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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for August 22, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Petacchi calls stage finish too dangerous

Alessandro Petacchi
Photo: © Hans
Click for larger image

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) did not sprint in yesterday's stage 3 finish of the ENECO Ronde van Nederland, crossing the line in 18th place behind winner Erik Zabel. The race leader, who had already won the first two stages of Holland's national tour, considered the stage finish too dangerous for sprinting on.

"I haven't seen the crash of Van Bondt and Hamilton but it hardly surprises me," said Petacchi. "In a tour of this level, if you finish a stage with three laps of three kilometres of cobbles, then you're asking for it. Cobbles have their place in Paris-Roubaix, not the Netherlands. Our job is already hard enough without looking for extra obstacles."

No pain for Dekker

Erik Dekker finished yesterday's stage 4 23 km time trial in the ENECO Ronde van Nederland in 94th place, nearly four minutes slower than winner Viatcheslav Ekimov. It was a far cry from his performances in recent years, where he has always been a contender for the top three. However from Dekker's point of view, the Ronde van Nederland has been a successful return to competition, after a knee injury has prevented him from racing for much of the season. "I've noticed the whole week that I've had a lot of difficulty coming out of a corner at 35 km/h and accelerating again up to 60 km/h," Dekker told ANP.

Dekker, who turned 33 yesterday, managed to get himself in two breakaways in the morning's third stage, "I couldn't do that yet in Gendringen," he said. "Ach, it's better than sitting at home."

His ambitions remain simple: "To stay pain free. I am not thinking of any particular races. Not for this year, not for next year. I only want to continue my career."

Sevilla underdone, but ready for Vuelta

Oscar Sevilla will start the Vuelta Espaņa as Kelme's leader, despite having barely raced this year due to a persistent boil, which required two operations. Since his last operation he has been training for a month, which means he will have a six week total build up for the Vuelta. "On July 25 I had to start from zero, because all the previous work was useless, it was all lost," Sevilla told AS in an interview.

The runner up in the 2001 Vuelta said that he is afraid of not being in good form, although he feels mentally and physically fresh. "The problem will be to reach the consistency necessary to compete in a grand tour. That is unknown for me. I'm going to try, but if I'm not up to it I'll go for stage wins."

As the main protagonists for the general classification, Sevilla picks "Aitor Gonzalez, [Angel] Casero, [Roberto] Heras...But the most dangerous will be Igor Galdeano, who hasn't been stopped like me. I don't know about the foreigners - surely Cadel Evans and Leipheimer will be there."

"The Tour was a failure for Kelme, but I am sure that in the Vuelta we are going to retaliate," Sevilla explained.

As far as next season is concerned, Sevilla currently has an offer of a contract renewal from Kelme, but has not decided yet which team he will race for.

O'Neill undergoes surgery

O'Neill & halo
Photo: © Karen Ewing
Click for larger image

Australian Saturn rider Nathan O'Neill is hoping to make a quicker-than-scheduled recovery from the injuries he sustained in last month's disastrous crash at the International/Tour de Toona if surgery to repair his cracked C2 vertebra goes according to plan. In an upbeat email to Cyclingnews, O'Neill said, "I had a followup appointment with a specialist spinal surgeon yesterday here in NYC. We discovered that given my current condition (as of yesterday) I would greatly benefit from a surgical procedure that would involve inserting a screw through the C2 vertebra and the odontoid bone, to secure the odontoid back into its original place." That surgery was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, US time.

"As you can see I'm doing fine," said O'Neill, "and this surgery will greatly enhance my recovery, especially in terms of the expected time. The halo will be coming off during the surgery, and I will be checking out St Vincents Hospital the day following the procedure (Friday) with a rigid collar of some sort, in order to keep the initial movement to a minimum. The surgeon, Dr Franco Cerabona, has told me that with this procedure I will make a 100 percent recovery on or ahead of the original schedule."

Mary Grigson retires

Australian mountain bike racer Mary Grigson announced her retirement this past weekend at the NORBA finals, in a move that got slightly over-shadowed by the rest of the fuss and palaver of the last race in the major US series.

A nurse before turning to pro mountain bike racing in the mid-90s, Grigson will be returning to her profession after a bike-riding 'sabbatical' that has seen her win the NORBA series title in 2000 and 2001, represent Australia twice at the Olympics, win the 2001 24-hour world solo championship and land five Australian national championships.

Grigson has ridden for the last four years in the colours of the Subaru-Gary Fisher team and team spokesman Ryan Atkinson said, "Mary has been an integral part of the Subaru-Gary Fisher mountain bike team, we wish her well, and she will be greatly missed!"

Born in New Zealand in 1971, Grigson is an Australian citizen by descent and moved to Australia in 1995 where she performed well in a trial event for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and caught the eye of the Australian Institute of Sport. She went on to race in Australia in AIS colours and rode the Atlanta Olympics, finishing 15th, and the Sydney Olympics, where she was sixth.

Her career highpoints were a World Cup victory in Napa in 2000 and her two-year dominance of the NORBA series in 2000 and 2001.

South African cyclists charged with murder

The two South African cyclists involved in the fatal shooting of a man whom they claim was attempting to steal their bikes will be charged with murder, according to a report in the Beeld newspaper.

Thirty-year-old Scott Griffith and his brother Lloyd (31) spent Sunday night in the cells at Honeydew police station north of Johanessburg after reporting the attack in which they claimed a number of armed men attempted to steal their bikes. In the ensuing shoot-out one of the attackers was wounded and later died in hospital; the others ran away.

According to Brian Price of the Johannesburg Mountain Bike Club, this was the fifth attack in eight days on riders in the area. He and three other riders had been robbed in the same place the previous day.

The Griffith brothers incident was not even the first fatal confrontation between cyclists and would-be bike thieves. On May 25 another mountain bike rider, Danie van Niekerk, was shot in the hand and leg. Van Niekerk returned fire and killed one of the thieves, but was not arrested over the incident.

Scott Griffith's wife, Wilma said on Monday night, "It happens so often that all bike riders carry knives and guns."

The Griffiths' case has been postponed to September 26 pending further investigation.

Two stagiaires for Palmans

Palmans-Collstrop will engage at least two stagiaires to ride for them from September 1. Belgians Kurt Hovelynck and Benny De Schrooder will finish the season with Hilaire Van Der Schueren's team, although it's unlikely that they will sign full professional contracts for next season. There is also the possibility that a British U23 rider will ride as a stagiaire for Palmans-Collstrop.

GP Jef Scherens wants more support

The Stoempersclub Leuven, organisers of the GP Jef Scherens, are disappointed with what they feel is a lack of support from the Belgian Cycling Federation (BWB) in their quest to get the race promoted to UCI 1.2 category. "The degree of difficulty, the start list, and the good organisation deserves better," organiser Jos Abts was quoted by VRY Teletekst. "UCI president Verbruggen has always promised us a promotion."

"I understand their disappointment," responded BWB chairman Laurent De Backer. "Every year we get 25 Belgian requests for promotion. We support them all - including Leuven - sending favourable advice through to Switzerland. I'm afraid that from the 1.3 level there will be no promotions."

47th SEAT Tour of Slovakia news

The 47th edition of the UCI 2.3 classified SEAT Tour of Slovakia will take place between August 27 - 31. The organisers have confirmed the presence of the following teams:

Division I

CCC - CCC Polsat (POL)

Division II

Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave' - Ciarrocchi Immobiliare (ITA)
Team Wiesenhof (GER)
eD'system - ZVVZ (CZE)

Division III

Action Nvidia Mroz (POL)
Team Bianchi Scandinavia (SWE)
Van Hemert Groep CT (NED)
Legia (POL)
Team Comnet Senges (GER)
ARBOE Merida Graz (AUT)
Team Nippon Hodo (JPN)
Team Hervis CopyRight (AUT)
JOKO Velamos (CZE)
Miche (BUL)
Winfix Techem (GER)
PSK Remerx (CZE)

Plus two Slovakian National teams

The stages

Stage 1 - August 27: Zilina - Zilina, 179.3 km
Stage 2 - August 28: Zilina - Banska Stiavnica, 178.1 km
Stage 3 - August 29: Banska Stiavnica - Strbske Pleso, 221.0 km
Stage 4 - August 30: Eurocamp FICC - Tatranska Lomnica, 191.4 km
Stage 5 - August 31: Stary Smokovec - Stary Smokovec, ITT, 31.7 km

Courtesy of Jozef Kovac

Tour of the Turkish Riviera planned for 2004

Dutch criterium organiser Gerrie van Gerwen has something bigger planned for next year. Between February 18 and 22, 2004 he will stage the first "Tour of the Turkish Riviera", which will be run over five stages around Antalya. The race will feature some of the top Division I teams.

Field grows for World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships

The entry list is growing for the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin(tm) Championships, which will be held on August 30-31 in Whistler, BC. The organisers have confirmed that three time World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Champion Chris Eatough (USA), 2003 24 Hours of Adrenalin National Champion Tinker Juarez (USA), Mark Hendershot (USA) 3rd in 2002, Tom Zidek (Can) and Chad Swanson (USA) 5th in 2002 will all take part in the men's race. The women's field includes 2000 champions Katie Lindquist (USA), Michelle Grainger (USA) and 2002 5th place finisher Louise Kobin (USA).

There will be more than just the riders vying for the title of World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Champion. Participating in the event will be Canadian David Piercy, a cancer survivor who is 26 years beyond the removal of a lung due to the disease. Raising money for Cops for Cancer and Camp Good Times, David will be competing in his first solo ride since making his 24 Hour debut at the 2000 Canmore event.

The World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championship weekend gets under way at 9am on Thursday August 28 with the opening of the gates and the commencement of the solo athlete move-in. The World Solo athletes will called to the start line at 11:30 on Saturday and the race for the crown begins at 12pm with the Merrell LeMans-style start.

Six Days of Detroit

The first Six Day Race in Detroit for 20 years is currently under way on the NAS-TRACK at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It started on Tuesday, August 19 and will run through until the end of the weekend.

The "Americanized" format is a little different to normal Six Day events, with riders being paired differently on each night, said promoter Dale Hughes. There are 16 riders, split into eight A and eight AA riders (each team consists of an A plus an AA rider). The organisers paired the teams for Day 1, but for Day 2 the winning team riders were paired with the 8th place team riders, 2nd place team paired with the 7th place riders and so on. At the end of the Six Days, there will be a single A rider winner and a single AA rider winner.

The riders are said to enjoy the format, because after a bad night they get paired with a better teammate. The fans enjoy it because the racing is different each night.

Hughes said it is the "first (Six Day) in 20 years here in Detroit. In 1928, the 'Detroit 6 Day' had 40,000 spectators" he said of the sport's glory days in 'Motown', now more famous for being the centre of the automobile industry (and great music). In 2003, "we hope to hit 4,000", he said. Racing continues tonight and runs until Sunday, August 24.

Results from Day 4, Day 3 & Day 2.

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