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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 10, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Kelme surprised at exclusion

The exclusion of the Kelme-Costa Blanca team from Division I has been met with surprise and disbelief by its staff and riders. In a statement, team president José "Pepe" Quiles called the UCI's decision unjust, "because the International Cycle Union has sufficient guarantees to maintain this team in Division I".

"Our auditor is surprised by this decision, since he communicated to the UCI on Thursday, January 8 that we had obtained all the documents they had requested, and at the same time asked for a few days to be able to deliver them to UCI headquarters, but now the UCI has denied that there was a request to postpone their delivery. I want everyone to know that I am going to fight to maintain the team where it deserves to be...counting on the Valencian community and others helping, because I'm not going to allow forty families who make up the team to be left on the street."

Kelme's team captain Alejandro Valverde was guarded in his statements, telling Marca that he didn't want to comment on the team's downgrading until he had spoken with the responsibles of the team. "It seemed yesterday that everything was resolved and there was not a problem," said Valverde. "If it is confirmed, it would be a very big blow for me and my teammates."

Valverde was not considering a team change yet, but said "clearly it's not the same to race in a team that is not allowed to dispute the Grand Tours."

Spanish national coach Paco Antequera said that the news wasn't a surprise to him, telling Marca, "To be honest I could see this coming. "I'm sorry to say it but when the situation is as bad as it has been for Kelme, with riders not getting paid, then it is better to call it a day."

Quick.Step-Davitamon presentation

The stars of Quick.Step (L to R):
Photo ©: Luc Claessen/CN

The Quick.Step-Davitamon team was presented to the press on Friday, January 9 in Waregem, Belgium. Ranked number two in the world at the end of last year, Quick.Step riders won 22 races, including Paolo Bettini's three World Cups and the overall World Cup classification, Richard Virenque's stage win and KOM jersey in the Tour de France, Michael Rogers' wins in the Tours of Belgium, Germany and the Route du Sud, and Johan Museeuw's win and the team's domination of one of the most important Belgian races, Het Volk.

Paolo Bettini's goals this year are well known. The Italian who is the UCI's number one ranked rider aims to win his third World Cup in succession, "something that no other rider has achieved," he said. "But the biggest thing would be to win the Olympic Title in Athens." Bettini also doesn't count out the World Championship in Verona.

For 34 year old Richard Virenque, his main goal will be to win the polka dotted jersey for being King of the Mountains in the Tour de France for a seventh time, again a feat that no other climber has achieved. Virenque currently stands equal with Lucien Van Impe and Federico Bahamontes on six polka dot jerseys each, but believes he has it in him to win another.

Richard Virenque and Johan Museeuw
Photo ©: Luc Claessen/CN

Johan Museeuw (38) will retire in mid-April in 2004, but before then will ride his favourite classics, including Het Volk, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. "I'm motivated and fresh again," said Museeuw. "I want to go round one more time. Whether I can catch another 'big fish'? The most important thing is that I can be at the top level again."

Michael Rogers, who grew greatly in stature during 2003, will help to lead the team's young group of riders, which include Patrik Sinkewitz, Jurgen Van Goolen and Tom Boonen. The latter is relishing the chance to ride the classics again in support of Museeuw and Bettini. "We have quite a strong team for the classics," said Boonen, who will probably find himself in a more responsible role in 2004.

Team manager Patrick Lefevere said that the team's main goals will be the classics, World Cup and Tour de France. "We have a driven team, sponsors, personnel and racers. The mission is: confirm. Johan Museeuw has found his strength again after the Landuyt affair. Wilfried Cretskens told me after the training camp that the "old man" had made it painful for everyone.

New riders to the team include Laurent Dufaux, Jose Antonio Pecharroman, Juan Miguel Mercado, Jose Antonio Garrido and Stefano Zanini, nearly all of whom are accomplished riders. On the flip side, the team has lost Frank Vandenbroucke to Fassa Bortolo.

For full details and background on the riders in the Quick.Step-Davitamon team - and all other Division I (and probable Division II) trade teams for 2004 - please visit our recently updated Teams Database, produced by Theo Muller.

The Quick.Step launch coincided with the Cofidis team presentation, which took place in Paris yesterday and was attended by Cyclingnews editor Chris Henry. Click here for a full report and photos of the presentation.


Images by Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews/

Images by AFP Photo

Mike Creed: USPS "A huge surprise"

By Jeff Jones

Twenty two year old former Prime Alliance team member Mike Creed landed on his feet when he signed a one year contract with the top American team U.S. Postal presented by Berry Floor. The talented Colorado Springs resident with 18 national titles to his credit was ready to throw it all in at the end of last year when his team folded, but suddenly found himself at the top level when an offer came almost literally out of the blue.

"I guess it's just kind of a huge surprise," Creed told Cyclingnews from his home today. "The cycling market is so incredibly tight now, and I didn't have a great season last year. I got mono [mononucleosis/glandular fever] in the middle of year which kind of wiped out a lot of the year. I gave myself until December 20 to have a team with a certain monetary offer. If it didn't happen then I would go back to school. You go from nothing to having a division one's incredible."

How did it all come about? "A rider on the team called me and said that Lance and Johan had been asking about me at the training camp in Austin. He said maybe I should follow it up, so I called Jonathan Vaughters [Creed's Prime Alliance teammate and former US Postal member] and it kind of snowballed from there. It started in early December, but you hear so many things and people promise you things...It's one thing to get disappointed by a division three team pulling the plug, but signing for didn't want to think about it!"

To stop thinking about it, Creed tucked himself away in the mountains in Mexico, training by himself for a month and out of cell phone contact. In the meantime, things were happening that were shaping his future. "It's kind of surreal right now, I don't think it'll sink in until I get to camp on January 19."

He described U.S. Postal-Berry Floor as, "the Yankees of cycling. Just to be on the same team as Armstrong, Ekimov, Hincapie, even for one year, that's something you're going to remember. I'm really excited."

Creed has yet to learn his racing schedule for this season, but "They could put me on purely U.S. domestic circuit and I would be more than thankful, beggars can't be choosers," said Creed. "I would love it if I could get to Europe though. I don't think they expect much in way of results, but I guarantee that I'm going to do my job."

It seems likely that he'll be based in Girona, Spain with several other members of the team including his good friend, Saunier Duval's Tim Johnson. "I'll probably live with Tim Johnson in Girona, which is almost becoming 'Little America'. I'll be there with Damon Kluck, Pat McCarty, Dave Zabriskie: we've all done the U23 program in Belgium and we're all good friends. Those guys are hilarious."

Aitken out of TDU but still in Bay Classic

Brownie sick, Clarke recovered

By Karen Forman in Geelong

Brett Aitken may have withdrawn from the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under due to a flare-up of tendonitis in his knee, but the Adelaide rider has decided to keep on persevering with the 2004 Jayco Bay Classic criterium series, currently underway in Victoria. Aitken, a former Classic winner, was forced to pull out of the Tour of South China Sea two weeks ago when the condition he has had for a number of years flared, causing him extreme pain.

The knee still wasn't feeling right when he lined up for the first stage of the Bay Classic at Hastings on Wednesday when ironically, the rainy conditions and slippery course which saw almost every other elite rider crash or withdraw, would have perfectly suited him.

Although he wasn't happy with his fitness, which he says has suffered due to time off the bike nursing the injury and a flu bug before he left for China, he did manage to avoid the crashes that occurred on every lap until the final lap, when he went down in a large group of riders.

"The first day had perfect conditions for me," he told Cyclingnews. "They are the kind of conditions I really like. I knew that in those conditions the race would be won by the best skilled riders." Unfortunately, he finished well back in the pack.

The Drapac team member's knee played up during stage two at Port Arlington and he wasn't able to finish in the top 10. However, he said the problem had convinced him to withdraw from the JCTDU in a bid to rest up to give himself his best shot when he does his qualifying for the Olympics in Adelaide in late February.

"It's a pity because the Tour Down Under, along with the Sun Tour, are the two goals I still have left for my cycling career."

Aitken said he thought he could still manage the criteriums, though, because they are short. "I am looking forward to the Geelong stage because I won it last year and it would be nice to have another good one this year. I will just ride smart and I'll be alright."

He said he would possible ride at the Warragul track carnival early in February and do a couple of motor pace rides in Adelaide. "Mike Turtur (the promoter of Adelaide Superdome) has asked me to do a 5km and a 10km motor paced time trial to set some times for people to aspire to on the track," he said.

Basically, though, he will avoid major events for the next four to six weeks and concentrate on healing his tendonitis and giving himself his best chance for Olympic selection. Meanwhile, he is acting as a mentor to his Drapac teammates Miles Olman, Mitchell Docker, Bradley Norton and Adam Murchie, who coach John Beasley says are delighted to be riding with the Olympic gold medallist.

In other Jayco Bay Classic news:

SBR rider and series favourite Graeme Brown will be lucky to make the fifth and final stage at Docklands on Sunday after coming down with a chest infection which has been threatening to turn into pneumonia. Brownie, who woke up on January 2 "and felt like someone was giving me a hiding", suffered a serious coughing fit during the first stage of the event on Wednesday and had to withdraw for the day.

He consulted a doctor who ordered him to rest. "He said you really have to stop racing, because if you don't, it will lead to pneumonia. He said to take a minimum of two days off," Brownie told Cyclingnews. "I would have kept racing, but when he said pneumonia I thought I would stop."

With teammate Hilton Clarke riding gingerly in the second stage after suffering deep puncture wounds and grazes to his face and a bump on the head during a crash in stage one, Brown's absence was strongly felt. He couldn't even go to watch stage two at Port Arlington, because gale force winds would not have been conducive to improving his health. A pity, because fiancée Hayley Rutherford won the women's event that day.

"I have a very phlegmy cough, the bronchitis chest infection has moved up into the throat as well...I am losing my voice," he said. "I won't be racing stage three and I don't even think I will make stage four. But I am going to try to get in on the last day at least.

"I am very disappointed. I was in good form. It's one of those things you can't really avoid. I am taking my vitamins, eating and training well. I guess it's better now than when I am training for the Olympics or the Giro. I really want to be right for the Tour Down Under."

He was planning to head to the Geelong boulevard tonight to watch Clarke and the SBR team and of course, Rutherford. "Hopefully she'll win the Geelong stage tonight - she won it last year, which was the national championships - so hopefully she can do it for me again."

Hilton Clarke, meanwhile, told Cyclingnews he was feeling a lot better and was ready to ride hard at Geelong. "I am feeling a lot better, my injuries are healing up fine," he said. "Yesterday I was back in the bunch, sitting back and taking it easy. I obviously didn't feel too good after hitting my face but I think I'm fine. We've put a strong team together and at the moment it looks like we are all down, with Brownie sick...but maybe things will turn around. There are three more to go so anything can happen."

Also on the sick list is Giant-CBD Cycles rider Christopher Bradford of Victoria. Bradford rode in the first two stages but was advised by doctor to rest and withdrew from stage three at Geelong.

Introducing Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland
Photo ©: Bert Geerts

Rory Sutherland, who finished second in Round 2 of the Jayco Bay Classic, is one of the quieter talents of Australian cycling. Based in Europe for the last three years with the Rabobank U23 squad, Rory is aiming for a pro career with Rabobank in 2005, as Mark Carter writes.

Rory Sutherland will be back riding for the Rabobank U23 team this year after another strong season, culminating in an impressive ride in the U23 World Championships Road Race, only to be robbed of a certain top 10 placing while in the winning break when the lock ring on his cluster gave way, ending his chances with 20km left to race in the 174km race.

Click here for the full feature.

Sprinters head to Tour of Qatar

Sprinters Jean-Patrick Nazon (Ag2r) and Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) will be among the riders hunting for an early season victory in the Doha International Grand Prix (January 31) and Tour of Qatar (February 2-6), which has attracted a very solid line up of teams. Defending champion Alberto Loddo will also be there in his new Saeco colours, while Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo), Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Serguei Gontchar (De Nardi), Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) are also down as starters.

Teams and principal riders

AG2R Prévoyance: Samuel Dumoulin and Jean-Patrick Nazon
Brioches la Boulangère: Thomas Voeckler
Crédit Agricole: Damien Nazon and Bradley Wiggins
De Nardi: Serguei Gontchar
Fassa Bortolo: Fabian Cancellara and Franck Vandenbroucke
Gerolsteiner: Marcus Fothen and Olaf Pollack
Lotto-Domo: Robbie McEwen and Peter Van Petegem
Phonak Hearing Systems
Quick Step-Davitamon: Tom Boonen, Servais Knaven and Stefano Zanini
Rabobank: Robert Hunter and Marc Wauters
Saeco: Salvatore Commesso and Dario Pieri
Saunier Duval-Prodir: Rubens Bertogliati and Alberto Loddo
T-Mobile Team: Daniele Nardello
Team CSC: Lars Michaelsen
Phonak: Nicolas Jalabert
Vlaanderen-T Interim: Jehudi Schoonacker

Revolution 2

The second round of the British Revolution track series will take place on January 24 at Manchester Velodrome. The organisers hope that Revolution 2 will be every bit as good as the first, which saw 3000 fans turn out to watch the "Best of British" inaugural event November 29, 2003.

Confirmed starters include Roland Garber (Austria), Jerome Nueville (France) and Steven DeNeef (Belgium), along with Rob Hayles, Chris Newton, Malcolm Elliot, Tony Gibb and Bryan Steele. In addition, after audience feedback from Revolution 1, the program has been shortened slightly to make it more suitable for family audiences and the racing has been made punchier with the inclusion of a Keirin for the sprint fans and a Derny for some high speed excitement.

More information:

Deignan goes back to Malaysia

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

Philip Deignan from Letterkenny in Co. Donegal returns to Malaysia for the Telekom Malaysia le Tour de Langkawi next month. Less than two years ago, he made a sensational debut in the Gamuda Eagle Tour, which was held on the island of Langkawi over five days. Deignan made an impact on the 13 kilometre climb up the Gunung Raya Hill which decimated the majority of the field. On that day he finished fourth and went on to win the Under 23 Category award, as well as being the youngest competitor in the inaugural Gamuda.

Whilst Gunung Raya Hill did not unduly rattle his temperament on that occasion, Genting Highlands on the penultimate day of the tour next month may just prove that the lad from Co. Donegal, who took up cycling after seeing a flyer in a shop window for participants, is capable of staying on the wheels of the best climbers in the race.

"I was overawed by the company and in hindsight I could have gone up faster, but still it is magic to be the leader in the U23 Category and I only came as a replacement to David O’Loughlin who was sidelined after he broke his collarbone in America," said Philip Deignan after his climb up Gunung a year and a half ago.

The Irish team for Langkawi will include David O'Loughlin, Paul Griffin, Denis Lynch, David McCann and two others yet to be named.

Mountain lion kills cyclist

A two year old, 50 kg mountain lion has been shot after it attacked two cyclists, killing one and seriously injuring another in a park in Orange County, USA. The lion was shot on Thursday evening when it was found near the body of Mark Jeffrey Reynolds (35), who was mauled to death by it according to an autopsy report. It's believed that the same lion had also attacked Anne Hjelle (30) who was mountain biking with her friend Debbie Nichols through the park. The pair were saved when another group of mountain bikers came to the rescue, throwing rocks at the lion until it fled.

Hjelle was taken to Mission Hospital, where her condition is reported to be serious. Shortly afterwards, the body of Mark Reynolds was found on a trail near his bike.

Cyclingnews featured on SBS TV tomorrow

Australian TV viewers can get a chance to see the Cyclingnews crew in action tomorrow (Sunday) on SBS's "Cycling Central" program, which is aired between 5:30 and 6:00pm every Sunday. The show is hosted by experienced Tour de France reporter Mike Tomalaris and covers a variety of aspects of cycling each week.

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