First Edition Cycling News for August 11, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
Navigators Insurance assured for 2005
Team manager "100 percent in favour" of Vogels' return to Europe
By Anthony Tan
Fresh from Phil Zajicek's overall win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China last month (the team also won four stages, the sprints and teams classifications), Navigators Insurance Cycling Team director Ed Beamon has confirmed the company's continuing involvement as title sponsor for the 2005 season, as well as a move to expand the team's European schedule.
"Well, the insurance company is back as a sponsor," said Beamon to Cyclingnews. "We're still trying to finalise other opportunities as well, and we're still in the decision-making process which has to be finished pretty darn quick, given the new UCI registration date.
"Our hope is to continue in the vein that have been moving in, combining an international program with a domestic program that focuses on all the major races back here in the States. We're planning on doing the Tour Down Under again and some part of the spring in Europe - hopefully expanding our European program a little bit - before coming back home and looking for opportunities, like the trip to China. It's new and exciting, and it exposes the guys to a higher level of international competition," he added.
Asked about his star rider Henk Vogels' likely return to Europe, joining Aussie friends Robbie McEwen and Nick Gates at Omega Pharma-Lotto, Beamon said that while he would hate to lose Vogels to another US trade team, to have him return to an environment that he loves and thrives in would make him "the happiest guy in the world".
"I don't know if that's 100 percent written in stone, but I think it's well on his way to happening, if it isn't fully confirmed," said Beamon.
"My feeling is that I would hate to lose Henk to a US domestic program, or a program with another second level, [Division II] team, but for Henk to have the opportunity to get back with the top club, racing a type of schedule that he loves and that he's well-suited for, I'm 100 percent in favour of it," he added, his voice tinged with a just a hint of regret.
Beamon said he understood Vogels still had ambitions to return to Europe - a place where he spent his first five years as a professional - when he signed for Navigators back in 2003. However, he also understands that it's part of the role of a Division II squad to act as a stepping stone for riders to move up to the next level - which inevitably results in talented riders leaving his team every so often.
"One of the reasons why we explored a European program and one of the reasons why we continue to do that is to gain more experience and more exposure for the athletes' programs... and the upside and the downside to that is that they gain more experience and more exposure," Beamon said with a chuckle.
"But if all works out for Henk, I'm going to be the happiest guy in the world; I think he deserves those kinds of opportunities and the fact that Robbie has that much respect for him and that much interest in [signing] him is great, especially after the year that he's had with his injuries," he said.
Look out for an interview with Tour of Qinghai Lake winner Phil Zajicek on Cyclingnews later today.
British trackies expect medals
Britain is fielding perhaps its strongest-ever team for the track events at the Athens Olympics, and its riders expect to bring home some precious metal souvenirs.
Bradley Wiggins, Britain's strongest hope in the 4000m pursuit, told icwales.co.uk, "Really, this team is going to Athens with a possibility of bringing back seven or eight medals."
However, one of those medals will not come from a successful defence of his 2000 Olympic kilo title by Jason Queally. Queally's team-mates Craig Maclean and world champion Chris Hoy and will represent Britain in that event, leaving Queally the hope of a consolation medal as part of the team sprint squad.
"I had intended to defend my Olympic title and also compete in the team sprint and hopefully come away with a gold medal there," Queally told the Daily Telegraph. "Unfortunately, I won't be defending my Olympic title, which is going to be difficult. But I have got a good chance of coming away with a team medal.
"At the end of the day, I knew somebody, someday, would go quicker than myself. Unfortunately for me, it was two of my team-mates. Chris will compete in the kilo with Craig."
Queally added that the team was in a very upbeat mood. "It's just great being involved with a Great Britain team that has a chance of a few more gold medals this time. It's exciting stuff," he said. "The spirit in the team is very good and very positive. Things are going well for most people, and hopefully we will come away with more medals than we did in Sydney."
Rast replaces Camenzind
The Swiss Olympic Association (SOA) has nominated Gregory Rast to replace Oscar Camenzind in the Swiss Olympic team. Rast has already arrived in Athens according to the SOA. Camenzind was withdrawn from the team on Monday after testing positive for EPO. He has admitted using the drug and retired from cycling.
USAC tips Hincapie as best hope
The US team began arriving in Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games yesterday, and USA Cycling is tipping George Hincapie as the country's best medal chance in the road race.
The men's road team comprises Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney. USAC spokesman Andy Lees says it's, "a strong team of talented veterans. The unpredictable nature of a single day road race and the smaller team sizes offers a reasonable chance for medals."
Pointing out that the course is "technical with narrow roads and sharp turns", Lee adds "if the climbs aren't long enough to create significant selections in the field of 145 men, then the tricky and twisty route may lend a hand in splitting the field."
The favourite from the US ranks then, is "Hincapie, with his reputation as a solid single day rider and fast finisher," says Lee, "but given the nature of the course, Julich, Hamilton and Leipheimer can escape from a small group of breakaway riders and rely on their tenacious style to carry them to a medal."
Beltran renews with Postal/Discovery
Manuel "Triki" Beltran, the Spanish climber who played a major part is assisting Lance Armstrong's last two Tour de France victories, will stay with the US Postal team (which will take the name of new sponsor Discovery Channel next year) for at least one more year, according to Marca.
Beltran said he could see the team still had "great potential" and expected to "continue to contribute positive things in the course of the next campaign."
Following a post-Tour break, Beltran plans to return to training in the next few days and is aiming for a top ten finish in the Vuelta a Espana.
Steve Miller band to welcome home Armstrong
Organisers have announced that Friday August 13's welcome home celebration for Lance Armstrong in Austin, Texas will feature rock legend, the Steve Miller Band, famous for a string of hits in the 70s including 'The Joker' and 'Take the Money and Run'.
The evening's festivities start at about 7pm with a parade from Congress Bridge to 1100 Congress Ave, followed by speeches and video presentations. The Steve Miller Band is expected to stake the stage at about 9pm.
Pantani statue planned
Marco Pantani's hometown Cesenatico plans to erect a statue in his honour. The three metre tall sculpture will be erected in an open space in the town, which still sees plenty of Pantani's fans making pilgrimages to his grave, particularly on Sundays, according to ANSA.
"Marco was a part of our lives and we do not want to forget him," said Cesenatico mayor Damiano Zoffoli.
Tammy Thomas turns to the law
Former US national track team rider Tammy Thomas is looking to forge a new career - as a lawyer. Thomas, who received a life ban in 2002 after testing positive to the steroid Norbolethone, has applied to the University of Mississippi law school, part of her effort, she told the New York Times to walk "a straight line."
However Thomas is still fighting the decision that saw her banished from all sports that conduct drug tests. She now works as personal trainer at a California gym and is suing the Olympic Analytical Laboratory at U.C.L.A. and its director, Dr. Donald H. Catlin, alleging that Catlin Catlin used her urine samples as human subject research without her consent. The first hearing of the case resulted in its dismissal, but Thomas is appealing that decision.
Thomas has consistently denied taking Norbolethone, a steroid that was first synthesized in 1966 but never marketed, and repeated that claim last year to a grand jury investigating the BALCO drugs in athletics affair. Thomas' positive for Norbolethone led to suspicion that a secret lab was manufacturing the substance.
Mid-Atlantic Team Sprint Championship at T-Town
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host the Mid-Atlantic Team Sprint Championship on Friday, August 13, 2004. The event consists of both men's and women's races, with top riders from around the world.
Top male athletes for the evening include Jame Carney (Northwestern Mortgage), Andy Lakatosh (Tri-State Velo), and Gil Hatton (Gotham Cyclists). Jame Carney is the reigning Morning Call Rider of the Year and is far ahead of all others in the 2004 standings. Carney has also represented the United States at two Olympic Games. Lakatosh, one of America's top young sprinters will also be on hand. The 2004 U.S. World Championship Team member and Nestor's Keirin Cup winner is well known for his fast finishes. Longtime fan favorite Gibby "the Bear" Hatton, a Masters World Champion, has made yet another return to racing and is still beating competitors half his age.
Female competitors include Sarah Uhl (Quark), Becky Conzelman (Frisco Cycling Club) and the Martinez sisters (Coach Argentina). Uhl is one of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome's prize young stars being a Junior World Champion and multiple senior national champion. Her competition includes current Morning Call Rider of the Year points leader Becky Conzelman and the Martinez sisters from Argentina.
Gates open at 6pm Friday, August 13, with racing to begin at 7pm. For more information see www.lvvelo.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)