News for June 8, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Anthony Tan
Greg LeMond declares that "justice be returned"
High hopes for Armstrong in TDF
Greg LeMond, triple winner of the Tour de France, has spoken out against the recent doping scandals that tainted what was still a great Giro, and has called for the governing bodies in cycling to ensure that "justice be returned" to those who continue to race "clean".
"Justice must be returned. There is no longer any reward for the riders that are clean. It is not right, as it is they who suffer more from the success of others who continue to take doping substances," declared the outspoken American to AFP newsagency.
"The use of the EPO was known since 1991", he continued. "Everyone knew that there was a group at 'two speeds'. This has now been the situation for 10 years. But let's save those who try to live an honest life."
LeMond was a professional with Gan until his forced retirement in 1994. He recommends the use of more blood tests rather urine testing, which he claims are much more reliable in the fight against doping.
"It is necessary that we use blood tests, because the urine tests do not detect everything" said LeMond. "It's the only way moving forward on these matters. The tests have to take place before and after the Grand Tours like the Tour de France, and that samples kept for a few years."
Despite the less than rosy cycling scene, the cyclist renowned for his innovative attitude still hopes that he can establish his own professional cycling team to give something back to the sport that gave him so much.
LeMond failed in his first attempt last year, with the riders that he had initially signed moving to the then Division I team American Mercury-Viatel, which LeMond joined then left prematurely a few months later.
As for his predictions on the Tour de France, LeMond he no hesitation in nominating Lance Armstrong to take the mantle once again:
"I think that Armstrong will gain his fourth victory now that Jan Ullrich can no longer compete and nobody will be able to stop him" LeMond confidently stated. Furthermore, the double world road champion is not worried in the slightest about the possibility of compatriot Armstrong exceeding his number of Tour victories:
"Lance is fantastic. I will not have any jealousy if he wins the Tour for the fourth time," adding, "you know, I consider myself to have won the Tour virtually four times anyway - in 1985, I had to follow the instructions of my team to let Bernard Hinault win."
ONCE to deliver strong competition for USPS at Tour
The winner of the last three Tours de France, Texan Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, will face possibly their strongest competition in this year's Tour from ONCE-Eroski, and in particular, Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano.
In stage 3 of the GP du Midi Libre three weeks ago, Galdeano pipped Armstrong in a race against the clock, albeit by only seven seconds. Even the USPS DS was surprised on that day:
"Lance's TT was very good, but Galdeano was stronger than him today as he is a real time trial specialist. I saw how fast Lance was going, so Galdeano must have been very strong," said Johan Bruyneel.
Despite an all-out Spanish-French attack on the American during the last two stages, Armstrong and his team rode infallibly, taking the final GC from Galdeano by nine seconds.
However, the strength of Galdeano has left a lasting impression; and with Simoni and Garzelli out for obvious reasons and German powerhouse Jan Ullrich not likely to race a three week tour again this year, all Postal eyes are affixed on Manolo Saiz's ONCE outfit.
"He (Armstrong) is aware that it is something that requires attention", said Igor's brother, Alvaro González de Galdeano. "We are dangerous. Instead of doing as we have done in other years, all our efforts are directed towards the Tour - this year we have only taken four victories so far."
So far, Igor is living up to his brother's expectations, currently leading on general classification in the Tour of Germany with two stages remaining. "Igor has now seen that it is possible to be beat him (Armstrong). He is mentally ready and there are great possibilities of doing well," added the elder of the Galdeanos.
Directeur sportif Manolo Saiz supports these claims, indicating that ONCE-Eroski will be a more aggressive outfit in the Tour: "We were conservative last year - the third position of Beloki nor fifth of Galdeano was not enough for both. One on one with Armstrong is not possible, but if we go en bloc..."
ONCE's other star rider, Joseba Beloki, repeated a phrase he already said to his manager Saiz in February: "Someday the domination of Armstrong must finish - and on that day, I would like to be his successor. It would be great to say that I ended the reign of Armstrong, just like Riis ended the reign of Induráin."
Simoni continues to deny doping charges
Saeco-Longoni Sport leader Gilberto Simoni has been heard by the substitute prosecutor of Trento, Bruno Giardina, in relation to testing non-negative for cocaine during the Giro del Trentino in late April. Simoni was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia before the stage 12 start in Campobasso by his team management, after testing non-negative to cocaine for the second time in four weeks during two separate controls.
Simoni, not surprisingly, continues to vigilantly assert his innocence, saying: "I am paying for something which is absurd. All I want is to be able to return to racing as soon as possible."
Pantani case postponed; Zanini banned for six months
A decision in the case involving Mercatone Uno cyclist Marco Pantani has been postponed until June 17, the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) announced today. The FCI's disciplinary commission decided to put back the decision after Pantani changed lawyers, in order to give his new attorney time to examine the case.
Pantani has been accused of doping after police found a syringe containing insulin in his hotel room during the San Remo raids in the 2001 Giro d'Italia. He claims that the syringe was not his. If found guilty, then he could be banned for up to a year.
However the commission did decide to suspend Mapei-Quick Step rider Stefano Zanini for a period of six months, after police also found an insulin syringe in his luggage. He was found guilty of possession and alleged use of insulin, although Mapei has lodged an appeal saying that the syringe was not used. If the ban stays in place, Zanini will not be able to take part in the 2002 Tour de France.
12th Classique des Alpes
Taking place a day prior to the start of the Dauphiné Libéré, the Classique des Alpes offers the climbers a chance to test their legs before the Dauphiné, effectively turning it into a nine day stage race for some. However, not all the favourites will be riding it: US Postal hasn't entered a team, Credit Agricole will be without Christophe Moreau, CSC will be without Jalabert, Bonjour will be without Rous, and Domo hasn't entered a team.
Despite this, it's still a strong field with the likes of David Millar and David Moncoutie (Cofidis), Unai Osa (iBanesto), Oscar Sevilla and Santiago Botero (Kelme), Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole). Top second division team EDS-fakta will also try to figure in the race, with Marcus Ljungqvist, Jørgen Bo Petersen, and Scott Sunderland as part of a strong team.
The 197 km race starts in Chambéry and finishes in Aix-les-Bains, and takes in seven climbs between 850 and 1480 metres in height. The final challenge is the Col du Revard which comes at 25 km to go and is followed by a long, and very scenic descent into Aix-les-Bains.
Ag2r-Prevoyance, Bonjour, BigMat, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, La Française des Jeux, Jean Delatour, Saint-Quentin-Oktos, Lotto-Adecco, RDM-Flanders, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Marlux-Charleroi, EDS-Fakta, CSC-Tiscali, Euskaltel-Euskadi, ibanesto.com and Kelme.
54th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Starting on Sunday, June 9 with a 3.6 kilometre prologue in Lyon is the 54th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. With names such as Lance Armstrong, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Oscar Sevilla, Santiago Botero, Didier Rous, Richard Virenque, and Laurent Jalabert, the race will be an excellent preview of the Tour de France which starts on July 6.
There are a total of eight stages including the prologue, with Wednesday's 41 kilometre time trial from Montélimar to Pierrelatte a crucial test for the Tour contenders. But a day prior this, the riders face the extremely tough ascent of Mont Ventoux (1909m), that marks the finish of stage 2. Mont Ventoux also features in stage 14 of the Tour de France, and is one of the reasons why the Dauphiné will see so many Tour favourites at the start.
However, the key stage will be stage 6 from Albertville to Morzine-Avoriaz. Only 146 kilometres long, the stage takes in three category 1 climbs (Saisies, Aravis, Colombière) and the Hors Categorie Col de Joux Plane (1691m) before the descent into the finish. As ever, the Dauphiné Libéré is well suited to the climbers, and we may well see the winner of this go on to take the Tour de France.
Ag2r-Prevoyance, Bonjour, BigMat, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, La Française des Jeux, Jean Delatour, Domo-Farm Frites, Lotto, CSC, US Postal, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Kelme, iBanesto.com
First Union USPRO Championships live on Cyclingnews
If you've enjoyed our coverage of the First Union series so far with the First Union Invitational in Lancaster and the First Union Classic in Trenton, there's plenty more to come with the First Union Liberty Classic and the USPRO Championships in Philadelphia on Sunday, June 9. For those of you who can't make it to the race, Cyclingnews will be providing live coverage of the men's race which starts at 9:00 am local time (6:00am Pacific Daylight Time/15:00 European Summer Time/11pm Australian East Coast)
Au revoir to Bonjour?
French cycling team Bonjour now finds itself without a sponsor for the 2003 season after Système U decided not to be involved in professional cycling.
At the end of the contract with free weekly magazine Bonjour on December 31, 2002, the team of Jean-Rene Bernaudeau was placing all of its hopes on the support of the French supermarket chain Système U. Given their earlier successful involvement in the mid-1980s with Cyrille Guimard and Laurent Fignon, Bernadeau was confident that Système U would come to the party once again.
However the board of directors of System U, who currently sponsor local football team Le Havre, chose not to proceed:
"When a company engages in professional sport, it is for a long-term benefit," explained Serge Papin, the communications officer for Système U, to Reuters. "In this particular case, it was a large investment and we had to make a choice."
As a consequence of Système U's decision to withdraw their interest in cycling, the management of Bonjour are now in a race against the clock to find a new sponsor before the year's end.
"It was a beautiful project that was not completed," recognised Philippe Raimbaud, the general manager of the Bonjour cycling team, "but it is not the end of the world - we have already begun to pursue other avenues".
Bonjour, captained by current French champion Didier Rous and the young prodigy Sylvain Chavanel, has so far accumulated nine victories on the road this season. Their end-of-year objective was to move into the top ten teams on the UCI rankings, which would allow them automatic qualification in the Grand Tours and World Cup races.
With less than one month to go before the start of the Tour de France, Bonjour must find 4.5 million euros to be able to continue next season; otherwise it's au revoir for Bonjour.
Grouse Mountain World Cup cancelled
The UCI has been forced to cancel the fourth round of the Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada. The race was scheduled for July 7, 2002, and was to be held in conjunction with the 4-Cross, which has also been cancelled. Organisers Gestev Inc. and Grouse Mountain decided against holding the event due to unexpected snow conditions at the venue.
According to the UCI, "No replacement site is foreseen for the moment," and the World Cup will be run over 5 races instead of 6.
Irish weekend previews
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Last weekend was a bit of damper for the senior A's with no competition whatsoever for them. More to the point it left a yawning gap after the FBD Milk Ras which was a huge success, specifically with an Irish winner, Ciaran Power. Hopefully in years to come this will not be repeated, especially for those who had competed in the FBD Milk Ras the week before and would have appreciated competition to get the legs back into working order.
On Sunday they will have the option of competition in either Banbridge or Carrick-on-Suir. Each event has a particular significance. They are being held in memory of Noel Taggart (Banbridge) and Thomas Sheehan (Carrick) who were beacons on the domestic scene. Both left their imprimatur and long may it continue.
It has to be said that the competition in this year's Ras was of a particularly high standard, which resulted in mediocre performances from the home scene. Certainly Philip Cassidy of the Cycleways-Lee Strand team exemplified fitness which saw him record a stage win on behalf of the club riders in the Ras, also that they won the County award speaks volumes for the preparation that goes into their club outfit.
Obviously wherever Philip turns out, the favourite's tag will be his reward.
So the senior A's were starved over the Whit weekend, but the lesser categories in the Dunboyne Three-day had excellent fare, which resulted in 164 competitors going to the start line. There is real life out there for those who want to try their hand at cycling which is the message emanating from Cycling Ireland's HQ in Dublin.
On Sunday up in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow they are being catered for again with the Kevin McInerney Memorial. That young man looked set to conquer the competitive world of cycling, but tragically he was knocked off his bicycle near his home in Clondalkin many years ago.
According to Sam Darcy of the Usher Irish Road Club, "It is important that Kevin's memory lives on. In my opinion he had a bright future ahead, but for us in the club, it is important that his memory lives on."
Last weekend's winner of the Dunboyne Three-day, Laurence Roche is expected on the start line and another win is very much on the cards.
Entry forms for the National Road Race Championships are now available from the Stamullen-Donnelly Road Club.