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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 23, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Armstrong doubtful for Brabantse Pijl

It's looking unlikely that Lance Armstrong will start Sunday's Brabantse Pijl. Discovery Channel team directeur sportif Dirk Demol told Gazet van Antwerpen, "As a matter of fact we added that race to our program in January. At that time we weren't sure that Lance wanted to ride the Tour de France, do from that point of view we thought he would target other races. Later this week we will cut the knot regarding his participation in Brabantse Pijl, but I think that there's only a slim chance he will be at the start in Zaventem."

Good day for Fassa

Fassa Bortolo TTTs to victory
Photo ©: Fotoreporter Sirotti
Click for larger image

The Fassa Bortolo team has been criticized for being 'Alessandro Petacchi and some other blokes', but yesterday at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi-Bartali in Italy and Spain's Setmana-Catalana, the team proved it does have a bit of depth too.

In the team time trial at Coppi-Bartali, Fassa won by six seconds, beating Liguigas-Bianchi and the US-based Navigators squad. That was enough to put Francesco Chicchi into the overall lead after his second place in the morning's road stage.

Chcicchi said he'd made a mistake in the morning's sprint finish. "I made an error of judgment," he said. "I was on [Marco] velo's wheel when [eventual winner Guillermo] Bongiorno went on my right and I thought it was too early. I hesitated for a couple of seconds."

Meanwhile in Spain, the team's neo-pro Claudio Corioni gave notice that me might be a rider to watch this season as he out-sprinted Aitor Perez (Spiuk) and Josep Jufre (Relax Fuenlabrada) to take the leader jersey from the previous day's winner Uros Murn (Phonak).

"I got separated from the lead group on the climbs," said Corioni, "but thanks to the help of Bruseghin and the presence of Sanchez and Frigo in the lead group, who did not work with the break, I was able to get back up with the leaders. We made contact with two kilometers to go and I was immediately getting into position for the sprint. I tried to learn from my mistake the previous day when I left it too late, and it turned out well!"

RCS rethinks Milan-San Remo

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Before Saturday's Milan-San Remo, Cyclingnews caught up with Angelo Zomegnan of organizing body RCS and asked him about about the ProTour rule that forced world champion Oscar Friere to wear the ProTour leader's jersey and leave his rainbow jersey in the suitcase. "It's unbelievable!" said Zomegnan. "First of all, I think it's impossible to think that the world champion's jersey, that had been around since 1927, could be replaced by the [ProTour] jersey. It seems to me that [the UCI] is trying to kill the world champion's jersey and replace it with the ProTour jersey. We have already discussed this possibility with the UCI last October and warned them about it." We also asked Zomegnan about the rumors of possible changes to the Milano-Sanremo course, but he didn't comment at that moment.

However, after the race Saturday, Zomegnan told reporters, "RCS is considering adding another major climb in the finale of Milan-San Remo. A race as long as this [294km] and it's decided in the final meters, does that seem normal? So If you think about it, in 10 years nothing much has happened or not much, except for Bettini's break two years ago in the Poggio, and the attack by the same Bettini this year in the descent from the Cipressa."

The ascent that looks most likely to succeed should RCS decide to add to Milano-Sanremo is know as the Pompeiana, a 5 km ascent up to 300m. above Riva Ligure that would enter the Sanremo percorso after 279km, climb to Pompeana, then loop up to Castellaro above the autostrada and descend down and re-enter the original route just two kilometers further along for a total of 9km. Other rumors have alleged that the start for Milano-Sanremo could be moved 20km south of Milano to Pavia, but all are still unconfirmed.

Backstedt on pre-Roubaix roller-coaster

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Magnus Backstedt
Photo: © Tim Maloney
Click for larger image

Cyclingnews grabbed Magnus Backstedt before Milan -San Remo for a brief chat and asked the large, likeable Swede how his preparation for his defense of his Paris-Roubaix crown was going.

"Oh I went down for three weeks with the flu!" Backstedt told us. "I got a bad throat, recovered from that, got a fever recovered from it's all messed up." We asked Backstedt if his preparation for Roubaix might be compromised and he replied, "Possibly. I don't know I still have time to get my form back. So we'll see; I'm taking it day by day at this point."

T-Mobile rolls out Classics guns for E3-Prijs Harelbeke

Stefan Wesemann will spearhead T-Mobile's team for Saturday's E3-Prijs Harelbeke, a race that is often a useful indicator of form for the following weekend's Tour of Flanders which Wesemann won in 2004. Wesemann will supported by a strong team of Classics specialists including Sergey Ivanov, 2000 E3-Prijs winner and Andreas Klier, seventh in 2004 and aiming to improve on that this year.

The 209km parcours includes 12 of the short, sharp climbs that feature in the Tour of Flanders: La Houppe, Berg Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationsberg, Taaienberg, Berg Ten Houte, Kapelberg, Paterberg, Kwaremont, Kluisberg, and Tiegemberg. "The race is a perfect warm-up for the tough spring classics in Belgium," said T-Mobile Team manager Walter Godefroot.

Klier in particular will be very motivated for the E3 as he lives in the area. "The race practically passes in front of his hall door," said T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga.

Wesemann, Klier and Ivanov will be supported by Rolf Aldag, Bram Schmitz, André Korff, Stephan Schreck and Jan Schaffrath. But T-Mobile is unlikely to have things all its own way. "The other teams are taking this race equally seriously and sending strong rosters into action," said Eisenga, citing Peter van Petegem (Lotto), Jacob Piil (CSC) and 2004 winner Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) as serious contenders for the victory in Harelbeke.

Petacchi takes a break

After his victory at Milan-San Remo on Saturday Alessandro Petacchi is taking a break from racing and will be back in competition for the Giro d'Aragona, April 13-17. According to team manager Giancarlo Ferretti, Petacchi will therefore not contest the Tour of Flanders despite his status as ProTour leader.

Bos favourite in world's sprint events

Reigning sprint world champion, Theo Bos (Netherlands), heads an all-star field of the world's fastest sprinters at the 2005 UCI Track Cycling World Championships at the ADT Event Center in Carson, California, USA. March 24-27. However, the hoped-for rematch between Bos and his 2004 world and Athens Olympic rival Ryan Bayley will not be on the program as the Olympic champion is out with an injury. Of the 32 athletes registered for the sprint event, five have medaled in previous world championship sprint competitions and three of them are former world champions.

Bos has proven his strength throughout the 2004/05 world cup season. In the two events attended by the 22-year-old he was able to win the 1km TT in Los Angeles and both the sprint and keirin in Sydney.

His toughest competition will likely come from Arnaud Tournant and Mickaël Bourgain of France and Jobie Dajka of Australia. Tournant, the 2001 world sprint champion, is always a threat with lightning fast speed and excellent bike handling skills. Bourgain, with two wins against tough opposition that included Dajka and Tournant in the world cup season, may also be prepared to take on the young sprinter. Dajka, the 2002 world keirin champion, placed second in the world championship sprint in 2002 and 2003. His recent world cup performances may represent his return to the top.

Riders not to be forgotten about include 2004 Olympic sprint bronze medalist René Wolff (Germany), 2000 world sprint champion Jan Van Eijden (Germany), Grégory Bauge (France), Chris Hoy (Great Britain), Stefan Nimke (Germany), Moscow world cup winner Sergey Ruban (Russia), Kazuya Narita (Japan), and Lukasz Kwiatkowski (Poland). Each has the ability and speed to surprise the frontrunners in the one-on-one match-ups of the sprint.

In the keirin, Jamie Staff (Great Britain) comes into the event as the reigning world champion. He is exceptionally quick having come from a BMX racing background, but in the chaotic keirin final it could be anyone's title for the taking. Other top competitors in the 2km (8-lap) event include: Shane Kelly (Australia), Dajka, Wolff, Ivan Vrba (Czech republic), Jose Escuredo (Spain), and Tournant.

The 2004 world and Olympic 1km TT champion, Chris Hoy, appears to be in perfect form having won the event at the Manchester World Cup with a time of 1:01.671. Hoy's greatest competition is expected to come from Tournant, a four time world 1km TT champion and the current world record holder (58.875); Theo Bos, the Los Angeles world cup champion; Jason Queally (GBR), 2000 Olympic 1km TT Champion; and Nimke, the 2003 world 1km TT champion and bronze medalist at the 2004 Athens Games.

Is the team sprint, the French (Bourgain, Tournant, and Laurent Gané) proved victorious at the 2004 world championships after taking on Spain (Jose Escuredo, M. Salvador, Jose Villanueva) in the final round. With Laurent Gané not returning for the French 2005 team (Hervé Gané, Bourgain, Bauge, and François Pervis) it may open the door for the Dutch (Bos, Teun Mulder, and Tim Veldt), British (Hoy, Craig McLean, Queally, and Staff), Germans, or Spaniards to take the top podium position in the three-lap all-out sprint affair.

Figueras & Sabaliaukas out of Coppi-Bartali

Lampre riders Giuliano Figueras and Marius Sabaliaukas are out of the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali after a serious crash near the finish line of yesterday's first stage.

Both riders were taken to Riccione Hospital and a subsequent statement by team doctor Carlo Guardascione described the extent of their injuries. "Giuliano Figueras has a compound fracture to the iliac crest of the left pelvic bone with a deep contused wound, also to the left side," said Dr Guardascione. "The cut needed 30 stitches. The healing period is estimated at 30 days. Giuliano was joined at the hospital by his wife Jaiza. He will be discharged probably tomorrow morning after another visit by the medical staff."

Sabaliaukas' condition is somewhat less serious. He was discharged after being examined and found to have "hairline fractures of the fourth finger of the left hand, with contused cuts to the third and fourth fingers of the left hand and a trauma injury to the right wrist." He is expected to be off the bike for a week.

Peron also fractured

CSC's Andrea Peron was the victim of a fall in Milan-San Remo, and subsequent medical examination of his injuries has revealed that hey are more serious than was first thought. X-rays have shown that rather than just cuts and bruises, Peron sustained two minor fractures and will be off the bike for 7-10 days as a result.

"I was quite surprised to learn about the two fractures, since I wasn't in a lot of pain after the crash. Of course these are just two minor fractures, so I will allow myself to be optimistic. If things go according to plan, I'll be ready for the Giro, a race I wouldn't miss for anything in the World," said Peron. Later this week he will be examined by a specialist in Milan.

Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Peter Luttenberger will replace Peron and Fränk Schleck in this weekend's Criterium International.

Dahle not broken

Some good news - at last - on the injury front. World mountain bike champion and Cyclingnews diarist Gunn-Rita Dahle was merely severely banged around by her crash in the Primavera Rosa on Saturday. X-rays performed at the hospital in Dahle's home town of Stavenger on Monday revealed nothing broken. "Both my legs are very swollen and they look like they belong to an elephant and of course in all kind of great colours," Dahle told Cyclingnews. "But I'm able to walk today and that is a big improvement from yesterday."

Blignaut faces disciplinary hearing

South African track sprint champion Morne Blignaut faces a disciplinary hearing after an incident at the Tri-nations track meeting at Belleville Velodrome on Friday night. According to reports, Blignaut appealed to officials after the third race in the sprint final, believing he had been impeded by team-mate Dean Edwards.

Blignaut was unhappy with the officials' response and became angry. When team manager Willie Newman attempted to calm Blignaut, an altercation ensued in which Blignaut allegedly shoved or hit Newman. Blignaut then left the velodrome, allegedly throwing his national team clothing into a dustbin first.

Blignaut was disqualified from the sprint and faces a suspension of up to 12 months.

Gerdemann to CSC

Germany rider Linus Gerdemann is set to join the CSC team. The 23-year-old is currently riding with the Continental akud - Arnolds Sicherheit squad at the Tour of Normandy, but will step up to the ProTeam level for the Four Days of Dunkirk on May 1.

New courses and categories for Cascade Classic

The Bend, Oregon Columbia River Bank Cascade Cycling Classic (July 6-10) has announced new courses and category changes for this year's edition, the 26th running of what organizers claim is the longest-running US elite stage race.

The men's pro/elite field will race a new course, the 125 mile Prineville Crooked River Road Race and the men's masters' field will have a $5000 total purse, not including primes. A new category structure has been established to fall more in line with other NRC races as well. The categories will be elite men pro/1, master's men 35+, elite men category 2/3 and elite women pro 1/2/3. The women's race will have a purse of $7500, not including primes, and travel grants provided through contributors to the Nicole Reinhart Tribute Fund.

For more information see

Ontario Cup 2005

The Ontario Cycling Association has announced the dates of the 2005 Ontario Cup, a season-long series of road races that will be once again sponsored by Burnaby, BC supplement manufacturer SISU.

The series starts April 10 with the Ontario Cup Classic and concludes September 25 with the Ontario provincial time trial championship.

2005 Ontario Cup races

April 10: Ontario Cup Classic
May 21-22: Niagara Classic
June 12: K-W Classic
June 26: Provincial Road Championships
July 24: Provincial Criterium Championships
August 1: Warkworth Challenge
August 13-14: Jewel in the Wilderness
September 25: Provincial Time Trial Championship

For more information see

Tour of Southern Grampians

Entries close next Wednesday March 30 for the second Tour of the Southern Grampians supported by the Bendigo Bank and Great Doherty Industries (April 9-10). This four-stage race in Victoria, Australia will again be held in the small country town of Coleraine in Western Victoria and will raise money for the local Country Fire Authority and local organisations such as the Coleraine Football Club, Coleraine Tennis Club and the local kindergarten.

The 2004 edition was won by now newly recruited Rabobank rider William Walker who is currently racing in Europe and unavailable for this year's race. For more information see

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