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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 31, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Belgians are the cross favourites

The Belgian elite male cyclo-crossers will go into this Sunday's World's in Pontchâteau as the top favourites for the rainbow jersey, but they are not completely happy with the way things are. Their major concern is the placing of the pits area on the left hand side of the course, rather than the right, which they believe is disadvantageous.

Reigning World Champion Bart Wellens is thinking of ignoring the rules anyway. "If get disqualified by doing so, then things might get out of hand," he said.

Jury chief Marc Vandevyvere responded in Het Nieuwsblad that "Rules are rules. I must respect them. For safety reasons, a mechanic may not stand on the other side and cross over behind the rider. If that happens, then a warning will follow and then a fine. Disqualification is not mentioned in the rules. Besides, Adri van der Poel told me that you can like to take a bike from the left side in half an hour."

Wellens also commented about the parcours, which he believes is too easy. "Let it rain here quickly," he said to Belgian TV after riding on it. "What the UCI has done here is a complete joke. They are destroying 'cross."

The fast parcours may suit Mario De Clercq, who already has three world titles to his credit. "I'm going for hold," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "There is a more realistic chance that it will be silver or bronze. Maybe Wellens will lap me," he joked.

Sven Nys, who has won everything but the World Championships, concedes that it will be hard this year. "I need an absolute super day," he said to Gazet van Antwerpen. "I haven't always admitted it, but Wellens has become a lot better. I haven't become much worse myself."

As for De Clercq, Nys said that "If Bart or I are 100 percent, Mario will not win again. I am not afraid of him any more. Besides, the atmosphere in the World Cup team was much better this year."

Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the all the events at the World's, including live coverage of the Elite Men's race on Sunday, beginning at 3pm CET.

See also: Full preview, Program, Map, Start lists.

UCI vote on 2007 and 2008 World's

The UCI has voted that the 2007 edition of the Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held in the West Flanders town of Hooglede-Gits. In 2008, the World's will be in Treviso, Italy, while Zeddam (Netherlands) and Sankt Wendel (Germany) will respectively host the 2005 and 2006 World's.

Cipollini to miss Olympics, focus on Giro

Mario Cipollini
Photo ©: Sirotti

2002 World Champion Mario Cipollini will likely miss riding the individual pursuit at the Olympic Games in Athens this year. A very fit and slim Cipollini announced at the Domina Vacanze team's presentation on Friday at the villa of Domina hotel owner Ernesto Preatoni in Lake Como, Italy.

"I looked at the schedule and between Milan-San Remo and the first World Cup in Manchester on April 11 it seems to be difficult to do any special preparation for the pursuit," he said.

Cipollini will instead focus his energies on winning Milan-San Remo and doing well in the Giro d'Italia, but he said he also hopes to be able to participate in the Tour de France. At the Giro, Cipollini said that "I'm still looking forward to a challenge with Petacchi this year. Last year was a tough year for me and I really want to show what kind of rider I am."

Cipollini may be out of luck with riding the Tour de France, however, as his team is only registered in Division II and is therefore unlikely to receive an invitation from the Tour organisers.

Returning to Cipollini's train is Gian-Matteo Fagnini, who is looking forward to helping Cipo again in the final of the sprint. "I'm happy to be back here, it should be a good challenge," said the Italian who has spent the past few years in Erik Zabel's service at Team Telekom.

Cyclingnews will have a full report on the Domina Vacanze presentation in the coming days.


Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Domina Vacanze team roster

ASO president supports two year ban

The president of the Amaury Sport Organisation, Patrice Clerc, has said that he supports the World Anti-Doping Agency's minimum two year doping sanction. Quoted in L'Equipe, Clerc said that "We have to have confidence in the World Anti-Doping Agency. The discussion about whether a two year suspension is too strict must stop. I'm asking the UCI publicly and officially to accept the suspensions.

The UCI and FIFA (soccer's governing body) are the only two major sporting organisations who have not yet signed the WADA anti-doping code, although FIFA said on Wednesday that it would sign in May. Under threat of exclusion from the Olympics, it appears likely that the UCI will also sign it.

Lampre aiming high in Langkawi

Italian Division I outfit Lampre says that it wants to start its 2004 campaign on the right note, and is using next week's Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi as a platform to do so. Team manager Maurizio Piovani said that after a fruitful debut in the race last year, where the team notched three stage victories through Brazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini, Lampre is aiming high this time around and has set its sights on the race's yellow jersey.

"We put high importance on the Tour," Piovani told tour organisers First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd. "We had a good outing in our first appearance last year and the riders seem to like it in Malaysia. Malaysia offers a very good competition, with great organisation and good UCI points.

"It's always great to start the season with victories in a major race like the Tour de Langkawi. It would be a great boost the team's morale and ambition," added Piovani.

The team recently completed a 10 day intensive training in Bibbona, Italy and will begin their new season campaign in France's GP d'Ouverture (La Marseillaise) and the TMLTdL. "The riders were put through some rigorous training with over three hours of daily pedalling and covering about 160 to 180 kilometres per day," said Piovani, adding that the training covered the cities of Montecatini, Volterra, Santa Croce and Sassetta with climbing sessions at Tirli.

Piovani stressed that the team intends to win as many stage victories as possible in the 10 day tour which starts in Bayan Baru in Penang on February 6. The tour ends at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 15.

"We are going all out to grab as many wins as possible with the minimum of at least two stage victories," he said. "Apart from good results in stage fights, we are also planning a serious assault for the overall honours and we have our man for that."

Lampre has revamped its roster for the race this year and will send a different set of riders, with only two riders from last year's team retained 2004. Leading the team is triple stage winner Luciano Pagliarini, while Vuelta a Pais Vasco stage winner Marco Pinotti is the only other rider retained for this year's tour. The other riders include seasoned campaigner Wladimir Belli, Matteo Carrara, Alessandro Cortinovis, Sergio Barbero and neo-pro Michele Abusto Scotto.

"Our hopes are on Pagliarini, Belli and Carrara to win some stages," said Piovani.

Alex Zülle ambitious

Phonak's experienced campaigner Alex Zülle says he is motivated to have a good 2004 season, in particular aiming to win the Tour de Suisse. In his final year as a professional, Zülle also believes he can provide useful backup to Tyler Hamilton in the Tour de France, as well as targeting some of the early season tours.

"I'm definitely out to cause a stir in the Mallorca and Valencia tours," Zülle said on the team's website. "My main aims though are the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. Another triumph in the big Swiss tour would be just great. If everything goes right with me, I would be very glad to have a supporting role at the side of the great Phonak team captain Tyler Hamilton. I think I would be valuable help, especially in the team time trial. I consider myself a leader in the new crew and can certainly ride for others. Hamilton has an outstanding character. He is a great guy, something that I find really uplifting."

To achieve his goals and to make up for a poor 2003, Zülle has been training since mid-October. "In mid-September, I had to withdraw from the Vuelta," he recalled. "In other years, I cycled right through to the end of September or the middle of October." This time, Zülle took a break during this period because "my head need it" but it didn't take long for him to find his rhythm again.

"That explains why I have 2000 kilometres more under my belt than the same time the previous year," he said. "My training quota must be 5000 kilometres. And it feels just right...No one can take away what I have now."

Division III for Flanders?

After not being granted a Division II licence by the UCI, Flanders team manager Frans Assez is looking at going back to Division III this season. "The riders shouldn't think that I'm shoddy," Assez said to Het Nieuwsblad. "The bank guarantees were there. Only the UCI didn't believe it and they doubted the worthiness of the institution which we were working. Now we can only take a step back and try and drag a third class licence out of the fire."

The team's riders were similarly disappointed with the news. Ex-Mapei, Lotto and Palmans rider Fabien De Waele is unsure of his future now. "What a blow!" he said to HNB. "Until Thursday I was counting on Flanders to show that I could still do it. Flanders can still be a Division III, but that isn't much better than riding with the amateurs. But try to find a team at the end of January. I have no demands. The only think I want is a team."

Australian Allan Iacuone, who rode for Flanders-iTeamnova last year, is in a similar situation. Although he was down to ride for the squad this year, there was not enough money in the budget after the withdrawal of co-sponsor Iacuone bought himself a one way ticket to Belgium and is currently looking for a spot in another team.

Kalev Chocolate Team-Merida presentation

By Marko Kajandu

Following in the footsteps of Kirsipuu
Photo ©: Toomas Tuul

The presentation of Kalev Chocolate-Merida, the first ever Estonian (and Baltic) professional cycling team was held Thursday, January 29 at the brand new production facilities of the famous chocolate maker "Kalev" in Jüri, near Tallinn. The presentation was opened by the former prime minister of Estonia and the president of Estonian Cycling Union, Mr Siim Kallas. As Mr Kallas pointed out, this was the a dream come true for a large number of local cycling fans.

The nine rider Kalev Chocolate-Merida team will start in Division III, and is led by team manager Jüri Savitski, a well known track sprinter in his time, and Andres Lekko who will be the team's coach. Jüri Savitski has led a mountain bike team last year and is known locally as an active enthusiast and event organiser. Andres Lekko has coached an amateur road team for several years and served as the coach for the national track team at the same time.

The squad's riders are mainly young and promising Estonians, with the exception of Latvian junior World Cup stage medallist Martins Polakovs. The most experienced rider is Sigvard Kukk, previously an MTB pro, who has raced MTB, road and track events successfully. The whole team was selected from youngsters who have been on the podium at national championships and several other events.

Kalev Chocolate-Merida's main goal for 2004 is to compete successfully in all national events and to take part in other European road races and tours. Some of the riders are going to compete in MTB races occasionally. The team places great importance on the development of these young talents and the team is focusing on the future. The primary target is to fill the place between junior racing and real pro peloton.

Kalev Chocolate Team-Merida is supported by the main sponsor Kalev Ltd., local Merida and Specialized dealer, Veloplus, Hotronic, New Balance, VDO, Schwalbe, Biemme, KMC, Mayeri, Fizi:k, Time, Maxim, Ritchey, Balti Autoosad Ltd. The bikes are Merida road racing rides.


Images by Toomas Tuul and Jaan Martinson/SL Őhtuleht

Kalev Chocolate-Merida team roster

Roche at launch of new look Orwell Team

By Shane Stokes,

Stephen Roche with the boys
Photo ©: Shane Stokes

Irish cycling great Stephen Roche was present at the launch of the new Orwell/Dundrum SC team in Dublin on Thursday. The French-based Irishman took time out from a brief visit home to attend the launch of the new-look Orwell Wheelers club, with whom he raced as an amateur.

The South Dublin team recently raised €15,000 through a unique fundraising initiative, enticing 100 companies and individuals to pay €150 each for the opportunity to be randomly chosen as one of the three official backers. The Dundrum Shopping Centre, Holfeld Pumps and the Yard Broadcasting Network (YBN) media group were the three successful sponsors and their names will appear on the redesigned team jersey for the duration of the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

The club is aiming to field teams in events such as the FBD Milk Rás, the Rás Mumhan and the Gorey Three Day this year, and will also send a squad to contest at least one women's race in England during the season. The club is also hoping to boost the numbers of members, particularly young riders, and so increase the likelihood of other riders following Roche's example and going from club runs to a professional career in years to come.

"I am really delighted to see such level of support for my old cycling club, which started me on my career," Roche said. "It is terrific to see the new jersey design. I am very happy for all the Orwell/Dundrum SC members."

Orwell/Dundrum SC members
Photo ©: Paul Tansey

Before heading off to an appearance at a UNESCO function promoting the benefits of youth participation in sport, Roche posed for photographs in Dublin's Merrion Square. Club rider Eddie Lynch braved the elements to model the new team strip, while Noel Reid and Mary Rose O'Shea of Dundrum Shopping Centre, Martina Holfeld of Holfeld Pumps and YBN's Pat Stewart represented the sponsors. Club riders Ronnie Brangian and Dave McLaughlin also got in on the act, showing off the stylish new jersey.

"We're very happy with how things have worked out," said Dave Tansey of the club. "The plan is to field teams in the FBD Milk Rás, the Rás Mumhan, the Gorey and to try to get high placings in classic league events. We'll also be sending a women's team over to ride one of the Women's Series races in Bedford, with the possibility of doing a stage race in the same place later in the year."

"The club will be running two races during the season - the Noel Hammond Memorial classic league race in May and the Stephen Roche Classic in June. We had hoped to host the national criterium championships but that's gone to another club."

"In terms of other goals, we want to boost our membership, get more young people involved and also encourage triathletes to cross over to road racing. Getting new talent is important for the long-term development of any club; if we can get some young riders involved, that will lay the foundation for future success."


Images by Shane Stokes/

Image by Paul Tansey

FBD Milk Ras remembers Jonker

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

Preparations are in full flow for the Irish FBD Milk Ras, with the route announcement expected in the coming days. The race was given a vote of confidence when Patrick Jonker won the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under last Sunday in Adelaide, Australia. Jonker raced in Ireland in the early '90's in the FBD Milk Ras and organiser, Dermot Dignam remembers him as if it was yesterday.

"He was a guy who had a passion for bike racing and made his living touring the world and participating in all types of events. He won a stage from Midleton to Limerick," said Dermot, whose race has grown in status in recent years with its inclusion on the UCI calendar.

Liam Collins' record ratified

By Shane Stokes,

Cycling Ireland has ratified the new track record set by Liam Collins earlier this month, the Moscow-based Limerick man improving his own flying start 1000 metre time from 1 minute 8.801 seconds to 1 minute 8.708. Collins set the new mark on January 14th while competing in the Russian Winter Track Championships in Moscow. He had set the previous standard in Manchester in 1985.

UCI doping news

The UCI has reported on the sanctions of the following riders due to doping offences. The list includes Milaneza-MSS riders David Bernabeu and Rui Lavarinhas, who tested positive during the 2003 Paris-Nice, appealed their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but were turned down.

Victor Gomez Colinas, penalised by the Federación Espańola de Ciclismo, warning and 1% increase in the time ridden in the 14th of June 2003 stage of the Volta Ciclista a Lleida (ESP).

José Rujano Guillen, penalised by the Federación Venezolana de Ciclismo, disqualification from the Clasico RCN (COL) on the 27th of August 2003, 1 month ban from the 1st of October 2003 to 31st of January 2004 and a fine of CHF 500.

David Bernabeu Armengol, penalised by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), disqualification from Paris- Nice (FRA) on the 16th of March 2003, 6-month ban from the 6th of May 2003 to 5th of November 2003, and a fine of CHF 2,000.

Rui Lavarinhas, penalised by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), disqualification from Paris-Nice (FRA) on the 14th of March 2003, 6-month ban from the 21st of August 2003 to 13th of May 2004, and a fine of CHF 2000.

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