News for September 16, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
More good performances by Scanlon
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
With just three races remaining in his pro trial with the AG2r team, 21 year old Irish road race champion Mark Scanlon looks all but guaranteed to secure an important professional contract for 2003. The former world junior champion performed strongly once again this weekend, reaching the end of yesterday's mammoth 266 kilometre Paris-Brussels semi-classic with the main bunch and riding selflessly to lead out team-mate Jaan Kirsipuu in the lead-up to a hectic bunch sprint.
Today saw a veritable exploit by the Sligoman who, despite the fatigue of yesterday's seven and a half-hour race, went clear with three others just 53 kilometres into the 210 kilometre Grand Prix des Fourmies. Also present in the breakaway was French legend Laurent Jalabert, and Scanlon earned vital publicity for his team as well as valuable recognition for himself when he rode strongly alongside the Tour de France King of the Mountains title-holder in this front group.
The effect of yesterday's race and Scanlon's tender 21 years eventually saw him losing contact with the breakaway 50 kilometres from the end of the race, after over 100 out front, but the team were delighted with the exposure he had earned them.
"They were very happy with how I did. We were up the road for most of the day and that translates into a lot of publicity for the team, with the media and the tv cameras being there. I felt pretty tired after yesterday's race and wasn't too confident of finishing, but decided to go up the road early on and just go as hard as I could for as long as possible."
"It was amazing being up there, alongside someone like Jalabert. We were flying along and I was riding really hard. At one stage he told me to take it a bit easier so that felt pretty good! We held off the teams chasing behind for a good while, two teams were trying to bring us back but we still took time out of them."
"I eventually ran out of steam and was caught by the bunch. My team told me not to bother trying to finish the race, that I had ridden very hard over the weekend and there was no point putting myself into a body bag just to get to the end."
It will be another week or two before Scanlon and AG2r sit down to discuss the plans for 2003 but it seems that things are going to plan. "Nothing has been finalised yet but things are looking pretty good," he said.
(The GP Fourmies was won by Gianluca Bortolami, with Laurent Jalabert taking a hard-earned second place).
Aitor Gonzalez to leave Kelme, but to where?
Spanish talent Aitor Gonzalez will leave the Kelme team at the end of this season, but there are conflicting reports as to where he'll end up. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he signed for the Acqua e Sapone team for three years. However, Acqua e Sapone will stop as a head sponsor at the end of the season, with Renault probably replacing it.
On the other hand, Spanish daily AS has Gonzalez going to Quick Step-Davitamon. Both rumours have yet to be confirmed.
Baffi wins farewell race
40 year old Adriano Baffi has won the last race of his long and distinguished career, winning a circuit race in Wangen, Germany. The Mapei rider will retire at the end of the season after a career spanning 18 years and 68 victories, including six stages of the Giro d'Italia and the points jersey in 1993.
Preliminary teams for Amsterdam Six
Race organiser Patrick Sercu has so far named seven teams to start in the Six Days of Amsterdam, which takes place between October 21-26. The combinations include Servais Knaven and Leon Van Bon, both well known road riders who 10 years ago were also Dutch champions on the track in the Madison (Van Bon has 17 track titles to his name, Knaven 8). Danny Stam and Robert Slippens, and the Pronk brothers Matthé and Jos will complete the Dutch contingent.
Last year's winners Matthew Gilmore and Scott McGrory will of course be present, as will Italian legends Marco Villa and Silvio Martinello.
Peccioli World's candidate
The Italian town of Peccioli (Tuscany) has officially announced its candidature for the World Road Championships. Mayor Renzo Macelloni sent the proposal Aigle in Switzerland for review by the UCI. Tuscany is the home of many of Italy's top pros, including Mario Cipollini, Francesco Casagrande, Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini, and former greats such as Gino Bartali, Fiorenzo Magni, Gastone Nencini Alfredo Martini and Franco Ballerini.
Peter Winnen rides again
45 year old Dutch cyclist Peter Winnen, winner of two Alpe d'Huez stages in the Tour de France (1981 and 1983) is back on his racing bike. The former pro is going to race for a team from Limburg in the up coming Tour du Senegal, a 2.5 class stage race that takes place from October 14-27.
Winnen recently spent a couple of weeks with an African team, learning of the cycling culture in Africa. He was also asked by the race director to start. Winnen started daily training in August in preparation for the race, and says that he can feel his form improving every day.
"I feel even stronger at the moment than when I did during my years as a professional," he said to Algemeen Dagblad. "I never had the occasion to give my body rest."
Winnen's former teammate Ludo Delcroix will also compete in the Tour de Senegal. The 50 year old will race for the IJsoboerke team.
It was reported that Canadian MTBer Ryder Hesjedal is riding as a stagiaire for the Rabobank Division I team, however this is not correct. He has in fact signed a contract with the Division III team.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)