First Edition Cycling News for January 22, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones
Disappointed Armstrong responds to new doping investigation
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
As his Team Discovery Channel training camp in Solvang, California was wrapping up this week, Lance Armstrong received the news that a new doping investigation had been opened by French authorities against him. Armstrong responded on Thursday, January 20 to the inquest that will examine doping allegations from the book LA Confidentiel, les secrets de Lance Armstrong, co-written by sportswriter David Walsh and former L'Equipe cycling writer Pierre Ballester. Coincidentally, Armstrong has recently won a preliminary ruling for libel against The Sunday Times, which published excerpts from the alleged exposé, which up until now has only been published in France.
"Let me make one thing emphatically clear", said Armstrong in his statement. "I believe in clean and fair competition. As I have said before, I do not use - and have never used - performance-enhancing drugs. I am disappointed in the judge's decision to open this investigation without having talked to me first. I will make myself available anytime and anywhere to meet with the investigators in this case. They are also welcome to review my long history of tests for performance-enhancing drugs, which I have never failed. Last year alone I was tested 22 times by ASO, the UCI, WADA and USADA. I will be competing in Paris-Nice in March. I am confident my name will be cleared, and I look forward to racing in France for years to come." Armstrong recently told L'Equipe's JP Bidet on that he plans to start his 2005 season at Paris-Nice.
Last July, as Armstrong was riding to victory in his sixth straight Tour, a new investigation was opened by the Paris Brigade des Stupéfiants (Drug Squad), based in the Quai de Orfevres (the French equivalent of Scotland Yard), the very same bureau who looked into doping allegations raised against Armstrong by France 3 TV in 2000 that were later discredited and thrown out, but only after a long and fruitless investigation that featured a controversial investigative dossier that sported a picture of Armstrong with a giant syringe sticking out of his arm on its cover.
This time around, after reading the allegations by Armstrong's former USPS soigneur Emma O'Reilly in LA Confidentiel, the French drug squad asked O'Reilly to come to the Quai de Orfevres for a deposition, where she was accompanied by a French attorney Thibault de Montbrial, the same legal counsel that represented discredited Festina directeur sportif Bruno Roussel and is also counsel to one of LA Confidentiel's authors, Pierre Ballester.
For now, a Paris judge has passed the preliminary investigation to the state prosecutor of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region, Philippe Drouet. According to Le Parisien, which broke the story earlier this week, the case has been transferred to Annecy because of criteria of geographic competence, because of the existence of a witness, an osteopath-nutritionist who lives in the Annecy area.
Cyclingnews has confirmed that the person the investigation are referring to is Dr. Benoît Nave, D.O., a former Volvo-Cannondale Mountain Bike Racing team doctor who treated Armstrong for his back injuries following his bad crash in the Dauphiné Liberé in 2003. Nave, who has never been connected to any suspicious activity, has worked with top athletes like mountain bikers like 2004 World Cup champ Chris Sauser, Athens Olympics dual gold medalist Hicham El-Guerrouj and Australian cyclist Cadel Evans.
"I have worked on several occasions with Lance Armstrong since October 2002," Nave told L'Equipe. "At that time he had already won the Tour four times. We met in San Francisco and he had a nutritional consultation. So there is nothing to hide in all this, and it is always interesting for me to work with people like Armstrong."
As of now, Annecy prosecutor Drouet is just beginning his preliminary investigation on the LA Confidentiel allegations and only after it's ascertained whether there is enough evidence can a formal investigation against Armstrong be pursued by the French judiciary.
Three ex-pros involved in doping ring
In the case of the uncovered doping network involving 24 arrested persons in Belgium and South-Western France, the French press has revealed that former professional rider Laurent Roux is amongst those detained by the police, as well as his brother Fabien. Newspaper La Dernière Heure also reported Eddy Lembo being amongst those arrested. Lembo had been riding for MrBookmaker.com in 2004, but his contract ran out and the 24 year-old is currently without a team. Laurent Roux, 32, had to end his career in 2003 after testing positive for amphetamines twice. Both of them will remain in custody for further investigations.
On the Belgian side, 1988-1990 pro Jean-Marie Vernie is also implicated in the affair, as he was also one of those arrested in the French city of Cahors, as well as a former soigneur of the Belgian team ADR in the late '80s, Freddy Sergeant. According to Belgian court sources, Vernie and Sergeant are alleged to be the men behind the drug trafficking in the two countries.
At the Cahors arrests, 93 vials of "pot belge", each containing 12 ml of heroine, cocaine and amphetamine mix were recovered, as well as more than €10,000 in cash. In the French cities of Marseille and Bordeaux, police agents seized 30 vials of the same kind but empty, as well as EPO, growth hormones and various types of medicine.
Lelangue positive about Phonak training camp
After the conclusion of the training camp on the Balearic island of Mallorca, Phonak's new team manager John Lelangue expressed his satisfaction with his riders on the team's website. "The current form of the team is very good. In some cases it is already at top level," he said.
The Phonak training camp was located 12 kilometres from the centre of Palma. "We trained in two groups," Lelangue said. "The first formation included the riders who will be lining up for the Qatar Tour and the Classics. Riders whose initial targets are on the programme for April, May and June did their preparatory work in the second formation."
The Belgian put a particular emphasis on the dialogue with his riders. "The management crew held individual discussions with all 24 riders. Those meetings allowed personal wishes to be aired and priorities to be set. We for our part will try to take these into account as much as we possibly can," he said.
As the "new" Phonak team for 2005 counts three directeurs sportifs, Lelangue made it clear that hierarchy had been levelled out. "The three directeurs sportifs have equal authority and have significantly more say than was previously the case. There is no longer a permanently assigned racing group. Anyone can swap opinions and ideas with anyone else," he explained.
UCI names more Pro Continental teams
The International Cycling Union has officially announced the registration of the following teams as Professional Continental Teams within the European Tour circuit:
The Professional Cycling Council (PCC) has proceeded to the registration of the following Continental Professional Teams for the 2005 season:
Comunidad Valenciana (Spa)
The UCI also announced that it has entrusted the organisation of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for the years 2006-2010 to 23 Degrees Management S.L./Gestev Inc. company, that will take full management (research for partners and sites, implementation and management of the series) for the calendar. 23 Degrees Management is owned by Martin Whiteley, former Technical Delegate of the UCI and boss of the MTB World Cup in the mid '90s. The company has been organising top level mountain bike events for 15 years, including two World championships (Bromont 1992, Mont-Sainte-Anne 1998).
Heijdens-Ten Tusscher becomes MTB trade team
Dutch mountain bike team Heijdens-Ten Tusscher has received the UCI's trade team licence, making it an official UCI-MTB-team. On the occasion, Heijdens-Ten Tusscher had a team presentation in Enschede, Holland, where manager Ten Tusscher declared the team's goals for 2005. "We want to score at international races," he said, presenting the biggest talent on the team, 20 year-old Dane Jakob Fuglsang, who announced he wanted to be, "the best in Europe in two years."
Dutch riders Maarten Tjallingii and Erwin Bakker set their goals a little lower: both want to achieve a top 20 placing in the World Cup in 2005. The female riders on the team, Elsbeth Vink and Laurence Leboucher, will try to do well in the World Cup and the World championships in Livigno (Vink), Leboucher having the obvious goal of defending her Cyclo-Cross rainbow jersey at the end of January in Sankt Wendel, Germany. Other riders on the Heijdens-Ten Tusscher roster include Christian Poulsen of Denmark and the Dutch riders Maarten Krommendijk, Jordy Luisman and Marcel Groothuismink.
Irish head start into new season
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The profile of Irish cycling has been lifted this week by the exploits of David O’Loughlin and Ciaran Power of the American based Navigators Insurance team. They are presently in Australia competing in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, where O’Loughlin has found himself doing exceptionally well. The new kid on the block with this particular outfit is going in search of the King of the Mountains jersey.
Gearing themselves up for the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi are two of the seven-man squad who will compete in the race when it starts next Friday in Langkawi. David McCann and Paul Griffin are with the Giant Asia squad in the Tour of Siam in Thailand. Both are figuring well, which further adds spice to what they'll possibly achieve in Malaysia. Both McCann and Griffin proved their mettle last year in Malaysia and hopefully a repeat is on the cards. Also Griffin will be hoping for better luck as he suffered mechanical trouble on one of the stages, when he was up with the leaders as they scaled the heights before reaching the summit of Cameron Highlands.
Eugene Moriarty from Listowel, who got six top 15 placings last year against the world's elite, has missed the cut will have to watch from afar. The Irish lads, who lost their Hibernian Insurance sponsorship, will do battle over 10 days of racing, with the inclusion of the jewel in the 'crown', the ascension up to Genting over 6,000 feet above sea level, where many a cyclist's dream was shattered.
U.S. women attend track endurance camp
Several accomplished U.S. female cyclists who are better known for their accolades on the road will be attending an track endurance camp from January 23-29 in Carson, California. The camp, which will culminate with time trial competitions at the ADT Event Center velodrome, will prepare riders for the final opportunity to gain entry into USA Cycling's Track Talent Pool and thus be eligible for the World Championships in March.
Three-time U.S. National Time Trial Champion Kimberly Baldwin (nee Bruckner) (Boulder, Colo.), current national time trial champion and 2004 Olympian Christine Thorburn (Menlo Park, Calif.), two-time U.S. National Criterium Champions Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga.) and Laura Van Gilder (Pocono Pines, Pa.) and reigning national champion and 2004 U.S. Olympic Team member Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) are among the 12 athletes that are scheduled to attend.
The camp is part of an effort by USA Cycling to broaden the scope of its endurance track program. "The camp really marks the first step with regards to where we're going with our endurance track program", explained Pat McDonough, Director of Track Programs for USA Cycling. "Ultimately, we would like to include track cycling into an all-inclusive endurance plan that further develops the phenomenal athletic talents of our best athletes regardless if their primary discipline is road, mountain or track. Ideally, exposure to the track is something we would like to feature in all of our junior, U23 and women’s camps in the future."
As track cycling at the international level morphs into a winter sport, a stronger emphasis will be placed on grooming well-established endurance riders after the traditional competition season comes to a close in October. As McDonough explains, the real focus is on the 2006 track season and beyond. "We're off to a good start with this camp and we've had a tremendous response from many of our top women. Looking ahead, we really hope and expect to have greater depth in our endurance program as a result."
Also attending will be Rebecca Much (Chicago, Ill.), who introduced herself to the international cycling community last October with a silver medal in the junior women’s time trial at the World championships. Junior points race World champion in 2003, Larssyn Staley (Beaverton, Ore.), and domestic road pros Kathryn Curi (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Candice Blickem (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Lauren Franges (Barto, Pa.) and Kori Seehafer (Louisville, Colo.) will also take part as will U23 riders Brad Armstrong (Burleson, Texas), Steven Cozza (Petaluma, Calif.) and John Murphy (Marietta, Ga.).
The time trial event, scheduled for 11:00am on January 29, will include a 500 metre and three-kilometer time trial for the women and a one-kilometer and four-kilometer time trial for the men. Winning riders who meet the time standards set forth by USA Cycling will automatically qualify for the talent pool.
All USA Cycling members with a pro, category one, or category two road or track license are invited to compete. For more information and an event schedule, visit www.usacycling.org
Race Across America (RAAM) on TV this weekend
The Insight Race Across America has announced a two-hour NBC Sports airing of the 2004 edition on Saturday, January 22, 2005, at 14:30-16:30 EST (check listings for any local variations). Sports announcer Jim Lampley and his production company are responsible for getting RAAM back on network TV for the first time since 1986. Lampley was the announcer for the first five transcontinental bike races from 1982-1986 which made two-time winner Lon Haldeman a household name. Eric Heiden who helped announce one of those broadcasts will be returning to RAAM this year on a four-person team.
300 free entries for Junior Crossers at Sea Otter Classic
The Napa Sheriff’s Activities League (NSAL) and Sea Otter Classic, the most celebrated cycling festival in North America, announced today they will offer 300 complimentary entries to junior riders. There are 14 Junior Cross Country events for youths aged 18 and under. The 15th annual Sea Otter Classic, known throughout the cycling world as the "grand season opener", will be held this year on April 14-17 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California. Free entries are on a first-come, first-served basis and available only online at www.seaotterclassic.com
Nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes, amongst them 1,000-1,200 Junior riders and over 50,000 spectators will attend the four-day festival. The outdoor cycling tradeshow will host over 250 vendors who will exhibit the latest trends and technologies in road cycling, mountain biking and recreational products and services. Over 200 international media representatives will report on the competitive action in over 20 professional and amateur events, including the Pro Road Stage Race, the Pro Mountain Bike Stage Race, and the Pro Gravity Omnium.
Tsunami criteriums in Australia
Coburg cycling club is running a crit for the Asia Tsunami appeal (Oxfam). It is on Saturday, January 29, 2005 at the Campbellfield Circuit, a 1.70 km road kermesse circuit behind Ford Motors in Campbellfield Melways. A, B, C, D riders and beginners are all welcome. Day permits will be available for new riders. For further details, go to www.coburgcycling.com
On the same day, the Eastern Cycling Club in Melbourne is holding a benefit with all entry fees and on-the-day donations going to Care Australia's tsunami relief fund. The venue is at the METEC driver training circuit in Kilsyth, near the foot of Mt Dandenong. Details can be obtained at www.easternvets.com.
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