First Edition Cycling News for August 1, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Riders excited about racing in the Big Apple
American style criterium racing takes over Lower Manhattan
By Mark Zalewski in New York
2003 winner Marty Nothstein (Navigators)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Criterium racing in Europe is what celebrity golf is in America. But
in the fast-paced, fast-food, instant gratification culture of the U.S.,
criterium racing is king. Referred to as "NASCAR on bikes," this short
and technical style of racing fits well with American fans used to seeing
sports presented on a field or court, and is usually the only way a promoter
can get streets closed to hold a race. Heaven forbid if a soccer mom has
to drive her land yacht three blocks more to get around a four cornered
criterium course in suburbia! More and more, local races are forced to
hold their races in parking lots of office parks.
So imagine what it takes to shut down a 1.2 mile course in the heart
of New York City. For the third year in a row, the Pro Cycling Tour has
been able to do just that, presenting the BMC Software New York City Cycling
Championship. With crowds estimated at over 100,000, it's easy to see
why defending champion Marty Nothstein (Navigators Insurance) calls this
the 'Super Bowl' of American criterium racing.
"The venue is tough to describe - it's awesome," said Nothstein. "If
you could pick a criterium anywhere in the world, you'd want it here in
NYC. With the skyscrapers around you and the fans are just fanatical about
it - it's electrifying to race down there. To me, it's like the super
bowl of criterium racing in the world. Every American who's raced it knows
that, and that is why I am here - it's a prestigious one to win!"
Most of the top American riders, along with a contingent of European
racers, will contend for a $40,000 prize purse. And back after a one-year
hiatus is a pro women's category, along with defending champion Sarah
Uhl (Quark). Also on the schedule is a junior race, men's elite amateur
race and the infamous BMC Bike Messenger Challenge, featuring some of
the toughest bike messengers in the world. Squid, of last year's winning
team, had some advice for the professional racers.
"Me and my team went down and rode the course beforehand, because New
York is famous for its pot holes. Once you figure out where the pot holes
are on the course you can avoid them or push another team into them!"
But without missing a beat, a spokesman for the Mayor of New York chimed
in, "The course was resurfaced, so you will see NO potholes!" (laughs)
This reflects the excitement of the city to host a race like this, especially
as it bids for the 2012 Olympics.
Favourites for the Pro Men's race include defending champion Nothstein,
current USPRO Champion and winner in Trenton, Fast Freddy Rodriguez (Acqua
e Sapone), Philadelphia winner and PCT points co-leader Francisco Ventoso
(Suanier-Duval Prodir), Canadian Olympian Gord Fraser (Health Net p/b
Maxxis) and former winner Ivan Dominguez (Colavita-Bolla).
Cyclingnews will be covering the race live starting at 12:30
EDT (local time)/9:30 PDT (USA West)/18:30 CEST (Central Europe)/02:30
AEST (Australia East).
Pre-race comments from
Men's Start List
Women's Start List
Van Petegem returns to fore
Belgian Peter Van Petegem returns to major competition this weekend
with his participation in the HEW Cyclassics World Cup race. Van Petegem
sat out the Tour de France, preferring to focus on the single day races
in the second half of the season, notably the World Cup events and the
Olympic Games. Van Petegem trails World Cup leader Davide Rebellin by
more than 100 points, but remains a contender for the second half of the
"I feel pretty good on the bike," Van Petegem told La Dernière
Heure. "We'll have to see how I can handle the distance, even if I
have trained for it."
The outcome may change slightly this year as organisers of the HEW Cyclassics
have redesigned the parcours to include five trips up the Waseberg climb,
four of which come in the finishing circuits. Van Petegem's explosive
power could keep him in contention as the pure sprinters struggle on the
short but steep rise.
"The HEW Cyclassics almost always turns out the same way," he explained.
"On the Waseberg eight to ten riders tend to get away from the peloton
in the final phase of the race. It's a matter of staying attentive in
the front of the group and not getting caught out."
Cyclingnews will be covering the HEW Cyclassics live from start to finish.
Coverage starts at 14:30 CEST (Europe)/10:30 EDT (USA East)/7:30 PDT (USA
West)/22:30 AEST (Australia East).
hGH tests questioned
The long awaited drug test for human growth hormone still requires "full
scientific validation" if it is to be used effectively at the upcoming
Athens Olympics, some experts have said. Earlier this week, it was reported
that the hGH test, which was developed in England with collaboration from
several laboratories around the world, would be introduced at the Olympics,
heralding a new weapon in the fight against drugs in sport. The test has
an effectiveness of 84 days and is based on measuring biochemical changes
in the body after the drug is injected.
The question remains, however, whether the test is good enough to stand
up to a legal challenge if an athlete contested a positive result in court.
Australian Professor Rob Baxter, of the Kolling Institute at Sydney's
Royal North Shore Hospital which has been involved in the development
of the hGH test, said that he was unsure of whether the biochemical changes
could be directly attributed to injecting the drug.
"What we don't know is whether the changes that we see in response to
hGH are so unique and so statistically valid that they would stand up
in a court of law," he told ABC Science Online. "You could almost
certainly detect someone who had been taking hGH but whether you could
provide evidence that would allow them to be convicted legally is another
Baxter added that sports drug testing had to have more stringent standards
than the diagnosis of disease, to ward off the potential of an expensive
legal challenge from "extremely clever lawyers and extremely highly paid
athletes who will spend any amount of money to stay in the game...you
might need a 99.9% level of certainty just to convict somebody," he said,
but added that, "Tests are well along the way to development and it's
highly likely that stored blood samples taken during competition will
be able to be tested within weeks to months of the Games."
The much discussed option of freezing blood samples and retrospectively
testing them once there is a test in place has also not been validated.
McEwen signs for two years
Robbie McEwen has signed a contract for two years to ride with the new
Omega Pharma-Lotto team, which will be part of the Pro Tour. The Australian
sprinter confirmed this to Cyclingnews today, adding that "Apart
from signing the contract I had a very positive discussion with Marc Coucke
[CEO of Omega Pharma] and look forward to being a part of Omega Pharma-Lotto."
McEwen expects that Nick Gates, Henk Vogels and Aart Vierhouten will
sign contracts in the coming week, and "hopefully [Thierry] Marichal can
also get a place."
He added that "none of the above mentioned are 'taking' anyone's 'spot'
in the team, as has been suggested by riders without a contract. These
riders are to join me next season for the simple fact that they do their
job well. I'm in this position now of team leader, jointly of course,
because I know what works for me and who works for me."
Omega Pharma-Lotto also hopes to sign Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
and Björn Leukemans (MrBookmaker.com-Palmans) next week.
Popovych still negotiating
Although Belgian sources reported earlier this week that Yaroslav Popovych
is "as good as certain" to join the new Discovery Channel team, the Ukrainian
is apparently keeping his options open for next season. His contract with
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago comes to an end this year, and his management
said that he is "still desired by many sporting groups of the highest
As far as Discovery Channel is concerned, Popovych's management stated
that, "The probable transfer of Popovych to the side of Lance Armstrong
is neither denied nor confirmed," adding that negotiations with the team
Return of Rumsas
After a one year suspension for a positive test for EPO, Lithuanian
Raimondas Rumsas will return to the peloton in the colours of the Italian
Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo team.
Before his positive dope test, Rumsas was already the subject of great
controversy after his wife Edita was arrested by French customs officers
on the final day of the 2002 Tour de France. As Raimondas climbed to the
third step of the final Tour podium that year, Edita was found with a
number of banned substances in her car, which she denied were from her
husband. She was held in custody for more than two months before eventually
Piil out of Olympics
Team CSC has reported that Jakob Piil will be unable to represent Denmark
at the Olympic Games road race in Athens due to his injured knee. Piil
will be replaced by another CSC man, Nicki Sørensen, with teammates
Lars Michaelsen and Frank Høj, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and
Bo Hamburger (Acqua & Sapone) rounding out the team.
"It's really bad," Piil said on the team's website (team-csc.com). "I
sustained the knee injury in the spring season, so I had to focus on the
Tour de France, Tour of Denmark and the Olympics. But then I reinjured
my knee and had to abandon the Tour, withdraw from the Olympics and I'll
likely miss the Tour of Denmark as well."
Dajka leaves Germany
Australian sprinter Jobie Dajka will be leaving the Olympic Team's training
camp in Buttgen, Germany "as soon as possible," according to a statement
from Cycling Australia. "This decision of Cycling Australia is consistent
with our policy," said Cycling Australia's CEO Graham Fredericks. "That
policy is that athletes not nominated or endorsed for the Olympic Team
do not stay in residence at the pre-Olympic training camp.
"This is why Ben Kersten did not travel to Germany prior to his nomination
and why Sean Eadie left the Rockhampton camp when his nomination was withdrawn
(Eadie has since been reinstated and endorsed by the AOC, and Kersten
has now been endorsed by the AOC)."
Dajka is appealing his omission from the Olympic team to the Australian
Olympic Committee at the moment. He also faces a disciplinary hearing
convened by Cycling Australia and a separate action by the Australian
Sports Commission over his involvement in the "French affair", where he
recently admitted to self injecting in French's room after having denied
it in front of two inquiries into the affair.
Stagiaire contract for Weylandt
Up and coming Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt has earned himself a stagiaire
contract with Quick.Step-Davitamon, beginning September 1. Weylandt will
ride the GP Rik Van Steenbergen and GP Jef Scherens with the team. In
addition, Weylandt's current team Bikeland Bornem could become a feeder
team for Patrick Lefevere's Quick.Step-Davitamon squad when the Pro Tour
starts next year.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)