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News for February 7, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

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US Postal investigation to collapse

The U.S. Postal Service team has withdrawn its cooperation in the French judicial inquiry into possible drug-taking by the team, meaning that it may cease without a verdict.

Team captain Lance Armstrong said the probe was unfair and had gone on too long. "For them to say we haven't helped is beyond a joke," Armstrong said in an interview with Darren Tulett of Bloomberg News.

Armstrong said that he wrote to the investigating judge a year ago offering to meet her "anytime, any place." She never took up the offer, he said.

The team did not provide Public Prosecutor Francois Franchy with their medical files this week, without which there can be no verdict. The team has already supplied riders' blood and urine samples, which have so far come up negative for illegal drugs.

"We can't force them to come so we're a bit stuck," Franchy said. "We haven't found any proof of drug-taking, but we wanted to cross-check our results with the medical files. We're not looking to sully anybody's reputation, but we're at an impasse."

The investigation was not aimed specifically at the U.S. Postal riders. It was opened against "persons unknown" and there was no-one formally charged with anything. Riders could only be witnesses, and not suspects. The team has therefore been able to cease its involvement in the affair.

Team manager Johan Bruyneel said "They've done a battery of examinations and come up with nothing. We have done enough. We are not ready to go on with this."

"They can't understand why the samples are clean," added Armstrong, who will start racing on March 6 in the Tour of Murcia in Spain. "Hard work, sacrifice and focus will never show up in tests."

The investigation was started in November 2000 by Judge Sophie-Helene Chateau, after allegations were made by a French TV program that U.S. Postal was involved in suspicious practices involving drugs. Bags allegedly used by the team in the 2000 Tour de France were filmed as they were being taken away from the hotel. Later analysis claimed that the bags contained swabs, compresses and pill packets.

Robert Hunter still ahead, but kudos goes to Graeme Brown

By Tommy Campbell in Maur-Johur Bahru
Click for larger image
Graeme Brown
Photo ©: Yuzuru Sanada
 

As anticipated there was no change to the overall standings after the sixth stage of Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi today after the cyclists crossed the finishing line in Johor Bahru.

The leader's jersey stays firmly on the back of the South African Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step), with an additional gain of six seconds on his closest pursuers, Hernan Dario Munoz from Colombia-Selle Italia and MickaŽl Pichon (Bonjour) from France. Each day there are bonuses for the intermediate sprints along the route of 3/2/1 seconds, and on the finishing line 10/6/4 seconds for the first three. So to date Robert has had three wins and two seconds that have contributed to his position of race leader

Click here for the full report

Teams for Paris-Nice

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has released its list of the 21 teams to participate in the upcoming 60th edition of Paris-Nice, March 10-17. The list is comprised entirely of Division I teams, including all seven French teams.

1 Fassa Bortolo
2 Team Telekom
3 Mapei - Quick Step
4 Lotto - Adecco
5 iBanesto.com
6 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
7 O.N.C.E .- Eroski
8 Domo-Farm Frites
9 Kelme
10 Tacconi Sport
11 Team CSC Tiscali
12 Euskaltel - Euskadi
13 Credit Agricole
14 Team Coast
15 Alessio
16 Ag2R Prevoyance
17 Jean Delatour
18 Bonjour
19 La Francaise Des Jeux
20 Phonak Hearing Systems
21 Big mat Auber.93

Hans De Clercq breaks hand

32 year old Lotto-Adecco rider Hans De Clercq was another victim of a fall in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise yesterday which saw Christophe Moreau break his collarbone. De Clercq fell and broke his left hand as well as suffering a deep head wound. He hopes to be back in the peloton by the end of MArch.

Van Santvliet to ride for Luxembourg?

It's sometimes hard being a Belgian cyclo-crosser when there are only limited places on the World Cup and World Championship teams. Peter Van Santvliet was on the first reserve list for last weekend's World's in Zolder, where he watched his teammates completely dominate the opposition.

He is hoping to ride in the World Cups next season, but to guarantee this he would have to ride for another country - the neighbouring Luxembourg for example. He will discuss it with his Spaar Select team manager Daems and the Luxembourg federation.

Campina to sponsor Olympia's Tour

The 50th edition of the Olympia's Tour in the Netherlands will go ahead as planned with a prologue in Almere on May 18. The nine day race has attracted some last minute sponsorship from the Campine company, with director Joop Kalksma signing a one year contract with race organiser Wim van Drunen yesterday.

"We are lucky that at the last moment, everything came right," said Van Drunen. "I have been looking for a new head sponsor for the last half a year. Now it is quite possible for us to start with a strong international field with six foreign teams at the start."

Last year, the race was cancelled due to the foot and mouth situation in the Netherlands.

The stages

Prologue - May 18: Almere
Stage 1 - May 19: Almere-Almere
Stage 2 - May 20: Almere Rockanje
Stage 3 - May 21: Rockanje-Ossendrecht
Stage 4 - May 22: Ossendrecht-Tilburg
Stage 5 - May 23: Buchten-Buchten
Stage 6 - May 24: Born-Mierlo
Stage 7 - May 25: Mierlo-Oss ITT
Stage 8 - May 26: Oss-Amsterdam

NTL under pressure after shelving Eurosport

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Following several newsprint articles criticizing their decision to shelve Eurosport in Ireland, countless customer complaints and two consecutive mornings of adverse publicity on the Marian Finucane show, the cable provider NTL has discovered that the replacement of the sports channel with the business station CNBC Europe has been a far from painless operation.

According to Finucane, RTE has been inundated with complaints about NTL's decision to drop Eurosport from their analogue cable package last week. Her shows on Tuesday and Wednesday featured angry callers who condemned the move; NTL Marketing Manager Mark Mohan did little to quell the storm on Tuesday when he repeatedly refused to answer Finucane's question as to whether CNBC cost less than Eurosport for the provider to show.

"We can't discuss confidential agreements," said Mohan repeatedly, parrying Finucane's question which sought to establish if cost-cutting, rather than viewer preferences, was the actual motivation behind the controversial decision.

Eurosport itself hit back on Wednesday morning, with Ireland Area Manager Greg d'Assche speaking for several minutes about the issue. D'Assche countered that the channel had a broad base of support in Ireland, disputing NTL's portrayal of Eurosport as a station which had few viewers. "We have a lot of support across Europe and Ireland has actually the highest proportion of viewers in any of the countries we supply to - one in three Irish TV viewers will watch Eurosport on a weekly basis," he said.

D'Assche pointed out that Eurosport is an event-based channel, with viewers tuning in to the station when their particular sport is being shown and not necessarily watching the channel each day. For this reason, he said, NTL's research is flawed. "It is misleading to quote the viewer figures from one day. It is much more accurate to look at the numbers over a longer period of time," he said, thus explaining why the cancellation of a channel with so-called poor ratings has managed to infuriate quite so many people.

And not just sporting fans. Amongst these protesters are many of Ireland's governing bodies, with the NGB's of cycling, tennis, swimming, rowing, hockey, table tennis, diving, volleyball and motorsport amongst those who protested strongly to NTL last week.

Their annoyance is further accentuated by recent successes in these 'minority' sports, which get less overall media exposure than the mainstream events yet so often produce better results. Last summer Irish rowers secured three gold medals in the world rowing championships while in September the Irish hockey players finished fifth in the World Cup qualifying event in Paris, thus securing their place in the finals this November.

Eurosport has been good to cycling, too: In October 1998 the station brought the only live pictures of Mark Scanlon's storming win in the 1998 junior world championships.

NTL say that they are considering adding Eurosport to their digital service, but with a sign-up fee and monthly charges to contend with, this is not a concession which will readily pacify those who are angered by its removal from the basic package. "They should bring it back right away. I would rather go out and buy a rival company's satellite dish than give NTL money to watch Eurosport on their digital channel. If they don't bring it back, I am changing to another supplier" said one cycling fan.

Note: NTL is a tv cable company who have enjoyed a virtual monopoly in Ireland, broadcasting to homes in Dublin, Waterford and Galway. Direct competition is due to come in later this year.

What you can do:

Sign the online petition to bring back Eurosport: www.petitiononline.com/bbe/petition.html

Mini-madison to be run in Forges Wheelrace

By Karen Forman

It's all systems go for Cyclists International's newly introduced mini madison, to be run as a gala finale to Saturday night's annual Forges Stores Wheel Race at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena. Introduced to the event for the first time this year, the 80 lap race has attracted 12 teams of two riders each - including Olympian Shane Kelly, who has been pitted with Darren Young over the 20 km.

Other pairings including Tim Decker and Todd Wilksch; Brad Norton and Andrew Mason; Alex James and Ben Jackson; Luke Medhurst and Ewin Williams; Nick Sanderson and Sean Finning; Rob Wilson and Richard England; Leigh Deluca and Sean Collins; Tob Tidey and Geordan Murray; Warran Knevitt and Max Rainsford; Ryan Kelly and Tom Nankervis and Lee Godfrey and Brad Edmunds.

All but Young, who hails from Tasmania, are Victorian riders.

CI spokesman Barry Langley said the night promised a minimum three hours of top cycling action for spectators, with the main wheel race, to be run from five heats the main attraction. Kelly, along with World Keirin Champion Ryan Bayley and Young, will all start off scratch.

The program will kick off at 7pm with the Victorian 20 km scratch race championship. Tickets are $20 and available through Ticketek or at the door.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) Racing Team

The Compaq race team has changed title sponsors for the 2002 racing season. The team's new title sponsor is Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP Racing), based in Charlotte, NC.

OLP has added some new riders to its roster, including Scott Edge, formerly of Zaxby's racing team; Torsten Wombald, who raced with DeFeet/Evergreen in 2000 and in Germany in 2001; and Ron Zurinskas of Red Glare Cycling, Cat II from Philadelphia.

Gordon Stiel, former masters national champion, is joined by his pro/am brother Donald Stiel. Espoirs Christof Herby and Tim Santini have legitimate shots at winning Collegiate and Espoir National Championships.

Team Roster

Cat 1-2
Gordon Stiel
Donald Stiel
Scott Edge
Torsten Wambold
Ron Zurinskas

Cat 3
Tim Santini
Christof Herby

Cat 4
Rick McClure
David Kraft
Steve Grafton
Lars Norlander

Cat 5
Ivan Konerman

Masters 1-2-3
Chad Andrews
Tim Griner
Arthur Reaves
Tom Fenig
Dan Remington

D/S: Chad Andrews
Managers: Tom Fenig, Scott Edge, David Kraft, Rick McClure
Coach: Chad Andrews
Website: www.outdoorlightsracing.com

Sponsors

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives
Tarheel Cyclists
Litespeed
Sockguy
Rexall Sundown
MetRx
Carbboom
B and B Manufacturing
EliteFITcoach

Bikes: Litespeed
Helmets: Giro Pneumo
Clothing: Louis Garneau
Accessories: Sockguy

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