First Edition Cycling News for June 7, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
Armstrong plays domestique in Dauphiné
"The important thing, is that the team wins," Hincapie told reporters before the start of the stage, but if that meant the leader jersey might ultimately be handed over to Armstrong, Discovery's plan in stage one was clearly to keep it on Hincapie's shoulders.
The stage was animated by a six-man break that built a lead of just over five minutes after 82km, but the peloton, led by a Discovery Channel team with Armstrong taking turns on the front and Stijn Devolder and Benajmin Noval sharing the bulk of the work, chased them down.
In a press conference after Sunday's prologue Armstrong discussed his goals for the Dauphiné, which include a victory in the time trial up Mont Ventoux. "It would be nice to ultimately win something there," he said. "Again I had that illusion last year and was quickly reminded one hour later that I wasn't anywhere near victory."
"I have a lot of respect and a lot of fear of that mountain and I think that I better just keep it like that and we will see come Thursday. It will be a special ride the last time up Ventoux in a race."
Looking further ahead, Armstrong still sees Jan Ullrich as his greatest competitor in the Tour de France, but the strength in depth of T-Mobile makes the whole squad a threat. "Logical to say that Jan is the favourite but what makes them dangerous is the combination of their three top men," said Armstrong. "They are all great riders and riders we have to pay attention to. Kloden is riding better, Jan is riding better and Vino is just as strong as ever, so it's a triple threat. Having said that I feel confident that we have a team that can neutralize that triple threat with riders like Popovych, Azevedo, Savoldelli and myself."
Hincapie ponders end of Armstrong era
Meanwhile, George Hincapie is wondering how things will change after July 29, the day Lance Armstrong retires. Hincapie, who has ridden with Armstrong through all six of the Texan's Tour de France victories, told Reuters, "I don't know what it will be like without him. Very different for sure.
"Every time a young rider fares well, people say he's the new Lance Armstrong. But there's only one Lance Armstrong and there will not be a rider of the same calibre in the next century."
Nevertheless, Hincapie showed his own calibre when he won Sunday's prologue of the Dauphiné. "It was the first time I have beaten Lance in a time-trial. It's very special," said Hincapie. "I felt good, in the right tempo from the start and I rode it for myself, not to pave the way for Lance."
Dauphiné fall takes out Loda
Nicola Loda (Liquigas-Bianchi) is out of the Dauphiné after a crash. The spill happened with 5km to go as Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros) hit a piece of road furniture, and fell with several other riders including Loda. Contador was not seriously, hurt, suffering only superficial cuts, but Loda was taken to hospital for examination.
Piil abandons Dauphiné
CSC's Jakob Piil was one of three riders abandoning the Dauphiné Libéré yesterday, along with Kanstantsin Siutsou (Fassa Bortolo) and Nicola Loda (Liquigas-Bianchi). Piil has a respiratory infection, according to the team.
"Jakob wasn't 100 percent yesterday, and today was no better, said CSC directeur sportif. "He's been complaining about respiration problems on top of a nasty bronchitis, and it didn't make any sense to for him to carry on. He fought hard to hang on, but unfortunately he had to give up eventually."
The UCI has announced that six teams have applied for licences to become part of its top-level ProTour structure from 2006. The ProTour currently numbers 20 teams, all of whom have the right and obligation to take part in ProTour races.
One of the applications is a renewal, the other five are from current Continental pro teams wanting to move up to the top level. Doubts about its long-term financing meant the Fassa Bortolo team was only granted a one-year licence when the first group of ProTeams were decided at the end of 2005. Fassa Bortolo's management company, Silver Team S.r.l. has therefore applied for a renewal of its licence.
The other five team management companies (and their current major sponsors) applying for licences are France Cyclisme (AG2R Prévoyance), Red Team S.r.l. (Acqua&Sapone - Adria Mobil), Blue Sea Services LLC (Naturino-Sapore di Mare), GD Comunidad Valenciana (Comunidad Valenciana), and Bono Del Ciclismo - Selle Italia (Selle Italia-Colombia).
Three of these teams were Division I squads in 2003 or 2004 under the previous structure. Naturino-Sapore di Mare is the team known as Domina Vacanze in 2003 and 2004 (the current Domina Vacanze team is not related - same sponsor, different riders and management), while Comunidad Valenciana is a continuation of the former Kelme team. Just to keep things nice and confusing, the current Acqua&Sapone - Adria Mobil shares some of the management team of the 2002 Division 1 team of that name, but general manager at the time Vincenzo Santoni now runs the Naturino-Sapore di Mare team.
According to the UCI, the final decision on ProTeam licences will happen after a decision is taken on the team registration on the basis of the financial audit by Ernst&Young. This should take place as per regulations on October 25 2005.
RAGT Semences assistant DS hits out at ProTour
Julien Jurdie, assistant directeur sportif with struggling French squad RAGT Semences, believes the ProTour is harming the prospects of team's and races that find themselves excluded from it.
Contemplating the future of cycling in a team news release, Jurdie said, "The Pro Tour has really put the cat among the pigeons, changing approaches and the customs. There's no way of knowing what the future holds. There are some good aspects to the reform but there is no point pretending that it does not contain lots of disadvantages too particularly for the organisers."
It could be countered that for race organisers in the ProTour structure, the new system has improved the quality of the races, with Paris-Nice and the Giro d'Italia this year both seeing a new level of intensity . But Jurdie is thinking of other high-level races that are not part of the series.
"Last week for example, there were just 13 teams lined up on the start of the Euskal Bizikleta. It's a lot less than last year. If the Pro Tour puts the organisations in an awkward position, then there are going to have to be really careful indeed. Fewer races, fewer teams and it's a slippery slope downhill."
Jurdie sees more involvement in ProTour races by Continental Pro teams such as RAGT Semences and Selle Italia-Colombia (team of Giro third-place Jose' Rujano) a crucial to the sport.
"I'm convinced that the Pro Tour teams are not interested in the calendar as a whole," he said, "and they should be able to take advantage of all sorts of [wild cards] to give way to teams further down the ladder, from the Pro Continentals for example."
Without places in Pro Tour races, Jurdie fears for the future of his team and others. "The future of these teams is not that promising at all, particularly in France," he said. "How can you hope to find a sponsor if you just have French Cups or less to present him? Someone's going to have to sit down and think this out again otherwise it's all going to turn sour."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
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Bear kills mountain biker
Canadian mountain biker Isabelle Dube has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear. Dube, who was third overall in last year's TransRockies Challenge, was running on a trail near Canmore, Alberta on Sunday with her racing team-mate Maria Hawkins and friend Jean McAllister when the three encountered Bear 99, a male grizzly that had been trapped and removed from the area only a week before.
According to the Edmonton Sun, Dube climbed a tree while Hawkins and McAllister went for help at the nearby golf course. They found fish and wildlife officers who were led to the scene by McAllister.
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development spokesman Dave Ealey said the officers found the bear over Dube's body. "The bear moved off the body and our staff recognized that it had killed the person, and they took one shot and killed the bear," he said.
Dube was married with a young daughter and was well known in Canada's endurance mountain bike racing community. All the staff at Cyclingnews send out sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Davitamon Lotto for Switzerland
The Davitamon Lotto team has announced its line-up for the Tour of Switzerland (June 11 - 19). The team will field Cadel Evans, Nick Gates, Nico Mattan, Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez, Gert Steegmans, Leon Van Bon, and Wim Vansevenant.
West Virginia Governor proclaims June as mountain bike month
WV Governor Joe Manchin yesterday announced June as WV Mountain Bike Month outside his office at the Capitol Complex in Charleston, WV. Mountain bike enthusiasts who were able to break away from work were joined by race promoters, some of Clay County's Middle School Mudmasher Mountain Bike Club members, and the WV Mountain Bike Association's officers to witness the event.
"Mountain biking continues to be a key component of our outdoor recreation tourism," Governor Manchin said. "Many individuals have worked hard to help West Virginia earn its reputation as a world-class mountain bike destination... West Virginians take pride in the many endeavours they undertake and certainly it is no different with those who keep our state's reputation at a premium for mountain biking."
Governor Manchin, recently back from a trip to Japan, commented upon the need for young people to engage in a healthy lifestyle, and noted that mountain biking is an excellent activity. The Governor introduced WV Mountain Bike Association's President Matt Marcus, who said a few worlds and thanked the Governor for the state's ongoing support of the sport. Governor Manchin then jumped on a mountain bike for a little spin, and in true mountain bike style, rode up the steps, prompting one aide to mutter "I am SO glad he didn't crash!"
$10,000 purse for Masters at Papa John's Pizza "Labor Day LIVE!"
Organiser 2-Wheel Sports has announced what it claims is the richest master's purse in the US. There will be $10,000 up for grabs at the Papa John's Pizza "Labor Day LIVE!" race weekend in Southern Indiana, September 3 - 4, 2005 and the weekend will focus on masters-class cyclists over the age of 30. "More than 60 percent of the 35,000+ USA Cycling members are in the masters category, and there is no other cycling event in the country that caters specifically to these members," said Mike Hewitt of 2Wheelsports. "Racers created these courses, and each venue of the two-day weekend has been specifically tailored to appeal to different disciplines within the sport."
The two-stage event will comprise a hilly road race on Saturday September 3, followed by a criterium in downtown Louisville on Sunday, September 4.
For more information see www.2wheelsports.com.
2005 Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, considered to be one of the top US domestic stage races, kicks off this Wednesday, June 8, in Minnesota. The men's field includes strong squads from Health Net, fresh from a sweep of the Wachovia Week races, Jelly Belly-PoolGel, Webcor Builders, Navigators Insurance, Advantage Benefits-Endeavor and McGuire-Langdale. The women's fields is equally strong, with squads from teams like Quark, T-Mobile, Webcor Builders, Victory Brewing and Ford Basis.
This year's edition of the Nature Valley GP includes a new time trial in downtown Saint Paul, a new road race in Mankato and a redesigned road race in Red Wing. Both road races include hilly finishing circuits that should prove to be more selective than past courses. Rounding out the schedule are criteriums in downtown Minneapolis and Stillwater.
Organisers believe the 2005 pro/elite fields are the strongest yet for this race. The men's field will include Health Net riders Greg Henderson and Gord Fraser, winners of last week's Wachovia races in Lancaster and Trenton, along with past under 23 world champion Danny Pate (Jelly Belly PoolGel), national champion Frank Pipp (Advantage Benefits Endeavour), Erik Saunders (McGuire), Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance) and David Clinger (Webcor Builders). The women's field is even stronger, including track world champion Katie Mactier (T-Mobile), national champions Christine Thorburn (Webcor Builders) and Tina Pic (Quark) and Pro Cycling Tour champion Gina Grain (Victory Brewing).
CapTech Classic to air
The Captech Classic, held in Richmond, Virginia on Thursday, May 26 will be televised nationally in the US on FSN (Fox Sports Network) and regionally on Comcast SportsNet starting today, June 7. Emmy Award-winner Kent Gordis produced and directed the 30-minute show, which features highlights from the men's and women's races. Former pro Frankie Andreu, and renowned cycling announcer, Dave Towle, join Gordis as commentators on the show.
For broadcast details see your local listings.
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