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Photo ©: Sirotti

News for August 9, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry

Embattled Rumsas undergoes independent drug tests

Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas, who remains at the centre of a post-Tour de France drug scandal, attended an independent doping test in Medical Sports Centre of Latvian capital Riga on Thursday.

The test, as reported by Lithuanian news agency ELTA, included blood and urine samples. Lithuanian officials commenting from Riga said the data of blood express test showed normal levels of hematocrit and haemoglobin, which they said was inconsistent with suspicions of the rider's use of EPO.

Rima Berloviene, head of the Lithuanian Sports Department's anti-doping program, said the tests revealed a 44.6 percent hematocrit level (which lies within the normal range, with 50 being the UCI's imposed limit), and 14.9 g/dl haemoglobin (14-18 is considered normal).

"With such results of the blood test that are fully in line with normal level, there is no sense to conduct any extra blood tests on EPO and no laboratory would undertake to do this," Berloviene told ELTA.

Two A and B urine samples taken from Rumsas will be delivered to laboratories in Sweden (Huddinge University Hospital) and Germany (Kreisch Institute), from which a full analysis is due within 24 hours. The results are expected next Monday.

Once Rumsas made up his mind to be tested for doping by an independent institution, negotiations with laboratories lasted for one week. The sportsman agreed unconditionally to such type of test, although keeping it low profile was not easy.

"Yesterday, I did not tell anyone about this test and early in the morning today I took a car and went to airport," Rumsas said, adding that he asked to keep in secret the route and time of his return to Italy.

During the Tour de France Rumsas underwent two drug tests; both tests were returned negative.

Rumsas grateful for Lithuanian support

After agreeing to undertake an independent doping test initiated after suspicions were aroused following the Tour de France, Raimondas Rumsas said he appreciated the attention of the Lithuanian people to the controversy surrounding him, and that "he expected a happy end of the story".

"I am very pleased with such consideration and support of all people. I feel a true Lithuanian and believe in our victory," Rumsas told an ELTA (Lithuanian National News Agency) correspondent in Riga.

When asked when he rode a bicycle last, Rumsas replied, "yesterday, which was the first time after Tour de France. I have to move already, for it is impossible to remain in one place. But earlier I could not ride because of a continuous attention by reporters."

Rumsas also commented on a planned protest action in front of the French embassy in Vilnius on Friday morning, a movement which has begun to label the detention of Edita Rumsas as a human rights violation.

Suspected products found in Lampre vehicle

While the controversy surrounding Raimondas Rumsas has thus far focused on suspected doping products seized from his wife Edita's car, Reuters news agency reveals that on July 29 two packages of medicine were also confiscated from the Lampre campervan after the conclusion of the Tour de France.

"These packages do not contain doping products, but products which may act as masking agents for EPO," confirmed a judiciary source. In addition, according to a report in France-Soir, included in the Lampre team doctor's supplies were corticosteroids and glucose, which can be used to dilute the blood after an injection of EPO.

The French judicial authorities, despite suggestions of scandal on a larger scale in the national press, remain more cautious in their estimations. "We do not have any reason to think at this point that this is part of a team endeavour. However, nothing says either that this could not become the case."

Lampre's Spanish team doctor Jose Ibarguren, who was found in possession of the two suspected packages, is expected to be heard as part of the ongoing investigation.

Van Petegem out of San Sebastian

Peter Van Petegem will definitely not be riding the Clasica San Sebastian this Saturday. The Belgian Lotto-Adecco rider is still having problems with two ribs he injured in a fall in last Sunday's HEW Cyclassics. After a visit to the osteopath today, Van Petegem decided that he would be better off with a week's rest.

Mapei-Quick Step for San Sebastian

The Mapei-Quick Step team for the Clasica San Sebastian has been selected. Led by Paolo Bettini, the team also contains Cadel Evans, Oscar Freire, Daniele Nardello, Elia Aggiano, Davide Bramati, David Cañada, and Dario Cioni. Bettini's aim is to close the 96 point deficit to Johan Museeuw, the current leader of the World Cup.

Fassa Bortolo for San Sebastian

Led by two time San Sebastian winner Francesco Casagrande, the Fassa Bortolo team for the Clasica San Sebastian looks to be a strong one. With the likes of Ivan Basso (best young rider in the Tour), Wladimir Belli, Michele Bartoli (still on the comeback trail), Gorazd Stangelj, Volodimir Gustov, Sven Montgomery and Paolo Tiralongo, the team will be most likely working for Casagrande, who is in good form at the moment.

No Vuelta for Boonen

Tom Boonen (USPS) will not be starting in the Vuelta España, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. Earlier he was part on the short list for the team for the three week race that starts on September 7.

Twelve riders with Lotto-Domo contracts

The two managers of the new Lotto-Domo team, Christophe Sercu and Marc Sergeant, have so far reached agreements with twelve riders for next season. Axel Merckx is the sole Domo rider, while Peter Van Petegem, Serge Baguet, Nico Eeckhout, Aart Vierhouten, Stefan van Dijck, Robbie McEwen, Rik and Ief Verbrugghe, Christophe Detilloux and Thierry Marichal will all stay from Lotto. Finally, on McEwen's request, Australian Nick Gates (Wiesenhof) will join the team.

Jonathan Vaughters primed to defend Saturn Cycling Classic title

Defending Saturn Cycling Classic champion Jonathan Vaughters has the chance to repeat the feat this Saturday, August 10, when more than 150 riders compete in the rugged 140 mile cycling endurance test from Boulder to the Rocky Mountain resort town of Breckenridge.

Vaughters, who will again be riding for The Handle Bar & Grill, will be racing against the likes of 2000 winner Scott Moninger (Mercury), National U23 Road Race Champion Will Frischkorn and Trent Klasna (Saturn), Kevin Livingston (George's/Lost River Cycling), John Lieswyn (7UP/Jittery Joe's), Danny Pate (Prime Alliance), and Polish climber Dariusz Wojciechowski (Sierra Nevada). Last year's runner up Chris Horner will not be competing due to a collarbone breakage.

"With Jonathan returning along with Will (Frischkorn) and Scott (Moninger), we should have another excellent race with several interesting duels over Guanella and Hoosier Passes," said Len Pettyjohn, race director. "Last year, Vaughters used his experience to catch the leaders on Guanella Pass and battled Horner all the way into Breckenridge. We expect the same level of competition this year."

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond will be the official starter for the Saturn Cycling Classic. LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France and the World Cycling Championships, will lead the peloton from the starting line in Boulder at 9:20 am to the finish line in Breckenridge, Colorado at approximately 4:00 pm.

The Saturn Cycling Classic from Boulder to Breckenridge will negotiate seven mountain passes, reaching altitudes over 11,500 feet. Racing starts at 9:20am local time (11:20 EDT/17:20 CEST (Europe)/01:20 EST (Australia East)), and will be covered live on from start to finish.

More information:

42nd ENECO Tour (Ronde van Nederland)

The organisers of this year's ENECO Tour (Ronde van Nederland), which takes place from August 20-24, are hoping for a rare sprint battle between Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen and Mario Cipollini. So far, both Zabel and McEwen have confirmed their presence in the five day, six stage event, while Cipollini is not yet certain. The organisers have invited his Acqua e Sapone team, but it's likely that they won't know until the last moment whether Cipollini will start.

The organisers also have secured the starts of Erik Dekker, Michael Boogerd and Levi Leipheimer, making a total of five riders from the top 15 of the UCI rankings. Other names include Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre), Johan Museeuw, Servais Knaven and Leon Van Bon (Domo), Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Viatcheslav Ekimov and Floyd Landis (USPS).

The stages

  • Stage 1 - August 20: Utrecht - Leeuwarden, 220 km
  • Stage 2 - August 21: Dokkum - Apeldoorn, 176 km
  • Stage 3a - August 22: Apeldoorn - Almelo, 75 km
  • Stage 3b - August 22: Almelo - Almelo, 18.5 km
  • Stage 4 - August 23: Arnhem - Sittard, 198 km
  • Stage 5 - August 24: Sittard - Landgraaf, 206 km

Selangor Sweet Nice Team ready for Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia

The Selangor Sweet Nice Team, a mixed team comprising Malaysian and Indonesian riders, is banking on its two climbers to challenge for top honours in next week's Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia 2002 in Langkawi.

The team is putting former SEA Games gold medallist Shahrulneeza Razali of Malaysia and Indonesian Sulistiyono Saman as the main men for the tough Gunung Raya hill climb challenge. At more than 800-metres high, the Gunung Raya climb (stage 3) will be crucial for teams and riders with any hopes of winning the overall individual and team titles.

"There will be no top professional riders involved and I believe, it will be an open contest. But of course, teams like TEAM KL, Indonesia, Giant Asia Racing Team and Japan will be the favorites due to their strong line-ups," said Amrun Misnoh, team manager of the Selangor Sweet Nice Team.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong cycling star Kam Po Wong, twice winner of the Asian category in the Tour de Langkawi, has confirmed his participation in the race and will ride for the star-studded TEAM KL in the race.

"Kam Po's presence will certainly add depth to the team's strength," said TEAM KL coach Ng Joo Ngan.

Transsexual named for Canadian Women's MTB Team

Michelle Dumaresq, the athlete formerly known as Michael, has been selected to ride for the Canadian women's national mountain bike team. Dumaresq, who received a sex-change operation to become a woman six years ago, will represent Canada at the world championships in Kaprun, Austria.

Dumaresq's selection has been met with protests - not from the other national teams - but from her own. Two of her Canadian teammates, Cassandra Boon and Sylvie Allen, lodged a complaint with the UCI, requesting intervention in the situation. In their letter, the two also requested that the UCI consider the creation of a new transsexual racing category.

"Something about the situation just doesn't seem fair," Allen told the National Post. But despite the protest from within her own team, Michelle Dumaresq remains excited over her selection.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)