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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 7, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Voeckler keeps his feet on the ground

Voeckler en jaune
Photo: © Cyclingnews
Click for larger image

France's Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangère) isn't new to cycling, but this year he made his presence known with a string of high profile results. A stage win in the Route du Sud on his birthday in June was followed by victory in the French national championships barely a week later. As if riding the Tour de France in his country's national jersey weren't enough, Voeckler inserted himself in the winning break on a rainy stage five and handily traded the tricolore for the yellow jersey of Tour leader.

As many of the top Tour favourites faded into obscurity, Voeckler became one of the great stories of this year's race, hanging onto his jersey longer than many, himself included, would have expected. The 25 year old eventually had to hand the jersey back to Lance Armstrong after stage 15 to Villard-de-Lans, but his work was done and Voeckler became a name known and respected around the world. Though he couldn't quite cling to his consolation prize of the white jersey for best young rider, "Ti" Voeckler still established himself as France's new darling. His attitude toward modesty and hard work may not have changed, but there's no denying Voeckler's stature has.

"Right now I'm a little overwhelmed by what's happened, but I'm still the same person," Voeckler told Cyclingnews after a post-Tour criterium in Marcolès, France.

"I know this could end very quickly," he added. "The Tour is over and I need to think about getting other results. But it's true that at home, things have changed a bit. On the window of the tabac in Mouilleron-le-Captif (Voeckler's town in the Vendée region of France) there's a big picture of me, and at the entrance to the town there's a banner thanking me!"

Voeckler's ten day stint in yellow will make him more of a marked man, but he doesn't expect his racing style or training methods to change. Voeckler also resists the label of spokesman for the new generation of French professionals, insisting that he's "not a little saint" and prefers to follow his own path in the sport.

"I'm nothing extraordinary, and it's not just young riders that count," he said with typical modesty. "I get a little uneasy with that, when they say I'm a spokesman... People will expect more from me and I hope I don't disappoint them. But above all, I want to stay true to myself. If I continue to grow like this, I'll have nothing to complain about."

Click here for the full interview.

Queensland keeps Aussie nationals

Cycling Australia and the State Government of Queensland have reached a deal to keep the national road championships in the state for the next three years. The nationals have the support of the state, which hopes to build it into a "landmark event" in the coming years. The races will be run by a private company, USM Events, which this year will introduce a new "Sport" category, open to non-club members. The new race category is part of Cycling Australia's effort to bring new cyclists to the competitive side of the sport.

This year's national championships will run from September 3-12 on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane.

"This is an event that has shown enormous growth potential with entry numbers growing by almost 60% since first coming to Queensland in 2001," said Premier Peter Beattie.

"The national road cycling championships is now the largest competitive cycle event in Australia, attracting more than 1,000 participants in Queensland in 2003 with more than 70% of entrants coming from interstate."

Two more for Discovery Channel

Two more young talents have inked deals with the soon to be Discovery Channel team for 2005. British national champion Roger Hammond (MrBookmaker-Palmans) will join the American team, along with Belgian Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo). Both riders will bolster the team's classics roster for the coming season.

Hammond had a breakout performance in this year's Paris-Roubaix, finishing third on the podium behind Magnus Bäckstedt and Tristan Hoffman. Hoste, meanwhile, put in his own performance the week prior, taking second in the Tour of Flanders behind Steffen Wesemann.

Rubiera out of San Sebastian

US Postal Service's José Luis Rubiera, aka Chechu, will miss the Clasica San Sebastian Saturday due to a fractured ring finger. Rubiera fell while training with teammate Benjamin Noval, but could be back in the peloton at next week's Tour de l'Ain in France.

Aldag too

T-Mobile's Rolf Aldag is another rider who did not join his teammates for the journey to Spain for Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian. Aldag will miss the race, suffering from a stomach ailment, and will not be replaced. The remainder of T-Mobile's line up is the same team used in the Tour de France.

Bettini's backup for San Sebastian

Defending Clasica San Sebastian champion Paolo Bettini will take a mix of climbers and team workers with him to Spain on Saturday. Quick.Step-Davitamon's team for the seventh round of the World Cup includes Laurent Dufaux, José Antonio Garrido, Pedro Horrillo, Luca Paolini, José Antonio Pecharroman, Patrik Sinkewitz, and Richard  Virenque.

No distractions for Zijlaard-Van Moorsel

Triple Olympic champion Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel of the Netherlands will skip the opening ceremony at this year's Games in Athens. The ceremony comes just two days before the women's road race and Zijlaard-Van Moorsel prefers to stay focused for the main event.

"The opening ceremony is nice, but the socializing will come after the race," she told ANP. "I want to remain focused on the competition. I worked hard for it and don't want to let anything distract me. I do want to be at the closing ceremony though. I can perhaps carry the flag then unless it's too heavy."

In addition to the road race, Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will compete in the time trial and the 3000m individual pursuit. She will leave for Athens next Monday with her teammates Mirjam Melchers and Anouska van der Zee.

Australian paralympians head to Athens

The Australian Paralympic Cycling Team is on its way to Athens, but half of the group will make a stop along the way in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania (USA) for a pre-games training camp. The training camp will make use of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, where state of the art facilities, "will be ideal for our athletes to help in their preparations for Athens," said Head Coach Kevin McIntosh.

Among the team members departing from Sydney Friday were Lindy Hou, Toireasa Ryan, Janelle Lindsay, Anthony Biddle, Kial Stewart , Andrew Panazzolo, Kieran Modra, David Short and Tyson Lawrence.

The remaining 13 cyclists will join their teammates for a final training camp in Avezzana, Italy beginning August 29, where they will train for two weeks before flying into Athens to join the Australian team in the Athens Village.

Illes Balears and Cofidis for Tour de l'Ain

Two teams with confirmed rosters for next week's Tour de l'Ain stage race in France (August 10-13) include Cofidis and Illes Balears-Banesto. Cofidis will send Daniel Atienza, Christophe Edaleine, Bingen Fernandez, David Moncoutié, Guido Trentin, and Cédric Vasseur.

Illes Balears will count on Antonio Colom, Joan Horrach, Vicente Reynés, Pablo Lastras, Antonio Tauler, Unai Osa, and José Luis Arrieta.

Verbruggen wins case against Voet

Hein Verbruggen won a civil suit filed against former Festina soigneur Willy Voet in an Amsterdam, Netherlands court. Verbruggen filed the case against Voet after statements he made to Dutch television following the release of his book "Breaking the Chain," in which he pointed a finger at Verbruggen and the UCI concerning the doping epidemic in cycling.

The Amsterdam court ruled that any reprints of the book could not include the passages concerning Verbruggen and the UCI.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)