News for January 16, 2000

Tafi talks

Italian classics specialist, Andrea Tafi discussed his plans for the year today in an interview with "La Gazzetta Dello Sport". He is certainly in the hunt for another Paris-Roubaix, a race that he won last year in the best possible fashion - wearing the Tricolore jersey of the Italian National Champion.

"La Roubaix always remains in my heart, but also in my thoughts is the Tour of Flanders," said Tafi. "I want to do something in that classic to improve what I have achieved up to now. My best one was in ’96: 15th, after having been working for the team all day".

"But to head for the "Fiandre" I will have to improve my power climbing. It is very important to find specific distances for training: fortunately in Tuscany there are many short and steep hills that approach the walls of the "Belgio".

A particular hill that he 'enjoys' training on is the Sull'erta climb in Monte Serra: "It can be tackled from three angles and normally is quite hard. There is one climb of 8 km, at an average of 6%. Some people record their times, I go with my feelings: I see if they are better compared with the previous time or if I still can improve," says Tafone.

Do you use a computer? "I could be more methodical if I stored all the data of my training in a computer. I bought one a while ago and it's still not used... In my first years as a professional, I had one, but since then I have stopped. According to me, one must learn to train alone, focus on their own feelings."

Are you too old for this type of thing? "I want to keep on giving my maximum, in spite of the fact that I'm nearly 34. But the years do not weigh on me a lot: the sacrifices that our trade imposes, I manage without too many difficulties and this is what pushes to me to go ahead. I want to have two more seasons at a high level, then look at whether to continue or to stop," he says.

The next season will be its twelfth, and the best have been in the last four. "In these years I have had the maximum development of my power and the full psychological maturity. I feel in full command of my forces. Also because experiences helps you to stay with the best. As an example take my weight: with my physique, if I train so much that I burn more than I eat, in that case I lose weight easily. To me this is appealing, but over the years I have learned to temper my eating. In the early ’90s, I weighed 81-82 kilos, however in these recent years I have lost 3 kilos," says Tafone.

What of his equipment? "Every year we will examine the measurements of my time trial bike: we will watch those. But on the whole, I do not modify the materials and not even the position. People say for example to pedal lower for more power: I have tried to, but I then have pains knees and tendons. Therefore I have to compromise".

What about the Grand Tours? "No to the Giro and Vuelta, yes to the Tour and Italian Classics of September. After the Tour I will rethink, trying to gain a place for the Olympics and also the next World Championships. I do not have a problem with this: the more I race, the better I go," he concludes.

Luperini suspended

The disciplinary commission of the Italian cycling federation in Rome today handed down their judgment on whether Fabiana Luperini should be suspended. The multiple Tour and Giro winner was given an 8 month sentence after testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone late last year.

She risked two years disqualification, because of the nature of the drug (steroid) but was able to negotiate a reduced sentence on the grounds that she should have tested positive for norandrosterone and noretiocholanolone (metabolites of nandrolone), but they did not show up in her sample.

In addition, this coming Saturday (January 22), four current Italian professionals will be heard at the anti-drug inquiry in Bologna: Gianni Faresin, Gianluca Bartolami, Alexander Bertolini and Ivan Gotti.

Adelaide news

At the second of the two track meetings at the Adelaide superdrome this weekend, Australian sprint cyclist, Michelle Ferris crashed in the women's 2500 m scratch race. She landed on her head and suffered mild concussion. However, she was not unconscious and was cleared to ride again. Another rider in the race, Stephanie Muscat was not so lucky and received 10 stitches to her hip as a result of the crash.

Ferris also attempted an Olympic qualifying time in the flying 200m, but was slightly off the pace with an 11.802 second ride (the time required is 11.6 seconds).

There was another attempt at going under the Australian qualifying time for the 4000 m teams pursuit (4.10.00). This time it was Graeme Brown, Bradley McGee, Brett Lancaster and Brent Dawson (no O'Grady) who tried, but again they fell short - by a mere 0.89 seconds.

The 33 year old veteran of Australian men's sprint cycling, Gary Neiwand also showed that he was keen for an Olympic berth last night. The triple world champion rode against a top field including Danny Day, Darryn Hill and Sean Eadie. He did manage to ride under the Olympic qualifying time for the 200m of 10.5 seconds, faster than anyone else on the track.

He said the competition was particularly good, and that they should aim to meet like this as often as possible, in the style of the French and the Germans.

USA National Criterium Championships

USA Cycling announced last Friday that Downers Grove, Ill. will host both the 2000 United States Professional Road Organization (USPRO) and United States Cycling Federation (USCF) National Criterium Championships.

"I have always believed that criterium racing defines the American style of bicycle racing. Fast, hard, exciting with a touch of danger. Here it comes down to one day in August where the best finish first," said Ken Carl, CSEM race director.

USCF Masters Championship changed

The 2000 USCF Masters National Road and Track Cycling Championships have changed dates, it was announced by the US cycling federation.

The city of Indianapolis will host both national championship events. The EDS Masters National Track Cycling Championships are scheduled for July 19-24, while the USCF Masters National Road Cycling Championships will now be staged July 25-30.

Banesto news

The Spanish team of Zuelle, Jimenez and Piepoli will hold their training camp starting on Monday, January 17 for eight days. They have chosen the location in Alhaurín El Grande, which has pleased the local mayor, Miguel de la Rosa, no end. "This is a superb occasion to promote the sport in our locality," he said.

Eusebio Unzué's squad will have as one of their first aims the Vuelta a Andalucía-Ruta Ciclista del Sol, from February 13 to 17.

Saeco may have a new sponsor

Although rumours that Deutsche Post were interested in sponsoring Mario Cipollini's Saeco team were false, another company - "Valli & Valli" - are offering to throw some cash into the team.

Mercury News

Mercury Cycling Team camp began last Friday, January 14 with a surprise announcement from Team captain and long time member Thurlow Rogers, that he will not be taking out a pro license for the 2000 season.

Rogers is an original member of the team and will take the job of Assistant Team Manager. Roger was a member of the 1984 US Olympic Team, was rider of the year in 1983, and has been among the best US riders ever. He will also help coach the Mercury/Fuji Junior Elite team.

The Team will leave for Malaysia on Friday January 21

Tour of Mexico Postponed

The Tour of Mexico, scheduled for February 23 - March 5 has been postponed until November as a result of organizational problems, said Guillermo Gutierrez, president of the Mexican Cycling Federation.