Latest Cycling News for June 29, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Phonak aiming high
Team Phonak has selected a strong line-up for the Tour de France, which begins in Fromentine this Saturday, July 2. The team has plenty of options for both stage wins and the overall classification, headed by two time stage winner Santiago Botero.
"After a good season so far, I also want to have a strong performance at the Tour de France," said Botero. "My goal is to claim some podium spots. A third stage win is the dream of my sixth Tour. To climb up on the podium at the Tour de France is always an incredible experience. It's going to be a hard race once again. My favourite for the overall win is clear: Lance Armstrong will be the winner in Paris for the seventh time."
Floyd Landis is keeping his options open, and hopes he can ride for the GC. "It's every rider's dream to win the Tour de France - mine as well," said Landis, who also tipped his former captain Armstrong for the overall. "Victory this year will probably go to Lance Armstrong again.
"Actually, I came to Phonak as a helper. Now I'm one of the leaders. I needed some time to get used to the new role. But it's not bad. We trained two weeks on Tour de France routes. We know that the second part of the course will be very difficult. But our Phonak team has a lot of good riders. Therefore, we have several options for a top result."
Spaniard Oscar Pereiro said, "I want to improve on my 10th place finish last year in the general classification. Nevertheless, I'm putting all my energy completely behind the team. I want one of the Phonak riders to be standing on the podium in Paris. Personally, I have my eyes set on a stage win."
Swiss rider Alexandre Moos is the only member of the Phonak team who is participating in the Tour de France for the first time. He has already completed two tours, the Giro and the Vuelta. But he has respect for the Tour de France, and the 33 year-old will ride completely in the service of the team.
Team Manager John Lelangue commented, "Alexandre Moos can be very helpful for the three Phonak captains, Floyd Landis, Santiago Botero and Oscar Pereiro, during the entire Tour de France. He's a good team player." If the opportunity arises, of course the Swiss rider also wants to have a good finish. Why not a stage win?"
Lelangue also spoke about his captains: "[Botero] could find his way back to victory this season after a two-year drought marked by viral infections. At the moment, Botero is one of the best climbers, and he can also attack on flat courses and perform well in time trials. If he rides this year's Tour de France as well as he did three years ago, he's sure to have a top finish."
Floyd Landis is "in good shape," according to Lelangue. "His strengths lie both in time trials as well as in the mountains. Floyd Landis is an all-round rider and a very good captain. He was a teammate of Lance Armstrong for the past three years. Now he has the chance to put his own ideas into action. I'm very optimistic that he will have a very good Tour de France.
"Oscar Pereiro was able to gather Tour de France experience last year and even finished in 10th place in his premiere. He's still young, and I want to prepare him for the next couple of years. I'm convinced that he'll be up there on the podium in future."
Schumacher realises his mistake
By Susan Westemeyer and Jeff Jones
Shimano-Memory Corp rider Stefan Schumacher has now learned the difference between pseudoephedrine and norpseudoephedrine (cathine), after testing positive for the latter during the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt in May. The German rider told the Nürtinger Zeitung, "This has been the worst week of my life. But, I really am innocent."
According to the newspaper article, the test showed more than five micrograms per millilitre of cathine in his blood. Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, cathine is banned above this level. And although it is a metabolite of the restricted substance pseudoephedrine, generally the only way to exceed the 5 mcg/mL level is to ingest it directly.
Schumacher said that norpseudoephedrine is an ingredient of an allergy medicine that he was taking, and both he and his doctor believed that it was treated by WADA the same as pseudoephedrine, in that it had to be declared for therapeutic use. But that is not the case.
Schumacher faces a suspension of up to two years by the German cycling federation (BDR), as athletes are bound by a law of "strict liability" as far as doping substances are concerned. It's always the rider's responsibility to know what they are putting into their body. In this case, there appears to be no argument about the positive test or even how the cathine got there. It's up to the BDR to determine how severe the sanction should be. The USA Cycling Federation let Phil Zajicek off with a warning for a similar offence last year, although he was disqualified from his win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Schumacher has scheduled a press conference in Heidelberg on Thursday to explain his position.
By Susan Westemeyer
Raimondas Rumsas, third in the 2002 Tour de France, was arrested Wednesday in Lucca, Italy, under a European arrest warrant issued in relationship to the doping affair surrounding him and his wife, Edita. French lawyer Alexandre Varaut confirmed the arrest, and said that together with his Italian lawyer, he would "do everything to get him free." He will file an appeal of the arrest warrant in a court in Florence.
The European arrest warrant was issued at the request of a Judge in Vonneville, France, against Rumsas. It is related to the July 2002 doping affair, in which Edita Rumsas was arrested with a campervan full of drugs on her way home from the Tour de France. The trial on charges stemming from this affair is scheduled to start in October of this year. The European arrest warrant was issued to ensure that Rumsas and his wife, who are Lithuanian but live in Italy, would actually appear at the trial in France.
Rumsas won the Lithuanian time trial championship last weekend. He rides for the small Italian team Parkpre-Guru-Selle Italia, and has won several Gran Fondo races this year.
Vandenbroucke to appeal his fine
Frank Vandenbroucke believes that his recently meted out €250,000 fine for drug possession is too severe, and intends to appeal the fine to the Belgian Supreme Court in Brussels. "Frank has given the instruction to go to the Supreme Court," said one of his lawyers, Johnny Maeschalk to Het Nieuwsblad. Vandenbroucke added, "If necessary, I'll even go to the European Court of Human Rights."
Vandenbroucke was originally given a sentence of 200 hours community service after being found guilty of illegal drug possession by the court in Dendermonde, Belgium. He appealed that ruling on the grounds that he had already served a six month sporting ban (in Flanders only) and should not be further penalised. However, instead of reversing the decision, the Gent Court of Appeal came down harder and fined him €250,000, a sum that Frank found to be out of proportion to his crimes.
Vandenbroucke's former teammate Chris Peers is suggesting another approach, asking VDB's supporters to put in €1 each to try to raise the €250,000. In Belgium, it's quite common for a rider's support club and sponsor to do this when their man wins a race, meaning that their "winning bonus" is often far greater than the prize money for first place (with fairly predictable consequences).
"How we would do this exactly, I don't know yet," said Peers. "But why not a fundraising drive for 250,000 x 1 euro? I know that not everyone is behind him, but according to me, most of the public still support Frank." Peers said he would wait until the outcome of the latest appeal before choosing this action.
Buitenpoort-Flexpoint for women's Giro
The 16th edition of the Giro d'Italia femminile (women's Giro) starts on July 1 in San Vendemiano with a 1.7 km prologue, and finishes on July 10 in Milan. Dutch team Buitenpoort-Flexpoint is sending a strong line-up to compete in what is considered to be the most prestigious women's stage race in the world.
Led by Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, the team also features Tour de l'Aude winner Amber Neben, who will be able to help Melchers on the climbs, Sandra Rombouts, past World Champion Lada Kozliková, guest rider Christina Becker, and German sprinter Tanja Hennes, who has eight stage wins to her credit already this season.
Melchers-van Poppel finished fourth in the Giro last year, and is aiming to perform well on GC and win a stage this time around.
Big field for Six Days of the Roses
The 2005 edition of the 6 Giorni Delle Rose will take place between July 6-12 in Fiorenzuola, Italy, and will feature a large field of 170 riders from 15 countries. The start list includes the current Points Race World Champion Volodymyr Rybin (Ukr), 2004 European Madison Champion Iljo Keisse (Bel), who will be partnered by Matthew Gilmore (2000 Olympic silver medalist and 1998 Madison World Champion), Juan Curuchet and Walter Perez (Arg, 2004 Madison World Champions), Samuele Marzoli (2003 European Scratch Race Champion), and Marco Villa (2000 Olympic bronze medalist, past Madison World Champion). On the women's side, World Champion Vera Carrara, Giorgia Bronzini, Eleonora Soldo and 25 others will also compete.
Darren Kenny gunning for CP World's medals
British Paralympic cyclist Darren Kenny aims to add medals at the Cerebral Palsy World Championships to his list of achievements. The 35 year-old from Dorset is a member of the three-strong British cycling team who will compete at the CP World Championships in Connecticut, USA at the beginning of next month.
It will be the first time Darren has competed at the CP World Championships, where he lines up along with fellow CP 3 rider David Stone as well as CP 4 rider Rik Waddon in the GB team.
"We have been concentrating on making sure we're in the best possible shape and I'm feeling great," said Darren. "I have done for most of the year now. Everything is going to plan. We seem to be going pretty well at the moment, so we're pretty hopeful."
Darren hopes to get the opportunity to go head to head with his main rival Javier Otxoa at the CP World Champs after illness forced the Spaniard to miss the inaugural Visa Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May. "You can only beat people who turn up but it's always better if the best riders are there. I would rather he be there than not," said Darren.
Darren was one of Britain's best athletes at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, winning a personal tally of two gold medals and a silver, and setting a pair of world records in the process. He also was in good form at the inaugural Visa Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May, winning the CP3 200m time trial in a world record and also winning the CP3 3000m pursuit and 1km time trial finals. He and Rik Waddon, joined by Mark Bristow, also set a world record in the team sprint final.
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