By Andrew Hood
Allan Davis christened the 2004 European road season with a sprint victory in Sunday’s Trofeo Mallorca to give his new Liberty Seguros team the best possible start to the year.
The Australian fought hard to get back in position after being boxed out in the final kilometer of Sunday’s 82.5km circuit course along the harbor at Palma de Mallorca to open the five-day Mallorca Challenge.
Davis overcame a strong effort by Rabobank to set up former two-time world champion Oscar Freire to grab the victory. Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) ill-timed his sprint and came through to take third.
Racing was intense from the gun as riders got the first chance to stretch their legs in the 2004 season. The flat circuit course gave little chance for riders to break away and the big teams kept the lid on efforts to set up the bunch sprint.
A crash took out some riders on the final lap, including former Mallorca Challenge winner Tino Cabello (Communidad Valenciana-Kelme) who limped in at 2:49 in arrears. American Tim Johnson (Saunier Duval-Prodir) survived his European debut with his new team to finish 85th at 29 seconds back.
The five-day series continues Monday with the 159km Trofeo Cala Millor that includes the first mountain climb with the Col d’Honor coming at 70km. The Mallorca Challenge is a string of five-day races with an overall classification, but riders can pick and choose which races they want to start.
Trofeo Mallorca (UCI 1.3)
Feb. 1, 82.5 kilometers
1. Allan Davis (Aus), Liberty Seguros, 82.5 kilometers in 1:35: 48
2. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank
3. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile
4. Danilo Hondo (G), Gerolsteiner
5. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step, all same time UCI sets world championship cities, announces changes
The UCI has awarded the following cities as hosts of upcoming world championship events: MTB Marathon 2005: Lillehammer (NOR); MTB Marathon 2006: Oisan (FRA); BMX 2006: Rio de Janeiro (BRA); Cyclo-Cross 2007: Hooglede-Gits (BEL); Cyclo-Cross 2008: Treviso (ITA).
The UCI also announced it would give priority to “out-of-European candidatures” for the 2010 road cycling world championships.
The UCI also announced the introduction of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Series for the 2004-05 season, which will include:Restructuring the calendar, with 23 available dates for this new seriesof 14 events minimum, distributed in at least 6 countries (including forsome of them Women, under 23 and Juniors)Protected dates (no other competitions in class 1 on the same day) forevents of the seriesThe establishment of a UCI individual rankingThe establishment of a ranking by UCI nations based on results of the 3best riders of each country who can enter 8 riders on each event of theseriesA direct qualification system for the World Championships linked to theindividual rankingGranting of prizes and travel allowances based on the UCI individual rankingduring each event.
Casar hopes for big things
French rider Sandy Casar is hoping for big things in the 2004 season. The 25-year-old Fdjeux.com told L’Equipe he will skip the Giro d’Italia and focus everything on the Tour de France.
“Last year I was satisfied with the Giro (13th overall), but I arrived at the Tour with a lack of freshness in my legs,” Casar said. “My principal objective will be the Tour. I have never shone there and last year my performance was disastrous.”
Casar said he’ll target Paris-Nice early on (he was second overall in 2002) and build slowly for the Tour.
“I am still too impatient. I must improve my placement in the group. I should look at finishing in the top 10. I always have to fight to get back because I still climb the highest mountains badly,” he said.
Casar said it’s “frustrating” to be continually compared to fellow young French riders Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Pineau as the “new Jalabert” of French cycling. More problems for Konyshev
Dimitri Konyshev still has his place on the Italian LPR-Piacenza team, but perhaps not for long. According to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Konyshev could be ejected from the team if police decide to press charges against the Russian rider for assaulting and threatening to kidnap a prostitute.
Team officials have already kicked off two of the four riders involved in the incident.
Last week, Konyshev and three fellow members of the LPR-Piacenza team were arrested by Italian police for allegedly robbing and assaulting a Romanian prostitute in the Italian town of Montale.
Konyshev — a winner of stages in all three major stage races as well second in the 1989 world championships and third in 1992 – and three others reportedly pretended to be police officers and tried to pull a prostitute into their car. The woman escaped but the four kept a purse. She contacted police, who apprehended the four riders and arrested them.