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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for January 11, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Denis Zanette dead from heart attack

Denis Zanette
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
Click for larger image

32 year old Italian professional Denis Zanette has died as a result of a heart attack, suffered while visiting the dentist on Friday, January 10. Zanette had just finished a dental check up and was settling his account when he collapsed on the floor, and was unable to be revived. The Fassa Bortolo rider was rushed to hospital in Pordenone, but was dead shortly after arriving.

Fassa Bortolo team manager Giancarlo Ferretti described the death as a "frightening shock...he was a kind and courteous guy, incredibly humble, and certainly a good rider."

Ferretti added that "It was thought it was a problem with the anaesthetic, but then it was explained he was only having his teeth cleaned. They said it could have been a heart attack. But I don't know more than that for now. It's certainly a frightening, upsetting shock."

Zanette had been a professional since 1995, winning a total of five races in his career, including a two stages in the Giro d'Italia. He rode for AKI (1995-1997), Vini Caldirola (1998), Polti (1999), Liquigas (2000-2001) and Fassa Bortolo (2002).

Images by Yuzuru Sunada and Fotoreporter Sirotti

Heulot to retire

31 year old French rider Stéphane Heulot, winner of the French road championships in 1996, has decided to retire. With his team, BigMat-Auber 93 not yet confirmed for Division I, Heulot is not assured of a high paying contract, and said that he preferred to make way for the younger riders.

1996 was indeed a banner year for the Frenchman, as not only did he win the French title, he also held the Maillot Jaune in the Tour de France for three days, before abandoning due to knee problems. However, now he considers he has reached the end of his career as a pro, and will help his wife with their new tanning salon in Rennes.

"I consider that I have always made choices from the heart, even if they resemble otherwise," he said in L'Equipe. "But in the end, I am content with what I've accomplished over the last ten years."

ONCE to Australia

By João Cravo

The ONCE team flew to Adelaide, Australia, today (January 10) in order to prepare for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, which starts on January 21.

Allan Davis, the Aussie rider who transferred from the late, great Mapei team, will host the other seven riders that were chosen by Manolo Saiz to open the ONCE season. Those riders are Igor and Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano, the former sprinter from Kelme, Angel Vicioso, and the youngsters Joaquin Rodriguez, Gianpaolo Caruso, David Arroyo and Xavier Florencio.

These riders will likely be the working base for the team that will be on the front line until the Giro. This is strengthened by the fact that the training camp that used to be held now in Cadiz, Spain, was postponed to February - tentatively between 7 and 15.

ONCE is back in Australia to honour its engagement with its bike supplier Giant, but will certainly bear in mind that former rider Neil Stephens won another Australian tour - the Abom-Mt Buller Summer Tour - in ONCE colours in 1995.

Saeco in Australia and Terracina

While some members of the Saeco team set off for Australia today, where they will continue training and racing in preparation for the new season, the remainder of the team is training in Terracina, near Rome. The Australian contingent includes new signings Stefano Zanini and Paolo Fornaciari, as well as Juan Fuentes, Igor Astarloa, Nicola Gavazzi, Fabio Sacchi, Cristian Pepoli and Jörg Ludewig, with Guido Bontempi as director sportif.

Of the rest of the squad, there are high hopes placed on Dario Pieri, who has re-signed with Saeco for 2003 and wants to focus on the classics season. Pieri is a talented Tuscan rider but his extrovert, friendly and impertinent character is also his biggest handicap. He's a phenomenon on the pave but unfortunately has rarely used all his talent to get results he is capable of. He explains his decision as follows:

"I've made some big mistakes and I've been very irresponsible, I admit it," he said. "I'm easily distracted and that means I've wasted precious time. I think I've always been and still am an honest person and so I've realised things have to change and I've made some drastic decisions. I've left my girlfriend after being together for three and a half years and I've moved to Lucca to live on my own. I think I've really changed. I wake up happy to go out on my bike. I think it's a good sign."

"I admit that I don't understand myself and that I've wasted my career as a professional. I've asked myself several times if I really love racing for a living and the answer has always been yes. But if I can't show it by getting results, it doesn't mean anything. I can't carry on pretending anymore. Saeco has given me a last chance with only a low salary but I've decided to accept the challenge. I think it's the best way to see if I can change. These are the rules of the game and I'm ready to give it a go."

"I don't want to make any false promises but I think everybody will finally see a different Pieri. I've been dreaming for far too long. Now it's time for action and results. Cycling is all about emotions and passion and I think I've got something to give to the sport. I think that's why I deserve this last chance, to show what I can do. Hopefully I finally learnt something about life..."

Quick Step-Davitamon train

The Quick Step-Davitamon team will holds its next training camp between January 11-18 in Cecina, Italy. All team members will be present save for Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, David Cañada, Kevin Hulsmans, Luca Paolini, Michael Rogers, Bram Tankink, Kurt Van de Wouwer, as they are leaving today along with director Luca Guercilena for Australia, where they will be taking part in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under from January 21-26.

CSC Down Under

Speedplay contract for two years

The CSC team has announced its lineup for its first race of the season, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under (January 21-26). Led by 2002 Paris-Tours winner Jakob Piil, the team features the indefatigable Andrea Tafi, winner of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen last year, and experienced classics riders Tristan Hoffman, Geert Van Bondt, Arvis Piziks, Julian Dean, Thomas Bruun Eriksen and Lennie Kristensen. The team will be directed by Alex Pedersen.

CSC has also secured a deal with American pedal company Speedplay for the next two years, and the team's first race with the pedals will be at the JCTDU. Full story here.

Tafi to help LTDL

Crowd favourite Andrea Tafi expressed his disappointment at not being able to compete in the up coming Tour de Langkawi, a race he has enjoyed doing for several years. The CSC rider is currently under assignment in Australia, where he will compete in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. Having developed a close bond with Malaysia and the Tour de Langkawi, of which he is the "unofficial ambassador", Tafi made a stop over in Kuala Lumpur recently, and made his courtesy call to race organisers First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd.

"I'm very much in love with Malaysia and I like racing in this part of the world. Too bad CSC will not be competing in the coming Tour de Langkawi. I would have loved to ride here again, meeting my fans and help promote the race in other parts of the world," said Tafi.

Tafi said he has been putting good words in for the Tour de Langkawi since joining CSC late last year. "Hopefully, the management will change their minds and head for Malaysia after the Australian assignment," said Tafi.

Tafi also met with First Cartel's executive chairman Datuk Wan Lokman Dato' Paduka Wan Ibrahim, detailing his racing career and future plans to help the sport grow in Malaysia and Asia.

"It's good that cycling is fast becoming a global sport. Gone were the days where the sport and major races were only confined in Europe. Tour de Langkawi has done wonderful things to the sport, more European and top professionals are now coming over to race in this part of the world and it certainly helps popularise the sport," said Tafi.

Tafi himself admitted that having ridden in Malaysia since 1997 when Mapei made its debut in the race, he had developed a liking for Malaysia, so much so that he regards Malaysia as his second home. "I feel comfortable whenever I'm here. The people, the culture and the country itself, it's a mix of many exciting things." he said.

"The exceptional organisation of the race has put Malaysia in good light. As such, I would, with open hearts, continue to promote the race in Europe and at the same, help turn Asia into another cycling haven."

On his future racing plans Tafi said as for now, he would focus his attention on helping CSC and win a few more classic races.

Masschelein joins has signed a 16th rider to its 2003 roster. Belgian Thierry Masschelein, who rode with Marlux in 2002, signed a contract earlier this week. The 29 year old professional cyclist is looking forward to a new year in the saddle, after being laid off from Marlux.

Negotiations with further riders are still underway and Flanders-iteamNova is hoping to expand its lineup to 18 riders in order to sustain a double program of races. To make this possible the team is still welcoming more of the public to join in support of

People joining before March 15 will be entered into a draw to win a day with the team, including following the race in the team car. The day and race will be agreed upon between the team and the winner of the competition. But it could be one of the Belgian classics at the end of March or early in April, like GP E3 Harelbeke, Brabantse Pijl or Gent-Wevelgem.

For more details go to

Carvalhelhos-Boavista still want Gutierrez

Carvalhelhos-Boavista intends to include U23 World's silver medallist Francisco Gutierrez on its list of riders to send to the UCI. The Portuguese Division II team is still interested in the services of Gutierrez, who is of late being presented with the Spanish team Labarca 2 - Café Baque.

It should be noted that Gutierrez signed a two year contract with Carvalhelhos-Boavista in the days following the World championships. Thus, he seems to be getting involved in a smaller version of the Aitor Gonzalez/Kelme/Acqua & Sapone/Fassa Bortolo affair.

Navas to Relax

David Navas, a 28 year old Spanish rider, has found a new employer after being dropped by iBanesto. Following the steps of Santiago Blanco, Navas will ride in 2003 for Relax-Fuenlabrada.

In 2002 Navas obtained his best result in UCI races at the Volta ao Algarve and Troféu Joaquim Agostinho, where he got two top ten placings. Navas finished the season with 92 UCI points.

Courtesy of João Cravo

Roger De Vlaeminck joins Saey-Deschacht 'cross team

One of the best one day riders ever, Roger De Vlaeminck, will work as a directeur sportif with the Saey-Deschacht Cyclo-cross team for the next three years. Team sponsor John Saey said that "Roger De Vlaeminck will start his work next week. Because there are no free top level cyclo-crossers before December 31 this year, Roger will first work with the good Espoirs, who are hoping to turn pro. We can add more big names to this young group later on, because it's certain that we want to form a good, solid team."

Roger De Vlaeminck said that his work in the team will be "To give advice and help with training, to the best of my ability. On Saturday I will see the juniors at Wielsbeke, and Sunday I will look at the Espoirs. I proved with Mario De Clercq that I am capable of improving the level of someone. I want to do it again with whoever that may be."

Wildside MTB launched

Australia's best cross country mountain bikers will line up for this year's Wildside MTB with a field of 260 riders, set for February 1-4 on Tasmania's west coast. Amongst them will be the current junior world champion, Trent Lowe of Victoria, Olympian Paul Rowney and Rob Eva who have both won three national elite titles. Current elite national champion Sid Taberlay of Hobart, and current leader of the national series Peter Hatten from NSW will also take up the challenge.

Wildside MTB is the only four day stage mountain bike event in Australia. Riders cover over 200 km as they travel from Cradle Mountain to Strahan. The seven competition stages and seven cruising stages promise a spectacular journey that will challenge the skill and endurance of all competitors.

In launching the 2003 event, Director of Events Tasmania, Paul Sproule said Wildside MTB, after the inaugural event last year, had developed a national profile and experienced growth that most events take several years to develop.

"Wildside MTB was established with one aim - to be a world-class mountain bike event utilising Tasmania's abundant and unique natural environment. In a very short space of time they are well on the road to achieving their aim with an exciting future," said Mr Sproule.

"Wildside MTB is an outstanding example of a regional event delivering real benefits to local communities and the state. This year they have attracted over 150 interstate riders, including support crews, for the four day event. In addition to the direct economic impact, the event is establishing Tasmania, and particularly the west coast as a world class mountain biking destination."

The organisers capped the entries to 250 for this year's event, and that was reached in early December 2002. "We could have had well over 300 riders, but we are keen to manage the growth of the event so that the quality and the experience for riders is maintained," said Race Director, Nic Deka.


(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)