First Edition Cycling News for January 27, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Cofidis saga no headache for Migraine
Cofidis president François Migraine, in an extensive interview with l'Equipe's Frédérique Galametz published Monday, continues to stand firm behind his team - although not necessarily all of his riders - in the midst of an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking among past and current members.
In the past few weeks, a team soigneur (Bogdan Madejak), two current members (Cédric Vasseur and Philippe Gaumont), and two former team members (Marek Rutkiewicz and Robert Sassone) have been questioned by police as part of a widening investigation into the distribution of banned substances within the professional peloton. Gaumont was recently quoted on France Bleue Picardie as saying, "I acknowledged to have taken substances. Which racing cyclist can say the opposite? 90 percent of riders are perhaps not clean."
Through all of this, Migraine has become defiant and increasingly determined to support his team rather than abandon his support of cycling, a sport he loves. He acknowledges that the fight against doping is far from over, but emphatically rejects comparisons between his team's involvement in the current wave of arrests and the Festina affair of 1998.
"I want to say that when certain people refer to the Cofidis affair in the same manner as the Festina affair, the comparisons have to stop," Migraine told l'Equipe. "At Festina, they practiced organised doping. We also have an organisation, but it is anti-doping."
Migraine says that he is doing everything he believes he can to fight doping within his own team and in the sport, but he will not let himself be held responsible for the actions of individuals who still manage to cheat. Take the case of newly signed world champion Igor Astarloa. Migraine is pleased to have three world champions in his team, and himself had targeted Astarloa as a prospect in 2003, but following the world championships in October, Migraine found his new star attraction already under a small cloud of suspicion.
"After the World's, he was suspected of doping. What am I supposed to do?" Migraine asked, explaining that Astarloa was a rider he preferred to sign given his steady progress and apparent hard work. "That for me is satisfying," he said. "A Valverde is more worrisome for me in these circumstances. At 23 years old, either he's the next Hinault, a pure talent, or he's a guy who's running on who knows what...?"
As for Astarloa, Migraine does not appear overly concerned with the short-lived speculation about doping cases at Hamilton. "Now I'll pay attention to him, and if at the end of the season he has no results, that might tell me something, but honestly I'm inclined to give him my confidence. The UCI said he was clean, so for me he was clean."
If there's one notion Migraine rejects, it's that a team's pressure on a rider for results is a push towards doping. "That's the easiest defense to make," Migraine insisted. "To me, that's worth nothing."
In the end, Migraine remains in the sport because it serves his interests. Cycling is a vehicle for publicity, and one that despite its problems delivers the most bang for the buck. Migraine explained that cycling is not his family, and he does not befriend his riders. He runs a substantial business (Cofidis employs 1,800 people) and invests 8 million euros a year in his team to promote the company, with no illusions about what he will or won't get out of it.
"A rider like Millar, when he wins, it's him; when he loses it's always the others' fault," Migraine said of his team leader. "I keep him because he's a good guy, but mostly because he's a good personality for publicity and he serves my economic interests. Let's not lose sight of things. Cofidis' investment isn't for nothing. I have my own interests, it's not just his that count, don't kid yourself. On the other hand, I'm not prepared to achieve my own interests at any cost."
Albizu confirms with Euskaltel
Mercatone Uno rider Joseba Albizu will sign a two year contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi on Tuesday at the team's headquarters in Derio, Euskadi. The UCI has given Albizu permission to leave his current team, which will not be registered by the January 28 deadline.
"I wanted him to be free so we could have presented him with the team last Thursday, but it wasn't possible," said Euskaltel's team manager Miguel Madariaga to Europa Press. "On the day of the presentation Joan Mas [administration manager] told me that we had to press matters, because the way things were going, on the 28th he would have found himself neither with them or us. The next day I started the necessary procedures, and today the secretary of the International Association of Sporting Teams confirmed to me that he had spoken with the UCI and they said that we can sign the guy."
Albizu, 25, made his debut last year with Mercatone, winning the Giro del Friuli. He will be the 24th and final rider with Euskaltel this season.
Formaggi Pinzolo and Barloworld admitted to Division II
Italian team Formaggi Pinzolo and the South African Barloworld squad will be registered as Division II teams this year. The squads were able to provide the UCI with all the necessary supporting documentation by the January 28 deadline. On the other hand, Atlas Hoop-Polsat and Flanders Afincom have yet to provide these details.
Team Barloworld is registered with the South African federation and will be managed in Italy by Davide Boifava. It includes several members of the soon to be defunct Mercatone Uno squad, such as Andrea Moletta, Ivan Ravaioli, Francesco Bellotti, Enrico Degano, and Luca Solari.
17th Trust House Cycle Classic
New Zealand's 17th Trust House Cycle Classic, a five day UCI 2.5 stage race, will start on Wednesday, January 28 with a team time trial in Avalon, Lower Hutt at 2.30pm and finish with a street circuit race around Jackson St - Petone at 2.30pm on Sunday, February 1. Over the five days, riders will complete a total of 564 kilometres of racing. The hardest stage in this year's tour is stage 5, a hilly 125 km race around the Masterton area, finishing with a 16 km climb to the top of Admiral Hill at 535 meters above sea level.
20 teams of five riders will make up the 100 rider peloton, including international riders from New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, Canada, Japan, Mongolia and Uruguay. [Ed: is five an auspicious number in this race?]. Favourites to win the 2004 event are defending champion Matthew Yates from New Zealand, riding for the Subway team, Canadian Eric Wohlberg, current New Zealand road champion Heath Blackgrove, riding for the NZ Samsung team, and Hector Morales from Uruguay, one of the in form South American riders at the moment. Other top New Zealand riders in the event are current road double NZ road champion Gordon McCauley and 2002 Junior World Champion Jeremy Yates.
New Irish MTB licence for 2004
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Cycling Ireland is to introduce a new MTB-only licence in a bid to encourage more off-road racers to become members of the federation. The new licence will cost €75 for members of CI affiliated clubs, with riders able to deduct the cost of one day licences from this total. Non CI affiliated riders will be able to join the new CI MTB club for €5 before applying for a full licence.
Under the new system, a maximum of three one day licences can be held in any one season. Riders will have three options for payment. They can pay the €75 euro fee straight off and receive a full licence. The second option is to purchase a one day licence for €15 euro and then pay the remaining €60 euro before the next event. Alternatively they can, following the use of the first one day licence, elect to pay €30 euro to get their second and third licences in a combined package and then pay off the remaining amount before their fourth race.
Last season a large number of riders took out one day licences without ever becoming members of CI. The relatively small number of MTB events would appear to be a factor in this, as riders have a sparser calendar and therefore less of an incentive to pay out the full amount. CI's new scheme is designed to address this issue, allowing new riders to try out the sport while encouraging them to take out a full licence.
Underage and junior licence fees and regulations remain unchanged from last year. Applicants should however include their MTB race category on their licence application form.
For further details contact Brendan at Cycling Ireland at 018551522, or by email at email@example.com
UCI coaching course in Ireland
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Cycling Ireland has received an invitation to send a coach to the UCI's coaching program at its base in Aigle, Switzerland. The course is a twelve week, intensive program for people already involved at coaching at a high level, involving advanced training in all aspects of cycle coaching. The course starts on March 1 and continues until the end of May. The closing date for applications is February 1.
Application forms may be downloaded here and may be returned to the address below or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants must have a relevant cycling coaching qualification and background and must be willing to use the UCI qualification to further the development of coaching through Cycling Ireland.
UCI Coaching Course
Riders wanted for US team
The US based Intermountain Color cycling team (www.imcprint.com) is looking for three Pro or Category 1/2 racers for its men's team and two for its female team for the 2004 racing season in Boulder, Colorado. All racing costs will be covered and complementary housing can be provided. Contracts will run for four months from April 15th to August 15th and the team will race an average of three times per week.
Contact Robert Hicken at email@example.com for more details.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)