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News for February 2, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

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Italian Federation to be suspended by UCI

The Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) will be suspended by the UCI in 2003, unless the case surrounding ex-Polti rider Luc Leblanc's unpaid wages is not resolved. A spokesman for the UCI, Enrico Carpani, described the situation as "Very, very serious" with the UCI threatening to ban Italians from racing in 2003 and not recognise their events.

1994 World Road Champion Luc Leblanc took legal action against Polti's proprietor Il Gabbiano in 1999, claiming unpaid wages of 330,000 euros after he was sacked before his contract ran out. As yet, he has not been paid despite the UCI's request to the Italians to draw on the bank guarantee in favour of Leblanc. The UCI fined the FCI for not doing so, and they paid the fine. However, no further advancements were made to pay Luc Leblanc.

The FCI has until June 1, 2002 to come up with the money, otherwise the UCI say that they will take away Monopoli's right to hold the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in 2003.

There has been no reaction as yet from the FCI.

Belgian comments before the World's

The favourites for the elite men's title at this year's World Cyclo-Cross Championships are the six Belgians: title defender Erwin Vervecken, Sven Nijs, Mario De Clercq, Bart Wellens, Tom Vannoppen and Ben Berden. Belgian TV1 interviewed them on Friday, two days before their championship race.

Erwin Vervecken: "Stress is normal if you have a bad week in training and if that then is confirmed in a race. The double [world title] would be optimistic. On Thursday I trained again with good legs. That gives me confidence."

Sven Nijs: "I will ride after Groenendaal [his trade teammate] if necessary. I will also ride after the Belgians if I think I can win myself."

Mario De Clercq: "A lot depends on your condition on the day. If I have a day like last week in Heerlen, then I will perhaps come up short, but if I ride like I did in the Belgian championships, then I can aim for the rose again."

Bart Wellens: "Last week it was clear to me that the chance of staying with the best was not great. This week I have trained hard. I have a chance to win the World's."

Tom Vannoppen: "The condition is good. I trained hard on Wednesday in Kortenberg and the other days I trained on the parcours at speed. That was nothing, as it's as good as certain that it will be a fast race. I will work for the team above all."

Ben Berden: "A good World's would mean that I can work well for Belgium. I have no ambitions for myself. I don't mind working for others."

Hunter wins TT opener in Mapei blitz

By Tommy Campbell in Putrajaya

The Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi 2002 got off to a flying start for the Commonwealth contingent with a 1-2-3 in the opening time trial stage at the new Malay government city of Putrajaya, just outside Kuala Lumpur.

Blonde haired South African ace Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step), looking fit and tanned, gave a scintillating performance on the far from easy 20.3 km time trial course to notch a devastating 43.19 sec victory over last year's winner against the watch, Nathan O'Neill (Panaria), of Australia, with Canada's Eric Wohlberg in third place.

Click here for the full results and report

Fast track to Paris-Nice

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has just over five weeks to organise this year's 60th Paris-Nice, which was granted a late reprieve after Laurent Fignon finally sold it to ASO yesterday. The Hors Categorie race is just one UCI class below a Grand Tour, and will take place from March 10-17.

The ASO are aiming to finalise the parcours by February 5, with a route that suitably reflects the prestige of the race. Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc said that there was "no question" of shortening the race, even though there is will be a very tight schedule in the coming weeks.

"I am delighted for cycling that Paris-Nice is not disappearing." said Leblanc.

It's expected that 160 riders will take part from 20 teams, including all of the French division I teams. The top 10 teams on the UCI rankings also have automatic starts, save for Rabobank. Former owner Laurent Fignon will also have a public relations role during the race.

Although the ASO is becoming more powerful with the acquisition of more races, it is generally agreed that the cancellation of Paris-Nice would have been a disaster for cycling.
Click for larger image
Durand at the mike
Photo: © AFP

La Française des Jeux presentation

The 18 member Française des Jeux team was presented today in Paris. The team directed by Marc Madiot is a mixture of French and Australian riders, with one British rider (Bradley Wiggins). After the departure of Swiss Sven Montgomery, Australian Bradley McGee is the highest ranked FDJ cyclist with 372 UCI points, and the team also has the experienced Christophe Mengin, Jean-Cyril Robin (ex-Bonjour) and Jacky Durand to lead the way, not forgetting the team's sprinter Jimmy Casper.

The main goal of Française des Jeux is to get an invitation to this year's Tour de France, and they will have to do this with a reduced budget from 4.5 million to 3.5 million euros. The team is in its sixth year and has strong anti-doping views.

"We must support the virtuous riders, the courageous organizers and the responsible sporting authorities said TDJ president Christophe Blanchard-Dignac.


Full team roster

Track World's 2003, MTB World's 2004

The UCI met today in Zolder prior to the World Cyclo-Cross Championships to discuss a number of items, including the venues for the World Championships for track and MTB. The 2003 World Track Championships has been awarded to Shenzen, near Hong Kong (China), while the 2004 Mountain Bike World's will be in Gets, France.

Upcoming World Championships


Cyclo-Cross: Zolder, Belgium
Road: Zolder, Belgium
MTB: Kaprun, Austria
Track: Copenhagen, Denmark


Cyclo-Cross: Monopoli, Italy
Road: Hamilton, Canada
MTB: Lugano, Switzerland
Track: Shenzen, China


Road: Verona, Italy
MTB: Gets, France
Track: TBA

Mapei to Giro del Capo

The Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Giro del Capo has been bolstered with the presence of the world famous Mapei-Quick Step team in the Cape Town based tour.

After announcing the Giro as part of their programme at the Mapei launch last week, tour director Tony Roberts confirmed on Thursday that the boys from Italy are sending a young outfit with GS 3 status to take part in the Giro.

Courtesy of David Cowie/sa-cycling.com

Team ComNet-Senges

There will be a new German professional cycling team in division III this season, known as Team ComNet-Senges. The former amateur team has 14 riders, and will be led by Markus Ganser. New arrivals include Tjarco Cuppens, Axel Hauschke and Markus Koob.

The team will race in the Ster van Zwolle in early March, Rund um Köln, Cinturón Ciclista Internacional a Mallorca, Circuit des Mines, Flèche du Sud and the Tour of Japan.

Team roster

Stefan Ganser (Ger)
Stephan Schruff (Ger)
Jochen Lichtenthäler (Ger)
Daniel Meinke (Ger)
Michèl Teichert (Ger)
Tjarco Cuppens (Ned)
Andreas Schruff (Ger)
Martin Neffgen (Ger)
Karsten Vogel (Ger)
Wolfram Wiese (Ger)
Markus Koob (Ger)
Axel Hauschke (Ger)
Markus Ganser (Ger)

Manager: Arnd Bleimann
Director sportifs: Rainer Sorge, Arnd Bleimann, Harry Schmitz
Masseurs: Rainer Sieven, Frank Keusgen, Dieter von Jagow, Orthopädie-Abteilung Klinikum Aachen
Marketing: Jenifer Ganser
Assistance: Heinz Ganser, Karl Vogel
Responsibles: Markus van Hauten, Manfred Lubberich, Mario Traini, Michael Falter, René Karl

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