First Edition News for May 10, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Coast/Ullrich saga continues
Not out of the woods yet
Photo: © AFP
Following the latest suspension of Team Coast, Jan Ullrich and his directeur
sportif Rudy Pevenage have each expressed their discontent with the situation.
"I'm very disappointed with [Coast owner] Mr. Dahms," Ullrich commented.
Pevenage, who indicated already that he would seek offers from other teams,
including Quick.Step-Davitamon, added that "Ullrich's career will go on;
we won't sit by and do nothing."
Italian bicycle maker Bianchi, which stepped in to help secure Ullrich's
contract on the eve of his return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe,
remains a possible source of salvation for the team. Bianchi appears prepared
to take over the team if Coast were to step aside (or be forced aside),
or almost certainly assume a greater role as co-sponsor.
"Whilst striving to find a settlement to all the problems, [Tony Grimaldi,
President of Cycleurope, and Davide Brambilla, Vice-president of Bianchi
International] are looking for a project securing the participation in
the forthcoming events of the season for Jan Ullrich and Team Coast,"
said Bianchi marketing manager Stefano Vigano Friday in a written statement.
The situation is once again quite serious for Coast, which even before
the initial suspension was considered to be on shaky ground. "We're asking
Team Coast to provide bank guarantees for the whole year, and not simply
for the current month," said the UCI's Alain Rumpf. "If Dahms can't provide
them, the team will remain suspended. It has not yet been decided whether
Coast will lose its right to participate in the Tour de France. We'll
wait to see what they present to us."
Questions for the Tour
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc remains supportive of the
riders of Team Coast, particularly former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich.
"It's unfortunate for Ullrich," Leblanc told l'Equipe. "He has done his
part to get back on track, and it's the team structure that is crashing
down around him."
With the UCI already hinting that Coast's participation in the Tour de
France is not a sure bet, the Tour organisers have begun to contemplate
the ramifications, and an additional berth that might become available
on the eve of the final four team selections.
"This will complicate matters for the organisers of the Tour," Leblanc
said in the Spanish daily Marca, referring to a possible situation in
which Coast could either be prohibited from competing by the UCI, or the
Tour de France could take its own actions. "Technically, Coast earned
its spot in the Tour without Ullrich. We'll have to follow the recommendations
of the UCI."
Among the teams interested in signing Ullrich is the Swiss Phonak formation,
which is also anxiously awaiting the verdict on the final wild card selections
for the Tour. If Phonak were to sign Ullrich, the team's place in the
Tour would be virtually assured, although the fact that the team is interested
only in Ullrich, and not his entourage (including Pevenage and Tobias
Steinhauser), could complicate the bid. To date, Ullrich's support group
has been an integral component of all contract discussions.
Cofidis back in the fray
In the latter stages of Ullrich's initial search for a new contract this
year, the French Cofidis team made some indication of its interest in
the German. Now that Ullrich may be back on the market, the team is once
again throwing its hat in the ring of potential suitors, although as with
most teams, the question of the necessary finances remains.
"This morning Cofidis owner François Migraine asked me to see
if it would be possible to sign Jan Ullrich," Bondue said Friday in an
interview with Reuters. "I'm still asking questions. Does Jan Ullrich
want to leave Coast to join Cofidis?"
Cofidis appears to be in a similar frame of mind as Phonak: interested
in Ullrich but less so in his companions. "Who does he really want at
his side?" Cofidis manager Alain Bondue wondered, "knowing that we already
have who we need concerning directors and team members."
Team Telekom is also reported to have 'left the door open' for Ullrich,
although the same cannot be said of directeur sportif Pevenage. The Quick.Step,
CSC, and iBanesto.com teams round out the list of potential options for
Ullrich, although no deals appear to be imminent.
Tossatto will start Giro
Despite his injuries, Italian Matteo Tosatto will start the Giro d'Italia
Saturday in Lecce. Tosatto crashed heavily in training this week, but
has decided along with his team doctor that he will not miss the occasion
to start the Giro. The Fassa Bortolo rider is a key component of Alessandro
Petacchi's leadout train in the bunch sprints, and himself wore the maglia
rosa in the 2000 Giro.
Klemencic is out
Tenax sprinter Zoran Klemencic will be forced to withdraw from the Giro,
having fractured his hand in a training accident. Klemencic underwent
surgery, and will be out of racing until August, according to Tenax directeur
sportif Mario Chiesa. The Slovenian sprinter will be replaced by 24 year
old Crescenzo d'Amore, himself a promising finisher.
Saeco team manager Claudio Corti is brimming with confidence on the eve
of the Giro d'Italia. With team leader and 2001 Giro winner Gilberto Simoni
in good form, and a highly motivated team coming off of several successes
in the spring classics, Corti rates his chances fairly high.
"The [early season] results are thanks to hard work and organisation
which we always knew would pay off," Corti explained. "We had some difficult
moments last year when everything seemed to be going against us but we
refused to give up and all the team continued to work hard with an impressive
enthusiasm and determination."
Simoni is a heavy favourite going into the first grand tour of the season,
and the team is aligned completely behind a single leader. As a result,
former Giro stage winner Ivan Quaranta has been left off the team. Corti
defends his decision to focus on Simoni's GC chances, at the expense of
possible stage victories with Quaranta.
"We've got a priority and that forces us to make what are sometimes difficult
choices," he said. "We've got some regrets about not having Quaranta at
the Giro but we're also convinced of our decision. It's also important
to note that Quaranta hasn't yet reached a satisfactory level of form
or results. He needs more time to get used to our way of doing things.
However Ivan will have a chance at the Tour de France."
Saeco is scheduled to ride all three grand tours this season, something
Corti notes with pride, but also with the explanation that he must use
his riders wisely and sparingly. For his part, Gilberto Simoni remains
confident that the Giro/Tour double will not pose an undue burden.
"I'm so motivated I could race the Giro and the Tour for three consecutive
seasons," he boasted. "Last year we were unjustly left our of the Tour
de France. When we go back this year, we're determined to leave our mark.
Armstrong is obviously the big favourite but as I've already said, I've
got a lot of respect for him but I'm ready to take him on without being
frightened of him, especially if I'm as strong and as fit as I am now."
A sign for helmet removal
Riders who await any opportunity to remove their helmets in competition
will be looking for a new sign at the side of the road in this year's
Giro d'Italia. Per UCI regulations, riders may remove their helmets in
races which finish at the summit of a climb of at least 5km, a concession
offered to those who opposed mandatory helmet use of helmets, particularly
in the heat of a mountaintop finish.
As the new rules have gone into effect, riders can now look for a sign
featuring a crossed out helmet, which will denote the point after which
helmets may be removed without sanction. In the Giro, these signs will
be seen on the final climbs of stages 7, 12, 14, 18, and 19.
Team Ringerike adds Joachim Bøhler
By Jean-François Quénet
Photo: © Jean-François Quénet
Known in the past for his mountain-bikes abilities, Joachim Bøhler,
23, will make his debut as a professional road rider this month for Team
Ringerike. He was sent by the Norwegian pro team in his French reserve
Nantes 44 for the first part of the season and showed that he was afraid
of nothing in the bunch sprints, coming 6th in the Tour de St-Ciers and
5th in a stage of the Tour de Loir-et-Cher. He was also very aggressive
during the recent Ringerike Grand Prix at home.
That's where he definitely proved to directeur sportif Øyvind
Lillehagen that he could earn his place in the pro squad. There was a
need for one more rider to the roster since Christopher Myhre was hit
by a truck one day before the Ringerike Grand Prix. He's recovering well
but will have to wait for another five weeks until being able to go back
on his bike. Gabriel Rasch was also injured during the race and still
has a painful knee and the foreigners in the team, Jonathan Dayus from
England, winner of the queen stage of RGP, Simon Gerrans from Australia
and Mattias Carlsson from Sweden are all sick. A situation that forced
Team Ringerike to pull out of Tour de la Manche this week.
Their next race, with Bøhler on the start line, will be the Estonian
cycling week-end that includes two 1.3 races in May 23rd-25th. Therefore,
Bøhler will race against his former room-mate in Nantes Tarmo Raudsepp
who is leading the new generation of Estonian riders inspired by their
master Jaan Kirsipuu.
Bear Mountain Spring Classic
A fixture on the New York racing scene, the Bear Mountain Spring Classic
on Sunday, May 11 features one of its best fields ever on the classic
course at Harriman State Park. Participants in the 98 mile men's race
include past race winners Nat Faulkner and Bill Innes of LeMond Fitness/Captain
Cra-Z Soap and the Navigators Cycling Team, with Russian Olympian Vassili
Davidenko and multiple Canadian national champion Mark Walters.
Also racing are two recent winners of the Univest Grand Prix: Alex Lavallée
of Canada's Équipe Volkswagen Trek and Todd Herriott of the Health
Net Pro Cycling Team. The 56 mile women's race features former winner
Lori Hewig of the Capital Bicycle Racing Club.
The event is promoted the Century Road Club Association (CRCA), which
was established in 1898 and is one of the largest bike racing clubs in
the United States. Race details are available at www.crca.net/races03/harriman.htm.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)