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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for January 2, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Explanations demanded for Guatemala positives

The Guatemalan cycling federation, which was criticised by its local press for its silence, has now demanded explanations from the nine riders that tested positive for banned drugs during this year's edition of the race. The winner, Guatemalan Lisandro Ajcú, and the next three riders on the general classification were all implicated in what is turning into the biggest doping scandal in the race's 47 year history. Seven of the riders tested positive for EPO, while two were positive for testosterone and one rider tested positive for the stimulant, Nikethamide.

The Venezuelan cycling federation has convened the two Venezuelans involved, Noel Vásquez and Yeisson Delgado, to appear in front of its disciplinary commission on January 4. Vásquez was the cyclist who tested positive for Nikethamide and is a two-time winner of the Vuelta al Táchira. If sanctioned, he will not be able to take part in his national tour which starts on January 8.

Delgado tested positive for EPO, and if confirmed he will be the first Venezuelan rider to fail an EPO test, but not the first one to be sanctioned over EPO. In the Tour de Guadeloupe this year, Venezuelan Tony Linares was found in possession of EPO and other drugs, and he was subsequently given a four year ban by his national federation.

No obstacles for Astarloa

Igor Astarloa's joining the British-registered Barloworld team appears to be all but completed, even though he has yet to sign his two year contract on the dotted line. After his manager Paolo Zanni confirmed the move late last week, Astarloa himself told Marca, "There will be no problems in reaching an agreement with the Italian team [Astarloa's current squad Lampre-Caffita] and we will speak with them next week."

Lampre-Caffita's director sportif Giuseppe Saronni did not foresee any problems for Astarloa either. "With him, there is nothing to rescind. He can join whoever he wants."

Astarloa, who won the World Championship in 2003, did not have the best of seasons in 2004. After signing a lucrative contract with Cofidis, he decided to leave the team when it became embroiled in a big doping affair that had nothing to do with Astarloa. He then spent the rest of the season with Lampre, winning a stage in the Brixia Tour and finishing third in the HEW Cyclassics World Cup race.

Franzoi debuts for Lampre-Caffita in Aigle

Sunday's round 8 of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland will see Italian Enrico Franzoi making his debut for the new Lampre-Caffita team, which is a merger between Saeco and Lampre. He will be the first rider on the team to race in the new jersey, and in Aigle he is hoping to repeat or better his third place performance in round 7 in Hofstade, Belgium earlier this week.

"It's a circuit adapted to my characteristics, if it rains, the mud will make it even easier," said Franzoi, who returned to Italy to celebrate New Year's Eve with his family. "A dinner with friends and Elena, my girlfriend in a place in Isola Vicentina, then just like Cinderella on the stroke of midnight I returned home."

After Aigle, Franzoi's main appointment is the Italian national championships at Rovato in the province of Brescia. "My principal objective of the season," he commented. "I will be setting out to win, and my most feared opponent is definitely Daniele Pontoni. I have tried the circuit a few times, thanks to the presence of Giuseppe Martinelli, one of my DS in the Lampre-Caffita who's on the organizing committee. It is indeed a course perfectly suited for my characteristics. Saturday the 8th of January I would really like to climb onto the highest step of the winner's podium.

"From the first race in October I began to focus my season in preparation for the National Championship. In the month of December with the World Cup race I understood that my condition was improving. I hope that I can present myself at Rovato in top condition."

Finally, Franzoi commented that being a cyclo-crosser in Italy isn't as easy as being one in Belgium. "The consistency of the task in a speciality that unfortunately is not well followed in Italy is difficult with the training, the transfers, and the very few lines of celebration in the newspapers."

Groenendaal sick

Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank) will likely miss tomorrow's World Cup in Aigle, after falling ill today before the GP Sven Nys in Baal. On a hard and muddy parcours, Groenendaal was lapped by the field, and afterwards declared that there was a "99.9 percent chance" that he would not start on Sunday.

Petacchi married on the quiet

The world's top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi married his fiancee Anna Chiara on New Year's Day in Viareggio. In an extremely low-key registry office affair, Petacchi had only a few friends, including Michele Bartoli, present. But Petacchi did say afterwards that there will be a "proper" church wedding later on this year, without revealing the date.

Land Rover/Touring Sport Cycling Team

Land Rover Greenville and Touring Sport are sponsoring an amateur cycling team for the 2005 season. The team consists of 14 riders that will be road racing category 3 and 4 races in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina (USA). The Land Rover/Touring Cycling Team currently has two South Carolina state champions Cassandra Perkins (Women's Road and Mountain State Champion), and Eric Christopherson (Masters 35+ State Time Trial Champion). Land Rover/Touring Sport Cycling Team also has elite and professional mountain bike riders.

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Hit Racing

A new cycle racing team has been launched in Brisbane, Australia, called Hit Racing. The team has Hitachi as its naming rights sponsor and is backed by Australian and international companies. The riders are from various age groups and abilities and have been chosen by a panel with the main criteria being commitment to the sport of cycling.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)