Brothers Aitor and Unai Osa, Moreau Injured, Ullrich Race Schedule, Deutschland-Tour News, Brioches-La Boulangère News, CSC Team News, Joseba Albizu to Euskatel, Team Monex, JCTDU- the Directors Cut, Totalcycling-Corrib Cycling Team, TdL News
The Osa Brothers
Brothers Aitor and Unai Osa, veterans of the peloton, both start 2004 with different objectives but they have one thing in common, both are hoping for good health and a good season.
Riding for Illes Balears-Banesto
"With Banesto you always have opportunities. Last season was good for me. I just lacked the victory that some of my rides deserved, such as my second place in La Flèche Wallonne and my second place in the Vuelta a España, stage to Plá de Beret."
Aitor Osa joined the peloton in 1994 with the Euskadi team and moved to Banesto in 1997 where he has achieved all his major results.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Aitor is still upset at how stage 8 of the Vuelta, finishing in Plá de Beret, turned out –
"It still annoys me, I did all the work and yet it was the Once-Eroski rider Joaquín Rodríguez who took the victory. In La Flèche Wallonne, Igor Astarloa was better than me, the strongest man on the day, I have no problems with him at all but that stage in the Vuelta was something else".
Joy for Joaquín Rodríguez, despair for “the bear” – photo courtesy La Vuelta.
Although throughout 2003 Aitor rode well it was a slightly disappointing season: "In 2002 I also had a high level of form but was able to win last year, maybe I lacked that little bit of luck that is always necessary."
For 2004 Aitor and his team hope to start strongly - "The first target will be Paris Nice and then I hope to maintain my form until the Vuelta al País Vasco. After that I will rest and prepare for the Tour." His racing calendar will begin in Mallorca, then he will ride the Vuelta a Andalucía, París-Niza, Semana Catalana and Vuelta al País Vasco.
"I will start racing again in the Euskal Bizikleta. After the Tour I will continue riding as long as I have decent form". Aitor is very happy with the team policy at Banesto: "There are always opportunities with the Banesto team, it is your own fault if you do not take advantage of them.”
In spite of the bad wether over the winter, Aitor did not want to go South to train but he has still managed to get 3,000 kilometers in his legs and hopes this season, after ten years, to ride in his first Tour de France:
"If I go it will be to do well , I am not bothered about being in the race just so I can say I reached Paris. The race is not a target for me so if I do not have the right form I would prefer not to".
Riding for Illes Balears-Banesto
"I do not ask for luck, the only thing that I want is to have good health." The younger brother Unai has had an unlucky winter. The rider from Zestoa has had a problem with his right knee which has held up his pre-season preparations and has been on a course of anti-inflammatory tablets to reduce the swelling".
However, he is back on the rollers and is returning to train on the bicycle little by little, although he is still not at one hundred percent: "I prefer to take my time and not rush things . I am not in a hurry. I am going to begin the season in the Vuelta a Murcia and then will ride the Semana Catalana, Vuelta a Aragón, the Classics, Alcobendas, Euskal Bizikleta and the Volta a
Cataluña. I want to do well in the Euskal." In September he will ride in the Vuelta a España, the only one of the major Tours he will ride in.
Last season is best forgotten: "It was a bad year for me. Until the Vuelta a España I had nothing but bad luck and illness. I suffered from influenza, suffered a back injury in Mallorca. I never managed to really get going all season."
Although he raced for 60 days in 2003, and has ridden one Giro, a Tour and three Vueltas, the highway has not been kind to Unai – he has been plaagued by injury and sickness. The Osa brothers start 2004 with high hopes and we wish them well –
Source: Diario Vasco -
Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole) injured his right knee while training on the Côte d'Azur with his team. "Fortunately, tests have revealed that it is not too serious. An operation is not necessary, the ligaments are not damaged,” said Roger Legeay to AFP. The highest ranked Frenchman in the last Tour de France (8th) will now be out of racing until the Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10th).
"It's just a hitch - Christophe was not expected to ride Paris-Nice anyway," said Roger Legeay.
Ullrich Race Plans
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) will make his racing debut at the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia (March 3rd – 7th) and will also ride the Setmana Catalana de Ciclismo (22nd to 26th March) Tour de la Sarthe (April 6th to 9th) and several Classics in preparation for the Tour de France 2004.
"The first two races "are a good starting point, but I need well the six weeks of preparation up to that point", explained Ullrich. Regarding the Tour de la Sarthe, Ullrich said, "I liked that race last year, so it remains on my racing plans."
Rund um Köln (12th April), la Flèche wallonne (21 April) Liège-Bastogne-Liège (25 April) and the Rund um den Henninger Turm (1st May), which he won in 2003, are also on his racing schedule as préparation for the Tour de France.
Ullrich will continue to train with the rest of the T-Mobile team in Palma Mallorca (Baléares, Spain), until the 25th of January.
Deutschland-Tour to start in the Schalke-Arena?
The Deutschland-Tour has ambitious plans for its 2004 edition of the race according to the evening paper. Although only Leipzig is certain to be on the parcours this year the newspaper reports that the race, which runs from 31 May to 6 June will strat with a Time Trial prologue. There are preliminary plans to use the fabulous Schalke-Arena (Hamburg) as both a starting and finishing point for the event. However, the organisers would have to raise a guarantee sum or deposit since the stadium needs an attendance of at least 25,000 in order to break even.
Last year Michael Rogers sensationally won the event after Gonzalez de Galdeano crashed out in the final time trial. US Postal new boy José Azevedo finished 2nd overall.
Photo courtesy World Stadiums.com
Brioches-La Boulangère News
Brioches-La Boulangère are hoping to compete in all this year's World Cup Events, with the exception the Tour des Flandres. For the rest of the season the team will concentrate on the French and Spanish race calendars.
Joseba Albizu to Euskaltel
The Basque cyclist Joseba Albizu will sign a contract with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team in the next couple of days. The rider had signed a two year contract with Mercatone Uno in 2002 and with the collapse of the team Albizu found himself transferred by his former management to the Barloworld squad.
However, followiing the intervention of Jose Rodriguez, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists, who discussed his case with the UCI, it now seems likely that Albizu will be allowed to sign with Euskaltel. Manager of Euskaltel, Miguel Madariaga, had left one space remaining in his squad for Albizu, and had promised to sign him in 2005 if he did not get the go ahead this year.
Michaelsen Hopes to Retaliate
CSC gear up for their Classics campaign with a strengthened squad and hopefully a season of better fortune for Lars Michaelson.
Last year most of Lars Michaelsen's spring season was ruined by injuries. He now hopes to retaliate in 2004.
"It started out very well, when I was 4th in the Tour of Qatar, but then I was run over by a motorcycle in the Tour de Méditerranéen," Michaelsen says. "I came back finishing 2nd in the Grand Prix Haribo, but the following Wednesday I broke one of my vertebras."
Due to the injury Michaelsen had to wait until the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt to make his actual comeback, after having tried to get back on his bike in both Driedaagse van de Panne and Grand Prix E3 Harelbeke.
"My problem was, that after just 100 kilometers it felt like I had gone 200, so I had to abandon these races," Michaelsen explains. He got a nice victory though, just shortly after his comeback, when he won stage 2 in the 4 Jours de Dunkerque.
However, the long lay-off during the spring season meant that the Team CSC-rider was able to gain only a few points for the world rankings in that period of time, and that is why he now has to win quite a few points during the first months of 2004, if he is to achieve one of his main goals this season.
"I would very much like to qualify for the Olympics. It would be my fourth time at an Olympic Game, and I believe that the route in Athens suits me well, even though it has a climb of about one kilometer," Michaelsen says.
One thing that could make things harder for Michaelsen is, that he and the other Team CSC riders in most of the World Cup races, has to assist the newly acquired classic-specialist Michele Bartoli.
"Obviously Bartoli is our captain in the World Cup, no doubt about it. But I still hope, the other riders on the team will be able to ride their own chance if they are in great shape."
Apart from Michaelsen and Bartoli the main spring classic riders this year at Team CSC will be Maximilian Sciandri, Fabrizio Guidi, Tristan Hoffman, Frank Høj and Thomas Bruun Eriksen.
Monex Deposit Company announces the new UCI Tier III registered Team from Southern California, Team Monex.
The riders are: Roberto Gaggioli (ITA) Team Captain, Gordon McCauley (NZL) Ex-Shroeder Iron, Jacques Benoit (USA) Neo-Pro, Robert Kamppila (USA) Neo-Pro, Josh Goodwin (USA) Neo-Pro, Evan Teske (USA) Neo-Pro, Cameron Brenneman (USA) Neo-Pro, Gregg Medinilla (USA) Pro, Enrigue Ospinosa (COL) Neo-Pro, Paul Thomas (USA) Neo-Pro, Bartek Fidelus (POL) Ex-Pro.
There are additional riders in discussion with team management. The team is based out of the Laguna Beach, California area. The title sponsor, Monex Deposit Company, is based out of Newport Beach, California. Bicycles and other product sponsors have yet to be announced
View from the Director's Chair - Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - Stage 1
Ed Beamon - Navigators Insurance Team Director
The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under began this evening, and the South Australian city of Adelaide rolled out the red carpet. Stage one featured 50km on a 2km circuit, with a 7:30pm start that catered to audience participation. With a crowd around 60,000 in attendance, the big sweeping criterium course was lined with fans, and the balconies of the local pubs and hotels were packed with throngs that had paid a premium for the choice seats. Large screen video monitors and speakers around the course brought the action to everyone in attendance.
The 2004 season's first race started fast with a series of attacks, and after the days 1st points bonus at lap 10, a series of counters set loose a group of 12 riders. Lotto Domo's Robbie McEwen was one of the last to join a group that included Panaria's Aussie sprinter Graeme Brown and teammate Giuliano Figueras, AG2R's Nicolas Portal, Credit Agricole's Cedric Herve and Mads Kaaggestad, Rudi Kemna of Bankgiroloterij, FDJ's Mark Renshaw, Peter Dawson from United Water, and Navigators Insurance leader David McKenzie.
FDJ had missed the boat by not having sprinting star Baden Cooke present, but the lead group was working well together and had built a lead of 40 seconds in less than 6 km. The leaders continued to work smoothly as the field meandered around behind. It was clear that the break would survive, and with four laps to go the gap was over one minute. Without sprinter Vassili Davidenko on the start line, the Navigators squad knew a bunch kick was not a good percentage play, and had planned on trying to spring Macca late in the race.
Now with the small group sprint a seeming inevitability, the sprinting odds did not seem much better. McEwen, Kemna, and Brown were killer field sprinters, and three teams had two riders in the break. As the breakaway rapidly closed the gap to the field, it was expected that the commissaires would pull the field in the final two laps, as had been discussed. Inexplicably, the field stayed on the course, essential forming a potential obstacle for the breakaway finish. Knowing the speed of McEwen, Brown, and Kemna, Navigators McKenzie hit out hard with a lap and half to go.
To his surprise, he roared up on the back end of a still intact lumbering field, quickly slicing his way to the front, and keeping the pressure on the pedals. Alone at the front with 200 meters, it looked as if the gamble had paid, and McKenzie would give his Navigators Insurance Team the first victory of 2004.
But, the field provided the speedy McEwen with a new weapon, and his powerful Lotto Domo team catapulted him through the field, and he charged past the opportunistic Navigator in the closing meters, pulling the breakaway's fastest sprinters with him. McEwen took the stage going away in front of Kemna and Renshaw. McKenzie held on for 7th, after a powerful display.
Cycling: O’Loughlin launches team of his own
Irish newspaper the Western People reports on good news for David O’Loughlin ...
By Martin Ayres
MAYO cyclist David O’Loughlin has got his career back on track less than three months after being plunged into despair by the loss of a sponsor.
Back in October, O’Loughlin was all set to sign for a British professional team. He looked forward to an ambitious racing programme with professional backing in 2004.
Instead, the sponsoring company suffered a financial crisis and the team collapsed. “I was left in the lurch. It was too late to find another pro team so I decided to set up one of my own,” O’Loughlin told the Western People.
Last week he was able to announce the formation of the Totalcycling-Corrib cycling team.
A seven-man line-up will be headed by O’Loughlin, from Cong, plus fellow internationals Tommy Evans (Banbridge) and Philip Deignan (Letterkenny).
Also in the squad is promising Partry rider Mark Quigley, who twice
represented Ireland in under-23 international races last year.
“I think it’s a good set-up which will give me the freedom to follow my own programme,” O’Loughlin added.
O’Loughlin, the current All-Ireland time trial champion and winner of 13 races last year, is one of six candidates short-listed for Olympic selection.
“With only two places up for grabs at Athens it’s going to be extremely tough,” said O’Loughlin. “But I’ll be going all-out to win a place in the Games, it would be the fulfilment of a dream.”
Cycling is an expensive sport and O’Loughlin is grateful to the team’s sponsors Totalcycling.com and McGrath’s Quarry Group of Cong for their vital assistance.
And on February 27, the Corrib Cycling Team is hosting an Am-Am fundraiser at Westport Golf Club. Details from Aidan Moran (Westport GC), tel 086 8652172.
In the meantime, O’Loughlin’s road to Athens starts in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, on February 6 when he lines up for the Tour de Langkawi, a lucrative 10-day event which has attracted some of the world’s top professionals.
“After training in the recent rain and hailstorms, I’m looking forward to some tropical heat and perhaps an opportunity to impress the selectors,” said O’Loughlin
Sayuti leads Malaysia to finish second in Bandung Criterium
Tour de Langkawi
Sayuti Zahid took the second spot, as the six-man national team placed second in the Pikiran Rakyat Criterium in Bandung, Indonesia last Saturday as part of the national team's preparations for the Le Tour de Langkawi.
It was a good showing from both young riders in the national team as coach Ng Joo Ngan chose to leave out veterans Shahrulneeza Razali and Nor Effandy Rosli for the race, and give 19-year old Sayuti and 20-year old Wan Mohd Najmi Wan Mohamed some needed exposure.
The race was dominated by two teams looking to make an impact in the LTdL, the Malaysian national team and Indonesian UCI division three trade team Wismilak.
Wismilak's Matnur Muslimin won the 22.2 kilometre criterium ahead of Sayuti, and Najmi proved a point by finishing fourth, behind Wismilak's Samai.
With Shahrulneeza and Effandy left out of the team, Joo Ngan ran Sayuti and Najmi with Suhardi Hassan, Musairi Musa and Mahazir Hamad.
Asked of the prospects of the team in this year's Tour, Vietnam Sea Games gold medallist Shahrulneeza said, the team should be gearing for a tough battle.
"Of course, our target is to win the Asian title again. But it will be a tough fight with Iran, China and Japan coming down. I think the team is a stronger one for this year and we can put up a strong challenge," said Shahrulneeza.
Last year, a raw Shahrizan Selamat was sent to the fore and his enthusiasm proved his downfall when he blasted to two second-places and a third-place in the three sprint stages of the second stage from Kangar to Butterworth, only to burn out on the third stage.
He was sent home for ignoring team orders.
"I don't think Sayuti and Najmi will be a problem. Sayuti is a very smart rider and Najmi very disciplined. They are young and eager, but at the same time work with with the team.
"Both of them lack some experience though, but I'm sure they'll be alright in the Tour. We have seen what they are capable of, and now I think they deserve the chance to be tested in a tough 10-stage tour," said Shahrulneeza.