Cipo and Tafi test the Worlds course: On the same day that saw the ASO, the Society organizing both Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, decide to delete his Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo-RDZ squad from the Paris-Roubaix teams list, maybe as a kind of "retaliation" after Mario Cipollini's refusal to take part in the race (some versions say he was available to take the startline on Sunday only after gettiing adequate guarantees that his team was going to be awarded a TdF wild-card, something JML was not available to give him yet), the Lion King was thinking about a totally different matter: the future World Championships. Indeed, together with Sunday's hero Andrea Tafi and Italy's national coach Franco Ballerini, he tested the Zolder circuit where the event is set to take place in the next month of October.
Both the "Lion King" and the "Gladiator", respective winners of the two opening WC races, got good sensations and delivered positive comments to the press.
It's no mistery at all that Mario Cipollini has already set the 2002 World Championships as one of his main targets, and he regards them as the best chance to grab the Rainbow jersey all over his career. The best one ? Maybe the only one: "the route perfectly suits me" The Lion King stated after riding two laps of the circuit "it is a unique chance for me, as sprinters are not usually given many opportunities to go for the Rainbow jersey, and I don't want to lose this one".
But there are many things to be decided yet "We'll see how the situation is after the Giro, and then make a decision. Of course I expect to have some guarantees. I'll be talking to both the National coach and possible teammates, in order to avoid any misunderstandings: I don't pretend the whole team to be always and completely at my disposal, but it's clear that the squad should have, right from the start, one captain only".
Maybe due to the need to prepare himself for the Worlds, maybe to the very recent "quarrel" involving him and the Tour de France organizers, the chances of seeing Cipo at the "Grande Boucle" seems to get relatively slimmer. "I'd likely split the season in two differents parts. I could take some period off after the Giro" the MSR winner added. Does it mean he gave up all of his hopes to be at the TdF Startline ? We'll see in less than one month.
But also the two other visitors were positively impressed by the Zolder circuit. Andrea Tafi said "I really like the course, such that I might even change my plans for the season. I was supposed to race the Giro, but now I think I'd better save some energies for the end of the season".
As for the third member of the Tuscan crew that visited Zolder, namely Italy's national coach Franco Ballerini, the man was reportedly as prudent as always "I know well Mario, his features and skills. But please don't pretend me to tell you now that he will definitely be the team's leader at the Worlds. Sure the route perfectly suits him. It's completey flat, apart from a small ascent to be tackled with two and a half kilometres to go. A 350-mt. "climb", featuring a 5% gradient in the first 100 metres, 3% in the second piece, and 4% in the final 150 metres. It can hardly make the difference, although after 200 kms. of riding, when participants are tired, a decisive attack by any rider may come. But I think it's wind and rain that may be more decisive there, as it's the easiest course in recent years".
Unstoppable Pozzato wins again: Another triumphal day for one of the biggest revelations of the year 2002: Italy's Filippo Pozzato. The young rider from the Veneto region, already stage and Overall winner at Vuelta a Cuba, but also at Tour of Lago Maggiore and 4 (I said 4 !!) Tour de Normandie legs, repeated victory on Sunday in another Tour of another Swiss lake, this time the "Tour Du Lac Leman" in the French-speaking, Western part of the country. The Italian took the UCI-1.5 race ahead of Ukraine's Mykchaylo Khalilov (Selle-Italia Colombia), podium places getter in two Sicilian races (Trofeo Arancia Rossa and Giro dell'Etna) about one month ago. Third placed was another Italian, Luigi Giambelli, while New Zealand's Frazer McMaster (Volksbank Ideal) got an honourable ninth spot.
RESULTS - TOP 10 PLACES:
1. Filippo Pozzato (Ita - Mapei-Quick Step)
2. Mykchaylo Khalilov (Ukr - Selle Italia-Colombia)
3. Luigi Giambelli (Ita)
4. Domenico Passuello (Ita - Selle Italia-Colombia)
5. Alexandre Moos (Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems)
6. Pierre Bourquenoud (Swi - Saint-Quentin-Oktos)
7. Markus Joho (Swi)
8. Emmanuel Bonnot (Fra)
9. Fraser McMaster (Nzl - Volksbank-Ideal)
10. Gianpaolo Cheula (Ita - Mapei-Quick Step)
A woman as technical Director of Italy's Track Cycling Teams: Good news for women in cycling are coming from Italy: one of the strongest female Track specialist ever, Olympic Gold medallist and multiple World Champion Antonella Belluti, has been appointed as new Technical Director of Italy's National Track Cycling Teams. The Italian rider, with a very recent past in ... Bobsleigh (indeed she took part in both the 2001-2002 World Cup and Salt Lake City Olympics, of course the results was not the same as in Track Cycling ...) will be training both Men's and Women's national squads. The President of the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI), Giancarlo Ceruti, expressed all of his satisfaction at Belluti's appointment, adding that's a further sign of women's achievements in the cycling world.
Nicole Cooke wins again in Italy And good news for British Women's Cycling are coming from Italy too. Of course I'm referring to Nicole Cooke, the young Welsh sensation who currently rides for Deia-Pragma-Colnago. The 2001 double World Champion, already winner of "Trofeo Citta' di Fusignano" some weeks ago, repeated victory on Sunday, as she took the "4th Memorial Pasquale De Carlo" ahead of Switzerland's Priska Doppmann and no less than the 2000 Elite World Road Champion, Zinaida Stahurskaja of Belarus. Ms. Cooke won a bunch sprint, which saw also two Australians (Katie Mactier and Elizabeth Tadich) in the TOP 10, while Sara Carrigan ranked twelfth, just ahead of Olivia Gollan. 16th place for Kim Shirley, whereas Alison Wright ranked 18th only.
RESULTS - TOP 10 PLACES:
1. Nicole Cooke (GBR - Team Deia Pragma Colnago);
2. Priska Doppmann (Swi - Team 2002);
3. Zinaida Stahurskaja (Blr - U.S.C.I. Chirio Forno D'Asolo);
4. Regina Schleicher (Ger - G.S. Accadue O Pasta Zara Lorena);
5. Svetlana Boubenkova (Rus - G.S. Edilsavino);
6. Katie Mactier (Aus - S.C. Michela Fanini);
7. Luisa Tamanini (Ita - Team 2002);
8. Diana Ziliute (Lit - G.S. Accadue O Pasta Zara Lorena);
9. Nicole Brandli (Swi - G.S. Accadue O Pasta Zara Lorena);
10. Elizabeth Tadich (Aus - Team 2002)