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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition News for May 23, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Giro stage 12: Simoni conquers Zoncolan

Simoni on top
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

There were no surprises in Thursday's very tough 12th stage to Monte Zoncolan, as Maglia Rosa Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) strengthened his grip on the general classification with a strong ride over the last 3 km of the brutally steep climb. Simoni finished 34" in front of Stefano Garzelli, who chased him all the way to the top in the company of Marco Pantani. The latter was on track for third until he was caught by Francesco Casagrande and Yaroslav Popovych in the final few hundred metres, but it was an inspiring ride from the pirate.

The big losers of the day were Pavel Tonkov and Franco Pellizotti, who were both dropped near the bottom of the 13 km climb and lost over four minutes. On the other hand, riders like Julio Perez Cuapio (6th), Aitor Gonzalez (9th) and Dario Frigo (12th) performed better than they did in the first mountain stage.

Stage 12 full results and report
Live report

Giro crash claims three

A crash in the peloton caused several riders to hit the deck quite heavily during stage 12, and reduced the field size once more. Two of the principal victims of the crash were Italians Cristian Moreni (Alessio) and Paolo Tiralongo (Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo). Moreni is reported to have broken his collarbone, as well as fracturing several bones in his left hand. Tiralongo fractured several vertebrae. Kelme's Carlos Garcia Quesada also abandoned, having suffered from a groin injury.

Mason breaks pelvis

Among the crash victims stage 11, which saw Mario Cipollini go down in spectacular fashion in the dangerous finale, was Vini Caldirola's Oscar Mason. One of Stefano Garzelli's key tempo men, Mason went down with three others with 51km to go in Wednesday's stage, and suffered a broken pelvis.

Pantani finding his wings

Pantani's back
Photo: © Sirotti
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Marco Pantani showed some flashes of his former brilliance on the brutal climb of the Monte Zoncolan Thursday, finishing in 5th place, 43" behind stage winner Gilberto Simoni. Pantani was pleasantly surprised to have such a good day, but also insists there is more work to be done. "The others are stronger. I still have trouble with the changes in rhythm," Pantani told Datasport.

"The hard work is outweighing the pleasure," he added. "I still need to recover. I'm not yet at my best."

Stefano Garzelli, Pantani's former teammate, was happy to see his old team leader back in the thick of the action. The two went head to head in the final kilometres, until Garzelli finally got the better of Pantani. "It was a great day for cycling and a great day for a great day for Pantani," Garzelli commented after the finish. "I was really happy to see him up there."

UCI discuss Coast/Bianchi situation

By Tim Maloney on Monte Zoncolan

UCI president Hein Verbruggen was in the press room atop Monte Zoncolan today talking to the world cycling press regarding the status of former team Coast. The UCI is looking at the situation carefully but it realises that Bianchi has provided a long term commitment to take over the team. Since the UCI wants to encourage companies who are willing to make a long term commitment, it is working with the team to try and resolve the situation. "We're doing our best to support these efforts," said Verbruggen.

UCI auditing firm Ernst and Young is examining all of the final information presented regarding the new sporting group, and in a short time are expected to present further information to the Professional Cycling Council (PCC). Once that is presented, then there will be a decision as to whether the new sporting group will enter into the top club or enter as a second division team. There should be around 20 riders remaining on the roster of the new team, including Jan Ullrich.

Verbruggen said that it wouldn't necessarily impact their Tour de France status, as Jean-Marie Leblanc can invite Bianchi-? as a wild card.

Clearly the UCI is supporting the whole process, but it does not shed any further light on the status of Domina Vacanze getting a start in the Tour. Tomorrow night, Leblanc will be in Italy at the headquarters of Tour sponsor Elite. He is expected to meet Mr Preatoni, the owner of Domina Vacanze, to discuss the selection issue. It seems as time passes, and with the unfortunate retirement of Mario Cipollini from the Giro due to injury, that the chances of Domina Vacanze starting in Paris are diminishing.

Aebersold joins Phonak

With the Team Coast/Team Bianchi transition still a work in progress, Switzerland's Niki Aebersold has decided to accept an offer from Phonak Hearing Systems to ride for the Swiss-based team. Aebersold signed a contract with Phonak Tuesday in Hombrechtikon, Switzerland, confirming a position in the team through the end of the 2003 season. Aebersold joins compatriot and former Coast teammate Alex Zülle at Phonak. Zülle moved across to Phonak in the spring, in the wake of Coast's first suspension from competition.

Estonian Cycling Weekend: A warm welcome at home for Jaan Kirsipuu

EOS Tallinn Grand Prix (1.3) and Ühispanga Tartu Tänavasõit (1.3)

By Jean-François Quénet in Tallinn

Estonia is taking a big step ahead on the map of world cycling, not only by sending good riders to big French pro teams but also by building competitions on their soil. The Estonian Cycling Weekend consists of three days of racing: two one-day UCI sanctioned events, the first one on May 23rd in Tallinn, the country's capital, and the second one on May 24th in Tartu, 180km further South, where Jaan Kirsipuu comes from. The third day, held on May 25th, is a fun ride where all the pros will also line up with 4000 cyclo-tourists.

"This is my third visit in the country," indefatigable French attacker Jacky Durand explained. "Two years ago, Kirsipuu- who had been my team-mate at Casino- asked me to come for two criteriums. Last year, the same events became 1.5 UCI races and I organised a French national team with amateur riders to be there again, and I'm back now. It's important for me to be faithful to these races, now that they are classified 1.3. I tried to bring my team with me but it wasn't possible because a part of the team is doing the Tour of Italy and the other part is having a training camp in the Alps."

'Dudu' got special permission from the UCI to be part of a mixed team with Estonian, Latvian and Finnish riders, including CCC Polsat's Andris Naudzus, coming directly from the Giro d'Italia where he pulled out.

For the first time, Kirsipuu will race in his country with the help of his Ag2R-Prévoyance team. "I wasn't too happy with my ride at the Tour de Picardie last week," he said. "But I had two rest days here since and I feel good now. I want to win."

Defending champion Oleg Grishkin also wants to repeat his success in 180km long ESO Tallinn GP, organised mostly in town, which is the speciality of the Russian champion normally riding for the Navigators in the US but he's here with his National team. "My only problem is that I haven't raced since May 4th in America," he said, whereas Jeremy Hunt leading the the third French team Oktos-MBK lined up for these races has the confidence of someone who just won a stage in the Tour de Picardie.

Other pro teams for the Estonian Cycling Weekend are from the TT3 category: Team Ringerike of Norway, Team Mälarenergi from Sweden, Poland's Legia Baszylysek and MROZ, Glud and Marstrand Horsen from Denmark and the Marco Polo cycling club with Hong-Kong's Wang Kam Po. There is also an interesting bunch of young Estonian talents who all hope to imitate their hero and ride the Tour de France one day like former yellow jersey Kirsipuu.

Javier Ochoa back on the bike

Former Kelme professional Javier Ochoa, seriously injured in a training accident which also killed his brother Ricardo, will be on the bike this weekend. Ochoa will join some 3,000 disabled riders at a paralympic event on May 24th in Basauri, Spain.

"Selfishly speaking, we're very happy about everything his presence brings," event organisers said. "But we're most excited for him, his family, and friends, and for everyone who loves the sport. For those who value the superhuman effort required for paraplegic sports, this is great news."

Ochoa was seriously injured in early 2001 when he and his brother Ricardo were struck by a car while on a training ride. Javier was in a coma for an extended period of time, and has undergone a lengthy recovery.

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