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100th Paris-Roubaix - CDM

France, April 14, 2002

Paris - Roubaix News - April 12, 2002

Cipollini's team excluded from Paris-Roubaix

Not unexpectedly, Mario Cipollini's Acqua e Sapone cycling team has been excluded from this Sunday's 100th Paris-Roubaix, after the World Cup leader announced yesterday that he would not be starting. Cipollini cited the dangerous nature of the race, and the fact that he was ignored by the Amaury Sports Organisation, the organisers of Paris-Roubaix and the TdF, for last year's Tour de France.

The invitation to Paris-Roubaix was only given after Cipollini won Milan-San Remo, and his team manager called up the ASO. They had to ask for special dispensation from the UCI to allow at 26th team into the race, and this was granted. However with Cipo now a no-show, there was no reason for the ASO to keep that spot open for Acqua e Sapone.

"Following Cipollini's decision not to participate, ASO has decided not to retain the application of Acqua e Sapone," read an ASO statement. "The team asked to be included so Cipollini could defend his World Cup leader jersey."

Cipollini has only finished Paris-Roubaix twice, the last time being 1992 when he finished 69th. He is not alone in ignoring what most consider the toughest and most dangerous one day classic. Both Tour de France specialists Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain have chosen not to do it.

Acqua e Sapone said it should have made the original 25-team lineup because it won two of the past three World Cup races (including last year's Tour of Lombardy).

"We'll use the weekend to rest up and better prepare for next month's Giro d'Italia," said team manager Vincenzo Santoni to Darren Tulett, of Bloomberg news. "It would have been difficult for us to do well anyway, because you need special preparation for Paris-Roubaix."

Cipollini has alternative plans for this weekend. He will be in Imola (sitting in the Renault box) for the GP San Marino, to celebrate the birthday of his friend Flavio Briatore. Not exactly a 'Sunday in Hell'.

Cipollini's snub may be felt on May 2, when the final five (or six) wild cards are given out to teams for this year's Tour de France. Only one French team (Cofidis) has automatically qualified via its UCI ranking, which means that the remainder of the wild card positions are likely to be awarded to French teams.

Paris-Roubaix: Mapei-Domo showdown in Centenary Edition

100 years is a long time in cycle racing, and only a few events have reached that milestone. Paris-Roubaix was first run in 1896 and has withstood the test of time to become one of the monuments of the sport. It's an incredibly tough race to win - a combination of experience, good luck, good positioning, good legs and a good team is necessary in this race more than any other.

The brutal cobblestone sections, which total 49.3 kilometres this year, really shape the race. There are 26 of them, the first at Troisvilles after 100 kilometres. The last is in Roubaix, just before the riders enter the velodrome for the final sprint. The cobbles are tough on both bodies and bikes, and normally sturdy equipment is really put to the test in the Hell of the North.

Andrea Tafi on the new sections of Roubaix

The Mapei team, headed by Andrea Tafi, Daniele Nardello, and Stefano Zanini will previewing the course on Friday morning over some of the cobbled sections that they will have to face on Sunday.

"The only new part of the race is the section called Moulin de Vertain," said Tafi. "It is a section of 500 metres of uneven, potholed and badly looked after cobbled paving that could be dangerous in wet conditions."

The amount of cobbled surface has also increased from 47,300 metres in 2001 to 49,300 metres this year. The Trouée d'Arenberg section will be a key point of the race once again; in the forest it will be easy to work out who will be able and who won't be able to win the race."

"It really is fundamental being able to see the route. This is the only way one can guess what the conditions of the cobblestones will be. Guess...but not really ever fully understanding them! This is the charm of the Roubaix!"

Bruyneel on Hincapie

US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel is looking forward to Roubaix, where he feels George Hincapie is in with a good chance. "The team morale is really high after the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem," Bruyneel said. "I am also happy to say that we came through with a solid team performance in both races, which was not the case last year. Last year, George was good but the team was not so good, and mentally that is a big advantage for him and the other guys."

"Everybody is really excited for Sunday and knows it is a big day for the team. Normally, everybody is a little bit scared of Paris-Roubaix. Now, it is just the opposite - we are hungry to be there."

On Hincapie, Bruyneel added, "He feels really good right now and knows he is one of the big favorites for Sunday. He is also perfectly able to deal with his role. That is the George that we didn't know until now; he was always holding off and waiting to see what would happen. He has made a big step forward mentally."

Lotto will ride without Eeckhout

Nico Eeckhout will not start in this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, due to a wrist injury sustained in last week's Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Nico raced in the mid-week classic Gent-Wevelgem, attacking from the gun and riding solo for 80 kilometres before he was caught by the speeding peloton.

The Lotto-Adecco team for Paris-Roubaix will be built around Peter Van Petegem, with Hans De Clercq, Thierry Marichal, Gorik Gardeyn, Glenn d'Hollander, Kevin Van Impe, Stefan Van Dijk and Aart Vierhouten the eight riders.

Tom Steels not ready

Belgian Tom Steels will not be part of the Mapei squad to contest Paris-Roubaix, despite a solid showing this year in the early season races. Steels has been sick for over two years, after he contracted mononucleosis (glandular fever) in 2000. It's been a slow recovery, but he seems to be getting there.

"I need to take a break before I return to my peak, physically and mentally," he said. "The start of the season has been encouraging, but I am not confident enough to play a leading role in a race such as Paris-Roubaix."

His replacement is Fabien De Waele.

Gaumont doubtful for Paris-Roubaix

Cofidis rider Philipe Gaumont is suffering from a respiratory complaint caused by an allergy and is therefore unlikely to start Paris-Roubaix this weekend.

Gaumont, who is currently riding the Circuit de la Sarthe, consulted a pulmonary specialist after the first stage.

Paris-Roubaix sector to be named after Duclos-Lassalle

To mark the 100th edition of Paris-Roubaix this weekend, one of the decisive sections of pave will get a new name. Section five, at Cysoing, 25km from the finish, will be named after Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle in a ceremony this Saturday timed to coincide with the traditional Paris-Roubaix cyclo-tourist ride.

Duclos-Lassalle, one of only a handful of riders to win back-to-back editions of Paris-Roubaix (1992 and 1993), said he was "Pleasantly surprised" by the decision to honour him. "The North is my second homeland. I always say that when I fold up my map of france, BŽarn and the North touch.

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