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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 5, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson and Chris Henry

Cofidis reshuffles

Cofidis CEO François Migraine
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

On the eve of the Cofidis team's return to competition at the Four Days of Dunkirk, the company's director François Migraine announced the departure of team manager Alain Bondue and doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet. Migraine and the team presented a series of anti-doping measures Tuesday, announcing at the same time that Médéric Clain has been released in light of his implication in the ongoing drug investigation headed by French judge Richard Pallain.

Cédric Vasseur, who was also placed under investigation and suspended from competition along with Clain, remains a member of the team. A counter-analysis of Vasseur's hair sample, which originally revealed the presence of cocaine in his system, was returned negative this week.

"We have listened to Cédric Vasseur, who told us that he has nothing to hide," Migraine commented. "Médéric Clain didn't say the same thing."

While Vasseur's standing may be slowly improving following the latest negative result for cocaine, he expressed his frustration at not being selected to the roster for Dunkirk.

"I'm shocked not to participate in the Four Days of Dunkirk," Vasseur told Reuters Tuesday. "It was an objective for my season. Nothing should have prevented me from doing the Four Days. It's a decision made by Cofidis but I don't understand it."

As for Bondue and Menuet, the decision to part ways with the team coincided with Clain's release, and followed nearly a month of introspection for the team, which decided to withdraw from competition on the eve of Paris-Roubaix as it tried to come to terms with widening allegations of doping within its ranks.

"Alain Bondue and Jean-Jacques Menuet decided that they could no longer exercise their responsibilities in ideal conditions and have asked to be released from their responsibilities," Migraine explained. "The team will be headed for the moment by directeur sportif Francis Van Londersele."

The team intends to implement drug testing more stringent than the tests currently required by the French federation, including six new tests per year and hair/blood samples. Dr. David Riabi replaces Dr. Menuet in the team, while Stéphane Champetier will assume management responsibilities.

Back to racing

In an interview with cyclismag.com, directeur sportif Francis Van Londersele explained that Cofidis' riders had not actually stopped riding for very long. "The interruption only lasted four or five days," he said. "Our coaches encouraged them to stay in shape. Our riders are the heart of the team. They are keen to go racing and rediscover the spirit of the sport."

Cofidis chose to return to racing at the Four Days of Dunkirk because it's a local event for the team's sponsor. "It's a race in the north [of France]," said Van Londersele. "It's in our back garden."

After the brush with scandal, Van Londersele said Cofidis was determined to show "zero tolerance" for doping. "Rider who cannot comply with our code of conduct will be excluded. We cannot be more serious about our return to racing."

Perhaps the most damaging fall-out has been the departure from the team of world champion Igor Astarloa to Lampre. "It's sad that he left us," said Van Londersele, "But Igor is world champion. He needs to ride. He was upset that he could not ride the Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastonge-Liège. He should not have had to suffer for certain people's mistakes. The separation was amicable, though."

The next wave of Belgians: Who will succeed Museeuw?

Belgium's big hope: Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton

With the retirement of Belgian cycling superstar Johan Museeuw last month, and no Belgian victories in the Spring World Cup races, questions have to be asked : Will there ever be another Museeuw? What does the future hold for Belgian cycling? There are a handful of talented young Belgians who, united, could fill the void when Peter Van Petegem, Ludo Dierckxens and Tom Steels decide to hang up their wheels. Anthony Tan reports on the rise of Belgium's under-30 club.

For the boyish-faced, 1.92 metre-tall Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon), it must feel that the weight of the cycling world rests on his solid but youthful shoulders - at least for races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, anyway. Though fair enough - who can forget boom-boom Boonen's first Roubaix as a neo-pro in 2002, mixing it up with his idol Museeuw and eventual runner up Stefen Wesemann? As his then team-mate George Hincapie fell into a ditch, Boonen effortlessly took over as US Postal's main man as if he had ridden this race 10 times before (he was in fact a previous winner of the amateur Paris-Roubaix), finishing on the podium and joining three-time winner Museeuw less than a year later at Quick.Step-Davitamon.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

VDB AWOL?

Frank Vandenbroucke failed to show up for a Fassa Bortolo press conference on Monday, immediately prompting speculation in the Belgian press that the erratic VDB was about to embark on another slow-motion meltdown like the one that eventually led to his departure from Lampre-Daikin in 2001.

However, team manager Giancarlo Ferretti told Het Niuewsblad there was no problem. "Frank told me that he has bronchitis and fever. We are waiting to see how it develops," said Ferretti. "There is nothing further wrong than that."

Brian Lennon RIP

By Shane Stokes, irishcycling.com

Irish cycling is in shock with the news of the sudden death of Brian Lennon on Monday. The St. Tiernan's CC rider collapsed a short while after a training spin and was unable to be revived. He was 28.

Brian was regularly placed in the country's top events, with several Leinster championship medals to his name and also a top six finish in both the National Road Race Championships and the National Under 23 champs. He also recorded many big wins over the years in Irish races. Brian was regarded as one of the most 'honest' of riders, one who would give every last ounce of energy driving a breakaway group along. That characteristic may have cost him some victories over the years, but it earned him a huge amount of respect from his fellow riders.

Returning to training recently after a bad cold, Brian had been in the final stages of preparation for what would have been his third FBD Milk Rás. His ambition of riding abroad on an Irish team seemed a real possibility, with national selector Martin O'Loughlin yesterday confirming that he was in the running for a place in the green jersey later in the season.

"Brian was a great guy and also a very good bike rider," said O'Loughlin. "He had a lot of friends in the bunch. It's so hard to take in what has happened, it is a huge shock."

Brian is survived by his parents Sid and Teresa, and his long-term girlfriend Lynn. His funeral mass will take place at 10 am tomorrow (Thursday) in the Church of the Miraculous Medal on Bird Avenue, Clonskeagh in Dublin. May he rest in peace.

Local win expected in Lincoln International GP

Organisers are tipping a British rider to take line honours in Sunday's Lincoln International GP. While the event has had international status for the last six years, in recent years it has only once been won by a rider from outside the UK, Saulius Ruskis from Lithuania in 1989. This year teams have entered from nine countries including national teams and riders from Great Britain, France, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Belgium, Australia, Germany and Ireland.

However, organiser ian Emmerson expects a home-country rider to take the prize. "Picking a winner is difficult bearing in mind that it is usually a home based rider," says Emmerson. "However previous winners John Tanner and Kevin Dawson are on good form whilst Great Britain is bringing Tom Southam home from Italy for the race. Another team to watch is France who came last year for the first time and finished four riders in the top 20. They are back with a team chosen for the circuit and will be ones to watch."

Emmerson also has an eye on riders from further afield. "Canadian national Road Race Champion Dominique Perras is making the long haul journey to Lincoln for the race. He finished in the top 20 place at the Tour of Georgia and should do well."

Then there are the Eastern Europeans and other to look out for. "Little is known of the team from Kyrgyzstan," says Emmerson, "but previous experience of riders from this part of the world is that they are strong and fast and will be around at the finish as will riders from the BRC Kennermerland, Cyclingnews.com/Down Under and Marco Polo Racing teams who now know the race and its circuit from previous visits."

The race starts from The Yarborough Leisure Centre at 11.30 am and completes 13 laps of a circuit which takes the riders out through picturesque Burton Village where it descends the steep winding hill to leave via Fen Lane to the Saxilby Road where it heads back to the City via Long Leys Road. The riders having climbed up to the Yarborough Road then drop back in to the City via West Parade and on to closed roads towards the infamous Michaelgate cobbled climb which leads them to the finish area in Castle Square some 12 laps later. The closed road area continues to Newport Arch and out in to Newport where traffic is held to ensure their safety to Yarborough Crescent and back to Burton Road and out of the City again.

Australian junior world's team

Cycling Australia President Mike Victor has announced the Cyclones team to contest the Junior World Championships being staged in Los Angeles from July 28.

The team is: Skye-Lee Armstrong (NSW), Jennifer Loutit (ACT), Bianca Rogers (SA), Amanda Spratt (NSW), Hayley Wright (Qld), Simon Clarke (Vic), Mitchell Docker (Vic), Michael Ford (Vic), Matthew Goss (Tas), Corey Heath (NT), Miles Olman (Qld), Shane Perkins (Vic), Daniel Thorsen (Vic).

US team for Sydney track world cup

USA Cycling has announced the athletes that will represent the United States at the final round of the UCI Track World Cup in Sydney, Australia May 14-16, 2004. The final selection was made following USA Cycling's World Cup Qualifier in Frisco, Texas this past weekend.

Athletes receiving a start based upon their victories in Frisco include Mike Tillman in the men's individual pursuit, Jame Carney in the men's scratch race and Andy Lakatosh in the men's keirin.

Completing the men's squad based upon previous performances in UCI World Cup events is the team sprint trio of Giddeon Massie, Adam Duvendeck and Christian Stahl. Colby Pearce will also compete in the Madison and the points race.

The familiar women's foursome of Tanya Lindenmuth, Jennie Reed, Erin Mirabella and Rebecca Quinn will all return for the final round of the UCI World Cup series.

Action ATI aims high

Team Action ATI
Click for larger image

Polish Division II squad Action ATI gave an unusual presentation in Warsaw yesterday, with team riders being joined by Polish entertainer Tadeusz Ross.

Team manager Peter Kosmala outlined the team's main goals for this season, starting off with an immediate goal in Division II. "To get ourselves established amongst the top cycling teams in the world. I hope we will finish in the top five in Division II," said Kosmala.

In the meantime, the team needs to ensure its future. "We need to secure the team and the company's survival for 2004/2005," said Kosmala. "A number of our sponsorships need to be renegotiated, and new strategic ideas should be implemented. This will be an important task for 2004."

With that sorted, the team has big ambitions, "We look at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in the future."

Full team roster

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