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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 24, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Millar in custody

David Millar
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Cofidis' David Millar was taken into custody by French police Tuesday night in his home town of Biarritz. The world time trial champion has been held for questioning as a witness in the ongoing investigation surrounding members of the Cofidis team. Millar becomes the ninth person placed in custody or under investigation by judge Richard Pallain, following Bogdan Madejak, Oleg Kozlitine, Daniel Majewski, Marek Rutkiewicz, Robert Sassone, Philippe Gaumont, Médéric Clain, and Cédric Vasseur.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Cofidis manager Francis Van Londersele affirmed to Cyclingnews that Millar's questioning by French police was strictly as a witness in the ongoing investigation, and the rider himself currently faces no charges stemming from the case (and thus no risk of suspension from his team). Millar remained in custody Thursday but was expected to be released by the evening.

Phonak for Tour de France

The Swiss Phonak Hearing Systems Team has announced its roster for this year's Tour de France, the first participation for the team. With American Tyler Hamilton (4th in 2003) as its designated leader, the reinforced Phonak team will send Oscar Sevilla, Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Santos Gonzalez, José Enrique Gutierrez, Nicolas Jalabert, Oscar Pereiro, and Santi Perez to the start in Liège, Belgium. Frenchman Cyril Dessel has been named first reserve.

With only one Swiss rider in the line up, Martin Elmiger, Phonak has shown that its number one focus has been bringing in additional talent and providing the best possible team for Hamilton, more than a nationalistic representation. With a string of top performances in June, including a dominant performance at the Classique des Alpes and Hamilton's second overall at the Dauphiné Libéré, Phonak appears ready for its number one objective in France.

Omloop enjoys national jersey

Reigning Belgian champion Geert Omloop, in the final days of his tenure in the national jersey, has enjoyed his "unique" experience. Winner last year of the national title on a decidedly flat parcours in Vilvorde, Omloop was criticised during the past season as being the national "kermis" champion, a rider who would shine more often on the typically Belgian racing circuit more than on the international stage. Omloop has no regrets.

"I know who I am, and I've always had a great time in the kermis, as the ambiance really motivates me," Omloop told Belgian paper La Dernière Heure. "The critics can say what they want, but the many people who come to these races have always given me a lot of support.

"For me, in any case, wearing this distinctive jersey for a year has been a dream and I've made the most of the unique opportunity."

Omloop also received praise from Belgian national selector José De Cauwer, who expects that the rider might be able to repeat his feat this Sunday.

"I know the parcours well and I don't see any particularly great difficulty," De Cauwer commented. "Omloop will have his chance."

Fassa Bortolo and Team LPR for Italian nationals

Two more Italian teams have announced their rosters for the upcoming national championship road race on Sunday. Fassa Bortolo could be the team to beat, with a strong line up including Alessandro Petacchi, Dario Cioni, and Filippo Pozzato.

Fassa Bortolo:

Marzio Bruseghin, Francesco Chicchi, Dario Cioni, Massimo Codol, Mauro Facci, Dario Frigo, Alberto Ongarato, Alessandro Petacchi, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, Fabio Sacchi, Matteo Tosatto, Marco Velo

Team LPR:

Elia Aggiano, Angelo Lopeboselli, Claudio Lucchini, Mauro Santambrogio, Luca Nardello, Danilo Napolitano, Ivan Degasperi, Massimo Boglia, Daniele Contrini, Daniele Masolino.

Karpachev OK

Russian Andrey Karpachev (Team LPR) is on the road to recovery after an operation to correct a fracture in his left foot. Karpachev suffered the injury during last Sunday's Giro d'Oro and underwent surgery in Brescia. He will have to take 40 days off the bike and hopes to return to competition in mid-September.

Ballanger back on the track

Three-time Olympic champion Félicia Ballanger will come out of retirement to compete on the track at the upcoming French national championships, scheduled for July 4-10 in Hyères. Ballanger ended her racing career in 2000, and in November of 2003 gave birth to her son Charles. She decided to get back on the bike simply to lose weight after her pregnancy and get some exercise, but has apparently found additional motivation to compete.

Ballanger, 33, will contest the sprint and the 500m time trial at Hyères, though her return to competitive form came too late to consider a bid for Olympic selection at the recent Track World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

Alpe d'Huez crowd control

The department of Isère in France has announced its plans to promote- and cope with- the two Tour de France stages which will pay visit this July (21-22). Most importantly, the individual time trial of the famed Alpe d'Huez will present its usual challenge for security and crowd control. The Isère government has thus arranged for shuttle buses to take spectators from Grenoble to the town of Bourg d'Oisans at the base of the Alpe, leaving Grenoble's bus station every minute.

Additional security will be provided by 50 extra motorcycle escorts to ensure that every rider in the time trial has his own protection. Some 600 plus gendarmes will line the course and barriers will be extended from the finish down to the 7km to go banner. This year marks the first time that l'Alpe d'Huez will be used for a Tour time trial. The following day, Bourg d'Oisans will host the start of stage 17, a 212km mountain test finishing at Le Grand Bornand.

Bikes for Faso

As part of its partnership with the Tour de France, the Isère government will also provide the Société du Tour de France with funding for 150 bicycles, as part of the Tour's "1000 Bicycles for Burkina Faso" program. The program, an extension of the Tour's support of the Tour du Faso race in Burkina Faso, aims to send 1,000 bicycles to the country to promote cycling.

Each host region/city in this year's Tour is playing a part in the collection, and Isère has offered its support with €15,000 for the 150 bikes.

Happy birthday Patrick Sercu

Sercu: king of the six-day
Photo courtesy: Henrik Elmgreen
Click for larger image

Patrick Sercu, one of the most well-rounded riders in cycling, will celebrate his 60th birthday Sunday, June 27. Sercu rode his first world championship event at age 17 in 1961, and during his career claimed several Olympic and world titles on the track, along with a number of road victories.

Sercu was a king of the six-day competition, racing 223 six-days between 1965 and 1983 and claiming victory in 88. On the road Sercu counts 14 Giro d'Italia stage wins and six in the Tour de France, along with a stint in the yellow jersey and the 1974 points jersey.

Since retiring as a professional rider, Sercu has worked as Belgium's national track coach, organiser of various six-day events including those in Gent and Bremen, and he currently serves as a member of the UCI's Track Commission.



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