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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest News for April 1, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Bettini out of De Panne

World number one Paolo Bettini continues to suffer from the cold that has struck several members of the Quick.Step-Davitamon team. Bici Sport cover boy and Cyclingnews diarist Bettini will sit out the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, which begins today in Belgium, although he hopes to return to defend his World Cup leader's jersey at Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

Cooke in

After suffering from a bout of bad mexican food last week, and missing the weekend's racing in Belgium, Australian Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) will be on the start line for Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. Despite his good form shown in the Dwars door Vlaanderen, Cooke's condition is not as promising for the three day race which begins today.

Pozzato bouncing back

Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) is showing a quick recovery after his crash in Milan-San Remo. The rising star of Italian cycling suffered a deep cut to his left calf, but is feeling better and training for a likely start in the Tour of Flanders. "I really want to be there, if only for the experience," Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Perhaps I will also look to do something in Gent-Wevelgem."

J.P. Nazon on the mend

Jean-Patrick Nazon (Jean Delatour), hospitalised last week due to a high fever and severe gastric distress, is on the way to recovery. "The gastro went away quickly and my headaches were linked to a lumbar puncture performed by the doctors," Nazon told l'Equipe. The French sprinter, whose brother Damien claimed success in Saturday's opening stage of the Critérium International, hopes to be back in action at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Ullrich moving closer

Jan Ullrich (Team Coast) has reportedly received the go ahead to obtain his Swiss racing license. Ullrich moved last fall from Germany to Scherzingen, Switzerland, along Lake Constance, and thus must apply for the new license. Prior to the license being issued, however, Team Coast must provide an additional bank guarantee to the UCI to cover the rider's salary. "I assume everything will go smoothly," Ullrich noted on his web site.

Ullrich is still scheduled to make his return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe stage race in France on April 8. The former Tour de France winner returned to Tuscany Monday for a final training camp in preparation for his first race in nearly 14 months, accompanied as usual by friend and training partner Tobias Steinhauser. Ullrich is tentatively scheduled to race the Vuelta a Aragon (April 16-20) and the Tour of Cologne (April 21). The possibility exists for Ullrich to line up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 27.

Cipollini preparing for Flanders

Disappointed after missing out on victory at Milan-San Remo, world champion Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze-Elitron) is busy preparing for the second round of the World Cup, the Tour of Flanders. Cipollini has been preparing with long training rides, and believes he has a role to play in the northern classics.

According to a Datasport report, Cipollini has not ruled out Paris-Roubaix, and rumours from Specialized indicate that the Lion King may line up for Flanders with a bike prepared specifically for the pavé, dubbed "Roubaix". A sign that Cipo is ready for the Hell of the North? Given the world champion's desire to ride the Tour de France this year, memories of last year's snub following his withdrawal from Paris-Roubaix may have prompted a change of heart.

Pantani in the thick of it

Marco Pantani's clamorous return to racing at the Settimana Ciclistica Coppi-Bartali saw huge crowds lining the roadside, cheering for Italy's most popular rider. Pantani showed good form, riding up front and even finishing second on the race's final stage. Nonetheless, this Friday the Pirate will have to face the next court case in Trento, where he will be charged with sporting fraud at the court in Tione.

Pantani will not be present at the opening hearings, as he will be in Spain training once more with his faithful teammate Daniel Clavero for the upcoming Tour of the Basque Country. Depending how the case goes, Pantani may make an appearance later in the month. He will also be listed among the 50 named in the San Remo blitz during the 2001 Giro d'Italia. That case is expected to be heard in October.

Française des Jeux starts development program

The French FDJeux.com professional team has started its initiative to develop talent from the junior ranks, with an emphasis on education and tempered enthusiasm. Five riders aged 18-20 have been selected for the program based on both their cycling results in the amateur ranks and their commitment to continuing their education. "The primary goal is not to integrate them into the pro team," directeur sportif Marc Madiot told Le Monde. "Rather, to give them the encouragement to think first of their education and not only about become professional cyclists."

Face of the future
© CN
Click for larger image

For two years, each member of the program will receive a scholarship of 8,000 euros, and the support of the team. The riders selected are encouraged to continue their development within their amateur teams, although an understanding exists that if all goes well, they will likely be given the opportunity to join the FDJeux.com pro team. Two of these young riders, Jérémy Roy (19) and Fabien Sanchez (20) were in Paris for the FDJeux.com team presentation last December.

"We realize that some riders are a bit lost outside the realm of cycling," explained Yvon Madiot, who selected the five riders for the program's debut. "We don't want to pick them, wring them out, and leave them on their own. If young riders know they have a career ahead of them, they're be more confident for their own futures and won't feel as though there's a knife to their throats. Thus it's also a way to fight doping."

Mavic's Cross Mountain Team on a mission

Mavic's Cross Mountain Team is embarking on six month tour of the United States, planning to drop in on shop-based clubs and IMBA clubs in nearly twenty states. The Cross Mountain team plans to visit the country's mountain bike hot spots, joining local riders for rides, trail maintenance, clinics, and not to mention beer and pizza. Mavic's "Senior Idea Guy" Chris Zigmont notes that more and more riders are interested in just riding, rather than organised racing, so Mavic will join the locals for the fun, riding with as many mountain bikers as possible over the next six months.

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