Latest News for June 15, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Armstrong in USA
US Postal Service leader Lance Armstrong has returned to the United States following the Dauphiné Libéré to participate in a team press conference outside Washington, DC. Tuesday at 3pm (EDT) an announcement will be made at the Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters of Discovery Communications, a global media company which owns several cable television networks including the Discovery Channel, TLC, and Travel Channel.
US Postal Service team officials declined to comment on the nature of the announcement, but the location and timing suggest that Discovery Communications could be taking over as title sponsor for the team after the postal service's contract expires at the end of 2004. Armstrong himself has commented in recent weeks that if a new sponsor were found to continue the team in its current structure, he would continue racing in 2005.
John S. Hendricks, founder and CEO of Discovery Communications, is an avid sports fan and in 1999 formed the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the premier women's soccer league in the world. Hendricks has served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of WUSA.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the announcement on Tuesday.
See also: Cyclingnews' interview with Lance Armstrong.
Tough break for T-Mobile
The announcement Monday that Alexandre Vinokourov, third place in last year's Tour de France, would be unable to race this July deals a serious blow to the German team's preparations and plan of attack against defending champion Lance Armstrong and other top rivals. Jan Ullrich, currently leading the Tour de Suisse, remains the team's leader for the Tour. Vinokourov, however, was to be not just a key teammate, but another card to play in the general classification and part of T-Mobile's strategy to assemble a team of GC riders as opposed to US Postal Service's 'all for Lance' team composition.
"Our whole strategy suddenly fell apart," confessed team manager Walter Godefroot, quoted in l'Equipe. "Even if I was not counting on [Vinokourov] for the overall victory... I was confident he was arriving in form at exactly the right time.
"They say that's life," Godefroot added, "but sometimes it's truly hard on us."
Ullrich shared the frustration of losing his right hand man and good friend for the Tour, expressing the pain of thinking Vinokourov as 'just a spectator' in July.
"It's terribly to see what can happen so suddenly," he said. "Obviously it's bad for the team, for me, but most of all for him. He had really prepared well for the Tour and for us it was a perfect scenario.
Vinokourov undergoes surgery today to repair torn ligaments in his right shoulder and is expected to be off the bike for three weeks, a lengthy recovery which prompted the decision to abandon hope for the Tour.
Walsh: "Circumstantial evidence"
With his new book "LA Confidential: Les Secrets de Lance Armstrong", cowritten by Pierre Ballester, hitting shelves in France, Sunday Times writer David Walsh has sought to implicate Lance Armstrong in the use of performance enhancing drugs throughout his Tour de France reign.
Armstrong has categorically denied the use of any banned substances and Tuesday began legal proceedings against Walsh and Ballester, as well as the Sunday Times and French news magazine L'Express, which published excerpts from the book in a cover story.
Walsh quotes former teammates and staff members associated with Armstrong throughout the book, but himself acknowledges that concrete proof that Armstrong has ever used performance enhancing drugs has not been revealed.
"It's all circumstantial evidence," Walsh said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune's Sam Abt. "We don't actually prove anything. We just set out the facts and let the reader decide for himself who's telling the truth.
"But we do give names for every accusation," Walsh added.
New sponsor helps MrBookmaker.com-Palmans to continue
The Belgian Division I team MrBookmaker.com-Palmans has its future assured for next season, with the news that a new sponsor will join the team. Team manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren has already signed a letter of intent, and will sign the final contract on Wednesday morning. The company in question is a bio-pharmaceutical business that has been very active in football sponsorship. It will be the co-title sponsor of the team together with MrBookmaker.com.
Van Der Schueren has not applied for a Pro Tour licence next year, however he hopes that the team will be able to grow with the addition of this new sponsor.
Zabel to Ster Elektrotoer
German sprinter Erik Zabel will lead T-Mobile in the Ster Elektrotoer, which begins Wednesday in the Netherlands. Zabel will square off against top sprinters including Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen, and Oscar Freire. The race also marks the comeback of Bram Schmitz, who missed the first six months of the season due to illness. Zabel will be joined by T-Mobile's Rolf Aldag, Eric Baumann, Andreas Klier, André Korff, Jan Schaffrath, Bram Schmitz, and Stephan Schreck.
Beloki in the Alps
Joseba Beloki continues to prepare for the Tour de France, though his run-up to the Tour this year has been plagued by injury, difficulties with allergies, and strained relations with his Brioches La Boulangère team after the recent announcement that the title sponsor would not continue in 2005. Beloki is currently riding in the Alps with teammates including Jérôme Pineau, Didier Rous, and Sylvain Chavanel.
Artetxe in doubt for Tour
Euskaltel-Euskadi's Mikel Artetxe could lose his place at this year's Tour de France following a fall and injuries sustained. Artetxe landed heavily on his elbow and suffered serious contusions, which could jeopardize his Tour participation if he does not recovery quickly. He would likely be replaced by Gorka Gonzalez.
Fulton Flyers to Tour de L'Abitibi
The Atlanta, Georgia-based Fulton Flyers Junior Development Team will race the 34th Tour de L'Abitibi. Team director Tim Hagner will guide a team of four local FFCC juniors, along with two juniors from other local teams. The team is riding under sponsorship of Genesis Scuba, with two secondary sponsors- Hi-Tec Plating and Yeager Precision Products- making the trip possible.
The FFCC riders are Jafer Beizer, Thomas Brown, Evan Halliday and Stephen Schultz. Local FFCC rider and reigning national junior time trial champion Zach Taylor is also riding L'Abitibi as a member of the Hot Tubes Elite junior team.
Founded in 1969, the Tour de L'Abitibi is a major international stage race for juniors and the only North American event of the Junior World Cup. The race runs from July 19 to 25, with nine stages in Val d'Or, Canada.
Auction for Mactier
An "Athens Gold Party" will be held for Australian Katie Mactier Thursday night to serve as a fundraising effort for her Olympics bid in August. Thirty second 'fun auctions' will feature a number of prizes, and the $50 entry includes finger food and beverages.
Big ticket items include a $2500 Bianchi frame donated by Fitzroy Cycles and a driver plus passenger entry in the Dutton Rally, glasses from Oakley, and signed jersey and memorabilia, etc. The event will be held at Angel Tavern in Malvern. For more information contact James Davie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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