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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for March 21, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Cipollini uncertain

World Champion and defending Milan-San Remo champion Mario Cipollini is unsure about starting in Saturday's race. Following Tirreno-Adriatico, Cipollini said on his website that he is "feeling empty" and felt terrible after training on Thursday. "I'll see how it goes. Milan-San Remo is for me the most important race of the season, I really want to start but I am not optimistic."

Cipollini will make his final decision after training today.

Freire confident for San-Remo, thinking of World Cup

More than ever, two-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has his sights set on the World Cup, among other objectives. Considered among the favourites for Milan-San Remo, Freire hopes for both a good performance in Italy as well as throughout the World Cup season. Not to mention several other objectives, including "the world championships and, if I ride, a stage in the Tour," Freire said in an interview with Marca. "In fact, this year I am going to ride all of the classics except Paris-Roubaix."

Freire, who has notched three wins so far this season in bunch sprints, has already expressed his satisfaction with his new Rabobank team. Freire's Rabobank teammates have supported him exclusively, unlike at Mapei, where at any given race there may have been multiple leaders. Nonetheless, Freire has no personal grudges against his former teammates, including last year's World Cup winner Paolo Bettini, with whom he has a good relationship. "I do not have any problems with anybody," he said. "Only now, since [Bettini and I] are on different teams, I can follow if he attacks. And, of course, the other way around."

Freire sees several major rivals for the victory in San Remo, chief among them Cipollini, although the Italian world champion has doubted his chances after a less than fruitful training session Thursday. "I don't know what will happen Saturday," Freire said, "but seeing what happened last year when Cipollini was able to reach the finish in the front, I have a feeling this year that Di Luca and Bettini, among others, are going to attack all-out on the Poggio."

Van Petegem sick

Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) will not start Milan-San Remo, suffering from chills and muscle aches following Tirreno-Adriatico. Thursday morning, Van Petegem confirmed that he was suffering from a cold and decided to return home to Belgium rather than stay around for the World Cup opener. Van Petegem will be replaced by teammate Gorik Gardeyn.

Ullrich to return in Circuit de la Sarthe

Jan Ullrich will make his return to racing on April 8 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. His six month suspension for testing positive to amphetamines will finish on March 23, but Ullrich will wait another two weeks before competing. Circuit de la Sarthe will be Ullrich's first race with Team Coast, which recently had its suspension from racing lifted by the UCI.

CSC chooses Tour over Giro

The leadership of the Danish Team CSC has as the first of the 10 teams from the Top Club informed the organisers of the Giro de Italia, that it will not participate in this year's Giro d'Italia. The decision was made to allow Team CSC to focus fully on the Tour de France, where team owner Bjarne Riis believes that both Tyler Hamilton and Carlos Sastre have good possibilities for top results.

"Even though we were close to winning last year's Giro, we have chosen to say no thanks this year," Riis told the Danish media. "The Tour de France is, and remains, the biggest race, and we will not risk arriving at the Tour with a weakened team stemming from racing the Giro."

The decision means that Hamilton will not have the possibility to defend or improve his second place result from last year's Giro. Riis indicated that instead Team CSC will participate in the Vuelta a España.

Possibility for Team fakta

The decision by Team CSC not to compete in this year's Giro has opened the door for Danish Division I Team fakta to earn an invitation to the race. Team fakta director Peter Sejer Nielsen told Danish media that the team is very interested in getting an invitation to race in Italy, and that he has had several very positive contacts with the organisers of the Giro.

"Now it is up to us to fight until March 31st, when the last tickets are handed out," Peter Sejer Nielsen said.

Courtesy of Ole Ryborg

Lampre counting on Belli

Heading into next week's Setmana Catalana stage race in Spain (March 24-28), the Lampre team is eager to perform well, pinning its hopes on veteran Wladimir Belli. The Italian has performed well in Spain in the past, notably with a third place overall in the 1999 edition of the race.

"Wladimir Belli is our man for the classification," confirmed Lampre directeur sportif Marizio Piovani in a Datasport interview. "After the Riviera Ligure di Ponente and Murcia, where he performed well in both races, this will be a the time for Belli to confirm his good form. The finish on the Coll de Pal (stage 4) is one he knows well, and suits his characteristics."

Piovani will also look to Luciano Pagliarini to do well in the sprints. The full Lampre selection for the Setmana Catalana includes Sergio Barbero, Wladimir Belli, Milan Kadlec, Luciano Pagliarini, Marco Pinotti, Eddy Ratti, Marco Serpellini, and Patxi Vila.

Kersten wins appeal

Cycling Australia announced that an appeal lodged by Woollongong cyclist, Ben Kersten, 21, against his three month suspension for misconduct. Kersten was suspended following a report submitted by team management after the Track World Cup event in Moscow.

A three person panel heard the appeal and reviewed information, including statements not available at the time of the initial investigation. As a result Kersten's three month ban has been suspended for a period of six months, subject to certain conditions. If Kersten is involved in any incident of misbehaviour or behaviour contrary to the Cycling Australia Code of Conduct in the next six months, the original three month suspension will be reinstated.

The decision means that, subject to selection in the New South Wales team, Kersten is eligible to contest the Australian Track Championships in April.

Malcolm Elliot eyes comeback

Former British professional Malcolm Elliot is considering having another go at racing. Elliot, 41, retired from the pro ranks in 1997, having made a name for himself as a formidable sprinter during his 13 year career. Among his many results, Elliot was a two-time gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, won two stages and the points jersey in the 1989 Vuelta a España, and earned victories in the Milk Race and Kellogg's Tour.

"I'm under no illusions," Elliot told Cycling Weekly, "it's going to be tough." Elliot began training seriously in February, and plans his first return to racing at the Thurcroft CC road race (South Yorkshire) on March 23. Following that he is considering the Archer Grand Prix. Elliot will ride for Pinarello RT.

"Even when I retired from racing I had a feeling I would be back one day," Elliot explained. "I'm preparing more seriously than I've ever done because I realise it's a big undertaking. I wouldn't be the first over-40 to think it might be nice to have another go and then end up with egg on my face."

Italia Bici 2003: Tante Belle Cose Per Voi!

For the third consecutive year, Cyclingnews presents our feature Italia Bici, a unique inside look at some of the best cycling brands and products from la bella Italia. Perhaps no other country better epitomizes man's (and woman's) love affair with that curious two wheel mode of transportation called the bicycle. Italy is a nation where the passion for sport and technical innovation have captured the imagination of cycling aficionados worldwide.

The heroic pre-WW2 exploits of Binda, Bottechia and Guerra, the great battles between Coppi and Bartali in the 40's, the class of Baldini and power of Magni in the 50's. Then came the magic of Gimondi in the 60's and beyond inspired the passion of sports fans worldwide for the sport of cycling.

It was Moser vs. Sarroni that divided a nation of tifosi in the '70's and '80's. Then, the sheer talent of the enigmatic Bugno kept Italians and others on the edge of their seats in the in the 1990's, while Marco Pantani thrilled the tifosi with his explosive climbing and charismatic Giro & Tour wins.

This great tradition of Italian cycling lives on today with World Champion, the Magnificent Mario Cipollini, explosive World Cup champ Paolo Bettini and emerging young stars like Pippo Pozzato. The story of all of these great athletes is inextricably linked to the century old tradition of Italian artisan bicycle making. Please join Cyclingnews once again in our omaggio to il ciclismo a l'Italiano with Italia Bici 2003.

One Hundred Years And Counting
Italmanubri: High-tech bike accessories in the Italian artisan tradition

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