News for January 4, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Cyclingnews awards: Top 10 Photos
Today's installment of the Cyclingnews Editors' Choice Awards consists of the 10 best photos of 2002, or should we say the best photos selected from 10 particular categories. We have tried not to overlap with the Reader's Choice photo picks, despite some obvious parallels.
Ullrich to Coast looking likely
Jan Ullrich is looking more and more likely to ride for German team Coast next year, despite the fact that Coast has yet to get its Division I licence. Over the past few months, the team managed by Marcel Wüst has been involved in a bidding war with Bjarne Riis' CSC squad, which may have to give way despite its 1.6 million euro offer in December. But reports that Coast offered Ullrich a 7 million euro deal over three years seem to have pushed Ullrich's price out of CSC's reach.
Bjarne Riis has now informed CSC that he no longer wants the company to present a bank guarantee that could bring Jan Ullrich to the team (see story below). This opens the way for Team Coast, which already has proven Grand Tour riders Alex Zülle and Angel Casero in its ranks. The big question is whether Coast can afford such an outlay, given that it had problems paying some of its riders last year. However, it's expected to have everything in order by January 10 to satisfy the UCI's criteria of being a "Top 10 Club" team.
If Coast does make this elite bracket, it has no concerns about getting invitations to the major races (Grand Tours, World Cups) this year, something that has been lacking in the past. Ironically, if Coast gains admission to the Top 10, then Ullrich's former team Telekom will just miss out, as it sits in the 10th position at the moment.
Riis no longer wants Ullrich guarantee
By Kim Plesner, sportenkort.dk
Bjarne Riis has informed his team sponsor, CSC, that he no longer wants the company to present a bank guarantee that could bring Jan Ullrich to the Danish team.
"Bjarne has asked us to forget about the guarantee, so we've stopped speculation about a possible transfer, as it's getting more and more complicated to find out, whether it's Ullrich, his manager, or his personal sports director, who decides what's going to happen," said Ole Egeblad, CSC Europe's sponsor-director to Danish Sports site, sportenkort.dk.
Egeblad is puzzled about the way things have turned out, but claims that CSC never told Riis to bring Ullrich to the team.
"On the contrary, it was Bjarne who during last year's Tour de France asked us if we were interested in having Ullrich on our team, even though he was injured, had been suspended and charged with drunk driving. Obviously we had to give it some thought, but we didn't think that Ullrich had cheated. We considered him a young man who needed to restart his career, and we wanted to give him that opportunity at Team CSC. Also it seemed to me that he was more focused on his ambitions as a bike rider, rather than his paycheck," Egeblad explained.
Since then Bjarne Riis has had difficulties in finding a new sponsor, which could finance Ullrich's salary. And in December, Team Coast suddenly offered Ullrich a contract worth €10 million over 3 years. [Ed: other reports have put the figure at €7 million.]
"In my opinion things are starting to get a little out of hand. If this is true, then Coast will be paying Ullrich more than he earned when he won the Tour in 1997. We have to accept that if another team offers a rider more than we are able to. As a professional company we are used to that at CSC, where on a daily basis we are competing with companies like IBM, but we both have to respect certain conditions. In this situation, Team Coast, who have failed to make two UCI deadlines in the last few years, and still owe at least three of their previous riders 6 months salary, they go out and offer Ullrich a big contract like this - that's not very serious, and quite frankly I don't understand why UCI doesn't interfere," said Egeblad.
"Team CSC could easily have offered Ullrich a high-salary 3-year contract, but we know that we can only guarantee his salary for this season, as the current CSC sponsorship stops at the end of 2003, so that's not the way we play the game. We are extremely satisfied with our current cycling sponsorships, but that's also due to the fact that we cooperate with serious partners like Bjarne Riis and The Tour de France, where we are official IT suppliers."
Ole Egeblad expects Riis to sign a couple of new riders before the season starts, but he's very satisfied with the current team - even without Jan Ullrich.
"Actually we don't need any help. Tyler Hamilton was runner up in last year's Giro, even though he broke his shoulder during the race. That was the first time Tyler rode as a captain, so I'm very much looking forward to what he can accomplish in this year's Tour de France."
Cipo wants to honour the jersey
At a press conference today in the headquarters of new team sponsor Elitron, at Monte Urano (Ascoli Piceno), Mario Cipollini said that he wished to "Honour this [World Champion's] jersey in the best possible way."
Cipollini, in the company of teammates Giovanni Lombardi and Mario Scirea, was speaking to journalists about his plans for the upcoming season. As reported yesterday, he will start in the Tour Mediterranean on February 12, following a similar program to 2002 with Milan-San Remo, the Giro d'Italia and possibly the Tour de France high on the agenda.
"It will be difficult to repeat the successes on the road of 2002," added Cipollini. "Together with my teammates during the next few days, we will work out a detailed program that will encompass our main season objectives...I want to win Milan San Remo with the World Champion's jersey: that's an important race for me. Subsequently, in the Giro d'Italia, I will try to beat the record of Binda, and to conclude, if the organisers will honour the World Champion's jersey, I would like to concentrate on the Tour de France. If that's not the case, I don't believe it will be satisfactory to the critics of the race, Italian and non-Italian."
Cipollini reiterated that his success was due in part to his teammates. "Cycling is an individual sport but I won thanks to them. If the results came, the merit also belongs to my teammates."
He was also asked what he thought of Lance Armstrong, who he described as "A great champion and I hold him in high esteem for his achievements, as I know it's not easy to win a Tour. I underline the fact that I win from February to October, whereas he concentrates his season on a single period. Discussion of this point is very different."
Copenhagen Six off after velodrome collapse
The Copenhagen Six Days has been cancelled after the roof of the velodrome in Ballerup, near Copenhagen, collapsed on Friday morning at 7 am. Fortunately there was no-one hurt when part of the roof feel over the spectator seating area, due to the breakage of several of the roof's wooden rafters.
The Siemens Arena was opened in 2001, and regularly hosts cycling events as well as concerts and other sports. There were riders training on it on Thursday evening, just hours before the collapse.
The Copenhagen Six was due to be held between January 1 and February 5, but with the repair of the velodrome likely to take at least a month, the organisers have been forced to cancel the Six Day event.
De Clercq's back
A sore back did not prevent Mario De Clercq from winning his third race in a week, taking out the Cat. 1 Centrumcross in Surhuisterveen, in the Netherlands. De Clercq led home Arne Daelmans (Vlaanderen) and Peter Van Santvliet (Spaar Select) by a handy margin, and looks to be in good form for Sunday's World Cup race in Lieven.
De Clercq was in doubt for today's race, after complaining of a sore back earlier this week. He was forced to miss Thursday's race in Sint-Niklaas while he visited an osteopath, however the rest seemed to have not affected his form today as he dominated the race.
USA World Cyclo-Cross Championships team
USA Cycling has announced its full team for the 2003 World Cyclo-cross Championships, which will take place between February 1-2 in Monopoli, Italy. A total of 20 riders were named, including the eight automatic qualifications announced on December 18, 2002. The riders were nominated on the basis of their results at US National's, their rankings on the USA Cycling cyclo-cross points list, and their results in recent UCI international and domestic races.
The team will be led by newly crowned national cyclo-cross champions Ann Grande (Des Moines, Washington), Jonathan Page (Northfield, N.H), Adam Craig (Corinth, Maine) and Jesse Anthony (Beverly, Mass.).
"The group of American athletes that USA Cycling has assembled to compete at the 2003 World Cyclo-cross Championships is one of the strongest ever," said Steve Johnson, COO & Director of Athletics for USA Cycling. "The team represents a great balance of experienced riders and young, fresh athletes who are getting their first taste of international competition. Exposing young riders to a strong international field is a key component of developing a strong, American cyclo-cross program."
The complete team
Elite Women: Ann Grande (Des Moines, Wash.), Carmen D'Aluisio (Watsonville, Calif.), Rachel Lloyd (San Anselmo, Calif.), Gina Hall (Richmond, Calif.), Christine Vardaros (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
Elite Men: Jonathan Page (Northfield, N.H.), Marc Gullickson (Boulder, Colo.), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Berkeley, Calif.), Johannes Huseby (Medford, Mass.), Jackson Steward (Los Gatos, Calif.),
Junior Men: Jesse Anthony (Beverly, Mass.), Konrad Lebas (Ansonia, Conn.), Zak Grabowski (Lafayette, Colo.), David Fleischauer (Olympia, Wash.), Steve Cozza (Petaluma, Calif.),
Espoir Men: Adam Craig (Corinth, Maine), Josh Anthony (Beverly, Mass.), Barry Wicks (Portland, Ore.), Ryan Trebon (Ft. Bragg, N.C.), Alan Obye (Mendon, Vt.).
Competition at the 2003 World Cyclo-cross Championships commences on Feb. 1 with the junior and espoir men's races. The elite men and women will compete on Feb. 2.
Sacchi hungry for JCTDU success
Saeco's Fabio Sacchi has signaled he's serious about his bid to claim the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under crown in 2003. The 28 year old made a special request to come out earlier than his teammates, and will now arrive in Adelaide on January 7 to prepare for his assault on the leader's jersey.
"I want to give myself every chance to win overall," Sacchi told Race Director, Mike Turtur.
Sacchi was third overall in 2001 and last year claimed second place on Stage 2 into Strathalbyn.
In other Saeco news the team has confirmed that Paolo Fornaciari, who in 2002 rode for Mapei Quickstep, will now be in the starting list for Saeco in the 2003 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. Team management had earlier advised that he would be replaced by Dario Pieri but has since reversed the change. The team has also replaced Alessio Galletti with fellow Italian Nicola Gavazzi.
Estonian duo fly in early
Ag2r duo Jaan Kirsipuu and Erki Putsep will also arrive on January 7 to take advantage of the ideal training conditions in Adelaide. Kirsipuu is the reigning Estonian time trial and road race champion and in 2002 won the 5th Stage of the Tour de France and finished 7th in the road race at the World Championships in Belgium.
For more information, see www.tourdownunder.com.au
Bruylandts chooses Marlux
Dave Bruylandts has decided to ride for the upwardly mobile Marlux-Nidorf team, managed by former Lotto men Jef Braeckevelt and Andrei Tchmil. Bruylandts has ambitions for the classics as well as the smaller stage races.
Marlux has also commenced negotiations with Russian Pavel Tonkov, who it believes can help them get a start in the Tour de France.
Nijland signs for MTB squad
Dutch cyclo-crosser Maarten Nijland will ride for the newly formed Heijdens-Ten Tusscher mountain bike team for 2003-2004. However, the 26 year old will keep cyclo-cross as his main discipline. On the road, he will continue to race for the Oldenzaalse Wielerclub.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)