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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for July 17, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Jalabert to retire in October

By Jeff Jones in Bordeaux

Laurent Jalabert
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) has announced his decision to retire at the end of the season, contrary to earlier reports that he would continue through 2003. Jalabert made the announcement at a press conference in Bordeaux velodrome during the first rest day of the Tour de France.

When asked why, he replied, "Last year I told myself that to finish on a high level, with the Tour de France that I had done, would be formidable. Everyone dreams of that. But I still wanted to race. I felt in good form at the beginning of the season. I was full of morale. Then I had some health problems."

"I believe that the decision is wise. I've had a long career and my wish is to stop whilst being a respected and respectable racer. I was used to playing the top roles, I do not see myself in a secondary role. I had the spirit to continue at the beginning of year, I was sincere. But, today, this decision is irrevocable. This is a choice in my life."

"I spoke about it with my wife Sylvie, who never asked me to do it but was very happy with my decision. I spoke about it with my brother Nicolas who was on my side, and three days with Bjarne Riis, my directeur sportif, whom I was anxious for to be at my side for this announcement, because there is no funny business."

Jalabert described himself as "ready to turn the page...not at all depressed, even if the moment is a little hard for me. The bicycle, has been my whole life up to now. I would like to rediscover a little more calm in my life but the bicycle always has a big place in my heart."

In future, "I envisage a career as a directeur sportif. But I would like very much to be present at a number of events in the season, the races that everyone dreams of doing."

Jalabert is not sure whether he will remain in Switzerland, or return home to France. "I am very attached to my home but it is true that I have found a balance in Switzerland."

Riis and Jalabert
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

He has few regrets in his very successful career, "I maybe had the potential to win a Tour, I can regret not being the World Champion in Benidorm (1992), but at that moment I was not quite capable. There aren't many regrets."

When asked whether he was motivated for the rest of the Tour, he answered "I don't think I am any less motivated - you saw it in the prologue. My decision was taken at the Midi Libre. I told myself that it was not necessary to regret anything. My aim is to make the sacrifices in the final three months."

In his 14 seasons as a pro, Laurent Jalabert did not consider himself 'unlucky'. "I had some terrible crashes, but in comparison with all the kilometres I rode at all times... It is necessary to have the capacity to come back, rebound, to face the great difficulties when one encounters them. That will serve me well in future."

The future of French cycling is good according to Jalabert, who will leave a big hole when he departs the scene. "There are a lot of French riders with the right qualities, the temperament. I have the impression of discovering my roots when the stars were Fignon, Mottet, Bernard. Just wait a little for the likes of Chavanel, Casar."

Finally at the World Championships in Zolder in October, "I will do the Championships to win them or to help the French team win. If by chance I win, it would be fantastic but that would not change my decision. I would then be the first retired World Champion."

Jalabert is 33 years old, and has won 135 races including a World Time Trial Championship, a Vuelta España, three editions of Paris-Nice and many, many more.

Verbrugghe training again

Belgian Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Adecco), who fell during the Tour's fifth stage, is able to ride again on his indoor trainer. He broke his collarbone in the fall, and will not be racing for another four weeks at least, although he will not need an operation. He and his spouse have chosen to take a holiday in the Pyrenees in the meantime...

Boonen in demand

Tom Boonen, US Postal's neo-pro who performed outstandingly in the classics early this year, is very much in demand from other teams. At present he has a contract with US Postal which he describes as "very good...but I have to talk about it with the management because I've had a number of offers from other teams."

Stive Vermaut to have more tests in Saarbrücken

Belgian Stive Vermaut will undergo a final series of tests in the university clinic in Saarbrücken to help him decide whether he can race again. Vermaut was diagnosed with heart problems at the beginning of the season, and had to stop racing. However further tests in the United States led him to believe that he could handle the problem, with the correct medication, although his former Lotto-Adecco team doctor did not want to risk having him back on the team.

Vermaut says he is training quite a lot at the moment, and could in theory start racing by the beginning of August, provided these final batch of tests are positive. He could ride for the Palmans-Collstrop team, who have offered him a contract.

Simoni to front FCI disciplinary commission this week

Gilberto Simoni, who on two separate occasions recently tested non-negative to cocaine, will appear before the Italian Cycling Federation's disciplinary commission this Thursday, July 18. Simoni will be heard by the commission, but no decision will be made just yet on whether to sanction him. The 30 year old has been suspended by his Saeco team pending the outcome of the investigation, and could face up to a two year ban.

His two non-negative tests were dated April 24 (just prior to the Giro del Trentino) and May 21 (during the Giro d'Italia). He and his lawyer have claimed that the cocaine could have originated from imported South American sweets that he was given.

Guglielmo Pesenti dies

Former Italian champion track cyclist Guglielmo Pesenti died last Friday evening, at the age of 68. Pesenti held the world record for the flying 200 and 500 metres in 1955 (11.80 and 30 seconds respectively).

Trofeo Melinda on August 29

The Italian late season classic Trofeo Melinda-Val di Non will be held on August 29 this year instead of September 4. The organisers Gruppo Sportivo Melinda have been granted permission by the UCI to change the dates. They argued that the proximity of the Vuelta Espana, which starts on September 7, would impact on the race, which is classified 1.2 on the UCI calendar. This year's race will again start in Malè and finish in Fondo.

International Sprint Tournament at Lehigh Valley Velodrome

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host the International Sprint Tournament, Friday, July 19 at 19:00, in Trexlertown, PA.

After initial 200-meter time trial qualifications, which will be held at 11:30 am Friday, the riders are seeded for position in the evening's tournament. The cyclists with the top six times qualify for the semi-finals. The semi final round will be three sprint heats with 2 riders in each. The winner of each semi-final heat advances to the finals, which will be a three-up sprint.

Top contender for the men is Anton Quist, Masters World Champion in the Match Sprint. "I have raced all over the world," said Quist, "but T-town is my favorite track. Although I am from England, I consider the Lehigh Valley Velodrome my home track, and its great to race in front of the home crowd."

The Masters World Champion will be getting his chief competition from East Coast Velo's trio of sprinters, Eric Bonser (Parryville, PA), Mike Beers (Breinigsville, PA) and John Frederick (Bowers, PA).

"Sarah Uhl, 2001 Junior World Champion in the Match Sprint is by far, the favorite," commented Pat McDonough, director of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. "This is Sarah's first year as a senior or "elite" rider, and she'll be the one for the women to beat this week. But don't count out newcomer Cindy Lakatosh, who at 13 years old has recently set several records and had stellar performance in last week's Keirin Cup."

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