Latest Cycling News for September 29, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
Rogers awarded jersey
Australian Michael Rogers was awarded his gold medal and rainbow jersey
in Bardolino on Wednesday morning, as the rightful winner of the 2003
World Time Trial Championships. Rogers finished second in that race behind
Britain's David Millar, who was later disqualified after he admitted to
UCI president Hein Verbruggen presented Rogers with his jersey, "On
the one hand it's sad because there was a rider that broke the rules,
but it is also a nice moment because things have been set right," Verbruggen
told ANP. The UCI president also awarded Germans Uwe Peschel and
Michael Rich the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Rogers is now aiming to take a second gold medal just a few hours later
today, this time to enjoy the experience of getting the rainbow jersey
and hearing his national anthem while on the top step of the podium.
"Winning this time trial is the only thing I have been thinking about
since the Olympics," he told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes. "Last year’s
experience is a big motivation for me. I think it is certainly possible
to do it. I just hope that everything goes right for me on the day. I
will be certainly getting off my bike saying that I couldn't have gone
any harder, whether I end up with first or last place."
Rogers has worked hard in the run up to the race and feels he is in
good shape. "My form is good - I am quite confident," he added. "I had
a really good build-up. I know the course really well...I have been training
on it at least once a week for the past month. I think my training and
racing have been right up to standard the last few weeks so I am really
looking forward to it."
Rogers' biggest opposition will probably come from the Rich and Peschel
again, but he said that the hard Bardolino course will be to his advantage.
"I like the tough course here. For me I don't have the strength of the
Germans in a flatter time trial. But it is a different story when there
is a few climbs in the race."
Rebellin in doubt for World's?
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Verona
With his newly minted Argentinean/Italian dual citizenship, World Cup
leader Davide Rebellin will be a favourite for Sunday's World Elite Road
Championship, with or without a team. But will Tintin Rebellin even be
able to start the race on Sunday for the South American nation?
As of Wednesday morning, the UCI has still not gotten the properly completed
paperwork for Argentinean/Italian Rebellin to enter the race. "If the
race was run now, Rebellin could not start. David isn't on the preliminary
start list because the documentation sent by Argentina isn't in order,"
explained the UCI's Phillipe Chevallier. Evidently, the head of the Argentinean
Cycling Federation Juan Curuchet sent the entry for Rebellin to the UCI,
but didn't send the new identity papers for the rider that prove he is
now Argentinean. Rebellin has until Friday at 12 noon to overcome the
bureaucratic hurdles that will enable him to race on Sunday.
President of the International Pro Riders Association and newly crowned
World Journalist Champion (consultant division) Francesco Moser has been
critical of the exclusion of Rebellin and his neighbour Gibo Simoni from
the Italian National team. Moser half-joked Tuesday to Gazzetta dello
Sport's Pier Bergonzi that, "I think that if Rebellin wins Sunday, it
will be the last straw...he'll have to throw himself in the Adige. [the
river that runs through Verona - ed.]"
Ullrich definitely out of road race
Jan Ullrich will not start Sunday's World Championships road race in
Verona. Ullrich has been suffering from a gastrointestinal viral infection
since last Saturday evening, which already forced him out of the Grand
Prix Beghelli last Sunday and today's Elite Men's time trial at the World's.
"The infection has left him in a weak state. He wouldn't be in a position
to give it his best shot at a hard race like next Sunday's," explained
T-Mobile's doctor Andreas Schmid on the team's website. On Monday Ullrich
returned from Italy to his home in Scherzingen, Switzerland, where he
is now recovering. "He is feeling better now, but he still wasn't able
to train yesterday. Starting Sunday's road race doesn't make much sense
now", said T-Mobile directeur sportif and German national trainer Mario
Last year's silver medalist Uwe Peschel has taken Ullrich's place alongside
Michael Rich (2003 bronze medalist) in the German team for the time trial,
while Markus Fothen will replace Ullrich in the 12-man German lineup for
Sunday's road race.
Coast ordered to pay €1.6 million to Ullrich
There was also some good news for Ullrich on Wednesday, as a German
civil court has ordered Günther Dahms, the former boss of the now defunct
Coast cycling team, to pay Jan Ullrich approximately €1.6 million
in lost wages and damages. Dahms, who is bankrupt, is expected to appeal
Ullrich move from Telekom to Coast in January 2003 on a contract of
approximately €5 million for three years. However the team folded
mid-season due to financial troubles and was ultimately taken over by
Italian bicycle manufacturer Bianchi.
The French uprising against Pro Tour
In a extensive interview with Cyclismag.com's Pierre Carrey,
ASO's second-in-command behind Jean-Marie Leblanc, Christian Prudhomme,
explained the various reasons that have led the organisers of the three
Grand Tours to pull out of the UCI's Pro Tour. The list is long, but mainly
concerns the ethics of the sport, the race calendar, the license system
and the hastiness of the reform plans.
First of all, Prudhomme denounced the Pro Tour's lack of ethics: "The
sport of the 21st century will either be ethical or it won't be," he said.
"We have no interest in seeing pedaling robots. The sport has ethical
principles, that you may use commercially. You can make a spectacle of
it, but not a circus."
The UCI's reforms, according to Prudhomme, are based less on sporting
criteria than financial ones. "The Pro Tour is a closed four year system
with no possibility of up- or downgrading teams," he said. "If a team
has a bad year, it still remains within the Pro Tour, but another team
getting great results cannot move up into it. Instead of applying a similar
system to soccer for example, Hein Verbruggen chose to imitate the American
closed structures of NBA, NHL or NFL. He also followed their franchise
system, that he calls 'licenses'. And he obliges race organisers and teams
to pay these rather costly licenses.
"For the organiser, it boils down to being tenant of a race, rather
than owner of one. With the Pro Tour, we will be expropriated. I understand
the atypical situation of cycling, with private organisers more important
than the federation and trying to defend their companies. But on the other
hand, ASO has no intention of managing international cycling affairs either."
Asked how much these licenses cost, he replied, "ASO was to pay €308,000
for four years. But then Hein Verbruggen changed his mind and wanted us
to commit for 12 years! It is not the amount of money that disturbs us,
but the principle of it. The Pro Tour is not a small reform, but will
completely change the face and the future of cycling for at least 15 years.
"While we agree on the fact that a reform is necessary because the cycling
calendar is unclear, we disagree on fundamentals and the method applied.
One year ago, Hein Verbruggen announced that the changes were to be progressive.
Today, it's become a takeover. The organisers of the three Grand Tours
consent with a reform, but in 2006. We start with Paris-Nice, that is
concurrent with Tirreno Adriatico. Then, we have the Vuelta a Cataluña
opposed to the Giro d'Italia. That's like putting the GP of Monaco in
Formula One at the same time as the GP of Belgium."
Another major problem according to Prudhomme, who used to be a cycling
commentator at France Télévisions, is the Pro Tour's unsettled TV coverage.
"The Tour of Poland, for example. I don't think that France Télévisions
or even Eurosport will broadcast it. But the GP de Plouay or the Quatre
jours de Dunkerque both have contracts for several years with French public
TV. These races aren't in the Pro Tour, but the organisers may now consider
themselves as "oil kings"! Which big cycling team will accept to race
in Eastern Europe without media coverage? On the first of April, Hein
Verbruggen had a meeting with the broadcasters and race organisers and
exposed his new plans. And you know what happened? They laughed at him!"
The discord between the three Grand Tour organisers and the UCI thus
seems far from settled, as the French ASO is particularly determined to
oppose the Pro Tour reform. Even a personal feud can be detected between
the lines, when Christian Prudhomme states, "Hein Verbruggen hasn't understood
the signals that we've been sending him for months now. He hasn't understood
that well educated people oppose him on the grounds of ethics and sport.
He tried to divide the Tour de France and the other two Grand Tours, to
divide Jean-Marie Leblanc and Patrice Clerc [ASO president - ed.]. His
problem is that he mixes up two different agendas: one of international
cycling and one of his own, as we already know that he will quit his job
a the end of next year to take care of the Beijing Olympic Games."
An interview with José Azevedo
Ace of Le Tour
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
José Azevedo doing a great job for
his leader Lance Armstrong on Stage 16 of the Tour de France
Photo: © Roberto Bettini
Twelve months ago, José Azevedo was wondering what was going to become
of his career as a professional cyclist. The 31 year-old from the Portuguese
town of Villa do Conde, near Porto, was known in the pro peloton as being
a hardworking, loyal team rider. But after three years at O.N.C.E., Azevedo
was flicked by Manolo Saiz, who didn't appear to think the stalwart rider
would be part of his future plans.
Azevedo went back to his roots, back to the Maia team where he rode for
five seasons and racked up 30 pro wins. But a call from Johan Bruyneel
in late October and some negotiations with Maia gained the quiet all-round
rider his release from the Division II squad and back to the big time
with USPS-Berry Floor.
Bruyneel's belief in him held true. Along with Floyd Landis, Azevedo
became one of Lance Armstrong's right-hand men in the Texan's successful
pursuit of a sixth Tour de France win. Cyclingnews caught up with
the likeable lad, who's made remarkable progress with his now almost-fluent
English, after the T-Mobile International in San Francisco earlier this
Click here for the
Museeuw feels the axe
Johan Museeuw is of the opinion that he will be punished in some way
for his involvement in the Landuyt case. It's expected that a decision
will be made by the courts on Thursday to penalise Museeuw, Chris Peers
and Jo Planckaert, who were all implicated in a doping affair involving
veterinarian José Landuyt.
"I feel that I will be punished, I know it for sure," said Museeuw in
an interview with Gazet van Antwerpen. "Nonetheless I've never
tested positive and there was nothing banned found at my house."
A suspension would prevent Museeuw from becoming a team director with
Quick.Step. "I still haven't asked for a licence," he said. "I also don't
want to get a job. I prefer to put my energy into positive things, like
the Children's Cancer Fund or young riders."
Valverde out of reach of Rabobank
De Telegraaf reports that Spanish top talent Alejandro Valverde
has slipped out of the reach of Rabobank, as the Dutch team can't afford
to spend €1.5 million to buy him out of his current contract with
Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme. Rabobank didn't want to invest any more money
to attract another grand tour rider, which means that the team will be
relying on Denis Menchov as GC man for the major tours.
It's almost certain that Valverde will stay in Spain, but it's still
possible that he will change teams, as Illes Balears and Liberty Seguros
have made him offers.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)