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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition News for March 16, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Team Coast could lose Division I status

If Team Coast is unable to satisfy the UCI's requests for documentation by Tuesday, the team will likely lose its Division I status. The situation remains unclear, as team officials continue to voice their optimism despite the fact that the UCI has not yet accepted their guarantees. Several riders have already begun to murmur about jumping ship, including Jan Ullrich and Alex Zülle. Should the team lose Division I status, the murmurs could grow louder. Nonetheless, Ullrich's directeur Rudy Pevenage continues to put on a brave face.

"I spoke by telephone with the UCI today," said Pevenage. "All of the payments to our team riders have been made. The question now is the outstanding financial issues, which concern the Spanish riders. I'm counting on the license being reinstated before Ullrich can race again."

The UCI for its part does not express the same confidence as Team Coast. "We do not yet have everything we need," said the UCI's Alain Rumpf.

Alex Zülle's manager Tony Rominger has already indicated that he and Zülle may look for a new team if the situation is not resolved quickly, having already opened a dialogue with Team CSC's Bjarne Riis. Coast manager Wolfram Lindner responded by noting that the team has valid contracts with its riders, and Zülle would not be free to go. "We will not do anything until the UCI clarifies the situation," Rominger told "If the UCI suspension is waived, then Zülle will stay. The other issues are for the lawyers to clarify."

"There are no more payment defaults on our part," Lindner commented. "I'm counting on our license being reinstated in time for the first World Cup race, Milan-San Remo, on March 22.

If Team Coast does lose its place in the UCI Division I, it will not be replaced by a Division II team. According to the UCI rules, a team can not change division once the season has started.

No Pantani in Milan-San Remo

Marco Pantani, who continues to train in Gandia, Spain with his teammate Daniel Clavero, will not be allowed to race Milan-San Remo. The organiser of the World Cup opener is eager to see Pantani make a triumphant return in La Primavera, but the UCI will not permit Pantani's Mercatone Uno-Scanavino team to start. Even if Team Coast loses its Division I status and is unable to race Milan-San Remo, the available wild-card selection will go to another Division I team, according to the UCI.

"I spoke to Alain Rumpf, the manager pro-cycling of the UCI," San Remo organiser Castellano explained. "He told me that Team Coast has until Tuesday to sort things out. If they do just that, the German team will be allowed to start Milan-San Remo. If not, we have another wild-card to give away. That wild-card has to go to another first division team."

The decision is a setback to race organisers who seek better television coverage in Italy from broadcaster RAI. A return to racing by Marco Pantani, who remains Italy's most popular rider, would surely have generated considerable excitement on the roads to San Remo, and could have given race promoters and the Italian peloton a powerful argument for increased coverage on RAI's primary channels.

Danish Team fakta is a likely candidate to replace Team Coast should the German team be unable to compete in San Remo. Team fakta has just recently been invited to race another World Cup event, the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands.

Higginson & Niewand make comebacks at Austral

Last night's Austral Wheelrace saw the return to the boards of two stars of Australian track racing, Lyndelle Higginson and Gary Niewand, plus a unique victory achievement in the world's oldest track race. Click here for our full Austral coverage.

Italians still not talking to RAI

The interview boycott among Italian riders continues on the roads of Tirreno-Adriatico, in light of the RAI network's decision to limit race coverage largely to its satellite channel RAI Sat. Claudio Corti, head of the Italian professional team association, explained the situation, saying that, "riders are not talking to RAI TV. The choice by RAI to transmit Tirreno-Adriatico on RAI Sat really looks like it's penalizing all of cycling."

Following the conclusion of Tirreno-Adriatico, a meeting will be held between riders and team managers to discuss possible options to negotiate better coverage by RAI.

Lefevere wants Museeuw to skip San Remo

Quick-Step team manager Patrick Lefevere is reportedly trying to dissuade Johan Museeuw from racing in next weekend's Milan-San Remo, the first round of the UCI World Cup. Museeuw is keen to race la Primavera, but Lefevere thinks the race no longer suits his classics star, particularly given the 5km climb of the Cipressa in the race finale.

Ten days rest for Hincapie

George Hincapie (US Postal Service) continues to suffer from the viral infection which is steadily putting his entire spring classics campaign in jeopardy. Dutchman Max van Heeswijk, who finished second in Het Volk, will assume the leadership role for US Postal, though Hincapie's absence from top form will no doubt present a setback for the team.

With nothing left to do but rest, Hincapie will take 10 days off to recover at home in Spain. "We'll do some more tests to see if he can restart his training," Postal directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel told l'Equipe. "But for the moment, it's impossible to set a date for his return."

Laurent Gané in Japan

Laurent Gané is in Japan for two months to contest the keirin championship. Gané, winner of the sprint at the first Track World Cup event in Moscow, will test his form against the local Japanese contingent, as well as a select group of invitees, including Australian Jobie Dajka (keirin world champion), Theo Bos (Netherlands), Jens Fiedler and René Wolff (Germany), Craig McLean (UK), Ainars Kiksis (Latvia), and José-Antonio Villanueva (Spain),

Following his stint in Japan, Gané will join his French national team in Sydney, Australia for the final round of the World Cup (May 16-18).

Team SA for Cape Town World Cup

KwaZulu Natal track cycling sprinter Dean Edwards will return from Europe to join up with Team South Africa colleagues JP van Zyl, Robbie Dale, Garren Bloch and Shawn Lynch for the April 11-13 Cape Town UCI Track World Cup Classic at the Bellville Velodrome. The national team's reserve for the World Cup event will be Garth Thomas.

Edwards, 20, has spent the past few weeks based in Germany, and will be a part of the Team South Africa Olympic sprint trio along with national sprint champion Lynch and Bloch. Because of his European track training camp commitments, Edwards was excused from Team SA during the Tri-Nations International Track Challenge at the Bellville Velodrome last Friday.

Leukemans out of GP Erik Breukink

Björn Leukemans suffered a fractured collarbone after a crash in the first stage of the GP Erik Breukink in the Netherlands. Leukemans was one of three Palmans-Collstrop riders to hit the deck, along with Erwin Thijs and Michel van Haecke. Thijs and van Haecke were the fortunate ones, and were not seriously hurt.

Deadline extended for Zanette report

State prosecutor Dragotto has permitted a one month extension for the toxicology report on deceased Fassa Bortolo pro Denis Zanette. The additional time is intended to permit a full range of tests to help determine the cause of the rider's death. As it stands, the autopsy report which indicates a death by natural causes still stands.

Zanette died of a heart attack following a visit to the dentist in January.

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