First Edition Cycling News for August 27, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Canadian women fired up for MTB
Canada's women's team (Alison Sydor, Marie-Helene Premont, Kiara Bisaro) is one of the favourites to put at least one rider on the podium in the women's MTB race tomorrow. They took a few minutes to speak with our correspondent Rob Jones on the eve of their race.
Cyclingnews: Could you talk about the course, who it favours, what type of rider should do well?
Alison Sydor: I came here in May and rode the test event, and it has loosened up considerably since then. It is a lot more tricky and technical, with sandy, loose ground. But, we expected that this would occur, so it isn't a big surprise.
On Monday we were able to ride most of it (the organizers were still fixing the burned section), and the one change that the fire made was to take away a road section at the top and cut a new technical section, which is a net advantage for us. The other part that was affected by the fire is the forest cover, but not the trail. So, as far as affecting the course, our preparation, there has been no effect.
CN: Who is the course going to favour?
AS: It's the same as always; it's not about the course, it is who is best prepared, best on the day. It is not like Canadian riding, but technical is still technical, so that favours us. This is the most competitive field ever at the Olympics, I think (Sydor has competed in both previous mountain bike events at the Olympics). It is pretty demanding climbing, lots of accelerations. All things combined make it hard - it is hard not to crash, to deal with the heat, it is wearing on you.
CN: Hardtail or soft?
Click here for the rest of the interview
Previewing the Mountain Bike course
By Rob Jones in Athens
With the women kicking off the Olympic mountain biking on Friday, we took the opportunity to have a look at the course on Thursday, a competition free day. We can report that it is very dusty and dry, with lots of loose, gravel sections. Not too much cover from the sun, especially after the fire, which took out a significant portion of the tree-covered section of the course. It is very hot, especially during the 11:00 to 1:00 time frame when the races will take place. Today it was at least 36C, and probably hotter on the open sections of the climbs.
From the start the riders will do a start loop that will take about 8 minutes and climbs up an access road before looping back through the start-finish to spread out the field. From there the riders head out on the six kilometre circuit. There are two loops that bring the riders back into the start-finish area twice per lap. Each has a climb and a descent.
The circuit begins by cutting across the burned out section, which the organizers are busy bulldozing and cutting down brush to clean things up, and goes through a technical rocky section, probably the most technical part of the circuit. From there they traverse the side of the hill along the edge of the burned section to the first climb. This follows along the edge of a rock face, dipping in and out of singletrack, with only a short portion of the climb on a fire road where passing can take place.
Click here for the full course description
Heinz out of women's MTB
Swiss rider Petra Heinz is out of the Olympic mountain bike competition. She broke her left ankle Thursday in a crash on the course's long downhill on the eve of the women's event in Athens. Heinz crashed on a fast, non-technical section and twisted as she fell face first.
GP Ouest France-Plouay preview
By Chris Henry
The Grand Prix Ouest France-Plouay returns this weekend with major one day races for both the men's and women's pelotons. For the women, who tackle the tough Plouay circuit first on Saturday, the event marks a return to World Cup racing after the mid-summer hiatus. Plouay is the seventh race of the nine round women's World Cup, while the men's race retains the UCI's 1.HC ranking, the highest ranked single day race outside the World Cup and various world and national championships. Plouay, a town of barely 5,000 residents, hosted the road world championships in 2000.
Andy Flickinger returns as defending champion, with an Ag2r-Prévoyance team including veteran Laurent Brochard. In the women's race, Australia's Oenone Wood arrives as leader in the World Cup standings, ahead of Zoulfia Zabirova (Let's Go Finland) and Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites-Hartol).
Click here for full preview.
Casero still in limbo
Former Vuelta a España winner Angel Casero has not raced this season, and his chances of returning to the peloton in time for this year's Vuelta appear slim. Casero joined the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team after riding for the embattled Teams Bianchi and Coast, but has been unable to compete due to 'bureaucratic problems' between the team and the UCI concerning his license.
"It would be tricky for the Vuelta a España, but I hope to be able to return to competition soon, for the good of cycling in Valencia and for the team," Casero commented in Marca. "It's been a tough year psychologically with many difficult moments."
Casero has continued training despite his inability to race, but confessed that the lack of competition has made maintaining the necessary intensity in his work difficult.
Van Petegem out of GP Merckx
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) has opted out of the GP Eddy Merckx two-man time trial this Sunday, citing illness. Originally teamed with Merckx the younger, Van Petegem will be replaced by Leif Hoste, recent third place in the Belgian national time trial championships.
Sutherland moves up
Australian Rory Sutherland has signed a two year deal to move up to the Division I Rabobank team. Sutherland currently rides for the team's Division III squad and is his country's reigning U23 champion. Also getting a promotion to what will become Rabobank's Pro Tour team is Theo Eltink, who joined Rabobank's junior team in 1997. He too signed a two year contract.
Rabobank for Vuelta
Rabobank has announced its roster for the upcoming Vuelta a España, with a mix of younger and more experienced riders. Oscar Freire will highlight the team, along with fellow sprinter Robert Hunter. Maarten Den Bakker and Jan Boven, like Freire, will be back for their fourth trip around Spain, while Pieter Weening, Joost Posthuma and Kevin de Weert will make their grand tour debuts. Ronald Mustaars and Thorwald Veneberg complete the roster.
Rumsas back in court
Raimondas Rumsas will have an appeal heard in a French court of appeals on September 15, continuing the legal wrangle over his wife's arrest and his own implication in the transport of banned substances across the French border on the final day of the Tour de France in 2002. Rumsas finished third overall in the 2002 Tour, and on the same day he climbed the podium, his wife Edita was stopped by customs police and found to have a number of substances in her car. She was held in prison in France for nearly 11 weeks before being released.
Rumsas himself was not initially charged in the case, and in fact won a symbolic €1 payment after arguing that the judge Franck Guesdon had spoken defamatory statements to the Swiss press concerning the rider. Guesdon has since appealed the decision.
Since then, Rumsas was drawn into the legal tangle as a warrant for his arrest was issued after he refused to answer any summons from the French court. Rumsas and a Polish doctor said to have issued the prescriptions were charged with importing prohibited substances for his own use. The doctor was also charged with trafficking and facilitation of the use of doping substances, according to a l'Equipe report.
Rumsas returned to competition this month with the Acqua & Sapone team after serving a one year suspension for a positive EPO test at the 2003 Giro d'Italia. He has submitted to the French court a request to have all files in his case since November 2002 annulled on the basis of judge Guesdon's defamatory comments.
Clergy supports Westport criterium
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Mayo Wheelers Cycling Club never fails to impress either the sponsor or the competitors when it comes to the promotion of cycling events. The club is promoting a criterium in the centre of Westport Saturday evening and the town's parish priest brought forward by one hour the Saturday Mass to support the event.
An undertaking of this nature needs the total support of the community and the town has not been found wanting on this occasion. Local businesses have rallied behind the street race, which will begin at 7:30pm on a closed circuit. The organisers would dearly love to run the National Criterium next year.
On Sunday at mid-day, the Mayo Wheelers are back to promote the Sheeffrey Grand Prix. This event follows a scenic route and includes the ascent of the Sheeffrey Mountain. The climb up to the summit offers a very panoramic view of Co. Mayo, but don't offer that scenario to the participants, as they will have little or no time for sightseeing.
Defending champion David O'Loughlin will not be at the start. Since he became the national champion on the road he has been crisscrossing Europe on behalf of the Irish national team. Currently he is in Belgium but on Sunday travels to Britain for the inaugural Tour of Britain, which starts in Manchester on Wednesday, September 1.
As organiser of the Mayo events, Joe McGuire, commented, "Needless to say we have had a couple of months of promotions. The team has worked very well; it just would not have been possible without their support and commitment. Clubs in the region were very supportive and as you know our sponsors did us proud. It was a difficult time for them as the footballers of Mayo have been on the march and hopefully they will go the extra distance on Saturday afternoon. That's why it will be important that Westport will be in party mode on Saturday evening."
Race HQ for both events is the Atlantic Coast Hotel where full facilities are available for the participants.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)