What's Cool In Road Cycling

Eurotrash – Midweek Snack!

Fresh out of the musette, latest tastey tidbits from Europe including preparations for Het Volk, More from Gaumont story and snippets on Bartoli, Ullrich, the Giro and Paris-Roubaix.

Steels trains alone for Het Volk
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago’s Tom Steels, who injured himself in the Moscow track World Cup meeting on February 15th, did not join Wednesday’s team training session on the Het Volk course in preparation for Saturday’s race, team manager Gerard Bulens said that Steels’ condition was slightly behind the rest of the team and he would benefit from training alone to his own programme. Tony Bracke, Ludovic Capelle, Bert De Waele, Ludo Dierckxsens, Johan Verstrepen, Geert Van Bondt, Marc Streel, Nico Sijmens and Maxime Monfort all trained for 160 kilometres on the Het Volk parcours.

Gaumont Talks to L’Equipe about Doping Affair
Ex Cofidis professional Philippe Gaumont gave an interview to L’Йquipй on Tuesday in which he admits to have used doping products during his career. Gaumont who was expelled from the Cofidis team on February 17th said in the interview, that he had taken performance enhancing drugs himself but saw himself as more as a supplier and admitted he had provided EPO to ex Cofidis rider Robert Sassone who has also been sacked by the team. Gaumont who admits that his career is now over said, “I didn’t do it just to make money, I did it to have a little glory for myself and the recognition that brings.

Bartoli Shows Respect To Pantani
Michele Bartoli (Team CSC) rode Tuesday’s opening stage of the Giro della Provincia di Lucca wearing a bandanna as a mark of respect to the deceased Italian climber Marco Pantani. Giro d’Italia winner Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) also showed his respects by visiting Pantani’s grave in the town of Cesenatico. Simoni had been in the Emilia-Romagna region scouting important mountain stages of the first week of this years Giro and in the afternoon visited the grave of Pantani with several team mates.

Ullrich to Debut this coming Weekend
Jan Ullrich will make his season debut in this Sunday’s Clбsica de Almerнa (UCI 1.3) in Spain. The German has just spent three weeks training in Tuscany under personal coach Rudy Pevenage. Pevenage has praised Ullrich’s physical condition saying that the German is in as good condition as last year but the main difference is that Ullrich’s knee is now completely healed. Ullrich will follow up the Clбsica de Almerнa by competing at next weeks Vuelta a Murcia which runs between March 3rd and 7th. Joseba Beloki (Brioches La Boulangиre) may also make his first appearance of the season at Murcia.

Tour of Belgium Presented
The 2004 edition of the Tour of Belgium was presented earlier this week at Mechelen town hall. This years race has been upgraded from 2.3 to 2.2 status on the UCI calendar and will visit all the country’s provinces including the German speaking area in the east of the country. The final stage is set to be crucial as it contains 13 climbs many of which feature in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

19th May: Stage 1: Oostende-Oostende
20th May: Stage 2: Oostende – Knokke Heist
21st May: Stage 3: Knokke Heist- Buggenhout
22nd May: Stage 4: Mechelen (13 kms individual TT)
22nd May: Stage 5: Mechelen -Mechelen
23rd May: Stage 6: Ans – Eupen

New Pavи stretch for Paris-Roubaix
This years Paris-Roubaix which will be run on April 11th will feature a new, fully restored stretch of pavи. The three kilometre stretch of cobbles at Mons-en-Pиvиle will be number 26 on the route and will come near the end of the race.

New Super Climb for 2005 Giro
Reports from Italy say that race organisers have found a new “super” climb that they hope to include in the 2005 edition of the race. The Col della Finestre in the Maritime Alps is 2,100 metres high and included 18 kilometres of climbing at an average of 8.9%. The gradient at one point reaches 17%.

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