By Andrew Hood
Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel made the home crowd happy in Sunday’sopener of the the 2002 Grande Boucle Feminine, winning the secondhalf of the two-part opening day stage to take the race lead.
Saturn’s Petra Rossner won the morning sector and Zijlaard-VanMoorsel’s Farm Frites team won the team time trial to put the Dutch riderinto the leader’s jersey.
The Grande Boucle Feminine is the most important stage race on the women’scalendar and continues through Aug. 18. After starting in Netherlands onSunday, the race heads through eastern France toward the Alps for a pairof tough climbing days at stages 7 and 8 then sweeps back northwest toParis, where the race ends with an individual time trial.
Defending champion Joane Somarriba comes in as the top favorite.The 30-year-old from Spain’s Basque Country has dominated the “women’sTour de France” with back to back victories.
“I saw how Armstrong won the Tour, with complete domination,” said Somarriba,riding on the Deia-Pragma team. “I would like to be able to do that. Ididn’t race in the Giro because of stomach problems, so I have been trainingat altitude to be ready for this race.”
Joining Zijlaard-Van Moorsel and Somarriba are the biggest names inwomen’s cycling, save Jeannie Longo (who’s racing track these days)and three-time champion Fabiana Luperini (who’s serving 45-day suspensionafter failing blood test). Joining Rossner on Saturn are Catherine Marsal,Kimberly Bruckner, Anna Willward and Judith Arndt, whowon Monday’s second stage.
Back will be Valentina Polkhanova, who left racing to have ababy, Diana Ziliute and Edita Pucinskaite. Mari Holdenand Dede Demet-Barry lead the Team T-Mobile squad from the UnitedStates.
Stage 1 (August 4) – morning sector Bois le Duc-Boisle Duc (NED), 63 km.
afternoon sector – Bois le Duc-Bois le Duc, team time trial, 15,1 km.
Stage 2 (Aug. 5): Brussels, Belgim to Valenciennes, France,159,5 km.
Stage 3 (Aug. 6): Charleville/Meziers to Valle de Fensh,154,8 km.
Stage 4 (Aug. 7): Bar le Duc to Nogent sur Seine, 156,2km.
Stage 5 (Aug. 8): Saint Vailler to Montceau les Mines,individual time trial, 31,2 km.
Stage 6 (Aug. 9): Lyon to Villard de Lans, 132,4 km.
Stage 7 (Aug. 10): Ais les Bains to Courchevel, 163,4km.
Stage 8 (Aug. 11): Courchevel to Vaujany, 113,6 km.
Rest Day (Aug. 12)
Stage 9 (Aug. 13) – morning sector – Grenoble-Grenoble,34,6 km.
afternoon sector – Grenoble to Lago de Aiguebelette, 71 km.
Stage 10 (Aug. 14): Montrond les Bains to Issoire, 141km.
Stage 11 (Aug. 15): Bellac to Civaux, 77 km.
Stage 12 (Aug. 16): Le Mans to Chateaudun, 111,4 km.
Stage 13 (Aug. 17): Chartres to Lisieux, 143,6 km.
Stage 14 (Aug. 18): París, individual time trial,10 km.Hermida and Dahle take Euro’ MTB titles
Jose Antonio Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle walked away this weekend withthe European mountain bike championship titles in hard-fought battles inZurich.Dahle’s bad luck finally came to an end when she held off France’s LaurenceLeboucher to score the big win. Dahle has been dogged by bad luck sinceher preparations for the 2000 Olympic Games soured. She was leading lastyear’s world championships in Vail when she flatted late in the race. Sincethen, she’s battled on and scored a major victory Saturday in Zurich.Meanwhile, Hermida charged away from a group of five riders to win themen’s title he just barely lost last year. The Spanish rider finished 42seconds ahead of German Lado Fumic and Belgian Roel Paulissen, who crossedthe line at 43 seconds back in third. Local favorite Thomas Frischknechtfinished sixth at 2:23 back. France’s Julien Absalon continued his dominationof the espoirs category with a dominant win.Elite men:
1. José Antonio HERMIDA (Sp), 1 hour, 58 minutes, 47 seconds
2. Lado FUMIC (G), at 0:42
3. Roel PAULISSEN (B), at 0:43
4. Christophe DUPOUEY (F), at 0:46
5. Christophe SAUSER, (Swi) at 0:58
6. Thomas FRISCHKNECHT (Swi) at 2:23
7. Jose MARQUEZ (Sp), at 2:24
8. Marco BUI (I), at 2:36
9. Alejandro DIAZ (Sp), at 3:12
10. Bart BRENTJENS (Ned) at 3:24Under-23:
1. Julien ABSALON (F), 1 hour, 27 minutes, 40 seconds
2. Florien VOGEL (F), at 0:45
3. Iñaki LEJARRETA (Sp), at 0:45Elite women:
1. Gunn-Rita DAHLE (N), 1 hour, 42 minutes, 4 seconds
2. Laurence LEBOUCHER (F), at 0:04
3. Sabine SPITZ (G), at 1:55
4. Alla EPIFANOVA (Rus), at 2:09
5. Barbara BLATTER (Swi), at 3:11
Dekker doubtful for San SebastianErik Dekker isn’t expected to race at the Classica San Sebastianthis weekend and will likely have another operation on his hip that heinjured in a fall at Mila-San Remo in March.Dekker, who finished the Tour de France riding in support of LeviLeipheimer on the Rabobank team, continues to be bothered by pain causedby the pin in his hip following his first operation back in April.The Dutch rider is hoping to wait until the end of the season beforegoing under the knife again. He hopes to race in the world championshipsand the Tour of Lombardy, both in October.Horrillo out for a monthMapei’s Pedro Horrillo badly cut his right arm in a fall about 15 kilometers from the finish of Sunday’s Hew-Cyclassics race in Hamburg. Horrilo needed five stitches to close up the wound and doctors said the Spaniard also badly bruised his right thigh and possibly tore a muscle in that same area.
Mapei’s team doctors have ordered Horrillo to undergo a series of tests and ultrasound examinations, but no matter what the outcome, he is expected to be out of the peloton for at least 30 days.
“I am really disappointed,” said the Spanish rider, winner of a stage at this year’s Bicicleta Vasca. “I had finished the Tour of France well and was hoping to make the most of my good condition during the races in August. At the moment, though, my goal is to be ready in time to be on the starting line of the Vuelta. If the ultrasound exam shows that I have a muscular lesion then I’ll be out of racing for more than 30 days – something that would really damage the rest of my season.”