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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for April 1, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Satisfaction for Ag2r director

By Chris Henry

Laurent Brochard
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Vincent Lavenu, manager of the French Ag2R-Prévoyance team, expressed his satisfaction with Brochard's victory at the Critérium International, and his team's start to the season. Brochard's victory was the eighth win for the team this year, and the third stage race victory, following Mikel Astarloza's win in the Tour Down Under, and Jaan Kirsipuu's win at the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen.

"It's a great satisfaction," Lavenu told Cyclingnews after Critérium International. "I think we've taken a big step towards selection for the Tour de France. I hope."

Lavenu treats all races as important objectives, but naturally indicated the upcoming classics as particularly important. "We have an excellent candidate for victories named Jaan Kirsipuu," Lavenu said. "There are important classics like Paris-Roubaix, where we've never had a great deal of success, though it's always a possibility. Plus Liège-Bastogne-Liège..."

Brochard himself is pleased with his move to Ag2R this season. "The riders are gaining more and more confidence. It's true that Jaan has given us some freedom in the beginning of season since he's won five races already," Brochard said after the podium ceremonies on Sunday. "It's true that I have a role of leader, and it's important to prove myself and gain the team's confidence. I think after today the guys are satisfied and ready to be competitive in the next races."

As far as Tour selection goes, with the final four wildcards to be decided on May 19, several teams have staked tentative claims on a spot with their performances so far this season. Apart from having World Champion Mario Cipollini in its ranks, Italian outfit Domina Vacanze-Elitron has also showed that it has other riders who can win races. French teams Brioches la Boulangère and Ag2r have also proved to be strong contenders, while Jean Delatour will have to play catch up in the coming weeks. Milaneza-MSS had an excellent showing in Paris-Nice, while Phonak will be hoping for some good results in the upcoming Ardennes classics.

Goubert and Millar injury update

Two of the riders injured in a crash with 15 km to go in stage two of last weekend's Criterium International were Stéphane Goubert (Jean Delatour) and David Millar (Cofidis). The former dislocated his hand, however it appears that there was nothing broken and he is expected to resume training shortly.

Millar was worse off, suffering a deep cut in his elbow and badly bruising his hip, and he will undergo surgery on Tuesday for the latter. He is expected to be out of competition for 10 days, meaning that he'll miss the Route Adélie, GP Rennes, and Circuit de la Sarthe. He described the crash to L'Equipe:

"We were riding to move up in the field when a white motorcycle passed us on the descent, on a very narrow section," Millar said. "I didn't hear it coming but the rear-view mirror hit my handlebars and I was thrown on the ground."

Millar said the cut to his elbow was very bad, and his Cofidis team doctor gave his five stitches. Millar was to undergo x-rays today to investigate any further damage.

At the same time, Jean-François Pécheux, ASO's director of competition, said that according to the motorcycle driver, Millar was not actually hit by the motorcycle. The motorcycle was carrying one of the organisation's finish line judges.

"I know that's a risk of racing and these things happen sometimes," Millar said, "but what I can't accept is the fact that the driver didn't even apologise. He could have stopped to see how I was."

Coast is dissolving: Bekim Christensen

Team Coast could fall apart after the Tour. The team is, according to its Danish rider, Bekim Christensen, lacking both motivation and leadership and it looks doubtful that Coast will be able to survive after the Tour de France if the team does not find another co-sponsor.

In an interview with the Danish daily, Ekstra Bladet, Bekim Christensen paints a grim picture of the present situation in the German team. Christensen was interviewed by the Danish paper after the Criterium International, and the paper notes that the riders of the team spent most of the race at the back of the peloton.

"When they are out (on the road) most of them don't want to race and they are in the heavy end of the peloton and just want to get through," said Bekim Christensen. "When Alex Zülle changed to Swiss Team Phonak we lost a captain on the road. We saw that during the Criterium International - suddenly there were seven men who wanted to decide. That illustrates the hole that Zülle leaves behind him."

"Most of the Spanish riders are now in the situation where they clearly don't want to do their part of the work any longer. They have been very unsatisfied with the conditions," Bekim Christensen said.

Bekim Christensen, who is now the only Dane with Team Coast after both Frank Høj (Team fakta) and Lars Michaelsen (CSC) quit the team at the end of last season, paints a grim picture of the lack of organisation inside Coast at present. First of all, the team leadership have done nothing to re-create motivation among the riders.

"The only thing we heard from Coast in the period when the team was suspended was an email where they reminded us that we were not allowed to express ourselves negatively about the employer. If we did it would cost us one month's salary," said Christensen.

A lack of motivation and physical form means that a number of riders are now refusing to take part in races, and that has created difficult conditions in the team. "On Sunday I was suddenly told to ride Driedaagse van De Panne. That is not part of my race programme. But apparently Coast could not make a team out of the riders who were supposed to have ridden. I got it fixed so that I don't have to race and Coast will only be riding with seven men," the Danish rider said.

Asked by the Ekstra Bladet whether Team Coast will be able to race the Tour de France, Bekim Christensen, answers yes: "I think so. But I can have my doubts about whether the team can make it in August and September after the Tour de France, if there is not a co-sponsor and more organised conditions found soon. As it is now, the team is dissolving," said Christensen.

In the interview, the Danish rider does not hide the fact that he is also interested in following in the footsteps of Alex Zülle to quit Team Coast as soon as possible. "I have made my thoughts about the future and I have talked to Alex about the possibility that there might be a place for me with Phonak. They still need two riders," said Christensen.

Courtesy of Ole Ryborg

Latest UCI women's rankings

There have been a few minor changes to the UCI women's rankings, following the third round of the World Cup contested last weekend in Castilla y Leon, Spain. World Champion Susanne Ljungskog (Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai) still holds a commanding 88 point lead at the top of the table, with Castilla y Leon winner Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites Hartol) moving up to second place ahead of Nicole Brändli (Prato Marathon Bike). Brändli's Russian teammate Zoulfia Zabirova, winner of the three day tour that preceded the World Cup, has climbed up into fifth place on 428 points, and her team has supplanted Nürnberger as the number one team.

Zinaida Stahurskaya (USC Chirio, 8th-6th) and Sara Carrigan (Powerplate-Bik, 12th-8th) have also crept up the rankings, courtesy of strong performances last week.

Rankings as of March 30, 2003

1 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Team Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai      655.00 pts
2 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol Cycling Team       567.50
3 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Prato Marathon Bike                    494.50
4 Judith Arndt (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung           458.65
5 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) Prato Marathon Bike                  428.00
6 Zinaida Stahurskaya (Blr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo          355.00
7 Regina Schleicher (Ger) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo            337.00
8 Sara Carrigan (Aus) Bik-Powerplate                          319.00
9 Petra Rossner (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung          305.65
10 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa)                               291.50
11 Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Team 2002 Aurora RSM                270.00
12 Priska Doppmann (Swi)                                      254.00
13 Anita Valen (Nor) Bik-Powerplate                           233.00
14 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox     223.35
15 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Vlaanderen-T-Interim Ladies Team      184.00
16 Olga Slyusareva (Rus)                                      182.00
17 Valentina Polkhanova (Rus)                                 181.35
18 Simona Parente (Ita) Team Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai        180.00
19 Alison Wright (Aus) Road Runner - Guerciotti Cycling Team  171.00
20 Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus) Prato Marathon Bike             159.00
1 Prato Marathon Bike                                       1,121.50 pts
2 Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                              989.30
3 Team Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai                              867.00
4 Farm Frites-Hartol Cycling Team                             823.50
5 USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                                    696.00
6 Bik-Powerplate                                              669.00
7 Team 2002 Aurora RSM                                        484.50
8 Saturn Cycling Team                                         437.65
9 Team T-Mobile USA                                           381.00
10 S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox                             360.35
1 Germany                                                   1,338.95 pts
2 Netherlands                                               1,050.50
3 Russia                                                      974.70
4 Switzerland                                                 889.50
5 Sweden                                                      852.00
6 Australia                                                   824.00
7 Italy                                                       660.00
8 Lithuania                                                   487.85
9 France                                                      440.00
10 U.S.A.                                                     425.00
Full rankings

Professional Cyclists Association in favour of helmets

The international Professional Cyclists Association (CPA) is in favour of introducing compulsory helmet wearing into the professional peloton next season, as long as the majority of parties are in favour. The group, which represents all professional riders, issued a press release on Monday to this effect, also stressing the importance of rider safety and security during events. The CPA called for organisers to be more aware of the safety regulations, which are designed to protect riders racing on the open roads.

The CPA also voiced its support for Spanish rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who is in danger of being suspended in France by the Conseil de Prévention et de Lutte contre le Dopage (CPLD) after testing 'positive' for the asthma drug salbutamol during last year's Tour de France. UCI rules state that as Gonzalez de Galdeano had a medical justification, he therefore had permission to use the substance. However the CPLD thinks that the stricter WADA rules should apply to this case, as Gonzalez de Galdeano had more than 1000 ng/mL of Salbutamol in his urine sample, therefore he should be banned for taking an anabolic substance.

In its statement of support, the CPA also "regretted the lack of harmonisation between the various bodies in the application of [anti-doping] controls." sign ex-Index riders

British Division III Team has announced the signings of two former Index riders, Alessandro Guerra and Corrado Serina, for the remainder of the 2003 season. They will join Dan Lloyd, Lee Vertongen, Alex Coutts, Jan Richter, John Ibbotson, Stephen Gallagher, Dan Joyce and team leader Chris Tonge in the squad, that is in its first season this year.

"This is a marvellous move for the team...both riders have competed at the very highest level and this is will help our young riders further develop their talent," said team manager Richard Parsons.

Team director Harry Lodge added that, "Alessandro is a very strong climber and a good rider in sprint finishes too - just look at his results in 2002; 9th in the Milano-Torino followed immediately by 7th in the Giro del Piemonte - both are hard races (1.1) and believe me that shows class."

"Corrado did a great job as lead out man for Ivan Quaranta at Index - he knows how to win in the sprints and with experience in Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and the Vuelta a España his presence in the squad will prove've only seen the tip of the iceberg with regard to both riders talents."

Both Guerra and Serina will start with the UK based team immediately, with the hope that they will give better results and greater exposure in Italy.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)