First Edition Cycling News for October 10, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
De Clercq found with growth hormones
Three-time World Cyclo-cross Champion Mario de Clercq (MrBookmaker.com) could also be facing disciplinary action by the Belgian cycling federation, after Het Nieuwsblad reported that the growth hormone Somatropin was found in a search of his house last year. De Clercq's house was one of 21 cyclists' houses searched by police on September 4, 2003, in what marked the start of the Jose Landuyt/Herman Versele doping affair. However, De Clercq's name has been largely kept out of the investigation which has mainly focused on Johan Museeuw, Chris Peers and Jo Planckaert. Yesterday, those three riders were given two year suspensions by the Belgian cycling federation.
According to HNB, analysis of certain vials that were seized from De Clercq's house revealed that they contained the growth hormone Somatropin, a banned substance. The police also found a leaflet with information about Aranesp, an improved form of EPO. De Clercq's team manager Charles Palmans explained that he merely took it for information. "Mario was given the leaflet by someone," said Palmans. "He read it out of interest, to see exactly what the product does. As racers, you have to be interested in a lot of things, but Mario has never used the product."
Also seized were De Clercq's training diaries from 2001 and 2002, which contained training plans, results and prize money, along with details of haematocrit levels in connection with the taking of unspecified products. De Clercq told the investigators that he planned to write a novel, and the markings in his diary were fictitious.
De Clercq will now be questioned again by the investigating magistrate in Kortrijk as a witness in the Landuyt/Versele case, but - like the other riders - he is not one of the accused. It will be up to the Belgian cycling federation to determine whether a sporting sanction is warranted. The prosecutor's office in Kortrijk has only confirmed that the case around De Clercq has not yet concluded, but declined to give details. Similarly, De Clercq's lawyer said that he hadn't seen the results of the analyses of the vials, but does know that De Clercq has been summonsed again.
The news broke on the day before the first Cyclo-cross World Cup of the season, which will be held in Mario De Clercq's home town of Wortegem-Petegem, where he will certainly race.
Tour de France still against Pro Tour
The organisers of the world's biggest cycling race, the Tour de France, have reaffirmed their position not to join the UCI's Pro Tour next year. On the eve of the Paris-Tours World Cup race, TdF president Patrice Clerc explained to the various team directors that his organisation ASO, along with RCS Sport (Giro) and Unipublic (Vuelta) remain steadfastly opposed to the Pro Tour in its current form.
"It is important to say to the teams that this is not merely a question of semantics," said Clerc, in response to Hein Verbruggen's reassuring comments last week in Verona. Clerc added, "It's not just ASO, RCS and Unipublic, who organise eleven races; there are also other organisers in agreement."
Clerc's words were echoed by Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc last week at the launch of the Entente Cordiale Paris-London race in London. "Alas, it is possible that the Pro Tour might go ahead without us," Leblanc was quoted by Procycling as saying. "There is a profound division between the UCI and ASO. Our lawyers are talking to their lawyers to improve working relations and I hope we can build a bridge. But without ASO, the Pro Tour will mean nothing."
In the context of Pro Tour events, ASO is responsible for Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour de France and Paris-Tours; RCS Sport organises the Giro d'Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Giro di Lombardia; and Unipublic organises the Vuelta España. Even discounting any other organisers pulling out, the removal of these events from the proposed calendar would leave the following as the Pro Tour calendar (n.b. from an unofficial calendar previously published on Cyclingnews):
April 3: Tour of Flanders
Gonzalez set for Euskaltel
According to Spanish sports daily AS, Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) is set to sign for Euskaltel-Euskadi next week. Gonzalez's manager Angel Buenache will meet with Euskaltel's manager Miguel Madariaga to finalise the contract, while the team will be in touch with Aitor to discuss his racing program.
Euskaltel-Euskadi will be part of the proposed Pro Tour next year, thus will need at least 25 riders on its roster. Gorka Arrizabalaga and David Etxebarria are both leaving the team (the latter to Liberty Seguros) while David Herrero is joining, leaving a free space for Aitor Gonzalez. In addition, the team can sign three U23 riders, and Igor Antón has been confirmed as one of these.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has suspended Australian mountain biker/BMXer Wade Bootes, after he tested positive to a stimulant at the Mont St. Anne Mountain Bike World Cup in Canada in June.
Bannan and Barras stay
Australia's head cycling coach Shayne Bannan will keep his position until at least the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Similarly, Australia's head track cycling coach Martin Barras will stay until 2008 as well. The pair recently led Australia to its most successful Olympic cycling campaign ever, with Australia winning six gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the Athens Olympics.
Stevens Cyclocross Team
The Stevens International Cyclocross Team has announced its complete roster for the 2004/2005 season. Sponsored by Stevens Bikes and operating on a €300,000 budget, the team is managed by Werner von Hacht and led by German veteran Jens Schwedler and contains 11 riders. Apart from Schwedler, who was German champion in 2002, the team includes Malte Urban (2004 German 'cross champion), Johannes Sickmüller (2004 German U23 'cross and MTB runner-up), Fabian Brzezinski (2004 MTB NRW Cup winner), Paul Voss (2004 German junior 'cross champion), Finn Heitmann (2003 German junior 'cross runner-up), Tim Ulbrich, Peter Presslauer (four time Austrian 'cross champion), Christian Heule (2004 Swiss 'cross champion), Lukas Flückinger (2004 Swiss U23 MTB champion) and Jiri Pospisil (multiple Czech 'cross champion).
The team will focus its efforts on the various national championships, as well as the European championships, the World Championships in St. Wendel, World Cup races and the Budvar Cup (with Presslauer and Pospisil).
Siutsou in GP del Rosso
U23 World Champion Kanstantsin Siutsou (Palazzago Vellutex) will take part in the 53rd edition of the GP Del Rosso on Sunday in Montecatini Terme, Italy. The race takes place over 179 km, and Siutsou will be accompanied by his teammates Branislau Samoilau, Andrei Kunitski, Luigi Sestili and Giairo Ermeti. Siutsou will also ride the Coppa del Mobilio a Ponsacco in Piemonte on October 12.
Watermark Cycling looking for U-23/Junior riders
The Arizona, USA based Watermark Cycling team has announced the formation of a Youth Cycling Development Program for the 2005 season. The team is currently seeking riders under 23 years old and of all categories. The program will be based in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the current Watermark Cycling team members train.
"This new program is committed to helping young riders achieve their dreams of competing in the national as well as international arena by assisting with mentorship, training and support," said the program's organiser Steve Cullinan.
Interested riders may submit bios and complete resume at www.watermarkcycling.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)