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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for February 3, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Strong field for Challenge Illes Balears

The opening of the Spanish season will once again be on the island of Mallorca with the 14th edition of the Challenge Illes Balears-Volta a Mallorca between February 6-10. Featuring five independent one day races with an overall classification at the end, the Challenge is used by many teams as a slightly relaxed way to ease into the season, as there is no requirement to ride one stage in order to start the next. As such, teams typically take bigger squads of up to 15 riders each, chopping and changing in order to give all their riders a taste of the racing.

Among the top riders present are triple World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank), World Cup champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) and Eric Zabel (T-Mobile). There are 15 teams in total, including nearly all of the major Spanish teams as well as four foreign squads: Comunidad Valenciana, Illes Balears, Euskatel-Euskadi, Saunier Duval, Orbea, Kaiku, Spiuk-Zafra, Relax-Fuenlabrada, E-Bici.Com, Spanish track team (all Spa), Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi), Quick.Step (Bel), Rabobank (Ned) and T-Mobile (Ger).

The race will start on February 6 with an 82 km circuit in Palma and finish on February 10 with a 148 km stage between Magalluf and Palmanova. Last year's edition was won by Antonio Colom (Illes Balears-Banesto).

The stages

Stage 1 - February 6: Palma-Palma (Trofeo Mallorca), 82.5 km
Stage 2 - February 7: Port d'Alcudia-Port d'Alcudia (Trofeo Alcudia), 163.2 km
Stage 3 - February 8: Pollenca-Mirador des Colomer (Trofeo Manacor), 165.4 km
Stage 4 - February 9: Soller-Port de Soller (Trofeo Soller), 150.6 km
Stage 5 - February 10: Magalluf-Palmanova (Trofeo Calvia), 148.3 km

Confusion in France and Qatar

Although not quite as chaotic as the finish of the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, where two breakaway groups were sent the wrong way around a roundabout in the finale, Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar was not without incident. Although Quick.Step's Tom Boonen won the stage, his team director Wilfried Peeters said that he had to do an extra long sprint due to poor signage.

"Tom won the sprint of [the leading] group, ahead of Guidi and McEwen," said Peeters. "Things almost went wrong because of the insufficient signals (there are no banners in Qatar, but balloons on which the distances are mentioned). Because of this, Tom jumped from 300 metres before the finish line. Nevertheless, it was a splendid victory."

Team CSC's director Alain Gallopin agreed with Peeters that "Boonen seems alarmingly strong" and also raised questions about McEwen's sprinting. "Lars [Michaelsen] did a tremendous job for Guidi [2nd], and it was literally a question of centimetres, and Guidi would've taken the victory. Guidi was almost hit by McEwen a couple of times in the sprint, and that was probably what did it in the end. But nonetheless we managed to prove once again that we have a couple of fast guys who're able to keep up when it counts. Boonen seems alarmingly strong, but Guidi is not far behind and it'll be exciting to see whether we're able to keep our spot in the overall standings," said Gallopin.

His words proved to be more than prophetic when CSC dominated the third stage by placing six riders in the main break of 17, which included Boonen and McEwen, then finishing it off by having five riders in the final break of seven. CSC finished 1-2 in the stage and now occupies the first three positions on the general classification.

Nardello hurt

Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) has been injured while racing in the Tour of Qatar. Nardello crashed during the windy third stage of the race, and suffered abrasions to the left side of his body and dislocated his left index finger.

Cesenatico to pay homage to Pantani

The Italian town of Cesenatico will remember the death of one of its most famous residents, Marco Pantani, on February 13. Pantani died of a cocaine overdose in a hotel room in nearby Rimini on February 14, 2004. The memorial will comprise a simple ceremony, during which a monument made by Emanuela Pierantozzi and dedicated to Pantani will be unveiled in piazza Marconi. At 14:45 in the afternoon, a religious service will be held in the church of San Pietro Pescatore a Ponente, with many of Pantani's former teammates due to attend. After that, they will visit his grave.


Fiedler hangs it up

German sprinting great Jens Fiedler has finally hung up his bicycle after a long and very distinguished track career. Fiedler bade farewell at the Berlin Six Day, where 73,000 people were in attendance over the six days of the event. After hanging up his bike, he threw his helmet, gloves and eight jerseys that he was wearing, to the public. Fiedler, who will turn 35 on February 15, has won just about everything in track sprinting, and has three Olympic gold medals, five world titles and 21 German titles to his credit.

Cyclingnews teams database updated

From ProTour teams to the Continental teams making up the five different Continental Tours, the Cyclingnews teams database is nearing completion for 2005. Painstakingly managed by Theo Muller, the database features birthdate, nationality, former team, UCI ranking/points of all professional men and women riders, as well as various data relevant to each team.

Click here to access the Cyclingnews teams database.

Miche presented

Team Miche
Photo ©: Fabrizio Sterpos
Click for larger image

The Bulgarian registered Professional Continental team Miche was presented in Terranuova Bracciolini in Tuscany, Italy on Saturday, January 29. The team is in its third year and includes 14 riders, with a strong Italian and Polish focus. Managed by Marco Tozzi, the squad signed Polish riders Seweryn and Slawomir Kohut (Hoop CCC), Ivaïlo Gabrovski (MBK, the only Bulgarian on the team), and Italian neo-pro's Giairo Ermeti (Italian elite without contract champion) and Armando Rupa. Poland's Przemyslaw Niemec, already a team member last year, will serve as one of the team's strong men.

The teams' first races will be the G.P. Marseillaise, Etoile de Bessèges and Tour Méditerranéen in France, with a short trip to Italy for the Trofeo Laigueglia on February 15, then the Tour du Haut-Var (Feb. 19) and Classic Haribo (Feb. 20) in France.

Miche is sponsored by the bicycle component manufacturer of the same name, and the team will ride FRW bikes.

Click here for the full team roster


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fabrizio Sterpos/

Megan Esmonde to Colavita/Cooking Light

23 year-old Megan Esmonde has become the Colavita/Cooking Light Women's World-Class Cycling Team's latest recruit. Esmonde, who started cycling through triathlons, is now a full time cyclist. She finished eighth at the U.S. Espoir National Road Championships in 2003 and won the U.S. U23 Criterium Nationals in 2004. She also placed second at the Florida State Criterium Championships. "I would not trade anything for what I am doing," Esmonde commented on her new appointment.

"Megan will be a great asset to the team this season," said team manager John Alsedek. "Her passion for the sport and her enthusiasm for competition will contribute a lot to the team."

Colavita/Cooking Light, which also includes Sue Palmer-Komar, Dotsie Cowden, Kim Anderson, Ashley Kimmet, Michelle Beltran and Rebecca Larson, will commence its training camp in February in Gainesville, Fla., in preparation for its first race of the season, the Redlands Classic beginning March 31 in Redlands, Ca.

Maurice Desimpelaere dies

Belgian Maurice Desimpelaere died on Sunday, January 30, aged 84. A professional rider between 1942 and 1950, Desimpelaere won Paris-Roubaix in 1944 and Gent-Wevelgem in 1947. His funeral will be held this Saturday.

BikeNZ appoints national road coach

The New Zealand cycling federation, BikeNZ, has announced that Jacques Landry has been recruited to the long-term position of National Road Coach. Landry, a former rider for Canada, has spent the last 18 months managing BikeNZ's Overseas Training Centre in Limoux, southern France. He will continue to oversee the operation of this training centre, while also coordinating the national road program and support the to-be-recruited national track coach in the endurance component of BikeNZ's national track program.

"I am honoured to be able to contribute in the building of a development system over the next four years that will hoist kiwi high performance cycling to a new international level," said Landry. "Coupled with great financial support and renowned kiwi pride and determination I am sure that we will be looking at an increased number of cycling medals from our athletes in four years time in Beijing."

"Jacques was originally recruited to BikeNZ nine months prior to the 2004 Olympic Games, subsequently set up an overseas training centre (Limoux) and headed up the national men's road program," said BikeNZ's chief executive Rodger Thompson. "When one considers what he achieved in what has been limited time within the New Zealand program, BikeNZ is very pleased to secure his services for long-term through to Beijing 2008. The high performance structure is building for the long-term and this has always been BikeNZ's goal as we look towards the Beijing Olympics. Jacques is a strong asset and will have a major influence on the future success of the program."

Geelong and Wellington Women's Road World Cup teams

BikeNZ High Performance Director Michael Flynn has announced the teams to represent New Zealand at the Wellington round of the UCI Women's World Cup to be held on the streets of the capital on Sunday, March 6. As host nation, New Zealand will entering three teams to enable as many elite women cyclists as possible to gain experience against the world's best road racers. These teams will also ride in the New Zealand Women's Tour being held March 2-4 around the greater Wellington region. They are as follows:

Team A: Melissa Holt, Michelle Hyland, Johanna Buick, Michelle Kiesanowski, Catherine Sell, Toni Bradshaw

Team B: Susie Wood, Nadene Boyle, Melissa Pilla, Carissa Wilkes, Tammy Boyd

Team C: Robyn Wong, Kirsty Robb, Vickie Burr, Amy Mosen, Brei Gudsell

The teams to represent New Zealand at the Tour of Geelong and the UCI Women's Geelong World Cup round have also been announced. The Tour of Geelong is held between February 22-24, while the Geelong World Cup is on February 27, one week prior to the Wellington round.

Team A: Melissa Holt, Michelle Hyland, Johanna Buick, Michelle Kiesanowski, Susie Wood, Toni Bradshaw

Team B: Melissa Pilla, Nadene Boyle, Robyn Wong, Carissa Wilkes, Tammy Boyd, Vickie Burr

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