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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for July 1, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Gorka Gonzalez out

Euskaltel-Euskadi hasn't gotten off to a good start in the Tour de France, after Gorka Gonzalez failed a blood test on Thursday morning. Gonzalez was the only one of the 189 riders tested between 7:20 and 9:30am who was declared "unfit to start" due to a high hematocrit. He will be forced out of competition for two weeks.

Euskaltel-Euskadi will now begin the Tour with just eight riders rather than bringing a reserve, a decision which could affect team leader Iban Mayo, particularly in the team time trial.

Vermaut's wife reflects

Vanessa Vermaut, the wife of ex-professional Stive Vermaut who died yesterday morning after suffering a heart attack two and a half weeks ago, has spoken about her husband's death to Het Nieuwsblad. "Stive gave his life for his three great loves: He loved Emmy, his four year old daughter, his bicycle, and me," she said.

Vanessa is pregnant with her second child - a boy - which she said Stive was so looking forward to seeing. "And now he is no longer here himself. Stive was the eternal optimist, all of his heart problems, he had a solution ready for everything. On that fateful Sunday he asked me in the morning if he could go riding. And then at 11:34 came that anxious phone call from him that changed everything. 'Come quick, I'm four kilometres from home in Gits, I am starting to feel really bad'. When I got there, Stive had lost consciousness. He didn't come out of the coma again, he was breathing without aid until the last minute."

Vermaut's widow also wanted to warn all sportspeople to take heed. "In the future, take the proper tests. Not in some charlatan clinic. The Monday before the fatal Sunday, Stive was being tested by a doctor who literally said 'That he was allowed to go hard'. The consequences were terrible."

Stive Vermaut's funeral will be on Monday, July 5 at 10:00am in Sint-Henricuskerk in Torhout, close to his bike shop. Vermaut's body is currently in the Logghe funeral home in Ichtegem, where his 47 year old father Yvan also lay after dying on April 18, 2004.

Armstrong book decision on Friday

A Parisian court decision on whether Lance Armstrong will be able to force the publishers of L.A. Confidential to insert a statement from him denying the charges of doping contained in the book will now be made on Friday, just a day before the start of the Tour in Liege. Armstrong's lawyers pled their case to the Court of Appeals in Paris on June 30 after their initial case had been dismissed on June 21.

"This is slanted journalism, not investigative," said one of Armstrong's lawyers Donald Manasse to AFP. Another, Christian Charrière-Bournazel, said that the book's authors had "passionately mocked the rights of Lance Armstrong from the start...They wanted to bring down Lance Armstrong [with] a well oiled conspiracy."

However, the book's lawyer Thibault de Montbrial claims that this is the price to be paid for ignoring the set of questions that the authors had sent to Armstrong shortly before the book's publication.

UCI rankings correction: Petacchi now number 1

An correction has been made to the latest men's UCI rankings that were issued following the national championships last weekend. Instead of Paolo Bettini taking over the number one position from Erik Zabel, it was super sprinter Alessandro Petacchi who has claimed that honour by just 15 points over the German. Bettini is back in third place, 71 points behind Petacchi.

Rankings as of June 27, 2004

Elite men
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                      2137.00 pts
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                               2122.00
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                     2066.00
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme 1977.00
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                           1931.00
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                                   1675.00
7 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor      1592.00
8 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       1440.00
9 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                              1437.00
10 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir   1374.00
11 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                              1364.00
12 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                       1308.00
13 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                   1278.60
14 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco                                  1189.00
15 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                              1170.00
16 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                 1159.20
17 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                           1136.00
18 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros                     1121.00
19 Bradley McGee (Aus)                              1105.00
20 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) De Nardi                              1042.50

Men's Division I
1 Team CSC                                                     5012.00 pts
2 Saeco                                                        4711.00
3 T-Mobile Team                                                4707.00
4 Gerolsteiner                                                 4515.75
5 Phonak Hearing Systems                                       4330.00
6 Rabobank                                                     4230.00
7 Fassa Bortolo                                                4051.00
8 Quick.Step-Davitamon                                         4005.00
9 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                            3880.25
10 Saunier Duval-Prodir                                        3700.00

Men's Division II
1 Domina Vacanze                                               2270.00 pts
2 Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme                                   2101.00
3 Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo                                 1649.00
4 Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                                    1305.00
5 Costa De Almeria-Paternina                                   1025.00
Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations

Landbouwkrediet extends for two years

The Belgian division I Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team will remain in cycling for at least the next two years, team manager Gérard Bulens confirmed to Sporza. "We want to keep our Belgian core and if possible, even expand with young hopefuls. But we really want to start in the Tour next year. Therefore it's important to remain an international team."

Although Landbouwkrediet has applied for a Pro Tour licence, Bulens said that this is merely to keep the doors open for the Tour, "Because I remain a strong opponent of the plans of UCI president Verbruggen."

German pre-Olympic men's team named

The German cycling federation has named its men's long team for the Olympic Games in Athens in August. The team consists of 14 riders, including defending Olympic RR champion Jan Ullrich and his sprinting teammate Erik Zabel. The final five riders will be chosen from the 14 on July 19.

Team roster

Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile-Team)
Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)
Jörg Jaksche (CSC)
Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile-Team)
Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile-Team)
Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner)
Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner)
Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick Step-Davitamon)
Jens Voigt (CSC)
Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile-Team)
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile-Team)
Erik Zabel (T-Mobile-Team)

Van der Zee gets the nod

At the request of her Farm Frites teammate Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, Anouska van der Zee has been nominated for a spot in the three member Dutch Olympic women's team. The Dutch cycling federation (KNWU) made the decision on Wednesday, and will recommend to the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOCNSF) that Van der Zee join Zijlaard-Van Moorsel and Mirjam Melchers in the team.

Van der Zee takes the place of Chantal Beltman, who finished second in the Dutch championships behind Zijlaard-Van Moorsel last Saturday. But after the race, Zijlaard-Van Moorsel threatened not to defend her Olympic title in Athens if she didn't have the support of Van der Zee.

Dutch top sport coordinator Johan Lammerts told ANP that the decision to leave out Beltman was based on tactical reasons. National coach Egon van Kessel "has the intention to take two leaders to Athens for the road race. The third rider should thus put herself totally in a domestique's role."

Heidi Van De Vijver retires

Heidi Van De Vijver (Keukens Redant Cycling Team) ended her cycling career on Monday, June 28. A dysfunctional thyroid gland caused Van De Vijver to suffer for several months, and this was one of the reasons she couldn't realise her dream of taking part in her third Olympic Games in Athens. Last season (2003), Van De Vijver crashed and broke her elbow. Due to the complex surgery necessary, it took too long to get back to her normal level again.

During her career, Van De Vijver recorded 100 victories in road races and also won on the track. She was victorious in the Belgian championships (TT and RR) on six occasions. But her biggest results came when she faced challengers Leontien Van Moorsel and Jeannie Longo: She won stages and the overall in the Tours of E.E.G., Vendée, Belgium and Mallorca, as well as winning stages in Paris-Bourges, Tour de l'Aude, Tour d'Aquitaine, and Masters Féminin. She placed third in the Tour Féminin (women's Tour, precursor to LGBF) twice, and finished in the top 10 another four times. She also finished third twice in the overall classification of the Tour de l'Aude.

In 1995, Van de Vijver won the Tour of Flanders by beating Hanka Kupfernagel in the sprint. In the two Olympic road races she competed in, she came 20th in Atlanta and 8th in Sydney. She took 6th place in the World Cup ranking in 2001 and raced an amazing 15 World Road Championships for the Belgian National Team.

Van de Vijver's retirement means that Belgium will be deprived of its most talented and successful female cyclist of the last 15 years.

Tour of Britain coming together

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The upcoming Tour of Britain in September will have a truly global feel about it as the latest teams to sign up for this long awaited event are based in Italy and the USA respectively. Panaria-Margres from Italy and The Navigators Insurance Cycling Team from the USA join Credit Agricole from France, Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf, Lotto-Domo and Mr Bookmaker-Palmans from Belgium on the starting line in Manchester for the first stage on September 1.

The Tour of Britain has been granted elite status (Category 2.3) by the UCI. It will feature twelve trade teams and four national teams from the UK that will start in Manchester and visit the North-West of England on day one. Stage Two will be based in Yorkshire and Stage Three will visit cities in the East Midlands. The Fourth Stage takes the riders to South-East Wales and Gwent with the thrilling climax taking place on Sunday with a criterium, a race on a specially designed circuit which takes in the streets of Westminster.

BBC TV is committed to televising the Tour both through its regional networks and in an eighty minute program, featuring all five stages, which will be broadcast in the BBC's flagship sports programme, Grandstand. A similar programme will be made for global distribution.

British Cycling President Brian Cookson commented that, "This is more great news from the Tour of Britain organisers. Things are really coming together very well for this exciting event, and I am confident that it will give a real boost to our sport".

Basis gets a boost

The Basis cycling team has received a sponsorship boost from the Ford Motor Company, which will sponsor the team for the rest of the season with an eye towards becoming a co-title sponsor in 2005. "We're very happy to have Nicole Freedman and the entire Basis squad join the family of Ford cycling programs," said Jack Palazzolo, Director of Regional Marketing. "They are determined and seasoned pros who put everything into their racing, yet they still make the time to give back to the cycling community, and the sport in general, by being mentors and teachers to up and coming female cyclists. Their 'go anywhere do anything' attitude is what defines our brand."

"I lived in my Ford Econoline for four years in preparation for the 2000 Olympics. The seating in the 2005 Escape is much more economical and comfortable," said Freedman, who was last seen soliciting friends with flat driveways.

Ford currently sponsors a women's professional mountain bike team, Ford Cycling, as well as regional programs in Michigan and Florida.

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