has been an excellent platform for all competitors since its inaugural winner Martin Earley back in 1978. When you look back and see the names that have won the event and gone on to greater heights, you can feel justifiably proud of the personnel that have been associated with the event.

How does the event stand in the world rankings as a junior race? "Nicolas Roche, who won the event a couple of years ago and is still only 20 years of age, has been given the opportunity of making it into the professional ranks, and who knows in years to come what the popular son of Stephen will attain in the professional ranks?" said Alice.

Of course this year, the hopes of the Irish will rest squarely on the shoulders of Maurice O'Brien from the Kanturk Credit Union Cycling Club. He leads the Irish team and if he reproduces anything like the form he showed in winning the Junior Championships in Westport a couple of weeks ago, then the sky could be the limit.

Whilst the spotlight may be on the Irish team and O'Brien, it could favour Owen Whyte from Dungarvan who looks to be peaking for this particular event. Rumour has it that he will not suffer the symptoms of cramp, which cost him dearly recently. Likewise, Richard Maes from the Killarney CC is looking forward to the challenge. He finished 10th in the overall standings last year, but there are question marks about his overall fitness. Unfortunately, Richard had his preparations put into some disarray when he took a serous tumble last month in Ras Connachta which curtailed his training and also nearly put paid to his season. It was enough for him to miss the Championships, but reports suggest that he will give a good account of himself and his team. A fit Richard would certainly be knocking on the door, so, if all goes well, he'll be in with a shout - if not overall, then a podium finish.

Killorglin Credit Union Cycling club can be relied with its team to give a good account of themselves and possibly Daniel Clifford could nip a stage.

What of the opposition? On paper it looks formidable and when teams travel from America, Holland, France, Malta plus the home countries, you can expect fireworks.

One name in particular stands out, and that was Daniel Martin, a nephew of Stephen Roche and cousin of former winner Nicholas Roche. He has just won the British Junior title in convincing style, so he has to be rated as a real candidate, but I have a feeling that there is a joker in the pack amongst the visiting competitors, particularly the South Africans.

Interestingly, the organisation has decided to start the final stage at 11:00am, to give everybody the opportunity of watching the Kilkenny versus Waterford clash. "I would not like to spoil the hospitality of the Waterford people by putting on event in opposition to the hurling match," said Alice Sherratt.

The stages

Stage 1 - August 3: Portlaw Prologue ITT, 1 mile
Stage 2 - August 4: Clonmel - Clonmel, 55 miles
Stage 3 - August 5: Waterford - Waterford, 57 miles
Stage 4 - August 6: Carrick-on-Suir Circuit, 53 miles
Stage 5 - August 7: Youghal - Youghal, 53 miles
Stage 6 - August 8: New Ross - Waterford, 43 miles

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