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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 4, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

O'Grady goes for gold

By Paul Mulvey, AAP

Stuart O'Grady
Photo: © Christine Schramm
Click for larger image

Stuart O'Grady's victory in the HEW Cyclassics on Sunday has boosted the popular Australian Cofidis rider's confidence in the lead-up to the road race at the Athens Olympic Games this month. O'Grady already has an Olympic silver and two bronze medals in his trophy cabinet, the legacy of his days as one of Australia's top track cyclists, and now wants to add gold to the collection.

"Now, I look at the Olympics with a real possibility of a medal as a definite objective," he said. "I beat the best in the world [on Sunday] so why can't I do it again in a couple of weeks?"

O'Grady also has a Tour de France stage win in his tally for 2004, started the year strongly with a podium place in Milan-San Remo and took a stage victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He may not have quite been a contender in the Tour's green jersey points competition this year, finishing fourth, but he is having perhaps his strongest road season ever. However, it took Sunday's victory to confirm it for O'Grady himself.

"Before yesterday's race I was kind of hoping to go to the Olympics and get a decent result, but I wasn't sure which way the pendulum was going to swing," he said. "Coming out of the Tour de France you can get hyped up all you want but if your body is tired and wants to recover, there's not much you can do about it. So I was a little bit worried about it and in training I was feeling really shabby.

"I had no intentions of going out and winning [Sunday's] race. I told the team in the meeting I felt tired and don't count on me at the end. But as the race went on I got better and better. I wasn't 100 per cent but I still won a World Cup race. I still can't believe it, it's pretty huge.

"The Olympics is going to be tougher of course but I think I'll be better prepared."

Olympic champion and gold medal favourite Jan Ullrich finished 30th in Hamburg, encouraging O'Grady to chase the German's title in Athens after taking silver in the 1992 teams pursuit in Barcelona and bronze in the same event four years later when he also came third in the points race.

The Hamburg race was just as significant for his Codifis and Australian Olympic team-mate Matt White. It was White's first race since breaking a collarbone before the Tour de France prologue and although he finished down the field, his performance in helping O'Grady win cemented his place in Australia's Olympic team.

O'Grady believes the combination of White, Michael Rogers, and Tour de France green jersey winners Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke puts Australia in a strong position in Athens.

"I wouldn't have won if Matt wasn't there. He was definitely a huge part of the win," O'Grady said. "With help like that in the Olympics, the Australians will have a very good team."

O'Grady starts the Tour of Denmark on Thursday but was planning an easy four days in the saddle before joining the Australian team's pre-Olympics camp in Italy on August 9.

© AAP

Cofidis affair: police question Lelli

French police yesterday detained Cofidis rider Massimiliano Lelli for questioning over the doping affair surrounding his Cofidis team, judicial sources said.

The 36-year old Lelli, who has been riding for Cofidis since 1998, was arrested at his team headquarters in northern France after a meeting with his employer.

"It was not a meeting prior to a sacking but a call for explanations after the accusations made against him. He's been accused and we wish to listen to him," Cofidis spokesman Alexandre Michaud said.

Lelli's former team-mates Philippe Gaumont and David Millar have accused the Italian of being involved in the Cofidis doping affair. Millar has told investigators that Lelli supplied him with forbidden substances, L'Equipe daily reported last week.

Cycling time trial world champion Millar was placed under official judicial investigation in July. The British cyclist has admitted taking the banned drug erythropoietin (EPO), an endurance booster, in 2001 and 2003. His team has sacked him.

Three Cofidis riders have already been charged, including 1992 Olympic bronze medallist Gaumont, who was sacked by Cofidis after admitting taking and dealing in drugs.

The affair is the biggest judicial investigation into cycling since the Festina scandal that erupted during the 1998 Tour de France.

© AAP/Reuters

Portuguese champion positive

Portuguese road champion Pedro Lopes (LA-Pecol) has had his title suspended after testing positive to an anti-inflammatory, according to Europa Press. However, Federación Portuguesa de Ciclismo (FPC) president Artur Lopes believes the finding is the result of an administrative error.

Under UCI rules riders are permitted to take certain substances with a doctor's prescription, including the anti-inflammatory for which Pedro Lopes returned a positive. Lopes did not submit a prescription, but his team claims this was an unintentional oversight.

"There's no excuse for doping, but this is ridiculous," said the FPC president.

Cofidis for San Sebastian

The Cofidis team has announced the riders that will start Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian, the seventh round of the 2004 World Cup series. Under directeur sportif Francis the team will field Daniel Atienza, Inigo Cuesta, Peter Farazijn, Dmitriy Fofonov, David Moncoutie, Luis Perez, Guido Trentin, and Cédric Vasseur.

Tour of Hope DC ride open

Registration is now open for the Washington D.C. leg of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope fund-raising ride for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The 25-30 mile ride takes place on Saturday October 9 and 1500 places are available.

After the ride Lance Armstrong, the Tour of Hope Team, and special guests will be at the grand finale event on the Ellipse, open to the public.

For more information see www.tourofhope.org

Austinites to welcome Armstrong home

After a hectic post-Tour schedule in Europe, Lance Armstrong will return to a hero's welcome in Austin Texas on August 13. The celebration of Armstrong's sixth Tour de France victory will include musical performances, a parade, video presentations and special guests.

Festivities get underway at 6.30pm on Friday, August 13, 2004 in downtown Austin, Texas one block South of the State Capitol at 1100 Congress Ave.

Fuentes disputes positive

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced that Californian Dave Fuentes is currently involved in the USADA adjudication process after returning a positive test for oxymetholone metabolites at the Redlands Classic on March 25, 2004. Fuentes is disputing the finding.

Oxymetholone is a steroid also known under the trade name Anadrol, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of anemias caused by deficient red cell production. It has has been demonstrated to have significant toxic side effects on the liver.

Changes for 2005 Captech Classic

Organisers have announced substantial improvements for the 2005 edition of the Richmond, Virginia Captech Classic. Nest year's edition of the event will take place on the evening of May 26 in downtown Richmond, starting and finishing on Cary Street, in front of Richmond's landmark office complex, the James Center.

"The evening format allows the thousands of people that work downtown to come and enjoy a unique sporting event and festival as they are leaving the office for the day," said Tim Miller, Captech classic executive director. "And the new date on the racing calendar makes the CapTech Classic an important tune-up event for ... the most important week in U.S. cycling that concludes with the U.S. Professional Championships in Philadelphia."

San Jose track series boosts prize list

With six nights of racing remaining in the Specialized Friday Night Breaking Away series (SFNBA), San Jose's Hellyer Park Velodrome has announced that proceeds from the successful Northern California Track Championships, held July 23-25, will be added to the SFNBA season omnium prize list.

Specialized, based in nearby Morgan Hill, will reward the winners of the SFNBA's season-long Pro/Elite Omnium and Sprint Series with its S-Works Langster track frameset, named for Specialized's International Bicycle Buyer Don Langley, a frequent Hellyer competitor.

In addition, a total of over $1200 in cash will be awarded to riders ranked second through eighth in the Pro/Elite Omnium and second through fourth in the Sprint Series, and up to $100 will be awarded for each remaining SFNBA at which there are enough female competitors to run a separate women's program. Merchandise prizes will go to the season leaders in the Cat 3 and Cat 4 groups.

The Specialized Friday Night Breaking Away series, held Friday nights through September 10 beginning at 7:20 PM, is free for spectators.

For more information see www.ridethetrack.com.

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