First Edition Cycling News for January 24, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams
Museeuw admits to dishonesty, resigns from Quick Step
By Brecht Decaluwé
Quick Step-Innergetic's public relations officer Johan Museeuw has confessed to not being "100 per cent honest" during the final year of his cycling career, in what is generally being interpreted as an admission to doping. Although not being specific about his methods, Museeuw announced his resignation from the team effective immediately at a press conference called in Kortrijk. The revelation follows on from the controversy caused by a series of articles run in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws yesterday which allege that Quick Step-Innergetic's Patrick Lefevere has had '30 years in doping'.
"I wanted to end my career in style, that's why I did things which were wrong," the 1996 world champion said during the press conference. "During the preparation of some important races I didn't always play the game 100 per cent honest."
According to Museeuw's lawyer, Jozef Lievens, there was an occasional training partner of the former world champion, Wouter Vandenhaute, who sent an email to Jean-Marie Dedecker - a notorious anti-doping crusader - which was leaked to Het Laatste Nieuws. "Not all the stories which are circulating are correct," noted Museeuw. "But what Wouter Vandenhaute wrote in a mail, is correct in big lines."
In 2004 Museeuw almost won Paris-Roubaix until a flat tyre shattered his hopes for a fourth victory at the event.
Besides the world championship title in Lugano the Lion of Flanders has won eleven classics in the former World Cup and was enormously popular in Flanders, hence the nickname. His popularity dropped when he was found guilty for his involvement in the Landuyt affair by the Belgian Cycling Federation and banned from the sport for two years based on SMS traffic between Museeuw and his doctor.
In 2005 the judicial authorities sent Museeuw to court for the possession of drugs, but there is still no verdict in this case.
The Belgian also commented on the Lefevere accusations, a story he calls, "a new sad highlight," in a dragging witch hunt. "But I realise that I added to all of this. I did things that weren't appropriate. I'll keep fighting for a clean sport but I can't put right what has been done," Museeuw said.
The former champion ended with an appeal: he hopes the media will stop smearing the sport of cycling.
"I have taken enough insults in the past," Museeuw concluded, requesting that the media now leave he and his family alone.
Lefevere rebuts, plans massive lawsuit
Embattled Quick Step director Patrick Lefevere has officially responded to allegations made by Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, announcing his planned course of action, while Belgian sources are reporting a massive lawsuit has already been filed by Lefevere. The statement, released through Quick Step's PR manager Alessandro Tegner, is as follows:
Following the series of article published by the paper, titled "Patrick Lefevere, 30 years of doping", Belgian news outlets have reported that a lawsuit against the paper has already been filed, with some reporting a damages claim of a whopping €50,000,000.
More on Het Laatste Nieuws' articles - why now?
When Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws published allegations of doping against Quick Step-Innergetic director Patrick Lefevere yesterday, they certainly didn't spare any space. In addition to the front page, the publication also allowed for three full pages in the sports section for the articles, which were full of confessions from largely unnamed sources.
As stated previously, the only two sources to go on-the-record was a convicted criminal who rode with Lefevere in the '70s, and a race organiser who could only point to one incident in the late '90s.
So why did Het Laatste Nieuws go after arguably Belgian cycling's most influential figure? It started the reporting by explaining how the reporters found their way to the sources. They claim that since Opéracion Puerto broke mid last year, Lefevere was under fire after he took a rigid position against riders implicated in the affair.
Lefevere was quoted at the time as saying: "the criminals [have] got to get out of the sport!". But riders reacted by saying that Lefevere was being hypocritical, while Ivan Basso said that Lefevere shouldn't pretend he was more holy than the Pope himself. Het Laatste Nieuws states that they received numerous reactions from people with more stern comments on Lefevere, but didn't name those sources.
It's been an interesting month in Belgian cycling. Late last year, the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT), presided over by Lefevere, threatened to exclude Discovery Channel, managed by his arch-rival Johan Bruyneel, as well as Manolo Saiz, from this association of pro cycling teams (see report). It was a significant and symbolic gesture, while somewhat meaningless, in that the IPCT didn't go through with the threat, but it was one of the rare times that pro teams had broken ranks to openly criticise each other.
As it turned out, the strong stance taken in the IPCT meeting was not followed through and one month later it agreed to allow Discovery to remain in the IPCT. It seemed that while the IPCT had developed a new, de-facto 'zero tolerance' policy towards riders implicated in Opéracion Puerto, it didn't go through with its actions.
As a sidebar, Discovery was potentially placed in situation where it may have hired a potential future Tour de France winner in Ivan Basso, but he could be prevented from riding in July's big event. The ASO hinted at OP-implicated riders being excluded from its events on January 15, when race director Christian Prudhomme spoke (see story) at the launch of the T-Mobile squad for 2007. (This is not to imply there is any connection between the those events of the past month and the series of newspaper articles.)
The newspaper said it bundled together all the independent doping stories from its sources. While the informants didn't deny their own wrongdoings, it was clear the recurring person was Patrick Lefevere.
In one of the articles Het Laatste Nieuws referred to a quote from Lefevere from 2000 where he stated he'd rather swallow his tongue rather than tell a lie. They also refer to Lefevere quoting: "potential sponsors know my deontology" (values) .
The newspaper ended its opening story with an old prediction from Lefevere: "the next generation of riders will squeal (on) the doped riders." Het Laatste Nieuws adds: "apparently also the current cycling generation is sick of the omerta."
'Doctor 1' and others
Another of the anonymous sources in Het Laatste Nieuws, 'Doctor 1', spoke about the situation with the pro team Domo, which was followed by Quick Step. "Nothing has changed!" 'Doctor 1' claimed.
Another incident was recounted of when rider Marc Lotz was fired by Lefevere when police found EPO in his house. "Lotz had a good contract but didn't bring any results," 'Doctor 1' explained. "By the end of May 2005 Lotz was sent home by Lefevere to prepare himself for the Tour, which means training and taking EPO out of competition, so he wouldn't be confronted with race controls. Lotz listened to Lefevere and started his treatment. Three days later judicial authorities entered his house. They were tipped off by a phone call. In Lotz' contract was a line that said the contract was over when drugs were (found in his) in possession. Lotz was in trouble, while Lefevere got rid of an expensive contract. It's a perfect example from Lefevere's methods," 'Doctor 1' alleges. Last week Marc Lotz signed a contract with the Continental Löwik Meubelen team.
HLN acknowledges that these claims are not proven, but comments on how Lefevere accused Discovery Channel for hiring Basso, while he hired people who could not claim to being completely beyond suspicion in regard to the doping cases.
Big changes at Wiesenhof
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Wiesenhof-Felt has joined the ranks of teams making major changes for the 2007 season, introducing new sponsors, headquarters and many new riders. The team introduces all of the new aspects at its team presentation Tuesday in Karlsruhe, Germany.
"Wiesenhof is going into its seventh year of competition with its professional cycling team. The past seaosn was without doubt the most successful in the team's history. We hope to duplicate those successes this year, and that the 'seven-year itch' will work to our advantage," said Dr Ingo Stryck, marketing director for the sponsor Wiesenhof.
Nearly two-thirds of the team is new, 10 of 16 riders. The biggest name newcomer is Steffen Wesemann, who won the Ronde von Vlaanderen in 2004 and won the Peace Race overall title five times. He will lead the team in the Spring Classics, and the professional continental team already has invititations for the Ronde von Vlaanderen and Amstel Gold. It will also appear in the German races Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, the Deutschland Tour, Rund um den Henninger Turm and Rund um Köln.
Wesemann is joined by former T-Mobile teammates Olaf Pollack, Jörg Ludewig, and Bas Giling. Pollack will be the team's new number one sprinter, in place of Gerald Ciolek, who took Pollack's place at T-Mobile this season.
"I'm sure that we will be able to ride along with the best, with our world-class riders and rising young talents," said Sport Director Jens Heppner. "The guys have the potential and will bring in some wins for us."
The new name co-sponsor is also the team's new bike supplier, FELT. "For the first time, we are providing a professional German team with our bikes," said Marketing Director Stefan Scheitz. "We hope for feedback from this cooperation, but on the other hand, we are also looking forward already to the successes of our top riders." Another new sponsor is the Messe Karlsruhe, the city's convention center.
The team also moved its headquarters to Karlsruhe. "Cycling and Karlsruhe go together, said mayor Harald Denecken. And for a very good reason: "Karl Drais, the inventor of the bicycle, comes from our city."
For the full roster and transfer information, see the 2007 Cyclingnews' teams database.
Teutenberg going for World Cup wins
By Shane Stokes
T-Mobile rider Ina Yoko Teutenberg has said that she is to target World Cup wins again this season, having taking victories in Geelong and Rotterdam last year.
"The World Cups are the target," she told Cyclingnews at the team training camp in Cala Serena, Mallorca. "I can do well there. I am probably going to be fit early in the year and I will try to hold form until the Giro, then take little bit of a break before doing the second part of the season. I would like to win Philadelphia again."
Teutenberg and the ten other riders on the women's team underwent low heart-rate endurance training on the camp, as well as doing a lot of core bodywork in the gym. She said that she is satisfied with how things went.
"It was a bit busy at the start but it was good. It was fun. It was pretty much the same as last year, although for me, it wasn't as stressful this time. I think the atmosphere amongst the girls is better this year, so it has been more fun. That's probably due to the new faces, and the fact that the girls are very motivated."
After a quick trip back to Germany, the 32 year-old was due to fly out to Australia on Sunday, and will continue her pre-season preparations there. "I will keep taking things easy for now and then closer to the Geelong World Cup race I will go on probably one bunch ride a week, which is really intense. It is pretty much a bike race. Apart from that, I will still do lots of endurance.
"The Geelong Tour gives a good three days to build race fitness for the World Cups. That worked out really well last year so hopefully it will be the same again this time round."
Teutenberg finished second behind Nicole Cooke in the 2006 World Cup, with 311 points to Cooke's title winning 473 points.
A full interview with Ina Yoko Teutenberg will appear soon on Cyclingnews.
Ludewig: Everyone is motivated
Team Wiesenhof-Felt's three-week training camp on Mallorca was a great success according to Jörg Ludewig. "In those three weeks we became a tightly-knit group," he noted. "Everyone is motivated, everyone gives their all, everyone supports each other. We'll be able to accomplish a lot with this kind of team spirit."
The German rider joined the professional continental team after spending a year with Team T-Mobile. "Mallorca was great," he said. "You get a good mood immediately from that super weather and the spring-like temperatures."
The riders weren't there for vacation, though, putting in 3340 kilometers during their stay. "You can't compare that to the winter training at home by us in Germany," added Ludewig. "With that kind of mileage you can really feel how you improve every day."
Ludewig, 32, shared a room with former T-Mobile teammate Steffen Wesemann. "Although we've both been on the cycling circuit for a number of years and were together at T-Mobile last year, I've gotten to know 'Wese' all over again in these days," Ludewig said. "It's good for the mood in the team, when the 'old hands' like 'Wese', Olaf Pollack and i can fulfill our leadership role for the younger riders on the one hand, but at the same time can help bring an easy-going and relaxed mood." SW
Milram for Qatar
Alessandro Petacchi and his new "train" will be testing themselves in one of the first race of the season. The team announced its line-up for the Tour of Qatar, noting that: "the main thing for Team Milram is to prepare the sprint finishes for Alessandro Petacchi."
The Tour of Qatar starts Sunday, January 28, with a 6 km team time trial.
Team Milram's Qatar roster:
DFL-Cyclingnews announce program
The DFL-Cyclingnews team received an attractive program for the Spring classics. Team leader Nico Mattan will start his season on February 14 in the Tour du Mediteranée; afterwards the 35 year-old will guide his new teammates towards the Belgian opening weekend (Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne) on March 3 - 4.
DFL-Cyclingnews' program then continues with the GP Samyn, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, E3-prijs Harelbeke, Driedaagse De Panne/Koksijde and concludes with the ProTour race Gent-Wevelgem. BD
USA Cycling to fund centers of excellence
USA Cycling has announced that it will award eight cash grants to regional athlete development programs to aid the development of young cyclists through its Center of Excellence program. The grants are funded by the USA Cycling Development Foundation and have been awarded to non-profit organisations with the ability to produce cyclists fit for international competition. Among the recipients are several first-time winners alongside some more established programs.
The Lehigh Wheelmen Future Champions of Pennsylvania has produced high-calibre cyclists over the past three decades including those winning national titles, Pan American Championships and Olympic medals. The club hosts 10 races each seasons and provides training and support to junior riders.
Another repeat winner, Rad Racing of Olympia, will continue to expand its programs for junior and under 23 riders in the Seattle area. In 2006 Rad Racing sent riders to national championships in road, mountain bike and cyclo-cross, winning one national title and eight medals.
Other programs receiving grants are the Northern California High School Mountain Bike League, the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA, the Orlando Road Club, XXX Racing in Chicago, the Vermont-based Team Bliss and the Des Moines Cycle Club.
Sharp to head USAC junior development
USA Cycling has named Ben Sharp as its Junior Endurance Program Manager responsible for the junior road program and national team selection. Sharp, an eight-time US national champion, has previously served as head cycling coach at the University of Indiana as well as director of operations for Cadence Cycling & Multisport Centers in Philadelphia.
"As a former school teacher and elite cyclist, I hope to encourage participation in the sport and create an environment where every Junior National Team member will be able to flourish," said Sharp. "A smooth transition into the U23 program is the mid-term sporting goal for most of the athletes, so I hope to arm them with the tools vital to surviving and prospering in the program."
Before guiding other athletes, Sharp had his own success in cycling, winning the 2001 US criterium championship plus eight collegiate national titles on the track.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)