News for March 4, 2001

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Het Volk: reactions

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Michele Bartoli
Photo: © Fotoreporter Sirotti

The opening Belgian race of the season was won by an Italian, Michele Bartoli — a very rare occurrence for this race. In 56 editions, no other Italian has won save for Franco Ballerini in 1995. Of course the Belgians were disappointed, but Bartoli is a true champion and it was not a chance win.

Lotto's Hendrik Van Dijck finished in second place after being one of the strongest attackers in the final break. His last attack came on the cobbles in Lokeren near the end, but he was unable to hold off the likes of Nardello, Bartoli, Den Bakker and Pronk. "I was sure that I would win when our top group reached the last cobbles," he said. "But I totally underestimated Bartoli...I thought I could win here today, but now just second. It is a pity."

Lotto's sporting director, Jef Braeckevelt, added "Don't forget that Van Dijck was up against Nardello and Bartoli, two top riders. What could we put over them?... Lotto made the race."

World Champion Romans Vainsteins (Domo), could only finish 70th today, 11.02 behind the winner. "The first race in Belgium is always special, but in the end it was not what I expected. We lost the race on the Oude Kwaremont, not because of the closed train crossing."

Mapei's sporting director Eric Vanderaerden said that Bartoli and Nardello rode the "perfect race." They beat Mapei's Belgian offshoot, Domo-Farm Frites, on their home turf: "It is pleasant to start the first race in Belgium with a win. I hope that Bartoli has found his form early. But the season is long and Domo can always come good."

Domo's Marc Sergeant said that his boys lost the race on the closed train crossing after the Muur at Geraardsbergen. "We were only 20 seconds from getting across and after the second attempt, only 15 seconds but we were doing it on our own. We were riding a totally different race to the 10 [leaders]. But Kuurne follows tomorrow. I hope that it will not be as dramatic."

Pitallier new FFC president

At its AGM yesterday the Fédération française de cyclisme (FFC) yesterday elected Jean Pitallier as its new president. 68 year old Pitallier, who has been general secretary of the FFC for 20 years, replaces extremely popular outgoing president Daniel Baal.

Pitallier was nominated by the FFC general committee after none of the previously announced candidates was able to muster high level of support from the AGM.

Daniel Baal was quick to express his support for his successor. "He has my complete confidence," said Baal, adding that the two had worked together for eight years.

Pitallier was chief time-keeper of the Tour de France and has performed many roles in the French cycling community, as a commissaire and manager at the FFC.

Asked if his age was a handicap, Pitallier said "Some will see me as an old fogey. Above all, it's a handicap to replace Daniel Baal. I certainly don't have his scope, but I will surround myself with young people in key roles."

"You have to understand my surprise — I was not a candidate. The circumstances and the management committee decided otherwise. In a way you could say I'm a shadowy figure, but I have been involved in cycling for a long time."

French cycling is still reeling from the doping scandals of the last few years and on the fight against doping, Pitallier said, "The authorities must work with us and help us as much as possible. We have asked to increase testing, especially at the amateur and espoir level. The response has not been negative, but I would like to see this in other sports than cycling as well."

Pitallier said his other priorities were for cycling to regain its credibility, and to contribute to its development as a sport. He added, "I have been presented as being anti-mountain biking, but in fact I have nothing against mountain biking, I just have a problem with the attitude of some mountain bikers. I want to see mountain biking take part in the development of cycling. It's necessary to widen the appeal to bring in riders who don't come from the 'cycling family'.

Pitallier has already announced the appointment of some members of his team. Patrick Cluzaud will continue as national technical director and Armand Mégret will return as federation doctor. David Lappartient will take the position of treasurer and Patrice Roy will succeed Pitallier as general secretary.

Pitallier intends to continue the work of Daniel Baal, but "I will not be on television all the time."

Ochoa driver gives testimony

Sebastián Fernández, the driver of the car that hit Ricardo and Javier Ochoa last month, has explained to the investigating judge that the accident was caused when one of the riders swerved into his path.

Fernández, who is director of Sport at the University of Málaga, said the rider on the right of the pair suddenly appeared in his path. He fell on to the hood of Fernández' vehicle and his bike was knocked into the other rider.

Fernández said he was not talking on the phone or smoking at the time of the accident and was looking out for traffic, although the road was fairly quiet. He was unable to say exactly how fast he was going, admitting he hadn't looked at the speedometer, but thought he was doing a "slow and careful speed."

Javier Ochoa remains in a serious condition in the Carlos Haya Hospital in Malaga after the crash which killed his brother.

Pantani has bronchitis

Marco Pantani's abandoning of the Vuelta Valencia on Friday has been ascribed to bronchitis. Pantani was 38 minutes down on leader Michael Boogerd at the time, and is now uncertain for Wednesday's Tour of Murcia.

Almeria today

Roberto Heras, Lance Armstrong and Stefan Garzelli are all scheduled to start today's Clasica de Almeria (1.4), the first significant Spanish one-day race of the season. Marco Pantani was also due, but given his condition seems unlikely to show up.

However, stars like Heras Armstrong and Garzelli are not favourites to win a race this early in the season: more likely candidates are classic specialists Jeroen Blijlevens and Ivan Gotti.

The peloton will have a common enemy: the strong, gusty winds at the beginning of the race and the steepness of the climb into the Sierra de los Filabres mountains and the first category Collado García. If the mountains don't split the field, look for sprinters like Andrei Zintchenko (LaPecol), Juan Carlos Domínguez (iBanestocom), Isaac Gálvez (Kelme), last year's winner Markus Zberg (Rabobank) or 'local' Serguei Smetanin (Jazztel-Costa de Almería).

The team roster consists of:, Kelme, Euskaltel, ONCE, Fuenlabrada, Jazztel Costa Almería, all from Spain; LaPecol from Portugal; Italians Alessio, Mercatone-Uno and Mapei; Nürnberger and Team Coast of Germany; the Netherlands' Rabobank; Belgian teams Collstrop and Lotto and US Postal.

McEwen leads the way

Victory lists and statistics are important in most sports as a way of measuring a rider's "worth". Although many statistics not really comparable from decade to decade as cycling develops, crossing the line first is a fairly well established means of determining the winner.

To that end, the following list of riders shows who has been the most successful so far this season. Counting "National Events (NE)" which do not earn UCI points, but are still contested by top pro's, Domo-Farm Frites' Robbie McEwen leads the way with six victories in 2000. McEwen has stage wins in the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Mallorca Challenge, as well as three races + the overall classification of the Bay Series.

Erik Zabel might have something to say about that though, winning five races (all UCI classified) in the last four weeks. Zabel is clearly in top condition, and will be the one to watch in Milan San Remo, despite what the Italians have to say. Mercury's Baden Cooke also has five wins, but none of these have been in UCI events.

Paolo Lanfranchi (Mapei) has four wins, courtesy of the Tour de Langkawi, and Endrio Leoni (Alessio), Nuna Marta (Porta da Ravessa), Fabio Sacchi (Saeco) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) have three victories each this season.

Mapei leads the way in the team victories with 12, while Italy is the most successful country with 24, followed by Australia (14), Germany (11) and Nederland (10).

Matt White caption competition

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Matt White
Photo ©: Steffen Kjaergaard

We've had over 300 suggestions for captions the photo of Matt White we ran on Wednesday. We'll announce a winner on Thursday next week, so you still have time to come up with something, and in the meantime, we've posted a selection of the best entries so far on the photo page.

Not surprisingly we got lots of gags on the theme of 'Drop and give me 20', a few 'contact lenses' lines, some convoluted explanations about yoga and geomancy and quite a few laugh-aloud one-liners. Thanks for the enthusiastic response!

Team Ashby Street Racing/Evolution Cycling

Last year's Team Ashby Street Bicycles/Lifetime Results has merged with Evolution Cycling to produce Team Ashby Street Racing/Evolution Cycling. The Team will concentrate on races in the Mid-Atlantic area, with a few members doing MTB, CycloCross and Triathlons. The roster boasts some experienced international racers, Ex-pros and even an Olympian.

The Team is primarily supported by Ashby Street Bicycles (a shop out of Warrenton VA) and by Evolution Cycling (a fitness centre in Vienna VA).

Team Roster

Senior Men

Pedro Hijar (Cat. 2)
Chris Schmidt (Cat. 1)
Nima Ebrahimnejad (Cat. 1) (Iran)
Jubal Harpster (Cat. 2)
Andrew Dietrich (Cat. 2)
Rick Norton (Cat. 1)
Brent Arthurs (Cat. 2)
Todd Roberts (Cat. 2)
Michael Stearns (Cat. 2)
Michael Voight (Cat. 2)


Chris Hayes (Expert/Cat. 1)
Siméon Green (Expert/Cat. 4) (United Kingdom)
Jonathan Keiper (Junior/Age 13)
Mathew Keiper (Junior/Age 10)


Cara Lagerbloom (Cat. 4)
Jannelle Hubbard (Cat. 3)
Terry Sweitzer (Cat. 3)


Ray Alvareztorres (Cat. 3)
Steve Dontigny (Cat. 3)
Charles Schrier (Cat. 3)
Temple Washington (Cat. 3)


Andrew Gutierrez
Andrew Concordia
Fernando Lulli
Kyle Maginnis
James Weightman
Dan Wilson


Karen Wallace
Chris Hughes
Jessie Leifer
Jason Goyanko


Ashby Street Bicycles (
Evolution Cycling
Giant Bikes
Rolf Wheels

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