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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 14, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

A longer wait for Hamilton

Phonak may take him back if innocent

Tyler Hamilton's future as a professional cyclist is still uncertain, as the outcome of his US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) arbitration hearing has not been determined. The hearing took place in Denver, Colorado between February 27 and March 2, but according to Hamilton on his website (, the case has still not been closed.

"Normally a case closes when the hearing ends," wrote Hamilton in his latest update. "However, my case was fairly complicated given the amount of testimony provided. So, for a number of reasons, it is still officially open. Once it closes, the arbitrators will have ten days to write an opinion. It's difficult to wait, but I appreciate that the panel is taking its time to evaluate all sides and give careful consideration to the testimony. There is an awful lot at stake." When contacted by Cyclingnews, the USADA would not comment about a possible date of the Hamilton verdict.

Hamilton further explained, "Five and a half months of research and effort went into those four days in Denver. And it was kind of liberating to be able to speak freely about what I've faced in that time period. Even if it was a closed proceeding and there were only a handful of people in the room. It felt good to finally be heard."

There was some more positive news for the American from his former team, Phonak Hearing Systems, which said that it would not rule out taking him back if he was found innocent. Before the final stage of Paris-Nice on Sunday, Phonak's team patron Andy Rihs was quoted by Procycling as saying, "We don't know the verdict yet so we can't comment...but if Hamilton was proved innocent we would certainly be open to discussion with him." Rihs added that it would be up to the new team manager, John Lelangue, to make any decision regarding Hamilton's re-hiring.

Last year, Phonak set up an independent scientific panel to look into the validity of the test that found Hamilton and teammate Santiago Perez positive for homologous blood doping. Rihs said that the panel has yet to release its findings. "To my mind, you can only apply a test when it has been validated, and this method hasn't been validated," he said. "Our commission only received the information it needed in January. We expect them to report back soon."

Phonak takes stock after Paris-Nice

The Phonak Hearing Systems team finished Paris-Nice with Slovenian Tadej Valjavec the best placed on GC in 29th at 5'33 down. It was a less than inspirational result in itself, but team manager John Lelangue described himself as "satisfied" with the team's performance last week. "I knew that we didn't have any favourites for the overall win at this demanding test. That's why we had our sights on partial successes. In addition, we wanted to develop strategy and tactics and implement them well."

Lelangue blamed bad luck for the team's lack of results. "After a good ninth place finish for Oscar Pereiro in the prologue, luck wasn't very sweet to us in the various other situations." In the first stage, Pereiro lost time due to the big crash near the end of the stage, effectively ending his GC chances. Miguel Martin Perdiguero was also involved in the crash, and, "Due to severe abdominal pains as a result of the injuries caused by the fall, he wasn't able to take part in the sixth stage."

The loss of Robert Hunter was especially painful for Lelangue. "Of all the aces, the one that gave us our two previous victories had to have a wound on his right elbow sewn up as a result of a bad collision. The South African sprinter, who should have been the team leader, surely would have pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for us in the three sprint finishes."

On the up side, Lelangue praised Nicolas Jalabert for his fighting spirit. "The breakaway with Camano and Portal during the fourth stage at least brought him a decent result as the fifth-place finisher. With a little more racing luck he would've been up there on the podium. He demonstrated his positive attitude by trying his luck again on the very next day, and he had another great performance in the King's Stage."

Lelangue paid credit to Floyd Landis, Tadej Valjavec and Victor Hugo Peña. "If the attacks by Peña hadn't been countered, he also would have shown himself at his best. Landis was a co-initiator of the big breakaway during the third stage. Pereiro was impressive on the final day with the convincing way he kept up.

"Saturday we have another opportunity to show our strengths at Milan-San Remo. I could convince myself that the team has a great basis. Various aces have the say in that. They all know that they have to bear responsibility."

Van Petegem to skip Milan-San Remo

Steels also in doubt

Belgian classics specialist Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) will not race this Saturday's Milan-San Remo, according to reports in the Belgian press. "I want to concentrate on the Flemish races," said Van Petegem. "I made the decision on the first day of Tirreno-Adriatico. I feel good enough, but not super. And we all know how Milan-San Remo will finish: with a sprint."

Van Petegem added that he thought his decision was "not illogical...The Flemish classics suit me more and it is in these races that I want to be at my best." The closest Van Petegem has finished to the podium in Milan-San Remo is 7th, in both 1998 and 1999.

His Davitamon-Lotto teammate Tom Steels will also likely miss La Primavera. "The chance is great, yes, but we'll wait a bit longer," said team manager Marc Sergeant. "On Tuesday evening we'll decide who does and who doesn't start. Tom Steels has sharpened his condition in Tirreno-Adriatico, but Milan-San Remo is probably a bit too soon."

Davis and Vicioso lead Liberty for MSR

Sprinters Allan Davis and Angel Vicioso will lead the Liberty Seguros-Wurth team for this Saturday's Milan-San Remo, which will be the biggest one day race of the season to date. Although the team will not be confirmed until Thursday, team manager Manolo Saiz has announced that Davis and Vicioso will probably be supported by Jörg Jaksche (5th in Paris-Nice), Giampaolo Caruso, Michele Scarponi, Sergio Paulinho, Igor González de Galdeano and Carlos Barredo.

The last two riders are uncertain at the moment: Igor's abandon in Paris-Nice was not a good sign for MSR, and Barredo is in the final stages of recovery from a respiratory problem. As replacements, Saiz is considering Aaron Kemps, who rode very well in France, and Jan Hruska, who is doing the same in Italy.

If picked, Kemps could be a valuable ally for Davis, as the pair are good friends and live 100 metres from each other in Bundaberg, Australia (in the off-season, at least). "We train together all the time in Bundaberg," Kemps told Cyclingnews on Sunday. "I'm working for the team and I'm very happy with that."

Kemps finished third in Saturday's sixth stage of Paris-Nice after having been in the break all day. "It was planned to breakaway [on Saturday] and I was lucky. I couldn't go with them in that last move. I can't ask for much more: I got third today and fourth earlier in the week. It's been great.

"I'm trying to learn as much as I can. This year is an experience year. If I have a chance to get away, I'll take it. I want to improve my climbing - I want to be like Zabel," he smiled.

Liberty's Paris-Nice riders (Jaksche, González de Galdeano and/or Kemps) will travel to Italy this Thursday to join their teammates who are currently racing in Tirreno-Adriatico. Allan Davis is training at his European home in Oiarzun in Spain at the moment, and will also go to Italy on Thursday.

Heras starts in Setmana Catalana

The Liberty Seguros-Würth team will front up in the Setmana Catalana (March 21-25) with Roberto Heras, who will be riding his first race of 2005. The Bejarano will lead a team that will include Joseba Beloki, Nuno Ribeiro, Alberto Contador, Koldo Gil, Dariusz Baranowski, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and maybe Michele Scarponi.

Renato Di Rocco elected new FCI president

Renato Di Rocco (59) has been elected the new president of the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) for the next four years. The director of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) received 209 votes against Marco Toni's 160 and Simone Molinaroli's 6. "I am happy with this mandate, but the difficult work starts now," said Di Rocco in his acceptance speech. "The people have asked for a Federation that is united and credible, and I will work to achieve this."

The remainder of FCI's council was also determined: Davide D'Alto, Dino Sechi and Giovanni Duci (vice presidents); D'Agrò, Pozzani, Riva, Baratto, Guzzi (delegates); Daniela Fusar Poli, Alessandra Cappellotto and Marco Pinotti (athletes representatives); and Daniela Isetti (team representative).

Lampre-Caffita gets cold meat sponsor

The Lampre-Caffita team will not have to worry about running out of cold meats and salami this year, after inking a deal with the Raspini company, which will become the team's official supplier of these products. "For us it is a great pleasure to have this company Raspini as a partner for this year's season, a company which has always been looked after by one family, that of Mr. Umberto, who says that they are just as proud to be dealing with this team. Cycling is a popular sport and the need for our healthy salami and cold meats is always there," said the team in a statement.

Raspini said there was "a very positive feeling after last year's Giro d'Italia," where the company was an official partner of the race, and will continue to be so this year. It has now decided to take things one step further and get more involved in cycling by sponsoring a team.

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