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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 31, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson & Jeff Jones

Manzano signs with Amore e vita

The Amore e vita team has confirmed the addition of Spanish former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano to its 2004 roster. According to team manager Ivano Fanini, Manzano, who has been recently made detailed accusations about doping practices in his former team, has accepted a contract subject to "results and behavior, with the obligation to run clean [of doping]".

Manzano will not initially draw a salary from Amore e Vita, but "will be rewarded according to his results," said Fanini. "He shouldn't worry about the results," he added. "It doesn't matter to me if he finishes in the top ten or twenty. I'll be satisfied if he finishes the race providing he has trained well. He will be given a bonus if he has given his all."

Fanini said Manzano would sign the contract today, and had agreed to live in a house provided by the team, with his new team-mates. He added that Manzano was welcome to join the team for the traditional blessing from the Pope at the Vatican today.

Manzano will probably be joined in Italy by his girlfriend Marina. "To live in a foreign country without Marina at my side, would be very complicated for me," Manzano wrote to Fanini.

Unlike Manzano's former bosses at Kelme, who sacked the rider during last year's Vuelta a España for entertaining a female friend in his hotel room, Fanini seems to approve of this arrangement. "If the presence of his companion helps him to do his work well, I do not have a problem with that in itself. But I have reminded him that I hire riders and not their women," said Fanini.

Manzano gives names, places, dates

Meanwhile, in evidence given to the Spanish Consejo Superior de Deportes (Sports Council), Jesus Manzano has reiterated his accusations of systematic doping in the team. As well as repeating the broad details of his accusations, Manzano gave dates and places where he claims he received doping products, and named the team personnel involved.

Among the CSD's panel was sports doctor Guillermo Jiménez, general director of the CSD and president of its anti-doping commission. Jiménez expressed concern about Manzano's health - the rider has said he does not believe he will live to be 50 - and offered the services of the CSD to carry out an in-depth medical check up on Manzano.

Jiménez said that the CSD's ongoing investigation would involve those suspected of doping in all sports, not just cycling, because "there are some real butchers out there. We will call all persons who we consider appropriate," said Jiménez, who added that he considered Manzano's accusations "very real. Manzano is counting on the credibility of the CSD."

The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) has also opened an investigation into the Manzano case, to be headed by lawyer Enrique Franch. Franch was chosen as "a person from outside cycling so as to maintain the possibility of greater impartiality," according to the RFEC. Franch will be assisted by RFEC general secretary Eugenio Bermúdez.

The Manzano affair is also having political repercussions in Spain, with the socialist and L'Entesa groups in the Spanish parliament demanding that Esteban González, the minister for Culture, Education and Sport, answer to the Valencian court over the Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme team's status in the light of Manzano's claims.

The socialists have demanded that Pons "explain the link between the Generalitat Valenciana and the Kelme team that led it to be called Comunidad Valenciana - Kelme, thus being converted into the official cycling team of the community."

The socialist parliamentary group indicated that it did not know how much Valencia had contributed to the team, and what contracts existed to alleviate Kelme's financial problems. Ramón Cardona of the L'Entesa party called for an in-depth investigation into Manzano's doping accusations.

Bad crash for Skelde

Alessio-Bianchi had mixed fortunes in the first stage of the Driedaagse van de Panne, which finished in Zottegem. Although local boy Scott Sunderland (11th) and Marcus Ljungqvist (8th) both made the crucial 20 man selection on the Leberg, two of the team's other riders were involved in crashes, which darkened the mood.

The most seriously hurt was Danish rider Michael Skelde, who crashed on the first run in to Zottegem after approximately 120 km. He was taken to the nearby hospital and placed under intensive care, as he sustained heavy concussion and two hairline fractures of one of his vertebrae. He is wearing a collar around his neck and his head is bandaged. He is expected to remain in hospital for three to four days.

The other Alessio rider who fell was Martin Hvastija, who had to get three stitches in his eyebrow, although he did finish the stage. X-rays showed that he had no fractures, even though he hurt his collarbone.

When asked about the injuries to his teammates, Scott Sunderland told Cyclingnews that, "I'm grateful that it's okay. It could be more serious, especially for Skelde. We've had a bit of a bad run after Caucchioli broke his collarbone and shoulder blade last week."

Although in with the chance of a stage win today, Sunderland said that after what happened, that was secondary. "Even the win doesn't matter when one of your teammates - or anyone - is in jeopardy," he said.

Lergård comes back

Swedish rider Tobias Lergård, seventh in last year's Tour de l'Avenir, has returned to racing with Team Bianchi Nordic TT III. Before this season Lergård wanted a new challenge and got an offer from a German team with second division ambitions. The team never got started though, leaving Lergård high and dry. Meanwhile Team Bianchi Nordic had filled its roster with eight riders representing all four Nordic countries.

But with Jesper Ingevaldsson ill for most of the pre season and now Jonas Holmkvis off the bike with a bad knee the team needed a quick reinforcement. No hard feelings from team manager Tommy Prim so Lergård starts in the Circuit des Ardennes April 8 with Glenn Bak, Mattias Carlsson, Kimmo Kananen, Petter Renäng and Martin Vestby.

Rabobank for Flanders

Roy Sentjens has been selected for the Rabobank Cycling Team in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Team management had already chosen Oscar Freire Gomez, Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Marc Wauters, Maarten den Bakker, Karsten Kroon and Steven de Jongh for the Tour of Flanders. On Sunday April 4, Oscar Freire Gomez will defend his leading position in the World Cup ranking.

Illes Balears - Banesto for Flanders

The Illes Balears - Banesto team has announced its line-up for this weekend's Tour of Flanders. Under directeur sportif J. L. Jaimerena, the team will field Daniel Becke, Toni Colom, Isaac Gálvez, Chente García, Pablo Lastras, José Antonio López Gil, Steffen Radochia, and Vicente Reynés.

Vuelta a Colombia stages announced

The president of the Federación Colombiana de ciclismo, Ettore Sangiovanni yesterday announced the final details, including stage distances of the 2004 Vuelta a Colombia, which starts June 6 in Pasto and ends June 20 in the capital Bogotá.

The stages

  • Prologue - June 6: Pasto, 5.7km
  • Stage 1 - June 7: Pasto-Ipiales- Pasto, 172.3km
  • Stage 2 - June 8: Florida- Pasto- El Bordo, 186km
  • Stage 3 - June 9: Popayán- Palmira, 149km
  • Stage 4 - June 10: Palmira- Santa Rosa de Cabal, 197.6km
  • Stage 5 - June 11: Santa Rosa de Cabal - Jericó, 171km
  • Stage 6 - June 12: Jericó- La Estrella, 116.4km
  • Stage 7 - June 13: Circuito en Medellín Vuelta Oriente, 119.7km
  • Stage 8 - June 14: La Estrella - Jardín, 151.5km
  • Stage 9 - June 15: Jardín - Anserma, 203.7km
  • Stage 10 - June 16: Anserma- LaTebaida, 141.5km
  • Stage 11 - June 17: La Tebaida-Girardot, 176.4km
  • Stage 12 - June 18: Girardot- Funza, 122.3km
  • Stage 13 - June 19: CRI Bogotá, 32km
  • Stage 14 - June 20: Circuito en el barrio Kennedy de Bogotá, 100km

LPR adds Napolitano

Italian Division II team LPR has made a late addition to its 2004 roster in the form of new pro Danilo Napolitano. The 23-year-old sprinter has a decent amateur palmares, including victories last year in Italian national-level races such as the Trofeo Papa' Cervi, Giro delle Tre Province, Nuvolato di Quistello 100km, G.P. Site, Trofeo Banca Reggiana, Memorial Pezzoni, and Oa Pianzano, plus a stage win in last year's Vuelta a Guatemala and most recently a stage victory in this year's Vuelta Líder al Sur.

Jeep sponsors NORBA four-cross

USA Cycling has announced the signing of car maker Jeep as title sponsor of the mountain cross (also known as four-cross) events at the remaining five NORBA national mountain bike events. The agreement includes qualifying opportunities for the invitation-only Jeep King of the Mountain Series and the inclusion of two NORBA teams to compete against invited international teams in the made-for-TV series.

Kissena Velodrome re-opens with national track meet

The Kissena Velodrome, New York City's only bicycle track, is introducing its new surface to the world with a national-level track meet on the weekend of April 24 and 25, as part of the American Velodrome Challenge. The track, located Flushing, Queens' Kissena Park, was built for the 1964 Olympic Trials, and hasn't hosted a national-level event in decades.

The velodrome, operated continuously since 1964, was closed for the 2003 season so repairs could take place. The track was re-paved, new stands were built, a new officials' tower was built, and a fence was built around the track, increasing safety for riders. The repairs are now complete and racers are itching to have a go on the banked oval.

In addition to the national-level competition, there will be races for kids and messengers. The Marty Nothstein Junior Olympic Series, sponsored by the Olympic and World Champion of the same name, gives junior racers a chance to show their stuff. The messenger races, both for individuals and teams, will demonstrate how battling for speed and position against cars translates to battling for speed and position on a closed track.

For more information see www.kissenavelodrome.com.

Team Haro-adidas

The Haro BMX team has changed its name to reflect its new co-sponsor, adidas, which takes over from Lee jeans. The roster will be largely unchanged, with only Greg Minaar missing from last year's line up. The team will race at the 2004 NORBA Nationals, Sea Otter Classic, U.S. National Championship, World Championship in France, and select World Cup events.

Team roster

Mike King (4X/Select DH events)
Mick Hannah (DH/4X)
Cody Warren (DH/4X)
Seamus Mcgrath (XC)
Chris Sheppard (XC)

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