First Edition Cycling News for December 13, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
Armstrong focused on Tour 2004
A record-breaking sixth victory in the Tour de France remains Lance Armstrong's principal focus for 2004, the five-time Tour winner said at a press conference in Brussels yesterday. But Armstrong acknowledges that 2003 runner-up Jan Ullrich may be even harder to beat next year.
Of the rider who has provided the greatest challenge to Armstrong's domination of the race in recent years, he said, "Jan is right back to his best. He has the capacity to win this race and, on paper, he has a very strong team. He has got the motivation again and at 30 is entering best years of his career.
"Some people are saying I'm leaving my best years and so he'll be tough to beat. It will be a close race next year, perhaps I think we should start calling him the favourite."
Nevertheless, Armstrong is determined to succeed where previous five-time winners have failed and add a sixth Tour victory to his palmares. "I'm more motivated to win a sixth Tour de France than I think I was to win five," Armstrong said. "The legends, like Merckx and Indurain wanted to win six. It's not like they suddenly stopped at five. They all tried and I intend to do the same. I'm excited about it and I'd be very upset if I lost."
The single-minded focus on the Tour of Armstrong and his US Postal-Berry Floor team has made him a target of criticism in the past from fans who would like to see him ride more of the sport's classic races and so help bring events beyond the Tour to a wider public in the English-speaking world. But the Tour remains the sole goal. "The Tour de France is the only objective we have," said Armstrong. "Sometimes that's a controversial issue but the Tour de France is the biggest, the best and the grandest bike race in the world and so continues to be my one and only objective.
"Things may change a little bit for the Olympic Games next year but the Tour de France is everything to me."
Once the Tour is over, the Olympics may becomes Armstrong's other goal for next season. "I want gold, specifically in the time trial," he said. "That is ... if they select me, of course."
Asked if recently-uncovered 'designer steroid' THG was likely to be a problem among cyclists, Armstrong said he didn't think so. "I think the tests are effective," he said. "From what I have read, it concerns certain athletes who were dealing closely with certain laboratories in the USA. I don't think that would involve any of us [cyclists]."
"In any case, in the future THG will not be a problem because it will be traceable. But I prefer not to talk too much about doping."
Armstrong also seemed sanguine about the recent departure of Roberto Heras to the Spanish Liberty Seguros team. "We've lost riders before," Armstrong said. "It's a free-agent market. These things happen and there are no hard feelings. Besides, I'm perfectly happy with the team I have."
Armstrong said he thought the move was a good one for Heras. "This new team needed a charismatic Spanish leader," he said. "Heras was therefore a logical choice and Roberto will be a great leader. So, better for the spectacle but worse for us for lose us a capable rider who could set the pace in the mountains."
Despite others' belief that his best years may be behind him, Armstrong doesn't see himself retiring any time soon." I have a hard job imagining I'll be a retired athlete in eight months time," he said. "Another factor is whether the US Postal team continues. The contract is up in 2004 and I don't have a lot of interest going anywhere else. Then it comes down to what the heart says and what the legs say. I'll have to decide if I'm still strong enough. You can't win forever."
Nevertheless, Armstrong's schedule will be different in 2004 from previous years. After splitting up with his wife Kristin this year, Armstrong intends to spend more of 2004 at home in Austin, Texas with his three children. "I typically leave the States in February and return in September," he said, "but now I can't stay away for so long I'm going to do two month blocks racing and training in Europe and then go back. I'd rather lose the Tour de France than spend six or seven months away from my kids."
Perdiguero hopes for a better 2004
Spanish sprinter Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero is hoping for a better 2004 with Saunier Duval. The 31-year-old sprinter rode for Domina Vacanze in 2003, where he was somewhat over-shadowed by that team's rainbow-clad leader Mario Cipollini. Next year, though, he will be one of the bulwarks of the new Saunier Duval team, and he's looking forward to it, according to comments on the team's website.
"The team is very smart," says Perdiguero. "I believe it is a group of riders with the desire and the ability to do well. If we all have the same motivation as our director and manager, the team can obtain some good results."
As for Perdiguero's personal goals, "I want to enjoy what I do and try and win as many races as possible," he says. "I think I can win more this year than ever before, and if they are good-quality races, then so much the better. Nowadays I don't have big dreams about cycling, though, only goals and objectives. Your dreams don't survive the reality of cycling."
Bianchi Nordic finalises
Team Bianchi Nordic has lived up to its name by signing 23 year old Finn Kimmo Kananen which means that all four Nordic countries are now represented in the team. Swedish 'veteran' Mattias Carlsson, coming from team Ringerike, has also signed for the team and with that the roster for 2004 is full.
Kannanen, who comes from team Mälarenergi, was unfortunate to crash badly in the Hjälmaren Runt which spoiled most of this season although he won the Punkt GP in Västerås. In 2002 he won the Swedish stage race Cykeltouren and the Finnish Criterium Championships and was seventh in the European Championships.
Carlsson won stage 3 and overall in the Oslo Grand Prix he was third on the first stage of Giro del Capo in South Africa and also had some fine stage placing in the French stage race Boucle de la Mayenne where he was second in the climbers competition.
The team will have a first get together the week before Christmas and then the fist training camp with some races will be in February. The team will upgrade its races and focus on the Scandinavian international races such as Danish one day races GP SATS, CSC Classic and Fyn Runt and the stage races Cykeltouren in Sweden, Ringerike GP in Norway and Post Danmark Runt.
According to team manager Tommy Prim the team will most likely be invited to the Tour de l'Avenir.
Bianchi Nordic 2004 roster
Glenn Bak (Den) - 23 yrs, Mattias Carlsson (Swe) 28, Jonas Holmkvist (Swe) 21, Jesper Ingevaldsson (Swe) 19, Kimmo Kananen (Fin) 23, Petter Renäng (Swe) 22, Mikael Segersäll (Swe) - 21, Martin Vestby (Nor) 26
Kerry Barnholt joins Subaru-Gary Fisher
The Subaru-Gary Fisher race team has signed Kerry Barnholt, the surprise 12th place finisher at September's mountain bike world championships, to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Mary Grigson. Thirty-one-year old Barnholt's one-year contract will see her will race Xterra and mountain bike events for the team.
Barnholt's solid finish at the world's came as a surprise to her too - she didn't even expect to be racing. "I didn't expect to be in Europe that week because I was an alternate," said Barnholt. "Before my race I saw an interview on TV with the winner of the downhill. He said he just had fun on his bike because that's what he loves to do. That just made so much sense so I tried it. I stayed relaxed and passed people the whole race."
Team manager Tyler Pilger thinks Barnholt will excel in more technical terrain. "Kerry is a natural athlete who grew up doing gymnastics and diving," said Pilger. "She does extremely well on technical courses. The sports she has done really help her. She has got good strength and balance as well as the ability to stay healthy."
UCI appoints new 'cross coordinator
The UCI has appointed Peter Van den Abeele as its new coordinator for the discipline of cyclo-cross. Van den Abeele, a 37-year-old Belgian and former professional cyclo-cross and mountain bike rider, took up the post on December 8 2003 within the Sports Coordination Department of the federation. Prior to this, he was team tanager of the Vlaanderen-T-Interim-Eddy Merckx team (cyclo-cross).
Van den Abeele's appointment allows Régis Alexandre, who has been doubling up as the UCI's coordinator for both cyclo-cross and mountain biking to concentrate his activities on the latter discipline.
UCI anti-doping news
The UCI has announced that the following riders have been sanctioned for doping infringements.
Robert Nunez has been suspended for four years by the Federacion Costarricense de Ciclismo and disqualified from the 2002 Vuelta Ciclista a Costa Rica.
Jean-Marc Dollin has been suspended for six months to February 9 2004 by the Fédération Française de Cyclisme and disqualified from the 2002 Tour de la Guadeloupe
Ana Paola Madrinan Villegas has received a warning from the Federacion Colombiana de Ciclismo and been disqualified from the 2003 Pan-American Games.
Eddie B camp adds wind tunnel
Greg LeMond has announced a special incentive for the first 20 riders who sign up who sign up for his fund-raising camp in aid of former US Olympic coach Eddy B, who recently lost his house in the California fires: $1,000-worth of wind tunnel testing.
Allied Aerospace will provide the testing, which uses a low speed wind tunnel to help riders fine-tune their riding position.
Also taking part in the camp along with LeMond will be Reynolds Wheels, Speedplay, DeFeet Socks, and Shimano will be providing service.
The camp is scheduled for February 4-9, 2004 at the Tamarack Resort Hotel in Carlsbad, California. Further information is available at: eddiebcycling.com/glfc. Registration at: Active.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)