Latest News for May 9, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Tim Maloney
Mario Cipollini featured on the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport today, as the subject of an exclusive interview with Pier Bergonzi. Cipollini's main target in the Giro will be to beat the record of Alfredo Binda, who has 41 stage wins, while Cipo has 40.
"To equal and perhaps beat the record of Binda really lifts me up," said Cipollini to La Gazzetta. "A win is the bread that every rider feeds off. On the other hand to win more than anyone else is a great honour for only one rider."
As for his rivals in the bunch finishes, Cipollini names two. "I think that my two major rivals in the sprints are going to be Petacchi and McEwen. I'm not really thinking of the possibility of getting beaten. But if I'm going to get beaten, I'd rather get beaten by Petacchi because he's a great athlete and a great person."
Cipo will also proudly display his World Champion jersey during the Giro, saying that "The only way I'd cover it up is to put on the maglia rosa. The World Championship jersey brings the weight of responsibility. If during the Giro I have to wear the ciclamino [points] I'm not going to do it. I'd rather pay the fine than hide my beautiful rainbow jersey."
He also touched on the subject of doping, past and present. Cipollini pointed out that champions are still going to be champions, without the need for performance enhancing drugs. "To compare me with Binda, Coppi and Merckx is improbable, but since they won so many races it means they were very strong for a long time. If you're really looking at cycling, can you say that for someone who is taking drugs, would their career last so long?"
The World Champion has also resolved any problems with his leadout man Giovanni Lombardi that arose at Gent-Wevelgem. There were some words exchanged between Cipo and his two teammates who left him behind on the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, both during and after the race. However his director Antonio Salutini said that "Mario and Giovanni discussed everything in the hotel and that's long behind us," adding that "Mario's never had a leadout train as strong as this one. Lombardi is in fantastic form and also this year we have Bennati."
Another new man who is going to help the Domina team control the peloton will be Giampaolo Mondini, a former USPS rider who sat out a year due to a suspension for doping. Mondini is a 6'2 passista [tempo man] and will be valuable in the mid stages of the race.
Simoni fears Gonzalez
2001 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni is ready for his biggest appointment of the season so far. The Saeco rider goes into the Giro as the big favourite, given his experience and form in the mountains, which will define who the contenders are for the Giro.
"To name a single person is hard, I see Casagrande, I see Garzelli, the names everyone knows," said Simoni on Thursday. "But if I have to nominate one person, I'd think of Aitor Gonzalez."
Gonzalez, together with Dario Frigo, will lead the Fassa Bortolo squad in 2003, and the Spaniard is probably the only non-Italian who appears on the favourites' list in the Giro.
Gonzalez not afraid
For his part, Aitor Gonzalez says that he is not afraid of the Italians, who traditionally dominate their national tour. "The Italians don't frighten me, because since last year I know that I don't have to be frightened of anybody if I am good," said the 2002 Vuelta winner in an interview with Marca, adding humorously, "Besides, I am already nearly one of them, and I can mix with them without them knowing."
Gonzalez's teammate Dario Frigo is also named as one of the favourites, but the Spaniard is quick to point out, "But Frigo is not a rival. He bet on the first part of the season, but it will depend on how good his endurance is if he has the capacity to be good in the Giro also. I don't believe that it is easy, but Frigo is a great rider. If he is good then there won't be any problems, because the road will dictate who will go furthest. Of the others, the best one that I've seen is Simoni."
After a slow start to the season, Gonzalez says that he is ready for the Giro, if a little under prepared. "The first ten days are flat and I believe that will get me into form. In Romandie the feelings were good, although I did notice I lacked the sharpness that racing gives you. In any case my intention was to go a bit less there and do more in the Giro."
Six Australians in the Giro
There will be six Australian riders on the start line in Lecce tomorrow for the Giro, representing three professional teams. Leading the charge will be sprinter Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo), winner of two stages last year, and hoping for more success in this year's race.
"I'm hoping for, have trained for and prepared for the same results as last year," said McEwen, who wants to win on Saturday to celebrate his son Ewan's first birthday. "Cipollini is definitely the man to beat in the sprints but I'll ride the same way I did last year and let my pedals do the talking."
McEwen said that his crash in the Scheldeprijs on April 16 where he strained the muscles that stabilise his pelvis is no longer affecting him. "The injured muscles are now no problem so I should be at full strength," he said. "I had to miss a race the next day but didn't miss any days training on the bike - even though the first two days after were very uncomfortable."
McEwen will be accompanied by Australian Nick Gates in the Lotto-Domo team.
Scott Sunderland (36) will be racing for Team fakta-Pata Chips in the Giro, and he is very much looking forward to it. He is enjoying the weather, which is a pleasant 28-30 degrees at the moment. "We went out for a good three hours on Thursday, and covered a little bit of the parcours for Saturday," he told Cyclingnews. "Today we'll do a couple of hours training, have lunch and rest up."
Scott looked at the race bible yesterday and noted that "There are some serious berg days! Big climbs of 17-20 km with short sections of 22 percent."
Tomorrow he plans to stay out of trouble and let the sprinters teams worry about victory in Lecce.
Finally, the Italian registered Ceramiche Panaria team will boast three Australians in its lineup. Graeme Brown (23), Brett Lancaster (22) and Scott Davis (23).
Tosatto still not in the clear
Fassa Bortolo's Matteo Tosatto, who crashed and hurt his shoulder during training yesterday, is still in doubt for the Giro. There is no fracture, but it's a very big trauma and it is tough for him, especially since he's a very important man for Alessandro Petacchi's lead out train. He won't know until later on Friday whether he'll be able to start.
Pantani opts for more kilometres
Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) is feeling ready for the Giro. On Thursday he went for a three and a half hour ride, while his teammates did 2 hours. Today will do the same thing, as he feels as though he needs the extra kilometres.
Gonzalez short on sleep
Colombian Fredy Gonzalez (Selle Italia-Colombia) missed his flight from Rome to Bari on Wednesday and finally got into the team hotel at 2:30am Thursday morning. But at 6:30am he was awakened by the UCI vampires for hematocrit testing. After that he went back to bed to catch up on some more shut eye.
Cipo and Casa meet up
Mario Cipollini and Francesco Casagrande's teams (Domina Vacanze and Lampre) met up on the road and rode together for two hours yesterday. Cipo and the Domina team were checking out the Lampre team's brand new Dura Ace 10 speed groups, with a little envy.
I Campioni - the champions
With just hours to the start of the 2003 Giro d'Italia, Cyclingnews is pleased to bring you some rare images of great Italian champions from before the Second World War to the present day. Included in the feature are Alfredo Binda, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Fiorenzo Magni, Felice Gimondi, Francesco Moser, Claudio Chiappucci, Marco Pantani and Mario Cipollini.
Enter your team in the Giro d'Italia
Cyclingnews.com has joined with UK games development firm Fantasy Sports International to offer a new cycling fantasy game, right in time for the first major Grand Tour of the year, the Giro d'Italia. The game was launched today with the major prize being a Cannondale CAAD7 road frame, the heart of the machine to be ridden by Gilberto Simoni and the Saeco team.
The Giro fantasy game allows you to select your dream team for the Giro and pit yourself against other readers' favourites, as well as the team selected by Cyclingnews' chief online editor Jeff Jones (who's not allowed to win, by the way).
The Giro fantasy game costs $7.50 to enter and also allows for late entries up until stage 6. Click here for further details.
Coast suspension: Pevenage didn't see it coming
The second suspension of Team Coast by the UCI after non-payment of wages in April has this time taken even team director Rudy Pevenage by surprise. Pevenage is also Jan Ullrich's mentor in the squad, and this latest decision may mean that Ullrich and co. will move elsewhere.
"I did not really see this coming," said Pevenage in Het Nieuwsblad today. "Last Saturday they had assured me that everything was in order, but apparently Coast-boss Günther Dahms couldn't comply with the UCI deadline again. That's very disappointing, and also for me a big shock."
Pevenage said that it would be "difficult" to keep going with Coast now, leading to the question whether he and Ullrich would negotiate with Patrick Lefevere to join Quick.Step-Davitamon. "Until recently he was still interested, hopefully he still is. Now I'll call Jan to bring him up to speed."
UCI confirms Stuttgart for 2003 and 2007
The UCI has confirmed that the 2003 Track World Championships, initially to be held in Shenzen China from July 30-August 3, will take place in Stuttgart, Germany, during the same week. The competitions will be held in the Schleyer Halle, where the World Championships took place in 1991.
The UCI, together with the German Federation (BDR) and local authorities, has also awarded the 2007 World Road Championships to Stuttgart.
Tournant and Gane out of Sydney World Cup
The French team has advised that Arnaud Tournant and Laurent Gane will not compete in the fourth round of the UCI Track World Cup Classics in Sydney, between May 16-18. Tournant is battling a back injury and no reason has been given for Gane's withdrawal. However eight-time world and three-time Olympic gold medallist, Florian Rousseau (29) will arrive next week with the rest of the French team which also includes Marion Clignet (39).
Clignet took a break from racing after claiming the silver medal in the 3km individual pursuit at the Sydney Olympic Games, but this year returned to the international circuit. At the World Cup in Mexico she placed fourth in both the pursuit and the points race and hopes to improve on these placings in Sydney. Clignet is an eight-time French champion (road and track), was the world road time trial champion in 1991, world points race champion in 1999 and world individual pursuit champion in 1994, 1996 and 1999. She also held the 3km world record between 1996 and 2000 when it was broken by Olympic gold medallist, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel in Sydney.
Other cyclists who will be arriving in the next two days include Canadian sprinter Lori-Ann Muenzer (36) will arrive in Sydney on Saturday, as will Diana Ziliute (26). Muenzer won silver in the 500m time trial and bronze in the sprint at the 2001 World Championships, and last year placed third in the keirin and in the 500m event at the Sydney World Cup. Ziliute was the 1998 road world champion and the bronze medallist in the road race at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, as well as winning the Women's Road World Cup that year.
The World Cup Classics features 16 events to be contested over three days of competition. It is part of the qualification process for the Track Cycling World Championships and several nations will be keen to gain points to secure places.
No retirement for Sarah Ulmer
By Alan Messenger
Rumours apparently circulating around some parts of Australia have it that Kiwi Pursuit Ace Sarah Ulmer has retired, but don't believe it. "No it's not true, I'm definitely still around," Ulmer told cyclingnews. "I'm riding the World Cup meeting at Sydney, I'm riding the World's and I'm looking forward to Athens. After that I don't know."
Last month Ulmer rode against the men and won one of Auckland's most prestigious road races, the Anzac day Gallipoli Cup. Riding from second break she was in a small bunch that rode away near the finish and she took out the sprint.
Cyclingnews caught up with Ulmer training on the newly sealed Te Awamutu Velodrome with Canadian Points race Champion Erin Carter, who is spending some time in New Zealand prior to the Sydney World Cup meeting. Ulmer said that her focus is on the World's. " I won't be looking for fast times at Sydney. It's really just preparation and I'll take it how it comes" she said.
Her longer term goal is of course the Athens Olympics. "It would be great to go out on a winning note," she finished.
More favourites for the Noel/Kieran Hammond Memorial
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club is promoting a unique double header on Sunday in Ballyboughal, Co. Dublin. Both events that will be raced are associated with the Hammond family, who are long time supporters and diligent workers on behalf of the club.
Last October, the club was shocked to learn of the death of Kieran Hammond, and according to a spokesman for the club, "We felt it appropriate that Kieran should be remembered and it is fitting that on Sunday, we will run a race in his memory. Also we are organising a race in memory of his dad, Noel. Both were held in high esteem and it is fitting that the events will honour their memories. So hopefully we'll have a good turnout. The club did not seek sponsorship for the races as it was incumbent that the focal point would be the family."
With the FBD Milk Ras just seven days away, many hopefuls will be fine-tuning their preparations for the eight day event.
If recent form is any yardstick, then Brian Kenneally has to be the firm favourite. Brian has shown sparkling form in the last three weeks and there is nothing to suggest that he'll falter this weekend. His former teammate in Carraig Cidona and now with Usher IRC, Eddie O'Donoghue finally gave his sponsor a win last weekend on the first stage of the Tour of Ulster. By all accounts it was a horrendous stage from Craigavon to Downpatrick and the fall out on the day was alarming because of the conditions encountered on the 95-mile stage. So, the tougher the going gets, O'Donoghue will be the main man.
Winner of the Hammond Memorial last year was, Paul Healion, but currently he is concentrating on track racing and may give the event a miss. Terry Ferris won the re-named Kieran Hammond Memorial, which replaces the Kelly/Roche Classic, last year. Terry is one of the fancied candidates to do the double.
According to race organiser, Aidan Hammond, "dressing is in the GAA club, but unfortunately we will not be finishing the event in the village of Ballyboughal. Both events will end on the outskirts of the village where a number of years ago, Derry McVeigh, won his first major event and went to record many memorable wins in his career, which ended prematurely because of work commitments. The seniors will cover 7 laps of a 12-mile circuit. The curtain raiser to the main race will see them doing five laps of the same circuit. Proceedings get under way at 11.30 on Sunday," said Aidan.
Winner of the Corkman Three Day last weekend, Aidan will have to stay on the sidelines as he is the organiser. "The form has come good in the last number of weeks and I now have a category one licence, but it's important that I look after the two events," said Aidan.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)