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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

News for June 18, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Sevilla to leave Kelme?

Oscar Sevilla may not be riding the Tour de France for Kelme, as unconfirmed reports in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf say that he has dissolved his contract today via the UCI. Sevilla has not been paid for two and a half months and may have gotten tired of waiting, asking the UCI to draw on the team's bank guarantee to pay his salary. This could mean that unless Kelme can top up the funds within 30 days, the team will be suspended, similar to Mercury last year.

Sevilla pulled out of the Dauphiné Libéré last Saturday after falling in the fourth stage, perhaps partly in protest. He has been approached by Telekom and Phonak.

In addition, the Spanish press reports that Sevilla's Colombian teammate Santiago Botero is currently racing in Europe using a student visa, which will run out after the Tour de France.

Pantani protests his innocence

Marco Pantani, who was suspended by the Italian Cycling Federation today for eight months for doping, issued a short statement commenting on the decision. He and his lawyer intend to appeal.

"I continue not to believe this, and I am convinced of my innocence. I insisted with my lawyers for deeper investigations to get to the bottom of this, but that was not done. I want to know why. That's enough of a presumption of culpability to give me eight months. I will prove my innocence, but I wonder: when I have shown everything, will everything be given back to me that I have lost?"

On the other hand, Fabio Sacchi (Saeco) was acquitted of doping accusations today by the FCI's disciplinary commission, as there was insufficient evidence to prove that he had ever used the products (gonadotropin, a growth hormone) seized from his house by police earlier this year. None of the tests carried out on Sacchi were positive or revealed traces of the substance.

The cases of Antonio Varriale and Domenico Romano were postponed until July 18, 2002, when the FCI's disciplinary committee next meets. Finally, the FCI confirmed the 6 month suspension of Alberto Elli, and will take into account the period already served.

66th Tour de Suisse

Rivaling the Dauphiné Libéré and Volta a Catalunya for attention in June is the Tour de Suisse, Switzerland's biggest cycling race considered by many to be the most important stage race next to the Tour, Giro and Vuelta. This year marks the 66th running of the event, which was first held in 1933.

The 2002 Tour de Suisse consists of a prologue and nine stages, starting in Luzern on Tuesday, June 18 with a 6 kilometre time trial, and finishing in Biel on Thursday, June 27 with a 34 kilometre time trial. The first couple of stages are quite flat, giving riders such as Erik Zabel (Telekom) a chance to sharpen their speed before the Tour (not that Zabel needs to!).

There will be some interesting competition for Zabel in the form of Mario Cipollini, winner of six stages in the Giro d'Italia. He has brought his Acqua e Sapone train with him including leadout man Giovanni Lombardi, while Zabel will rely on Gian Matteo Fagnini for the final jump. As Cipollini is not riding the Tour de France, it will be one of the few occasions to see Zabel and Cipollini go head to head.

There are other quick men as well, including Ivan Quaranta (Index-Alexia), winner of the last stage of the Tour of Sweden, Jean-Patrick Nazon and Jimmy Casper (Francaise des Jeux), Jans Koerts and Fred Rodriguez (Domo-Farm Frites), Andrej Hauptmann (Tacconi Sport), Sven Teutenberg (Phonak), and Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r).

The third stage from Domat Ems to Samnaun takes the riders into the mountains for the first time, having to tackle the 2383m Flüalapass halfway through the stage, before the uphill finish to Samnaun (1828m). A similarly profiled stage follows the day after, from Chur to Ambri-Piotta, however the climbs aren't quite as severe.

The fifth stage from Meiringen to Meiringen (148 km) takes in three mountain passes: Grimselpass (2165m), Furkapass (2429m), and Sustenpass (2215m), and the last 40 km is downhill. Stage six from Interlaken to Verbier is another uphill finish, climbing from 465m to 1626m in the final 25 kilometres.

These middle stages should decide the race, and we will see riders such as Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia), Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo), Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom), Andrea Noe (Mapei), Pavel Tonkov and Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre), Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino (Saeco), Laurent Dufaux (Alessio), Alex Zülle (Team Coast), and Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) come to the fore.

Then it's back to the flats for two stages, before the finishing time trial from Lyss to Biel over 34 kilometres. Depending on how they've recovered from the Giro, Paolo Savoldelli and Pavel Tonkov would have to be the big favourites for the GC, along with Alex Zülle, who came close to winning the Tour de Romandie.

The stages

  • Prologue - June 18: Luzern-Luzern ITT, 6 km
  • Stage 1 - June 19: Luzern-Schaffhausen, 171 km
  • Stage 2 - June 20: Schaffhausen-Domat Ems, 191 km
  • Stage 3 - June 21: Domat Ems-Samnaun, 158 km
  • Stage 4 - June 22: Chur-Ambri, 160 km
  • Stage 5 - June 23: Meiringen-Meiringen, 149 km
  • Stage 6 - June 24: Interlaken-Verbier, 177 km
  • Stage 7 - June 25: Martigny-Vevey, 171 km
  • Stage 8 - June 26: Vevey-Lyss, 225 km
  • Stage 9 - June 27: Lyss-Biel ITT, 34 km

The teams

Fassa Bortolo, Team Telekom, Rabobank, Mapei - Quick Step, Domo - Farm Frites, Lampre - Daikin, Tacconi Sport, Saeco - Longoni Sport, Team Coast, Alessio, Ag2r Prevoyance, Acqua&Sapone - Cantina Tollo, La Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Phonak Hearing Systems, Index Alexia, Saint-Quentin Oktos

Strike threatens Volta a Catalunya

The fourth stage of the Volta a Catalunya is set to be disrupted or severely changed as a result of the general strike planned in Spain for this Thursday, June 20. The strike has been organized for some time and is a major part of a campaign against the conservative Popular Party Government. The Spanish cyclists competing in the Volta have stated that they support the strike and the team directors and others cannot interfere with their decision as it is a right guaranteed by the Spanish constitution. Discussions are continuing in attempt to save the stage. One option includes holding it totally within the borders of Andorra.

Telekom builds team around Zabel for the Tour

The Deutsche Telekom team will go into the Tour de France this year with the aim of helping Erik Zabel to his seventh green jersey for the most consistent rider in the sprints. Zabel has not released his grip on the jersey since 1996 when he won it for the first time, and was involved in an epic battle with Stuart O'Grady last year to take the jersey on the final stage.

To this end, team manager Walter Godefroot has picked Zabel's leadout man Gian Matteo Fagnini this year, which should make it easier for Zabel to win a few stages. The rest of the team will be Rolf Aldag, Steffen Wesemann Bobby Julich, Kevin Livingston, Guiseppi Guerini, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Andreas Klöden. Danilo Hondo is first reserve.

Klöden's selection is a big surprise, as he said last Friday that "My condition is not as good as that of the rest of the riders [on the team]. A start does not make much sense." The reason for this is a knee injury that has kept him out of competition for eight weeks. Klöden's first race back is the Volta a Catalunya, which started today and Telekom will presumably reassess his condition after this race.

Godefroot says that the team is aiming for stage wins and not the overall. "After Jan Ullrich's forfeit we are missing a real GC rider. So we are aiming for stage win in the middle section instead."

Latest UCI rankings

The UCI has updated its rankings following the Dauphiné Libéré and other races that have taken place over the last two weeks. Not much has changed at the top with Erik Zabel holding a seemingly impregnable lead on 2,581 points. However, Dauphiné Libéré winner Lance Armstrong has moved into second in front of Paolo Bettini, although Armstrong will lose around 300 points that he earned for the Tour de Suisse last year, as he is not contesting it this year.

Other riders to move up the scale include Santiago Botero (Kelme), winner of the Classique des Alpes and a stage in the Dauphiné. Botero is now into 18th, up from 33rd. ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia, winner of the Euskal Bizikleta, went from 123rd to 74th; Kurt Asle Arvesen (EDS-fakta, winner of the Tour of Sweden) moved from 147th to 82nd; while Gerrit Glomser (Saeco, Tour of Austria winner) went from 419th to 220th; Dauphiné runner up Floyd Landis jumped from 499th to 217th; GP Gippingen winner Giuseppe Palumbo also moved up a number of places from 396th to 217th.

In the teams rankings, iBanesto.com jumped three places into 5th, while US Postal and ONCE also moved up several spots. In division II, EDS-fakta increased its lead again over Bankgiroloterij-Batavus after performing well in both the Tour of Austria and the Tour of Sweden.

The next release is scheduled for June 30 after the various European national championships

Rankings as of June 16, 2002

Individuals
 
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                        2,581.00 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service              2,174.00
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                 2,113.20
4 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                           1,770.00
5 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Telekom                       1,620.00
6 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca        1,566.00
7 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo             1,501.00
8 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step            1,295.00
9 Juan Miguel Mercado Martin (Spa) iBanesto.com        1,232.00
10 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                    1,188.00
11 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole                    1,178.50
12 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC Tiscali             1,176.00
13 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa) ONCE-Eroski          1,161.00
14 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo  1,134.00
15 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                  1,053.00
16 Fernando Escartin Coti (Spa) Team Coast             1,039.00
17 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step             1,033.20
18 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca  1,031.00
19 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski         1,029.00
20 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                        980.00
 
Teams
 
Division I
 
1 Mapei-Quick Step                               5,857.00 pts
2 Lotto-Adecco                                   4,202.00
3 Fassa Bortolo                                  4,018.00
4 Cofidis                                        3,630.00
5 iBanesto.com                                   3,311.00
6 Rabobank                                       3,245.00
7 Alessio                                        3,099.00
8 Team Telekom                                   2,991.00
9 Team Coast                                     2,922.00
10 Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo                  2,902.00
 
Division II
 
1 EDS-fakta                                      2,148.00 pts
2 Bankgiroloterij-Batavus                        1,485.00
3 Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo                       1,161.00
4 Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                        1,104.00
5 Palmans-Collstrop                                896.00
 
Full rankings

Former Shimano chief dies

Shozo Shimano, the former boss of the biggest cycling company in the world, died of heart failure on Saturday, June 15 in a hospital in Osaka, Japan. Shozo Shimano was the president of Shimano Inc. between 1958 and 1992, helping it to become one of the biggest companies in Japan. His son Yozo is the current president of the company.

A private funeral was held in Sakai City, Osaka today, and Shimano Inc. will hold a memorial ceremony during July.

Nicole Cooke signs with British Federation as an Elite Affiliate

Britain's top female road rider Nicole Cooke (Deia-Pragma-Colnago) has signed as an Elite Affiliate member of the Great Britain Cycling Team's lottery-funded programme. Although riding for a professional team, Nicole's Elite Affiliate status will enable her to use the services available to GB Team members. In addition, Nicole will be invited to ride with the Great Britain Cycling Team at races and training camps, which fit in with her current plans.

The Madison Series Returns to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host Professional Racing on Friday, June 21. The featured event is the 2nd Madison in the Bentley Graphics Communications (BGC) Madison Series.

"The Madison is a real crowd pleaser," commented Pat McDonough, director of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. " The U.S. is hoping to field a team in the Olympics for the first time in the Madison, and the BGC Madison Series will provide the necessary training ground."