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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 23, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich gears up in the off-season

As T-Mobile team gathering in Amsterdam is nearing its end, team captain Jan Ullrich spoke about his off season and plans for next year. Ullrich spent three weeks in the Seychelles with his partner Gaby and daughter Sarah-Maria, before returning home to Scherzingen to start training again.

"I am training indoors on the stationary bike," said Ullrich on T-Mobile's website. "With music playing in the background, I can get through the two hours very well. In good weather I train outdoors. But I approach outdoor training with caution. I want to avoid the risk of catching a cold."

On December 2, Ullrich will make his yearly pilgrimage to South Africa, where he will train with Andreas Klöden, Olaf Pollack and Matthias Kessler. "The climate is perfect down there for good training rides," he explained. "It is also important for me to get away from the stress of life here. In South Africa there is also less risk of me catching a cold. It is still not clear when I will return. If I can take my family with me, then we will stay in South Africa over Christmas. Otherwise, I will travel back on December 24."

Next season will begin for Ullrich with a training camp in Mallorca in January followed by the Tour of Murcia in Spain in March. "I won't be riding the spring classics," Ullrich said. "It is too early to say whether or not I will be riding the Giro. We've got to wait and see how things go. My main priority is of course the Tour de France.

"I want to win the Tour de France. With Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden we have a strong attacking team. And with the addition of Oscar Sevilla, we have also strengthened the team for the mountains. I believe that we can have a good shot at the Tour. I also hope that Lance Armstrong will be there. In any case, I will focus my preparations on arriving at the Tour in top form."

Ullrich's assessment of his 2004 season was not a positive one: "I made a big mistake by going back to my house just before the start of the Tour. My daughter had a cough, and it was passed on to me. Then by pushing myself to the limit, while suffering from a cold, sapped so much of my strength. The Olympics came too soon and didn't go well. I was back at the top of my game in time for the world's - then I suffered the gastrointestinal viral infection. All in all, it wasn't a good season. I want to leave it behind me."

Ullrich also commented about having his mentor Rudy Pevenage closer to him this season, even if the Belgian will not be allowed in the team car during the Tour. "I am delighted that the Team has come to an agreement with Rudy," he said. "It is very important to me, that he helps me to peak for the Tour. For that he doesn't need to sit in the team car at the Tour. Ultimately, it doesn't really help me much to have Rudy sitting in the car, urging me to go faster. If my form isn't right, then that kind of advise won't be any use to me. So - Rudy is more important in my preparations for the Tour, than he is at the Tour."

T-Mobile team roster

Rolf Aldag (Ger), Eric Baumann (Ger), Giuseppe Guerini (Ita), Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Torsten Hiekmann (Ger), Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz), Matthias Kessler (Ger), Andreas Klier (Ger), Andreas Klöden (Ger), Tomas Konecny (Cze), Andre Korff (Ger), Daniele Nardello (Ita), Olaf Pollack (Ger), Jan Schaffrath (Ger), Stephan Schreck (Ger), Bram Schmitz (Ned), Tobias Steinhauser (Ger), Jan Ullrich (Ger), Christian Werner (Ger), Steffen Wesemann (Ger), Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz), Erik Zabel (Ger).

New riders: Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Bas Gilling (Ned), Bernhard Kohl (Aut), Francisco Jose Lara (Spa), Oscar Sevilla (Spa).

Simoni still bitter over Giro defeat

Looks for fresh start in '05

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Next year, 23 year old World #1 and '04 Giro d'Italia champion Damiano Cunego and his 33 year-old teammate Gilberto "Gibo" Simoni will have to co-exist on the new Lampre-Caffita team, but Simoni still seems to be smarting from his surprising defeat in the 2004 Giro d'Italia. Recently, the two-time Giro winner told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Claudio Gergori that he was most surprised about the Stage 18 finish in Bormio 2000.

"What happened that day at Bormio has never happened to me before, when Cunego wanted to win the stage. There was an agreement that day. In my career, I've let other riders win and I've won myself, but I've never gone back on my word. And before Bormio, no one ever did it to me."

Lampre-Caffita's diesse Giuseppe Martinelli has declared that, "Simoni will start the Giro as (Lampre-Caffita) leader. He'll have to focus only on the Giro and be at the start with the full understanding to win his third Giro." But a suspicious Simoni was also team leader this year but was surprised by the emergence of the talented, ambitious Cunego. "I don't trust anyone anymore", declared Simoni. And the proud, fiery Simoni isn't ready to work for Cunego yet. "I don't think this team wants me to be a gregario...they aren't paying me for that," he said.

So what ambitions for Simoni in 2005? With Cunego looking at a Giro/Tour double, it's not likely that Gibo will return to the Grand Boucle anytime soon. "I didn't enjoy the Tour; there's little space to express yourself as a rider with so much domination by Armstrong. The Giro is totally different."

It's unlikely that Simoni will be representing Italy in the World Championships any time soon. His feud with Italian team selector Franco Ballerini over his non-inclusion in the recent World Championship squad in Verona hasn't ended. "I don't want to have any further contact with (Ballerini)...I focused on racing at the Worlds for nine months. If (Ballerini) wasn't interested in me, there must have been something else behind it. Now to add insult to injury, (because of public comments about Ballerini) I have a problem with the (Italian Cycling) federation."

An Italian Federal Prosecutor has investigated Simoni's comments before the Verona World Championships and passed the information on to the Disciplinary Commission of the Italian Cycling Federation. "But no matter what, I'll never wear the (Italian) national jersey again", said Simoni. "I want to change my nationality but it's not really my choice. I have to do this if I want to race in the World Championships again."

The demanding Simoni is pleased with the way the Lampre-Caffita team has come together, saying, "Corti and Saronni really did a great job to pull everything together for the new team. I have a lot of faith in Corti and I see that the team will be very strong." Despite his disappointing 2004 season, Simoni has one clear ambition for 2005: "I want to have a good season in 2005 and a lot."

Simoni will meet the other riders and staff of Lampre-Caffita at a team training camp starting next week in Lake Garda, then on January 11th, Gibo will head to Australia with his team for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. "I want to start the season well next year", said Simoni. "I'm looking for a new start."

Another week for Phonak and co.

Swiss team Phonak, along with French squad Ag2r and Belgian, will have to wait another week before the UCI makes a decision on the final ProTour team spot. All three teams were heard by the UCI's Licensing Commission in Lausanne (Switzerland) on Monday, with the UCI announcing that it will make its final selection next Tuesday, November 30.

Phonak's ProTour spot initially came fire when two of its riders, Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez, tested positive for blood transfusion. In addition, Oscar Camenzind tested positive for EPO and left the team in August, while Phonak team doctor Ińaki Arratibel resigned last week. The UCI's Licensing Commission led by Swiss judge Pierre Zapelli criticised the team for not paying closer attention to the riders who were found to be doping.

Zesdaagse Vlaanderen Gent

The Zesdaagse Vlaanderen Gent (Ghent Six) starts on Tuesday, November 23 in Gent's Kuipke, which is located at the centre of the Citadelpark. Although there will be no Frank Vandenbroucke to draw the crowds, his replacement Robert Bartko should be a valuable ally for local favourite Matthew Gilmore. Other favourites include Bruno Risi/Kurt Betschart, Scott McGrory/Luke Roberts, Robert Slippens/Danny Stam, Franco Marvulli/Alexandre Aeschbach and Andreas Kappes/Gerd Dörich.

Race director Patrick Sercu has great expectations for the race and the public interest is enormous; tickets for Tuesday evening have been sold out.

Start list


Bruno Risi/Kurt Betschart (Swi)
Matthew Gilmore/Robert Bartko (Ger)
Scott McGrory/Luke Roberts (Aus)
Robert Slippens/Danny Stam (Ned)
Franco Marvulli/Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)
Marco Villa (Ita)/Franz Stocher (Aut)
Andreas Kappes/Gert Dörich (Ger)
Martin Liska/Jozef Zabka (Svk)
Matthé Pronk (Ned)/Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel)
Jimmy Madsen (Den)/Robert Hayles (GBr)
Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Andreas Beikirch (Ger)
Steven De Neef (Bel)/Jean-Pierre Van Zyl (RSA)
Dean Downing/Russell Downing (GBr)


1 Cédric Agez/Michael Mallie (Fra)
2 Geert Jan Jonkman/Wim Stroetinga (Ned)
3 Michael Berling/Alex Rasmussen (Den)
4 Patrick Betz/Daniël Schleger (Ger)
5 Matthew Brammeier/Mark Cavendisch (GBr)
6 René Schibl (Swi)/Kevin Sluimer (Ned)
7 Kenny De Ketele/Steve Schets (Bel)
8 Davy Tuytens/Gianni Meersman (Bel)
9 Nicky Cocuyt/Kerian De Fauw (Bel)
10 Tim Roels/Tim Mertens (Bel)
11 Tom White/Geriant Thomas (GBr)
12 Andreas Welsch/Sebastian Frey (Ger)

French bashed

Australian cyclist Mark French has been bashed outside the Star Hotel in Melbourne last Sunday evening. French, who was heavily implicated in the second stage report of the Anderson inquiry, was struck by an unknown attacker at approximately 11:00pm, but was not seriously hurt.

French's father David told The Age, "I've never known of an attack like this where nothing is said. The guy takes one punch and is on the hoof and is running, bolting virtually as soon as he's landed the punch. It's quite strange. So the fact that it's only a few days after the Anderson report has been released is of real concern to me."

Astarloa still at large for 2005

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

2003 World Champion Igor Astarloa still has not found a team for the 2005 season. The likeable 28 year old Basque from Ermua who lives near the shores of Lake Garda in Vobarno, Italy didn't have much to write home about during his reign as world champion in 2004. Although he signed a big contract with Cofidis in mid-2003 before his World title, the Basque became a victim of the Cofidis suspension and was released by the French squad. Astarloa was picked up by Lampre for a two year deal and rode the Giro d'Italia but never seemed to find his footing last season after his tribulations at Cofidis.

Astarloa was on the original list of riders slated to ride for Lampre-Caffita, the squad that was born from the marriage of Saeco and Lampre, but since this is a completely new team, Astarloa's existing contract with Lampre was rendered invalid and he has not been able to reach an agreement with Lampre-Caffita, who start their first team get together at Gardaland, Italy today. Astarloa had some interest from CSC, but team manager Bjarne Riis threw cold water on this hypothesis recently, saying, "It will be difficult for us to hire (Astarloa), for now, we simply don't have the budget. Astarloa's manager Paolo Zanni remains optimistic that he'll find a place for his rider, saying, "I think everything will be worked out soon for Astarloa."

Paulissen looking

Top Belgian mountain biker Roel Paulissen has unexpectedly found himself on the market after Siemens mobile-Cannondale decided not to renew his contract for next season. Paulissen has ridden for the team since 2002 and was surprised at the team management's decision at the beginning of last week.

"I was really shocked when I got the phone call on Monday," he said. "I had just arrived in Ireland for a few days of holidays and then this happened. I was convinced of staying with Siemens mobile Cannondale. Now the year 2004 is almost over and I still have to find another team! A good friend of mine, former team leader of American Eagle and Be-One, Ruud Poels and I are busy now calling around and contacting people.

"If I don't succeed in finding an existing team, I will try to start a team for myself. I have some contacts with some people who really want to help me out of this situation. We will see what the next weeks bring - I don't want to believe that in 2005 the current UCI ranking leader has to be without any team!"

Aalders to AXA

18 year old Dutch rider Bram Aalders has signed a two year contract with AXA, which will be a Continental team next season. The Dutch junior champion will join Piet Rooijakkers and Niki Terpstra as new riders in the 13 man team.

Pinotti married

Pinotti and Bergamelli
Photo ©: Bart Hazen
Click for larger image

Italian cyclist Marco Pinotti (Lampre) has married his fiancée Michela Bergamelli. The ceremony took place last Saturday, November 20, and was somewhat cycling themed. A few of his friends, dressed in formal jackets offset by cycling shorts, decorated a Lampre team Colnago in the style of a wedding car, complete with balloons and tins. But it proved to be too difficult for the couple to make it to the reception on the bike, and they opted for a more conventional vehicle. Perhaps it should have been a tandem?

Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under awarded

The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under has won a South Australian Tourism Award in the category of Major Events. The race, which is hosted in South Australia, is now entering its seventh year and routinely attracts some of the best Australian and international teams and riders.

Leeanne Grantham, General Manager of Australian Major Events was happy to receive the award, saying, "National and international interest in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under continues to grow from year to year, with research confirming that the 2003 event attracted more than 10,800 visitors. This award represents the next significant phase in the event's growth and stamps further authority on its reputation as a tourism icon.

"We want to build on this success and next January, there will be even more support with an increased number of recreational events allowing more amateur cyclists and cycling enthusiasts to participate in this world class event."

Next year's Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under will be held from January 18-23, 2005. For more information visit

Tuesday night racing at Eastern Creek

Sydney's Marconi-Fairfield club has announced that it will be conducting Tuesday night racing on the Western Sydney International Dragway (N.B. not the Raceway) at Eastern Creek, starting today (November 23). The course, which is completely closed to cars, is flat and non-technical, and should be conducive to fast racing. The start time is 6:30pm with an entry fee of $10, paying prizemoney three deep in each grade.

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