First Edition Cycling News for January 16, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Cofidis soigneur charged
Rutkiewicz released on bail
The Polish soigneur for Cofidis, Bogdan Madejak, remains in prison and has been charged with illegally possessing and supplying drugs and contravening French drug laws, as the French investigation into an alleged doping ring continues.
Madejak's wife and his daughter (a pharmacist) were released late Wednesday, while former Cofidis rider Marek Rutkiewicz, who was the first to be arrested in the affair, was also charged but was later released on bail. Another ex-Cofidis rider, Robert Sassone, is still in custody and has been questioned in court over the stock of banned substances found after his home was searches. According to L'Equipe, Robert Sassone has reportedly admitted taking illegal drugs, but blamed his former team for putting pressure on him to get good results.
Team Cofidis has had its headquarters searched and medical files seized by police but denies any involvement in the affair. In addition, Cofidis' World Champions Igor Astarloa, David Millar and Laurent Gané are not under suspicion, say police.
The investigation, which was opened in Nanterre in July, 2003, is gathering momentum. Police estimate that up to 30 professional riders will be questioned by investigating magistrate Richard Pallain.
The affair has put professional cycling - not only in France - on the defensive again as it tries to come to terms with doping in the sport. French sports minister John François Lamour was quoted in Le Figaro as saying "I feel anger. It's distressing to see these irresponsible people, criminals putting back the progress - which is essential for the evolution of sport - of the fight against doping. There is such a culture of doping in cycling that it will take one or two generations for things to really change."
Ullrich training again
After a brief period of illness, Jan Ullrich has recommenced training with his T-Mobile squad in Mallorca. Ullrich and his 24 teammates trained together for the first time on Thursday morning, as much for the benefit of the media as for anything else. After 20 kilometres of "show training", the group split into three, with Alexander Vinokourov, Paolo Savoldelli and Andreas Klöden leading a group into the mountains for 160 kilometres, and Steffen Wesemann's classics squad staying more on the flats for 200 kilometres.
Due to their recent sickness, Ullrich and Dutchman Bram Schmitz got off lightly, only having to do 60 kilometres. "I already feel somewhat fitter again, but I have to be certain," said Ullrich, who will start his racing season in March with the Vuelta a Murcia.
Vandenbroucke to start in Qatar
Frank Vandenbroucke will make his debut with Fassa Bortolo in the Doha International Grand Prix on January 31 followed by the Tour of Qatar. The Belgian will follow that with the Giro d'Liguria and Trofeo Laigueglia, leading up to Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in March. After racing the classics, VDB will take a break and start in the Bizikleta Vasca and Volta ao Catalunya. The Tour, Olympics, World Championships and the late season World Cups are also on his program.
Kelme should start in Division II
The embattled Kelme team should be able to continue and race in Division II this year, after a rescue package has been put together by the Generalitat Valenciana and Kelme management. Valencia's secretary of Culture, Education and Sport, Esteban González Pons, and Kelme team manager Pepe Quiles signed an agreement on Thursday which will ensure the future of the team. The Generalitat Valenciana will contribute €1.8 million as the main sponsor and the team will be known as Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme.
The UCI said that it is unlikely to decide before the end of the week which teams will qualify for Division II.
Valverde to Saeco?
Kelme's young star Alejandro Valverde may be on his way to Saeco, according to Spanish sports daily AS. Together with his manager Gorka Arrinda, Valverde left for Italy on Thursday to negotiate a contract with the Italian team, hoping to sign for around €1 million, which was to be his salary at Kelme. Valverde has indicated that he does not have a future with Kelme in Division II, and Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team may not be able to afford him after signing Heras.
Ballerini hearing postponed
Italian national technical director Franco Ballerini's hearing in Pistoia has been postponed until April 23. The hearing was meant to take place on January 14, but Ballerini's lawyer Federico Cecconi asked for it to be put back. Ballerini is accused of sporting fraud after it is alleged that he took anabolic steroids in 1998, the year in which he won Paris-Roubaix. Eight other cyclists: Pavel Tonkov, Gianni Bugno, Wladimir Belli, Marco Zanotti, Mariano Piccoli, Gabriele Missaglia, Marco Serpellini, Davide Bramati and Antonio Fusi, who was Italian technical director at that time, are also accused of sporting fraud.
Peter Schockaert positive
The winner of last year's U23 Paris-Roubaix, Belgian Peter Schockaert, has been stripped off his victory after failing a drug test, according to VRT Teletekst. Uzbek Sergei Lagutin has therefore been declared the winner. Lagutin also won the World U23 Road Championships in Hamilton last year.
Chocolade Jacques presentation
The new Belgian Division I team Chocolade Jacques was presented in Waregem, Belgium on Thursday. The team, based on the old Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf squad, is managed by Jef Braeckeveldt with Johan Capiot and Andrei Tchmil as directeurs sportifs. Dave Bruylandts, Bart Voskamp and Jans Koerts will be the team's top riders.
"It's a balanced group that should do as well on the flat as on the climbs," commented manager Braeckevelt. "We will try to get a start in the Tour, because in every way we are strong enough for it."
Andrei Tchmil said that the team has to "learn to ride together" but it will try and show itself in the classics and the small stage races. Johan Capiot echoed these comments, adding that he hoped the sponsors wouldn't expect too much of them in the first few months. "We still should perform," said Capiot.
For the full team roster, click here.
Three Irish internationals for new superteam
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Three of Ireland's top internationals will join forces this season in the colours of the new Totalcycling-Corrib cycling team. Reigning Irish national time trial champion David O'Loughlin, FBD Milk Rás yellow jersey Tommy Evans and Marseilles-based Philip Deignan will be part of a squad which will target top Irish events such as the Shay Elliot memorial, the national road race championships, the FBD Milk Rás and also English premier calendar races. The team will be sponsored by Belfast's Totalcycling.com and McGrath's Quarry Group of Cong, Co. Mayo, and will use Litespeed bikes.
O'Loughlin, Evans and Deignan are part of Cycling Ireland's eight man provisional Olympic squad and so will also compete with the national team in the build up to Athens. Deignan is also likely to race with the VC La Pomme team in France.
Four other riders will also ride on the Totalcycling - Corrib squad; Mark Quigley, Arron Dean, Brendan Doherty and Brendan Graham.
O'Loughlin had first been working towards setting up his own team but while he was able to secure the support of McGrath's Quarry Group, other sponsors proved difficult to find. He since decided to amalgamate with the existing Totalcycling.com team, the pool of talent now ensuring that the squad will be one of the strongest in Ireland. The Mayo rider rode with the US based Ofoto Lombardi pro team in 2002 and 2003 but took the decision to be based closer to home for the current season. He will however compete in Belgium and elsewhere during 2004.
"Our riders will be competing in all the major events in Ireland plus a number of British Premier Calendar races," O'Loughlin said. "I'm looking forward to riding alongside Tommy and Philip in the same team for the first time. We've all gained a healthy respect for each others' abilities over the years."
The former Irish under 23 champion took 13 wins in 2003, including the Archer Grand Prix in England and a stage of the Tour of Namur in Belgium. He won the national time trial championships and also took the bronze medal in the national road race championship, behind Mark Scanlon and Denis Lynch.
Banbridge rider Tommy Evans also had a fine season in 2003, riding strongly in Malaysia and France before returning home for the 2.5 ranked FBD Milk Rás. The former national champion won the opening stage and held yellow for three days, eventually finishing best of the Irish in eighth place.
Philip Deignan, from Letterkenny, was Ireland's sole finisher in the European championships held on the Olympic course in Athens last year. The Marseilles-based Donegal man is regarded as a talented climber and is one of Irish cycling's big hopes for the future.
Webcor Women's Cycling Team
San Francisco Bay Area based construction firm Webcor Builders has announced the line up for its new women's cycling team for 2004. The company, which sponsors a professional men's team containing Chris Horner and Charles Dionne, decided to set up a women's team last year, encouraged by T-Mobile's sponsorship of a women's race at the San Francisco Grand Prix.
The squad will feature 1994 World Time Trial Champion Karen Brems [nee Kurreck], who will both manage and ride part time for the team. "We have a vision of a 'home grown' team," said Brems. "What's great about our roster is that the riders all know each other, like each other and are fully prepared to support one another."
The team's other main signing is Christine Thorburn, who in 2003 finished in 6th place at the T-Mobile International and gained a spot on the 2003 U.S. World's Team. She will be joined by Felicia Greer, Catherine Malone, Yukie Nakamura and Stefanie Graeter at National Racing Calendar competitions. These riders will race at regional events with Lisa Norris, Kimberly Boester and Carrie Thrasher, who join the Webcor Women's Cycling Team from the Alto Velo Bicycle Racing Club, which has been sponsored by Webcor for the last five years.
The team will compete a full NRC schedule, with a focus on The Women's Prestige Series organized by Giana Roberge, as well as contest select Northern California races.
Christine Thorburn (USA)
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