First Edition Cycling News for January 24, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Euskaltel team launch: "The team that unites us"
By Martin Hardie in Bilbao
Euskaltel-Euskadi held its 2004 presentation at the Euskalduna Jauregia, the World Heritage listed concert hall in Bilbao on Thursday, January 23, in front of a packed and enthusiastic audience. Amongst the luminaries present where the Basque President, Juan Jose Ibaretxe.
The presentation included six new faces in the orange aramada, led by ex-Phonak time trial specialist Iker Camaño along with five neo-pros: Anton Luengo, Aketza Peña, Markel Irizar, Koldo Fernández de Larrea (Orbea-Olarra-Consultec) and Gorka Verdugo (Caja Rural).
In the wings awaiting a decision from the UCI as to his future was Mercatone Uno rider Joseba Albizu. Albizu is the centre of a contractual dispute between Euskaltel and Mercatone Uno. Albizu told Cyclingnews that he "wishes to ride at home, it's better" but that Mercatone Uno had ceded his contract to South African team Barloworld. Euskaltel manager, Miguel Madariaga is awaiting a decision of the UCI concerning the dispute, in the meantime, Albizu "hopes all will turn out well".
Cyclingnews shall have more news on Euskaltel, including full coverage of the team and the presentation, an interview with Iban Mayo from our correspondent Martin Hardie, and the first installment from our new diarist Unai Etxebarria over the coming weeks.
Images by Iban Gorriti
Alessio-Bianchi team presentation
The newly dubbed Alessio-Bianchi team was unveiled Friday in Milan, Italy at the famous Martini Terrace. Italian legend Felice Gimondi was on hand, along with Giampiero Galeazzi, to introduce the team and its sponsors. Bianchi takes over as cosponsor and bicycle provider after its own team- a bailout of the failed Team Coast- came to pieces following Jan Ullrich's return to T-Mobile.
"I have always been a great cycling fan, and ever since I was a little boy the Bianchi bicycles have attracted and fascinated me in a special way, for the reason that all the greatest cycling champions competed on Bianchi bikes," said team sponsor Celeste Alessio. "So, the possibility to see my name, my brother's name and the company name side by side with the great Bianchi logo was an exceptional opportunity."
Galeazzi and Gimondi presented returning riders and new recruits including classics specialist Andrea Tafi, who returns to Italy after a year with the Danish Team CSC. Other team members present included Fabio Baldato, Pietro Caucchioli, Franco Pellizotti and Andrea Noé.
"I am deeply convinced that the new Alessio-Bianchi pairing will turn out to be a competitive and winning team," said longtime Bianchi associate Felice Gimondi. "One of the reasons for this is that [team manager] Bruno Cenghialta has done a great job in putting together a very strong group, signing up, among others, the champion Andrea Tafi, who will make it possible for the Alessio-Bianchi team to play a leading role in the northern classics."
The Division I team will aim for top performances in the classics and the three major grand tours. Leaders for the Giro d'Italia will be Pietro Caucchioli, Andrea Noé and Franco Pellizotti, targeting both high placement in the general classification as well as stage wins. The team also includes several members of the now defunct Team fakta of Denmark, including Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland and Magnus Bäckstedt.
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Division I newcomer hopes to make a mark
Spanish registered team Relax-Bodysol held its presentation in Wevelgem, Belgium on Thursday evening, January 22. The team is a splice between the old Relax-Fuenlabrada squad and Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefevere's latest brainchild, Bodysol-Brustor [Bodysol is a division of Omega Pharma, which also owns Davitamon]. Bodysol was originally set up as a Division II feeder team for Quick.Step-Davitamon, but decided to merge with Relax-Fuenlabrada last year. Then when Kelme and Domina Vacanze were denied Division I status, Relax-Bodysol grabbed the chance to move into Division I.
The team is composed of 16 Spanish riders, 8 Belgians and 1 Dutchman, and is jointly managed by José Maria Perez and Herman Frison, with Jesus Suarez Cueva serving as team director. Nico Mattan is the team's captain, although the squad can also draw on the experience of Santiago Blanco and Josep Jufre.
"My objective will be to win races of course, but with such a young team what is important is to help the development of the team's riders," said Mattan.
General manager Patrick Lefevere also admitted that while it was a young team, it will certainly try to play a role in races. "I hope that we can start in the Tour de France. We are certainly no weaker than some of the other candidates.
Images by Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews/actiefotos.be
Palmans and Relax for Langkawi
British rider Jeremy Hunt will race for the first time with Palmans-Collstrop in the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi, which starts on February 6 in Penang. Hunt had a quiet 2003, but has a past record that includes the GP Ouest France, two British national championships, an Australian Open and numerous other race wins, and will be looking to add more to his tally in the TMTdL.
Joining Hunt in the Palmans team are four Belgians, including Tour de France veteran Kurt Van de Wouwer, Erwin Thijs, Gert Vanderaerden and Michel Van Haecke. Frenchman Frederic Gabriel and 2003 Australian time trial champion Ben Day complete the team's line up.
Also announced for Langkawi is the six strong all Spanish Relax-Bodysol squad, managed by Jesus Suarez Cuevas. Formerly a member of ONCE, Xavier Florencio Cabre is expected to lead the charge for Relax-Bodysol, alongside the experienced Santiago Blanco, a mountains specialist who can also focus on the early season races. Moises Duenos Nevado, Jose-Miguel Elias Galindo, Hector Guerra, Nacor Burgos Rojo and Oscar Laguna complete the Relax Fuenlabrada line up.
Teams announced for Trofeo Laigueglia
A total of 25 teams will start in the 41st Trofeo Laigueglia on February 17, Italy's biggest early season race which was for a long time the first UCI race on the Italian calendar each year. The start list includes World Cup champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) as well as last year's winner Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo), CSC's Michele Bartoli, Ivan Basso and Kurt Asle-Arvesen and Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet). The organisers may choose a 26th team from FDJeux.com, Chocolade Jacques or Credit Agricole.
The full team list is as follows:
1 Fassa Bortolo (Pozzato, Frigo)
German team for Cyclo-cross World's
The Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR) has named its full team that will compete in the Cyclo-cross World Championships that will be held in Pont-Château, France between January 31 and February 1. The team includes multiple World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel in the women's ranks as well as newly crowned German Champion Malte Urban and his Stevens-Jeantex teammate Jens Schwedler, who gained selection after his 25th place in the Koksijde World Cup in Belgium.
Yeti Cycles MTB team
Mountain bike team Yeti has announced its 2004 line up, which includes a new crop of young, fast racers. Leading the team will be mountain cross specialist Jill Kintner ('03 NORBA National Champion, '03 UCI World Cup - 3rd Overall) and Aussie downhill and mountain cross speedster Jared Graves. Rounding out the team will be Trent Lowe (2001 Jr. World Champion - XC) and Ross Milan (2003 Mountain States Cup Champion in DH and mountain cross).
The team will focus on traditional race venues - NORBA National Championships, select UCI World Cup events, and some regional races, and it will also participate in freeride competitions and other events where riders can display their skill and style in a less structured environment.
Jill Kintner (USA)
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