First Edition Cycling News for April 17, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Saeco dissatisfied with Pieri
Pieri on notice
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
The Italian Saeco team issued a strongly worded statement Friday in response
to reports of classics specialist Dario Pieri's groin injury, an abscess
developed after Paris-Roubaix, for which he underwent surgery this week
in Pisa. Pieri, second in last year's edition of Paris-Roubaix, has had
a lacklustre spring classics campaign, which his team attributes to more
than an unfortunate injury.
"From the beginning of the season during the first team training camps,
the team has notified Dario Pieri that he was over weight due to the poor
managing of his diet and of a general damaging lifestyle not suited to
the needs of a professional cyclist," the team statement read. "For this
reason Pieri has been verbally warned several times and a sent a registered
letter by team manager Claudio Corti on March 22."
Concerning Pieri's abscess, worsened after Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, the
team insists that he did not adequately attend to the problem of a saddle
sore in 2003, allowing the problem to grow more severe. Pieri mentioned
that the problem had returned in this year's Three Days of De Panne, after
which he was treated by the team's medical staff. He rode the Tour of
Flanders, and although team doctors say he did not carefully follow their
prescribed treatment, Pieri indicated he was ready for Paris-Roubaix.
"Since our doctors had not noticed an abnormal evolution of the inflammation
or the rider having shown signs of worry, his participation at Paris-Roubaix
was never questioned, even though the team staff knew that his precarious
fitness would not have allowed Pieri to be competitive. The sensational
declarations made by Dario Pieri [after Paris-Roubaix] seem mainly a strategy
to distract attention away from the real problem of this rider: his incapacity
to lead the life style of a true professional rider.
The team also noted that Pieri must "accept full responsibility for his
affirmations," and that Saeco reserves every right to make decisions regarding
Pieri's contractual position with the team.
Pieri himself issued a statement Friday both to downplay statements printed
in the Italian paper La Repubblica, which quoted the rider as saying
his physical condition was severe enough to have threatened his life at
Paris-Roubaix. Pieri commented Friday that he did not say his life had
been threatened, and furthermore he would undergo additional examination
Tuesday at the suggestion of Doctor Marco Pallini.
Pieri acknowledged that his early season preparation was based on a good
performance at Paris-Roubaix, but insists that he can regain the confidence
of his directors and sponsors at later rounds of the World Cup such as
the HEW Cyclassics in Germany and Paris-Tours in France, as well as set
his sights on the Italian national championships and stage victories at
the Tour de France.
Bettini back for Amstel
After a short break from competition following the Tour of Flanders,
Italian champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) will be back in
action at Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. Last season Bettini missed Amstel
Gold, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège-
a race he has won twice before- due to injuries sustained in a crash in
Gent-Wevelgem. This year, the defending World Cup champion is ready to
"This time last year I was at home with an arm and shoulder support after
a fall during the Gent-Wevelgem," Bettini explained. "This past I've trained
well with my teammates [Luca] Paolini and [Davide] Bramati, who joined
me in Tuscany for a brief training stage along with our team trainer Luca
Guercilena and masseur Stefano Cerea.
"We did some intense training with sessions lasting even up to seven
and a half hours," he added. "I am feeling good. We'll have to watch out
for the Dutch riders, especially those of the Rabobank team. The Amstel
Gold Race is like the world championships for them. There are also lots
of others to compete with too. As always, this will be a very tough race
that is hard to forecast the winner”
For Quick.Step and most teams in the peloton, rosters at Amstel Gold
Race represent a transition from the true Flemish classics of the previous
weeks to the hillier Ardennes classics around the corner.
Quick.Step-Davitamon for Amstel Gold Race: Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati,
Pedro Horrillo, Luca Paolini, Michael Rogers, Bram Tankink, Jurgen Van
Goolen, Stefano Zanini.
Alessio-Bianchi for Amstel
On the heels of Magnus Bäcksted's big win at Paris-Roubaix, a confident
Alessio-Bianchi team will line up at the Amstel Gold Race with its roster
for the Ardennes classics. Andrea Tafi will still figure in the team,
but new faces will arrive including Cristian Moreni and Franco Pellizotti.
Bäcksted has earned a break from competition, but the big Swede will
be back in the peloton in Denmark in May.
Alessio-Bianchi for Amstel Gold Race: Alessandro Bertolini, Ruslan Ivanov,
Cristian Moreni, Vladimir Miholjevic, Andrea Noé, Franco Pellizotti,
Ellis Rastelli, Andrea Tafi.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 39th Amstel Gold Race live
from start to finish. Coverage starts at 10:15 CEST (Europe)/4:15 EDT
(USA East)/1:15 PDT (USA West)/18:15 AEST (Australia East).
Map and time schedule
Mr. Bookmaker bids on Moncoutié
The Mr. Bookmaker-Palmans team has expressed interest in Cofidis climber
David Moncoutié as a team leader for the Belgian Division I outfit.
Currently the team counts just six non-Belgians in its ranks, including
British riders Roger Hammond and Jeremy Hunt, Australian Ben Day, and
Frenchmen Frédéric Gabriel, Philippe Koehler, and Eddy Lembo.
The team's management, however, is interested in changing the demographics
of its roster.
"The main goal of Mr. Bookmaker is to become a true Franco-Belgian team,"
directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren said in a written release Friday,
adding that he was looking for an even split of French and Belgian riders.
"Moncoutié as a leader, surrounding by young French hopefuls,
is a configuration that would please my sponsors," Van Der Schueren added.
He indicated his intention to ask Cofidis if the team would allow Moncoutié
to leave, but the French team will likely be less willing to see its star
French rider go than world champion Igor Astarloa. Cofidis president François
Migraine has said on occasion that if he could have ten Moncoutiés,
he would. No doubt the team is not eager to see its riders begin to jump
ship as a result of its stop in competition, but manager Alain Bondue
has acknowledged that Astarloa could likely be given more freedom given
his status as reigning world champion.
Verbruggen rejects Pro Tour critiques
UCI President Hein Verbruggen has rejected notions put forth by Brioches
La Boulangère director Philippe Raimbaud that the planned Pro Tour
initiative should be put on hold pending further efforts in the fight
against doping in the sport. Raimbaud, who recently resigned his post
as president of AC 2000, the association of French professional teams,
expressed concerns about the UCI's focus in an open letter to the international
professional team association (AIGCP).
Photo ©: AFP
"I believe in the necessity for reform, but we can't act as if nothing
is happening in cycling," Raimbaud wrote, noting what he considered a
lack of ethical criteria outlined in the Pro Tour charter.
"I'm convinced about the objective of the Pro Tour, but to talk right
now about the number of points to be assigned to the Tour of Germany or
Flèche Wallonne is crazy when at the same time people are telling
horrible stories- whether true or false- to the newspapers."
Raimbaud's concerns, however, fell on deaf ears with UCI president Verbruggen,
who called the current 'panic' in France pathetic.
"This letter leaves me perplexed," Verbruggen said, quoted in Friday's
l'Equipe. "What does Mr. Raimbaud want to accomplish? What would
stopping the Pro Tour do? I don't know."
Verbruggen's take on the escalating doping scandals in France was equally
frank. "In fact it's in France that we're finding that even the French
have been doping, when just before I was hearing about a cycling at two
Verbruggen concluded by saying the UCI would be prepared on Thursday
to introduce the ethical criteria to be included in the new Pro Tour,
"and we'll be very firm on the subject," he said.
French support home dope tests
Photo ©: AFP
French cycling federation (FFC) president Jean Pitallier held his 'round
table' discussion Friday with various representatives from France's professional
teams, race organisers, and the federation. The meeting, held at the FFC's
headquarters in Rosny-sous-Bois, France, was called by Pitallier with
some urgency in the wake of the widening drug scandal surrounding the
Cofidis team, which pulled itself from competition on the eve of Paris-Roubaix
one week ago.
Among the topics discussed was the possibility of unannounced drug controls
at riders' home, something currently prohibited under French law. At a
meeting of French riders last week in Rennes, members of the peloton voiced
their support for the idea, as well as other propositions, such as holding
all training camps during the season (from April to September) within
France, to accommodate random tests. Pitallier noted that the riders also
favoured stiffer sanctions for doping offenses.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)