News for January 18, 2001

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Virenque trains with Jean Delatour

"Just good friends," says Michel Gros

Richard Virenque has been spotted training in Hyères with the Jean Delatour squad, but Delatour directeur sportif Michel Gros denied the team was in negotiations with the suspended French climber. "Richard simply came as a neighbour to visit his friends," Gros told the AFP news service, denying any talks were in progress with Virenque, who has a house in the area. "Currently Richard is suspended until the end of the season, and we don't have the budget to engage him. That's two good reasons why his recruitment is not on the table," he added.

However, Gros conceded that Delatour had been interested in Virenque before the December 29 suspension decision. He emphasised that for Virenque to join the team his suspension would have to be lifted and a budget extension somehow found.

Virenque is currently waiting for a decision from the Court of Arbitration in Sport on his appeal against his nine month suspension. According to Gros, the training rides with Delatour, which includes some of Virenque's former Festina team-mates, were the first time Virenque had been on a bike in three months.

JCTDU sprints "dangerous," says Hoffman

The first few days of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under are for the locals, says Tristen Hoffman (CSC/Worldonline). "It's too dangerous to join the sprint bunch. You have to realise the Aussies have already been riding for several months, while it's the start of our season. But in a day or two we will acclimatise and the Europeans will come back."

It's certainly noticeable that the big names of European sprinting, like Tom Steels, Steffen Wesemann, Jaan Kirsipuu and Jeroen Blijlevens, weren't at the front of the peloton in stage one.

Hoffman explained that, "it's not simple to ride here. We came on January 4, trained around 1200 kilometers till now, but the weather isn't too comfortable. Last week we trained in 46 Celsius. Than you know for sure you have headache in the night."

Hoffman won't be pleased that today's forecast is for 36 C (97 F) for the 165km stage from Mclaren Vale to Victor Harbour, but he might take heart that recent forecasts have been a little enthusiastic and temperatures have typically been in the low 30s. Still not perfect if you're coming out of a European winter, though. The Bureau of Meteorology says things will get cooler at the weekend.

Tour de France teams 2001

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has said that soon the first 16 teams will be announced for the Tour 2001. Included among the 16 teams are the UCI top 10, the winner of the World Cup, the winning teams of the 2000 Tour, Giro and Vuelta, and the team of the 2000 Tour winner.

So 11 teams are certain: Mapei, Telekom, Fassa Bortolo, Lampre-Daikin, Kelme, Rabobank, Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola, ONCE, Banesto, Festina and US Postal. Another five teams will be invited this week, and by the end of April, the last four wild cards will be given out by Leblanc. "At least six French teams will start," he says. Previously, the wild cards were announced after the Giro but are earlier this year.

Hunter gets two more years

Plans to be first South African in Le Tour

Rising South African rising star Robert Hunter, 23, has been offered a further two-year deal with Lampre-Daikin. After his five international stage victories in the last couple of years and rise from 1010 to 103 in the UCI rankings, Hunter says Lampre-Daikin has offered him a more central role in the team.

"Lampre-Daikin has handed me a greater leadership role for the coming season. They have indicated that there will be greater support for me in the chase for General Classification in smaller races this year. I will also be focussing more on the Classics and World Cup events. The team would like me to pull off a victory in an early season event ­ like Het Volk."

Hunter's season kicks off in February with the Tour Of Bessege and will be followed by various one-day races and Classics such as Milan-San Remo (24 March) and Paris-Roubaix (15 April). He will return to South Africa in May to prepare for the Tour de France ­ and in so doing make history as the first South African rider to participate in the Grand Boucle.

George Hincapie interview

U.S. Postal's George Hincapie has just finished a training stint in Tucson, Arizona as he prepares once more for the early season classics. Gabriela Ekström caught up with him for to reflect on the past season and look forward to the next.

Q. What is your own opinion of U.S. Postal's results in 2000?

G.H: The team's results were great last year, since we showed that we are one of the best teams in the world.

Q. Were you pleased with your own results last year? Which was your best performance?

G.H: For the amount of work I did put into my training last year, I felt I did not get the results that I wanted, but I do believe that my bad luck in the spring was the major factor. Getting 6th in Paris-Roubaix with two broken ribs and not much skin on the left side of my body showed how much I love that race.

Q. What do you rate as the Ride of the year 2000?

G.H: I Would have to say Museeuw in Roubaix, Lance in Hautacam and Viatcheslav Ekimov in the Olympics.

Q. Were there any big disappointments for you?

G.H: There were a couple. Getting a slow leak in my tire in Roubaix the last 10k, is one and breaking my wheel on the Poggio climb in Milan-San Remo is another.

Q. Have you met the team with its new members yet?

G.H: I have met my new teammates twice now, once in Austin, and just recently in Tucson. We have a great bunch of guys and everybody gets along great.

Q. Will you be playing a different role in the team this year?

G.H: The team will support me and Ekimov in the spring classics, and I will support Lance in the tour so not much changes there.

Q. Which races are you targetted at during the 2001 season? What does your program look like?

G.H: I am tagetting Paris-Roubaix once again, as well as Tour of Flanders and Milano-San Remo. I will start in Algarve, and Valencia and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Q. Any early season goals?

G.H: I would like to win a stage in one or two of those races.

Q. What do you hope 2001 will bring you?

G.H: Good luck, success, and everybody's goal, happiness.

Team presentations

At least three teams are holding their annual presentations within the next week: Fassa Bortolo, U.S. Postal, and Team Banesto. Fassa Bortolo have scheduled its presentation at the managment offices of the Fassa Bortolo Group in Spresiano, Italy this coming Saturday. Stay tuned for a special report on the event.

Banesto have planned its presentation next Friday, January 26 at the bank's central office in Madrid, Spain. U.S. Postal will also hold their European team presentation on January 26 at the Meliá Altea Hills Hotel in Altea, Spain. Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras, Chechu Rubiera, and Víctor Hugo Peña will be amongst those riders present to answer questions.

First team change for Leon van Bon

After seven years in the same team, successively named WordPerfect, Novell and Rabobank, Dutchman Leon van Bon has been transferred for the first time in his career. He left Jan Raas and is now riding under John Wordin Sport's management for Mercuary-Viatel.

On Monday, he trained for the first time with his new green and blue jersey. "I feel great, he said. I needed to change and John was very motivated to have me for the new adventure of this team in Europe. I rode with Henk Vogels before and he told me that Mercury was a good team."

"I have two goals this year: to win a World Cup classic, hopefully Paris-Roubaix, and another stage in the Tour de France. I'm also happy because I've had my first normal winter, without any sickness or injury. I hope it will pay off."

7Up-Colorado Cyclist announce sponsors

By John Alsedek

In keeping with the team's new leaner, meaner image, the 7 UP-Colorado Cyclist team today unveiled its list of 2001 product sponsors, topped by new bicycle sponsor Fuji. The team's riders, including Clark Sheehan and John Lieswyn, will ride Fuji's top of the line Team Issue frames, which feature an Easton SC7000 Scandium main triangle and Ultralite 7005 stays.

Team manager Scott McAfee is hoping that the new bikes will give them the edge over arch rivals, Mercury in 2001. Fuji were the bike sponsors for Mercury until the Greg Lemond/Viatel deal came through late last year, and Mercury switched to Lemond bikes. "Considering that we were one of Mercury's toughest competitors last year, it's really sort of ironic that we and Fuji came together this way," he said.

Fuji have been involved with Colorado Cyclist for "about six years now," according to Stephen Fairchild, Fuji's product manager. "In fact, Colorado Cyclist is the one who originally introduced us to Mercury back in 1997, when the team was Comptel/Colorado Cyclist. So it's a pretty natural association."

The majority of 7Up-Colorado Cyclist's 2000 team sponsors are also back, including Spinergy (wheels), Time (forks, pedals, and shoes), and Michelin (tires). The new additions are Colorado Cyclist clothing, Kelty luggage, and Ritchey handlebars and stems. Combined with the tremendous support that the team receives from 7 UP and Colorado Cyclist, the groundwork is set for the riders to succeed.

Product Sponsor list

Fuji bicycles
Spinergy wheels
Time forks, pedals, & shoes
Blackburn pumps & trainers
DeFeet socks
Giro helmets
Kelty luggage
Michelin tires
Park tools
Pedro's lubricants
Polar heart rate monitors
Ritchey bars & stems
Rudy Project eyewear
Yakima racks

Megnoni hurt

On January 11, Fred Mengoni suffered multiple and severe injuries while cycling near West Palm Beach, Florida. While avoiding a car that was about to hit him, he crashed, breaking his pelvis and ribs, and suffering a severe concussion. At the time of this report, Mengoni was under a respirator, and unable to speak because of the apparatus. He is currently under intensive care and his condition appears stable.

Mengoni, 77, lives in New York City, and is the United States' greatest patron of cycling. He has cultivated World and Olympic Champions, along with Tour De France winners. Champions whom Mengoni has assisted and befriended include Lance Armstrong, Greg Lemond, George Hincapie, Steve Bauer, Mike McCarthy and Leonard Nitz.

Mengoni also cultivates new talent by sponsoring the GS Mengoni Gran Prix annually in New York City, and posting generous prizes for top amateur finishes in national-level Pro/Am events. Mengoni rides daily, and is regularly seen in Central Park, or on Route 9W.

Send cards (Do not send flowers, which are not permitted in the ICU; balloons are acceptable):

Attn: Fred Mengoni
St. Mary's Hospital
901 45th Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

BCF announces MTB riders for 2004 Olympic squad

The British Cycling Federation has unveiled the mountain bikers who will make up the WCPP squad working toward the 2004 Olympics. The six-rider team will ride Trek bikes as Team Y2K in UK domestic races and under the GB banner when outside the UK. The riders are:

  • Phil Dixon Born: 16/2/80 Born in Mansfield, Phil is in his second year as a member of the WCPP mountain bike squad. 14th in the 2000 European Under-23 Championships, but arguably his biggest win of 2000 was in the prestigious Viking Trophy road race on the Isle of Man in June. Currently mixes his cycling career with University studies.
  • Liam Killeen Born: 12/4/82 From Malvern, Worcs, Liam is in his second year as a member of the WCPP mountain bike squad. He was European Junior MTB champion, National Junior Champion and Fifth in the World Championships in 2000. He was also winner of the Belgian round of the MTB World cup and recently took the Under-23 title at the 2001 National Cyclo-Cross Championships.
  • Tim Morley Born: 12/7/80 Was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Tim is in his second year as a member of the WCPP mountain bike squad. 3rd in the National Under 23 Championships in 2000. Runner up to team-mate Killeen in the 2001 Cyclo-Cross Championships
  • Sue Thomas Born: 25/6/76 From Formby in Merseyside, Sue is new to the WCPP mountain bike squad in 2001. Ranked 6th in the UK at the end of the 2000 season. Third in the 2001 National Cyclo-Cross Championships.
  • Ian Wilkinson Born: 14/4/79 >From Burnley in Lancashire, Ian is in his third year as a member of the WCPP mountain bike squad. National Under-23 Champion in 2000. 7th in the European Under-23 Championships
  • Victoria Wilkinson Born: 19/8/78 >From Skipton, North Yorkshire, Victoria is new to the WCPP mountain bike squad in 2001. Ranked 3rd in the UK at the end of the 2000 season. Former world champion mountain runner, turned to cycling after injuries restricted her running.

The team will be managed by Simon Burney and coached by Gary Foord, and the absence of notable pro racers from thelin-up is no accident. The emphasis is on developing these young riders with 2004 in mind, and ultimately Burney would like to see them get pro contracts, freeing up places on the programme for more young talent. The England Potential Programme is already working with a number of younger riders in the 16 to 19 age range, so there is now a clear career path for cross-country riders. Burney has noticed the effect this has had on the younger riders: "They now have clear goals and something to focus on. The whole scene is much more positive, particularly the amount of young talent coming through."

Preparation for the 2001 season began in late November with a training Camp at the team's permanent base in Alsager, followed by a week's warm weather on Cyprus over Christmas. Another Warm weather camp on Majorca in February leads into early season races in the USA and then on to the early World Cups. The team will ride both Worlds and Europeans, but each rider will aim to peak for only one: the difference in altitude between the two venues - Colorado (high) and St Wendel (low) - means that preparation will be quite different, depending on which race has priority.

Giant 2001

Giant has announced the roster for its 2001 mountain bike team. The riders are:

Cross Country

  • Rune Hoydahl (Norway): Winner of nine World Cups and twice second in the Tour de France VTT
  • Christophe Dupouey (France): 1996 World Cup Champion, 1998 World Champion
  • Bart Brentjens (Netherlands): 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist, 1995 World CupChampion, 1995 World Champion '95
  • Dominique Arnould (France): 1992-World Cyclo-Cross Champion Thomas Hochstrasser (Switzerland)


  • Myles Rockwell (USA): 2000 World Champion
  • David Vazquez (Spain): 2000 World Cup third overall

Italians chip away at timing

For the 2001 season Italian racers will be issued with personal transponders that work with the timing systems in over 300 road and mountain bike races. The system, developed in a collaboration between WinningTime and ChampionChip, will require a 20,000 Lira (about US$10) deposit from the rider at the first race of the season, and thereafter the rider be tracked by the unique ID code in each transponder chip.

The new system is expected to make life much easier for event organisers in timing and scoring races, though event promoters should use manual systems as backup. After all, to err is human, but everyone knows that to really stuff up you need computers.

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