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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 26, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Astarloa injured in car accident

Photo ©: Sirotti

World champion Igor Astarloa (Cofidis) has been injured in an automobile accident in Italy. Astarloa, who suffered head trauma but did not lose consciousness, was in the passenger seat when the car he was in was struck by another vehicle. He was released from the hospital in Brescia Wednesday night.

Astarloa will miss this weekend's Critérium International in France, but "if all goes well he'll be able to do the Tour of Flanders on April 4," said Cofidis manager Alain Bondue. Sixth in Milan-San Remo, Astarloa counts the World Cup series as one of his primary objectives this season.

The Basque rider, who experienced pain and nausea following the accident, will undergo a follow-up examination in a week and must wear a neck brace in the meantime.

Rasmussen out

Dane Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) is out of the Setmana Catalana and out of competition for up to a month, victim of a fractured collarbone in stage 3. Rasmussen was caught in a crash within 500 metres of the finish, and though he crossed the line, he was unable to start Thursday's stage 4. Teammate Levi Leipheimer was also involved in the crash, but bounced back to win the toughest stage of the race Thursday, the American's first win since the Ruta del Sol in 2002.

First EPO suspension in USA

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced the first suspension in the USA following a positive test for EPO. Adham Sbeih has been suspended for two years, the result of a positive EPO test at the USCF Elite Track Nationals in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania on August 26, 2003. Sbeih, 30, was the 2003 national champion in the 4,000 metre individual pursuit.

Sbeih's suspension followed a hearing before a three member panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA)/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which concluded in part that "the methodology utilized by the UCLA Lab for testing rEPO is scientifically sound and the results produced by the tests are reliable."

USADA's Chief executive officer Terry Madden issued a statement saying "this decision should reassure all clean athletes that USADA and science are on their side, and that we are making significant strides through research and the application of science to eliminate drug use from sport."

Sbeih has been suspended for two years from all sanctioned competition effective August 26, 2003, the date of the test, and all of his competitive results were disqualified from that date including his victories in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at the 2003 USCF Elite Track National Championships. USA Cycling will carry out the sanction.

Amore e Vita opens door to Manzano

Despite his lengthy discourse on the alleged systematic doping within the Kelme team, Spain's Jesus Manzano has found an audience in Ivano Fanini and the Italian Amore e Vita team. Fanini has openly offered Manzano a place within the team as a gesture of help to the rider, who this year is without employment after being released by Kelme at the end of 2003.

"Manzano is repentant, and like all repentants he should be helped," explained Fanini in a Marca report. "Amore e Vita opens its doors to him immediately."

Specifically, Fanini's invitation comes less than a week before the team's annual blessing from Pope John Paul II. The Amore e Vita team flies the colours of the Vatican, and Fanini and the team proclaim themselves to be staunch opponents of doping in cycling.

"I believe that Manzano's declarations are true and they don't as a great surprise," Fanini added. "Sadly I think episodes like that have been a normal part of the sporting world in the past twenty years... With the severity of what has happened recently, including a number of suspicious deaths, these allegations serve as a reminder to everyone in the world of sport that we must change course quickly."

Berry Floor could take over for USPS

With the United States Postal Service's sponsorship of Lance Armstrong and the USPS team beyond 2004 in question, presenting sponsor Berry Floor appears a willing candidate to assume primary sponsorship should USPS decide discontinue. Berry Floor marketing manager Philip Harinck commented on Belgium's Radio 1 that his company was interested in taking over the lead role.

"It's a bit premature right now, as we first want to know the final decision from the US Postal Service," Harinck said. "But we remain committed to cycling... The increase in brand awareness has convinced us."

The US Postal Service contract with the team expires at the end of 2004. Dan Osipow, general manager of Tailwind Sports, which runs the team, commented this week that Tailwind is still in the midst of negotiations with USPS over a possible extension.

Schnyder to Colombia-Selle Italia

Swiss professional Philippe Schnyder, who rode for the Division III Volksbank-Ideal team in 2003, has signed a contract with Division II Colombia-Selle Italia. Schnyder is hoping for selection for the team's Giro d'Italia squad this season.

ABD-Trek/VW Men's Team

Athletes By Design Cycling announced its Men's Elite team for 2004. In 2003 the team had the highest and second-highest placed amateurs overall at Superweek as well as winning the points jersey. ABD also produced a victory at the Arlington Classic Criterium and top 10 finishes at both road and criterium nationals.

Full roster and release

Irish hope for better weather

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The cyclists who converge on Balbriggan Saturday and Sunday will hope that the weather they experienced last weekend will be a figment of their imagination. The Harry Reynolds race is first out of the stalls Saturday at 4pm. Then on Sunday the Ben McKenna is the big one.

It was unheard of to cancel an event in Ireland, but last Saturday in Roundwood the weather scuttled the Bray Wheelers promotion but the following day in Carlow the powers that be got the competitors off the blocks. They certainly found the going tough, but one club in particular was in the ascendancy and it is registered in Co.Tipperary.

In the last three weeks Carrick Cidona C.C has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons when it comes to achieving success for its long time sponsors, Cidona. In the last 10 days the team has had some resounding success, thanks to good preparation during the long winter months and strong teamwork.

Last Sunday in particular has to be one of the team's best performances in many years. Against all the elements that our so-called 'spring' sprung on us, it was obviously one of the hardest days for bike riders to have been out in! Still the Carrick boys were up to the task and delivered the goods, when Rory Wyley was way out on his own as he triumphed in the Des Hanlon, the first counter in the newly revamped 'Classic League' events which now includes stage races.

With Timmy Barry getting the nod in the Mick Cahill Memorial and John O'Shea winning the Carrick Challenge, the latest recruit from the London Irish CC, Rory Wyley, literally put the icing on the cake for the Tipperary club. On top of that they have achieved a number of minor placings. The sky could be the limit for Tipperary this season!

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