First Edition News for March 2, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Quick Step confirms at Het Volk
On the eve of the Belgian season opener, Omloop Het Volk, Quick Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefévère commented on the importance of the race, and who would be his likely protagonists. As in recent editions of Paris-Roubaix, when Lefévère's Mapei and Domo-Farm Frites teams have simply dominated on the cobbles of France and Belgium, the Quick Step team's debut in the Flanders region of Belgium did not disappoint.
"Het Volk is the second most important classic for us behind the Tour of Flanders," Lefévère told l'Equipe Friday. Adding that there is always pressure in running a Belgian team on home roads, Lefévère was optimistic with his line up. "With the 2002 World Cup winner Paolo Bettini and Johan Museeuw, we're well equipped, without forgetting the Belgian hope Tom Boonen and Frank Vandenbroucke."
The result Saturday in Flanders? Museeuw won his second Het Volk (he won in 2000) ahead of US Postal's Max van Heeswijk, followed by Bettini in third, Boonen in fourth, and Vandenbroucke in fifth position.
"I knew I would be good, but I didn't expect it this soon," said Museeuw moments after winning. "I am 37 but among the young riders of the team I feel like a 20 year old. With them working, it motivates me. My career will not go on for much longer, so I must take what comes to me."
Team Coast finances don't worry Ullrich
Reports that Jan Ullrich has yet to finalize his contract with Team Coast do not appear to present grave concerns, particular in the context of the team's finances and salary payments. Concerning his client's contract, Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband sought to allay any fears Friday. "So far there are no problems with Coast," Strohband said. "The speculation around Jan's contract only developed because the UCI talks too much."
Team Coast manager Wolfram Lindner echoed Strohband's confidence. "It's simply a formality, and we still have time. His contract will be presented to the UCI next week," noted Lindner. Team Coast is required by the UCI to submit information regarding its contracts and salary payments on a monthly basis, a result of claims made last year by several riders that they were not receiving full payment.
One key issue is the withholding of 16% value added tax (VAT) from riders' salaries, which Coast explains is necessary per German tax law. A number of foreign riders have protested this withholding, fuelling concerns about the team's proper payment of its riders. The UCI is expected to clarify the question of VAT and tax withholdings by mid-March.
Portal back in Chiasso
Nicolas Portal (Ag2R-Prévoyance), victim of a crash in the Tour Méditerranéen, will returned to racing at the GP Chiasso in Switzerland. Portal, who went over the handlebars after hitting a hay bail at the side of the road, was unable to ride for the following five days, having landed heavily on his right hip and arm.
Team Telekom adds director
Team Telekom has hired a new director sportif, 37 year old Italian Giovanni Fidanza. According to Telekom spokesman Olaf Ludwig, Fidanza will only direct the team at selected Italian races, and will be paid on a per event basis, rather than on a full time salary. Fidanza rode as a professional for nine years, and worked previously with the Alexia team direction. At Telekom he will once again work with Paolo Savoldelli, who left Alexia to join Telekom in 2003.
Prétot becomes directeur sportif
Arnaud Prétot, who retired as a professional after last season, has joined his former Oktos-Saint Quentin team as directeur sportif. Prétot assumes DS duties at MBK-Oktos-Saint Quentin alongside Jean-Philippe Duracka and Jean-Jacques Loup, following the resignation of Pascal Pfinder, who stepped down last week. In his days as a pro, Prétot rode for Gan, Cofidis, Festina, and Oktos-Saint Quentin.
New addition to Simoni family
Saeco's Gilberto Simoni missed the GP Chiasso Saturday after returning home Friday night to be present for the birth of his daughter. Arianna Simoni gave birth to daughter Sofia, who weighed in at 3.1kg, at 5:30am Saturday in the Santa Chiara hospital in Trento, Italy. "Now my daughter has been born, my wife is fine, and we're all happy," commented Gilberto. "It was a special moment for me and the birth of my daughter will give me even more determination for the new season."
Maxxis sponsorship for Tour de Georgia
Georgia based tire manufacturer Maxxis has joined as a financial backer of the Tour de Georgia. The inaugural Tour de Georgia will take place April 22-27. The Tour de Georgia is owned, operated and financed by a not-for-profit foundation, the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development (GPED), but will also rely on support from companies like Maxxis and the event's title sponsor, Daimler Chrysler. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Georgia Cancer Coalition.
As a sponsor of the race, Maxxis will be designated the Official Tire Sponsor of the Tour de Georgia as well as the title sponsor of the Orange Maxxis Points Jersey, awarded to the race's most consistent finisher.
Lance lithographs still available
Giro, which joined with Michael Schwab last year to create a limited run of serigraphic prints of Lance Armstrong, has announced that a few prints are still available. Three hundred prints were signed and numbered by both Lance and Michael, and proceeds of the sales are being shared between the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
To order a poster, call Giro in the U.S. at 866-235-6864.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)