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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for January 10, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

Armstrong's case advances in Sunday Times libel suit

By Tim Maloney and Gerard Knapp

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

As reported by the UK's Guardian newspaper, Lance Armstrong has won a "a significant victory" in an ongoing libel action against media magnate Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times newspaper. On December 17, 2004, Hon. Mr. Justice Eady handed down a judgment in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London, England in a libel action brought by Lance Armstrong Vs. Times Newspapers Ltd., as well as the writers David Walsh and Alan English.

The judgment is a key phase in the ongoing case as it determines the arguments that can be made when the case goes to a trial, likely to be held later this year. Armstrong's case was argued by Richard Spearman, QC, instructed by the British law firm Schillings.

In his 23 page ruling, Mr. Justice Eady examined the article published in the Sunday Times on June 13, 2004, written by Alan English, which reports on sportswriter David Walsh's book LA Confidentiel (so far only published in France). English's article was largely based on the book, written by Walsh and former L'Equipe cycling reporter Pierre Ballester, who allege that Armstrong was associated with "illicit performance enhancing drugs".

Significantly, Mr Justice Eady said that Times Newspapers Ltd. had "no room of advancing a plea of justification in any lesser sense", effectively striking out a key defence argument for TNL. In an earlier ruling on November 30, 2004, Mr. Justice Eady stated that the article "is capable of only of imputing 'guilt' (in the sense of having taken such drugs) or, at the least, that there are reasonable grounds to suspect him of having taken such drugs". So in the Armstrong case the third and lesser 'tier' of justification applied in British law for libel cases - that of "questions need to be asked" - was struck out, a significant blow for TNL's defence.

Justice Eady cited a passage from the Times article, written by Alan English, that says, "'Armstrong is no ordinary cyclist, but there are those who fear that a man who won five Tours de France in a row must have succumbed to the pressures of taking drugs.' The formula 'those who fear that' is not an effective device to avoid libel."

Eady found that this and other paragraphs in the Sunday Times article were, "In my judgment, sufficiently powerful to colour the whole article. In the face of these (passages), it seems to me that it would indeed be perverse to conclude that the article meant no more than there were some questions needing to be investigated. The defamatory sting about Mr. Armstrong obviously goes well beyond that."

Eady continued, saying that, "The overall effect of the quotations and the events described in the article is to leave readers with the impression that Mr. Armstrong's denials of drug taking beggar belief and are to be taken with a pinch of salt."

Justice Eady also explained how it appeared the Sunday Times article had been given legal guidance in its wording and structure, and that Walsh had also stated that his claims in LA Confidentiel were "circumstantial".

In another part of English's June 13, 2004, Justice Eady stated that citing examples such as Willy Voet and the Festina affair at the 1998 Tour De France "were not sufficiently linked to claimant (Armstrong)" and that the claims of an increase in the average speed of the Tour De France "fails woefully short of establishing any conduct on behalf of (Armstrong) which brings suspicion on himself and also short of 'strong circumstantial evidence'".

Qualified privilege

In the qualified privilege section of his judgment, Justice Eady found that the "tone" of the article was "quite sensational" and "likely to stir things up" for the purposes of the book. "Although (the article) claimed merely to 'raise questions', it could hardly be as measured, neutral or impartial reportage."

This is starkly outlined when Justice Eady points out later in his decision that, "The article written by the third Defendant (English)...and no attempt was made by (English) or anyone else from the Sunday Times to contact Mr. Armstrong about the allegations they were going to make."

Justice Eady wrote: "I cannot see that the Defendants (TNL, Walsh, English) could be said to be under a duty to publish allegations to the effect that Mr Armstrong had probably taken performance-enhancing drugs or that, given his prowess in the Tour de France, he 'must' have done so.

"I would readily accept, of course, that the use of forbidden drugs in sport is a matter of public concern. It is a different question, however, from whether or not they were were under a duty to publish these allegations, about this Claimant (Armstrong), without at least affording him an opportunity of giving a measured response to the charges.

"In these circumstances, I will accede to Mr Spearman's application and disallow those parts of the pleading concerned with qualified privilege. On that basis, the case would proceed on the plea of limited justification," Justice Eady ruled.

Armstrong's costs "splashed about"

It would seem that Armstrong's law firm has been spending up on its research and preparation. So much so that Heather Rogers, acting for TNL, "sought some novel form of protection ... described as a costs-capping order", Justice Eady said.

"I have some sympathy with the Defendant's position, since they were informed that 140,000 (UK) pounds of costs had been built up on the Claimant's side at a very early stage. The Claimant's solicitors, Schillings, also declined to provide any breakdown."

Justice Eady was sympathetic to the claims that once litigation was under way and costs were incurred on pleading, disclosure and gathering evidence, costs "on the Claimant's side would prove to have moved rapidly into the stratosphere.

"If the Defendant's suspicion is correct, however, and money is being splashed about unnecessarily or too generously, then that should be reflected in the ... retrospective assessment. The Defendants should not, at least in theory, have to pay for this hypothetical extravangance", the Justice wrote.

Nonetheless, he ruled against the costs-capping order being made in this case. But with Armstrong's side wracking up costs of 140,000 UK pounds so far - and they've only just begun - it looks set to become a rather expensive case.

(Editor's note: This is revised version of the story that originally appeared on January 10, 2005.)

Bruyneel looks at Discovery Pro Cycling in 2005

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Johan Bruyneel
Photo ©: Beth Seliga

With the Christmas and New Year's holidays over and the team presentation just around the corner, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team manager Johan Bruyneel was relaxed and confident when we spoke to him at his home in Madrid, Spain for part two of our interview. (See also: Part I.)

Cyclingnews: Johan, It's almost one year that you've been working on the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team and with the presentation coming up soon, I'm curious where your head is at. Is everything ready to go?

Johan Bruyneel: I'd say right now, the work is done...things are how they should be at this point, just before the team presentation and first team camp. I like how we did it; we had a good strategy with the sponsors and have the budget we need for the team. With Discovery Communications, Advanced Micro Devices, Trek, 24 Hour Fitness and now Berry Floor, we have great support. I feel good about where we are; the sponsors are good and the composition of the team we put together is good. So I can actually relax before the team presentation. We're ready to go.

CN: In our Cyclingnews 2004 Reader Poll Results, Lance Armstrong was voted Rider of the Year, Best Moment of 2004 (winning Tour De France Stage 17 against Klöden) and being voted Legend Of Cycling for the second consecutive year.

JB: I think it's because Lance's sixth consecutive victory is historical...it would be difficult to perform better than he did. Not to minimize the performance of any other rider, but I know the kind of efforts that went into Lance's sixth Tour win. I think that it's a big honour (for Lance) to be selected by Cyclingnews readers; no one better than the people who really know cycling. This is one of many honours that Lance has gotten this year, like the Associated Press Sportsman of the Year. Without a doubt, Lance made history this year and since it was a moment when a lot of people didn't expect him to win, so his Tour win was actually a lot bigger.

Click here for the full interview

Ullrich: "Tour victory against Lance more valuable"

By Hedwig Kröner

After spending three weeks in South Africa and staying at home with his girlfriend and daughter in Scherzingen, Switzerland, Jan Ullrich has now arrived at a T-Mobile training camp on the island of Mallorca, Spain. On Saturday, the German immediately took to the streets, the climate being relatively warm at this time of year on the Balearic island.

On Sunday, his pre-season training schedule was interrupted for a live interview with German TV ARD. One of the biggest concerns for German media being his winterly weight, Ullrich was firstly asked about his physical condition. "It's always the same topic," he responded. "During winter, I always gain 5-6 kilos and it's part of me. As long as I'm able to reduce my weight in time for the Tour de France, it shouldn't be a problem."

Ullrich admitted last year's season had not been a very successful one for him, as he could not perform at his best during the two season's highlights, the Tour and the Olympics. "This year, I want to begin early season regularly, and not exaggerate on my training as I'm susceptible to illness. Getting sick only throws you back further," he explained.

Asked if he believed the media reports saying that Armstrong wasn't going to ride this year's Tour de France, 'Der Jan' replied, "I don't really believe it. He will want to defend his title; on the other hand he's already got the absolute record. I'm rather surprised he continues racing at all! That's the main reason I believe he still targets the Tour: if it wasn't his goal anymore, he'd stop. It wouldn't surprise me if he changed his mind just before the start to race the Tour again and try to win a seventh time."

Ullrich also admitted Armstrong's participation made all the difference to him. "It would be good for the sport, and it would be good for me too. To win against the man to beat for the last six years is a great motivation and challenge especially to me. Final victory at the Tour de France is always very valuable, even without him, but it will count for more if he's there, that's for sure."

To achieve this, Ullrich knows he must be at his best - even in order to determine the leader within his own team, T-Mobile. With Alexandre Vinokourov very motivated after his bad luck in 2005 and last year's second placed Andreas Klöden also looking forward to the World's biggest road cycling race, the team captain will be the best T-Mobile man on the race in July. "Last year, Andreas Klöden was simply better than me so I supported him. This works very well in our team: the best rider gets all the support from the others. Of course, it's in my interest to train and to prepare myself as well as possible to be the one who the others are riding for, the one who gets the chance of winning the Tour."

Bourgain wins big-money invitational keirin

Frenchman Mickael Bourgain topped off a successful World Cup meet with a hefty pay cheque when he won the lucrative invitational Japanese Keirin in Manchester.

The Frenchman won gold in the sprint and silver for the in-competition Keirin and then pocketed £10,000 (€14,300, AU$25,000, US$18,700) for the invitation-only event which offered a whopping total prize pool of £45,000 (€64,000, AU$111,000, US$84,000). Australia's Shane Kelly, who finished third in the standard keirin, walked away with £8,000 for second place in the invitational event, while Bourgain's countryman, Gregory Bauge, won £6,000 for third.

Bourgain was impressive as he cruised through qualifying with a turn of speed and power that none of his opponents could match. His tactic of taking the lead early and holding on worked right throughout the following rounds and in the final, when he was able to hold off the dual Australian challenge of Kelly and Jobie Dajka. Also in the final were Andrei Vynokurov of Ukraine and Ivan Vrba from the Czech Republic.

The event was sponsored by the Japan Keirin Association in a bid to highlight the event, which is a massively popular betting sport in Japan.

Click here for the full Day 3 report from the Track World Cup.

Van Moorsel says goodbye

Dutch track rider Leontien van Moorsel finished her professional cycling career on Saturday evening at the Rotterdam Six day. In front of 8,000 spectators, Van Moorsel gave her last show in the 'Ahoy' velodrome and thanked all the people that supported her, especially her parents and her closest family members.

Van Moorsel called it a career as the evening was filled with a speech from the NOCNSF president Erica Terpstra and battles between the best track riders against Erik Dekker, Michael Boogerd and Max van Heeswijk. However, Leontien will stay involved in cycling in the future as she will coach cycling talents together with her husband Michael Zijlaard.

Van Moorsel's biggest successes include:

Olympic road champion
Olympic time-trial champion (2x)
Olympic pursuit champion

World road champion (2x)
World time-trial champion (2x)
World pursuit champion (4x)
World team-time-trial champion

World hour record
Overall victory Tour de France Féminin (2x)

Dutch road champion (7x)
Dutch time-trial champion (6x)
Dutch pursuit champion (5x)
Dutch points race champion (2x)
Dutch omnium champion
Overall victory Ronde van Nederland
Dutch sportswoman of the Year (6x)

Danish Cyclo-cross Championships cancelled

The Danish Cyclo-cross Championships had to be cancelled due to the heavy storms that affected northern Europe, including Denmark, on Saturday. There were several broken trees and flooding on the parcours, damaging it beyond use. In the area that the race was due to take place, many people were evacuated from their homes because of the flooding. Four people died in Denmark as a result of the storms.

Courtesy of Frank Rud Jensen

Paris-Nice teams announced

ASO, the organiser of Paris-Nice has announced the participating teams for the race scheduled for March 6-13, 2005. The 63rd edition of the "race to the sun" will see 20 teams on its start list: the 19 UCI ProTeams. plus the French Continental team Ag2R. The route and the stages are not yet known.

Stages clear for Tour of Med

Although the route of the 32nd Tour Méditerranéen will be officially announced on January 31 only, the stage towns of the race have already been made public. The Tour of Med will start in San Remo, Italy, to finish in Marseilles five days later.

The stages are:

Stage 1 - February 9: San Remo - Menton
Stage 2 - February 10: Villeneuve Loubet - Bormes les Mimosas
Stage 3 - February 11: La Garde - Toulon Mont Faron
Stage 4 - February 12: Bouc Bel Air - Berre L'Etang
Stage 5 - February 13: Cabries - Marseilles

Van Beek wins gold at Deaflympics time-trial

Australian Reece-Emerson van Beek has won the Gold medal at the individual time-trial competition of the 20th Deaflympics in Melbourne. The deaf rider beat Gerald Meilke-Weyel (Germany) by 42 seconds in the 32.1 km road time-trial. Frantisek Kocourek (Czech Republic) placed third.

For more information, please visit www.2005deaflympics.com.

TV legend Phil Liggett to host Team TIAA-CREF launch

Phil Liggett
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Phil Liggett will be joining his Outdoor Life Network counterparts, Jonathan Vaughters and Frankie Andreu, at 6pm on Tuesday, February 15, in Denver, Colorado, to help launch Vaughters' two 2005 development teams, Team TIAA-CREF and Team 5280.

Liggett will be chatting up the small group of sponsors, supporters, and attendees in his legendary cycling staccato as host of the evening. He'll also be announcing and applauding as the new Team TIAA-CREF U25 Continental team, and the Team 5280 Junior team are unveiled at an unforgettable presentation.

The event will be held at Adega restaurant, one of the country's most highly regarded restaurants with Food and Wine Magazine's former new chef of the year, Bryan Moscatello, serving guests a very special five course dinner. World renowned wine sommelier Chris Farnum will be complementing the food with Liggett's other favourite passion, fine wine.

Tickets are a $350 donation to the American Cycling Association (501c3). Although funds were originally planned to be donated to the ACA's Junior cycling fund, in light of world events, Team TIAA-CREF, Team 5280, and the ACA will be donating the proceeds of this celebration to the American Red Cross Emergency fund to help with tsunami victims relief. Space is very limited with only 50 seats for attendees.

To get more information and purchase tickets online at: www.jonathanvaughters.net

Also see: Jonathan Vaughters: The first year director of TIAA-CREF looks back at 2004 and forward to 2005.

Wedgewood Cycling Team complete for 2005

The award winning Wedgewood Hotel in downtown Vancouver, Canada has presented the full list of associate sponsors for the city's newest cycling team, the Wedgewood Cycling Team, on January 7.

Members will ride in support of the BC Cancer Foundation, raising awareness and funds for Cancer Research in British Columbia through the organisation of various events, including a new Vancouver Road Race which will form part of the Fiesta Days Weekend Celebration called the Westside Cycling Classic. and an end of year banquet and raffle that will include many prizes generously donated by the international world of cycling and some of the "greats of the sport".

The Wedgewood Hotel is presented by its General Manager Philip Meyer, as title sponsor with the team supported by four associate sponsors. Long time cycling rendezvous "Bean around the World" coffee stores and suppliers, the Washington Marine Group, the Treloar Physiotherapy Clinic, Body & Soul Health & Fitness and supplier sponsors La Bicicletta, Vancouver's premier road bike store. Tyres will be provided by Schwalbe.

More information on Wedgewood Cycling Team can be found at www.teamwedgewood.com

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