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19th Clasica de Almeria Preview
By Staff
Date: 2/28/2004
19th Clasica de Almeria Preview

XIX Clasica de Almeria  - 29 February 2004


By Marianne Werz O'Brien and Janna Trevisanut

The 19th edition of the Clasica de Almeria will run this Sunday, February 29th.  Please visit the official race website here.

The Weather for Sunday

Looks to be a beautiful racing day in the southeast of Spain with scattered clouds, temperatures of 60° F/16° C,  though with wind from the west at 20 mph / 32 km/h, as opposed to the heavy snow the Navarra region is suffering from this weekend.

The Contenders

Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme will have Angel Luis Casero and today's Vuelta a Comunitat a Valenciana winner, Alejandro Valverde.

Massimo Strazzer knows Almeria well, having won here in 1997 and 2002 as well as placing 2nd last year. He will be looking for a 3-peat this year, and his Saunier Duval-Prodir teammates have been well chosen to support him. In 2003 Miguel Angel Martin had 4 wins including points competition and a stage win in Valenciana plus ten finishes in the top five. Also racing is Leonardo Piepoli a strong climber who has won the Vuelta Aragon three times in the past four years.

T-Mobile is hoping for a good outcome, with both Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel racing, Ullrich in his season opener. Jan Ullrich says he is happy to get his racing season started, but not to expect miracles from him in Almeria. Team spokesman Olaf Ludwig notes “contrary to the previous years, the team has more racing kilometers in their legs already and that is never a disadvantage.” He also sees it as a good omen that Zabel celebrated his first victory of the season just one week ago in the Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta del Sol on stage 5, which, coincidentally, ended in Almería!

Lance Armstrong told The Times recently, “I’ve been thinking this morning - ‘I wonder what Jan thought when he heard I won in Portugal, that I’m winning in February, when I’m nowhere near my peak’. And I was thinking what would I do if I heard Ullrich had won a time-trial in February?

“I don’t know what I would do. I think I’d get straight down and do 50 sit-ups just to say to myself I was doing something." Will Lance be doing some extra sit-ups tomorrow afternoon?

Erik Zabel is a major contender in one-day races. So far this year he has one victory and 6 podium finishes, and in 2003 he had 15 wins, including Paris-Tours. In fact, only Johan Museeuw has more World Cup wins than Zabel (who has 8). 

US Postal-Berry Floor is sending a strong team as well with Chechu Rubiera, Manuel “Triki” Beltran, Michael Barry and Dave Zabriskie plus new young guns Patrick McCarty, Mike Creed, and Benjamin Noval. Everyone knows that Chechu and Triki are both forces to be reckoned with in the mountains. It will be fun to see them race in Almeria, presumably set free to seek their own results for once. Zabriskie will be extremely motivated after his last season was sent spiraling off-track by a collision with an errant SUV. Michael Barry has some racing in his legs already this year and after placing 5th at Algarve last week he may be looking for a podium spot in Almeria.

A little info on Postal’s first year pro’s: Patrick McCarty was 2nd in overall UCI points for the U23’s last year. Michael Creed won his first UCI points last April when he claimed victory in Laguna Seca Road Race at Sea Otter, and was 6th in the U23 World’s TT championship in Hamilton. Creed says he has butterflies in his stomach riding here with the big boys.

When asked by DP in October (see full article here) about where he’d like to be in five years, Michael replied, “Well, I guess my ideal situation would be that I've replaced Batman and live in the bat cave. I’d fight crime and evil, and of course drive the bat car and the bat plane to do it. My cave would be filled with one Batgirl that looks like Wynona Rider, one that looks like Angelina Jolie, and one that looks like Mandy Moore…. That, or racing the Tour with a D1 team; either one would be ok with me.”  Looks like the Batgirls will have to wait…

The Euskaltel Euskadi boys will be bringing Iban Mayo currently ranked 10th in UCI points. Mayo had 10 victories outright in 2003, plus an additional 7 podium placings! He attacks relentlessly in the mountains, and is strong in the one-day classics so he is definitely a man to watch in Almeria. Additionally the team will have Haimar Zubeldia, he didn’t win last year but he did place in the top 5 twelve times. At 26, this man is a break out waiting to happen.

The Illes Baleares-Banesto team is an interesting one! Francisco Mancebo, 5th in the Vuelta and 10th in the TdF last year will be racing along with Isaac Galvez, and Jose Ivan Gutierrez. When Galvez was a just first year pro (2000) he won the Clasica de Almeria! In the past two seasons he has logged three victories – all in early February.

Mancebo (UCI rank 19) had three victories in 2003, plus twelve finishes in the top ten. Also riding in support will be 2nd year pro’s Jose Antonio Lopez and Vincente Reynes, who came in 2nd on stage 1 of the Ruta del Sol earlier this month.

Gerolsteiner is sending a mixed team of young bloods and time trial specialists, and in the case of Markus Fothen they are one in the same!  Uwe Peschel won the GP Eddy Merckx last year as well as placing 2nd in the German TT championships and 3rd in the World’s TT. Michael Rich is reigning German TT Champ, and 1st year pro Markus Fothen is the U23 World and European TT champion.

Relax-Bodysol is sending a team mostly comprised of young guns, but Santiago Blanco and Oscar Laguna are seasoned riders who both won mountain competitions last year.  The highest UCI ranked rider in this group is Xavier Florencio (195) but he is stronger on the flats than in the mountains.

A rider special to the heart of the race - Paternina-Costa de Almería's Pedro Díaz Lobato - not only from Almeria, Lobato was an amateur in the Plastimer team, which is a sponsor of the race. He was reported in the Spanish press today as riding though he does not appear on the start list below.

The Course

The Clasica de Almeria is a 187-kilometer race from Vera to Almeria.

The first 30-kilometers are essentially flat with the first sprint points available 24.4-kilometers out. Then there is a quick drop down 135 meters followed by an equally quick ascent of 100 meters just to get the legs warmed up.

And ready for the Cat 3 climb on Carbonera with its’ 105 meters up in under two kilometers, and a rapid dicey descent of 185 meters that the racers will fly down because it ends practically atop the second sprint point opportunity at 50-kilometers.

The riders will then follow a gently undulating, but essentially uphill trend until they hit the wall of Rio Aguas at 87-kilometers. This lovely little Cat 3 is a climb of 250 meters straight up in just over a kilometer. Fortunately the feed zone arrives shortly afterward, and the road will be undulating flat, trending towards descending for the next 40-kilometers.

The third sprint point opportunity arrives at 142 kilometers, just before the final climb of the day. The first bump up is a 170 meter climb in under 2-kilometers, followed immediately by another 170 meter climb over 6-kilometers.  It’s all downhill from there, a 45-kilometer descent right to the finish line!

Race Palmares

1986  1. Martinez Miguel Ángel (Esp)
1987  1. Ortega Tomás (Esp)
1988  1. Gonzalez José (Esp)
1989  1. Bernabe José (Esp)
1990  1. Gonzalez Bernardo (Esp)
1991  1. Genetxea Axier (Esp)
1992  1. Weltz Johnny (Dan)  2. Gutierrez Alfonso (Esp)  3. Olano Abraham (Esp)
1993  1. Ekimov Vjatcheslav (Rus)  2. Chozas Eduardo (Esp)  3. Gainetdinov Romes (Rus)
1994  1. Capiot Johan (Bel)  2. Saitov Asiate (Rus)  3. Koerts Jan (Hol)
1995  1. Heynderickx Jean-Pierre (Bel)  2. Planckaert Jo (Bel)  3. Van Hooydonck Edwig (Bel)
1996  1. Nelissen Wilfried (Bel)  2. Guenetxea Asier  3. Skibby Jesper (Dan)
1997  1. Strazzer Massimo (Ita)  2. Van Heeswijk Max (Hol)  3. Svorada Jan (Slq)
1998  1. Traversoni Mario (Ita)  2. Arazzi Francesco (Ita)  3. Freire Oscar (Esp)
1999  1. Svorada Jan (Slq)  2. Minali Nicola (Ita)  3. Edo Angel (Esp)
2000  1. Galvez Lopez Isaac (Esp)  2. Svorada Jan (Slq)  3. Zberg Markus (Sui)
2001  1. Braika Tayeb (Dan)  2. Zberg Markus (Sui)  3. Leoni Endrio (Ita)
2002  1. Strazzer Massimo (Ita)  2. Zberg Markus (Sui)  3. Lotz Marc (Hol)
2003  1. Pagliarini Luciano (Bre)  2. Strazzer Massimo (Ita)  3. Markov Alexei (Rus)
*courtesy of Velo-Club du Net

The Teams

Costa Almeria-Paternina
Cafe Baque
Illes Balears-Ibanesto
Saunier Duval-Prodir
T-Mobile Team
U.S. Postal Service
Brioches La Boulangere
Lokomotiv Team

The Riders

Saunier Duval-Prodir
 1 Strazzer, Massimo (Ita)
 2 Cañada, David (Esp)
 3 De La Fuente, David (Esp)
 4 Gomis, Juan (Esp)
 5 Piepoli, Leonardo (Ita)
 6 M.Perdiguero, Miguel a (Esp)
 7 Ventoso, Fco.José (Esp)
 8 Zaballa, Constantino (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Joxean Fernandez

 11 Troussov, Nikolai (Rus)
 12 Mindlin, Anton (Rus)
 13 Serov, Alexander (Rus)
 14 Eskov, Nikita (Rus)
 15 Ignatiev, Mikhail (Rus)
 16 Klimov, Serguei (Rus)
 17 Posternak, Alexandre (Rus)
 18 Averin, Maxim (Rus)
 ** Dir.:Alexander Kulikov

Brioches La Boulangere
 21 Pichon, Mickael (Fra)
 22 Rous, Didier (Fra)
 23 Beneteau, Walter (Fra)
 24 Pineau, Jérôme (Fra)
 25 Yus, Unai (Esp)
 26 Sprick, Matthieu (Fra)
 27 Voeckler, Thomas (Fra)
 28 Charteau, Anthony (Fra)
 ** Dir.:Christian Guibertau

 31 Casero, Angel (Esp)
 32 Cabello, Francisco (Esp)
 33 Martinez, Jose Luis (Esp)
 34 Muñoz, David (Esp)
 35 Alonso, Agustin (Esp)
 36 Ballester, Vicente (Esp)
 37 Cuenca, Juan M. (Esp)
 38 Olmo, Antonio (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Vicente Belda

U.S. Postal Service
 41 Beltran, Manuel (Esp)
 42 Rubiera, José Luis (Esp)
 43 Barry, Michael (Can)
 44 Rincon, Daniel (Col)
 45 Noval, Benjamin (Esp)
 46 Padrnos, Pavel (Cze)
 47 Creed, Michael (Usa)
 48 Mc Carty, Jonathan (Bel)
 ** Dir.:Johan Bruyneel

Illes Balears-Banesto
 51 Galvez, Isaac (Esp)
 52 Garcia, José Vicente (Esp)
 53 Becke, Daniel (Ger)
 54 Horrach, Joan (Esp)
 55 Lopez, José Antonio (Esp)
 56 Navas, David (Esp)
 57 Tauler, Antonio (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Jose L.Jaimerena

 61 Blanco, Santiago (Esp)
 62 Dueñas, Moises (Esp)
 63 Elias, Jose Miguel (Esp)
 64 Guerra, Hector (Esp)
 65 Laguna, Oscar (Esp)
 66 Lopez, Julio (Esp)
 67 Mayoz, Ivan (Esp)
 68 Pasamontes, Luis (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Jose M.Perez

 71 Ullrich, Jan (Ger)
 72 Zabel, Erik (Ger)
 73 Guerini, Giuseppe (Ita)
 74 Konecny, Tomas (Cze)
 75 Baumann, Eric (Ger)
 76 Steinhauser, Tobias (Ger)
 77 Yakovlev, Sergey (Kaz)
 ** Dir.:Giovani Fidanza

 81 Mayo, Iban (Esp)
 82 Laiseka, Roberto (Esp)
 83 Etxebarria, David (Esp)
 84 Fernandez, Koldo (Esp)
 85 Isasi, Inaki (Esp)
 86 Peña, Aketza (Esp)
 87 Verdugo, Gorka (Esp)
 88 Zubeldia, Joseba (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Julian Gorospe

 91 Faresin, Gianni (Ita)
 92 Hardter, Uwe (Ger)
 93 Krauss, Sven (Ger)
 94 Pollack, Olaf (Ger)
 95 Peschel, Uwe (Ger)
 96 Rich, Michael (Ger)
 97 Schmidt, Torsten (Ger)
 98 Wrolich, Peter (Aut)
 ** Dir.:Raimond Dietzen

Costa Almeria-Paternina
 101 Euba, Lander (Esp)
 102 Fernandez, David (Esp)
 103 Golbano, Carlos Ramon (Esp)
 104 Gomez, José Angel (Esp)
 105 Herrero, David (Esp)
 106 Lara, Francisco José (Esp)
 107 Lopez, Joaquim (Esp)
 108 Torrent, Carlos (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Miguel Moreno

 111 Gabriel, Frédéric (Fra)
 112 Leukemans, Björn (Bel)
 113 Hunt, Jeremy (Gbr)
 114 Lembo, Eddy (Fra)
 115 Renders, Jens Neo (Bel)
 116 Van De Wouwer, Kurt (Bel)
 118 Wuyts, Peter (Bel)
 ** Dir.:Charles Palmans

Cafes Baque
 121 Arreitunandia, Pedro (Esp)
 122 Elorriaga, Unai (Esp)
 123 Hierro, Alberto (Esp)
 124 Lopez, David (Esp)
 125 Perez, Aitor (Esp)
 126 Gutierrez, Francisco (Esp)
 127 Gutierrez, Efrain (Esp)
 128 Torres, Fernando (Esp)
 ** Dir.:Jon Cengotitabengoa

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