First Edition Cycling News for October 1, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
Ballerini: Rebellin would have been in team
Franco Ballerini at the men's time
Photo ©: Sirotti
Italian national team manager Franco Ballerini has said that Davide Rebellin's
quest for an Argentine passport to ensure he rides the world championships
road race in Verona on Sunday was unnecessary. "I can understand his desire
to ride the Worlds, but I was going to include him in the team anyway,"
Ballerini told AFP.
Rebellin sought Argentine citizenship after being overlooked for selection
for the Olympic Games road race in August, which was brilliantly won by
Ballerini's designated team leader Paolo Bettini. Now Ballerini is fending
off criticism for not naming Rebellin to the world's team - and if Rebellin
wins, it will only get worse.
"If Rebellin wins on Sunday, Ballerini might as well throw himself in
the Adige river," said 1977 world champion Francesco Moser.
Another Italian great, 1973 world champion Felice Gimondi, also criticized
Rebellin's apparent non-selection. "How can you not pick a guy who's on
form?" said Gimondi, "In the world championships, it's vital to have as
many riders as possible who can win the race."
Nevertheless, Rebellin has been confirmed as Argentina's sole representative
on Sunday, and feels he is in with a good chance, even though he will
probably have the entire Italian team working against him. "I know that
I'll have to go it alone and that the Italians won't be handing my any
favors, but that doesn't bother me," he said. "The world championships
are a special race where it's enough to follow the rhythm of the best
riders for the longest time possible."
Those best riders include 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego as
well as Bettini, who trails Rebellin by six points in the world cup series
with two races remaining. "There are a lot of expectations on Damiano
Cunego," said Rebellin. "He has a lot of character and is certainly one
of the favourites.
"To win the Giro you need endurance and I think he can do just as well
in a one-day race. He's also just come through the Tour of Spain, where
the stages are not too long but after 20 days of competition he should
be in form."
As the local hero - Cunego comes from a suburb of Verona - he will have
the crowd behind him, and has shown that he can win on the Verona circuit,
taking the junior world championship here in 1999. In that year the climb
of the Toricelli was the decisive element in a pro race that saw only
49 of the 173 starters finish. "It's not a hard climb in itself, ... but
doing it 18 times will take its toll," said Rebellin.
"I'm feeling calm - all my fans have got behind me, and I feel like the
general public can understand why I took this decision."
Nevertheless, Franco Ballerini is not impressed. "Rebellin is a great
rider," he said, "even if each one of his appearances in the Italian national
jersey has always wound up in a setback."
But Ballerini had been prepared to give Rebellin a chance alongside Bettini
and Cunego. "He would have been one of the three team leaders on the day,
but instead he panicked and went off to get an Argentine passport.
"Obviously it's a choice I don't agree with."
Pound weighs in to Hamilton controversy
World Anti-doping Agency head Dick Pound believes Tyler Hamilton's Olympic
gold medal is forever tainted by the A sample test that indicated blood
abnormalities at Athens. Hamilton was not declared positive after Athens
because a lab error made his B sample unusable, but returned a subsequent
positive for homologous blood doping at the Vuelta a Espana.
Without mentioning Hamilton by name, Pound told a meeting of Toronto's
business community, "It appears a cyclist might have escaped this net
because of human error, but I can assure you it's no longer a gold medal
in the eyes of the world.
"But if nothing else, we got him on the second bounce."
Hamilton has repeatedly maintained he is innocent of the charges. "They're
accusing me of taking someone else's blood," he said in a recent interview,
explaining that he was fully aware of the risks of that action to himself
and his wife and adding, "this is a risk I would never take.
"Ninety-nine percent of doping is not accidental," Pound said about the
general problem of drug use. "People who do this do not belong in sport."
Irish aiming for good showing at world's
By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com
This afternoon a strong five man Irish team will line out in the under
23 world championship road race in Verona, Italy with high expectations.
The team's two protected riders Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche have
shown good form of late and, backed by Tim Cassidy, Paidi O'Brien and
Andrew McQuaid, will be aiming for a strong finish in the tough 177 kilometre
Deignan has been in strong form throughout the season and recently showed
his climbing ability with a strong ride against the established professionals
in the Tour of Britain. He will be turning professional with the Ag2R
team next season but, before then, will be doing what he can to take a
strong result in Verona.
Roche has also been in fine form of late, finishing a fine tenth in the
Grand Prix d'Isbergues during his recent pro trial with the Cofidis team.
He may be less of a specialist climber than Deignan but was in a positive
frame of mind yesterday.
'I think it is a nice enough course, it is pretty suitable for me,' he
said. 'There is a long way to go after the top of the hill, with a tricky
descent and then a long way in to the finish. I think the course should
suit me because if I have the legs to get over the top, I will also be
the type of rider who can do a short break on the last flat section. If
I am still there at that stage I will certainly give it a go.'
Team manager Frank Campbell is expecting an aggressive start to the race,
after which the pace will settle down until the main battle in the closing
stages. He tips the Italian and Slovenian teams as being very strong,
and will also be watching the Dutch team of this season's dominant under
23 rider, Thomas Dekker. Dekker was a very disappointed second in the
time trial championship on Monday and will be keen to make amends.
Given the class of the opposition, a medal is by no means assured for
one of the Irish riders, but to be heading into the race with such high
expectation shows how far things have progressed in recent years. Whether
or not things play out in their favour today in this highly competitive
event, the future is certainly looking brighter.
The Grant Thornton Team Ireland squad will have one other competitor
in action today. Mary Brennan lines out in the junior road race and while
she has little experience to date of racing at this level, her participation
is part of the long-term plan to boost the standard of women's racing
UCI abandons Pro Tour launch
In the face of uncertainty over the future of the Pro Tour, the UCI yesterday
abandoned the planned launch of the new series, which replaces the current
World Cup with a season-long series that includes major tours as well
as one-day classics. The organizers of cycling's three biggest events,
the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia have all said they
do not want to be part of the Pro Tour as it is currently formulated.
UCI president Hein Verbruggen instead used the scheduled meeting to launch
the UCI's continental calendar, the proposed regional race calendar for
teams that are not part of the Pro Tour.
Verbruggen has said that the Pro Tour will go ahead even without the
Tour de France, and UCI director Alain Rumpf agrees that the organization
is too far down the track with planning for the new series. "We are already
too far into the process of setting up the Pro Tour," Rumpf told l'Equipe.
"It is impossible for us to go back. I want to see something come of the
efforts made by the teams that have increased their budgets and number
of riders for 2005. Something will come out of this quarrel between two
strong personalities, Hein Verbruggen and Patrice Clerc, the ASO president."
Clerc arrived in Verona on Wednesday and has indicated he is willing
to meet with Verbruggen to find a way forward, but that meeting has yet
Saunier Duval still after Valverde
The Saunier Duval team is close to acquiring the services of Comunidad
Valenciana - Kelme's Alejandro Valverde for 2005, according to todociclismo.com.
The team is in negotiations with politicians of the Murcia region for
Murcia Turística to come on board as a co-sponsor of the team. Leaders
of the Popular Party from Murcia are in contact with their counterparts
in the Valenciana region, main sponsor of Valverde's current team, to
negotiate regarding the two million Euro cancellation fee in Valverde's
A Murcian construction company, Polaris World, is also believed to be
interested in sponsoring the team.
The deal between Saunier Duval and Murcia was almost done on Sunday when
the organizers of the Vuelta, Giro and Tour de France threw a spanner
in the works by announcing they would not take part in the pro Tour. Saunier
Duval had negotiated with Murcia on the basis of its participation in
the new series in 2005.
Rabobank signs Alexandr Kolobnev
Russian national road champion Alexandr Kolobnev, currently with Domina
Vacanze has signed a two-year contract to ride for the Dutch Rabobank
team. The 23 year old all-rounder made his pro debut with Italian team
Acqua e Sapone - Cantina Tollo. Besides the Russian national title, he
won a stage in the 2003 edition of Settimana Ciclista Coppi-Bartali.
Colavita USA, LLC has announced that it will continue sponsorship of
its racing teams in 2005.
Colavita USA distributes Italy's Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil and
pasta products, and is currently in its second year of sponsoring a men's
UCI Division 3 Trade Team and amateur women's team. Company vice president
John A Profaci says the exposure the team has brought has been beneficial.
"Our Colavita brand item sales have increased over the past twelve months,"
he says, "and I'm certain that our support of the cycling programs have
had direct impact on that."
The team has also announced that Frank McCormack will be the men's team
directeur sportif in 2005. McCormack, older brother of Colavita Olive
Oil team captain Mark McCormack, has been serving as the squad's director
since late June.
Jonas Carney's last race
USPRO criterium champion Jonas Carney will race for the last time before
retiring at the 20th Annual Greenville Cycling Classic on October 9. Carney
will face US Postal's George Hincapie in the battle for a share of the
event's $10,000 purse.
"We are excited to have Olympic athletes like George Hincapie and Jonas
Carney racing in downtown Greenville again," said Rich Hincapie, Greenville
Cycling Classic Race Director. "George and Jonas have both represented
the US at the Olympics in the past and they are both wrapping of a terrific
season in Greenville. Not only is Jonas wrapping up a successful season,
but he has also decided to make this year's Greenville Cycling Classic
the last professional race of his amazing career. Jonas, George and I
used to race together when we were juniors, so he has been a good friend
of mine for many years. He will be missed in the pro peloton."
Carney's career includes 8 junior and 16 senior national championships.
He usually ends his racing season in Greenville, and this year is choosing
the season-closer to end his pro career too.
IMBA hires new executive director
Mountain bike access organisation IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling
Association) has a new executive director in Mike Van Abel. A former national
vice president for the American Diabetes Association, Van Abel replaces
Tim Blumenthal, who recently became head of US industry trade association
Van Abel has a BS in Biology and Soil Science, which should come in handy
for all those discussions about the erosion impact of mountain bikes versus
walking boots, and has previously worked for a number of non-profit organizations
including the YMCA, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. According
to IMBA he is an avid outdoor enthusiast, participating in cycling, running,
hiking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing and canoeing. He will begin work
as the IMBA executive director on October 18.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)