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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 9, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson and Jeff Jones

Short stages aren't easy

Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
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Rabobank and Quick.Step proved that short stages aren't easy stages, as they combined to ride a 40 km team time trial to the base of the only climb in stage 2. The stage, which was shortened from 191 km to 46.5 km due to the bad weather, was ridden at a cracking average speed of 52.13 km/h, and saw numerous small splits in the peloton by the finish. For the second time in two days, Belgian Tom Boonen showed that he is the sprinter in form by making it over the climb in 15th place, keeping his cool on the descent, and launching himself off Kevin Hulsmans' wheel with 200m to go to win the stage. CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen was second, ahead of a better looking Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery), who lost over four minutes yesterday due to a crash.

The race lead fell into Boonen's hands after he captured a 10 second time bonus at the finish. That put Erik Dekker (Rabobank) into second overall, although the wily Dutchman grabbed another 3 seconds bonus at the day's only intermediate sprint to distance himself slightly from Jens Voigt. The latter tried to attack on the last climb, but was caught at the summit and found himself too far back on the descent to factor in the final kick. Indeed, he lost 3 seconds to Dekker after being caught behind a small split.

"It was very hard stage," said Boonen after the finish. "Very nervous, very fast, and with the climb in the final it wasn't so easy to stay in front all day. We had a very strong Quick.Step team today and we could control the race with Marc Lotz, Kevin Hulsmans and Michael Rogers to do the descent in the last few kilometres. All I had to do was my sprint."

Boonen added that the leader's jersey was "more like a bonus. It wasn't an objective. Tomorrow is another chance [for a stage win]. But when we hit the mountains it'll be over."

Tomorrow's third stage from Thiers to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (174km) could also be shortened or even cancelled because of the weather. Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney reported that snow was falling on Tuesday evening as he was driving along the parcours. The organisers will make their decision tomorrow morning about whether to race.

Paris-Nice Stage 2

Full results & report
Live report
Stages & descriptions
Start list

Necessity is the mother of invention at Paris-Nice

By Tim Maloney European Editor in Thiers

Pescheux explains
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Up close and personal
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Route details
Photos ©: Tim Maloney
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Jean-Francois Pescheux is not a man to be trifled with. Even by mother nature. Pescheux is the competition director of ASO, the organisation that runs races including the Tour de France and Paris-Nice. Normally, Pescheux's races are run like clockwork and generally considered the best in the world from a technical standpoint. Woe betide any in-race photographer who doesn't heed Pescheux's strident orders to "prenez-vos champs, monsieurs" (get the heck out of the way!) when the traffic clogs up at the front of his race.

Pescheux is a consummate professional, so when the carefully monitored weather reports from MeteoFrance told him that snow had fallen in Thiers early Tuesday morning, where Stage two of this year's frigid Paris-Nice was scheduled to finish eight hours later, he was ready. On Monday evening, ASO had already issued a communique about a possible change in the stage length due to lousy weather and so at 1100, Pescheux decided to put Plan B into action for Stage two.

Although Stage two was scheduled to start in the small French town of Le Chatre, home of romantic poet and mistress of Frederic Chopin, Aurore Dupin (aka George Sand), Pescheux had no romantic notions himself of making the riders do the full 191km. Not only were the temps just above zero centigrade, but the low grey sky looked like it might snow or rain at any minute.

You don't often see improvisation at a big race like Paris-Nice, but when the situation demanded it, Pescheux jumped right in with two feet. As team directors came to the sign-in for the pre-race huddle, Pescheux collared them one at a time or in groups to make sure everyone was on the same page. "Okay, here's what's happening... the riders will sign in, then we'll leave in a caravan just after noon and head along the main road to Montlucon. We'll get on the Autoroute for fifty kilometres until exit 12-1, then reassemble in Aigueperse and race the last 46km. The conditions should be good and there is a sprint, a KOM and the finish."

That was that; everybody nodded okay, all the busses, team cars, official race cars and media made their way to Aigueperse and bada bing, badda boom (or in French, maybe 'zut alors' or 'voila'), stage two (albeit a shortened version thereof) got underway at 1500CET. Pescheux got his race off and all was right with the Race To The Sun again.

Liberty limits the damage

The Liberty Seguros team wasn't taking any risks in yesterday's breakneck stage of Paris-Nice, contenting themselves with "crossing the line without mishaps," according to a team statement.

The last five kilometres of the shortened parcours were particularly dangerous, the team said, with a high risk of falls, "It was too much," said Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, "we were going like madmen."

Gerolsteiner directeur sportif Hans-Michael Holczer described the stage as "short, tough and extraordinarily intense." But Holczer was happy that his riders, including Davide Rebellin who was involved in the crash in stage one, kept the rubber down and didn't lose any significant time. "At least today we hardly lost anything. I asked around and nobody can remember weather like this [at Paris-Nice]."

CSC denies money problems

By Susan Westemeyer

The CSC team has denied rumours that it is running out of money. A story carried on Belgian teletext, credited to daily paper Het Nieuwsblad, alleged that the team's riders would receive only half of their usual salary until the end of March. According to the report, riders were free to leave if they could find a better deal, but those who remained had all agreed.

Contacted for a comment, CSC spokesman Brian Nygaard said, "I can deny the rumours completely. They have absolutely no basis in reality. I have contacted the journalist and he will write a denouncement for his paper tomorrow."

Sprinters galore in 40th Tirreno-Adriatico

By Jeff Jones

The 40th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico gets under way in the Italian west coast town of Civitavecchia on Wednesday, March 9. Like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico is a ProTour race and will therefore see the 20 top teams in cycling present, along with Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare, Naturino-Sapore Di Mare and Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil. The "race of the two seas" will be run over seven stages for a total of 1214 km, with no time trial stages this year.

As usual, the quality of the field is high, featuring most of the top riders who are targeting Milan-San Remo (Saturday, March 19). Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) will be chief among these. The Olympic champion and winner of Tirreno-Adriatico last year will ride with the number one dossard. He will be up against Rabobank's World Champion sprinter Oscar Freire, who won Milan-San Remo last year. Michael Boogerd is Rabobank's alternative card in case Freire has problems.

The peloton is stacked with more good sprinters, including the in-form Mario Cipollini (Liquigas) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Australian champion Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), Discovery's Max van Heeswijk, Cofidis' Stuart O'Grady, Francaise Des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel, Domina Vacanze's Ivan Quaranta, Gerolsteiner's Danilo Hondo, and last but not least, Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), a four-time winner of Milan-San Remo and still capable of performing at the top level.

Other riders to watch include Ivan Basso (CSC), George Hincapie (Discovery), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Joseba Beloki (Liberty), Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux) and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto).

At least three of the stages should suit the sprinters, but depending on how well the teams can control things, we could easily see more bunch finishes.

The teams & main riders

Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil (Ita): Marzoli, Ferrigato
Bouygues Telecom (Fra): Brochard, Chavanel
Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare (Ita): Sella, Tiralongo
Cofidis (Fra): O'Grady, Vasseur
Credit Agricole (Fra): Caucchioli, Halgand
Davitamon-Lotto (Bel): Van Petegem, McEwen
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA): Hincapie, Van Heeswijk
Domina Vacanze (Ita): Gonchar, Quaranta
Euskatel-Euskadi (Spa): Aitor Gonzalez, Laiseka
Fassa Bortolo (Ita): Petacchi, Petito
Francaise Des Jeux (Fra): McGee, Eisel
Gerolsteiner (Ger): Hondo, Wegmann
Illes Balears (Spa): Arrieta, Carrasco
Lampre-Caffita (Ita): Bortolami, Bennati
Liberty Seguros Wurth Team (Spa): Beloki, Scarponi
Liquigas-Bianchi (Ita): Cipollini, Di Luca
Naturino-Sapore Di Mare (Swi): Colombo, Simeoni
Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi): Guidi, Zampieri
Quick Step (Bel): Bettini, Pozzato
Rabobank (Ned): Freire, Boogerd
Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spa): Bertogliati, Tafi
Team CSC (Den): Basso, Peron
T-Mobile Team (Ger): Zabel, Kloden

The stages

Stage 1 - Wednesday, March 9: Civitavecchia - Civitavecchia, 160 km
Stage 2 - Thursday, March 10: Civitavecchia - Tivoli, 181 km
Stage 3 - Friday, March 11: Tivoli - Torricella, 215 km
Stage 4 - Saturday, March 12: Teramo - Servigliano, 160 km
Stage 5 - Sunday, March 13: Saltara - Saltara, 170.4 km
Stage 6 - Monday, March 14: Civitanova Marche - Civitanova Marche, 164 km
Stage 7 - Tuesday, March 15: San Benedetto Del Tronto, 164 km

Lampre-Caffita for Tirreno-Adriatico

Lampre-Caffita's Giuliano Figueras has joined the European peloton's increasingly lengthy sick list, bowing out of Tirreno-Adriatico with what team doctor, Dr. Guardascione describes as "flu with acute throat inflammation. The team hopes Figueras will be well again in time for Milano-Sanremo on March 19.

For the 40th Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts today, the team will field Daniele Bennati, Giosuč Bonomi, Gian Luca Bortolami, Paolo Fornaciari, Enrico Frantoi, Juan Fuentes Annullo, Oleksandr Kvachuk, Samuele Marzoli.

Voigt doubts Armstrong

Jens Voigt doesn't believe that Lance Armstrong will actually start the Tour de France this year. "Basso can win the Tour. And especially because, I still don't believe that Lance Armstrong will participate," he told the Berliner Morgenpost. "Lance knows that his streak won't last forever. And he sure doesn't want to finish in second place. If he does start, then he will win the Tour again with five minutes advantage. But I just don't believe it."

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

Nothstein to make world's farewell at LA

Perennial US track star Marty Nothstein will make his farewell to world championship track racing at the March 24-27 world track championships at the ADT Event Center at Carson in suburban Los Angeles. Nothstein has been the US' top track cyclist for over a decade, winning the world championship title in the sprint and keirin in 1994, and landing Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000.

"Cycling allowed me to accomplish some incredible feats, winning an Olympic gold medal was a dream come true, but I am just as proud of my kids and family. They have supported me for so long and I look forward to spending more time with them in the future," said Nothstein.

Nothstein's record is impressive: Olympic gold and silver medals; three world championships; eight world championship medals; four Pan-American gold medals; seventeen world cup victories; and thirty-five U.S. national championships. His greatest performances came in track sprint events, however his recent transformation from a full sprinter to a road and track endurance rider proved his versatility. Nothstein's greatest result as an endurance rider came in August 2003 when he won the New York City Cycling Championships.

"I want to be remembered as the best American track cyclist ever, not just because I won Olympic gold, but also because I made a very hard transition from straight sprinting to top endurance riding," said Nothstein.

Nothstein will continue to be involved in US cycling as the new chief operating officer of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, long a nurturing ground for rising young track racers.

"I am really looking forward to working with up and coming athletes. I know we have some of the best talent in the world and I want to help others succeed and make America a top cycling nation," said Nothstein.

Armstrong, Van Moorsel, Berrecloth & Dahle nominated for Laureus Awards

Lance Armstrong heads a list of four cyclists nominated for this year's Laureus World Sports Awards. Although this year's list is dominated by Olympic achievements, Armstrong's record-breaking sixth Tour de France victory has to make him a strong contender in the category of Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, against runner Hicham El Guerrouj, tennis player Roger Federer, swimmer Michael Phelps, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher and motorbike racer Valentino Rossi.

Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel was nominated for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year for her record number of Olympic medals in cycling. She is up against runner Kelly Holmes, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, heptathlete Carolina Kluft, tennis player Maria Sharapova and golfer Annika Sorenstam.

Mountain bike cross-country racer Gunn-Rita Dahle and freerider Darren "Bear Claw" Berrecloth have been nominated for Best Alternative Sportsperson of the Year.

Dahle was practically unbeaten in top-level mountain bike racing last year, landing the world championship, World Cup and Olympic titles in her second year of total domination of women's mountain bike racing. Berrecloth is widely considered to be the top exponent of the freeride discipline of mountain biking, which involves riding extremely steep and technical terrain.

The fat-tyre pair are up against wakeboarder Dallas Friday, Mike Horn, the first man to circumnavigate the Arctic Circle on foot and by kayak, solo round-the-world sailing record holder Ellen MacArthur and freeskier and BASE jumper Shane McConkey.

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