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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 29, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich on track in SA

Jan Ullrich has spent a good Christmas training in South Africa, according to his mentor Rudy Pevenage. Ullrich is training more seriously than ever with the new season fast approaching, and has managed to win his annual battle of the bulge in the off-season. "Jan is training five hours per day," said Pevenage to Algemeen Dagblad. "His weight is good for this time of year, he feels fantastic. When Ullrich returns to Europe, he will have already ridden 2500 km."

Cunego to debut in Almeria

UCI number one Damiano Cunego will make his 2005 season debut in the Clasica de Almeria in Spain on February 27. His first stage race will be the Vuelta a Murcia, which runs from March 2-6. In addition to finishing the year ranked number one, the youngest rider (at 23) ever to do so, Cunego also won the Giro d'Italia and the Giro di Lombardia World Cup race.

Casagrande to Naturino

Francesco Casagrande, who rode for both Lampre and Vini Caldirola this year, has signed for Vincenzo Santoni's new team Naturino-Sapore di Mare. The announcement was made on Tuesday at a meeting in Civitanova Marche, where riders Filippo Simeoni, Sergio Marinangeli, Valerio Agnoli and director Giuseppe Petito were also present.

Casagrande will be the team's captain and will make his debut on February 22 in the Giro della Provincia di Lucca. "I'm motivated and I have a great deal of desire to return to racing," said the 34 year old who was fired by Lampre this year after recording a high hematocrit before the Vuelta. "I have found a familiar environment here and the team has a good structure: there are experienced and young riders with which I can confront the season with calm. My main objective is the Giro di Italia. I want to win it and it would give me a great deal of satisfaction to do so."

The team has also signed a new sponsor, the Province of Macerata, and Santoni hopes that it will become part of the ProTour. At the moment, Naturino-Sapore di Mare appears neither on the ProTour nor the Professional Continental team lists.

Simoni qualifies as a DS

Lampre-Caffita's co-leader Gilberto Simoni has perhaps signaled his future intentions by passing a director sportifs course in Verona. The qualification, which is endorsed by the Italian cycling federation, enables him to direct a professional team. Marco Battiston, Ermanno Brignoli, Davide Casarotto, Biagio Conte, Fausto Dotti and Massimo Strazzer also completed the course. Another similar series of examinations will be held in Pistoia on January 9, with Paolo Fornaciari, Eddy Mazzoleni, Antoni Rizzi, Leonardo Giordani, Fabio Quercioli and Simone Leporatti scheduled to sit them.


No, then yes to new licence for Vanthourenhout

The mini-saga developing around Sven Vanthourenhout took another turn on Monday when the Belgian cycling federation refused to issue him with a new licence, then did a volte-face on Tuesday and issued him with one. Vanthourenhout has made no secret of his intentions to leave Quick.Step, despite having two years of his contract still to fulfil. But he has not yet decided on a new team, with either Rabobank or Fidea likely to be his next employer.

Belgian federation president Laurent De Backer was quoted by on Monday as saying, "As long as there is no agreement with the three parties (Vanthourenhout, Quick.Step/Patrick Lefevere, and the new team), no new licence can be issued. A contract is a contract, a word a word. Unless a judge in the workers court makes a quick decision in Vanthourenhout's favour."

Vanthourenhout's response was that, "There should only be an agreement between two parties. At the moment I have no contract with a new employer, not even a preliminary contract...I am making use of the law of 1978 that says you are a free man if you have sent a release letter and paid a contract-breaking fee. My manager [Paul] De Geyter knows what he's doing. I'm not a test case. Erwin Vervecken, Peter Van den Abeele, Johan Capiot, Frank Vandenbroucke and Tom Boonen went before me."

Now it seems as though the KBWB has seen Vanthourenhout's side of things, with De Backer being quoted on Sporza as saying, "We had received a letter from Patrick Lefevere asking us not to give Vanthourenhout a licence with another team. But in the latter it did not state that the rider had already requested his dismissal. Furthermore, it appears now that Vanthourenhout has paid the necessary guarantee. He will therefore receive his licence from the federation."

Nys flabbergasted

Vanthourenhout's probable future teammate Sven Nys said that he didn't understand why none of the Belgian teams snapped up Vanthourenhout. "Our manager De Rooij asked Groenendaal and I whether we had anything against it," said Nys. "We didn't. On the contrary, we will be a strong 'crosser and future World Champion richer. I simply don't understand why the Belgian teams don't do anything to keep such a talent in their own country. I have to agree with Groenendaal one hundred percent. He said that the Belgians discovered cyclo-cross but that they need Dutch sponsors to nurture their top riders."

Belgian squad for World Cup #8

Belgian national coach Rudy De Bie has selected his men for the eighth round of the World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland on January 2. Led by Sven Nys (Rabobank), the squad will also feature Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), Bart Wellens (Fidea), Ben Berden (Saey-Deschacht), Sven Vanthourenhout (?), Wim Jacobs (Fidea), Davy Commeyne and Tom Vannoppen (, Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) and Jan Verstraeten (Saey-Deschacht).

Arnouts back in hospital

Ex-junior cyclo-crosser Ben Arnouts has been forced to pay another visit to the hospital in Aalst due to heart disturbances. Although he is no longer competing, Arnouts experienced more problems when he fired the starting shot for the junior World Cup race in Hofstade today. His last race was the World Cup in Koksijde on November 28.

Dutch championships in Zeddam

Richard Groenendaal is the out and out favourite for the Dutch Cyclo-cross Championships in Zeddam on January 9, 2005. A 13-time winner of the red, white and blue jersey, Groenendaal's last defeat in the championship came at the hands of Gerben de Knegt in 2001, when it was also held in Zeddam. On a similar parcours in 1997, he was beaten by Wim de Vos. Thus, he hopes to set the record straight in 2005.

"I am the best Dutch cyclo-crosser every year and with the red, white and blue jersey it is worth something," said Groenendaal. "It is good for my market value in the foreign 'crosses. Next season the World Championship will be ridden on this parcours and this national championship race is a nice dress rehearsal for us."

Groenendaal's challengers include Wilant van Gils, who has been in top form in recent weeks; Gerben de Knegt, who is coming back after a bad fall in a mountain bike race; Maarten Nijland, who is very motivated to win close to home; and Camiel van den Bergh, who is renowned for his fast starts.

The women's race should be an interesting tussle between Daphny van den Brand, and regular road riders Mirjam Melchers and Arenda Grimberg. Melchers surprised the rest to win last year in Heerlen, and what she lacks in technical ability she more than makes up in fitness.

In the U23 race, European Champion Lars Boom will face the likes of Eddy van IJzendoorn, Thijs van Amerongen, Bart Dirkx, Guus Magielse, Rikkie Dijkxhoorn and Sebastiaan Langeveld. The junior race will see Ricardo van der Velde as top favourite, against Patrick Vliegen, Bart Senders and Rik van IJzendoorn.

The course will be identical to that which will be used for the Cyclo-cross World Championships in 2006. More than 100 stairs have been removed from the proposed course, which means that nearly all the climbing can be done on the bike.


Saturday, January 8

10.00: Amateurs-A
11.30: Novices
13.15: Women
14.30: U23

Sunday, January 9

11.00: Masters
12.30: Juniors
14.00: Elite Men

Memory Corp sponsors Shimano team

Belgian company Memory Corp, manufacturer of digital memory products, has announced a sponsorship agreement with the new Shimano Professional Continental team, managed by Arend Scheppink. The team will be known as Shimano-Memory Corp, with Van Keulen Interieurbouw, Imabo Van Buren and Colnago also on board as sponsors. The sponsorship agreement should be for the coming four years.

Shimano-Memory Corp is one of the 12 teams that have already been given Professional Continental licences by the UCI, with another 13 teams still waiting for theirs.

New South African team: Exel

A new South African squad has been created, entitled Exel, according to The team will feature nine riders, all South African: Rupert Rheeder (28), Hanco Kachelhoffer (19), Nolan Hoffman (19), Alex Galvin (24), Garth Thomas (23), Etienne Hairbottle (20), Reece Swarts (19), Egan Tarr (19) and Dennis van Niekerk (20).

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