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
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 )
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)
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
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
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
here. (Thanks to Cycling Australia)
[Author's personal note: Happy Birthday, Dad!]