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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 18, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones and John Stevenson

A day for the sprinters

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

Friday's 13th stage between El Ejido and Malaga was a pleasant break for the sprinters, who have been subjected to a mountainous torture over the last few days of the Vuelta. The day was uneventful apart from a four man break that escaped after 50 km and stayed away until 10 km to go, never gaining more than 2'30 as the Fassa Bortolo and Cofidis teams kept a tight control over the race.

The Fassa train took over from Cofidis with 3 km to go and propelled Alessandro Petacchi to his fourth stage win of this year's Vuelta and his 12th of all time. It is clear that I am the fastest at the moment, and I think that everybody is tired, but today I just had a good sprint... and to me it signifies that in the end I am very strong," Petacchi told Cyclingnews post-stage.

He added that he thought that it was "important to get to Madrid. With the season I have had it would be good to finish the Vuelta. Some people have said I won't make it to Madrid, but I tell you if I don't it is not because I don't want to. After the stage to Caceres it is all mountains and I am very tired and I want to do well in Paris-Tours as well."

Vuelta Stage 13 - Full results, report & photos, Live report
Stages & descriptions
Start list

Stomach problems caused Hamilton's withdrawal

The Phonak team has been confirmed that the reason for Tyler Hamilton's non-start in Stage 13 was due to stomach problems, possibly a virus similar to that which has claimed a number of other riders already.

Phonak's director Alvaro Pino explained to TVE during Stage 13 that Hamilton "had an inflamed stomach. He felt ill, so we preferred him to withdraw from the race and have a medical check. It could be a virus."

Oscar Sevilla and some of the other riders on the team have also had pains but none as bad as Hamilton.

Valverde improving

Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) finished today's stage from El Ejido to Málaga without problems, and seems to be recovering well after his crash in Stage 11. "I feel better than yesterday," he said. "I rode more comfortably in the stage from Almería. This stage was not decisive. Yesterday, I was at the front. I have no reason to fear the stages that are coming in the next few days."

An interview with Edita Pucinskaite

Verona Double?

Edita Pucinskaite wins Plouay World Cup
Photo ©: Régis Garnier

With the World Championships coming up on the same course as 1999, Edita Pucinskaite finds herself in good form and motivated to repeat her performance and win in Verona again. And after her victory in the challenging second stage of the Giro della Toscana, a World's repeat looks distinctly possible. Kristy Scrymgeour caught up with Pucinskaite to discuss her career to date and the coming World Championships.

Beginning her athletic career at a young age, Edita Pucinskaite finally found cycling at the age of twelve and has since gone from strength to strength. "The desire to express myself through sport got me started first with track and field and then after I began cycling," she said.

Despite her successes, which include a World Championship and a victory in the women's version of the Tour de France, Le Grande Boucle, the Lithuanian says it hasn't been easy. "I had to overcome many, many problems to improve enough to be recognized," she said, "but I think I'm lucky to have chosen to specialize as a cyclist and if I had to do it all over again, I would make all the sacrifices I've made again. Through cycling, I've been able to give a lot of satisfaction to my friends, my fans and family and I feel like I've realized my goals and repaid for my efforts."

Now Pucinskaite has excellent form and is considered on of the favourites for Verona. "I'm feeling good," she said. "I hope to keep this form until the second of October, but first I'm going to race the Tour of Tuscany, where I hope to be one of the best riders."

With a previous win on the Verona world's course, Edita is feeling relatively confident, "but there is a lot of pressure too. They will all be watching me. We will have to go up this climb of the Toricelle nine times," she added, "two more times than in 1999. So there will be more climbing, less flat and more kilometres. It will be a hard race!"

Click here for the full interview

Aldag motivates himself

By Hedwig Kröner

Like many other riders at this time of the season, Rolf Aldag is finding it difficult to motivate himself for the final few weeks. But the defending champion of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt showed that he still has the necessary condition by winning the third stage of the race in a solo breakaway. Cyclingnews caught up with Aldag before the race and asked him how things were going and his prospects for the World Championships.

"After the race, I'll know where I stand," said the T-Mobile rider. "During the last weeks, my form was sort of unstable. The Tour of Holland went really well, but I came out of that pretty tired, which wasn't too bad either. For me, going to the World Championships depends on whether I want to go too, who's going strong then and whether it makes sense to support someone. I don't want to race at the World's to get 39th, I'd rather stay at home then and have a quiet weekend. But if there's someone... If Jan says he has a chance of winning and needs someone to pull him over the last laps, I'll be there for him."

Aldag missed the break on the first day of Rheinland-Pfalz and now finds himself in 16th overall. He commented that, "It's always hard here, and you never know how the race evolves tactically."

Armstrong & team suing for bonus

Lance Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, the company that owns the US Postal team, are suing an insurance company in an attempt to force the payment of Armstrong's $5 million bonus for winning the 2004 Tour de France, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The paper reports that in 2001 Tailwind Sports paid a $420,000 insurance premium to SCA Promotions Inc. for an insurance policy that would allow Tailwind to pay bonuses agreed with Armstrong if he won further Tours de France. SCA promotions claims to be the world's biggest provider of this sort of 'prize coverage' for competitions and incentive schemes.

SCA paid up to the tune of $1.5 million in 2002 when Armstrong won his fourth Tour and again in 2003 when his fifth Tour victory landed the Texan a $3 million bonus. But SCA is withholding the $5 million Armstrong is owed for his sixth consecutive Tour victory until it receives evidence that the allegations of use of illegal substances in David Walsh and Pierre Ballester's book L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong are untrue. According to Tailwind's suit, SCA has asked Armstrong and Tailwind to provide all of Armstrong's medical records and other records.

Meanwhile the $5 million is held in a custodial account until SCA determines whether Walsh and Ballester's allegations are untrue. "We're just asking the questions," SCA attorney John Bandy told the Dallas Morning News Wednesday. "We believe the contract says we have to pay only if the event of a valid claim."

Tailwind has responded by filing suit against SCA, saying that SCA does not have the right to question Armstrong's Tour victories as they have been ratified by cycling's authorities.

Bäckstedt to Liquigas

Swedish rider Magnus Bäckstedt has signed for the new Liquigas team for the coming two seasons. The winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix confirmed to Cyclingnews that he would be riding for the Italian team, which will also include Dario David Cioni, Danilo Di Luca, Luca Pagliarini and Stefano Garzelli.

As for his back problem that precipitated a premature end to his season, Bäckstedt said that "It's improving all the time so I should be ready for next year with no worries."

Pippo e' libero: Pozzato to leave Fassa Bortolo

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Fassa Bortolo's Filippo Pozzato will change teams next season. Just turned 23, the talented Pozzato never quite found the right vibes with Fassa's strict taskmaster of a team manager Giancarlo Ferretti and despite some brilliant performances at Fassa Bortolo, most notably a stage win this July at the Tour de France, Pozzato asked to exercise the exit clause in his contract that had him on board the Silver Train until the end of 2005.

After a meeting with sponsor Paola Fassa and Ferretti Thursday, Pozzato's manager Claudio Pasqualin found a solution that worked for all concerned. Pozzato will pay a penalty, likely equal to 50 percent of his estimated 250,000 euro contract for his liberty in return for his release at the end of 2004. Although he was selected for the Athens Olympic team, Pozzato won't be on the Squadra Azzurro in Verona. Instead, he'll finish out the season with the Giro di Lazio Saturday and a few other races in Italy.

Where will this talented young rider end up in 2005? Pozzato has two offers on the table from people who know him well; former Mapei general manager Alvaro Crespi wants his former U23 Mapei star back at his current team, Quick.Step, while ex-U23 Mapei diesse, who quit Fassa Bortolo over disagreements with Ferretti in July will run the new Italian mega-team Liquigas-Bianchi in 2005 and also has his eyes on Pippo. Look for Pozzato to make his move soon and don't miss our upcoming interview with the talented young Italian pro on Cyclingnews.

Pezzo Pausa

By Tim Maloney, European editor

After a disappointing Olympic Games and World Championships, Paola Pezzo has decided to not participate in the World Cup MTB races this weekend in Livigno, Italy. "Yeah, well I'm disappointed the way the big races of my season went, the Olympics and Worlds; disappointed, but I'm not giving up or anything." Reached by telephone today, Pezzo told Cyclingnews today that "I may have rushed my comeback too much this year... especially after my appendicitis in April. I really tried to accelerate my preparation to make up for lost time and that was probably a mistake." Pezzo won't race any more this season, but instead will take a break to "evaluate what I'm doing in the future. I'm really sorry to not be racing in Livigno where a lot of my fans will be, but I need to figure out what I want to do in the future. But one thing is for sure; I want to continue racing in 2005 and have a better comeback."

Strong lineup for TQ Paper International

By Shane Stokes

One of the strongest women's fields ever seen in this country will line out in the TQ Paper International Two Day this weekend. Over sixty riders have entered the three-stage race, including competitors from the RG Charlottenburg team in Germany, plus the Dutch Team Movingladies Groenewoud and the W.V. Alcmaria Victrix squads.

Of these, the Moving Ladies Groenewoud team have the biggest history in the race, taking the overall title in 2001 and 2002 with Esther Van Der Helm. While she is not expected to attend this time, riders Sharon Van Essen, Inge Klep and Judith Helmink have all ridden well in the past. In 2002 Van Essen was fourth and Klep took fifth overall plus a stage win. Helmink was sixth overall in 2001. Last year, their good showing continued with Klep second on stages one and three and finishing sixth overall. Van Essen was tenth.

There will also be a number of strong competitors from Wales and England, setting the scene for a furious battle on the roads of North County Dublin.

In response, a strong lineup of Irish riders has been unveiled. Verona-destined competitors Louise Moriarty, Colette Swift and Mary Brennan will use the race as their final tune-up before the world championships, and will be joined by national champion Julie O'Hagan, Siobhan Dervan and Erin Turlington on the national team,

There will also be a Team Ireland B lineup comprising Roisin Kennedy, Orla Hendron, Siobhan Jacob, Gillian McDarby, Grace McNally and Emma Quirke, plus regional selections from Ulster and Leinster. The first of these two teams features Mary Boyd, Jemma Donaghy, Ann McFarland and Fiona Tracey while the Leinster selection includes Fidelma Fahey, Niamh FitzGibbon, Coleen Foley, Debs Gordon, Caroline Mooney and Susan O'Mara There are also several Irish women taking part in their own club colours.

The TQ Paper International starts Saturday with a flat 64 kilometre road race, taking in eight laps of the Boot Inn circuit and which will probably end in a sprint finish. Later that day the riders tackle a flat 2 kilometre time trial beside Dublin airport, which will give a clearer indication of those who have a chance of carrying off the final yellow jersey.

The second day of competition is over a now-traditional 74 kilometre course in north county Dublin, which winds out through the Naul, Stamullen and Ballyboughil villages and takes in several climbs along the way. The stage gives ample opportunity for attack and so a real shake-up is expected, with the top contenders scrapping it out all the way to the line.

Cofidis for Grand Prix d'Isbergues

The Cofidis team has announced the riders it will field for tomorrow's Grand Prix d'Isbergues in France. Under the guidance of assistant directeur sportif Alain Deloeuil, the team will be: Frédéric Bessy, Alexandre Cabrera, Jimmy Casper, Christophe Edaleine, Jimmy Engoulvent, Peter Farazijn, David Moncoutie and Nicolas Roche.

Gerrans to AG2r

Australian Simon Gerrans, currently riding as a stagiaire with the French AG2r Prévoyance team, has signed a two-year deal to ride with the squad in 2005 and 2006. Gerrans was recently selected as a member of Australia's team for the world championships in Verona, Italy.

Merckxes at Interbike

Eddy and Axel Merckx will be making a rare US appearance at the Interbike trade show (Las Vegas, USA, October 6-8). The father and son combination of greatest cyclist ever and Olympic road race bronze medalist will be at the Eddy Merckx booth (#2959) as guests of US importer Gita Sporting Goods.

Eddy and Axel will be available to meet people and sign autographs between 2 pm and 3 pm on October 6 and between 11 am and noon on October 7.

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