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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 4, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

New program, sponsors for Page

American cyclo-cross specialist Jonathan Page has changed sponsors for 2004/2005, and as result has also tailored his racing and training program to focus entirely on the next 'cross season. Page will race in the summer months for the Polish Hoop-CCC-Polsat team's mountain bike squad, as well as joining the road team for selected events in Belgium.

Page was recruited by Hoop-CCC-Polsat to offer the team more exposure in the MTB World Cup and a Polish MTB series. The move suits Page well, as he has decided not to pursue too much road racing in order to arrive in ideal condition for the 2004-5 'cross season. Continuing his work with Mario de Clercq as coach, Page will train extensively on the road nonetheless, and hopes for a strong performance at the USPRO events in June.

Page has also teamed up with Cervelo, Mavic, and Adidas as primary sponsors for his next cyclo-cross season. Cervelo reportedly plans to create a signature series carbon 'cross frame for Page for the coming year.


Gilbert set for Giro

Philippe Gilbert
Photo ©: Cyclingnews's Philippe Gilbert is ready to enter the Giro d'Italia with some of his best form, emerging from what he considers a successful outing at the spring classics. Gilbert finished second to Christophe Moreau in last Sunday's Trophée des Grimpeurs outside Paris, and is clearly impatient for the Giro to begin.

"I'm coming into my best condition, and I've always ridden well in May, even if sometimes I've gotten sick," Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. "It's time for the Giro to start. I don't know what to expect since it's my first experience in a grand tour. I know the Giro is tough right from the start. Already on the third day there is a summit finish."

For Gilbert, this year's Giro will serve as a learning experience. Team director Marc Madiot has opted to send several of his younger riders to the Giro rather than risk burning them out too early in the Tour de France. Gilbert expects to get his Tour debut in 2005.

"I tend to get better as the days go by," Gilbert said of his stage race experiences. "I don't see why the Giro should be any different."

Astarloa ready for a win

World champion Igor Astarloa, who returned to competition in his new Lampre colours at Saturday's GP Larciano in Italy, feels his own impatience for the Giro d'Italia to begin. Astarloa finished second to an in-form Damiano Cunego (Saeco) at Larciano, and is eager to notch his first victory of the season in the rainbow jersey.

"Last Saturday's second place has some value," Astarloa commented in a Marca report. "The truth is, I didn't feel very good since it had been almost a month without competition."

Astarloa was recruited by Lampre following the Cofidis team's temporary withdrawal from competition, which will come to an end at Wednesday's first stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk. Lampre, whose leader Francesco Casagrande has been out of action all spring due to nagging tendinitis, desperately wanted a leader for Italy's national tour.

"My goal is to win a stage, because with a 52 kilometre time trial and the high mountains, I can't think about the overall," Astarloa explained. "I know in the first week I'll need a little spark, but I think I'll be good for the second week. This year I've already had three second places, so I'm eager to win a race."

Although the Tour de France is not on Astarloa's program, he has indicated the possibility of racing the Vuelta a España, as well as the Vuelta a Burgos and the World Cup events in the second half of the year.

Saunier Duval for Giro

The sole Spanish team to race this year's Giro d'Italia, Saunier Duval-Prodir, has announced its roster for the season's first grand tour: Rubens Bertogliati, David Cañada, Juan Carlos Dominguez, Juan Gomis, Javier 'Chepin' González, Ruben Lobato, Alberto Loddo, Manuele Mori, and Massimo Strazzer.

Saeco for Peace Race

As Gilberto Simoni embarks on a bid for a third Giro d'Italia title this Saturday, the Italian Saeco team will send another group to the prestigious Peace Race, which begins on the same day in Brussels, Belgium. The race finishes on May 16 in the Czech Republic. Salvatore Commesso will be among the leaders, looking for his first victory of the season after good form shown in the recent Tour de Georgia in the United States.

Saeco for Peace Race: Giosue Bonomi, Salvatore Commesso, Jörg Ludewig, Gerrit Glomser, Antonio Bucciero, Juan Fuentes, David Loosli and Nicola Gavazzi.

Pro Tour and calendar changes

In an interview with German magazine Radsport, UCI president Hein Verbruggen evoked the possibility of certain high profile events joining the new Pro Tour calendar, which will make its debut in 2005, if certain scheduling changes can be accommodated. As the Pro Tour will combine the grand tours, World Cup classics, and selected other major events under one umbrella- and make the top-ranked teams' participation mandatory- schedule conflicts will play a major role in the viability of non-Pro Tour races.

Verbruggen mentioned specifically the Rund um den Henninger Turm (GP Frankfurt) in Germany, which has been worthy of World Cup status were it not for its traditional May 1 date.

"The Frankfurt race would be in the World Cup now and not Hamburg [HEW Cyclassics]," Verbruggen said, adding that the possibility remains for the race to be integrated into the Pro Tour in the future.

The Pro Tour has been received with some trepidation by teams and sponsors, fearful of the impact mandatory participation in three grand tours and the other major events will have on their budgets. Verbruggen hopes to create more of a league structure for cycling, assuring the presence of top teams and the best riders at events throughout the entire season.

Race organisers too are fearful for their own future, as exclusion from the Pro Tour could result in weaker fields and less media exposure for events both big and small. For some, a change of date could increase the chances of future integration into the Pro Tour, which the UCI expects to expand in the coming years.

Teams for CapTech Classic

Organisers of the CapTech Classic, to be held May 8 in Richmond, Virginia, have announced the professional men's teams confirmed for the National Racing Calendar (NRC) event. Top names expected at the race include USPRO champion Mark McCormack, Jonas Carney, Alex Candelario, Glen Mitchell, as well as Richmond native Erik Saunders.

CapTech Classic teams:

Colavita Olive Oil, presented by Bolla Wines
Jelly Belly-Aramark
Sierra Nevada
US Postal Service, presented by Berry Floor
Ofoto-Lombardi Sports
Jittery Joe's Coffee
Team Monex
McQuire ProCycling
Team Snow Valley
NCVC-Edge Technologies
Evolution Cycling
Richmond Ciclismo

Juniors get a ride at Tour

As part of a sponsorship deal between race organiser ASO and Disneyland Resort Paris, a small band of junior cyclists will have the opportunity to ride the first and last 20km of each Tour de France stage this July. The Disneyland resort has signed on as part of the publicity caravan, and will also support the juniors, to be selected from clubs from each region in France.

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