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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 10, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan and Jeff Jones

Verbruggen: Simeoni stopping Armstrong riding Giro

'The' incident
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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UCI president Hein Verbruggen has said that Lance Armstrong is not riding this year's Giro d'Italia because of the dispute between him and Filippo Simeoni. In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Verbruggen said, "Without the Simeoni affair, [Armstrong] certainly would have come to the Giro, he had promised me."

Verbruggen added that Armstrong's actions during the 18th stage of the 2004 Tour de France, where he followed Simeoni up to a breakaway and effectively killed the Italian's chances of getting clear, "did not deserve a penalty." A judicial investigation was opened in Italy after the incident, trying to determine whether Armstrong had threatened Simeoni, and whether he could be charged with sporting fraud, violence and intimidation of a witness. Thus, Armstrong could be questioned by police if he sets foot in Italy.

Armstrong and Simeoni are involved in another legal battle arising from Simeoni's testimony in the Dr. Ferrari trial, where Simeoni claimed that Dr. Ferrari had instructed him on taking doping products. Armstrong called Simeoni a "liar" after this, and Simeoni is now suing Armstrong for libel.

Lance endorses Paris' 2012 Olympic Games bid

In other news involving comments made by Lance Armstrong, the six-time Tour de France winner has given his personal endorsement to Paris' bid for hosting the 2012 Olympics, which the city began its presentations to IOC's evaluation commission on Tuesday.

"I think Paris deserves the Olympics," said Armstrong to Associated Press before Wednesday's stage of Paris-Nice from Thiers to Craponne-sur-Arzon. "I think they were arguably the best candidate in 2008 but for different reasons Paris didn't win, and they went to Beijing. Paris is one of the legendary cities in the world."

The French capital is widely tipped as the red-hot favourite over rivals New York, London, Moscow and Madrid, and if successful, 2012 will mark the third time Paris has hosted the Olympics, the first being in 1900 and the second in 1924. Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour spoke of creating a "new sporting infrastructure" for the French capital, bid spokesman Jerome Lenfant said, which includes the Stade de France and a proposed €1.9 billion (US$ 2.52 billion) Olympic village.

"My family wants to see it. Now in my lifetime, I hope to have the chance to see it," said Armstrong, who added his heart lies with New York, believing the city devastated by the September 11 terrorist attacks has a chance of hosting the Games in 2012 or 2016.

In the opening day's presentation, French officials spoke of the city's plans for 80 percent of all venues to be within 10 minutes' drive of the Olympic village, which would house 17,100 athletes and coaches. The four-day visit by IOC evaluators will conclude this Saturday, before leaving for Moscow. Visits to Madrid, London and New York have already taken place.

CSC count their errors

Jens Voigt (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
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While Team CSC had Nicki Sørensen in the 11-man break on Stage 3 of Paris-Nice, sports director Kim Andersen said after the stage that the team should have been more attentive when Jörg Jaksche bridged up to the group on the Côte de Lavet (km 77), which left his team with no choice but to chase down the 2004 victor.

"We should have had a rider following Jaksche, when he bridged up to Nicki's group, but we didn't. This meant we had to lead the peloton in order to reel them in," said Andersen on the team's website,

"Unfortunately the climb wasn't hard enough to make a difference, so the main contenders were able to keep up. Jens [Voigt] was perfectly positioned before the sprint, but he started out in too high a gear at the steep finish, which otherwise would have suited him well."

Voigt is currently placed sixth on the general classification, the same time as team-mate Vladimir Gusev and four seconds behind team-mate Kurt-Asle Arvesen, and nine seconds in arrears of overall leader Tom Boonen from Quick.Step.

Meanwhile, on the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, CSC sports director Alain Gallopin was disappointed to see sprinters Lars Michaelsen and Giovanni Lombardi dropped on one of the climbs, while Jakob Piil is still suffering the painful effects of his crash in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne two weekends ago.

"Unfortunately Michaelsen and Lombardi were dropped on one of the climbs, so they didn't have a chance to be well positioned for the sprint. Piil is still in a lot of pain due to his injury, but I believe he will be ready for tomorrow's stage," said Gallopin. "I think we have some good riders on our team, and even though the race is not as tough as Paris-Nice, we will try to make a difference in some of the stages," he said.

Just how cold is it in Europe?

Dashing through the snow...
Photo ©: AFP
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As an example of Europe's abnormal colder-than-cold cold-snap, on Monday, the daytime/night-time temperature range for Brussels was 0 degrees and -4 at night. Meanwhile, way down in balmy Mawson, one of the largest bases on the Antarctic mainland, they also had a daytime maximum of zero, but at night it was only -3.

On Tuesday, the freezing cold conditions continued, throwing Stage 2 of the Paris-Nice stage race into disarray and leading to a shortened - but frighteningly fast - stage of only 46.5 kilometres, covered at the blistering pace of 52.13km/h. Today's stage from Thiers to Craponne-sur-Arzon was also cut to 118 kilometres, but again, this in no way detracted from the standard or speed of the racing, with the first group of 111 riders averaging 43.9km/h on an tough, undulating parcours that contained five categorised climbs.

Cyclingnews diarist and Discovery Channel recruit Tom Danielson echoed these remarks in his diary from Stage 3, saying: "Today was probably the worst weather we have seen here so far. Normally, I think they would not hold the race. Starting at 300 meters with wet roads, icicles everywhere, and temperature at -2°C, we thought it was not possible to start. Especially since the last half was all above 1000 meters. But, we did start and we did 120 km all out."

So while the temperatures are freezing, the racing is red-hot. The fastest way to get through this cold snap, it would seem, is to ride as quickly as possible!

Ulmer's WR likely to endure - but for what reason?

By Anthony Tan

Sarah Ulmer - hot, hot, hot!
Photo ©:
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According to a report published in the New Zealand Herald today, Guy Halewood, the convener of the New Zealand selection panel, feels that Sarah Ulmer's world record achieved in the 3000 metre individual pursuit may well stand for a very long time, believing the benefits of an outdoor stadium contributed significantly to her performance in Athens.

Last August at the 28th Olympiad, Ulmer first chopped off four seconds off her previous world record in qualifying to post a time of 3 minutes 26.400 seconds. Then, in the final against Australian Katie Mactier - considered by many to be Ulmer's heir-apparent - the 28 year-old from Auckland took another two seconds off her day-old world-best mark to finish in a time of 3 minutes 24.537 seconds.

"At Athens that night, the oxygen and moisture content [of the air] was perfect. The air was refreshed because there was no roof on the velodrome," said Halewood. "There is only so much oxygen in indoor stadiums and the crowd takes most of it. The competitors get what is left."

While Halewood based most of thoughts on the fact that the Athens track was a 'roofless' velodrome, the stadium did indeed have a roof, but no sides, as seen in Cyclingnews' 2004 Olympic Games preview. Gerard Knapp and John Stevenson also reported back in August that the two determining factors (outside of the form of the athletes, who were all in top form) were heat and humidity.

"Hot air is less dense, and therefore easier to push through, and increased humidity involves the air being partly replaced with less dense water vapour," said the report. "Combine these elements of great athletes and a dry track with hot and humid conditions - especially as hot air can contain more water vapour than cold air - and the scene is set for records if the riders are up to the task, as they have shown repeatedly in Athens."

Furthermore, Knapp and Stevenson refuted the perception that riding in high heat and humidity is harder due to the increased perspiration, as timed events on the track like the individual pursuit are relatively short, so hydration is not an issue.

What is not under dispute, however, is Ulmer's incredible performance last August, and pundits are already speculating whether the New Zealander can continue her success at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where, if she were to compete, the popular sports figure would be 32 years old.

See related article: Humidity, heat and speed - Why track records are falling at Athens

One more Tour de Georgia warm-up race

In addition to the Tour de Georgia warm-up races organised by the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Club on April 16-17, 2005, mentioned in Tuesday's news bulletin, Scenic City Velo presented by Outdoor Chattanooga has announced the Raccoon Mountain Road Race, to be held Sunday, April 17th, 2005, in Chattanooga, TN. Both pro men, women and amateur fields will do battle on the challenging 27 mile circuit that includes just under four miles of climbing per lap, including a two mile 'stair step' climb and a 1.25 mile ascent to the finish line. Chattanooga is 110 miles north of Atlanta.

More information:

Westside Cycling Classic confirmed for Vancouver

The Westside Cycling Classic, Vancouver, Canada's newest BC Cup cycling road race, has been given the green light by Vancouver City Council. The Westside Classic will be the only road race in the City of Vancouver for 2005, and it's expected that 300 riders will participate, with funds raised going to support the BC Cancer Foundation. The race will take place on June 19 as part of the Point Grey Fiesta Weekend.

The circuit is a 13 km loop around the University of British Columbia, the beaches of Spanish Banks, and Point Grey Village. The start/finish area will be situated in the heart of the West Tenth Village with a total road closure for the final half kilometre.

"Having the backdrop of the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean will draw riders to the city to race, some for the first time," said race director Jonathan Wornell. "The route takes in some roads that will be very familiar to local riders and a couple of interesting hills that will create some exciting racing for the crowds to see."

The race is being organised by the Wedgewood Cycling Team and will be one of their main fund raising initiatives for 2005 in support of the BC Cancer Foundation. The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and care at the BC Cancer Agency.

More information:

Spring Classics 2005 Fantasy Game - new this season!

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The all-new and improved Cyclingnews Spring Classics 2005 Fantasy Game is live and ready to play! This year sees the start of a new fantasy game based on the success of the last two years' Grand Tours games. You'll be able to enter a team following the Spring Classics races live as the races take place. The races are:

Milan - San Remo - March 19
Ronde van Vlaanderen - April 3
Gent-Wevelgem - April 6
Paris - Roubaix - April 10
Amstel Gold Race - April 17
La Flèche Wallonne - April 20
Liège - Bastogne - Liège - April 24

All you need to do to enter is register and pick a team of eight riders. We have some great prizes on offer this year, and the prize list will be confirmed shortly. It's a great way to follow the classics.

To enter your team go to

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