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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for March 25, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

UCI Reacts to 'speculation'

Following the damaging confessions of Jesus Manzano, who offered detailed allegations of systematic doping within his former Kelme team, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) issued its own statement aimed less at the doping practices mentioned than at the allegations themselves. Referring to Manzano's accusations as "a day of massacre", the international cycling federation once more found itself on the defensive concerning notions of widespread doping in the peloton.

"Since the beginning of the year, cycling has been the focus of numerous attacks which have severely prejudiced the image of our sport and the honour of its participants," said a UCI statement, quoted in l'Equipe.

Calling Manzano a rider "not beyond reproach," the UCI regretted the continued practice of doping in the peloton but asserted that the majority of riders are clean, citing a figure that blood tests show more than 90% of the peloton to be clean.

"The UCI will react against anyone who tarnishes the image of cycling and the riders," the statement continued, adding that the UCI is prepared to take legal action against "all who, by their actions, do such damage to cycling's image."

Sassone talks

Former Cofidis professional Robert Sassone, implicated in the drug scandal revealed in January, admitted to making "a mistake" in using performance enhancing drugs. Sassone claimed a gold medal at the Track World Championships in 2001. He tested positive for a controlled substance at last winter's Six Days of Nouméa in his native New Caledonia. On January 19 of this year, Sassone was questioned by French police concerning his involvement in the drug trafficking scandal swirling around Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak, (now ex-) Cofidis pro Philippe Gaumont, and others.

In an "open letter to the Calédonians", published in Les Nouvelles-Calédoniennes, Sassone offered a brief explanation of his involvement with doping.

"I made a mistake, I recognize that," he wrote. "A mistake because I was young and I found myself in a world without pity. Nobody offered me any gifts and I was used. I was a nobody in the peloton and they let me know that.

"I didn't kill anybody, but I'm paying heavily for this mistake, which I've explained to the judge. It's going to turn my life upside down because I had always dreamt of making a career in cycling."

Sassone concluded saying he hoped he could share his experiences with young cyclists hoping to make it as professionals, explaining that cycling is a great sport, but one a merciless one.

Oktos-Saint Quentin manager questioned

Former Kazakh professional Oleg Kozlitine, now manager of the French Division III team Oktos-Saint Quentin, has been called for questioning by judge Richard Pallain, in charge of the investigation into the drug trafficking scandal surrounding former members of the Cofidis team. Pallain is not expected to focus on the team, rather Kozlitine's possible supplying of EPO to Philippe Gaumont, released by Cofidis this spring following his own admissions of drug use throughout his career.

According to a l'Equipe report, Pallain has also ordered an additional analysis of the hair samples tested from Cofidis' Cédric Vasseur. L'Equipe reported on the eve of Paris-Nice that Vasseur's hair, originally tested when he was held in police custody in January, had indicated use of cocaine. A counter-analysis performed subsequently at a laboratory in Strasbourg showed no traces of cocaine.

Museeuw's moment is coming

Johan Museeuw
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

Entering the final phase of his career, Johan Museeuw is also arriving in top form for his beloved classics season. In his final year as a professional, Museeuw makes no secret of his desire to win at least one of the monuments of cycling, the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, each of which he has already won three times. Museeuw was forced to forfeit his place in Paris-Nice due to a minor back injury, but is content with his form at the moment and eager to tackle the northern classics once more.

"I don't feel any more pain in my back," Museeuw told La Dernière Heure. "Since the beginning of the season I had decided not to race Milan-San Remo. At my age, the chances of winning are slim. There's no way I could have beaten Freire, Zabel or Petacchi in the sprint Saturday."

San Remo may not have been an option, but Museeuw is looking forward to taking on the likes of Peter Van Petegem on the roads of Belgium and northern France.

"The important thing between now and the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix is to build more power without taking too many risks, without getting sick," he explained. "All the better if I can win one of the races coming up, but my objective is still to win at least one of the big spring classics."

On Monday Museeuw and several teammates rode the entire Tour of Flanders parcours, in typically Belgian weather. Monday the Lion of Flanders did a training ride of three hours behind a derny, driven by his father, at an average speed of 50 km/h. "Which makes me think I'm ready for my rendez-vous," Museeuw said happily.

Five pre-selections for Australian Olympic team

Cycling Australia's national selectors have nominated five additional cyclists to the 2004 Athens Olympic Shadow Team. Only athletes nominated to the 2004 Athens Olympic Shadow Team can be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for final selection. The Shadow Team can be added to at any time by the national selectors once an athlete has satisfied the nominated criteria.

The five latest additions are women's road cyclists Rochelle Gilmore, Hayley Rutherford and Kathryn Watt, women's track cyclist Rosealee Hubbard and men's mountain bike rider Chris Jongewaard.

The full Shadow Team, to date, includes the following riders:

Women's track: Kate Bates, Rosealee Hubbard, Katie Mactier, Anna Meares, Kerrie Meares

Men's track: Ryan Bayley, Graeme Brown, Jobie Dajka, Peter Dawson, Ashley Hutchinson, Mark Jamieson, Shane Kelly, Ben Kersten, Brett Lancaster, Bradley McGee, Mark Renshaw, Luke Roberts, Stephen Wooldridge

Women's road: Sara Carrigan, Rochelle Gilmore, Olivia Gollan, Margaret Hemsley, Hayley Rutherford, Kathryn Watt, Oenone Wood, Alison Wright

Men's road: Baden Cooke, Allan Davis, Cadel Evans, Matthew Hayman, Robbie McEwen, Bradley McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Nathan O'Neill, Michael Rogers, Matthew White, Matthew Wilson

Women's MTB: Anna Baylis, Lisa Mathison

Men's MTB: Craig Gordon, Josh Fleming, Chris Jongewaard, Trent Lowe, Sid Taberlay

Improvement for Lejarreta

Although he remains in a coma, doctors at the Hospital Virgen de la Vega in Salamanca, Spain have noted a considerable improvement in the condition of Gaizka Lejarreta. The Basque rider, who rides for Alfus Tedes, was seriously injured in a crash at the Gran Premio Iberdrola in Zamara.

"I spoke to his mother and she said when she went to see him he moved more and responded to impulses," Lejarreta's team director Carlos Canales told Marca.

"They can see that he's a lot better, but he's still in an induced coma so he can remain as stable as possible."

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