Latest News for April 10, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Ullrich pleased, Armstrong too
Jan Ullrich has been quick to express his satisfaction at his return to racing. The German is back in action this week at the Circuit de la Sarthe, where he also had his first encounter with Tour de France rival Lance Armstrong. Both seemed equally pleased with the reunion.
"It's difficult to say how I'm going to progress, but the early signs are encouraging,'' Ullrich said in a report from Bloomberg News' Darren Tulett. "It won't be easy to dethrone Armstrong, but I want to win the Tour again. My career is far from over."
Armstrong has also insisted that the return of his "scariest rival" is a good thing, and not necessarily a threat to his Tour dominance. "It felt different at last year's Tour, not having him there, like there was something missing,'' Armstrong said. "Jan is a class rider. Cycling is better off with him around again."
Indeed, Ullrich's return gives Armstrong that little bit extra when it comes to motivation. "If I slip up, I know he'll be there and will win it," he added. "I couldn't ask for a better source of motivation."
US Postal directeur Johan Bruyneel echoed Armstrong's sentiments. "The biggest danger facing us after four straight wins is complacency," Bruyneel said. "Ullrich's return will help focus our minds, keep us sharp."
Ullrich has come to terms with his dark days of 2002, and is eager to prove himself following both his knee injuries, and his suspension for a positive amphetamines test. "It had nothing to do with doping or trying to cheat- I could hardly walk at the time," Ullrich insisted. "It's important for me to set the record straight, to try to regain the stature and esteem of my peers and the public.''
O'Grady gears up for Roubaix
Enjoying a few days off for some redecorating in his Toulouse, France home, Australian Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole) is looking forward to Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. O'Grady took advantage of his excellent condition last weekend in the Tour of Flanders, where he won the bunch sprint for third place behind Peter Van Petegem and Frank Vandenbroucke.
"I've had a couple of days to recover from Flanders," O'Grady explained, "and I've needed it because I had to dig so deep on Sunday that it's buckled me for the last couple of days."
His first ever podium place in a World Cup classic has provided an enormous boost to his confidence, and a bit of a shock. "I sat back and realised what I'd done and it's given me a whole new outlook on races that I, realistically, didn't ever consider I could get a result in."
O'Grady also has found that his operation last year to repair his iliac artery has been a great success. "Having the surgery last year has made a huge difference," he said. "In the past if I had put in effort after effort after effort like I did on Sunday, my leg would have just stopped and lactated up. But now the artery is free and basically I get to race with two legs which is pretty handy in my profession."
The reigning Australian road champion, O'Grady expects another difficult day Sunday, but he's more ready than ever to tackle the Hell of the North. "I guess especially after weekend, where I surprised a lot of people, that they're not going to want to rock into the velodrome with me alongside," he said. "It will be a very different race, with different tactics from the major players, so I don't know what to expect. I'm just going to do what I did last weekend, which is stay up the front and out of the carnage and give it absolutely everything."
Joly lays low
Preferring to focus on Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, Sébastien Joly (Jean Delatour) has decided not too push himself this week, suffering from a sore throat and a slight fever. Joly, winner of the Route Adélie, is also a former winner of the amateur Paris-Roubaix. The promising young Jean Delatour rider is hoping for a successful debut in the professional event. Although he was scheduled to ride the Circuit de la Sarthe, Joly opted to nurse his fever and focus on Sunday.
No pressure for Virenque
Richard Virenque (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is content to make slow but steady progress in the early season, focusing on his primary objective, the Tour de France and another bid for the polka dot jersey. "I'm more relaxed than in previous years," Virenque told l'Equipe. "The team has already achieved some results and that allows me to prepare without any pressure."
Virenque, currently racing in the Circuit de la Sarthe, will contest the Ardennes classics, followed by the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and the Dauphiné Libéré. "If I listened to my instinct, I'd be at the start of Paris-Roubaix, since that's a mythical race," Virenque said, "but I wouldn't be able to make it to the finish. In any case, I'll be in front of the television to cheer on my teammates."
Aussies ready for SA track
Thirteen Australians will compete in the UCI Track World Cup Classics Series in Capetown, South Africa this weekend. The three day event will host 237 riders from 39 nations, all vying for qualification for the World Championships, scheduled to start July 30th in China.
"It's a fine balancing act in that we have to play the game hard enough to make sure we get the places but we don't want to push too hard this far out from the World Titles," Australian Track Cycling head coach Martin Barras said from the team's hotel in Capetown.
"It is always our aim to qualify the maximum allowed number of riders for the World Titles, and that's not guaranteed yet," he explained. "We are like most other teams who are starting to feel the pressure to secure berths so Capetown and the final round in Sydney next month (May 16-18 at Dunc Gray Velodrome) are very important for us."
Australia's roster for Capetown is as follows:
Eadie waiting for Sydney
Australia boasts a strong team for Capetown, but will be missing reigning world sprint champion Sean Eadie, who is in Adelaide recovering from an injury he sustained during strength training in the gym. "We're trying to track down exactly what has happened and the severity of it," said Eadie, who yesterday underwent a scan and ultrasound.
"The left knee is the worst; the right knee not so bad. It first appeared when I was doing single leg presses, but it was nothing I hadn't done before so we're not sure what triggered it," noted Eadie, who was pressing between 350-400kg in the session.
Millar on the mend
David Millar (Cofidis) is recovering from his injuries sustained in a crash in the second stage of the Critérium International. Millar had a serious haemotoma on his thigh which had to be removed surgically under a general anaesthetic. The operation was complicated somewhat by excess clotting and the detachment of skin from the muscle, which kept Millar immobile and in the hospital longer than expected.
"Things are a bit better as far as my hip is concerned, but I'm still going to the clinic to change the bandage on my arm, which isn't healing very well," Millar told l'Equipe.
According to Millar's web site, his recovery time might be longer than originally predicted, but he will be present April 18th at the 100th edition of Britain's biggest annual track meet, the Herne Hill Good Friday meeting. His first return to competition could be the Trophée des Grimpeurs on May 4.
Etxebarria defends team
David Etxebarria, feeling that his Euskaltel-Euskadi team had been slighted by ONCE director Manolo Saiz, spoke out in Spanish paper Deia after stage 3 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. "They (ONCE) say that Euskaltel is a small team, but in stage 2 we rode like a big team," said Etxebarria. "Other bigger teams are a bit conceited, but they ride like small teams."
Saiz appeared to have little interest in a war of words in the press. "They worked a lot, took advantage, and we didn't say a thing," Saiz replied.
Marco Polo Cycling Fund
The World Wide Cycling Foundation has founded the Marco Polo Cycling Fund. The fund aims to help talented riders from poor countries to get a chance in Europe. The mission of the Marco Polo Cycling Club (managed by World Wide Cycling) is to give talented cyclists from non-traditional cycling countries a chance to develop as professionals. The Marco Polo Cycling Fund is designed to help the club accomplish its mission.
The Marco Polo Cycling Fund was founded in cooperation with Dutch cycling magazine Wieler Revue. UCI chairman Hein Verbruggen has also expressed his support for the Fund. Contributors to the Fund can win great prizes including a trip with the Marco Polo Cycling Team to the Tour of Beijing.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)