News for December 5, 2002
Edited by Chris Henry
2003 World's course profiles
By Chris Henry
Even before the 2002 World Road Championships concluded in Zolder, Belgium, many were already thinking ahead to 2003, when the World's return to North America. Hamilton, Ontario will host the 2003 World's, much to the delight of the American and Canadian cycling communities.
Though few details have been circulated to date, it has been well understood that the more rugged course at Hamilton would differ from the decidedly flat circuit at Zolder. The top three sprinters at this year's World's, Mario Cipollini, Robbie McEwen, and Erik Zabel may feel pleased to have made the most of the occasion, as Hamilton will likely favour those with a bit more punch when the going gets vertical.
Indeed, a look at the course profiles for the road and time trial events at Hamilton confirms a return to a more challenging circuit. True, it can be said the riders make the race difficult, not the course, but clearly the flat and fast Circuit Zolder provided an opportunity to the pure sprinters that doesn't come often at the World Championships.
The road course profile contains two discernible lumps, which each represent at least 100 meters of elevation gain in the short circuit of only 12km. The long time trial course includes essentially the same two climbs, while the short time trial course presents only one opening climb before a predominantly flat ride which ends with a descent to the finish.
With the 2003 road season yet to begin, few riders can confirm without a doubt their participation in the World's. Nonetheless, the prospect of racing for the rainbow jersey on or at least near home soil pleases a number of Americans.
Levi Leipheimer placed fourth in the 2001 World's time trial in Lisbon, but was not present in Zolder. For reasons both personal and professional, said in an interview with Cyclingnews that he looked forward to racing in Hamilton. "I would love to do it," he said. "My wife is Canadian, and I know the area a bit from the Tour of Canada a few years back. It's early to say that I will be there for sure but I will keep it in my head."
The American T-Mobile women's team is gearing up for a big season, and counts among its ultimate goals success in Olympic and World Championship events. The team recently gathered in Arizona for its first pre-season camp, and several riders commented on what the Hamilton World's will mean for them and for the team.
Kimberly Bruckner, who moved to T-Mobile from Saturn, summed up the team's enthusiasm for the late season event. "It's one of our top goals," she commented. "The whole T-Mobile/ USAC idea is to work towards winning world titles and Olympic titles. And the fact that it's practically at home this year is an even greater advantage."
This focus on bringing a world title to the U.S. helped Bruckner make the tough decision to leave Saturn. "When I spoke to Jim [Miller] about the goals for the team and what they were really aiming for, it was really exciting," she explained. "After listening to him about how the team was obviously going to be all American and that they were really going to be shooting for World Championship medals, it was a very different concept after being on an international squad for two years."
Bruckner's T-Mobile teammate Mari Holden is equally excited about the coming season. Holden enjoyed tremendous success in 2000, earning an Olympic silver medal and the gold medal at the World Time Trial Championships. Dogged by illness, Holden suffered in 2002. She represented the US at Zolder, but not in the time trial, as her difficult early season had not provided the results necessary to qualify for that event. Nonetheless, she looks forward to a return to winning form in 2003, with the World's back on her mind. "I want to do well in the time trial," she confirmed.
What about Lance Armstrong? A former world champion on the road, Armstrong has expressed both interest and scepticism concerning his participation. For the four time Tour de France winner, July remains the focus of his season. Returning to form in October after a season geared towards winning his fifth consecutive Tour is not necessarily something Lance is keen to contemplate. Despite the 4th place performances on both the road and in the time trial at the 1998 World's, Armstrong has opted not to tackle the World's since he began his run of Tour victories in 1999.
"The more I think about it, the more I doubt I'll be there. Even though it's special this time because it's in North America, it's too late. To play any role there, you have to do the Vuelta or other races to stay focused after the Tour. That takes a lot of energy."
Finally, as much as location plays a role in motivation, so too does the nature of the course itself. Bad luck and a broken wheel kept two-time world champion Oscar Freire from challenging Cipollini in the bunch sprint at Zolder. Freire is a more versatile rider, however, and can thrive on challenging courses, arriving at the finish with a powerful sprint that is less likely to be dulled by a hilly circuit.
Spanish national selector Paco Antequera commented recently on the Hamilton course, telling sports daily Marca, "it is nothing like the course in Zolder." Antequera is confident for 2003, certain that Hamilton is "a good World's course for us, for the road race and the time trial. This time there may not be any sprinters at the finish, except Freire... when his form is as good as the previous years."
Riders and pundits alike have an entire season to ponder the possibilities in Hamilton, but clearly the 2003 World's are already generating a fair amount of excitement.
Cyclingnews 2002 readers' poll
Your chance to recognise the great riders and races of 2002 has arrived. Vote for your favourites in the annual Cyclingnews readers' poll. It's as simple as filling out the form and clicking 'vote'.
Voting ends on December 17 and results will appear daily starting December 24, culminating with the Rider of the Year award on New Year's Eve. Each reader may only vote once, however due to a technical problem overnight some votes may not have been recorded, so anyone who voted in the first 12 hours will be allowed to vote again. Not to worry, UN observers will be on hand to prevent any election irregularities.
Armstrong honored to participate in World Aids Day charity event
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Cyclingnews caught up with Lance Armstrong after his participation last Sunday in Lincoln, Nebraska in a World Aids Day charity fundraiser along with rock musician Bono of U2, actress Ashley Judd and financier Warren Buffett:
"It was a great day," Armstrong told Cyclingnews of his experience at the World Aids Day charity event. "Bono called and asked if I could come. He went on to explain to me his passion and reasons for supporting this effort. (Bono's) real... very, very real. He's a legendary musician, but a good guy more than anything. Bono's totally committed to fighting (the AIDS) epidemic. I was honored to be considered."
Armstrong will get together with some his USPS teammates in the next week or so in Austin, Texas for their first training camp of the 2003 season.
Susanne Ljungskog awarded in Sweden
Susanne Ljungskog was awarded the Swedish sporting prize "Bragdmedaljen"* on Tuesday. This prize has been given to Swedish athletes since 1925, awarded by the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.
The fourteen member jury's motivation was "for a sensational gold medal, for cunning tactics and a strong will under pressure." The gold medal in question refers of course to Ljungskog's victory at the World Championships in Zolder in October, where she bridged up to the leading group in the final ten kilometres and then managed to outsprint them.
The rainbow jersey was not 26 year old Ljungskog's only achievement during the year. She also finished second to Zinaida Stahurskaia in the Tour de France Féminin, won the Tour's final stage time trial in Paris, and made the podium in the World Cup race in Plouay. Strengthened by her success during the year, and pleased with her selection for the medal, Susanne now looks ahead with confidence. "My goal for next year is to win the Tour de France, and after that my ambition is to win in Athens," she said. At the awards press conference she also revealed that she will ride for an Italian team next year, though the specifics would not be made public until the weekend.
Ljungskog’s award is the third for cycling in Sweden. In 1967 the four brothers Pettersson, Gösta (Giro winner in 1971), Sture, Erik and Thomas, won the award for the first of three consecutive world titles in the team time trial. The second award was in 1976 to Berndt Johansson, Olympic road champion in a split decision with steeplechaser Anders Gärderud.
*Bragd: exploit, feat
Sean Yates joins Team CSC
In order to strengthen the team's international profile, Team CSC has signed a contract with Englishman Sean Yates. Apart from a long career as a professional cyclist, 42 year-old Yates has solid experience with the job as directeur sportif. He was one of the men behind the Linda McCartney team and in the beginning of the season he was employed with the Australian iTeamNova.com team. Yates will join the team on Friday as it travels to Lanzarote for the first training camp.
"Team CSC is a very interesting team which I look forward to working with," said Yates. "The team has a versatile group of riders and this will be my first experience as a directeur sportif with a team at this level. Our membership of the Top Club means that we can start in all the big races and I see it as big challenge to get the best out of the riders."
Team manager Bjarne Riis praised Yates and expressed his satisfaction with his newest signing. "Sean Yates is a good directeur sportif. His employment will give us a more international profile- an area of our business that we have wished to strengthen. As of yet, we have not found a new main sponsor but we still have a good team next year and we are always trying to improve it."
Pro Cycling Denmark (PCD) will be restructuring in connection with the coming season. Christian Andersen will still function as directeur sportif in a few races, but he will also be given responsibilities at the team headquarters in Herning where he will function as the liaison between the headquarters and the riders while they are away at races throughout Europe.
Kintana joins Team Paternina
The Spanish Team Paternina (formerly Jazztel) will be reinforced by the climber Aitor Kintana, who switches from Big Mat. The Basque rider returns to the south after his French adventure in 2002. Irish neo-pro Dermot Nally (Italian Elite 2 in 2002) is another new recruit of the Paternina team.
Team manager Miguel Moreno and his assistant Juan Martinez will guide a team which already includes the following eight riders (the roster is not complete yet): Juan Carlos Guillamon, Rafael Casero, Jorge Ferrio, José Antonio Pecharroman, Carlos Torrent, Ricardo Valdes, Serguei Smetanine and Gustavo Toledo.
Courtesy of João Cravo
Simoni gets started on Giro homework
Gilberto Simoni, pleased with the mountainous Giro d'Italia route unveiled in Milano on Saturday, will check out the climb of the Zoncolan on Thursday along with Saeco directeur sportif Flavio Miozzo and teammates Fabio Sacchi and Leonardo Bertagnolli. Weather permitting, the trip will help Simoni study what he considers the most difficult climb of the 2003 Giro.
The Saeco-Longoni Sport team will convene next Monday for medical check-ups in Varese, and a first training camp will be held in Riccione from Tuesday to Friday.
For more Giro information, see Cyclingnews' preview of the 2003 edition.
French drug trafficking trial to begin May 2003
A total of 27 cyclists, doctors and pharmacists implicated in a substantial drug trafficking ring in France will face trial beginning May 13, 2003. As reported earlier on Cyclingnews, an arrest on February 19, 2000 of two amateur cyclists at the Vélo Sprint de Narbonne in southern France led to an investigation into systematic doping and trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs. Also implicated in the affair was former Crédit Agricole team doctor Hervé Stoïcheff. The trial is to take place in Perpignan, France, and is expected to last four days.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce wins award
The Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce Postes Canada was awarded the Mémoris d’Or for Event of the Year at the Mémoris du Gala de l’Athlète de Québec, held on December 3 in Québec. The Canadian stage race was up against a number of non-cycling events, as well as World Cup mountain bike race in Mont-Saint-Anne. This is the first time the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce has won an award in this category. Next year's edition of the race will take run from June 17-22, 2003.
Stuart O'Grady gets married
Australian pro Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole) was married to Anne-Marie Clifford on November 23rd at Saint Laurence Church in North Adelaide. O'Grady met Ms. Clifford while she was working as a "tour host" during the 2000 Tour Down Under, an event which he ultimately won. Soon after, Anne-Marie left Australia to join the cyclist in France. Despite Stuey's life on the road in Europe, the two reportedly plan to eventually settle down in their hometown of Adelaide. Click here for a photo of the happy couple.
Verge Mid-Atlantic Championship Cyclo-Cross Series: Final Weekend
This weekend is the grand finale of the Verge Mid-Atlantic Championship Cyclo-Cross Series. With several categories coming down to the wire, the weekend promises to be an exciting one. The first part of the weekend is the Phelps School 'Cross Classic. Promoted by the Main Line Cycling Club, the race is held on the campus of The Phelps School in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The second half of the weekend and the last race of the season is First State Velo 'Cross in Fair Hill, Maryland. After the completion of racing on Sunday, the action moves inside the heated registration hall for the Verge Series wrap-up and awards ceremony.
Round 9: Phelps School 'Cross, December 7, 2002, Malvern, PA
The Phelps School 'Cross Classic gets started at 10:00am. Elite Women race at 1:00pm and Elite Men take the course at 2:00pm.
Round 10: First State Velo 'Cross, December 8, 2002, Fair Hill, MD
Sunday's First State Velo 'Cross follows the same schedule with racing getting underway at 10:00am. For race details or additional series details, please go to www.monkeyhillcs.com/mac.
Current Verge Mid-Atlantic Championship Cyclo-Cross Series Rankings:
Elite Men Total
1. Ryan Leech (Guys) 386 points
Elite Women Total
1. Josie Shew (First State Velo) 322 points
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)