News for May 9, 2000

UCI Rankings

The latest men's road rankings have been released by the UCI as of May 7, with some fairly big changes to the points. Because it is a running total, if a rider doesn't perform as well this year in a race that they did well in last year, then they lose points. Such is the case for Laurent Jalabert (ONCE) and Erik Zabel (Telekom) who have both lost a large chunk of their ranking. Zabel dropped from second to third behind Casagrande again, as he won the Rund um den Henninger Turm last year, but did not place this year. Jalabert had success in the Tour de Romandie in 1999 (he won it) but dropped out this year. Thus, he loses some 400 points and is now just 300 clear of second place.

Andrei Tchmil managed to move from 8th to 6th as of May 7, while Lance Armstrong bounced back to 7th after his strong ride (2nd) in Paris-Camembert and subsequent races. Jan Ullrich and Paolo Bettini dropped a little but they remain in the top 10, along with Davide Rebellin.

In the team rankings, Mapei-Quick Step still managed to maintain their 200 point lead, despite the best efforts of Deutsche Telekom to displace them. It seems as though for every one of Telekom's victories in Germany, Mapei are able to match them in other races. On Saturday May 5, for example, Mapei won stages in Dunkirk (Rodriguez) and Romandie (Noe'), both very highly ranked races. Wesemann's and Hondo's victories in the 2.4 ranked Peace Race did not earn them the same number of points.

There is still a huge gap (900 points) to third placed ONCE-Deutsche Bank, with Rabobank a little further back in fourth. Not much change in the division II rankings, with Credit Agricole holding their lead over Cantina Tollo, with Euskadi-Euskaltel in third.

In the nations, it is Italy, Spain, Belgium and France, with a large 2,000 point gap between the top two, and another 2,000 between second and third. Belgium managed to overtake France since the last rankings in April, and Sweden have also managed to overtake Australia for 15th spot. This was mainly due to their win in the Four Days of Dunkirk (Rittsel), although Australia managed several top ten stage placings in that event with McGee, O'Grady, and McEwen. It's tight though, with only 1.33 points in it.

Men's Rankings as of May 7, 2000

1 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank            2,225.75 pts
2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec       1,917.00
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                    1,668.00
4 Abraham Olano Manzano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank       1,656.75
5 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec          1,522.00
6 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                         1,498.00
7 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service                  1,415.00
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                   1,403.00
9 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                     1,395.00
10 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas-Pata                     1,360.00
11 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca        1,342.00
11 Markus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank                             1,342.00
13 Jann Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon           1,283.00
14 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                          1,278.00
15 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Saeco-Valli & Valli                1,205.00
16 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Deutsche Telekom-ARD         1,120.00
17 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step                    1,076.50
18 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                     1,054.00
19 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                      1,043.00
20 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                    1,016.00
21 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti                             1,003.00
22 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Banesto                               1,001.00
23 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) Liquigas-Pata                      995.00
24 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step                 985.00
25 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                               982.00
26 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli                979.00
27 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli                 961.00
28 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites                       945.50
29 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour                      930.00
30 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                       901.00
31 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank     896.00
32 Igor Gonzalez Galdeano Aranzabal (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros  886.00
33 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin                       877.00
34 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain                 876.00
35 Fernando Escartin Coti (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca           869.00
36 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Cofidis                         851.50
37 Angel Luis Casero Moreno (Spa) Festina-Lotus              851.00
38 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                   849.00
39 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Polti                             834.00
40 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei-Quick Step                       813.00
41 José Maria Jimenez Sastre (Spa) Banesto                   809.00
42 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step            792.00
43 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole                          762.50
44 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Farm Frites                          752.00
45 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina-Lotus                     751.00
46 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                 738.00
47 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD               737.00
48 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Banesto                            736.00
49 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                        723.00
50 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa) Festina-Lotus              720.00

Teams division I:

1 Mapei-Quick Step                                          3,833.00 pts
2 Team Deutsche Telekom                                     3,611.00
3 O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank                                    2,710.75
4 Rabobank                                                  2,532.00
5 Farm Frites                                               2,185.00
6 Lampre-Daikin                                             1,932.00
7 Vini Caldirola-Sidermec                                   1,812.00
8 Fassa Bortolo                                             1,737.00
9 Banesto                                                   1,648.00
10 Kelme-Costa Blanca                                       1,645.00

Teams division II:

1 Credit Agricole                                          1,382.00 pts
2 Cantina Tollo                                            1,242.00
3 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                        1,008.00
4 Jean Delatour                                              836.00
5 Mercury Cycling Team                                       702.00
6 Alessio SGM                                                689.00
7 Palmans-Ideal                                              665.00
8 Bonjour                                                    544.00
9 Amica Chips-Tacconi Sport                                  422.00
10 Team Gerolsteiner                                         329.00

Teams division III:

1 De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa                                 432.00 pts
2 Bosch Hausgeräte-Sport Kärnten                             384.00
3 Team Shaklee                                               298.00
4 Team Hohenfelder-Concorde                                  270.00
5 Stabil Steiermark                                          206.00
6 Axa Professional Cycling Team                              121.00
7 Jelly Belly Cycling Team                                   113.00
8 Kia-Villiger Suisse                                        109.00
9 7Up-Colorado Cyclist                                       107.00
10 Gresco-Tavira                                              77.00


1 Italy                                                    11,604.00 pts
2 Spain                                                     9,806.75
3 Belgium                                                   7,836.50
4 France                                                    7,608.25
5 Germany                                                   7,191.50
6 Switzerland                                               6,575.00
7 Netherlands                                               5,843.50
8 U.S.A.                                                    4,715.00
9 Russia                                                    4,064.00
10 Denmark                                                  3,634.00
11 Kazakhstan                                               2,498.50
12 Latvia                                                   2,294.50
13 Poland                                                   2,135.00
14 Australia                                                2,059.33
15 Sweden                                                   2,058.00

Bartali buried

Gino Bartali's funeral
Photo: © AFP

In Florence today, approximately 1,000 people came out to watch Italian cycling legend, Gino Bartali being buried. Bartali passed away on Saturday, a couple of months from his 86th birthday.

Many high ranking people in the cycling community were present at the funeral, including Gianni Petrucci (president of CONI), Giancarlo Ceruti (chairman of the Italian Cycling Federation) as well as Peiro Coppi, mayor of Castellania and cousin of Bartali's deceased rival, Fausto Coppi.

The service was conducted by the archbishop of Florence, cardinal Silvano Piovanelli. The gathered crowd gave a long ovation to the bearing of the coffin outside the church, and Bartali was buried in a cemetery in Florence near other former family members.

Giro 2000: How goes Italy?

The start of the 83rd Giro d'Italia is just days away but already there are mutterings that it will not be a 100% above board Tour. These have been coming mainly from the French press who are fairly harsh when it comes to drugs, but they do have some justification. Last year's almost-winner, Marco Pantani was thrown out for failing a hematocrit test while the eventual winner Ivan Gotti and second place getter, Paolo Savoldelli, both came under suspicion for having abnormal hematocrits. They formed part of the extensive investigation (22 cyclists have been questioned so far) in Italy into the business of doping, sporting fraud or whatever you want to call it. The Conconi files and the Ferrari dossier revealed some interesting insights into the nature of medical programs for top athletes, and these investigations are still proceeding.

Pantani is still out of action, and will not be participating in this year's Giro. Who knows when he'll return? Savoldelli and Gotti will be there for certain, and the former has just won a major lead up tour. However, the antidoping commission of CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) have just announced that they will continue to investigate the Italian cyclist, after finding that there is sufficient evidence to go further.

Of course, the climate is also right for a witch hunt. With the latest discovery of a bag containing syringes and empty bottles in Dunkirk, the French media are quick to point the finger at Italy as the labels were all of Italian origin. The fact that there has been no confirmation yet what the substances were does not seem to matter. Time will tell though.

Is the fact that the Italians are still winning a lot, and the classics are ending in more bunch sprints indicative of widespread doping? Or is it just that the French are not up to speed and there has been an overall increase in the fitness level of all professional cyclists? To borrow respected biologist, Stephen Jay Gould's baseball analogy (again), the latter could be a result of "increasing excellence in play."

Is the approach to a complete medical monitoring of the athlete feasible, as adopted by the UCI in the wake of French and Italian plans going to work? We can probably better assess this at the end of the season.

Whatever happens, the results of this year's Giro d'Italia will be watched by many from a variety of perspectives. Hopefully, the farce of last year will be avoided.

Armstrong recovering

US Postal's number one man, Lance Armstrong is recovering from a serious crash he suffered while training in the Pyrenees mountains last Friday. Armstrong suffered a slight concussion when he crashed heavily during a descent after his front tire exploded upon hitting a sharp stone in the road. After his tire blew, he was unable to maneuver an oncoming turn. The team's support staff with Armstrong at the time of the crash then telephoned for an ambulance and he was taken to a local hospital where he spent the night for observation. The following morning, Armstrong returned home to Nice to rest and recover from the sudden fall where he will remain for an extended period of rest.

Team director, Johan Bruyneel said that the fall could interrupt his Tour de France preparation, but "it could have been a lot worse," he said. Lance will not be able to compete in the Midi Libre (May 16-21) as a result. The team will see how quickly he recovers before deciding his racing schedule.

Van der Ven out of Giro

Farm Frites rider, Remco van der Ven will not be starting in their team this year, despite being on the list just a few days ago. He abandoned during the fourth stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk and has been told to rest.

No replacement has been named yet, but Jans Koerts (currently riding in the Peace Race) is certainly keen. Could we see an early exit from that race by the burly Dutchman?

Vogels donates

Mercury's Henk Vogels was successful on the weekend, winning the Spanish 1.4 Clasica Alcobendas, outsprinting three Vitalicio riders and one Kelme in typically powerful fashion. In an honourable gesture after the race, Vogels donated his winning flowers to promising Spanish cyclist, Roberto Alcaide, who had his foot amputated as a result of an accident in an amateur race.

Tour of Bright this weekend

One of Australia's biggest stage races is the Tour of Bright in Victoria, taking place this weekend. This four stage, two day event is contested by five categories and has a field of 315 (so far), an increase of 45 from last year. Could this be Australia's biggest subscribed bike race this year? Even if not, it should be an great event to watch and race in, and more information can be found in our race listing.