First Edition Cycling News for July 29, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Ullrich: Armstrong too strong
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), who for the first time in his career finished lower than second overall in the Tour de France this year, acknowledged the supremacy of six-time winner Lance Armstrong after finishing fourth, nearly nine minutes behind the American. Ullrich blames illness in the Pyrenees for much of his difficulty, but also knows that Armstrong was the stronger man throughout the three week race.
"In the Alps I felt much stronger than I had earlier in the Tour," Ullrich commented on the team's website. "I went into the final time-trial fully fit, yet I still lost a minute to Lance because, quite simply, Lance was the best rider in the Tour."
"He couldn't be caught," Ullrich said. "He was able to control every stage and had an extremely strong team at his side."
Ullrich, who expressed his anger at team manager Walter Godefroot's criticism of his performance, maintains that his preparation was adequate.
"I would say that I prepared properly," he insisted. "I did everything that I could have. On the one hand I was in good enough form to win the Tour de Suisse, on the other hand I didn't control that race, as I hadn't peaked too soon. For those reasons I am disappointed that I didn't make the podium in Paris."
Winner of the Tour in 1997 and five times second place, Ullrich remains determined to win the race a second time. A win against Armstrong would "have more currency" he said, given the American's dominance in recent years and his status of defending champion, but whether or not the US Postal Service leader returns to the Tour is not a factor in Ullrich's own plans.
"I still have a contract with a few years to run. And in any case, it is still my goal to win another Tour."
Vinokourov to Regio Tour
Back in action after missing the Tour de France, T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov will line up at the upcoming Regio Tour stage race (August 4-8). Vinokourov injured his shoulder in a crash in the Tour de Suisse, missing his chance to support team leader Jan Ullrich and/or improve on his own third place overall from 2003. Vinokourov will be joined by second overall in this year's Tour, teammate Andreas Klöden, and the two will use the race to fine tune their Olympic preparations.
Crédit Agricole drops espoir program
Faced with the responsibility- and financial burden- of bolstering its team for the new Pro Tour in 2005, Crédit Agricole has announced that it will not continue its Division III espoirs team next year. The ten man team has served as a developmental program for the professional ranks, but after four years in the peloton it will come to a close.
From the current Division III roster, Kylian Patour, Cyril Lemoine, and Jeremy Yates will turn professional with the primary Crédit Agricole team next season.
As with all teams joining the Pro Tour, Crédit Agricole will be compelled to compete in all three grand Tours, a commitment too great to also field an U23 team. Team director Roger Legeay will look to add two Italian and two Spanish riders for the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, while current riders Benoît Poilvet, Julian Dean, and Sébastien Joly have recently been offered extensions of their contracts.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Wednesday that Adam Bergman has accepted a provisional suspension after testing positive for EPO. Bergman, 23, tested positive on April 6, 2004 during an out of competition test. Bergman began serving the provisional suspension on July 27, and the time served will count toward a full suspension should a doping violation be determined at an arbitration hearing.
Forgery in Vasseur case
A handwriting expert solicited by the court in Nanterre, France has confirmed that the signature of Cédric Vasseur in the case files was forged. Vasseur, who remains under investigation in the Cofidis affair but denies any use of banned substances, indicated that the signature on a case file was not his. Vasseur and his lawyer Bertrand Wambeke have expressed their outrage at this latest development in the ongoing legal procedure.
"The expert's analysis doesn't surprise me at all, since one of the policemen who was particularly aggressive [during Vasseur's questioning] said to me over and over, 'you'll be the informant for Cofidis'".
The signature in question accompanied a statement which Vasseur also denies having made, one which reportedly included an admission to the use of banned substances.
"I hope the justice minister will call for an investigation and that those responsible for this forgery will be punished," Vasseur commented.
Kerry Youth Tour gets set
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The Kerry Youth Tour 2004, which has agreed a new sponsorship with Kerry Group, is set to take place over three days (July 31-August 2) on the now familiar courses at Beaufort and Killorglin featuring Churchtown, Sunhill and the Donal McKenna circuit. The 4-Stage race, which is in its seventh year, is the single most important youth cycling competition in the county. The Tour continues to go from strength to strength - this year attracting in excess of two hundred 10 to 16 year old cyclists from Ireland, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa.
As a result of the ongoing success of the competition, a substantial investment has been channeled into the provision of a professional race results programme, "Stagerace". This Dutch-designed stage race results service is widely used in Holland, Belgium and Germany and will guarantee a much quicker distribution of race results. It will also allow for a points competition to be held throughout the Tour which rewards riders on their performance upon finishing the stages. These latest developments will further enhance the Kerry Youth Tour's primary aim to introduce youth riders to a full-scale stage race.
Commenting at the launch of the Tour, Race Director Míceal Concannon said, "The race is designed to give youth cyclists the opportunity to compete at a real stage race and the schooling that the riders get from the Kerry Youth Tour is invaluable in terms of their future careers.
"Ongoing investment in the event is crucial and we are thrilled to have secured a high profile sponsor, such as Kerry Group, who are committed to the sport," he continued. "I now feel we can look forward with certainty to the future success of the race."
Frank Hayes, Kerry Group Director Corporate Affairs, said "Kerry Group is pleased to sponsor the Kerry Youth Tour 2004. This year's talented international entry guarantees a great weekend of competition and I have no doubt that the strong Irish contingent will benefit significantly from participating in a professionally organised contest which is modeled closely on serious stage races such as the FBD Milk Rás. Young riders are the future of cycling and so it is great to see the Kerry Youth Tour continue to grow in popularity- both from a competitor and spectator point of view."
Of the Irish riders, Killorglin's own Jeremiah O'Sullivan currently ranks as one of the favourites. Jeremiah missed out on winning the Category 2 event in 2002 by a mere one twelfth of a second and has set the Kerry Youth Tour as one of his big targets for the 2004 season. Other Irish Category 1 riders in form at the moment include Gavin Browne of St. Finbarrs Cork, Cieran Enright of Kanturk, Issac Spears of Navan, Simon Williams of Armagh and Fergus Keogh of Clonmel. A strong Irish team could well be successful and provide an Irish winner of the main event.
Additional information on the Kerry Youth Tour 2004 can be found on www.killorglincycling.com.
Lance the movie
According to a Sky News report, actor Matt Damon could be picked to play Lance Armstrong in an upcoming movie, scheduled for release in 2006. Damon is in negotiations with producer Frank Marshall for the project.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)