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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for October 24, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cipollini vs. Horse

World Champion Mario Cipollini has expressed a desire to challenge Italian race horse Varenne in a classic man vs. beast celebrity deathmatch. "I would like to beat Varenne," said Cipollini. "I have done 1'03 for the kilometre, he has done a time slightly inferior, I think. I've been compared to him, but his current life, which where he is a stud for wooden horses, is not for me!"

Cipollini will take the challenge after he returns from holiday in mid-November and begins his preparation for 2003. The details of the sprint match have yet to be decided, but the mayor of Novi Ligure has expressed a strong interest in hosting the event on the Romanengo race track.

It wouldn't be the first time that a cyclist has raced against a horse. In 1924, Proprio Girardengo beat Rodi Ward in the Stadium Marengo in Alessandria. On another occasion in 1952, three time World Champion Rik Van Steenbergen beat Nunzio, one of the top racehorses of the period.

Gonzalez and Botero to ride in Criterium de la ACP

Vuelta winner Aitor Gonzalez and World Time Trial Champion Santiago Botero will be two of the 40 professional cyclists taking part in this Sunday's 9th edition of the Criterium de la ACP, held in Tres Cantos near Madrid. The race will also feature Fernando Escartin (Team Coast), Joseba Beloki (ONCE), Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), Felix Garcia Casas (BigMat) and Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto), and retiring cyclists Melchor Mauri and Abraham Olano, who will be honoured at the event.

The racing will take place around the centre of Tres Cantos and will be shown live on Spanish television from 15:00.

Saeco finish season in Japan

Simoni goes to Paris

Fabio Sacchi and Igor Astarloa will lead the Saeco-Longoni Sport team in this Sunday's Japan Cup, the final race for the team in 2002. With 24 wins already this season, Saeco will be hoping to make it 25 as they race around 10 laps of the Utsunomiya circuit. The other riders of the team are Damiano Cunego, Leonardo Bertagnolli and Juan Fuentes, with Giuseppe Martinelli as directeur sportif.

Meanwhile Giro 2001 winner Gilberto Simoni has flown to Paris today for the presentation of the 2003 Centenary Tour de France, which will see a host of past and current stars of the sport in attendance. Simoni missed the 2002 Tour after testing positive for cocaine during the Giro this year. Although he was later cleared of any wrongdoing, the Tour de France organisers chose to exclude Saeco from this year's race. Now they want more than ever to be there in 2003.

"Everybody in the team and Gilberto in particular are very keen to see the route of the Tour de France," said team manager Claudio Corti. "We want revenge for what happened this year. We were hoping to do well at the Tour but our exclusion ­ which turned out to be unjustified, affected a large part of our season. As a result the Tour is already one of our major objectives for the 2003 season."

ABX to choose between three teams

The logistics arm of the Belgian postal service, ABX, will decide over the next three weeks which team they wish to co-sponsor next season. The reaction came after a story in Het Laatste Nieuws yesterday which reported that ABX was a possible co-sponsor for Lotto-Domo, which is in need of more cash to guarantee its salaries and operating costs for 2003.

A spokesman for ABX told Het Laatste Nieuws today that "We had a choice of 12 teams. We have cut it down to three. Lotto-Domo is one of the three. The question of how much sponsorship money we will bring depends on which team we choose to work with."

Boonen by the end of the week

US Postal's Tom Boonen has still not announced whether he will stay and honour his contract with the team for 2003, or whether he will leave for Quick Step-Davitamon. He says he will make his decision by the end of this week, as he wants to make sure of his team for 2003 before he goes on holiday next week. However he doesn't want to cause too many waves: "I don't want to take the risk that US Postal will blame me for the contract breaking," he told the Belgian press.

If Boonen can find an easy and cheap way out of his contract then he will do so, however it seems more probable that he will stay with USPS at this point.

Dutch U23 TT champ to Van Hemert Groep

Dutch U23 time trial champion Stef Clement has signed a one year contract for the Van Hemert Groep cycling team.

CSC Classic upgraded

The Danish CSC Classic, which takes place on May 4, 2003 in Århus, has been upgraded by the UCI to a Category 1.2 event, making it the highest ranked one day race in Denmark. The upgrade means more UCI points, more prize money, and more organisational resources for the event which should equate to a better quality starting line up.

In conjunction with the CSC Classic, there will be a cyclosportif event held a few hours before the main race. It will be the third edition of the cyclosportif event, which will feature two courses of 50 or 100 kilometres.

Tour de Georgia sanctioned

The Tour de Georgia has announced that it has received official status from the UCI, which has given the six day stage race a 2.3 classification. The inaugural race is scheduled to take place between April 22-27, 2003.

Amherst International Cyclo-Cross preview

Round 3 of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series takes place this Sunday, October 27 on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. The race was first promoted 12 years ago by UMass undergrad Adam Hodges Myerson and has since grown to be a UCI Category 2 event.

This year's race looks to have the strongest field yet, featuring the first 2002 New England matchup between Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series leader Marc Gullickson (Mongoose/Hyundai) and his rival, New England native Tim Johnson (Saturn). Johnson just made his return to the US cyclo-cross scene this past weekend in Delaware, finishing second to Gullickson on Saturday, and following up with a fine win at the Monkey Hill Cyclo-Cross on Sunday. Gullickson has been the dominant cyclo-cross rider in the country for the first part of October, missing out on a chance at another UCI win this past Sunday due to a first lap crash and a mid-race mechanical that left him in third. He has won the first two rounds of the 2002 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series handily.

Both Gullickson and Johnson will have teammates at the Cycle-Smart Amherst International. Johnson will have his Saturn teammate, former US National Champion Mark McCormack. Mark is the defending 2001 overall Verge Series champion, as well as the defending 2001 Amherst International winner (over Gullickson). The current US National Champion will also be in attendance, in the form of Gullickson's Mongoose/Hyundai teammate Todd Wells. Wells won the UCI category 3 Central Mass Cyclo-Cross To End Homelessness two weeks ago, and was second in Verge Series #2 in Gloucester the same weekend, and just won the Portland International this past weekend.

They'll all be challenged once again by Jonny "The Cat" Sundt (K2 Bikes), the reigning (and 5 time) Canadian National Champion Peter Wedge (Kona), U.S. U23 National Cyclo-Cross Champion Adam Craig (Giant), and the Clif Bar team of Jackson Stewart, Dave Wyandt, and Andy Jacques-Maynes, and Justin Robinson (Bullion Stil/Santa Cruz Spokesman).

Mary McConnelough (Seven Cycles) still wears the jersey of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series Leader, although she was bested in Gloucester by the flying Carmen D'Alusio (Clif Bar). D'Alusio looks to be laying claim to the title of top US Cyclo-Crosser, winning the Gloucester race over McConnelough, then beating 2001 'cross phenom Lyne Bessette both days this past weekend in Delaware.'s Bessette is, along with her fiancé Tim Johnson, just back from road world championships in Belgium. She took her two second places in stride, crediting D'Alusio with superior technical skills. Bessette won the 2001 Amherst International, as well as the overall 2001 Verge Series, and is looking to be on the top podium spot again in Amherst.

D'Alusio's teammate Gina Hall took last weekend's Portland International, making it a clean sweep of North American UCI races for team Clif Bar. Hall will be on hand in Amherst as well, along with New England Series stalwarts; Canadian National Champion Shauna Gillies-Smith (SRP-Gearworks-Spin Arts), U.S. Masters Champion Jodi Groesbeck (Putney/WestHill), and US collegiate and U23 champion Alicia Genest (Richard Sachs).

The Cycle-Smart Amherst International gets underway at 10AM on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. Race sponsors include Cycle-Smart Coaching, Promotions, & Management, Inc., Serotta Cycles, local Serotta dealer Laughing Dog Bicycles, Pure Rock - Laser 99.3, The Valley Advocate, Maplewood Farms Restaurant, Brewery, and Bakery, Thai Corner, Integrity Builders, Litmus Designs, Florence Savings Bank, and PB Computing Services.

For information about registration, log onto

Remaining rounds in the 2002 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series

Round 3 - October 27: The 12th Annual Cycle-Smart Amherst International, UCI Category 2
Round 4 - November 24: ChainBiter Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3
Round 5 - December 1: W. E. Stedman Co. Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3
Round 6 - December 8: American Express Financial Advisors Cyclo-Cross, UCI Category 3

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)