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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for March 30, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong reconnoitres Tour TTs

Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings

Lance Armstrong used his recent time in France to good effect, not only finishing third overall in the Criterium International last weekend, but also taking the opportunity to ride certain parts of the Tour de France parcours. Armstrong concentrated particularly on the time trials, and a couple of days before Criterium International, he spent a day in Besanšon riding the parcours of the Tour's 19th stage, a 64 km individual race against the clock. And on the Monday after CI, he headed north to Cambrai to ride the route of the 65 km team time trial, Stage 4 of the Tour.

Armstrong noted in L'Equipe that Stage 19 "is the longest time trial I've had to ride at the Tour," adding that it will be "quite hard after three weeks of racing."

No defending champion in De Panne

Defending champion Raivis Belohvosciks (Jacques) will not take the start of the Driedaagse van de Panne. Currently sick in bed, Belohvosciks' role as leader will be assumed by Bart Voskamp.

Quick.Step-Davitamon's Michael Rogers is also sick, and will not take the start. His place will be taken by Nick Nuyens.

Max van Heeswijk (US Postal-Berry Floor) is a third rider who will not start in Middelkerke today. He is suffering from achilles tendon pain and does not want to take any risks before Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Teammates Viatcheslav Ekimov and George Hincapie will both start in De Panne.

No plaster for Van Hyfte

Paul Van Hyfte (Vlaanderen-T Interim) will not need an operation for his broken elbow, and can begin training as early as next week with a special elbow support. Van Hyfte broke his elbow in a crash during Saturday's E3 Prijs.

Steels unsure of re-entry date

Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) may have to forget his spring classics season and possibly the Olympic Games as well, as he is still not recovered from his crash in the Moscow World Cup in February. Doctors haven't ruled out a rupture in his brain membrane, but Steels hopes that this isn't the case.

"It's a suspicion, nothing more," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "But I had the same symptoms. The headaches have gone, that is the most important thing. I have started training again but my condition is a long way behind. I'm sick to death of all the setbacks. I was in excellent condition in February. And then the crash on the track in Moscow: my whole spring gone."

Sports doctor Chris Goossens said that a membrane rupture is more dangerous than concussion. "You notice sometimes that people who have hit their heads suddenly die a month later from a blood clot in the brain. That can happen through a rupture like this. But normally you completely recover."

Steels' spot in the Belgian team for the World Cup in Manchester will be taken by the talented young Iljo Keisse.

Van De Vijver in doubt for Flanders

Heidi Van De Vijver (Keukens Redant Cycling Team) is unsure of starting in the first ever women's Tour of Flanders, which will be held on April 4. She has been suffering health problems for the last two months and had to decrease her training intensity markedly. Finally, a medical examination showed that she had thyroid gland insufficiency.

Van De Vijver started taking medication for the problem last week, but it is doubtful that she will start in her home race. In 1995, Van De Vijver won a previous incarnation of the women's Tour of Flanders, which included the Muur van Geraardsbergen, beating Hanka Kupfernagel in the sprint.

Leblanc defends decision to exclude Kelme

Jean-Marie Leblanc's decision to veto the Kelme team from the Tour de France and any other races organised by ASO was met with indignation by Kelme, whose team director Vicente Belda asked why the same standards aren't applied to Cofidis. Leblanc replied that the Kelme case "has nothing to do with other teams in which there have also been revelations by riders...They are teams classified by position according to the rules of the UCI, and against those the organisers can do nothing.

"With the exclusion of Kelme, the organisers of the Tour want to make a solid gesture against doping. It is something that we can contribute, others can intervene in the rules or in the controls. The only thing we can effect is to invite one team or another.

Requejo: "90 percent dope"

Opinions vary in the peloton as to what proportion of cyclists use doping substances, with some riders estimating that most of their colleagues are clean, while others contend that most are not. 29 year old Eligio Requejo, who retired in July last year, is one of those in the "90 percent of cyclists dope" camp, as he told a program on Spanish SER TV

"It sounds [like Manzano] and is a lot," he said. "It's counting what I have seen and is the absolute truth...Everything that [Manzano] recounted and the products that he mentioned I know as well. The blood transfusions, the animal haemoglobin, I know them, but I did not dare to touch those things."

Requejo rode for Kelme in 1999 and 2000, and after that with ASC-Vila do Conde in Portugal. His most notable result was a third place in the Gran Premio Minho (UCI 2.3) in 2002. He left because "I saw that to prepare for a tour of a week or two I would have to spend one or two months' salary. Thus I didn't go to the other side."

Requejo said that the "obligation" to dope is strong. "You see that people use products that work, and if you dare to try them you verify this. And then you think: Do I stick around here or do I dedicate myself to something else. If this is how it is, I'll leave."

He spoke up in support of Manzano, "There are people who are saying that Jesus Manzano is doing the wrong thing, but I think the people that are doing cycling a disservice are the ones discounting Manzano, those who promote this among the cyclists," adding that the cause of doping is "the environment of professional sport and the money. If you and the team win races, the sponsor is going to put in more money, the director is interested, the doctor who helps the team win more races is also interested. It's a circle."

Marco Pantani foundation created

A foundation to help children, bearing the name of deceased Italian climber Marco Pantani, has been created in Massa, Italy. The foundation was launched in Massa's pediatric hospital by Pantani's former manager Manuela Ronchi. Pantani's mother Tonina is the president of the foundation, which will conduct research into improving the life of young people of little means.

Italian elite rider positive

Italian rider Luca Lazzerini (Grassi Fausto Coppi) has tested positive for Norandrosterone and Noreticolone, according to ANSA. The test was taken on February 14 at a pre-season training camp near Rome. Lazzerini was active in the dilettante (elite) class.

Pagliarini online

BRazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini (Lampre) has launched his official website, www.lucianopagliarini.com. The site is currently only in Portuguese, but in future there will be Italian and English versions.

Team iomega-Orbea to Uruguay

Boise, Idaho based elite team, iomega-Orbea will participate in the 61st edition of the Vuelta de Uruguay which runs April 2-11, 2004 and is the longest continuous running stage race in the Americas. It will be the first international race for the team, and the riders are looking forward the challenge. The team will consist of five Americans and one Uruguayan, who raced for iomega-Orbea last season: Tad Hamilton (USA), Gary Casella (USA), Chris Abbruzzese (USA), Michael Coffman (USA), Eric Ransom (USA) and Esteban Jukich (Uru).

The stages

Stage 1 - April 2: Piriapolis TTT, 7 km
Stage 2 - April 3: Piriapolis-Rocha, 188.5 km
Stage 3 - April 4: Jose P Varela-Melo, 147 km
Stage 4 - April 5: Melo-Tacuarembo, 201.8 km
Stage 5 - April 6: Tacuarembo-Salto, 169 km
Stage 6 - April 7: Salto-Paysandu, 116.5 km
Stage 7 - April 8: Paysandu-Frey Bentos-Mercedes, 157 km
Stage 8 - April 9: Mercedes-Frey Bentos ITT, 35 km
Stage 9 - April 10: Frey Bentos-Trinidad, 189.8 km
Stage 10 - April 11: Trinidad-Montevideo, 202 km

Total: 1415.9 km

Tour du Canada Time Trial

CycleCanada has announced the date for the 2004 Tour du Canada Time Trial, a citizen's event held annually in Canada. In 2004 it will be held on May 23, 2004 in Simcoe County, Ontario just north of Toronto. Categories for prizes will be established to recognize a broad range of skill levels.

More information: www.CycleCanada.com/tdctt.htm

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