Cycling: British initiative for elite

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The Independent Online
British cycling is establishing an elite programme of racing, to be contested by professionals and the best amateurs, which will be used as a major guideline for selection and to raise standards for international competition.

Planners are working on a calendar of up to 25 races to provide proper preparation for important international races. The races will be as diverse as a circuit race in a city centre and a multi-day contest such as the Milk Race plus the Star Trophy amateur series of one-day races. The Premier Calendar should be compiled by 30 October.

Premier ranking will be given only if a promoter wants to be on the calendar. 'It will not be an imposition,' Alan Rushton, a professional promoter and one of the premier planners, said. 'Promoters will decide the quality of their fields, but if a rider wants international selection he will have to ride in these events.

'The Premier programme's purpose is to aid a logical progression through the amateur ranks to either full international or professional status. It should also benefit our amateurs' chances internationally.'

Apart from bringing on amateurs it should provide professionals with new and much- needed exposure. It could also lead to improved prize lists and in many cases better promotion and organisation.

Axel Merckx, the 20-year-old son of Belgium's Eddy Merckx, won the ninth stage of the Tour de l'Avenire in Vannes, France, yesterday. Merckx Jnr has lived with comparisons with his father - who won the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia five times and was world champion on three occasions - since he first rode a bike competitively four years ago.

'Of course I'm not as good as my father,' he said. 'Nobody has ever reached his level.' The unexpected victory means his father faces a 20-kilometre walk - a promise Eddy Merckx made if his son ever won a big race.

TOUR DE L'AVENIRE Ninth stage (190km, Fouesnant to Vannes): 1 A Merckx (Bel) 4h 36min 57sec; 2 G Talmant (Fr) 3 B Dariusz (Pol); 4 A Aug (Est); 5 F Simon (Fr); 6 M van Steen (Neth) all same time. Overall: 1 H Garel (Ger) 29h 59min 28sec; 2 M Wust (Ger) +1min13sec; 3 J-P Dojwa (Fr) +1:32; 4 E Magnin (Fr) +1:35; 5 L Brochard (Fr) +1:51; 6 J Arenas (Sp) 2:06.

ROUND BY ROUND GUIDE TO FALDO'S PHENOMENAL YEAR

Date Tournament Score Position Prize money

30 Jan-2 Feb Asian Classic -11 (71 67 72 67: 277) 21= pounds 5,325

6-9 Feb Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai -12 (70 68 69 69: 276) 5 pounds 14,830

12-15 Mar Honda Classic, Florida -9 (69 74 65 71: 279) 17= dollars 13,444

19-22 Mar Nestle Invitational, Florida +5 (72 77: 149) MC --

26-29 Mar Players' Championship, Florida -11 (68 68 67 74: 277) 2= dollars 118,800

2-5 April Freeport Classic, New Orleans -7 (74 69 69 69: 281) 6= dollars 30,250

9-12 April US MASTERS, AUGUSTA -6 (71 72 68 71: 282) 13= dollars 26,500

7-10 May B&H International, St Mellion Level (71 72 76 69: 288) 3= pounds 28,150

14-17 May Spanish Open, RAC, Madrid -16 (70 70 66 66: 272) 2 pounds 44,440

22-25 May Volvo PGA, Wentworth -11 (70 68 69 70: 277) 8 pounds 15,000

28-31 May Dunhill British Masters, Woburn -16 (68 68 69 67: 272) 4 pounds 30,000

4-7 June Carrolls Irish Open, Killarney -14 (66 65 68 74: 274) WON pounds 76,274

18-21 June US OPEN, PEBBLE BEACH +3 (70 76 68 77: 291) 4= dollars 54,924

25-28 June Peugeot French Open, Paris -4 (71 70 65 74: 280) 3= pounds 22,520

8-11 July Bell's Scottish Open, Gleneagles -15 (69 62 69 65: 265) 3= pounds 33,780

16-19 July OPEN, MUIRFIELD -12 (66 64 69 73: 272) WON pounds 95,000

30 July-2 Aug Scandinavian Masters, Malmo -11 (70 72 66 69: 277) WON pounds 100,000

13-16 Aug US PGA, BELLERIVE -3 (68 70 76 67: 281) 2= dollars 101,250

10-13 Sept GA European Open, Sunningdale -18 (67 66 64 65: 262) WON pounds 100,000

Faldo is a cumulative 168 under par for the 74 rounds he has played.

In Europe he is 140 under for 48 rounds and has won pounds 565,319.60.

In America he is 28 under for 26 rounds and has won dollars 345,168.

He has had 57 sub-par rounds (including 43 in the 60s) and only 11 over par.

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