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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition News for April 5, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

UCI: Helmets mandatory

The UCI has indicated that for the first time, helmet use will be compulsory in all professional events. The UCI has always advised helmet use, but previous attempts at mandatory use were met with stiff resistance from the peloton. However, following the death of Andrei Kivilev, and in light of the advances in helmet weight and comfort, the decision to require riders to wear helmets has finally come to fruition.

The UCI signaled its support of the resolution adopted by the Management Committee of the Professional Cyclists' Association (CPA) to urge mandatory helmet use. Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc had also called for a new ruling on helmets following Kivilev's fatal crash on the roads of Paris-Nice.

The new rule is expected to be put in place in the near future, likely before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 10. "The statutory aspects of this initiative (financial penalties, loss of UCI points or other sanctions) are currently being studied by the relevant departments," the UCI said in a written statement.

Museeuw will ride the Ronde

By Jeff Jones in Waregem

Johan Museeuw
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Johan Museeuw has finally decided in favour of riding the Ronde van Vlaanderen, aiming for a record fourth win in the biggest Belgian classic. The Quick.Step-Davitamon captain told journalists at a press conference in Waregem this afternoon that he will be there thanks to the doctors who have looked after him this week, who have given him the green light to compete on Sunday. He has full breathing capacity in his right lung, but his left lung is not yet 100 percent.

"I've been on heavier antibiotics since Thursday," said Museeuw, who was still coughing a little as he answered questions. "That is naturally not positive for the condition."

The Lion of Flanders trained for the first time since Tuesday on Friday morning, riding 70 km of the RVV parcours - including the Kwaremont, Paterberg, Koppenberg and the Muur - with teammates Paolo Bettini and Luca Paolini. "The legs didn't feel fantastic, but I didn't expect that they would be," said Museeuw, who also felt short of breath on the climbs. "The crash at Waregem last week stopped me preparing for Flanders as I would have liked, but I've still got two nights to recover."

The Ronde van Vlaanderen and next weekend's Paris-Roubaix are two of the most important races of the year for Museeuw, and he will not give them up easily. He will decide on the day how he will race - whether to ride as a leader or in support of the team, and that he will know the answer by the Oude Kwaremont (km 177).

"I am and I remain Johan Museeuw. Even if I don't feel in form, I can give my experience to others within the team. If I don't feel able to win, I will try to be present in the finale to help my teammates."

Patrick Lefevere
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Team manager Patrick Lefevere was also slightly more relaxed about Museeuw's condition, and said that he wasn't worried by his relative lack of racing kilometres in the lead up to the spring classics. Lefevere pointed to Museeuw's first race of the season, Het Volk, which he won convincingly.

Co-leader Paolo Bettini said of the reconnaissance this morning that "This year it was more important than ever to see the course after the introduction of the three asphalt climbs in the key part of the race."

"This year the race is really open. There are a lot of riders who can win; as well as my team mates, I'd include the Rabobank team which has shown they are going well. Then there's Van Petegem, Bortolami and Pieri. My main objective will be to defend my World Cup leader's jersey, the road will tell if I can fight to win the race as well," Bettini said.

Luca Paolini, who was third at Milan-San Remo, will be riding in his first Ronde on Sunday. "Today's ride to see the course has left its mark," he said. "The final part of the race is really hard and never gives you a moment to recover. It's a fascinating race where you can never win by chance. My objective is to help Paolo and Johan as much as I can, which means being with them in the final part of the race. I'd like to finish with the leaders of the race."

Pieri says his form is great

Saeco's Dario Pieri will take the start on Sunday in Brugge with the ambition of repeating or bettering his second place behind Andrei Tchmil in the 2000 Ronde. Pieri has been a strong presence in the Belgian classics so far, and finished 16th in the Driedaagse van De Panne after crashing twice. The big Tuscan from Scandicci, near Florence, wasn't too concerned about his crash on Thursday.

"Did I hurt myself? Perhaps the asphalt was the worst off! I must have left a big hole in the road. Fortunately I wasn't injured, that would have been really unfair. I'm feeling good, my morale is high and the team is one of the strongest we've ever had for these kind of races."

The team includes Mirko Celestino, who has great form after finishing second in Milan-San Remo and winning the Settimana Coppi & Bartali. Then there is the experienced Stefano Zanini, who finished second in the Ronde in 1998. Italian national champion Salvatore Commesso, Fabio Sacchi, Paolo Fornaciari, J÷rg Ludewig and the young Giosue Bonomi will round out the team.

Gaumont ready for Ronde

Frenchman Philippe Gaumont (Cofidis) will be on the start line in Brugge for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Suffering from sickness early this week, Gaumont didn't even finish the first stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne. He has been taking antibiotics since then and on Thursday managed to train for 250 km behind the motorbike.

Team Coast hopeful

With team morale not exactly at its highest ebb at the moment, German Team Coast is hopeful that it can do something in the Ronde on Sunday. "We will strive whatever may happen," said team managers Rudy Pevenage and Alain Gallopin, who are putting their hopes in Rafael Schweda.

"It's always a risk to start such a gruesome race with a climb, but we have no other choice," added Gallopin. We will try from the start to stay with the leading group, just as we did during the preparation race at Driedaagse van De Panne."

The team will start with Daniel Becke (Ger), Bekim Christiansen (Dan), AndrÚ Korff (Ger), Thomas Liese (Ger), Thorsten Rund (Ger), Rafael Schweda (Ger), Malte Urban (Ger), and Sven Teutenberg (Ger).

Ronde van Vlaanderen coverage

Preview and history
Course map, time table and description
Start list

Eddy Lembo confirms with Palmans-Collstrop

Palmans-Collstrop directeur sportif Hilaire Vanderschueren has confirmed the signing of Eddy Lembo. Lembo, 22, represents the third team sponsor's desire to attract developing talent from France. Lembo joins Palmans-Collstrop from French Division II team MBK-Oktos-Saint Quentin.

Casagrande out of GP Indurain

Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) has joined the international sick list, and will skip Saturday's GP Miguel Indurain. Casagrande has been reviewing key stages of this year's Giro d'Italia, along with teammates Wladimir Belli, Simone Bertoletti, and Mariano Piccoli. The group encountered less than favourable conditions, and the cold rain and snow have left the Lampre leader slightly under the weather.

Casagrande has nonetheless confirmed his participation in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) from April 7-11. Casagrande will also target the Ardennes classics, including Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Baby Johan keeps Halgand home

Jean Delatour leader Patrice Halgand has decided to skip Sunday's fifth round of the Coupe de France, the Grand Prix de la Ville de Rennes. Halgand is home with his wife celebrating the birth of their son Johan. Eddy Seigneur will step in for Halgand in Rennes, although Halgand will return to racing Tuesday for the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The Jean Delatour team scored a much-needed victory Friday at the Route Adélie, courtesy of Sébastien Joly. Jean Delatour has ridden aggressively this season, but has not posted the victories it will surely need to earn a wild card entry in the Tour de France.

The team for Sunday's Grand Prix de Rennes includes Seigneur, Gilles Bouvard, Mickaël Buffaz, Samuel Dumoulin, Christophe Edaleine, Frédéric Finot, Christophe Laurent, and David Lefèvre.

Paumier almost clear

Laurent Paumier, who tested positive for corticoids during the 2002 Midi Libre, will be eligible to race in France as of May 1, 2003. Paumier was suspended by the CPLD, and despite signing for Ag2R-Prévoyance, he has yet to race for his new team. Per UCI rules, however, Paumier has been permitted to race outside France since last week.

UCI sanctioned riders update

The UCI has announced that the following riders have been sanctioned by their federations for various offences.

Evandro Luiz Portela, sanctioned by Confederašao Brasileira de Ciclismo, disqualified from Volta Ciclistica de Santa Catarina (Brazil), September 5-8, 2002, suspension of two years from December 4, 2002 to December 3, 2004.

Jefferson Misiak, sanctioned by Confederašao Brasileira de Ciclismo, disqualified from Volta Ciclistica de Santa Catarina (BRA), September 1, 2002, suspension of four years from December 4, 2002 to December 3, 2006.

Renato SEABRA, sanctioned by Confederašao Brasileira de Ciclismo, disqualified from Volta Ciclistica de Santa Catarina (BRA), August 30-31 & September 3-4, 2002, suspension of two years from December 4, 2002 to December 3, 2004.

Christian Wegmann, sanctioned by Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, warning, time of the rider increased by 1% in a stage of the Int. Hessen-Rundfahrt on September 6, 2002, and a fine of CHF 2,000.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Racing

The Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Racing team, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is continuing its progress toward Division III status. The core of OLP Racing remains intact and key additions have been made, including up and coming Torsten Wambold, collegiate champion Christof Herby, and former masters national champion Gordon Stiel. Former pro Thad Fischer joins OLP as Team Manager.

Team roster


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