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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 20, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

New dedications for Petacchi

That's five wins
Photo ©: Sirotti

After winning his fifth Giro stage yesterday, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has had to look further afield to find people to dedicate his victories to. Although his applause across the finish line was for his teammates, who once again took the race in hand and guided him to the line, Petacchi afterwards paid tribute to others.

"I dedicate this victory to Signora Ivana, who has looked after my teammate Bruseghin, and to Signor Vitale of the Emporio shop who has looked after my animals instead of me," said the La Spezia sprinter. "I had promised this dedication if I won my fifth stage. The applause with which I marked my victory is for my magnificent teammates who, like always, pulled for the whole day. I'd also like to thank my girlfriend Annachiara, who was supposed to go home today: I asked her to stay because she’s my good luck charm.

"Today the stage was won through suffering. In the first part I worked more than I had to and certainly the heat created some problems. In the finale I was worried that I wouldn't be as explosive as normal. Then it all went well and I did the last 200 metres practically in free fall."

Today the riders face the longest stage of the Giro, 228 km between Porto S. Elpidio and Cesena.

Hamburger denies doping charges

Bo Hamburger (Acqua e Sapone)
Photo ©: Sirotti

Danish cyclist Bo Hamburger (Acqua e Sapone) says that he's fed up with allegations that he's on drugs, following the comments of former Anti Doping Danmark doctor Rasmus Damsgaard, who said that Hamburger was almost certainly on EPO during last year's World Championships in Hamilton. After Damsgaard's comments were widely reported in the Danish media, Hamburger strongly denied that he was on EPO and that any of his blood values were over the limit.

In an interview with Danish website, a clearly upset Hamburger explained, "What happened was that on Wednesday morning, during the World Championships, they took some blood tests. I have always had a high haematocrit so they chose to take a urine test - that's not abnormal. They did that to a lot of other riders as well [e.g. Igor Astarloa]. What I'm saying is that they have double checked me. To say it in normal Danish: I have been checked from my head to my butt, so what more is there to say?

"I don't even know whether it is my haemoglobin or my haematocrit values they are referring to. I received a phone call yesterday [Tuesday], and now feel like a cheater merely because I've taken a doping test. So actually this will mean that if I'll do well in the Giro, I've already been judged."

On Monday night before the rest day, Hamburger was visited by the UCI. "I can tell you that I was tested at 1:30am. They came and took some blood tests, what more do they expect? I can only give them the tests they are asking for. This is like a storm in a teacup, started by Damsgaard."

Hamburger's comments were made before Stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia, where he was clearly motivated to ride - perhaps not just for his sponsor Acqua e Sapone. Hamburger made the day's eight man breakaway which survived until 13 km to go, and he was one of the last men to be caught.

The Danish rider concluded, "I have nothing to hide, and have just been tested. Off course it upsets me, but I won't think about it all the time - then it just ends up as a stomach ulcer. Because I've got nothing to hide, I also told the journalist that called that I am taking the tests that people are asking for, and I'm doing it with a clean conscience."

At the Flèche Wallonne in 2001, Hamburger was the first rider to fail a urine test for EPO. However, he was later acquitted by the Danish Sports Federation after it was determined that his B sample had been handled incorrectly.

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Broken vertebrae for Van Speybroeck

Wesley Van Speybroeck (Vlaanderen-T Interim) has a broken vertebrae in his back after crashing in the first stage of the Tour of Belgium. The just-turned-26-year-old was involved in a big crash 90 km from the finish.

In other Tour of Belgium news, Manuel Quinziato (Lampre) was fined €200 for hindering Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker) in the sprint. Omloop finished a close second behind Lampre's Gianluca Bortolami, but there were no changes to the actual placings.

Blijlevens looks ahead

After retiring from professional cycling following the Scheldepris in April, Dutchman Jeroen Blijlevens is looking for future challenges. As far as a job is concerned, there are discussions with the Van Hemert-euro gifts team about a position as a team director. "That's where my heart lies and where I have the most understanding," said Blijlevens.

Although he hasn't done any cycling training since he retired, he doesn't rule out new sporting challenges. "I want to run. To complete a marathon I see as a big challenge."

Pro Tour protests

The UCI's restructuring of professional cycling via the new Pro Tour is still not being greeted with general enthusiasm. According to a report in De Telegraaf, the French organisers - including Tour de France organisers ASO - have rejected the Pro Tour in its current form, and are urging other countries to do the same. In the Giro d'Italia there is a protest letter circulating among the Giro teams that addresses various concerns with the Pro Tour, particularly the requirement that teams must ride in all the races on the Pro Tour calendar.

Murphy & Gunn sponsors Brits for FBD Milk Rás

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

Satisfied, if not delighted, with their sponsorship of the recent Shay Elliott Memorial race, Murphy and Gunn, the Dublin motor people have decided to support a team in the FBD MILK RÁS 8 Day International Cycle Race which starts from the Irish GPO next Sunday, May 23.

The five man team came was created after Stephen Murphy, the Murphy and Gunn sales director, was approached by officials from two clubs in Britain - Pinarello RT and Planet X - to back a combined squad for the Ras, consisting of Malcolm Elliott, Julian Winn, John Tanner, Mark Lovatt and Kevin Dawson.

"With former Ras winner Seamus Kennedy as team manager, we expect the Murphy and Gunn riders to be top contenders. The prestigious FBD Milk Rás deserves quality international bikemen because it is an excellent well run and tough event," said Stephen Murphy who manages both Toyota and BMW dealerships in South County Dublin.

All five members of the Team Yorkshire Murphy and Gunn have already ridden the FBD MILK RÁS - with Welshman Julian Winn winning outright in 2001. The other four over the past few years have either won stages and or important jerseys in this gruelling Irish cycling classic. All four are currently showing top form with Elliott finishing second to Ireland's Dave O'Loughlin on the Murphy and Gunn Shay Elliott race.

"We will have to be disciplined on the Rás if we are to bring home the team award," said team kingpin Seamus Kennedy. "It is a long and arduous event, calling for teamwork, particularly in the mountains. Weather can also play an important role."

Of the five riders Malcolm Elliott is the most senior. Having been a top British professional in the nineties, he returned to racing last year after a six-year layoff and rode for the London-Irish team in the FBD Milk Rás in which he was handicapped by a heavy cold. "I hope for better weather this year, and my current form is excellent." He has already won two major races in 2004 - the Girvan Three-Day and the Stan Jones Road Race.

Julian Winn knows the FBD Milk Rás well having won outright three years ago. This season he is showing improved form having won the Archer GP as well as being the points jersey winner on the Tour of the Emirates. He also took four stages in that same race. "I look forward to the Ras and I feel my lay off over the last few weeks will hopefully put in good form".

John Tanner is a tough and consistent performer and has been ranked first or second in Britain over the past ten years. This previous FBD Milk Rás stage winner is known for his sprint, finishing second to Julian Winn at the end of the Archer Grand Prix. "I'll play my part for Team Yorkshire Murphy and Gunn," he said.

Mark Lovatt is famous for some futile lone breakaways and his self deprecating comments. A Ras regular and previous podium finisher, Mark is the reigning premier calendar champion in the UK and has scored six consecutive victories in Britain's oldest and toughest one-day race, the Tour of the Peak. "My recent third on the Murphy and Gunn Shay Elliott one-day shows that I am coming into form right on time," said Lovatt.

Kevin Dawson is a time-trial specialist but he can mix it with the best as we know from the 2003 FBD Milk Rás when he won a stage. He's the ideal rider to lead a breakaway. "I hope to do the best for my team and team manager as he follows in his Murphy and Gunn BMW."

The FBD Milk Rás starts in Dublin on Sunday, May 23 with the first stage to Trim. It finishes back in Dublin on Sunday, May 30.

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