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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 27, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Simoni/Cunego "pact"

Cunego in power
Photo ©: Sirotti

With young sensation Damiano Cunego in the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia, and team leader and defending champion Gilberto Simoni 2'38 behind in fourth place, it's anyone's guess as to how the Saeco team will emerge from the final three days of climbing in this year's race. Both riders and the team have repeatedly put on a diplomatic face concerning the respective roles of Cunego and Simoni, though Gibo's disappointment was clear when his young protégé rode away with the stage win and the jersey in stage 16.

Cunego started the Giro saying without hesitation that Simoni was the team leader, but a lengthy run in the maglia rosa after two early stage wins can reshape a young contender's mindset. At a rest day press conference in Falzes, both riders spoke of a 'pact' between them as crunch time arrives in the Giro.

"There's a pact between us. We'll do our own races but without racing against each other," Simoni said, avoiding the topic of just who is the team leader at this point. "The important thing is that Saeco wins without wasting the great team work we've done so far with useless attacks. I've never raced against him nor he against me."

Cunego, who has left the competition in his wake with his powerful attacks in the hills, restated his respect for his team leader.

"Gilberto has been incredible in the last few days," Cunego said. "He's always helped me and let me go in the key moments of the race. I'm sorry for the position he's in but the Giro is wide open. Gibo is our team leader and if I can I'll happily help him, paying him back for the favours he's done for me."

Cunego added only that "the Giro isn't over."

Simoni, meanwhile, said he hoped Cunego wouldn't break their pact. "That would be a big mistake," he said. "I want to win this Giro with or without Damiano. How? I'm not sure, but I haven't given up."

McGee blasts Giro organisation

By John Trevorrow, Geelong Advertiser

Brad McGee ( is still seething after his 20 seconds time penalty assessed by officials who said he held onto a team car during Tuesday's stage 16. McGee's protest fell on deaf ears and the elation he had shown after his brilliant performance in the monster mountain stage to Falzes turned to serious disappointment. McGee remains adamant that he did not touch the car, let alone hang on, and expressed his displeasure with race organisers following the incident.

"I didn't even take a bidon from the team car on the Clyne because I was worried it may have been misconstrued," McGee explained. "This is just not right and this could happen to anyone. Lance Armstrong is talking about riding the Giro next year. I say don't bother coming. At the end of three weeks they could throw something like this on him and, boom, it's all over. Its just not worth it!

"This race has serious problems," he added. "Few foreigners want to come here and when you see incidents like this you can understand why. The Giro is the second best bike race in the world. We know that, we all respect that, but the Giro is starting to not respect riders."

For McGee, an outspoken critic of drug use in the peloton, the charge cuts as deeply as a doping allegation.

"They may as well call me a drug cheat, because one cheat is as bad as another," he said. "I have never hung on to a car. Not even in past years when I was struggling in the back group and others were hanging on around me.

"But when I am in third place in the second biggest bike race in the world, then it is a serious allegation," he insisted (McGee now sits in 6th place after the rest day). "It is not the time penalty, although that 20 seconds could be crucial over the next few days. It is the fact that I am not a cheat and I have put in one of the best rides in my career and now it is being devalued because of these allegations.

The Giro's second day in Falzes was a time to think and reflect on the implications of the penalty, and to rediscover the morale which has led McGee to his best ever grand tour performance in the first two weeks of racing.

"I was really at a loss yesterday, I just didn't know what to do, it was a good thing the team kept it all from me until the next day because at least I got a good 10 hours sleep," McGee explained. "As late as (Wednesday) night I was lying on the massage table and I thought this is crazy, I am out of here. I couldn't see any other way. I rang Shayne Bannon (Australia's head cycling coach).

"I started my road career in Italy under Shayne's guidance and we used to see it all the time... Bastards hanging on to cars," he said. "The Aussie team just wouldn't do it. Matter of fact, Shayne would have sent anyone home who did.

"I told Shayne that I couldn't see any other option but to pull out of the Giro. I think it stuffed up his day. He said I'll call you back. When he did he settled me down and said you cannot control these things, there is no point in letting one stupid official upset your season."

McGee insists that those who think he would cheat simply don't know him.

"I then talked to my teammates and they have been busting their guts over the past two weeks and it's not fair to upset the whole team over one guy who is blatantly lying," he admitted. "It is a major concern that the whole official environment on this event is so parochial. There is no justice in it. They said that although I claimed I didn't hang on the official said you did and that's it, sorry.

"The fact that the rider on my wheel at the time and the three people in my team car could all testify seems to have fallen on deaf ears. There is no system to allow that to happen."

UCI to clarify Valverde's contract

Alejandro Valverde, vocally discontent with his Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team, has taken his case to the UCI although for the moment the international cycling body is hoping to better understand the situation before taking action. Valverde has said that his team provided him a copy of a contract which does not match that which he signed for this season, prompting him to take concerns about missing payments to the UCI. The subject of much interest from other teams, either for a mid-season move or for 2005, Valverde has also spoken openly about the possibility of leaving Kelme.

"He must, before we get involved, inform his team that he wants to leave," said the UCI's Alain Rumpf, quoted in l'Equipe. "In this case something improper has happened which we hope to clarify. He says also that there have been delays in salary payments and we've also received four complaints from other Kelme riders."

Barloworld to Luxembourg

Team Barloworld­Androni Giocattoli will line up as the only Division II team at the Tour of Luxembourg (May 27-30). Team director Alberto Elli, a two-time winner in Luxembourg, will guide a team including Tiaan Kannemeyer, Stefan Adamsson, Sean Sullivan, Andrea Moletta, Luca Solari, Rodney Green, Antonio Salomone and James Perry.

Cofidis for the weekend

Cofidis will field teams in two races this weekend: A Travers le Morbihan (May 29) and the Grand Prix de Villers-Cotterets (May 31). Frédéric Bessy, Christophe Edaleine, David Millar, David Moncoutié, Damien Monier, Stuart O'Grady, Guido Trentin and Matt White will take contest A Travers le Morbihan, while roughly the same team will head to Villers-Cotterets with Jimmy Casper taking the place of Guido Trentin. Bernard Quilfen will direct the team Saturday, Francis Van Londersele will take over on Monday.

Route du Sud stages

Organisers of the Route du Sud stage race have announced the stages for the 28th edition, scheduled for June 19-22 in southwest France. The race will feature three road stages and an individual time trial, concluding with a tough day of climbing June 22 including four Cat. 1 climbs. Last year's event was won by Australian Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Davitamon).

Stage 1 - June 19: Castres - Vielha (Spain)
Stage 2 - June 20: Les (Spain) - Saint Gaudens
Stage 3 - June 21: Loures Barousse - Sarp ITT
Stage 4 - June 22: Montréjeau - Loudenvielle

Women's teams for CSC Invitational

Organisers of the 7th Annual CSC Invitational (formerly Clarendon Cup) have announced the women's teams which will line up in Arlington, Virginia on May 30. The women's race will tackle 50 laps of the 5-turn, 1 kilometre course, beginning at 10am. The professional men's event will follow at noon, covering 100 laps of the same course. The CSC Invitational is a National Racing Calendar (NRC) event.


Bicycle John's Serious Cycling
Charlottesville Racing Club
Colavita Olive Oil
Hudson Valley Velo Club
La Grange
Lake Mary Cycles/ORC
NCVC/Edge Technologies
Revolution Cycles/Rock Creek Racers
Team Snow Valley
Velo Bella
Victory Brewing Company
Wells Fargo/Ragatz
Hub Racing

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