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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Extra for July 27, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Police visit Vandenbroucke residence

Police were called to the house of Fassa Bortolo rider Frank Vandenbroucke yesterday afternoon after a domestic dispute apparently got somewhat out of hand.

According to Belgian news sources, police wearing bullet-proof vests, and an ambulance and medical emergency team arrived at Vandenbroucke's house in Nieuwkerke after neighbours heard Vandenbroucke screaming that he would commit suicide.

At about 1.15 pm, Vandenbroucke's wife Sarah Pinacci left the house. About 30 minutes later Vandenbroucke and police also left. The public prosecutor at Ypres said that no crime had been committed, but there has been no more official word on the reason for the arrival of the approximately ten-strong group of police on the scene.

Reports from the scene are confused. Flemish TV showed Sarah Pinacci packing suitcases into her car, saying, "This is no laughing matter," and refusing further comment. Reports from neighbours are contradictory as to whether shots were heard.

Vandenbroucke has been in dispute with his directeur sportif Giancarlo Ferretti after VDB recently decided not to start the Tour of Portugal on Thursday because of tendonitis in his right knee.

Pantani inquest to rule out suicide

The findings of the investigation into the death of Italian 1998 Tour de France winner Marco Pantani are due to be delivered Wednesday. When forensic expert Giuseppe Fortuni hands over his report to Paolo Gengarelli of the Rimini district attorney's office, he will conclude that Pantani died of an overdose of high-quality cocaine, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The report finds that the cocaine that Pantani took before his death was 70 percent pure and concludes that Pantani's death was an accident. As well as ruling out suicide, Fortuni reports that no traces of doping substances were found in Pantani's bone marrow.

Congratulations for Armstrong from Bush & Kerry

Both of the men in the running for the job of next leader of the free world have offered their congratulations to Lance Armstrong after his sixth straight Tour de France victory on Sunday.

President George Bush phoned Armstrong on Sunday to tell him "You're awesome," accord to the Associated Press. Bush "congratulated him on behalf of the nation, and told him his country was proud of him and that he was an outstanding athlete," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.

Meanwhile, at a meeting in Columbus, Ohio Democrat presidential candidate Senator John Kerry also paid tribute to Armstrong's win. "Three weeks on a bike riding those kinds of miles and that kind of speed," Kerry said. "The level of athleticism, the level of fine-tuning of the human body, the mental focus, courage. I tip my hat to Lance Armstrong and to the whole U.S. Postal team; the U.S. Postal team makes the United States proud."

Both President Bush and Senator Kerry are cyclists. President Bush recently got into mountain biking after developing sore knees after years of running, while Senator Kerry is accompanied on the campaign trail by his road bike.

Marion Clignet retires

By Kristy Scrymgeour

Cyclingnews diarist Marion Clignet recently retired from cycling for the third time after her hopes of making the Olympic team on the track and the road were not realized. After a disappointing world track championships in Melbourne and one more attempt at making the Olympic team on the road, Clignet rode the Giro Donne for one last race before retiring. As a former world champion, Clignet has conquered the ongoing difficulty of training and racing with epilepsy and arthritis to rack up a pretty impressive palmares including:

5 time French pursuit champion
2 time French road champion
1 time French tt champion
1 time U.S. TTT champion
World TTT champion (1991)
World 3km pursuit champion (1994, 1996, 1999)
World points race champion (1999)
Silver medal Olympic 3000m Individual pursuit (2000)
World Cup wins in 3km pursuit & points race in Cali, Colombia (1999)
Former world 3km pursuit record holder

After much success on the track and 150 victories on the road, Clignet now returns to life off the bike to follow her second passion, that of improving the conditions of sport for women in France and around the world. She is actively trying to ensure that races for women remain on the calendar and that women can have more of a say in the running of their sport. Her most recent quest that of the women's edition of the Tour de France where she hopes to convince organizers of the men's Tour to start a women's version in conjunction with the men's. (See her recent letter to Jean Marie LeBlanc).

Cyclingnews caught up with Clignet who spent a few days last week simply "lying on the couch watching the Tour de France" to see how it feels to be retired again and find out her plans for the next few years.

"In the near future I have meetings set up with various people to get things moving in France in women's cycling as well as sports in general and I've been asked to coach several men and women," she said. "So we'll see, and I'll still send in my ever so quiet opinions on this and or that to Cyclingnews. And lance, if you're out there and reading any of this, ask Discovery to do something really useful like put together a pro women's team as well, eh?"

Read Marion's recap of the trials and tribulations of her comeback.

Beloki confirms

Joseba Beloki will be presented as the latest member of the Spanish Saunier Duval - Prodir team tomorrow at a press conference in Vitoria, Spain.

Beloki will ride with Saunier Duval for the remainder of 2004, and the whole of 2005 under a contract finalized last Friday in Bilbao. Beloki has been without a team since leaving Brioches la Boulangere in June and spoke with Quick.Step among others before settling on Saunier Duval.

The team and Beloki have now made the Vuelta a Espana their main objective for the year and Beloki will probably make his racing debut in Saunier Duval colours at Saturday's Circuito Internacional de Getxo.

Fassa Bortolo for Tour of Portugal

The Fassa Bortolo team has announced the riders it will field for the Tour of Portugal, July 19 to August 8. Along with directeurs sportifs Alessandro Giannelli and Roberto Damiani, the team will be: Francesco Chicchi, Thomas Danielson, Mauro Facci, Dario Frigo, Gustav Larsson, Alberto Ongarato, Fabio Sacchi, and Julian Sanchez Pimienta.

Javier Otxoa movie in the works

A Spanish TV production company is making a TV movie about the life of cyclist Javier Otxoa. Otxoa was severely injured when he and his brother Ricardo were hit by a car in 2001. Ricardo was killed and Javier spent several weeks in a coma followed by months of rehabilitation before returning to cycling as Spanish disabled champion and a competitor in this year's Paralympics.

Otxoa is co-operating with the movie-makers on the file, to be called 'Sprint Especial' and says he hopes his story can inspire people "not to throw in the towel".

Palmer-Komar "honoured"

Sue Palmer-Komar, whose selection to the Canadian Olympic team was recently confirmed by the Canadian Cycling Association, says she is " honoured to have the privilege of representing Canada in Athens".

"I am grateful for the opportunity to perform for all of my friends, family and sponsors whom have given so much to make this dream possible," Palmer-Komar said in a statement, adding, "I like the road course. Attacking the Lycabetous Hill nine times will certainly play into my strength as a solid climber."

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