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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 2, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

McQuaid confirms Zorzoli as UCI source of Armstrong documents

By Gerard Knapp in Aigle, Switzerland

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: CN
(Click for larger image)

The president of the International Cycling Union, Pat McQuaid, has confirmed the UCI's chief medical officer, Dr Mario Zorzoli, as the source of the 15 documents that provided evidence for French sports newspaper L'Equipe to allege Lance Armstrong used EPO in the 1999 Tour de France. McQuaid said to Cyclingnews on Wednesday, March 1, when asked if Dr Zorzoli was the source of the documents, "he was, yes, unfortunately". Subsequently, Dr Zorzoli has stood aside from his position while an independent investigation continues.

Last August L'Equipe claimed that research being conducted by the anti-doping laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry had shown that urine samples from the 1999 Tour had indicated EPO use. The documentation of these urine samples included code numbers designating the rider who supplied them. By obtaining doping control forms from the UCI that matched the code numbers to an athlete's name - as the research was said to have been done without the knowledge of the riders' identities - L'Equipe claimed it could prove six of the samples came from the American Tour winner.

"We were always under the impression it was only one form," McQuaid said. "There is this confusion as to what happened when he [L'Equipe journalist Damien Ressiot - ed.] was here, but he must have given the guy the 15 copies," he said. McQuaid claims that Ressiot convinced the doctor that the aim of his article was to support Armstrong's claims that "he had been competing without the use of agents that were used for his cancer treatment. So, obviously, he gave him the information."

Previously, the UCI said it had showed the French journalist just one doping control form after Ressiot had requested access to the documentation, claiming he was trying to show that since returning to racing, Armstrong had never taken any medicine in relation with possible consequences of the cancer he had overcome.

However, in a meeting between WADA chairman Dick Pound and UCI vice-president Hein Verbruggen at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Pound informed Verbruggen that WADA had obtained copies of all 15 doping control forms signed by Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France and that those copies originated from the UCI.

When asked how WADA's chief had come into possession of these same forms, McQuaid said with a wry grin, "that's a very good question. It would seem that he [Pound] has his own sources, too."

McQuaid said it would not have been possible for Dr Zorzoli to realise the connection between the signed control forms from the 1999 TdF, and the research results of the laboratory. The tests were being done for research only, and "he wasn't aware of the results of those tests".

"The guy [Ressiot] was supposedly writing a particular story about (Armstrong) riding clean, so we knew the grounds on which he came here [to UCI headquarters]. It wasn't just us," McQuaid continued, "but it was also Lance Armstrong and his people who helped him."

McQuaid said the investigation into this affair by Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman, the former director of the National Anti Doping Agency in The Netherlands (NeCeDo), and his law firm Lamsma Veldstra & Lobé attorneys, is continuing, but he could not say when his findings would be presented to the UCI.

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Liberty and Cofidis for Paris-Nice

Liberty Seguros' team manager Manolo Saiz is sending a relatively young roster to the upcoming French "race to the sun", Paris-Nice. Alberto Contador, Andrey Kashechkin and Luis León Sánchez have been announced as the team leaders for the event, with Australian Allan Davis also lined up to battle it out in sprint finishes. Daniel Navarro, Sergio Paulinho and José Antonio Redondo round out the squad.

French team Cofidis will be looking to win the race's prologue - a 4.8 kilometre time trial in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris, home of the race organiser's headquarters. British rider Bradley Wiggins, Belgian Rik Verbrugghe and Sylvain Chavanel head the team's roster going into the event, as Colombian Ivan Parra and David Moncoutié will get into the action in the last, mountainous stages.

"Parra has been training well, so the week-end stages will be a test for him," said team manager Eric Boyer about the climber, who switched to Cofidis at the end of last season. Stéphane Augé, Thierry Marichal and Maxime Monfort will also take the start in Paris.

Taking place a few days later, the Italian stage race Tirreno Adriatico will see Italian Cofidis rider Leonardo Bertagnolli represent the team in France's neighbouring country. French men Jimmy Casper and Arnaud Coyot, who won the Classic Haribo, as well as Dutch rider Michiel Elijzen will be participating. Elijzen had fractured his kneecap in a crash at the Tour of Qatar at the end of January, but is ready to take up competition again.

Team CSC still chasing first 2006 victory

It won't be long until Team CSC will score its first race victory in the new season, as the Danish team has been up front in many events so far - but missing the number one podium step by a hair every time. At the 38th Memorial Samyn on Wednesday, January 1, a race previously known as Fayt-le-Franc and dating all the way back to 1967, it was the young CSC riders who provided some exposure for the squad: especially 21 year-old Matti Breschel.

"We did really well today and for a long time I had the feeling we'd take our first victory this year," said sports director Kim Andersen after the Belgian 1.1 race. "Matti was in a break more or less the entire day and Christian Müller and Martin Pedersen were also up front. Towards the end, Matti made the decisive break along with seven other riders, but one of the French teams was represented by four guys so it wasn't easy for us."

Finally, AG2R rider Renaud Dion made the decisive attack for his first professional victory at 28 years of age, and Breschel was second in the sprint behind Philippe Gilbert, who won Het Volk on Saturday. Despite the defeat, CSC director Andersen is hopeful for the next-up events. "All in all it was a good race and we definitely showed good form. Matti really impressed today and it looks promising for the oncoming cobble stone races," he said.

iShares to take over for Phonak?

Team Phonak's co-sponsor iShares is murmured to take the position of the squad's main sponsor at the end of 2006. Spanish outlet Marca reported that the American trade funds from Barclays Global Investors has until the month of June to make the decision whether or not they want to become the main backer of the team directed by John Lelangue.

Phonak Hearing Systems had initially wanted to terminate their sponsorship of the squad at the end of 2005, but decided to continue on for another year to allow the team management to find a new patron.

Lang riding on "every colour of the rainbow"

Gerolsteiner's Sebastian "Seppl" Lang certainly doesn't have the rainbow jersey, but the German can claim to have the colours. His lower left side "is resplendent with all the colours of a rainbow," he said on Thursday. "For a pro rider it's an annoying area, as we have to sit in the saddle all day..."

Lang took a spectacular fall in the last stage of the Tour of California, which his bike did not survive, but from which he fortunately emerged with only bruises. "I tried riding yesterday and it was still pretty painful, but today I'm on the rollers and it's going pretty well," continued Lang, who is hoping to start in Paris-Nice after losing out on just one day of training due to the long flight from California back to Europe.

"Paris-Nice starts on Sunday, and the riders from the other teams who were with us in California could have trained only one day more than myself - Wednesday. It's only a small comfort, but still good for morale," he said.

Looking back at the Tour of California, "Seppl" said, "With Levi's stage win and the leader's jersey, Gerolsteiner had to be very disciplined and work very hard. But after LL had to give away the leader's jersey, all of us in the team had the chance to really mess with the race. That's what we did, attacking over and over again, whenever we wanted. It was a lot of fun to keep the other teams busy like that. I'm very much looking forward to the next races."

The following Gerolsteiner boys will accompany Lang on the roads of Paris-Nice: Thorsten Hiekmann, Sven Montgomery, Volker Ordowski, Matthias Russ, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher and Markus Zberg.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Bianchi sponsors amateur team

Famous Italian bike manufacturer Bianchi will be the main sponsor of an Italian amateur team in 2006. The official presentation of Bianchi-Pennelli Cinghiale will be held on Saturday March 4, in Montecatini, Italy.

The GS Pennelli Cinghiale cycling team was founded in 1977 and collected a lot of victories, including European and World titles. Under the guidance of Roberto Moretti, the team climbed the highest step of the podium in the World Udace Championships in the Juniors and Veteran rankings last year.

Inaugural Tulsa Tough Ride and Race in June

The Tulsa Tough Ride and Race, is set to debut from June 2-4, 2006, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Local bike enthusiasts, the Tulsa Wheelmen and the Tulsa Sports Commission are handling the logistics for what will become an annual biking event.

The event will include a total of three races and two rides. The ride distances are designed to accommodate riders of all types and will range from 50 kilometres, up to 100 miles. The three days of racing include categories for everyone from beginners through professionals, and feature a total purse of $72,500.

The organisers are hoping to attract an increasing number of participants and spectators each year. "For this year’s event, we have a goal of 3,000 participants," said event director Malcolm McCollam. "Within five years, we think it’s realistic to expect that 10,000 cyclists will want to ride in Tulsa Tough."

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