Jans Koerts strengthened Mercury-Viatel’s case for a start in the Tour de France this year by giving the U.S. team its second consecutive stage win Wednesday in the high-speed run down the Rhone Valley to Villeneuve les Avignon. His teammate Peter Van Petegem conserved the leader's white jersey.
Koerts received a fine leadout from his teammate Fabrizio Guidi to finish more than a length ahead of Jean-Patrick Nazon and Germany's Danilo Hondo, at the end of a stage run at close to a 30mph average thanks to a strong tailwind.
This is Koerts' third win of the season after winning two stages of
Italian sprinter Biagio Conte (Saeco) took the early lead in the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race on Wednesday when he won the 132km opening stage in Sorrento, Italy. Conte beat out Telekom’s Erik Zabel and Fassa Bortolo’s Dmitri Konyshev in the final sprint.
Conte was given some freedom in the finish after Saeco team leader Mario Cipollini suffered a little bit on the Sant’Angelo climb during the race.
"I am here to help Cipollini, and Thursday, I will return to my role as teammate," Conte said after his win.
Thursday’s second stage will be a completely flat, 163km course between Sorrento and
It was expected to be an easy day. A long flat circuit north of Redlands offers a chance for the fields of 198 men and 110 women to stay together and fight out the finish in a bunch sprint. That’s the way it ended for both. Gord Fraser rode the Mercury train into the finish and cruised to an easy win, even beating Lotto’s new Dutch sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens to the line. But in the women’s race Saturn’s Ina Teutenberg was well on her way to winning stage 2 of the Redlands Classic on Wednesday, charging ahead of the 110-rider women’s field after the 122km Highlands Road Race, but bad luck and
She may have been biding her time in Arizona, rather than defending her title at Australia’s Tour de Snowy, but the lack of travel certainly hasn’t hurt Genevieve Jeanson. The 19-year-old Canadian blasted her way to the top of Riverside’s Mt. Rubidoux to take the opening stage of the 2001 Redlands Bicycle Classic and, coincidentally setting the stage for a win by her countryman, mountain-bike racer Roland Green, in the elite men’s event of this Southern California season opener.
Jeanson (Rona) took on a strong women’s field — including 2001 Tour de Snowy winner Kim Bruckner (Saturn) and 2000
Tuesday’s hilly windy stage to Saint Etienne turned the Paris-Nice classification upside down, with Peter Van Petegem outsprinting the gutsy but luckless Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) to give Mercury-Viatel its first taste of the leader's jersey in a major European stage race.
Vinokourov was on the attack for the entire stage, early on in a 19-strong group which included Floyd Landis (Mercury-Viatel) and Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole). He split the break together with Laurent Dufaux (Saeco) and escaped on the final climb to hold on until the final meter, when Van Petegem came flying
Dueling big-guns Saturn-Timex and Mercury-Viatel made for high octane and unpredictable racing at the annual Sequoia Cycling Classic in Exeter, California. Men’s and women’s competition was fierce both in the Rocky Hill Road Race and in the Visalia Criterium the following day but Saturn made its presence known, taking the top spots in three out of four races.
Day one of competition found riders seeing rings with Saturn dominating both the men’s and women’s Rocky Hill Road Race, a nine-and-half-mile loop with two climbs on each lap, totaling 600 feet of climbing per lap. Saturn and Mercury
Crashes took their toll on a rainy Paris-Nice today, with Axel Merckx the principal victim of a 25-rider pile-up two-and-a-half kilometers from the line. Merckx finished the stage, but was taken to the hospital after the race.
Earlier, Joseba Beloki, third finisher in the Tour last year, was put out by a broken rib after he collided with another rider while taking nature's call on the move.
A reduced lead group fought out the stage finish in Clermont Ferrand, where Stuart O'Grady led out from 250 meters, but was overhauled just before the line by the Belgian Fabian De Waele. He took the
Belgian rider Nico Mattan (Cofidis) won the Paris-Nice cycling prologue over 6.2km through the streets of Nevers on March 11. The 29-year-old came in ahead of British teammate David Millar (at 0:08), with France’s Florent Brard in third, a further second behind during the stage made difficult by persistent rain. Mercury-Viatel's Peter van Petegem finished fifth and Floyd Landis 11th.
Defending champion Andreas Kloden of Germany, who shot into the limelight with his surprise win last year, but who has had recent health problems, was 24 seconds behind the leader.
Paris-Nice, under the
Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme) won the Tour of Murcia on March 11 after winning the fifth and final stage, a 12.9km time-trial through the streets of Murcia on Sunday. Gonzalez was joined on the podium by compatriots Javier Pascual Llorente and Mikel Zarrabeitia, second and third respectively.
The Spaniard, who turned professional 1998, was the only rider to finish the time-trial in under 15 minutes (in 14:57), with Italy's Marco Velo second in 15:07 and Spaniard Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano 15:18.
U.S. Postal’s Lance Armstrong finished in fifth position in the TT (in 15:25), with former