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News for March 7, 2002
Edited by John Stevenson & Karen Forman
O'Grady out for two months
Australian Credit Agricole rider Stuart O'Grady will be out of action until mid-May according to his team. O'Grady needs an operation to the iliac artery in his leg, and the recovery period will involve a month off the bike followed by a month out of competition.
After abandoning the Classic Haribo on February 24, O'Grady spent Tursday March 5 in Toulouse for medical tests that uncovered the problem. "Stuart should be operated on by Professor Chavalier in Lyons next week," said Credit Agricole directeur sportif Roger Legeay.
O'Grady is scheduled to return to racing in mid-May. "There is no room for manouvre, but he should be fit for the Tour de France," said Legeay.
Light at end of tunnel for VDB?
The saga of Frank Vandenbroucke through the looking glass took another twist yesterday as a spokesman for Domo said that the return to the team of the enfant terrible of Belgian cycling had not been ruled out.
However, VDB will have to be completely cleared of the charges against him, said Domo PR Dennis Dejonckere. "If, and only if Frank is completely cleared by the justice system, we will contact him to hear his explanations for last week's events," he said.
Results of VDB's blood and urine tests are expected on Friday, and if those come out clear it might just be that VDB has enough other evidence to clear his name. He is certainly not being shunned by either his wife, or other Belgian teams.
Marlux-City of Charleroi team boss Didier Paindaveine is ready to welcome Frank Vandenbroucke on board as soon as he is cleared of alleged charges. Paindaveine was open to some third part entreaties begun by Belgian cycling promoter / agent Noël De Meulenaere.
Paindaveine heard about this on TV and on Tuesday morning, De Meulenaere called the tiny Div.2 team to see if there was interest in having VDB on his squad. With Paindaveine's team the top Walloon team, they are open to welcoming the top Walloon rider. "I am sure the (police blood test) analyses will exonerate Frank, Paindaveine told Belgian journalist Daniel Striani. "I won't say that having a rider (like VDB) would not be great; he can help but we would also have to review our team structure and eventually find a new co-sponsor", speculated Paindaveine.
"You know," Paindaveine continued, "if he was taking the products (they) found in his house, VDB could not eliminate them from his body right away; it would take three or four months! In other words, it's unthinkable that with a few days before Het Volk, he would inject himself with this stuff! Get serious..."
Sara Pinacci, Frank Vandenbroucke's wife also chose to look on the bright side of things concerning her embattled husband. "I didn't marry a criminal," said Sara, who went on to relate how frightened she was when the Belgian police was searching their house last week. "They (police) told me to sit in a chair and not move; they even searched (baby) Margaux's nursery!" Sara is also hopeful of her husband's quick return; "These products were just old things that were left over from before."
Reportedly the morphine found was prescribed for VDB last year after his broken wrist which prevented him from riding the Tour Of Luxembourg, while his veterinarian has allegedly confirmed that the steroid Clenbuterol was actually for his dog.
Certainly with Bernard "Dr.Mabuse" Sainz in the custody of Belgian police and the results of Vandenbroucke's blood and urine tests taken by the same cops still unknown, the controversial Belgian rider is not off any hook yet, but a page may yet be turned towards a "happy" ending in one of the weirdest chapters of recent cycling history.
Pevenage: "Ullrich out for three weeks"
Telekom directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage says Jan Ullrich is likely to be out of action with a knee injury until the end of March. Speaking to German news agency SID, Pevenage said, "in the most optimistic view, he will ride the Catalan week at the end of March."
Pevenage isn't unduly worried about Ullrich's condition this early in the season (and he must take some comfort in the fact that Ullrich's great rival Lance Armstrong is also out of competition at the moment after a stomach bug) but nevertheless, he said, "it is important that the inflammation fades away quickly, so that he can take up his normal training again."
On the other hand, inflammation injuries are notoriously prone to recurrance, and Pevenage recognises this: "We must be careful that we don't take the problem with us into April, because then time will be getting on."
On the injury's effect on Ullrich's chances in the Tour de france, Pevenage was sanguine: "There is no reason to panic. There are plenty of examples to show that you can come into form in three months. But of course each week reduces our margin of error."
Sweden mourns junior rider
by Gabriella Ekström and Tomas Nilsson
The Swedish cycling community is mourning the death of junior champion Johan Jelvin (Team Crescent).
Johan Jelvin (18) was hit by a lorry during a training ride between Montecatini Terme and Empoli in Tuscany yesterday. The group was turning left onto another road but Jelvin never noticed the oncoming car. Jelvin went under the car and died almost instantly.
The team had been preparing for the season in the area for a week and was supposed to stay for another fortnight. The accident happened in Leonardo da Vinci's birth place, Vinci situated between Montactini Terme and Empoli in Tuscany.
The ambulance arrived after a few minutes but they could not save his life.
Team manager Tommy Prim flew to Italy as soon as the sad news reached him. "I'm here with the guys and the other team leaders now. It is really important that we talk about it and it might take the whole night. We always train with the traffic just at an arms length distance, but you never imagine that something like this can happen."
None of the other riders who took part in the training ride were injured. The driver is not suspected of any reckless driving.
Everyone at Cyclingnews would like to extend our condolences and best wishes to Johan's family and friends.
Footnote (GE): I would like to write something to let everyone know how meaningless the death of any young person is, but I cannot find the words to express how sad this made me. I hope Johan lived every day of his life to the fullest. My thoughts are with everyone who misses him.
Don McBain, Cyclists International president - a tribute
By Karen Forman In Melbourne
Don McBain was most humble in admitting he knew nothing about cycling when he first joined the Melbourne-based organisation, Cyclists International, around 20 years ago.
But he needn't have bothered mentioning it - because, within an amazingly short time, the former professional athlete and keen marathon runner, had become quite an authority on cycle sport, not only within his home state of Victoria, but internationally.
In fact, Don developed quite a love affair with cycling, and his enthusiasm was so infectious that it was passed on to his wife, Maurneen (who found herself helping out at CI events) and his only daughter Brooke (who became a commissaire).
As the years passed, Don attended all the major cycling fixtures in Victoria and nearby South Australia - particularly those on the track - and worked hard to help CI achieve its goals to bridge the gap between cyclists and governing bodies such as CycleSport Victoria, provide international class competitions and promote the sport.
Over the next two decades, Don, in his characteristic quiet and unassuming way, went on to become one of CI's most enthusiastic and dedicated workers, earning great respect and affection from all who came into contact with him.
His honest, open nature and genuine love of cycling earned him the trust of many a sponsor and his warm, friendly and unfailingly fair people skills served him well when he stepped into 1956 Olympian Ian Browne's presidential shoes a few years ago.
Although Don wasn't a rider himself, he was very much an athlete and passionate about sport. He didn't drink or smoke and he ran every day. And when CI was knee deep in organising its annual international track season, including such timeless Australian events as the Austral wheel race, Don was always there with his sleeves rolled up, ready to put in some hard yards.
That's why his untimely death, after a major heart attack at home in the Melbourne suburb of last Saturday, March 2, came as such a shock to the Victorian cycling community.
Nobody expected that somebody as fit, as young, or as nice, as Don McBain, would one day, just not be around any more.
His funeral today - less than a fortnight before his birthday - to be held from 10am at the Heritage-Harper Funeral Home in Wantirna, Melbourne, will certainly be attended by Australian cycling's most esteemed personalities and great stars of the past.
That was the kind of respect Don earned during his years working for the benefit of the sport.
"I just can't believe he's not here," CI promoter and longtime friend, Barry Langley, said yesterday.
"He had surgery following the first episode a week ago and was sent home after a few days in hospital. We all thought he would be fine.
"Then, on Saturday, he was with his wife, and daughter, when the fatal attack took place."
"He will be sadly missed by anyone who had the pleasure of his genial acquaintance."
Barry said Don's enthusiasm for the sport of cycling was inspirational to his Cyclists International colleagues and his tireless efforts will be missed.
Outside of cycling, Don was a Victorian Football Association umpire, following many years of involvement with junior football. He was a Member of the umpires board and the eastern football league umpires board.
A keen runner from his youth, when he was a professional athlete, Don ran the Melbourne marathon, competed in fun runs and other events.
In his work as a graphic arts teacher at the Brandon Park secondary college in Melbourne, he was loved and respected by his students, who thrived under his enthusiastic leadership.
Notices inserted in the Melbourne newspapers this week referred to a "much loved and valued member of the school community" and "a dear friend sadly missed but never forgotten".
Well known cycling commentator and CI member, Stuart Doyle, who had introduced Don to cycling when they were two young, newly married men, travelling to work on the same trams, spoke from the Tour d'Snowy in country New South Wales, where he was commentating the second last stage yesterday:
"Don had the respect of everyone," he said. "He was a real nice guy, always interested and listening.
"He will be badly missed both by CI members, the Victorian cycling community and the Australian cycling community.
"We are all feeling his loss."
Nothstein joins Navigators
Olympic gold match sprint medallist Marty Nothstein has signed for The Navigators Professional Cycling Team for the 2002 season.
Nothstein, 31, is one of the preeminent athletes in United States cycling history. He won the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia and was also a silver medallist at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
His victory in Sydney was the first gold medal performance of a US cyclist since 1984.
He has earned two Olympic medals and seven World Championship medals, including three world titles, in the match sprint and keirin events. In 1999, Nothstein set a Pan American Games record by claiming three gold medals. He also holds the flying 500-metre world record with a time of 26.496 seconds and has more than 30 national championship titles.
Although his international fame has been gained primarily through his accomplishments on the velodrome, the rider has re-focused his goals toward road and criterium racing.
As a member of the Navigators team, he will be extending his track racing talents to include some of America's most popular road events as he sets his sights on the 2004 Olympics in Greece.
Team director, Ed Beamon, said he was confident the new team member was well prepared to make the transition to the more endurance related events of road racing.
"I expect Marty will play a major role in the Navigators team strategy, especially on the U.S. criterium circuit, but we will not be limiting his team role. I think we can provide an excellent environment for Marty to mature as an endurance athlete, and I believe he will be a complete team player well beyond his sprinting prowess. I plan to have Marty participate in several events during our April campaign in Europe, and we'll try to push him early on," he said.
Nothstein joins a strong Navigators roster that includes current US professional criterium champion, Kirk O'Bee and Canadian professional road Champion Mark Walters, as well as four other Olympians.
Nothstein said he was thrilled to be a part of the Navigators team and was looking forward to great success on the road this year, both for himself and the team. "I am also excited to show what we can do on the road at some of the major domestic races," he said. "We will be a team to be reckoned with."
US Olympic coach Ochowicz to lead USA Cycling board
Two-time Olympian and 2000 US Olympic cycling coach, Jim Ochowicz, has been elected as president of the USA Cycling Board of Directors.
Ochowicz replaced Mike Plant, vice president of Turner Sports Events in Atlanta, whose term ended after seven years.
He will work with USA Cycling's senior management on the organization's vision and goals. The office carries a two-year term, with the next election slated for the spring of 2004.
John Tarbert, formerly the technical director at USA Cycling, was elected as the board's vice president, while National Bicycle League board trustee Nigel Blair-Johns will serve as secretary.
The 15-member USA Cycling Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from each of the organization's four associations - the US Cycling Federation (USCF; road, track and cyclo-cross), the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA; mountain bike), the US Professional Racing Organization (USPRO; pro men's road racing) and the National Bicycle League (NBL; bicycle moto-cross).
Ochowicz, who competed at the 1972 and 1976 Games, was the founder, general manager and coach of the prestigious 7-Eleven Cycling Team from 1981 through 1990.
The 7-Eleven Cycling Team was the first US professional cycling team to participate at the 1985 Tour of Italy 1985 and Tour de France in 1986. It is considered one of the premier American cycling teams in the history of the sport after winning the 1987 Tour of Switzerland, 1988 Tour of Italy, multiple Tour de France stages and several World Cup titles.
Ochowicz was also the founder of the Motorola Cycling Team (1991-96), the squad with which Lance Armstrong began his professional career. Under Motorola, Armstrong earned his first Tour de France stage winner and the 1993 World Professional Cycling title.
Ochowicz was most recently in Salt Lake City at the Winter Olympic Games to support his daughter, Elli, who competed in the 500m in speed skating. He is married to 1972 Olympic gold medal speed skater Sheila Young Ochowicz and has three children.
De Smet to Palmans?
Andy De Smet (32) didn't get a new contract with Ville de Charleroi. He is believed to be about to sign an eleventh-hour deal with Palmans-Collstrop.
Braikia & Müller retire
Danish rider Tayeb Braikia from the Lotto team is not able to ride again. He was wounded seriously on his right shoulder after a fall a year ago in the first stage of the Vuelta a Murcia.
Swiss rider Roland Müller, formerly of Post Swiss has announced his retirement
Canberra to Goulburn cancelled
Goulburn Cycling Club has announced, with regret, the cancellation of the 2002 Canberra - Goulburn road race.
The club has been unable to secure sponsorship funding to cover police costs of $3500 and additional public liability costs approaching $3000. The race is traditionally run over 121km in men's A, B and C grades and women's A and B grades
Last year, it was won by Victorian rider David Pell from Bendigo, with New South Wales rider Glenn Stojanow, of Parramatta, second.
As a result of the cancellation, which puts a major dent in the NSW road calendar, Cycling NSW is urging its members to write to their local Members of Parliament expressing their concerns about increasing insurance costs across Australia.
Wiggins changes plans
Brad Wiggins, rising star of the British contingent in the European peloton, has changed his plans for March, according to a release from his management.
Wiggins has decided to miss Paris-Nice in favour of two events that mirror a little more closely his first really major target of 2002 , the Criterium International. As preparation he will therefore ride the Goldensport 2-Day this weekend, and the Grand Prix Erik Breukink, March 15-17.
Wiggins managements says that he is happy with his start to the season.He didn't have good legs in Het Volk but fared a lot better the next day at Kuurne just failing to catch the front group, "more due to lack of experience, than anything else."
Wiggins will probably be based in Nantes for the rest of the season, where he will be under the wing of the 'elder statesman' of his Francaise des Jeux team, Jean-Cyril Robin.
Wiggins said, "I feel I will be fresher for the Criterium International with this schedule and hopefully will have many more chances to ride Paris-Nice in years to come .My condition seems to be good and getting better all the time. I have trained very hard and I want to produce good performances in the two short stage races as I have been told by team manager Marc Madiot that they are very important to the team. It is possible I might also be riding the Grand Prix Cholet French Cup race ( the day after Milan-San-Remo ) and possibly a couple of other small races before the Criterium International."
Season ends spread beyond Europe
The heart of the cycling season is still in Europe, but as Darren Tulett observes in a recent piece for Bloomberg news, its beginning and end are taking riders to increasingly off-beat locations.
So far this year, riders have raced in Qatar, Malaysia and Australia, and the end of last season was marked by the Tour of Burkina Faso. Early season races in warmer climes are appreciated by the riders, who get to train away from the sleet and dark of the European winter, and by the host countries' tourism bodies.
"It's so much better to build up your form in racing conditions in the sun than with training rides back at home," said CSC-Tiscali's Laurent Jalabert
But also driving the spread around the world is a combination of deliberate 'mondialisation' on the part of race organisers, and an occasional chunk of unusual luck.
"Cycling needs to be more global and we have a duty to help the sport develop," said Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc whose company, ASO, also runs Tour of Qatar. "Like in medicine, some transplants work and others don't, but we have to try."
The Tour of Qatar was born when the Emir of Qatar's car was held up in traffic in the south of France last year. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani got out to find out why, and was confronted by the Tour de France cavalcade. Six months later, the tiny country on the Persian Gulf had its first national tour
Race organisers in countries like Malaysia and Australia go to unusual lengths to look after visiting riders. The biggest problem is crossing time zones and the sheer travel time needed to get to the southern hemisphere. After 24 hours on a plane, the legs need some serious recovery time, so organisers provide training camps in the week before the race.
As in Qatar, they also cover the teams' travel and accommodation expenses. The media interest the races generate makes it worthwhile. "Everyone gets something out of it," according to Mapei manager Alvaro Crespi, whose team has ridden the Malaysian Tour de Langkawi since the race began in 1996. "We have commercial interests in the area, and the training camp helps riders get in shape."
Certainly in nations starved of the feast of cycling found on the European mass media, sports fans have got behind the Malaysian and Australian events. The Tour de Langkawi was covered on live TV for the first time this year and an estimated half a million people turned out to watch the Tour Down Under.
"If only a couple of youngsters take up riding from seeing us pedalling around I'll feel like I achieved something," said Australian rider Stuart O'Grady. O'Grady won the TDU in 1999 and 2001 and his personal popularity over the last couple of years has grown almost in step with the TDU. His time in the Tour de France yellow and green jerseys hasn't hurt either.
The TDU invited teams from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Denmark, according to O'Grady. "Now it's no longer a matter of trying to get them back to the race but deciding who can't go," he said, adding that he was surprised and delighted to see tens of thousands of fans turning out for the first TDU. "I had goose bumps on top of goose bumps."
But there's a downside. New venues bring new hazards. Mapei's Paolo Bettini found himself riding over a dead kangaroo in Australia in 2000, something Australian riders will tell you is as routine a hazard out of the cities as demented cabbies in them. In 2001 he went to Malaysia for the Tour of Langkawi instead. "I got bitten by a monkey during the race, so I'm not sure I made the right choice," said Bettini. "Still, that won't stop me going back."