First Edition Cycling News for January 23, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Photo ©: CN
The two most recent cyclists to be questioned by French police in the
ongoing doping investigation surrounding members past and present of the
Cofidis team have each been released from police custody. Philippe Gaumont
and Cédric Vasseur, both current members of Cofidis, were taken
for questioning by French police Tuesday as they returned to Paris from
the team's training camp in Calpe, Spain. Both appeared before a judge
to face questioning concerning their possible involvement in either the
use or transfer of prohibited substances.
Gaumont was the first to be released from police custody, but according
to a l'Equipe report Thursday, he has admitted his own use of prohibited
substances in competition. No charges have been filed against Gaumont,
who stated to police that use of doping substances was habitual, even
as recently as the 2003 Tour de France. Notably, Gaumont admitted to the
use of EPO.
His confession is said to be prompted by statements by former Cofidis
rider Robert Sassone, the third person to be arrested in the widening
investigation, implicating Gaumont. This is the second drug investigation
in which Gaumont has been called for questioning, the first being the
case surrounding Bernard Sainz and Frank Vandenbroucke in early 2002.
Cédric Vasseur was held an extra 24 hours by police, before appearing
before a judge Thursday morning. He was not charged after questioning,
and his lawyer affirmed his innocence in the affair, saying "For now he
has not been charged with anything. I found him to be relaxed despite
the pressure of the questioning. When you're capable of riding Paris-Roubaix,
you can stand up to an interrogation."
Damage control for French teams
By Chris Henry in Paris
Photo ©: CN
Thus far five people have been questioned in the investigation, which
came into public view following the arrest of Polish rider Marek Rutkiewicz,
formerly of Cofidis and destined to ride for the new French team RAGT
Semences-MG Rover this season. Although released from police custody,
Rutkiewicz's future in cycling is cloudy, and he his new team has tried
to distance itself from the doping headlines. Following RAGT's team presentation
in Paris, directeur sportif Jean-Luc Jonrond shared his disappointment
in Rutkiewicz's implication in the doping case.
"It's too bad that there are still people who behave improperly, but
I think it's a question of individuals," Jonrond told Cyclingnews.
"We still have the same philosophy as the other big French teams, and
that's to do what we can to escape this cloud of doping that surrounds
us. In particular, concerning Marek Rutkiewicz, I've spoken with my colleagues
including [Cofidis directeur sportif] Francis Van Londersele, who believed
him to be a clean rider. Today, we all have the same feeling that a rider
who betrays us like this shouldn't remain in cycling. It's too bad, but
we've reached this point and we'll react accordingly."
While Jonrond phrased Rutkiewicz's absence from the team as a 'provisional
suspension', pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation, his new
team sponsors, including RAGT Semence's chairman Alain Fabre, took a much
"Marek Rutkiewicz betrayed our confidence and he will no longer be welcome
our team," Fabre said in his opening remarks at the team's presentation
Meanwhile, Cofidis president François Migraine is none too pleased
with his team being dragged into the widening doping case, but remains
adamant that he will not back down from his support of the sport, and
will tackle the problem from within.
"I will not make those who don't cheat pay for what the cheaters have
done," Migraine said in a statement published in l'Equipe. "Packing
up and leaving is not the way to help cycling get out of this, and in
any case this affair is far from over. I don't know yet if Cédric
or Philippe are really at fault; for the moment I'll give them the benefit
of the doubt.
"I won't be led to believe either that it is only riders from my team
that are concerned," Migraine continued. "You're now looking at a man
who's going to battle, and I hope that this follows through to the end,
both here [at Cofidis] and throughout all of cycling. If not, cycling
More interrogations for Museeuw
Johan Museeuw, Mario De Clercq, Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers will be
questioned again by the court in Kortrijk over the José Landuyt doping
investigation. The four Belgian professional cyclists were linked to the
affair when their homes were among 21 houses searched by police last September.
The investigation is centred on José Landuyt, a veterinarian under suspicion
of supplying doping substances to cyclists, and to the horse and pigeon
Belgian newspaper De Standaard reports that Museeuw and co. will
have to answer questions as to why illegal products were allegedly found
in their homes. Kortrijk investigating magistrate Tom Janssens said that
the riders are not being questioned again because "a glass of milk" was
found. According to De Standaard, laboratory analyses have been
carried out on all the products, and some of these are illegal to possess
under Belgian law. "
"We're not interested in a product that could be used for doping, but
something that is not legally produced, such as captagon for example,"
The investigators will not reveal what products were found, and the
riders have the right to ask for a counter analysis if they so desire.
So far in the case, all riders have maintained their innocence.
No holding back for Gerolsteiner
Photo ©: AFP
German Division I team Gerolsteiner wants to establish itself at the
top of the pecking order for 2004, as it revealed at its team presentation
in Gerolstein on Tuesday. The team which won 27 races and finished sixth
on the world rankings at the end of last year, a performance that impressed
team boss Hans Michael Holczer. "After what was for us a certainly surprising
tenth placing in the world rankings in the year 2002 and sixth place in
the year 2003, we are now counting on maintaining our position," said
Holczer at the launch.
The team will be spearheaded by established riders such as Davide Rebellin,
Michael Rich, Uwe Peschel, Georg Totschnig and Marcus Zberg, with 23 year
old Fabian Wegmann (60th on the UCI rankings) a major up and coming talent.
Rebellin said that he will focus on the World Cups, Olympic Games and
World Championships, and will also participate in the Giro d'Italia (but
not the Tour).
With seven new acquisitions in 2004, the 24 member team should be able
to meet its expectations. 30 year old ex-Telekom sprinter Danilo Hondo
will be an important part of this, as "more and more races are decided
in sprints," according to Holczer. "Danilo is established among the sprinting
world elite. But what we really appreciate about him is that he can win
races in other ways than in a sprint."
The other new signings including Swiss riders Beat Zberg and Sven Montgomery,
who will strengthen the team in the grand tours, while 31 year old Marco
Serpellini will add his experience to the classics team. Gerolsteiner
has also signed three young riders in Markus Fothen, Sven Krauß and Thomas
Ziegler. Fothen, the U23 World and European time trial champion, hopes
to be able to follow in the footsteps of Michael Rich and Uwe Peschel,
Gerolsteiner's big motors against the clock.
Gerolsteiner team roster
New sponsors line up for USPS-Berry Floor
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Two new sponsors will be featured on the USPS-Berry Floor jersey for
2004. The Silicon Valley microprocessor giant Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
logo will be prominently displayed, likely as a way to promote the perennial
second place chip maker (to Intel) new AMD Athlon 64 bit microprocessor.
Industry insiders tell Cyclingnews that AMD is perhaps a year ahead
of chip giant Intel in the vital new 64 bit processor market and so what
better way to get noticed on a global scale but to put its logo on Lance
Armstrong's shoulders and posterior.
Outdoor Life Network will also sponsor the USPS-Berry Floor squad this
season: OLN will debut a weekly 13 part half hour High Definition TV documentary
on five time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong and the United States
Postal Service Pro Cycling Team. OLN's show should provide viewers with
unprecedented access to Lance and the USPS-Berry Floor squad, not only
focus on racing, but perhaps inspired by MTV's "Real World" franchise,
but go "behind the scenes showing what transpires when the team members
are off their bikes."
Besides alleged "tension and drama", we'll may have even more scary
moments like Floyd Landis drinking gallons of coffee, watching massive
quantities of pasta being devoured in team meals and perhaps even hear
a few of Chef Willy's racy (and certainly not ready for prime time) post
prandial stories. The last time OLN sponsored a pro cycling team, it was
Mercury, who never got to the Tour De France, so at least we can be sure
that the cable network's documentary will cover USPS-Berry Floor and Lance
Armstrong in his quest for a sixth consecutive Tour win.
Team CSC extend for three years with Cervélo
Riis Cycling, the management company of Team CSC, and Cervélo Cycles
have announced the continuation of their partnership through to the end
of 2006. The team officially rode on Cervélo bikes for the first time
in 2003, and both team management and Cervélo were happy with the results,
which included three stage wins and a fourth overall in the Tour de France.
Ofoto Cycling Team 2004
The Ofoto Cycling Team has announced its line up for 2004. New to the
team will be: Scott Swizanski (ex- Snow Valley), Jason Bausch (ex-Schroeder
Iron), Nieko Biskner (ex-Sierra Nevada-Clif Bar) and Zach Walker. Returning
are America's National Madison Champions Erik Saunders and Jackson Stewart,
as well as Andy Bajadali, Tim Larkin, Peter Lopinto and national U23 Road
Champion Jon Erdeyli. The team is looking at adding two or three riders
in the near future.
Following a successful 2003 season which included over 50 wins including
four National Titles, the Ofoto Cycling Team continues into 2004 again
as a UCI Division III professional team. The Team's focus will again be
on the US road racing scene, with specific emphasis on the US Pro Cycling
Tour, the National Racing Calendar events, and UCI-Sanctioned Tour de
The Ofoto Cycling Team will be riding Litespeed titanium bicycles again
this season. Other sponsors include Lombardi Sports, Hansen's Beverage
Inc., Rolf, Profile, Time, SRAM, Fizik, Michelin, Louis Garneau, Rudy
Project, Craft USA and Polar.
Andy Bajadali (USA)
Jason Bausch (USA)
Nieko Biskner (USA)
Jon Erdeyli (USA)
Tim Larkin (USA)
Peter Lopinto (USA)
Erik Saunders (USA)
Scott Swizanski (USA)
Jackson Stewart (USA)
Zac Walker (USA)
Surgery for Micha de Vries
Dutch mountain biker Micha de Vries (Holland Pro Cycling Team) had to
undergo surgery last weekend for a groin rupture. He was carrying the
injury for quite some time, and was even able to train and race with it,
finishing 9th at the Dutch national cyclo-cross championships nearly two
"The surgery was a success and next week I'll be hearing from the doctor
when I'll be able to start training again," reported De Vries, who will
start his training in Calpe, Spain. "Good thing the season will be lasting
till the end of October. I'll be stronger then before when I get back
in shape later on in the season, you can count on that!."
29th Vuelta Ciclista a Cuba
Taking place between February 10-22 is the 29th edition of the Vuelta
a Cuba, a UCI 2.5 category stage race. Run over 14 stages and 1979 kilometres,
the Vuelta a Cuba will start with a 153 km stage between Baracoa and Guantánamo
on February 10 and finish with a 109 km leg from San Cristóbal to Havana
on Febuary 22. Two time trials are planned, a 74 km team time trial between
Bayamo and Holguin (Stage 4) and a 40 km individual time trial between
Cárdenas and Matanzas (Stage 10b).
Stage 1 - February 10: Baracoa - Guantánamo, 153 km
Stage 2 - February 11: Guantánamo - La Gran Piedra, 138 km
Stage 3 - February 12: Santiago de Cuba - Bayamo, 125 km
Stage 4 - February 13: Bayamo - Holguín TTT, 74 km
Stage 5 - February 14: Holguín -, Camaguey, 202 km
Stage 6 - February 15: Camaguey - Ciego de Ávila, 116 km
Stage 7 - February 16: Ciego de Ávila - Sancti. Spíritus, 193 km
Stage 8 - February 17: Sancti Spíritus - Santa Clara, 157 km
Stage 9 - February 18: Santa Clara - Cienfuegos, 169 km
Stage 10a - February 19: Cienfuegos - Cárdenas, 176 km
Stage 10b - February 19: Cárdenas - Matanzas ITT, 40 km
Stage 11 - February 20: Matanzas - San Antonio de los Baños, 120 km
Stage 12 - February 21: San Antonio de los Baños - Pinar del Rió, 207
Stage 13 - February 22: San Cristóbal - Ciudad de la Habana, 109 km
America's Cycling Team wants rider for Cuba
America's Cycling Team presented by UPMC (the Pittsburgh/New York/Uruguay
squad formerly known as the UPMC cycling team) is in need of a sixth rider
for the Vuelta a Cuba (UCI 2.5), to be contested 10-22 February. "A combination
of injury and schedule conflicts with several of our foreign athletes
has created the opportunity for a non-contracted rider to compete in the
Tour of Cuba with us," said team captain Joe Papp, who last year won two
stages of the event. The rider must hold a valid 2004 UCI license from
his national federation, and be able to travel to Cuba no later than 6
February. The rider will be responsible for his travel costs to and from
Havana, though all expenses will be covered upon arrival in Cuba. Interested
athletes should contact team director Mike Fraysse in the USA at 845-856-3335.
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