First Edition Cycling News for April 20, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan
ProTour teams and Giro still at loggerheads
48 hours have passed since AIGCP president Patrick Lefevere issued the ultimatum to Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegan - but still with no result. "Both parties have become locked with each other," admitted Lefevere to De Telegraaf.
The Sunday of the Amstel Gold Race, the Quick.Step team manager demanded that 60,000 Euros be paid to each of the 20 ProTour teams scheduled to take part in the 2005 Giro, or the teams would boycott their participation. While this sum is in accordance with the UCI ProTour regulations, all three Grand Tours are still not "signed" members of the ProTour, have not paid the "membership" fees asked of them, and do not look like doing so anytime soon, if the latest reports are anything to go by.
With three weeks to go before the first Grand Tour of the year, the situation for all parties concerned - including the riders - is beginning to look desperate. "We'll sit at the table again on Thursday," said Lefevere. Meanwhile, Zomegan has agreed to meet with the ProTour team managers after today's La Flèche Wallonne, if they wish to talk.
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Julich aiming high on home soil
In 2004, Bobby Julich finished fourth in the Dodge Tour of Georgia, two minutes off the pace set by Lance Armstrong. But after wins in Paris-Nice and the Criterium International, this year has seen him move to a new level, and as a consequence, he is now regarded as a stronger favourite for the title. Shane Stokes speaks to a man aiming high on home soil.
'Last year, the Tour of Georgia was a lot of fun, but I was much more tired mentally and physically at that point than I am now,' he told Cyclingnews this past weekend.
'This year I have been going really good since the beginning of the season. It would be naive of me to believe that I am going to be as strong as I was in Paris-Nice, but the possibility is always there. My motivation will be high, the weather is supposed to be nice, and I'm looking forward to having a good time.
Regarded by some as a finished rider less than two years ago, Julich has turned things right around since joining mentor Bjarne Riis at Team CSC. Last year he rode well in a number of events, leaping an incredible 299 places in the world rankings to 30th last October. Highlights included a superb Olympic debut with bronze in the Elite TT in Athens, wins against the clock in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Luk Challenge, second in the GP Eddy Merckx, third in Paris Nice and fourth overall in the Criterium International, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Dodge Tour de Georgia.
This year, things have been even better. Voigt was supposed to CSC's main hope for Paris-Nice but at the end of the first ever ProTour race, it was Julich who stood on the top step of the podium. In doing so, he redisplayed the kind of form which earned him third place in the 1998 Tour de France. From there, the increasingly motivated 33 year old went to Criterium International, where he placed third in the mountain stage, won the race against the clock and secured his second major win of 2005.
Julich says he has always gone into stage races aiming for the win, but this year was the first time in quite a while that he really found himself in the position to turn that aspiration into a reality. 'I was surprised, of course to come out on top, because I am not so much of a winner,' he states modestly.
'To win Paris-Nice and Criterium International back-to-back was really a surprise. I am definitely not used to winning, yet then all of a sudden I had the yellow jersey at the end of two big races. So I was very happy.'
Click here to read the full interview.
Armstrong comments on Hamilton verdict
Interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today program, America's top morning chat show, Lance Armstrong said that despite the news about Hamilton's suspension being hard to take, he has faith in the medical processes used to fight doping in cycling, and found the decision handed down by the American Arbitration Association/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA/CAS) as bittersweet.
"I have faith in the process [of medical control]... and I know Tyler," Armstrong said. "And in my heart, I find it very hard to believe that he did [blood doping], but as I said, there is a process and at the same time, it's a little bittersweet because my long-time team-mate, a Russian, Ekimov [lost to Hamilton in Athens], so it's unfortunate."
Liberty in the Flèche
Jörg Jaksche, Ángel Vicioso and David Etxebarria will lead Spanish team Liberty Seguros-Würth at La Flèche Wallonne. According to a statement from the team, they will start with the intention of victory, but their main focus, like many, will be a few days later at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Said Vicioso: "Manolo [Saiz] says that tomorrow we will ride calmer than in the Amstel, but it is clear that if we come in the front group, I will take the opportunity.
"In Amstel I felt really strong; I don't know if I was going to win, but I was sure of finishing in the first three," he recalled. "The rear wheel puncture at a critical moment was a great opportunity lost, at least until next year. I hadn't punctured the whole year, and then I had it happen at the worst moment."
Vicioso believes the legendary Mur de Huy is a harder ascent than the Cauberg experienced at last Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, but as well as being a tougher climb, he added the narrower road makes it more difficult to obtain a good position.
Not surprisingly, the Spaniard rates Amstel winner Danilo Di Luca as the man to beat. "When he started [attacking] in the Amstel, only three could go with him: Rebellin, Boogerd and me," he said. "Maybe I am a step below Di Luca, but only one."
With the favourites keeping a bit in reserve for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Vicioso feels the possibility of a breakaway at Flèche Wallonne is quite likely, and with Etxebarria and Jaksche also riding well, "we all have many desires of win one of these races", he said.
Team roster for La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Carlos Barredo, David Etxebarria, Jörg Jaksche, Koen de Kort, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Marcos Serrano, Ángel Vicioso.
T-Mobile to ride attacking Flèche
Further to the announcement of T-Mobile's roster of riders for La Flèche Wallonne, team manager Walter Godefroot said the Belgian mid-week classic is a race often underestimated, with the team choosing to adopt an offensive race strategy going into today's event.
"The Flèche is often underestimated, on account of its distance. The tempo is always high in this race, and you always need your wits about you to prevent anyone jumping clear," said Godefroot on the team's website, www.t-mobile-team.com. Added directeur sportif Mario Kummer: "The last races have shown that things go better for us when we ride offensively," he said.
Gerolsteiner at La Flèche
While Davide Rebellin's fourth place at last Sunday's Amstel Gold was not exactly a failure, it did mean he was not going to begin another triplet of weeks like he did the previous year.
However, the 33 year-old Italian is in good shape, and will have the following team to support him as defending champion at today's La Flèche Wallonne: Andrew Moletta, Ronny Scholz, Fabian Wegmann, Markus Zberg, Markus Fothen, Marco Serpellini, and Beat Zberg. Christian Henn will be directeur-sportif.
One more Aussie pro: Ben Johnson signs for Agritubel
By Jean-François Quénet
Australians invading European cycling is like a never ending story; the latest from Down Under to secure a pro contract is Ben Johnson, a 22 year-old from Queensland. Yesterday [Tuesday], Johnson signed with French Pro Continental Team Agritubel for two seasons, his debut with them commencing on May 1 at the Trophée des Grimpeurs.
"Turning pro is what I've always dreamt about," Johnson said shortly after signing his contract in Loudun, in the centre of France.
Johnson is a pure talent. In 2004, he was supposed to join Cofidis, but was dropped for some obscure reason despite being a fantastic helper for Cédric Vasseur at Paris-Corrèze in 2003, where he rode as a stagiaire. This year, Johnson rode for a third season in France as an amateur with Division 2 club Charvieu-Chavagneux, winning two races, and finishing second twice. "I became a marked man in the area," he said.
With the help of former Festina directeur sportif Michel Gros, he was introduced to new French squad Agritubel, a team that has already taken five pro races this year, despite its new beginnings. Their leaders are former ITT French champion Florent Brard and José Alberto Martinez from Spain, who beat Lance Armstrong three years ago at the Critérium International.
"We actually followed Ben's results last year already," said directeur sportif Denis Leproux. "We are delighted to welcome him on the team. He might ride the Four days of Dunkirk in May, but the big goal for him will be the Tour de l'Avenir in September." After that, Johnson will make himself available for the Australian national team at the World's in Madrid, either in the pro category or as an Under 23, since non-ProTour riders are now eligible in the latter event.
Johnson discovered the beauty of the Tour de France when he was only 14, where his mentor and former professional Marcel Wüst took him to the start in Rouen in 1997. For a young boy from Noosa to leave home and go to freezing Europe to race the Prix Mathias Nomblot - which he won - in February this year, cycling is clearly a passion for him, but Johnson showed his French team just how good he was. So far, no team manager has been disappointed with an Australian cyclist in France. And Johnson is also ready to give it his all for Agritubel.
Canadian team announced for Pan-Am Games
The Canadian Cycling Association has announced their full roster of names selected to represent their country at the Pan American road and track championships from April 25 to May 1 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Competition will begin with the individual road time trials on April 25, with the track events will taking place from April 26-29. The women's and U23 men's individual road races will be held on April 30, and the elite men's road race on May 1.
Canadian team for 2005 Pan American Championships:
Philippe Abbott (Calgary, AB): track endurance (Team Pursuit), espoir
Gina Grain (Victoria, BC): track endurance (Points, Scratch), elite road
Head Coach: Eric Van den Eynde
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