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Monday Newsbriefs: Cooke in Italy; Cannondale in Afghanistan

Riding in her first season in the senior ranks, Britain’s Nicole Cooke (Deia-Pragma Colnago) has won the 12th Trofeo Citta' Di Rosignano, a major event on the women's road calendar in Italy. The 19-year-old Cooke, a winner four rainbow jerseys as a junior, dominated the race which had over one hundred starters, including some of the best of the women’s peloton. Cooke rode aggressively throughout the hilly course, but it was on the final climb that she truly showed her strength and forced the pace. Only one-time world champion Rasa Polikeviciute (H2O-Pasta Zara) could follow. The

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By VeloNews Interactive

Taj (left) and Habibullah unwrap new bikes

Taj (left) and Habibullah unwrap new bikes

Photo: Robert Howard, CBS News (Courtesy Cannondale)

Riding in her first season in the senior ranks, Britain’s Nicole Cooke (Deia-Pragma Colnago) has won the 12th Trofeo Citta’ Di Rosignano, a major event on the women’s road calendar in Italy.

The 19-year-old Cooke, a winner four rainbow jerseys as a junior, dominated the race which had over one hundred starters, including some of the best of the women’s peloton.

Cooke rode aggressively throughout the hilly course, but it was on the final climb that she truly showed her strength and forced the pace. Only one-time world champion Rasa Polikeviciute (H2O-Pasta Zara) could follow. The two were eventually caught, setting up a sprint to the finish.

Coming into the sprint, Cooke won easily, making her one of the favorites for this Saturday’s upcoming World Cup event, the women’s version of Milan – San Remo, La Primavera Rosa. — Maurizio Ricci / Richard Allchin

1. Nicole Cooke (Deia-Pragma-Colnago), 107 km (37.6kph)
2. Noemi Cantele (H2O-Pasta Zara), s.t
3. Simona Parente (Edilsavino)
4. Vera Carrara (Itera)
5. Edita Pucinskaite (Figurella)
6. Katia Longhin (H2O-Pasta Zara. at 0:10
7. Giovanna Troldi (Raschiani-Alfa Lum)
8. Zinaida Stahuskaja (Chirio Forno d’Asolo)
9. Regina Schleicher (Michela Fanini)
10. Sara Felloni (Edilsavino), all s.t.Cannondale helps pair of Afghan cyclistsThe Olympic aspirations of two Afghan cyclists were given a boost recently with help from an American bike company.

Taj Mohammed, 22, and his friend Habibullah, 26, have been riding the roads of Afghanistan on heavy, out-dated equipment for several years, in hopes of eventually representing their country in Olympic competition. Following a profile of the pair on the ABC Evening News, Cannondale employees began looking into the possibility of helping the two with equipment.

“We were very touched by the plight of Taj and Habibullah,” said Cannondale spokesman Tom Armstrong, who helped coordinate the bikes’ delivery. “Their dedication to the sport, in spite of all they’ve been through, really touched us and we were happy to help. The cycling community isn’t defined or restricted by political or cultural borders, and I think our support reflects that.”

Outdated equipment was only one obstacle that Taj and Habibullah have been forced to overcome. Until recently, the cyclists were forced to train under the wary and watchful eye of Taliban members who would routinely follow behind them in a car to monitor their training rides. Taj and Habibullah were also strictly prohibited from wearing conventional Lycra cyclewear, which was considered indecent by the Taliban, and had to ride instead in traditional baggy pajamas.

The delivery of the Cannondale bicycles was arranged with the approval of the White House, and was coordinated through the Defense Department and U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Ted Stevens (R-AK). Stevens and a delegation from the Senate Appropriations Committee traveled to Afghanistan aboard a military transport plane earlier this month, and presented the Cannondale bicycles to an ABC News crew in Bagram. ABC then transported the bicycles to Kandahar where they were given to the cyclists on last week.

Senator Lieberman commended Cannondale for its efforts on behalf of the cyclists. “I am proud that Cannondale quickly and unhesitatingly stepped forward to help mobilize that sporting spirit, showing the best of America’s values,” said Lieberman, “and I am glad that I could play a small part in helping to make this Olympic dream a reality.”

Afghanistan is slated to compete in Athens in 2004. This could be the road squad.

Afghanistan is slated to compete in Athens in 2004. This could be the road squad.

Photo: Robert Howard, CBS News (Courtesy Cannondale)


From Cannondale press release

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