Transfers and Contracts- 24 year Khazak, Andrei Kivilev will wear the Festina colors next season, next to World Champion Laurent Brochard and Richard Virenque. Kivilev, who was born on September 21, 1973, rode the second half of 1997 with the French Team of Saint-Etienne. He is considered a good climber and will not be the only acquisition by Festina: Bruno Roussel has decided that he will hire one or two more young riders, if the UCI doesn't change their decision, that will bring the number of riders to 22, the maximum number allowed.
He recently won the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic in Australia.
Criterium de la Comunidad Valenciana - Tony's Last RaceSwiss cyclist Toni Rominger won the 8th edition of the Criterium de la Comunidad Valenciana, disputed today at Vall d'Uxó, where he said goodbye to professioanl cycling. Rominger was the center of attention of the race contested under rain in front of 5,000 fans.
In the Italian style Pursuit competition, two teams were formed, one of Spanish riders and another one of foreign riders and in the end Paco Benítez beat Maurizio Fondriest. The Points competition was won by Melchor Mauri, with 31 points followed by Rominger with 23 and Enrico Zaina with 16. The elimination competition was the most spectacular, with Pascal Richard taking the win over Claudio Chiapucci, with Rominger coming in third, which allowed him to be the overall points winner, after accumulating more points than anybody in the three races.
Rominger Feature including InterviewThe years don't pass in vain. At the beginning of this year, Miguel Indurain announced his retirement, at the end of 1997, it is Tony Rominger's turn to say goodbye. Rominger finishes with 115 victories.
Rominger arrived in Spain directly from the US, where he spent 10 days with his family in Arizona, admiring the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Here is an interview with him from Gazzetto dello Sport:
- Mr. Rominger, from now on you will be an ex-cyclist...
"I have ridden my last race and I haven't changed my mind. Although ironically, right know I'm feeling the best: the form arrived at the end of the season".
- So what now?
"McCormack's IMG offered me a contract to maintain contact with their riders and to eventually look for new riders. Also Cofidis is looking into a role for me in their public relations".
- Is it true that Dr. Michele Ferrari has proposed for you to try again an asault on the Hour Record?
"Yes, right before I go on vacation, he wanted to do some testing. But I ask myself if I should remain a cyclist for another month, to prepare myself, but in the end I have decided to leave it all".
- Which has been the most beautiful moment of your career?
"When I won my first Vuelta in '92. People used to say that I wasn't a Major Stage Race rider and with that success I silenced my critics. From there on, I would become a player in the Major Stage Races".
-You have a Swiss passport, but have built your fortune in Italy and Spain and even signed a contract with a French team: to which country do you feel you owe the most?
"I feel like a European that appreciates the great things that have occured to me at the different places. Every country has given me something".
- Which one is your biggest regret?
"At the 1993 Tour where I was really strong: I lacked a little luck. But in the bigger picture, that I wasn't able to win a World title".
- At the Tour you had the misfortune of competing with Indurain, the strongest cyclist during that time...
"Every period has had their champions and Indurain has won a lot of the important races that I've would have liked to win. But after Miguel, there was me".
- Do you want to leave a message to your colleagues who continue?
"To prevent a serious incident, remember: that their health is the most important thing".
Rominger mentioned today that the Spanish fans have always treated him right. "After so many years of sacrifice in the cycling world" said Rominger, "I want to take advantage and be with my family". The rider added that this is the time to open room for the young riders, "who are coming fast". The Swiss champion said that he hopes to come back to Spain to visit and that he's been trying to convince his wife to move the family to Spain.
Tony Rominger was born in Vojens (Denmark). He is 1.75 tall and weighs 65 kg. He has been a professional since 1986, riding with Clio, Supermercati Brianzoli, Chateau d'Ax, Toshiba, Clas, Mapei-Clas, Mapei-GB and Cofidis. His most important victory, the 1995 Giro d'Italia (he spent 21 days in Pink), three consecutive Vueltas ('92,'93 & '94, a record), two Giro di Lombardias ('89 & '92), two Tirreno-Adriatico ('89 & '90), two Tour of Romandie ('91 & '95). He has won the King of the Mountain at the Tour '93. He established the hour record riding 53.832km at Bordeaux on October 22, 1994 and improved it on November of '94 at 55.291 (the current record is held by Boardman with 56.375).
XV Subida al TxitxarroJose Ramón Uriarte, from Team Banesto, said goodbye to the season and probably his career as a professional cyclist with a victory at the XV Subida al Txitxarro, contested today over 14km between the climbs of Itzíar & Zumaia. Uriarte finished the time trial with the best time amongst the 31 participants. Uriarte beat Alberto Leanizbarrutia (ONCE), while third place went to Unai Osa (Banesto), more than 1/2 minute away from the winner.
Jose Ramón Uriarte is without a team for next season. "I'm happy to conclude this season with this success, but this might be my last professional race. Things are very difficult with the new 22 rider law and although I'm an optimist by nature, I'm also a realist and I see it difficult", he lamented. He refused to give up though: I will start training on November 3rd, like if I was going to ride my ninth season. I'm going to give myself a period of time and if I get an offer, great".
His most pleasant memories include "the Giro that we won with Miguel in 92, because of the people present and the environment. In terms of my palmares, I have always worked for others, but I have had some victories, a stage at Valles Mineros, Vuelta a Mallorca, at Cuenca, team time trial at Burgos, Memorial Agostinho in Portugal and I can't forget the five Tours that I rode with Miguel Indurain, Giro d'Italia and Worlds", concluded Jose Ramón Uriarte.
1. Joserra Uriarte (Banesto) 11:50 2. Alberto Leanizbarrutia (ONCE) 11:51 3. Unai Osa (Banesto) 12:30 4. Mikel Zarrabeitia (ONCE) 12:31 5. Aitor Bugallo (Euskadi) 12:35
Amstel Gold NewsA friend in my second home, Maastricht writes - "The big news is that the Amstel Gold Race will start and finish in Maastricht from next year onwards. The riders complained about the start in Heerlen, because it was always so crowded there. They will now start at the Markt. Further. the Tour Director is thinking about skipping Belgium from the program (for unclear reasons), so it will be a race entirely in the Netherlands.
[Bill notes: Eek! No Halembaye or Simeon-St-Pieter or Mont St. Pieter (all in the Belgian part of the race)? And when I was back in Maastricht in August I followed the major part of the route with my digital camera and took some (65) shots for next year's presentation. I was to be seen lying down on top of Halembaye looking back down the Valley into Vise/Wezet to get you all an impression of the slope. And now they skip Belgium!]
Cyclo Cross from Belgium
Doomkerke Cat A, November 2 1 A Daelemans (Bel) Elite 2 J Van Donink (Bel) Elite 3 G David (Bel) Elite 4 N Clarysse (Bel) Elite 5 K De Roose (Bel) Elite Lochristi, Elite w/o contract + espoirs, November 1 1 G Lauwers (Bel) 2 H Wuyts (Bel) 3 F Leyseele (Bel) Houthalen, Elite w/o contract + espoirs, November 2 1 B Berden (Bel) 2 K Volckaerts (Bel) 3 T Vannoppen (Bel) 4 A Moonen (Bel) 5 P Janssens (Bel) Mechelen-Battel, Elite w/o contract + espoirs, November 2 1 H Wuyts (Bel) 2 D Laenen (Bel) 3 M Verschueren (Bel) 4 G Vandaele (Bel) 5 E Torfs (Bel) Steken-Bosdorp, Elite w/o contract + espoirs, November 2 1 F Leyseele (Bel) 2 P Van loon (Bel) 3 C Engels (Bel) 4 T Pynaert (Bel) 5 D Dekeukelaere (Bel)
Guide to Spectating at the Tour de FranceBruce Hildebrand published this on a news group. He is after comments so that he (we) can build his initial (excellent) effort into a FAQ list.
There are two basic ways you can watch the Tour de France. First off, you can join an organized tour group. The advantages with a tour group are that all the logistics are taken care of for you, all you have to do is watch and ride your bike. The disadvantages are that you must stick to the schedule of the group and there is a potential to be staying farther away from the venues because it is harder to find accommodations for a group. There are many tour groups which provide this service. Surf the Internet or check out the back of any major cycling periodical for the names of the touring companies.
This guide explains the second option, doing it by yourself, in more detail.
If you are on a very limited budget, you might try to use trains and buses to get to the locations of the stages. This is not too difficult an option when viewing the flatter stages, but gets more difficult as the Tour enters the mountains. If you can afford it, a car is a definite plus, especially if you want to bring your bike and do some cycling. Renting a car runs about $US300-400 a week then you have to add in gas ($5/gallon) and tolls, so figure about $US400-500/week total expenses. [Bill notes: what is a gallon Bruce? In France, you might have some trouble buying one!]
Because of the large entourage (riders, press, support personnel) who follow the Tour, hotels can be hard to find. This is especially true, in the mountains, but there are some tricks. Many mountain stages finish at the top of ski resorts with the Tour entourage staying in the hotels at the resort. You may be able to find accommodations in the large towns at the bottom of the resorts or at the end of the valleys, such as Grenoble when the Tour comes to l'Alpe d'Huez. Better yet, try another mountaintop ski resort near the stage finish such as Les Arcs when the Tour finishes at Courcheval. It is best to make accommodations as early as possible to ensure getting a room.
Another option that gives more flexibility is to camp along the route. If you are driving by car, you can toss in a tent and a sleeping bag(s) and camp almost anywhere along the route. It is important that you bring a tent since afternoon and evening thunderstorms are common.
A number of cycling related magazines such as Mirroir du Cyclisme and VeloNews publish guides to the Tour which includes some route information to help you plan where you would like to watch the Tour. Sometimes, you can obtain a free copy of the official route map, I have seen these in years past, but don't know how to request one.
Getting on the Route
Obviously, the actual route of each day's stage is closed to both car and bicycle traffic at some during the day. The problem here is that the policy for closure seems to vary from year to year. One year the road up to l'Alpe d'Huez was closed at 6am the morning of the stage finish and another year, the police were letting cars on the road 2 hours before the riders arrived (about 3 pm)! Suffice it to say that if you absolutely need to be somewhere at a specific time, you should give yourself lots of time.
The gendarme's seem to be more lenient towards letting bicycles on the race route, most times they start asking riders to dismount with about 1 hour to go before the riders arrive. However, recent incidents between spectators and racers have caused the Gendarmes to be more stringent in enforcing the rules.
If you really want to ride a stage or portions of it, your best bet might be to do it the day before or the day after the Tour has come by, but that defeats the purpose of going to see the Tour in the first place.
On the flatter stages, there are more options of roads to follow to intersect the Tour. This helps if you want to see a lot of a particular stage and you have a car. In the mountains, the options are much more restrictive. One thing you can do is to stay at the stage finish and then on the morning of the stage, ride backwards over 1 or 2 climbs, then climb back up to the finish in time to watch the stage on the big scree TV that is present at most stage finishes. You then drive to the next stage finish in the evening after all the hoopla has quieted down.
Visiting teams after stage
At the stage finishes it is difficult to actually visit the teams at their hotels. The riders need to prepare themselves for the next day which means getting massages, eating some food and resting are very important. While it is not advisable to attempt to visit the riders, the team mechanics are usually out in front, or back, of the hotel washing and adjusting the riders bicycles. As with the riders, the mechanics have important duties to attend to after each stage, but they usually don't mind if you watch them work. You might even curry their favor by offering to buy them a beer!
Gear to bring
The weather is totally unpredictable during the Tour so you should bring clothing for hot, cold and wet weather. If you are touring by car and will be camping, in addition to your personal gear, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent will give you a lot of freedom.
Daily newspapers/TV coverage
The French sports newspaper l'Equipe has excellent daily coverage of the Tour. It costs about $1 a day. Daily TV coverage of the Tour starts around 2pm giving about 3 hours of coverage as all stages are designed to finish around 5pm in the evening. On the days of the more important stages such as the time trials and mountains, TV coverage may follow the entire stage and begin as early as 9am. If you have access to cable TV, you should be able to find coverage in the major European languages.
Also, there usually is a large TV screen present at the finish of most stages which carries the video of the normal TV coverage.