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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 30, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Gadeo and Diaz Lobato defend Manzano

The declarations of former Kelme pro Jesus Manzano have created a huge storm of controversy in Spain over the past week, with Manzano going further than anyone else before him (including Philippe Gaumont) in detailing doping practices in cycling. His statements have been met with condemnation from some, who think he is damaging cycling and his former team; and support from others, who believe that he is doing cycling a painful service by lifting the lid on illegal practices that have been suspected for so long.

Despite a rider protest against him in last Friday's closing stage of Setmana Catalana, Manzano has found some support for his statements from his former colleagues. Retired pro Dario Gadeo (28), who raced three seasons with Costa de Almeria, told Spanish SER TV on Saturday that, "Doping exists in cycling as well as in other sports. A lot of athletes use drugs to get results. In cycling, it's impossible to win without doping. I want everyone to be in little doubt about that. Perhaps not everyone is doping, but Jesus isn't an isolated case. I've been in cycling for 10 years, and the number of people doping hasn't stopped increasing."

Gadeo said that the doping products are now becoming so strong that it is a serious health risk to take them. Gadeo valued his health above everything else, and when he realised he couldn't compete without doping, he quit. "Now I'm a recreational cyclist again, and I'm happy," he said.

Another Spanish rider, Pedro Díaz Lobato, who has ridden for Costa de Almeria since 2001 and before that Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada, also confirmed that there is pressure to dope within certain teams, but claims he has always ridden clean. Diaz Lobato was one of the few riders who didn't sign the petition given to the riders by the Association of Professional Cyclists (ACP) last Friday in Setmana Catalana.

"The statements of Jesus Manzano do not affect me, because I have the opposite case," Diaz Lobato told AS. "It's wrong that the peloton should sign a petition against a rider, when it had to have been just as much Kelme."

Diaz Lobato added that he is "paying a price for not entering into the game", after being fired by a team (not his current one) for not putting himself in the hands of the team doctor. He said that he didn't know if there was doping involved or not, but he didn't want to find out. "If you say no, you don't enter into their game and you are no longer of any value." [Diaz Lobato's current salary is a fairly meagre €27,000].

The matter of his dismissal is now in the hands of his lawyers and the ACP, and he claims he has enough proof and witnesses to win his case.

Diaz Lobato is certainly a rider with enough talent to win, with one Vuelta stage, the Memorial Galera and a stage in the Ruta del Sol to his credit. "Perhaps I could have achieved great things if I did what Manzano has talked about. I've done enough for what I am capable of. I know the cyclists are indignant, because some themselves don't dope, but others do and perhaps it's not their fault, because they are made to by the team."

An active rider making allegations about improper practices in cycling is very rare, and Diaz Lobato believes it is because, "In this world everyone is looking after their own arse. Injustices are committed with cyclists, but it is easier to distance yourself from the problem."

Diaz Lobato spoke to the ACP last winter about the things he had witnessed, but now he says that he doesn't have "sufficient confidence [to approach them again] after seeing what they did to Manzano."

More clean than doped

There have been various figures bandied around about what proportion of the peloton is doping. The UCI maintains that 90 percent of riders are clean, while people like Philippe Gaumont believe that doping is far more widespread, possibly even in the majority. Diaz Lobato believes that there are "more who don't dope, but a time will come when there will be more who do. We have to put an end to the hypocrisy, we all know that.

Diaz Lobato's fear of team doctors started when one of them administered something to him and he felt very bad. "I asked what it was...he answered vitamins. A rider told me what it was, and from that moment on I said that I no longer wanted them to touch me."

The Costa de Almeria rider says he is not afraid of the future, even though some might retaliate against him as they did Manzano. "Many of them should thank Manzano for his step. Not for any particular reason, but to shake things up because doping exists. Those who don't give thanks are those who are being shaken up."

Diaz Lobato is in agreement with Manzano that riders should not be the only ones sanctioned for doping, but the director and the doctor as well. "The guilty parties are in the team. You have two options. If I deny [medical help], I should be responsible for myself. But if I am looked after by a doctor, the sanction should be for him."

He thinks that the chain of responsibility stretches beyond the cyclist, and is firmly of the belief that there are unscrupulous people making money out of the sport, without caring about the health of the competitors. "I have proof and I will take it to court," he said.

Finally, Diaz Lobato encouraged others to speak up about illegal activities within teams. "We must speak up so that these people leave cycling," he concluded.

Manzano reaffirms accusations to Spanish Anti-Doping Commission

Jesus Manzano has met with Guillermo Jiménez, the president of Spain's Anti-Doping Commission, at the headquarters of the Spanish Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD). According to the EFE newsagency, Manzano "ratified in all respects the accusations made and has offered his absolute cooperation with the investigation that has been opened, besides offering to declare things as many times as necessary and to contribute all material and documentation that he has for this process."

O'Grady confirms broken rib

The crash in the final five kilometres of the E3 Prijs last Saturday involving Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), Paolo Bettini (Quick Step - Davitamon) and others has resulted in a broken rib for the Australian rider.

O'Grady told Cyclingnews, "I've had x-ays done today that confirmed why I was so sore. A broken rib down on my left side is the reason. Hopefully after a few days recovery, it won't give me too much drama on the bike."

The Cofidis rider has been coming into form for the Spring Classics, with a third place in Milan - San Remo. He'd targetted the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) as one of his principal goals for the season, as well as the World Cup overall. While a broken rib will undoubtedly cause some discomfort, O'Grady said,"It's going to take more than a busted rib to stop me from racing Flanders!"

Saeco to ride for Celestino in Flanders

Team Saeco will bring the in-form Mirko Celestino to Belgium later this week in time for the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) this Sunday, where they hope he will be able to contend for the victory. The rest of the team is already in Belgium, and will ride the Driedaagse van de Panne this week with Dario Pieri, Gabriele Balducci, Giosuè Bonomi, Antonio Bucciero, Salvatore Commesso, Paolo Fornaciari, Nicola Gavazzi and Jörg Ludewig. Gavazzi will be replaced by Celestino on Sunday.

Even though he lost the Settimana Coppi & Bartali by just one second, Celestino is convinced that he can do well at Flanders after an good start to the year. "Self belief is the most important element if you want to do your best in a race like the Tour of Flanders," said Saeco's directeur sportif Guido Bontempi. "Mirko is in great form and loves this kind of race, so there is no reason why he can't be one of the main contenders."

Saeco's other one day captain Danilo Di Luca will not ride the Tour of Flanders. After a good ride at the Criterium International last weekend, Di Luca will race the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain before attacking the hillier classics: Amstel Gold, Fleche-Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Rabobank for the classics

Rabobank has selected its big guns Oscar Freire, Michael Boogerd and Erik Dekker for the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 4. As the winner of Milan-San Remo, Freire will be wearing the World Cup leader's jersey in the race and will try and defend his position there.

The rest of the team will be made up of Marc Wauters, Maarten den Bakker, Karsten Kroon and Steven de Jongh. A choice will be made between Robert Hunter and Roy Sentjens for the eighth position.

Marc Wauters and Maarten den Bakker will in fact ride all the April classics. For Paris-Roubaix on April 11, they will be accompanied by Robert Hunter, Steven de Jongh, Roy Sentjens, Mathew Hayman, Jan Boven and Robert Bartko.

For the Amstel Gold Race on April 18, Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Oscar Freire, Marc Wauters, Maarten den Bakker, Karsten Kroon, Bram de Groot and Marc Lotz will comprise the line up.

Finally on April 25 for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Oscar Freire, Maarten den Bakker, Marc Wauters, Levi Leipheimer, Bram de Groot and Marc Lotz will form the team.

McEwen to miss Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem

Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) will not ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen nor Gent-Wevelgem next week. His team director Marc Sergeant has decided to enter him into the Circuit de la Sarthe in France between April 6-9.

Olympic velodrome roof in place

The famous "Calatrava" roof of the Olympic velodrome in Athens has finally been moved into place, as can be seen by this animated gif (350KB), courtesy of the Athens Olympic Games Organising Committee. The velodrome is not quite completed, but it's expected to be by the end of May. A test event will be organised from June 9-12, and from July 30, the Olympic velodrome will be open for national teams that will be taking part in the Olympics to train on.

The Olympic track competition will be held from August 20-25, all in evening sessions except for Sunday, August 22 when there will also be a morning session.

Manchester warming up for World Cup

Manchester Velodrome is busy preparing for the third round of the Track World Cup, which will be held over the Easter weekend (April 9-11). The meet promises to be a top class display of the world's leading track stars, and will be broadcast live by the BBC, shown over the Easter weekend in BBC's Grandstand programme.

The schedule

Friday: racing from 1 pm to 4.30 pm and from 6 pm to 10.30 pm. Will include the kilometre time trial and the individual pursuit
Saturday: 9.30 am, 3 pm and 4 pm, 8.30 pm. Features include the Team Pursuit and Madison.
Sunday: Racing will be staged between 9 am and noon and from 1 pm to 3.30 pm, and will feature the men and women's team sprints and points race, as well as a special invitational omnium series for regional youth and junior riders.

Tickets are priced at £18 (Adults) and £12 (Under 16), with more details available from www.worldtrackcycling.com

3rd Volta do Rio

Taking place over six stages between April 13-18 is the UCI 2.3 ranked Volta do Rio, an important stage race for the Brazilians due to its status as a selection race for the Olympic Games. 90 riders from 15 teams and six different countries will take part in the race, that starts with a 4 km prologue time trial in Praia do Leme. In total there will be 10 Brazilian teams and five foreign ones, from Portugal, Italy, France, USA and one more country.

The stages

Prologue - April 13: Praia do Leme ITT, 4 km
Stage 1 - April 14: Niterói - Cabo Frio, 132,8 km
Stage 2 - April 15: Cabo Frio - Cabo Frio, 30 km
Stage 3 - April 16: Conceição de Macabu - Nova Friburgo, 113.2 km
Stage 4 - April 17: Nova Friburgo - Niterói, 129.8 km
Stage 5 - April 18: Niterói - Ponte - Rio de Janeiro, 48 km

Baby girl for Streel

Marc Streel (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) is the father of a baby daughter, Jelena, after his wife gave birth on Monday. All three Streels are doing fine, and Cyclingnews wishes them all the best.

Palm Beach's CycleFest to host share the road rally

CycleFest, Florida's fastest growing bicycle festival, has joined together with the Florida Bicycle Association (FBA) and Bike Florida (BF) for the event which will take place between September 30 and October 3 in West Palm Beach, Florida. CycleFest will be hosting the FBA's "Share the Road Rally and Florida Bicycle Summit" along with all the other activities at Florida's largest bicycle festival. This new collaboration will add several bicycle safety education seminars/workshops and additional family-oriented bicycle rides to the growing list of bicycling activities at CycleFest.

Courtesy of Skeeler News Service

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