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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for March 14, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Tim Maloney

Frigo out of Paris-Nice

Dario Frigo
Photo: © AFP
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Yellow jersey wearer Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) did not start in the fifth stage of Paris-Nice, from Aix-en-Provence to Toulon (Mont Faron) due to stomach problems and diarrhoea, according to the Fassa Bortolo team. The winner of the 2001 edition of the race was the main favourite in this year's event which finishes on Sunday. Yesterday, Frigo won the 16.5 kilometre Stage 4 time trial and took over the lead from Davide Rebellin in the process. His withdrawal means that 2002 Paris-Nice winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) is now the race leader.

The UCI also carried out blood controls on Friday morning on the following teams: Fassa Bortolo, Milaneza-MSS, Quick.Step and Brioches La Boulangère. All riders (including Frigo) were declared healthy and were permitted to start stage 5.

Stay tuned for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the fifth stage beginning at 15:00 CET.

Johan Bruyneel remembers Andrei Kivilev

US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel was one of the many colleagues of Andrei Kivilev who was very moved by his death. In statements to Cyclingnews, Bruyneel paid the following tribute to the Kazakh climber.

"I cannot describe how I felt when I heard what happened to Andrei. I couldn't believe it. I had to read the news flash over and over again, until I realized that what I was reading was reality. I was shocked.

Of course, I knew about the accident, since I had talked to Dirk Demol the day before and he had told me about the crash, and he told me that he had a strange feeling when he passed with the car at the place of the crash. But crashes sometimes look a lot worse than they are, so I thought that he would be OK.

It was such a shock to hear that he didn't make it, that he had died. Especially because I had a good relationship with him. We had tried to get him to our team a few years ago, and finally things didn't work out, but he stayed one of the friendliest guys of the peloton. I remember Andrei as a person who had always a smiling hello and we always talked about how things were when he passed my car in the race. This is the image that I will keep of him, for sure."

Bruyneel also touched on the issue of compulsory helmet wearing in the peloton, which has been reopened after Kivilev's death. "Andrei not wearing a helmet brings up the whole issue again about making helmets mandatory. All I can say is the following: as a rider, I was wearing a helmet when I thought it was dangerous, in the beginning of the season, in nervous races, when it was not too hot, etc. When it was really hot in the summer, I did not.

Nowadays, I see that almost all riders wear a helmet when they can. On our team, a lot of riders even wear it in training. I think everybody should decide for himself whether he wears it or not. Most riders will decide to wear it. The fact that Andrei was not wearing a helmet made him one of the exceptions. But the question is, would he still be there if he had worn a helmet? I don't know the answer, nobody knows, but one way or the other, nothing will bring him back...

Therefore I wish to take the opportunity to express my most sincere condolences to all his family and friends. We will all miss you, Kivi."

Cipollini still disappointed by lack of coverage

Photo: © Sirotti
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Mario Cipollini took his first ever win in the World Champion's rainbow jersey yesterday in Sabaudia in the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. But unless you were there on the start/finish line, you would not have seen Cipo raise his arms in the air in magisterial triumph. For Cipollini and fans, this was a big disappointment.

In comments made during the post race press conference, Mario Cipollini said that "The fact that Tirreno-Adriatico isn't on TV shows that cycling really has no political power. It's unfortunate that the fans didn't have a chance to see me win the race today in my World Champion's jersey."

This was a really special win for me. This was not a win like other ones. I can't look at the pictures of me yet winning with my arms in the air with my World Champion's jersey. I feel like my World Champion's jersey brought me closer to the fans and I hope a win like this is good for our poor, torn up sport of cycling."

Cipollini dedicated this success to his cousin Danilo, who has been struck with a serious illness, "But he's really tough and fighting back," said Cipollini.

Sponsors upset at RAI blackout

Luca Milani, the head of Domina Vacanze, is upset that Tirreno-Adriatico is not being shown on TV. "I have to criticise in a strong manner that RAI has not televised this race, and it's hurt sponsors and all the people from cycling to not be able to see the race," he stated to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ennio Mazzei, the manager of RCS Sport, the top race promoter in Italy added that "We think that RAI has hurt themselves by not showing Tirreno-Adriatico. To have shown live the first win of Cipollini in his World Champion's jersey would have been a slam dunk. Besides the lack of respect for contracts that RCS has with RAI, we're really thinking of all the different ways we can put cycling back on TV."

However, Paolo Francia, the head of RAI, told ANSA newsagency that "RAI loves and supports cycling, and we consider it the number two sport behind soccer for the quality of the broadcasts."

Further to that, despite the fact that RCS may want to look for other alternatives for live broadcasting in Italy, it seems that state broadcaster RAI is the only one able to do it. Another channel, Telemontecarlo, simply does not have the resources to broadcast live cycling on a regular basis.

Ivan Basso in favour of helmets

Fassa Bortolo pro Ivan Basso is one of those riders in favour of mandatory helmets in pro racing. "Since I've been a pro I've had two really bad crashes and in both cases, the helmet has saved me from injury," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Two years at Giro del Mediterraneo and last year at Paris-Brussels. So because of those two crashes I've had a lot of experience, so I always wear my helmet in training or racing. I'm among the people who think that it should be mandatory."

Coast can't start in GP Erik Breukink

German division I Team Coast was not able to start in today's GP Erik Breukink, a three day stage race in the Netherlands, due to its ongoing problems with the UCI regarding salary payments. Team Coast, together with the Italian team Index, were negotiating with the UCI until late Thursday for a reprieve, but the UCI refused to change its position. Team Coast still has to provide the UCI with proof that all of its riders have been paid for the months of January and February.

Team Index, which contains Roberto Sgambelluri among others, has already announced that it would stop in cycling, after its sponsors decided to pull out.

Pantani looks forward to return

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne's decision yesterday to allow Marco Pantani to compete again starting next Monday, March 17 has given the Mercatone Uno-Scanavino rider new hope for this season.

"I really am looking forward to getting back into racing to see what point I'm at," said Pantani to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Nino Minoliti. "I've really done a lot of good training. I thought I could have done a good ride in Murcia but it wasn't possible. In the first races I'm going to try and see where I'm at.

"My objective is still just to really do my best job to get ready for the Giro d'Italia," added Pantani. "We know already it will be tough for our team to get invited to certain races, so that's why we'll just have to be satisfied with the races we're going to be invited to before the Giro."

On the decision by the CAS to suspend him for only six months, Pantani commented that "The verdict seems like a contradiction. Personally I just want to get it behind me."

It's hard to say when Pantani will return to the peloton. He might get into Milan-San Remo on March 22, although his team hasn't been invited yet. But even with Team Coast suspended, Mercatone Uno still probably will not be able to race. One scenario is that if Coast loses its spot in Division I, De Nardi-Colpack will take its place.

It's more likely that Pantani will come back in the Stausee Rundfahrt on Sunday, March 23, or most probably the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (March 26-30).

Farm Frites-Hartol presentation

The number two ranked women's team in the world, Farm Frites-Hartol, was presented on Thursday in Rotterdam. The eleven member team contains Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, Mirjam Melchers and Arenda Grimberg, and will once again focus on trying to win the women's World Cup.

Zijlaard-Van Moorsel's goals this year include helping Mirjam Melchers in the World Cup as she did last year. Her personal ambitions are centred on trying to break the World Hour Record in Mexico in October. The record is currently held by Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo, and Zijlaard-Van Moorsel tried but failed to break it on September 12, 2001. She has secured a sponsor, whitegoods manufacturer Marijnen, to support her in this quest, which Van Moorsel claims will cost up to €70,000.

The World Track Championships in China are also on Van Moorsel's program, as an important qualification race for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

Mirjam Melchers will concentrate her energy this year on the one day races, in particular the World Cup and the World Road Championships. She will not ride the women's Tour de France, considering it to be too hard to prepare for it without compromising her one day program. "I especially want to incorporate plenty of rest this season so that I can finally start a race fully fit," said Melchers to ANP at the presentation.

The team is managed and directed by Michael Zijlaard, with Michael Van der Wolf as assistant team director. Newcomers include neo-pros Christa Pirard and Suzanne De Goede, Sandra Missbach (Ton van Bemmelen-Novilon), Miho Oki (CA Mantes La Ville), and Esther Van Der Helm (Dutch national team).

Full team roster

Valkenburg to host 2006 European U23 Championships

The Dutch town of Valkenburg will play host to the European U23 Championships in 2006, after an agreement was reached between the European UEC and the Dutch Cycling Federation. The championships include a time trial and road race for U23 men and women. Valkenburg also hopes to host the World Road Championships in 2007, as it did in 1998.

iteamNova focuses on its USA membership campaign

The membership-based iteamNova is one of only five European teams to be awarded a start in the inaugural Tour of Georgia in April, as part of its merger with Belgian Flanders team and will conduct a major membership drive in conjunction with the race.

"America is a great market for us as the cost for supporting the team for the year is only about US$130, which includes the jersey, cap, bidon, postcard, socks, silver key ring, access to the members' area of the website and 20% member discount on gear," said team manager, Susan Stewart

"We had great support from the States last year and I'm sure people will jump at the improved package as well as the opportunity to be part of the funding that makes up the team."

Stewart has been working on plans for the team's future, which includes a 'Bright New Stars' program to allow young riders from Australia and the USA the opportunity to race in the European peloton. The members will be able to be involved in the selection process for these riders. Full details of this program will be released later in the year.

"I guess we started out as the "Anglo" team taking on the Europeans and that could be where our future direction is the strongest," she said.

To join

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)