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News Roundup: 11 February 2003
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 2/11/2003
News Roundup: 11 February 2003
 

Cipo and Lucien

Drama before the race - the Lion King makes the Tour winner turned race organizer mad, the organizer strikes out...read about it in the Tour Méditerranéen race preview.

Virenque on Armstrong

Speaking to the French daily La Provence, Quickstep's Richard Virenque pays US Postal's Lance Armstrong honors - "I think that he will win the Tour six times before the end of his career," going on to say, "he is much stronger than before his illness. He is from another planet."

Virenque himself hopes to win a stage at the Tour, saying that his constitution is better now than it was this time last year.  (Team Telekom)

A new Pirata?

After deciding to stay with his faithful sponsor, Mercatone Uno, Marco Pantani realizes that perhaps his best years are behind him. Speaking to sports daily l'Equipe, "Il Pirata" seems to have finally found some peace and is looking at things with a very open mind. "The months ahead will be decisive but I look forward to them without any particular stress, with the idea that I have some fuel left in me or at least a little pride." His team will now have Division II status, and the 1998 Giro and Tour winner hopes that his results will allow the team to get invited to the Tour de France.

Although in the past the Italian criticized the Tour organizers for not inviting him, as a previous Tour winner, Pantani's view has shifted quite a bit. "I could have joined a first division (top 16) team knowing I would make the Tour, but I would rather earn my place." The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which will rule on the case against him for the use of the prohibited substance insulin, is supposed to have a verdict very shortly. If worse comes to worst, Pantani can return to the peloton in April.

Knowing that his performance perhaps will not be what it used to be, Pantani is set to race one more season. "I will probably never be the great Pantani again." The memories of the small climber setting the mountain roads on fire may be a thing of the past. "But it's irrelevant now. I'm looking to establish a new relationship with my job, to find new serenity." (Reuters; thanks to Manny)

Tour of Flanders gets tougher

The Tour of Flanders, the World cup race, will be even more difficult in 2003. Three new bergs have been included into the course, which increases the number of bergs to 19.

The first is the "Foreest" of Saint-Maria-Horebeke, whose slope is very narrow and increasingly steep towards the top. The "Ladeuze" and the "Nokereberg" will also form part of the course. This last is also climbed in "Nokere Koerse” (the 1.3 cat race won last year by Aurelien Clerc)

Boigneberg and Steenberg climbs will make their reappearance.

According to Edwig Van Hooydonck, twice former winner, these modifications will favour a victory record for Museeuw. The first part of the course was also redrawn: after the departure in Bruges, the riders will not go in direction of the coast but in direction of Eeklo, Aalter and Waregem, which enables them to arrive much more quickly in the zone of the "Berg".

The race will be run Sunday 6th April.

Source: VRT Teletekst

Sean Kelly's appreciative countrymen

The annual sports awards ceremony in Sligo, Ireland, had local cycling legend Sean Kelly as a special guest. Prior to Kelly taking to the podium, his career highlights were given (multiple Milan-San Remo winner, multiple Paris Nice winner, Vuelta a Espana winner, just to name a few). The audience was thrilled, making him wait to speak for several minute while they gave him a standing ovation. (Sligo Weekender)

Hunter the Spanish house hunter

South African Robby Hunter of Rabobank is looking to live in southern Espana, perhaps in a place at the beach, nearby the residence of teammate Oscar Freire. Hunter, Freire and team have been training hard, and Hunter says he “has never trained so hard, or for so long, in my life!” (Super Cycling )

Beloki's plans

Joseba Beloki gave an interview to Marca.com's J. Benitez while in training with his ONCE team in Spain. Asked about the conclusion of his contract this year with ONCE, Beloki says that while it's true his contract ends this season, he hopes to be able to stay with the team - "I fought three years ago to ride in this team and I obtained it. They have given me much and I also believe that I done the same for them."

With his primary objectives being the Tour and the Vuelta this year, Beloki reflects: "...it is true that I was unhappy for not having done more in the Vuelta. I did not begin it well the first week in Andalucia, because, although I gave it everything, I could not find the pace of the competition. But in the Tour, yes, I did all that I could."

"I think that I should modify my attitude in the Tour. I recognize that I have been somewhat conservative and maybe I should become a more aggressive rider, to trust myself more. To believe that I can come closer more times to the quadruple winner of the Tour, Lance Armstrong. Maybe not resign myself in the last week to second place as I did last year. And, partly, all that experience that I can gain in the Tour will be good me for the month of September, which this year is quite a hard Vuelta."

Asked about his team's chance in the Tour, Beloki says that while Armstrong may wish to win his fifth tour, he is only one man, whereas the ONCE team "is a block with Igor González de Galdeano, with Acevedo, Serrano, Llansen, etc., and we can do harm enough. And I see that there could be circumstances that allow us to conquer in Paris."

The Peloton infirmary

Two more Quickstep riders have problems - Frederic Amorisson has a troublesome knee, and Domenico Passuello is also having a difficulty. That makes five riders down, sighs manager Patrick Lefevre. In addition, Palmans-Collstrop rider Davy Commeyne has knee and neck troubles. (Teletekst)

Landbouwkrediet Colnago

The Landbouwkrediet team was invited to take part in Paris-Nice but Gerard Buelens has refused. He does not want to burn out his young riders! (Velo Club du Net)

Nigerian top cyclists decry Maltina tour

The Maltina Tour concluded this weekend, and was won by Osaze Owen, the country's number one cyclist. Owen complained that the tour was poorly organized, had insufficient prize money and that he was not treated well. Owen, who won seven of the eight stages, rode on the Edo state team (where he was born) but the team received no assistance from his state government in the tour. The Edo team was also the first place winner.

Owen, who placed in the top 10 of last year's Tour of Burkina Faso, is considered a very promising athlete, but he said of the prize money that, "If all they are giving me for winning the cycling tour is just N25,000, then I don’t think I can take part in the All Africa Games. The reward one gets for competing in this country is not just it, considering how much we spend to take care of ourselves and to maintain our bicycles."

The state's number two athlete, Friday Noruwa, rode a shabby bike for the first several stages, and threatened to pull out of the tour in the fourth stage if he could not at least compete on an adequate bike. The state procured a bike from a bike shop (on fiat) on which Noruwa could compete.

Maltina Tour GC
Men:
1. Owen, Osaze (Edo State) 24hrs.53min.37.02secs
2. Bakare, Afis  (Lagos State) 24hrs.54min.59.92secs
3. Pam Choji (Plateau State) 24hrs.56min.25.55secs

Overall Prime winner
Pam Choji

Women:
1. Caroline Chuwku (Delta State)
2. Isioma Okoboh (Delta State)
3. Rahab Kaze (Plateau State)
(Thanks to The Vanguard and Daily Times of Nigeria)

Australian Women's Road World Cup

Geelong Women’s Tour: 23 – 25 February – Geelong, Victoria
UCI Women’s Road World Cup: 2 March – Geelong, Victoria

A strong field of 90 international and Australian cyclists is expected to compete in the first round of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in Geelong. Entries received include the strong German Nurmberger team which includes Petra Rossner, world ranked #1 in 2002, who will be competing with her team mates Hanka Kupfernagel, Judith Arndt and Australian Margaret Hemsley. Entries have also be received from Miriam Melchers (NED) (world ranked #2), the US based team T-Mobile, Danish Team Grace, Itera from Italy which includes Australians Kym Shirley, Alison Wright and Hayley Rutherford and the Powerplate team from Holland which includes Australians Sara Carrigan and Kate Bates. Australia will be represented by the AIS team which includes Natalie Bates, Olivia Gollan, Emma James. National teams from Japan and New Zealand will also compete.

For information on the Geelong Women’s Tour and UCI Women’s Road World Cup click here. (Thanks to Cycling Australia)

[Author's personal note: Happy Birthday, Dad!]

 
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