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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for June 1, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Cipollini questioned over Armstrong-Simeoni affair

Recently retired Italian sprint star Mario Cipollini has been questioned by Italian police as part of the ongoing investigation into the incident between Lance Armstrong and Filippo Simeoni in last year's Tour de France.

Police wanted to talk to Cipollini because his team manager at Domina Vacanze in 2004, Vincenzo Santoni had told them that Armstrong had put pressure on Cipollini to stop Simeoni riding in the 2004 Tour.

"Cipollini was questioned for an hour but I cannot reveal details of what was said or anything regarding Cipollini's position in the investigation," police officer Pierluigi Lambardi told Reuters.

Italian police are investigating Armstrong for 'private violence' and intimidating a witness after he chased down Simeoni in stage 18 of the 2004 Tour. The bad blood between Armstrong and Simeoni stems from an Italian court case against Dr Michele Ferrari, who has acted as an advisor to Armstrong. Simeoni testified against Ferrari in a 2002 hearing, claiming that Ferrari had given him banned substances In 2003 Simeoni initiated defamation proceedings against Armstrong after Armstrong called him a liar in a French newspaper interview.

Ferrari was found guilty of sporting fraud and illegally acting as a pharmacist on October 1, 2004 but is appealing.

Filippo Simeoni now rides for the Continental Pro Naturino - Sapore di Mare team, run by Vincenzo Santoni.

IFEMA to sponsor Vuelta

IFEMA, the Madrid exhibition and convention park, has become the main sponsor for the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) in a deal announced yesterday by Vuelta organizer Unipublic.

IFEMA will sponsor the Vuelta's gold leader jersey, taking the spot equivalent to Credit Lyonnais' headline sponsorship of the Tour de France. IFEMA will therefore feature prominently on Vuelta banners, podium and ruder numbers.

CSC's American Tour - A special diary from the Wachovia week

The young CSC lads
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland
Click for larger image
There's more to professional racing than meets the eye. The closest the majority of spectators get to the action is at the start and finish of the races, or maybe even just watching it all on television and reading the race reports on the 'net and in the written press.

Cyclingnews' Sabine Sunderland was offered the unique opportunity to spend 11 days with the CSC team as the personnel and riders headed to America, where they will be at work in the CSC Invitational and the Wachovia race series. Join us this week for a look behind the scenes of what goes on before, during and after professional bike races.

The story starts in Belgium, more precisely Zaventem airport, at 9.30 am on Friday, May 27.

The first task on the team's program consisted of a two hour long stint in the departure hall, during which ten bike bags, seven suitcases, six toolboxes, six members of the CSC team and yours truly got checked in by helpful airport staff.

Young neo-pro Andy Schleck, Gavin and Joseph (the soigneurs), Magnus and Frank (the mechanics), Scott and myself settled in our not-so-comfortable economy class seats on the 767 of United Airlines flight 951. If any of us had hopes of getting a few hours sleep on our eight hour trip to Washington Dulles we had been too optimistic.

A group of fired-up marketing people of a certain sporting goods company decided to have their office party on board of the plane. They congregated right beside us in the aisle and consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in the shortest time-span. It was kept under control by the stewards but after warnings failed, the seat-belt sign was needed to restrain their movements throughout the plane. Being used to some commotion, Gavin and Joseph kept reading their books, not even remotely annoyed by their noisy neighbours.

Click here for the full first instalment.

Selle Italia wants ProTour

After Venezuelan climber Jose' Rujano stormed the Giro d'Italia podium last week, the question everyone was asking was, how could Selle Italia-Colombia, a Continental pro team, hope to hang on to a rider who was bound to attract offers from ProTour squads?

The team's answer is simple: become a ProTour squad. To that end, Selle Italia-Colombia has announced that it has applied to the UCI to be issued a ProTour license.

According to a team announcement, the application is part of a larger plan for the team which will allow it to build a strong team around Rujano for stage races, and put an Italian rider at the helm for one-day races.

Etxebarria leads Liberty at Euskal Bizikleta

David Etxebarria will lead the Liberty Seguros-Würth team in the Euskal Bizikleta stage race, which starts today in Eibar. Etxebarria won this event in 1999 and will head a strong team including Ángel Vicioso, winner of two stages of the 2004 edition.

This being a Spanish race, Liberty Seguros management says the team wants to make a good showing despite the race being sandwiched between two ProTour races, the Giro d'Italia and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, which starts June 5.

Directeur sportif Marino Lejaretta said he expects, "a race with short and nervous stages, very spectacular and difficult to control."

Etxebarria said he is a bit lacking in race preparation this year, but the race is in his native Basque country, and that is a major motivator. "My next objective in the Tour of Switzerland, but I always like to do well when I ride at home," said Etxebarria, "and even more so this time, as the time trial passes in front of my parents' house."

Etxebarria was fourth this past weekend at the GP Llodio, and expects the winner there to be a major contender. "As we saw in Llodio, David Herrero has a step up on everyone else. Then you have to look out for Barloworld with Astarloa, Arreitunaindia and Cárdenas, and Pascual Rodríguez's Comunidad Valenciana. For our part, Ángel Vicioso demonstrated in Llodio that he is very strong now, and though I'm not the strongest, I can have tactical opportunities and probably take advantage of a breakaway, because it's not always the strongest that wins there."

Liberty Seguros-Würth will field David Etxebarria, Ángel Vicioso, Carlos Barredo, Jesus Hernández, Dani Navarro, Luis León Sanchez, Giampaolo Caruso, and René Andrle.

Euskal Bizikleta stages

  • Stage 1 - June 1: Eibar - Sopelana, 164.8km
  • Stage 2 - June 2: Sopelana - Tolosa , 181.5km
  • Stage 3 - June 3: Tolosa - Strio. de Oro , 135.8km
  • Stage 4a - June 4: Murgia-Zuia - Abadiño , 89km
  • Stage 4b - June 4: Elorrio - Abadiño (Matiena) ITT , 13.7km
  • Stage 5 - June 5: Abadiño - Arrate (Eibar) , 154.8km

Fassa Bortolo & Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for Luxembourg

The Fassa Bortolo and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago teams have announced their squads for the Tour du Luxembourg, June 2-5. Fassa will field Andrus Aug, Lorenzo Bernucci, Fabian Cancellara, Claudio Corioni, Dario Frigo, Andrei Hauptman, Kim Kirchen, and Alberto Ongarato.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will field Maxime Monfort, Nico Sijmens, Yurgen Van de Walle, Ludo Dierckxsens, Sven Renders, Thierry De Groote, Steve Cummings, and Sergey Lagutin.

RAGT-Semences for GP Schwarzwald

Emilien-Benoît Bergès (R.A.G.T Semences)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews
Click for larger image
The RAGT-Semences has announced its line-up for the GP Schwarzwald, June 4. The team will field Guillaume Auger, Emilien-Benoît Bergès, Xavier Hérinne, Olivier Kaisen, Benjamin Levecot, Guillaume Lernould, and Eddy Seigneur.

Despite its rather startling lack of success over the last couple of years, RAGT Semences continues to pump out cheerfully upbeat team statements. The latest source of optimism at the team is young rider Emilien-Benoît Bergès who finished sixth in the time trial stage of the Tour of Belgium last week, not a bad result for a 22-year-old neo pro.

That performance has earned the youngster a place on the French Espoirs team at the Mediterranean Games, June 26 to July 3. It's not the first time he's worn French team colours, though. Being selected was, "not really that much of a surprise for me," said Bergès. "I've carried squad colours for the past four years and am on excellent terms with [team manager] Bernard Bourreau with whom I have always remained in contact. At the start of the season, we had already talked about this. That's been taken care of with the 6th place in the time trials in the Tour de Belgique."

Beyond the Mediterranean Games, where the team simply aims, "to do our best," Bergès is hoping to carry on performing well in time trials, taking a leaf out of the book of team-mate Eddy Seigneur whose victory in the 2004 French national time trial championships was one of the team's few wins last year.

"I'd like to put on a good performance in the French time trial championships," said Bergès. "Why not aim to finish in the top five? I've spoken to Eddy Seigneur about it quite a lot within RAGT Semences. He's given me advice and that reassures me in my determination."

Fothen to ride LuK-Challenge

Organisers of the LuK-Challenge two-man time trial (Germany, July 30) have announced that Gerolsteiner's Markus Fothen will take part in this year's edition, paired with team-mate Sebastian Lang. Finishing 12th on general classification, Fothen was one of the best young riders in this year's Giro and was tipped by the Italian press as a rider to watch for the future.

The LuK-Challenge is traditionally a post-Tour festival, but it remains to be seen whether Fothen will bring Tour de France legs to the 74.2km time trial. "Perhaps I will try and help the team for ten days, especially in the team time trial, and then probably drop out," he told Radsport magazine.

Fothen will be joined in the LuK-Challenge by team-mate and time trial specialist Michael Rich, who was a surprise overall winner of the Bayern Rundfahrt which finished Sunday. Rich is expected to be paired with usual partner Uwe Peschel.

T-Mobile's Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov put Rich under considerable pressure in the Bayern Rundfahrt and will be looking to do the same again when they pair up for the LuK-Challenge.

Memorial Marco Pantani this weekend

Over seventy riders have confirmed their intention to race the second Memorial Marco Pantani in Cesenatico, Saturday June 4, organisers have announced.

The race will start at 14:30 at the Cesenatico Tourist Centre with a neutral section stopping at the cemetery where Pantani is buried before racing starts at the Piazza Marconi.

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