News for February 4, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
France quietly gears up for 2004 'cross
By Chris Henry
When it comes to cyclo-cross these days, there's no denying the domination of the Belgians. Bart Wellens stole the show at the World Championships in Monopoli, Italy, but he stole the show from his own team. Belgium rode away with the top five in the men's elite race, and placed all six riders in the top eight overall. But what about the best of the rest? Young Frenchman Francis Mourey crossed the line in sixth place, the first non-Belgian, and in doing so provided a glimpse of what the French hope to be a new challenge to the Belgian juggernaut.
Mourey, 22, has already won two national titles in the espoirs ranks. He stood a strong chance of challenging for this year's national elite title until a broken chain knocked him from contention. A member of the ASPTT Mulhouse team, Mourey is still intent on riding the road as well, but sees his talents in circuit racing and particularly cyclo-cross. Despite his impressive performance in Monopoli, the young man from Chazot, France remains modest. "I would like to become a good cyclo-crossman," he told l'Equipe. "I'll try to go pro, but I must wait to see if there are any propositions."
Meanwhile, defending women's world champion Laurence Leboucher held her own in Monopoli. A defense of her world title was not in the cards this year, but a solid third place performance gave Leboucher- and France- the only medal of the weekend.
For 2004, the French cyclo-cross riders will no doubt be out in force. After this year's World's, any toppling of the Belgian kings of 'cross would seem unlikely, but the incentive of the 2004 World Championships on home turf in Pont-Chateau can't hurt. Indeed, a number of roadies will be looking for more chances off-road.
Marc Madiot, directeur sportif for FDJeux.com, expressed excitement at this year's team presentation in throwing new weight behind the team's cyclo-cross efforts. Habitual cyclo-crossmen Christophe Mengin, Jimmy Casper, and Sandy Casar have been joined by specialist David Derepas for 2003, while Emmanuel Magnien (Brioches La Boulangère) will reportedly tailor his 2003 season towards next winter's 'cross competitions, clearly with an eye on the 2004 World's.
Armstrong ponders Millar's future
David Millar's well-publicized rant on his impending split from the "Cofidis system", where he went so far as to express interest in riding for US Postal Service in the service of Lance Armstrong, may have caught the right ears. Armstrong shared his thoughts on Millar with l'Equipe's Jean-Pierre Bidet, and while making no promises, appeared curious about the prospects of Millar joining the blue train. "He's a great rider, very talented," Armstrong said of Millar. "It's true that sometimes he lets himself get distracted, and he's reached an age where he needs to tell himself that it's now or never."
Armstrong himself does not hold fond memories of his brief stint with Cofidis, a team which showed little faith in his return from testicular cancer. Nonetheless he maintains that the team does not suit Millar's talents, and the Scot will do himself a favour by moving on. "Right now, I can't promise that (Millar) could join us," Armstrong explained. "He's expensive, and our budget is not unlimited. What I can say is that he'd be a great addition, since he rides very well against the clock and he has the potential to become a good climber. But, he needs to learn to concentrate. David, he's a bit of a rock star."
Phonak drops Bergmann
Phonak has terminated Reto Bergmann's contract after the rider was found in possession of Andriol, an anabolic agent and derivative of testosterone. The 26 year old Swiss, professional since 2000, has not failed any drug tests, but did admit to carrying the products to Spain for use during training, according to a Datasport report.
Kona/Clarks Factory Team
The Kona/Clarks Factory Team announced Monday that it has signed French national downhill mountain bike champion Fabien Barel to the team for the 2003 season. Barel joins the returning members of the Kona team: Tracy Moseley, Geoff Kabush, and Peter Wedge. The team will be managed from the UK by long-time downhill manager Russell Carty, who will be assisted by Dik Cox from Canada. Team mechanics are Robin Sansom and Paul Walton.
Moseley & Barel will start testing their bikes in early March in the south of France, while Kabush and Wedge will take part in various training camps for the next two months. The whole team will convene for the Sea Otter Classic, kicking off a season focusing on the UCI and NORBA racing calendars.
The Kona/Clarks Factory Team is co-sponsored by Clarks Cycle Systems, Marzocchi Suspension, Dan & Jake, Bio-Racer race clothing, Shimano components, Tioga tires, RaceFace components, Mavic rims, Fox Racing Shox, Hayes Brakes, Heinz, Paligap lifestyle products, Onfire casual clothing, MRP Racing Products, CycleOps trainers, Giro helmets, Easton tubing, Ringle hubs, and Dumondtech lubricants.
Lance the car salesman?
Lance Armstrong has landed another lucrative endorsement deal, signed by auto maker Subaru for a five-year worth an estimated $12 million. USA Today reports that beginning in April Armstrong will appear in a series of television commercials, based on the company's new slogan: driven by what's inside. The new ad deal follows Armstrong's other major endorsements, including Coca-Cola, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nike, and of course the U.S. Postal Service.
Nicole Reinhart Women’s Cycling Classic
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome's popular U.S. Women’s Open will undergo a name change this season, becoming the Nicole Reinhart Women’s Cycling Classic. This year's event will be held Friday, June 6. The 2003 edition will also mark the first time a track race has been included in the National Racing Calendar (NRC), typically a road series. In its inaugural year, the Nicole Reinhart Women’s Cycling Classic will offer a purse of $4,000 cash, the largest prize purse for any Women’s Cycling event in U.S. track cycling. Nicole Reinhart, a longtime Trexlertown favourite, was killed from a crash during a race on September 17, 2000 in Arlington, Massachusetts.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)