First Edition News for June 16, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
Discovery lands Armstrong & US Postal through 2007
By Ed Felker in Washington
U.S.-based television programmer Discovery Communications, Inc., on Tuesday announced a three-year deal to sponsor Lance Armstrong and the team currently known as the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team presented by Berry Floor. Though exact financial details were not revealed, the multimillion dollar contract clears the way for Armstrong to seek his sixth consecutive Tour de France victory next month without sponsorship distraction. It also led him to declare his intention to ride the 2005 Tour de France and possibly race in 2006, with an eye toward the Giro d'Italia and the spring classics.
The team will be renamed the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team in January, and will race the remainder of the year with the company's logo on the Postal Service jersey.
"I just didn't want to go away. I still love what I do, I still love the bike," Lance Armstrong told a cheering audience at the company's suburban Washington headquarters. Dressed in black slacks, black leather jacket and gray t-shirt, Armstrong looked relaxed and fit despite the flight from Brussels and planned same-day return. "I had many, many nights where I thought, well, what if we don't find a partner. Do you want to retire, Lance? I didn't want to retire. I'm glad I'll be back for at least a year, maybe two," he added.
Click here for the full report from the press conference
Spectacular crash takes out Zberg, Forster & Steinhauser
Yesterday's fourth stage of the Tour of Switzerland was almost hit by tragedy as Gerolsteiner's Markus Zberg and Robert Forster both sustained injuries in a crash that saw Zberg plunge 50 metres into a ravine.
The crash happened some 60km into the stage and also involved T-Mobile's Tobias Steinhauser and a dozen other riders. Fortunately there were no life-threatening consequences. Zberg was helicoptered off the mountain with suspected spinal damage that turned out to bruising to the neck and spine, and afterwards commented, "I feel good, considering the circumstances."
Forster has a broken shoulder and is out of the race, as is Steinhauser who suffered cuts and bruises and a torn muscle. Zberg was named last week as a member of Gerolsteiner's team for the Tour de France. The team says it still expects him to line up in Liege on July 3.
Stefano Garzelli also abandoned the Tour de Suisse yesterday, not because of injury but because he was reportedly "demoralized" at being 22 minutes down on GC after the previous stage.
Godefroot: "Bad luck"
T-Mobile team manager Walter Godefroot says he feels the team has been unlucky at the Tour of Switzerland, but doesn't yet know how the loss of Alexandre Vinokourov after a crash in stage 2 will affect the team's make-up for the Tour de France. Godefroot told Belgian sports programme Sporza, "This is life I know, bike racing and crashes, and we'll deal with it no doubt. But it does make me a bit sad to have all this bad luck so close to the Tour. I certainly hope there's no more crashes here. I've seen the radar fences before the finish aren't placed properly; that shouldn't happen on this level."
Godefroot is skeptical about the importance of the Tour of Switzerland as a pre-Tour indicator. "Jan [Ullrich] definitely doesn't have to win this race," he said. "It's not a guarantee that you will be good in the Tour if you win this race. He's in good shape, that's a sure thing. He's now got the form that we were expecting him to have by the start of the Tour. Jan might do another effort in one of the mountain stages, but for now, he's being careful. Vino was a bit of a wild card here and he could have gone for the win if he felt up to it. After losing a second rider we won't try and control this race. We definitely won't try to defend the jersey at all cost.
"You don't want to overdo it here, it's a fast and hard race and the ideal preparation for July. Wisely, everyone who's going to the Tour seems to be careful about going too deep in the lead-up to the Tour, even on the flat stages, except for McEwen of course."
Godefroot wouldn't be drawn on exactly who will be riding the Tour, though he confirmed the presence of Erik Zabel, despite Zabel's less-than-sparkling form in the sprints so far this year. "I can't tell you much right now," he said. "The situation has changed because of Vino being out. But for example Ivanov, he'll be going because he can work for Zabel and Ullrich in the Tour so he's a solid value in the Tour team. For now, we have 11-12 riders we have to select from and this evening we'll sit down and talk about it, but right now I can't tell you anything yet. I know that Zabel's selection is questioned by many; but he will always have his spot. His speed is still good, don't be mistaken! He was just tired in Germany and then of course the speed suffers."
Mayo plays down 'favourite' tag
Tips Ullrich & Armstrong
After his apparently effortless victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré last week, Iban Mayo is being widely tipped as a serious contender for the Tour de France. But the Basque climbing specialist doesn't consider himself a favourite.
At a press conference at his Euskaltel-Euskadi team's headquarters in Derio yesterday, Mayo said, "I have my feet on the ground and I know that the Tour is the Tour. We have not shown anything more than that we can win a stage and be among the top ten. It's a long way from that to say you are going to win. Until you have won [a Tour] you are not a favourite for a victory. My favorites are Ullrich and Armstrong because one has won a Tour and the other five; I not even been on the podium. It makes me chuckle when people say I am going to win the Tour de France, because I have not yet shown that ability."
Mayo also asked for a little peace and quiet after his Dauphiné victory. He said that if winning the Dauphiné was "hard", then the media attention he's been subjected to since Sunday was "much more" and pleaded to be left alone to spend time with his family and prepare for the Tour.
"To have to give each journalist five minutes doesn't leave you any time for a private life," he said. "I understand that it is your job, but sometimes it's a burden for me." Mayo said that the press conference would be his last public appearance before the June 28, when the team will travel to Belgium for the start of the Tour.
Scott Sunderland on LA Confidential
Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland is never afraid to speak his mind about some of the more controversial goings on in cycling. Scott has always been strongly opposed against doping, and in his latest entry from the Tour de Suisse, he gives his opinion on the new book written by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester entitled LA Confidential.
"I talked to a L'Equipe journalist this morning and we had a discussion about the new book, LA Confidential. I haven't seen the full details - the only snippet I've read is from Emma O'Reilly, but it's been a hot topic today.
I honestly can't work out what benefit writing a book like this about Lance Armstrong will achieve - except make the writers a shitload of money, what's the point?
I hope that the readers of Cyclingnews don't buy his book because I have the feeling it's all about money, the timing picked to publish it says enough don't you think? Cycling has been at the brunt of too many scandals - while other sports are getting away with a lot worse. I agree, some of them have deserved to come out, but most have been sensational.
Too many people are hanging on Lance Armstrong, he is such an inspiration to so many people, in and outside the sport. We need guys like Lance; really, people need to stop "killing" their heroes!
Pro contract for McCann
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
FBD Milk Rás winner David McCann will ride the remainder of the season with the Giant Asia team after signing a pro contract with the squad. The former national champion has brought an early return to the division three team, with two stage wins in the Tour of Korea. McCann signed for the team before the start of the race and will line out in the forthcoming national road race championships in their colours.
McCann had previously raced as a professional in Poland. He has been placed in several world ranking races this season, including a strong showing in the Tour de Langkawi.
UK's Newcastle-under-Lyme track resurfaced
A round of the National Sprinter's League will fittingly mark the official opening of Newcastle-under-Lyme's re-surfaced track on Sunday June 20. The £249,000 work funded by Sport England will, according to those who know about these things, make it the fastest and best outdoor facility in the country.
The work has delayed the start of the annual Stonefield Cycles Track League, but the delay has been worth waiting for with schools queuing up to send youngsters down for coaching and World Class likely to want it for training pre Athens.
The work by Tarmac with fencing by A & R has been the culmination of 11 months hard work by the committee and in particular Dave Cockram, British Cycling's Facilities Officer, Newcastle Borough Council and former international sprinter Roger Whitfield. It is hoped the second stage of the project, the installation of improved lighting and a cycle storage area, will be next.
Newcastle's Mayor Councillor Raymond Slater will officially open the important community project at 11.45am before a large field of riders take to the track with among them in the sprinter's league Olympian and World Champion Team Sprinter Craig Maclean , Barney Storey and Commonwealth medallist Marco Librizzi. While the top endurance riders are likely to be James Taylor and James Notley.
The meeting is being organised by former international sprinter Steve Cronshaw, a league regular, who has spent much time recently personally overseeing the work on the Lyme Valley Stadium.
Lehigh Valley Velodrome Madison Challenge
This Friday, June 18, the Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host the Madison Challenge and the Mid-Atlantic Madison Championships. Top riders are expected to compete including Jame Carney (Northwestern Mortgage Cycling Team) and Sarah Uhl (Quark Cycling Team) and Becky Conzelman.
On the men's side, two-time Olympian and 2003 The Morning Call Men's Rider of the Year, Jame Carney, who has been impressive so far this season on the track, is expected to compete. Other top riders include 2003 National Champion Bobby Lea (T.E.A.M. Fuji), Andy Lakatosh (Tri-State Velo), and Ben Barczewski (East Coast Velo). Women riders expected to compete in the third installment of the 2004 International Race Season include, Sarah Uhl, 2001 Junior World Champion, Becky Conzelman (Frisco Cycling Club), the 2003 The Morning Call Women's Rider of the Year, and Argentinean standouts Veronica and Garciela Martinez.
For more information about the Madison Challenge and the Mid-Atlantic Madison Championships, visit the Velodrome website at www.lvvelo.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)