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News for March 22, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Jalabert comments before Milan-San Remo
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) has one Milan-San Remo win to his credit, in 1995 when he beat Maurizio Fondriest. This Saturday he will be up against a large number of favourites, of which he is one. For Jaja to win again would require that the race not finish in a bunch sprint, which has been the case for the last five years.
After Paris-Nice, Jalabert commented that he felt as though he'd finished a Tour de France. "I felt good in Paris-Nice, but not great which is normal for this time of the season," he said in an interview with AFP.
"My chance in Milan-San Remo is to attack on the Poggio or the Cipressa...More and more, the sprinters teams control it."
How about a daredevil attack on the descent of the Poggio, Sean Kelly style? "I can also end up in hospital," replied Jalabert. "No, it is necessary to stay in front...This is difficult."
"I may be pessimistic, but with my condition and what has happened in the last few years of Milan-San Remo, I don't think I'll have a card to play."
No Museeuw in MSR
The Domo-Farm Frites team for Milan-San Remo will be without Johan Museeuw and Axel Merckx, both of whom are recovering from recent injuries. Merckx fell in a stage of Paris-Nice after a long breakaway and injured his back, while Museeuw has a minor pain in his right knee, and is not willing to risk it before his main objectives of the season, the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix.
The Domo team will be: Enrico Cassani (Ita), Marco Milesi (Ita), Servais Knaven (Ned), Max Van Heeswijk (Ned), Tomas Konecny (Cze), Fred Rodriguez (USA), Richard Virenque (Fra) and Wilfried Cretskens (Bel).
Two time Milan San Remo winner Laurent Fignon is of the opinion that Erik Zabel is the one to beat on Saturday. "He can hang on up the Poggio, in the company of one or two teammates who can get over this last climb and return to the front of the peloton; he is then in position for the sprint. There is no question of surprising him. He will not be in front, he will rest a little behind," commented Fignon two days before Milan San Remo.
"The best thing is to try and make the race tougher in the first 'capi', and to make it even more difficult on the Cipressa with less than 25 kilometres to go. Only a team can do that, Fassa Bortolo for example, not an isolated rider."
Fignon added that Oscar Freire and Paolo Bettini could combine to beat Zabel.
Vandenbroucke suspended for six months...
...and has his driving licence revoked for two weeks
By Jeff Jones in Gent
It hasn't been a good week for Frank Vandenbroucke. Widely known as the 'enfant terrible' of Belgian cycling, Vandenbroucke's latest comeback has ended in disaster. Today the Ligue Vélocipédique Belge (LVB) voted to suspend him for six months for being in possession of illegal performance enhancing drugs, which were found in a police search of his home three weeks ago. Vandenbroucke also has to pay a 6830 euro fine, in accordance with UCI regulations that prohibit the possession of banned drugs.
He can return to cycling (if he wants) on September 21, but given all that has happened recently and in previous comeback attempts, he might be better off trying to live a "normal" life away from the pressure of the sporting arena.
To add insult to injury, Vandenbroucke had his driving licence revoked for a period of two weeks for drunk driving. Vandenbroucke crashed his car into a field near his home in Lebbeke on Wednesday morning. Police tests showed that he had too high a level of alcohol in his blood and a two week suspension was given to him today. It is a surprisingly light penalty for a potentially life threatening offence, but that is the law in Belgium.
The latest Vandenbroucke affair started when his occasional mentor, Bernard "Dr Mabuse" Sainz was picked up for speeding on the E17 motorway near Gent by police on February 26. A search of Sainz's car revealed a number of 'suspicious' looking bottles and syringes, all of which were later found to be legal. However, when Sainz was taken in for questioning he revealed that he had just come from VDB's house where he had spent the previous night.
That led to the police search of chez VDB, which did turn up some illegal products including clenbuterol, morphine and erythropoetin. The nightmare began for Frank Vandenbroucke when he received a call to quickly return home after a training session with the Domo-Farm Frites boys, who were recon-ing the Het Volk parcours near Waregem.
VDB was questioned all night by police and ordered to face the judge the next day, to explain why he had the drugs in his possession. To appease their sponsors, the Domo-Farm Frites team had to sack him in accordance with their anti-doping regulations.
Vandenbroucke claimed the clenbuterol was for his dog and the morphine was for a broken wrist that he sustained in mid-2001. The EPO was harder to explain, but his wife Sara was quoted as saying that "These products were just old things that were left over from before."
There was then a lot of talk about him returning to cycling with a second division team, despite the fact that he had a serious charge to answer in court, and had also contravened UCI regulations. There was certainly not a great deal of talk from VDB himself, who must have been wondering whether it was all worth it.
The results of his blood and urine tests, taken by police at the time of his arrest, have not been made public. In terms of his cycling career, they may be irrelevant anyway. In pronouncing their sanction today, the LVB said that "The six months suspension is the consequence of his possession of illegal drugs. There is nothing so far to show that the rider has used these products that were found in his possession."
Certainly, other riders have returned to the top after a similar suspension: Richard Virenque, Dario Frigo, Christophe Moreau and Alex Zülle quickly spring to mind. But in the case of Vandenbroucke, the problem is much deeper than a simple case of cheating. He has been known to suffer from depression, and clearly needs some better quality treatment than he has received so far. Let's hope that he finds it.
Simoni to race in Setmana Catalana
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has reportedly been training hard since his racing debut at Trofeo Laigueglia. On Wednesday he carried out the last of his Giro stage inspections, riding the Corvara in Badia to Folgaria stage.
"I'd already seen the route but the weather was bad at the time," Simoni explained. "I took advantage of the nice weather to ride the whole stage and considering how warm it was, almost in the same temperatures we'll find in May."
Simoni and his teammate Leonardo Bertagnolli spent almost seven hours riding in the mountains. "At the end I was really tired," Simoni explained. "But that makes me happy. It means the stage will be hard, as I like it to be. There is over 50 km of tough climbing and the finish really hurts: 18 kilometres all the way to the line. Strength and the ability to push a good gear is what will make the differences there."
Simoni will not return to racing in the Setmana Catalana (Catalan Week), where "I won't be trying to win...but I don't think I'll do a bad ride either. I'm really happy about how I'm gradually building my fitness ready for the races which count."
The Saeco team has also added a new sponsor to its jersey, which will appear for the first time in Milan-San Remo on Saturday. The sponsor is UniEuro, a 94 store chain which sells electronic goods.
Team fakta gets Amstel wildcard
Team fakta has announced that it has received a wild-card for this year's Amstel Gold Race, scheduled for April 28. The organisers were impressed by the team's strong start to the season, which has seen it rocket to the top of the division II standings, as well as being very active in all the races. They were also impressed by Scott Sunderland's ride in last year's event where he finished 18th after puncturing at a crucial moment.
The good news for the team is that Scott Sunderland will more than likely be at the start of the race. After 6 weeks of training following his accident in the Tour Down Under in January, Sunderland has regained a lot of his strength and will probably start racing again by the end of March. He intends on playing a support role in Amstel where he can assist Rene Jørgensen, Marcus Ljungqvist and Kurt Asle Arvesen.
Slow start for Spaniards
The 2002 season is well under way, with the first of the spring classics, Milan-San Remo looming large on Saturday. If a Spaniard should win it, he will be going against the trend of the season, which has seen 44 Italian victories compared to 10 Spanish ones.
Although some of the top Spaniards have not yet started their seasons, those that have have been outgunned by the Italians (and everyone else) in the first three months. Kelme director Vicente Belda was quote in Marca as saying "It's true that the Spanish are limp, but this year the foreigners, especially the Fassa Bortolo, Saeco and Coast teams, have been super strong...This year the level is higher than ever before."
Eusebio Unzúe, director of iBanesto.com, agreed that the Spanish were certainly not dominating the early season races, "But it is nothing to be preoccupied with. The first serious comparison should be made after the Tour, which is normally the first big test for our riders who have to trade off the first few months of competition. Our cycling has always been characterized by the three week races and this year, with the exception of Freire, is not going to be different."
Finally, a big objective for many Spaniards is the Vuelta España, which takes place in September. "The Spanish, above all, have to keep their strength for then," said ONCE's director Manolo Saiz.
Jarvis in for Jutras at Sea Otter
Manon Jutras (Rona) is a non-starter in the Sea Otter Classic, which runs from March 21-24. The team reports that "Manon has not completely recovered from her wounds suffered in a dramatic crash last Sunday, in the last descent of the last stage of the Redlands Classic."
Her teammate Amy Jarvis will stand in for Jutras. Jarvis finished second in the general classification of the Valley of the Sun in February, and 20th in GC at Redlands last week.
Gordon McCauley online
New Zealand pro Gordon McCauley (RDM-Flanders) has relaunched his website, now known as www.gordonmccauley.net. "News and views from the peloton, delivered in a very Gordie kind of way, and a lot of uncensored cycling gossip from the land of the Belgian Classic," writes Belgian-based Gordon on the front page.
For those of you acclimatised to antipodean humour, the site is a must read. His bio says: "Gordie was carved from solid rock in Dunedin, New Zealand. He was originally intended to be a bike racer like Jan Ullrich, but somehow managed to get left behind in new Zealand, so was never fed on East German Potato Cakes. This is probably why, whilst Jan Ullrich might be fitter, stronger, faster and vastly more wealthy than Gordie, Gordie is less spotty than Fatboy Slim."
...And there's more where that came from!
Team Kona 2002
Despite the loss of Ford Focus as a title sponsor, top British MTB Team Kona is still looking at a strong year ahead. Britain's number one Dual Rider Scott Beaumont, along with national Dual Champion and top downhiller Tracy Moseley head the 2002 roster, and will be joined by five new members: Billy Cheetham and Adam Gascoigne, both of whom will compete in the Junior categories in DH and XC respectively; and Neil Gard, Kathryn Newbery and Killian Lomas.
Team Kona has also included two of last year's development riders onto the factory team. Both are in the Masters category: Darren Howarth who will ride DH and 4X, and John Veness who will compete in XC and Road.
The team's schedule for 2002 includes the full world cup circuit for Scott and Tracy with Tracy also competing in the whole NORBA series. Scott, Darren and Billy will ride the UK National Downhill series along with the uk BSX Series and John and Adam will concentrate on the National XC series along with other major events like the Kona 100 and Redbull 24hr.
Neil, Kathryn and Killian our Adventure Racing Team will be competing in the British Adventure Racing Championships, Salomon Adventure Race Series and the Hebridean challenge to name but a few.
The Carlow Classic preview
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
They may be poles apart both in status and standing from the respective competitors, but the word Classic conjures up competition of the highest quality. Yes, both locations, Milan and Carlow will be centre stage over the weekend.
Saturday sees the start of the Classic season, which to all competitive cyclists is the biggie. The 93rd Milan-San Remo is first out of the starting blocks. This event holds many memories for Sean Kelly and the sporting public when he first won the race in 1986 and it was also his final Classic win in 1992. For Kelly, the great sequence of Classic victories, which had begun with the Tour of Lombardy in the autumn of 1983, ended at San Remo in the spring of '92. His career had a few more years left to run, but the halcyon days were almost at an end.
In Ireland the Classic season gears up with the Des Hanlon getting off the ramps on Sunday. This indeed is a Classic in name and deed. Taking in a racing distance of 160 km, it tends to be a marker for the Easter stage races, which are being held in three locations, Killorglin in Co. Kerry; Gorey in Co. Wexford and the Tour of the North, which has a start at Stormont.
Three weeks into the season and it is obvious that the Cidona Carrick lads are blazing a trail. They have recorded five wins, Timmy Barry (2), Eddie O’Donoghue (2) and Martin O’Loughlin (1).
With the action switching on Sunday to Carlow for the Des Hanlon which indeed will be a tough race because the organisation have included a tough climb on each of the four laps.
According to Phillip Cassidy who has dented the success of the Carrick lads when he won convincingly in the Coombes /Connor a fortnight ago.
"From what I can gather it will be tougher than usual. In previous years it was two laps, but they have shortened the course to get in four climbs by avoiding taking in Castlecomer. It’s a race I haven’t succeeded in. Three years ago I was in a commanding position but suffered the one thing that all cyclists dread a puncture with three miles to go. Still I would have needed good sprinting legs to defy Eddie O'Donoghue who was alongside me that day."
The event goes off at 1.30 on Sunday from the Carlow Boat Club, which is a new location for the dressing accommodation.
The Dundalk Traders Cup, which has been a feature of Irish cycling since 1942, has been postponed because of the lack of volunteers to marshals according to race organiser Cyril Rooney.
Centennial Park update
Randwick Botany club president John Buckton reports on the latest developments in Sydney's Centennial Park traffic plan, which has been the subject of considerable debate between cyclists and the Moore Park Trust, administrators of the Park.
After a recent meeting between a cyclists' delegation and the trust, "Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust have confirmed that:
"Bunch Cycling" will be endorsed as a legitimate recreational activity
in Centennial Park.
For full minutes of the meeting, click here.