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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again

First Edition Cycling News, November 22, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again

By Laura Weislo

Frankie Andreu
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz/Action Images
(Click for larger image)

A British newspaper could face legal action over an interview with Lance Armstrong which was published this week, Cyclingnews learned Friday. Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former teammate Frankie Andreu, felt the November 18 article published in The Guardian had labeled her as a liar, and has hired a lawyer in response.

In the interview, Armstrong responded to questions about the Andreus' testimony that they heard him admit to using banned substances during his treatment for cancer in 1996.

The article's author, Donald McRae, used the sentence, "Other people, apparently, also lied about Armstrong" directly preceding the discussion of the Andreus' deposition. The phrase followed a paragraph where Armstrong is asked if Emma O'Reilly, his former soigneur, had lied when she made claims that he had asked her to dispose of used syringes of EPO. The line has since been removed from The Guardian's online version of the interview.

Betsy Andreu's lawyer, Adam Paskoff, told Cyclingnews that they are "exploring legal options" against the newspaper. "What we object to are inferences that she had lied under oath."

"They responded to our complaints [by removing the line]," Paskoff said, "But we are still waiting to hear from the Guardian's legal department." He added that they find the use of the sentence in a story which is not an opinion piece to be libelous, and they are currently assessing potential damages from the article.

In 1996, Betsy and Frankie Andreu were present in a hospital conference room where Armstrong, having just had treatment for cancer, is alleged to have admitted to his doctors to taking banned doping products. Ten years later, the pair were called to testify under oath at a civil suit between Armstrong and SCA Promotions, an underwriter who was refusing to pay a $5 million bonus for his sixth Tour victory because of allegations Armstrong had used banned substances in order to win.

The Andreus testified at the hearing that they heard Armstrong admit to taking a list of substances: growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone to his doctors. In the same case, Armstrong's primary doctor submitted an affidavit that he had never seen any evidence that Armstrong admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs, and Armstrong himself denied having ever made such an admission. He won $7.5 million in the SCA lawsuit, although SCA maintained that this was only due to a poorly worded contract, and not because Armstrong had proven that he did not cheat.

In The Guardian interview, Armstrong recalls the lawsuit, saying of Betsy Andreu, "Her husband lived, trained and raced with me and he said, under oath, 'I have never seen Lance take performance-enhancing drugs'. But go online and, to this day, Betsy blogs 24 hours a day about me. If that ain't sick, what is?'"

The Andreus responded to those claims, strongly denying that Betsy had ever written a blog. "This kind of lazy, inaccurate and sloppy journalism has to stop," they told Cyclingnews, and clarified that both had testified under oath to hearing Armstrong admit to doping. "We are trying to protect ourselves because we are sick of being portrayed as liars. We told the truth in our testimonies."

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

LPR to make Ardennes push

By Gregor Brown

The LPR Brakes team amasses at the front.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team LPR Brakes is determined to start off the season with a powerful showing to insist on its place in northern Europe's Ardennes Classics. The Italy-based Professional Continental team of Danilo Di Luca and Alessandro Petacchi was unable to attend the races in 2008.

"I believe that LPR will have a good chance to race Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I am talking with [the organisers]. We have also put in place a biological passport programme so there won't be any of these types of problems," said Team Manager Fabio Bordonali to Cyclingnews.

Race organisers overlooked LPR for selection in this year's events despite having 2007 Liège champion Di Luca on the team. The Italian was involved in an investigation with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) leading up to the Ardennes Week.

"It was the problem based on the Zoncolan stage of the 2007 Giro. It finished well and he was cleared, and he raced the Giro d'Italia."

The team holds its first camp for the 2009 season at the end of this month in Brescia. Bordonali will meet with all the riders, particularly Alessandro Petacchi, who he will use to make an immediate impact.

"We will set up the programmes for the riders, like Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Di Luca, for 2009. For sure it will involve the Italian races, but there will also be the Tour Méditerranéen and other races for Alessandro. We want to start well with him, in the races that are suited to his characteristics and put wins on the board immediately.

"The important races will be Tirreno-Adriatico – Danilo for the classification and Petacchi for the stages – and Milano-Sanremo."

Petacchi joined the team halfway through this year after leaving Team Milram for an unrelated CONI investigation. He is the past winner of Milano-Sanremo and has seven stage wins in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Roberts weighing the team options for 2009

By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium

The changing from Marc Hester to Luke Roberts
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Luke Roberts is still weighing his options to ride for a team in 2009. Currently under contract for Kuota Senges, he may go back to a ProTour team. Roberts rode for CSC from 2005 to 2007.

Roberts is getting close to making a decision. "It may come as early as next week," he said to Cyclingnews. He confirmed that among the possible options is a ProTour team. "I think I can still ride at a high level." Keen on riding a few more of the big races, he said, "I did some nice races when I was with CSC, but there are also a lot of races that I didn't do."

In 2008, Roberts has been riding for Professional Continental team Kuota-Senges, a German-based team. It is the same squad that he used to race for before his CSC days, when it was called ComNet-Senges.

Roberts has special ties to Germany, for his wife is German. "I live in Germany most of the year, going back to Australia anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months per year." This year his trip home was the shorter two-week version. Roberts didn't want to spend too much time away from his pregnant wife, due in January.

Roberts gets the benefit of occasional family visits, too. "My mother was here a couple of times." That included a trip over from Down Under for his wedding last year.

Speed is king for Roberts

Roberts is doing well in Germany after making Kerpen, west of Cologne, his domicile, and a place well-known as the hometown of former Formula 1 racer Michael Schumacher. "I have a VIP ticket to the cart track," Roberts said with a smile. It is the track where Schumacher went to business before upgrading to bigger vehicles.

Roberts sticks to smaller, human-powered machines, but speed is important to him. He gets his rush on the track, such as the Six Days in Gent, where he is currently racing. "The track in Gent is special and the first time I saw it, it was really intimidating." But Roberts quickly learned the ropes.

It is his third time racing in Gent and he really enjoys it. "You have to stay very concentrated here, but it is also a lot of fun." That includes the constant hand-slings with a partner to get a speedy change. They are something with which experienced racers usually have no trouble, and Roberts typically doesn't think twice about them.

But a crash on the first day in the Milano Six Days made for a bruised rib and a lot of pain. His partner in Gent, Danish rider Marc Hesters, can chime with painful stories. He crashed in the team elimination race on the fourth night, leaving the Danish/Australian combination slightly crippled for the remainder of the race.

UIV cup in Gent becomes a crash fest

By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium

That is not how you want your fork to look.
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

The fourth night of the U23 UIV Cup at the Gent Six Days was marred by crashes. The most prominent rider going down was Stijn Steels, wearing the yellow leader's jersey. Jackie Simes also went down when his fork collapsed. Both were able to continue to race after a brief treatment. Steels and partner Tosh van der Sande retained their lead the overall one lap ahead of Americans Austin Carroll and Guy East.

Steels received treatment from the Stichting Service Medical, a non-profit Dutch medical service that is specialised in sports events, and he gave the thumbs up to some concerned spectators. "I have a few bruises, and a I hurt my ankle a bit." Otherwise, he was fine and the thought of stopping didn't cross his mind once. "We are racing in front of our crowd. I'd be stupid to stop."

Steels noted that the fourth night, with several crashes, was very different than the previous three nights. "We can be lucky that nothing happened the first three nights."

As for the crash itself, it happened so fast that Steels didn't recall the details. "I don't know what happened. I think I was going a little too fast at the hand over, and then I just couldn't go anywhere." He went down hard on the back straight.

Simes crashed due to a broken fork, and Steels felt bad for him. "That is a lot worse," he sympathized. Simes was OK, albeit a bit shaken after the traumatic experience, but like all the other crash victims of the event, he was able to continue racing.

The Stichting Service Medical, which is based in Limburg, Netherlands, counted a total of four crashes.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Bjorn Haake / Cyclingnews

More signings for Volksbank

Team Volksbank Corratec continues to firm up its squad for the 2009 season, announcing Friday the signing of Slovenian rider Matic Strgar and the extension for one-year with Alexander Gufler. The team will be known as Vorarlber-Corratec in the coming year.

Strgar, 26, turned pro in 2005 with Team Radenska. In 2006 he won the Trofeo Bianchin and a stage in the Tour of Slovakia. This year he finished third in the Trofeo Bianchin. "He is relatively unknown in the international scene, but he convinced me," said team manager Thomas Kofler.

Gufler, a 25-year-old Italian, extended his contract with the Austrian Professional Continental team for another year. He will "keep on learning and be helpful to the team," Kofler said.

Serrano happy to head to GM Bikes

By Monika Prell

Ricardo Serrano (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Photo ©: Ainara Hernando Nieva
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Ricardo Serrano González confirmed to Cyclingnews his signing of a new, one-year contract with GM Bikes, the former Scott-American Beef team headed by Joxean Fernández Matxin. He had been rumored to be joining the Maxtin's team.

The 30-year-old Serrano, who hails from Valladolid, penned the deal Wednesday after two years with the Italian-Russian team Tinkoff. 2008 was a trying season for Serrano, who suffered ongoing problems with his Achilles tendon. He then broke his collarbone in the Vuelta a España, a race where he was hoping to put in a performance that would help him extend his contract with the soon-to-be Katusha squad.

"After the Vuelta, they [Team Tinkoff] told me that they would extend my contract, that there were three free places on the team, but they did not call me. They didn't even tell me that they wouldn't extend my contact. I waited and waited, and it was difficult for me, because I didn't know if I would have a team for 2009."

"Even today, I've had no notice from Tinkoff," said Serrano, a bit surprised by the behaviour from his former team.

Serrano's career began in 2003 when he turned professional with the Cafés Baque team. In 2005 and 2006, he raced with the Kaiku team before moving to Tinkoff. GM Bikes will be his first Pro Tour team.

"I won't worry about that," he said. "I go about every race with the same motivation, and with Tinkoff, I already participated in ProTour races. I will get more experience, and I am motivated. I want to give my best, of course," said a happy Serrano, optimistic about his future prospects.

Bastianelli faces second operation

Marta Bastianelli (Italy)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian Marta Bastianelli faced her second surgery in one week's time to correct injuries resulting from a crash last Sunday. Doctors performed a two-hour intervention on her jaw which she fractured while training on roads near her home in Velletri, Italy.

"The impact was truly violent and the jaw literally exploded. ... We have placed new joints in titanium and found the right position," said Surgeon Domenico Scopellitti to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "If there are neuromuscular problems resulting from the mechanics of chewing, they can be resolved with physiotherapy."

The 2007 World Champion, currently suspended for doping, was on a training ride this week with other cyclists from her hometown, near Rome, when she crashed and landed on her face. She received 10 stitches, and had a first surgery the day of the incident.

Scopellitti estimated she will be able to return to training in one month.

Italy's anti-doping tribunal banned Bastianell for 12 months last month as a consequence of her positive control for an appetite suppressant. She will be able to return to racing August 6, when her suspension ends. (GB)

Griffin named Associate Director of US Paralympic Cycling High Performance

USA Cycling's Craig Griffin has been named Associate Director of Paralympic Cycling High Performance for US Paralympics, a division of the US Olympic Committee (USOC). Effective November 24, he will direct the training and preparation of cyclists on the US Paralympics National Team.

"Griffin brings a wealth of results and passion to our Paralympic cycling program," said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, US Olympic Committee according to the USOC website. "USA Cycling and the USOC are making a commitment that will allow Craig to focus 100% of his expertise to building Paralympic cycling in the US."

Griffin helped direct the team to winning 14 medals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing this summer. Specifically, he will identify and develop cycling talent. He will work with the American governing body of cycling to "build participation in Paralympic cycling competition through USA Cycling clubs and programs".

Griffin was a US National Team Coach for 11 years, and he also worked as Head Coach of the US Paralympics Cycling National Team since 2002.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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