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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 4, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Rumsas awarded symbolic euro

The Rumsas clan
Photo: © ELTA

Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas has won his case against French magistrate Franck Guesdon, after claiming that Guesdon insinuated that Rumsas took illegal substances to finish third in the 2002 Tour de France. Rumsas was awarded a symbolic euro in damages by a Parisian court on Monday, November 3, which declared that "such an insinuation of doping by a professional sportsman undermines the honour, and, since it implies that he won a victory by an unfair procedure, is contrary to the values of sport."

Guesdon initially made his comments in an interview with Swiss website on October 5, 2002, in which he was asked "Was Raimondas Rumsas doped during the Tour de France?". Guesdon replied, "We are perhaps in the presence of a racing cyclist who, thanks to doping, earned money dishonestly."

Guesdon was the investigating judge in the "Rumsas Affair", which broke on the final day of the 2002 Tour when Raimondas' wife Edita Rumsas was stopped and searched by French customs officers at the French-Italian border. In her car, a large cache of drugs and medicinal products was found, and Edita was jailed for 68 days in Bonneville prison charged with (among other things) drug trafficking. She was ultimately released on €20,000 bail on October 12, and no charges were filed against her or her husband. Raimondas did not test positive for any banned substances during the 2002 Tour, however he is currently serving a one year suspension after testing positive for EPO during the 2003 Giro d'Italia.

Rebellin back in December

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) will be able to ride again in December, following an operation on his left shoulder recently. Rebellin injured himself in La Flèche Wallonne in April this year, and required an operation for it to fully heal. "The doctors anaesthetised me, and I am now on the right road to recovery," said Rebellin to ANSA. "I now have a neck brace on for 10 days, and in the meantime will do some gym exercises and swimming in the pool."

Colavita-Bolla signs Mark McCormack

The Colavita-Bolla Professional Cycling Team has signed former Saturn star Mark McCormack for the 2004 season. The 33 year old McCormack, a native of North Easton, Massachusetts, had his best season this past year as a professional. His achievements included winning the USPRO Road Championship by finishing fourth in Philadelphia's Wachovia USPRO Championship. He also took the overall title in the Pro Cycling Tour, won the final stage of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, placed second to teammate Chris Horner in the T-Mobile International, finished third in the USPRO Criterium Championship, second overall in the Wachovia Cycling Series, and fifth overall in the National Racing Calendar standings.

"We are absolutely thrilled about our coming together with Mark," said Colavita USA president John Profaci. "With eight years of experience on America's top domestic program, Mark has both the ability to win in the biggest races, and the race savvy to help guide our younger riders."

No ONCE for Beloki

According to Spanish news sources, Joseba Beloki will definitely not be riding for Manolo Saiz in Liberty Seguros next season. Beloki hopes to be able to ride for a new Dutch/Italian team sponsored by Stayer, along with several of his past ONCE teammates, but this is yet to be finalised.

Wanted: top rider for Chocolade Jacques

Noël Demeulenaere's new Chocolade Jacques team is looking for a top rider to lead the squad, which hopes to make its debut in Division I next year. According to Demeulenaere, the team is ready to go but he desires to make a big transfer. "Who that could be we don't know yet. It may be a sprinter or an all rounder," he said.

One rider who has been linked with the team is Frank Vandenbroucke, who left Quick.Step-Davitamon recently and hasn't signed with anyone else yet. However Demeulenaere said that he also hasn't heard from VDB, "But he is always welcome."

Becke and Radochla to Illes Baleares

Bianchi cyclists Daniel Becke and Steffen Radochla have signed contracts with Jose Miguel Echavarri's Illes Baleares team for next season. The German pair will thus be able to continue in Division I with what's expected to be one of the top Spanish teams in the peloton. Daniel Becke, who won gold in the team pursuit in the Sydney Olympics, rode his first Tour de France this year and finished 145th. Radochla's biggest win this year was a stage in the Tour of Austria.

Paola Pezzo: Mission to Athens

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Paola and Kevin
Photo: © CN

After winning two consecutive Olympic gold medals in Women's Cross Country Mountain biking in 1996 and 2000, 34-year-old Italian Paola Pezzo really has nothing left to prove in her sport, but after three years away from top-level competition, Pezzo has decided to make her comeback with the Team Rosola/Gary Fisher cycling team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Like her Italian compatriots in cross-country skiing Manuela Di Centa and Stefania Belmondo have demonstrated over their careers, women's endurance athletes only get better with age.

Still sponsored by Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes, Paola Pezzo has been riding in grand fondo and marathon events all over Europe the last two years and last December, she and her long-time companion and coach Paolo Rosola had a child, Kevin. Paola started her official training for Athens on Monday, 3 November and Cyclingnews sat down with the top women's cross-country mountain biker ever at her home in the hills above Lago di Garda, Italy, for an exclusive interview.

Cyclingnews: So today was your first day of official training for Athens 2004?

Paola Pezzo: Yes, I feel ready for it! It is very important to be certain, mentally, that this is something you want to do and I feel like going for it. I am a person who never gives up and I know that when I put my mind towards an objective I can achieve it. Then I know the right way forward since I have done it before. My winter preparation is very important to get ready for more specific things next year.

Click here for the full interview

Plan for possible World Cup MTB race in Ireland

By Shane Stokes,

An ambitious plan for off-road racing was discussed at the AGM of Cycling Ireland's mountain bike commission on Saturday, with a campaign in the pipeline to try to secure a world cup event for 2005. If successful, the event would incorporate downhill, cross-country and four-cross races and would attract the cream of the world's off-road riders to Ireland.

The layout for the bid is expected to be sent to the UCI by next month, and if this is accepted as feasible, an official application will be lodged before the end of March. UCI officials would then travel to next year's national championships in Kilruddery, Bray, to determine if the necessary standard would be in place before final approval could be given.

"We were out at Kilruddery today (Sunday) to look at possible courses," said MTB Commission chairman Geoff Seymour. "The UCI require countries bidding for world cup events to run cross-country, downhill and four cross races in the one venue in the year beforehand. We would do that at the national's next July and so were looking to see where the three races could be held in Kilruddery."

Seymour will be staying on in his capacity as chairman and cross-country manager on the MTB commission, while Peter Popham will continue as downhill manager. There were changes to the commission at the AGM, though, with Brendan Kilbride taking over as PRO from Dave Gill, Stephen Merriman replacing Joe McCall in dealing with the area of facilities and Billy Ferguson succeeding Vincent Bradley as youth/developmental manager. Robert Lamont is responsible for junior cross country and facilities in Ulster, while Jim Smith is the assistant downhill manager.

Many points and subjects were covered at the AGM, including a review of the year, the fine achievements of the downhill riders and an update on the campaigns of Robin Seymour and elite women Tarja Owens and Jenny McCauley to reach the Olympic qualification cut-off point.

Details were also given of a new collaboration with Coillte which should result in a number of dedicated trails being set up by the forestry body. This is a big boost for the sport as it is taking mountain biking out of the current grey area regarding permission to use mountains and forests for off-road riding.

One area of concern expressed by the delegates was a perceived lack of interest from the board of Cycling Ireland. Pointing out that the downhill riders alone had collected over one thousand UCI points this year, one of those present expressed his belief that road racing still takes far greater priority in the minds of the current board.

Another commented on the absence of senior representation from CI at the meeting, something which he said backed up the initial point. "Neither the CEO nor the President turned up at today's meeting. I think that says something about the level of commitment of Cycling Ireland," he said. PJ Nolan and Stuart Hallam may feel otherwise, but it appeared that many of those at the meeting believe that mountain bike racing is regarded as the poor cousin of road racing by CI. This is clearly a perception which will need to be addressed.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)