Quick spins: Italian cycling legend hangs up his spandex

US-born Lucy Tyler-Sharman lost her bid to compete for the U.S. in 2000  Credit: Rick Stewart /APL/Allsport
'El Diablo' retires

Popular Italian Claudio Chiappucci retired from professional cycling last week, riding a final race in Varese, Italy, before calling an end to a career that began in 1985.

Nicknamed El Diablo for his demonic attacking style, Chiappucci was one of the most popular riders in the early 1990s, when he won the king of the mountains title in three Giro d'Italias and the 1991 Milan-San Remo classic by way of a 200-kilometer breakaway.

Chiappuccis most stunning victory came in the 1992 Tour de France, when he attacked on a sweltering mountain stage to Sestrieres, Italy, and rode alone for over four hours to the win.

Chiappucci never won a major tour, something he doesnt regret. What really mattered, according to Chiappucci, was the way in which the race was won or lost.

His final race, dubbed La Chiappucci," will be an annual event.

Australia rejects track cyclist

The Australian Institute of Sport rejected Lucy Tyler-Sharmans request to represent the United States in the Sydney Olympics.

U.S.-born Tyler-Sharman, a former world champion and Olympic medalist, had hoped to join the U.S. squad and ride the 3,000-meter pursuit in the Sydney Games this summer, due to a severe falling-out with Australian cycling officials that dates back to 1996.

A lot of time, money and expertise is invested in preparing cyclists to represent Australia. We do not believe we should hand over our investment to another country this close to the Olympics," said Cycling Australia President Ray Godkin, rejecting a request by the U.S. Cycling Federation to consider a clearance for Tyler-Sharman.

Tyler-Sharman lost her place in the 3,000 individual pursuit at the 1996 Atlanta Games after teammate Kathy Watt won an appeal and took her place, the first incident among several that irked Tyler-Sharman.

In 1998, she accused Australian officials of sabotaging her shoes and water bottles at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, but later apologized.

Ironically (or perhaps not), it recently was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Watt, slated to ride for Australia in the 3,000-meter pursuit, had approached New Zealand to ask to compete for them in the Olympics. Watt does not have New Zealand citizenship.

Olympic coaches announced

Former 7-Eleven and Motorola team manager Jim Ochowicz (men's road) headlines the group of U.S. cycling coaches appointed for the Sydney Olympics.

In addition, USA Cycling announced the following coaching staff for Sydney: Des Dickie (sprint track coach), Craig Griffin (endurance track coach), Stephane Girard (MTB coaching), and Henny Top (women's road).

Sean Petty will serve as the Team Leader for the cycling delegation, and Jiri Mainus will be the assistant team leader for the record 27 cyclists that will represent the United States in road, mountain bike, and track categories.

BMC Tour worth $250,000

Win four races, and take home a cool quarter-million.

The BMC Software Grand Prix, which will stop in Austin, Houston, San Jose and Boston this summer, is offering the big bonus for winning all four events, in mens and womens pro categories.

The Austin race takes place the weekend of Lance Armstrongs Ride for the Roses cancer fund-raising event. Armstrong will be in town for the event, but wont compete in the race.

The Houston and Boston events are schedule to be televised on ESPN2. The overall series also has a prize list of $200,000.

The last big bonus winner in cycling, interestingly enough, was Lance Armstrong. In his rookie year in 1993 he won the $1 million Thrift Drug Triple (in addition to a stage of the Tour de France and the world championship).

Sea Otter Classic

Mercurys mighty machine continued to steamroll through the early season when they locked up the top two GC spots in the Sea Otter, held March 16 - 19 in Monterey, Calif.

Australian Jamie Drew, a newcomer to the green sea foam colored team by three weeks, won the overall; teammate Scott Moniger was second, ahead of Saturn's Harm Jansen. In the womens race, Saturns Petra Rossner beat Timexs Mari Holden by 11 seconds.

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