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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition International News for March 21, 2003

Edited by Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones

Team Coast seeks compensation against UCI

Having been granted the right to race again by the UCI, German Division I Team Coast has expressed its anger at being unfairly treated by the international governing body.

The team's lawyers managed to convince the UCI yesterday that everything was in order with regard to salary payments - in particular the tax taken out of everyone's salary for the German Inland Revenue. However, the team is not altogether happy, having missed two weeks of racing (including Paris-Nice) and therefore going under-prepared into Milan-San Remo this Saturday.

A press release from the team today indicated that it would seek "damages caused by the suspension" against the UCI, with the management in Essen to examine it more closely. The team also hoped to "arouse the interest of its fans in the future only through sports results, like in the past."

"It isn't easy at all for the riders, after a long stop, to start again from scratch to go to top fitness," said Coast's director Rudy Pevenage. "But this is not going to be an excuse. I expect all riders to be geared up for this race. The team could be a winning one and this is a good reason to do well."

"Our tactic will be to attack from the start of the race, to make it clear that Team Coast is again after success. Not to mention that we'd like to see our beautiful jerseys on TV," added Pevenage.

"We are happy to ride again," said Coast rider Rafael Schweda. "Luckily we've recently had good weather so everybody could continue training." The team now sits 27th out of the 30 teams in Division I, something that it hopes to improve upon after finishing the 2002 season in fifth place.

Di Luca convinced "more than ever" he can win MSR

While Di Luca's ability is well - many say perfectly - suited to the Milan-San Remo parcours, for some reason, Di Luca has not won the race which every Italian rider dreams about.

Last year, Di Luca and a number of other favourites including Erik Zabel and Erik Dekker crashed heavily before the climb of the Cipressa with around 30 kilometres remaining. Di Luca was able to remount, although he was unable to rejoin the peloton before the Poggio with his absence surely felt when Bettini and Figueras attacked.

"I was in great form and was sure I could have done well," reminisced Di Luca at a pre-race interview in Gaggio Montano. "This year I've prepared a bit differently, starting my training 20 days later but I'm still in great shape. I feel great and I'm sure I can do well."

Asked whether losing Tirreno-Adriatico this week by just four seconds has hurt his morale, Di Luca replied: "I'm not too bothered I lost the race. I was disappointed how Tirreno-Adriatico was decided; I don't think a race of that level should be decided by time bonuses in sprints. However, the race showed me what I wanted: that I'm in good shape."

The rider from the central Abruzzo region of Italy often exudes supreme confidence, yet is equally gracious in defeat, citing Tirreno-Adriatico winner Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) as young but already a champion.

Speaking about his adversaries for Saturday's race, Di Luca believes there's never been as many potential winners as in this year's edition. "There's Bettini, Figueras, Pozzato and that's just thinking off the top of my head. Then there's the sprinters - people like Petacchi and well as Mario Cipollini, of course," he said. "If the race finishes in a sprint, Cipollini will for sure."

When questioned about whether the world events taking place around him affect his mental preparation, Di Luca was philosophical. "Today I switched on the television during breakfast and suddenly I came back to reality. Like everybody, I felt saddened and useless but we have to try and look ahead and carry on. We all have to do our part. I'm going to try and win Milan-San Remo on Saturday. I hope it will be a good race that gives everybody who watches it some pleasure - and if possible an incredible feeling of joy for me if I win it."

Tankink subs for Museeuw in MSR

Dutch rider Bram Tankink will start in the Quick.Step-Davitamon team for Milan-San Remo, in place of Johan Museeuw who has opted not to ride. Tankink will join Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Luca Paolini, Frank Vandenbroucke, Richard Virenque, Michael Rogers and Tom Boonen in the squad.

No Van Moorsel in Primavera Rosa

Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites-Hartol) is the defending champion in this Saturday's La Primavera Rosa, the second round of the Women's World Cup. However, the accomplished Dutchwoman will have a harder task this year as she won't be able to count on the support of domestique par excellence, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel.

Last year, Melchers told Cyclingnews that Van Moorsel was "fantastic... riding at the head of the group and helping me into a good position". But this year, the race is not on Van Moorsel's program, as she had focused her efforts on performing well on the track later this season.

Instead, Melchers will rely on Arenda Grimberg, Suzanne de Goede, Esther van der Helm, Elsbeth Vink and Miho Oki in her attempt to defend her title.

Nürnberger for Primavera Rosa

The German Equipe-Nürnberger Versicherung team will go into the second round of the Women's World Cup on Saturday, with a full strength team. Led by defending World Cup champion Petra Rossner, the team contains Judith Arndt, Hanka Kupfernagel, Margaret Hemsley, Madeleine Lindberg and Trixi Worrack.

Vuelta tops the class

The UCI has given the 2002 edition of the Vuelta a Vuelta a Espaņa a a near perfect score in terms of the overall quality of the race, according to its annual report. The Vuelta was awarded 99.33 points, surpassing the Tour de France (96.33 points) and the Giro d'Italia (95 points), and all the World Cup and Hors Categories races in 2002.

The criteria used to judge the races focused predominantly on the organisational aspects, such as the security, attention paid to the teams, riders and the media, quality of the hotels, design of the parcours, start/finish areas, and road signage.

Simoni to star at Catalan Week

Gilberto Simoni (Team Saeco) will busy in Spain next week as he works hard on his race fitness before his first major objective, the Giro d'Italia. After a satisfying Paris-Nice, the rider from the mountainous region of Trentino is carefully building his form with the Setmana Catalana being another important building block.

As well as Simoni, Saeco direttore sportivo Flavio Miozzo will have Italian champion Salvatore Commesso in the team plus several talented young riders including Damiano Cunego, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Juan Fuentes, Ivan Pugaci, Nicola Gavazzi and Marius Sabaliauskas.

Quaranta and Bucciero in Switzerland

Team Saeco will be in action in Switzerland at the GP Stausee Rundfarth under the direction of Bruno Vicino. The team will be comprised of Ivan Quaranta, Antonio Bucciero, Giosuč Bonomi, Joerg Ludewig, Cristian Pepoli and Andrea Tonti.

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