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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 3, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Heras and Beloki look to Vuelta for season salvage

Two of Spain's top riders, Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) and Joseba Beloki (Saunier Duval), have had dismal seasons by their usual high standards and both are therefore looking to their national grand tour to redeem themselves in the eyes of their teams, their fans and themselves.

After breaking his hip in a crash in the 2003 Tour de France Beloki has struggled all season to regain the form that put him on the Tour podium from 2000 to 2002. Heras, winner of the Vuelta in 2003 and 2000, abandoned the Tour without displaying any of the talent that had led him to be considered a potential threat to Lance Armstrong.

"The Tour is now gone and forgotten," Heras told Spanish sports newspaper Marca. "These things happen and you have no choice but to learn from the bad times and look ahead to the future. It was my worst Tour to date without a doubt. I wasn't able to recover properly and when we reached the mountains I just got worse and worse. The best thing to do was to quit and get ready for the Vuelta instead.

"The Tour may be more prestigious, but I've got a special love for the Vuelta and right now I feel in very good shape."

Beloki started the 2004 season with French team Brioches La Boulangere, but was beset with problems, first with the final stages of healing from his 2003 fracture, then with problems with French doping regulations that prevented him from using an allergy medication otherwise permitted by UCI regulations. The last straw was the decision by the sponsor not to renew for 2005, leaving Beloki - who had a two-year contract with the squad run by Jean René Bernaudeau - facing uncertainty about his financial future.

Beloki quit the team shortly before the Tour de France to seek other options and in July signed a deal with Spanish team Saunier Duval.

"My objective is to fight for one of the top places in the overall standings," Beloki told Spanish sports newspaper AS. "I've not got many kilometres under my belt, but my aim is to get back to being the rider I was before the crash in 2003."

McGee-NSWIS success story continues

Ashley Humbert's newest stagiaire

Ashley Humbert at the team launch in February 2002
Photo ©: Tom Balks

What began as a pipe dream seven years ago is fast becoming a reality for an aspiring 22 year-old from Wagga Wagga, a country town in New South Wales, with McGee-NSWIS recruit Ashley Humbert the latest member to offered a stagiaire (apprentice) position with Division I French professional outfit,

Bradley McGee's eponymous development squad - a set-up co-founded by McGee brothers Bradley and Rodney, the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and Division I team - was considered a groundbreaking move at the time of its inception in February 2002. While somewhat following in the vein of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) under 23 men's national team program that was (and still is) partly-funded by Mapei head-honcho Georgio Squinzi, the then named team had one notable exception: it was the only one of its kind ostensibly funded by a single rider.

Three years on, the name has changed (now known as McGee-NSWIS), but as assistant coach Rodney McGee explains, the ideology remains unchanged: "The philosophy is still exactly the same - all we're here for is to help young guys to hopefully become pro bike riders, and if not, into decent human beings, so they can get on with life away from bikes as well," McGee says in a fatherly tone, now with the latest crop of recruits in Victoria as they contest the Tour of Sunraysia.

Click here to read the full feature.

Pantani memorial stolen

A memorial dedicated to Italian climber and 1998 Tour de France winner Marco Pantani has been stolen. The memorial was situated on the climb of the Gessi where Pantani often trained, near his home town of Cesenatico. Its disappearance was noticed early Thursday morning by a passer-by.

The memorial was unveiled on June 5 after the Memorial Pantani Cesenatico-Cesena race, and it's not clear whether the theft was an act of vandalism or committed by a collector. The mayor of Cesenatico has pledged that it would be replaced as soon as possible.

US road team selections announced

USA Cycling has announced the riders who, by dint of their achievements during the 2004 season, have been automatically selected to represent the USA at the world championships in Verona, Italy, September 27 - October 4. The eight men and five women selected have until September 6 to accept or decline their nominations.

First selection goes to the five members of the USA's men's Olympic team, George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer, and Jason McCartney. Joining the Olympic quintet are six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, USPRO Champion, Fred Rodriguez, and top-ranked rider in USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar standings, Chris Horner. Julich and Hamilton also receive automatic nominations for the time trial event at the world's.

In the women's team, the USA's three road Olympians Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn and Dede Barry, are also automatically nominated. They are joined by Kimberly Bruckner, thanks to her top-three finish in the Tour de l'Aude and NRC points leader, Tina Pic.

Barry and Thorburn get the nod for the women's time trial thanks to their silver and fourth place finishes at the Olympics.

Gateway Cup brings racing to the people

By John Musselman,

This weekend, St Louis Missouri plays host to the Gateway Cup, a four-race criterium series that brings top-level racing to the streets of the city and always gets a strong reaction from locals, who turn out in large numbers to watch.

Each event has its own flavour as the races are staged in various older neighbourhoods within the city. Tim Ranken, the race director said, "Bottom line, to have a good race you have to have it where the people are. Yeah, a race course in a rural park is a cool challenging race. But you're not going to get people to go out there to watch it. We put these races right smack-dab in the middle of the best neighbourhoods in St. Louis." This aspect of the Gateway Cup is where it draws its strength. This year over 300 riders have already registered online before the day of the event.

Race action begins with a night race under the lights in historic Lafayette Square. The course is lined with huge dignified homes dating back to the mid 1850's with a few bars and restaurants mixed in to ensure a party atmosphere. It's always a grand way to kick off the Gateway Cup.

Full Gateway Cup preview

Top Nor-Cal teams roll up for Giro di San Francisco

Northern California's leading professional teams, along with over 500 amateur racers, will take part in the 30th edition of the Summit Mortgage Advisors Giro di San Francisco - claimed to be San Francisco's longest-running race - on Labor Day, September 6.

Local pro teams McGuire Pro Cycling, Webcor Builders, and Sierra Nevada Cycling will all field full squads in the elite men's race which starts at 3:10 PM at the intersection of Battery and Union Streets. The elite men's and women's races are open only to riders living in the Northern California/Nevada region, so local bragging rights and the Northern California/Nevada Criterium Championship will be on the line.

Favourites in the men's race include veteran field sprinter Dave McCook (McGuire), while Webcor Builders and Sierra Nevada hope that the two new corners in the race course around Levi's Plaza will suit breakaway riders like Webcor's Justin England and Sierra Nevada's Eric Wohlberg.

In the Timbuk2 Elite Women's Race at 1:10 PM, Webcor Builders will be
the team to beat, bringing 2004 Olympian Christine Thorburn, Karen Brems, and Carmen D'Aluisio.

For more information see

Returning winners head Grafton field

New name & finish for women's race

Two former winners head the field for this month's Eastmon Camera House Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.

Victoria's David McKenzie and NSW's Ben Brooks are confirmed starters for the September 18 race in the elite Men's A grade teams division. McKenzie won the race in 2001 and Brooks took line honours in 1998 as an 18-year-old.

The pair will be joined by two-time runner up Peter Milostic (NSW) and Trent Wilson who is returned from Italy.

The confirmation of these four leading cyclists has boosted the race, which is a Category One event in the Trek Series .

These riders will represent different teams for the 228km event. McKenzie will ride in the Victoria Institute of Sport team. He heads into the race fresh from a final race win in the Tattersall Cup in Tasmania last week after finishing second overall in the five-race series.

Brooks is returning from America where he rides for the Jelly Belly team. Last year he was one of three riders who led the race from the other side of Glen Innes until 10km to go. Brooks is yet to confirm which team he'll join.

Milostic, who will ride for the Sydney-based FRF Couriers team, has run second in the Classic twice, 2001 and last year. He was very disappointed to miss the win last year and vowed to return and win in 2004. He finished fifth in the Tatts Series and has been in good form.

Cyclingnews diarist Trent Wilson rode the Grafton two years ago and is returning from Italy where he rides for division two team Columbia Selle Italia. A strong climber, Wilson rode this year's Giro d'Italia and should be one to watch in the colours of Selle Italia.

Women's Grafton to finish in Glen Innes

Women competitors in this year's Eastmon Camera House Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic will finish their race in Glen Innes for the first time. And it will be a finish like no other if plans by Glen Innes and Severn Shire Tourist Association comes to fruition.

The women's event will be known as the World Heritage Way Ladies Challenge (WHWLC) and is a joint sponsorship initiative between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Glen Innes and Severn Shire Tourism and Clarence Valley Council.

The route of both the men's and women's races passes through a large area of national parks including subtropical rainforest and the habitats of some of Australia's rarest animals and plants. The World Heritage Way gets its name from the World Heritage listed Washpool National Park.

A carnival atmosphere is planned for the finish of the women's race in Glen Innes' main street with the finish line in front of the Town Hall and celtic flag bearers.

Manager of Tourism Services, Wendy Fahey said the move is aimed at building on the promoting the area in conjunction with Australia's premier one day road race. "We want to promote the destination appeal of Grafton and Glen Innes and give people the chance to view locations along the WHW by visiting parks," Fahey said.

The World Heritage Way Challenge is expected to be the most grueling and longest women's race in Australia - and will offer the highest prize money. Race director Peter Sunderland said the move is a major boost for Glen Innes to have its first race finish in the 44 year history of the event.

"It's good to see Glen Innes become involved and the WHWC will surely attract more riders to the event - it's very positive," Sunderland said. "Already we have had good interest and encouraging feedback from around Australia and it looks like we will have record entries for the women's section."

Last year's winner Kathy Watt has indicated she will line up on September 18 and organisers are expecting a field of 20-30 riders.

The womens race will start at 7.30am and this will bring them into Glen Innes around 10-20 minutes behind the leading men's C grade riders.

"We plan to let the winners of the women's race catch their breath while the B graders pass through then there will be a presentation ceremony of the winners in the main street of Glen Innes," said Sunderland. "The A grade field should arrive in Glen Innes shortly after the presentation making for an entertaining few hours for spectators."

For more information see the Grafton to Inverell website.

Carrigan gives big tick to Aussie club nationals

Not 24 hours after Olympic gold medallist Sara Carrigan had landed back on home soil she was in the Sunshine Coast helping to launch the 2004 National Road Cycling Championships, Australia's national championships for club cyclists.

"I'm thrilled be here to help kick start this year's Nationals, it's where it all started for me," said Carrigan. "After travelling the world, south east Queensland really is the most ideal training ground. We have everything right here especially our wonderful climate."

Carrigan praised the effort of the entire cycling team at the Olympics following a somewhat disrupted preparation. "It's just the Australian way, when the chips are down we get tough and fight back and that's exactly what the team did."

Cycling Australia CEO, Graham Fredericks was also at the press conference and was pleased with the great turn out of participants from across Australia. "There are a number of people that we need to thank for this outstanding turnout," said Fredericks. "USM Events have done a great job in putting this together along with the support of the Queensland Government through their event arm Queensland Events Corporation who have signed a deal for the next three years. I'd also like to thank the media who are often overlooked, without their support and coverage the event would not be afforded the high profile that it has and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to leverage the event to an even higher level and status."

The Australian Road Championships has been staged on the Sunshine Coast over the past three years with a range of disciplines staged across an array of picturesque Sunshine Coast locations including Caloundra, Beerwah, Maleny, Coolum and Mooloolaba.

Just over 1000 participants will take part in the National Road Cycling Championships and today (Friday September 3) it's the juniors who will kick off the program and get their chance to shine in the sun.

For more information see the Australian Road Nationals website.

Busy weekend on Irish scene

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

There is a flurry of activity on the Irish cycling scene this weekend. Navan Avonmore Cycling Club is keeping the flag flying with the Beechmount Cup in Kilmessan on Saturday, the last evening event on the calendar this year because of the receding light, starting at six o'clock. The following day they promote the popular Collins/Christle Memorial Cup, which will be sponsored by Rory Collins. Both races will be held in the Kilmessan area of Co. Meath. Because of the attractiveness of their promotions they are sure of a big turnout. The courses' for the competition are relatively flat, so it is anticipated that the sprinters will be in their element. Aidan Crowley from the Cycleways Lee Strand team did exceptionally well last weekend in the Westport Criterium and a win here at the Meath venue would not go astray.

The Woodlands House and Hotel 2-day in Co. Limerick is by far the big attraction for those all bar senior one competitors. If the support of the previous stage events for these competitors is anything to go by, then Brian Jordan the organiser will be a happy individual both for the race and the sponsor.

The first year junior from Castelbar, Martin Munroe is certainly the one to keep tabs on. The inclusion of a time trial in the 2-day will be to his benefit as he well capable of being the fastest against the clock.

IMBA says take a kid mountain biking

In an effort to get youngsters back on bikes - and what better way to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity that's swept the English-speaking world in the last few years? - IMBA is promoting October 2 as Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. As well as chance to pass our passion for riding on to the next generation, the initiative also offers the chance to win a matching set of three Schwinn kids mountain bikes.

You can get involved by organizing a ride, spreading the word or taking a kid along on an organized ride on October 2.

For more information see

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