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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Second edition news for June 30, 2002

Edited by Anthony Tan

Oscar's the favourite

On this weekend of the major European national championships, the Spanish races are attracting more than their fair share of attention, mainly due to the form guide element as the top riders prepare for the Tour de France.

Yesterday, ONCE's Igor González de Galdeano won the Individual Time Trial despite being slowed by two punctures (results). Even Lance Armstrong has recongised that the ONCE rider poses a real threat to his fourth consecutive Tour victory.

Today it's the road race and reigning world champion Oscar Freire (Mapei-Quick Step) is considered to be the favourite for the Spanish National Championship that will be contested in Salamanca today.

Another favourite is Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguero (Acqua e Sapone) who, like Freire, does not have much in the way of strength in numbers from riders from his trade team. Freire will have only the support of Mapei-Quick Step men David Cañada and Pedro Horrillo, and this may be prove decisive in the final sections of the race.

Riders from ONCE Eroski, and Kelme Costa Blanca are likely to try to break the race apart early on, as none of the teams have pure sprinters. And Santiago Blanco, although better known for his prowess in the mountains, could be a dark horse as he came second in last year's national championships on a similar parcours.

One Spaniard who won't be contesting the race will be US Postal Service's Roberto Heras, who decided after his victory in the Volta a Catalunya to forgo the national championships in order to make his final preparations for the Tour de France.

The course will be held on a 72.1 kilometre loop that riders will have to face three times, totalling 216.3 kilometres. The parcours is not considered to be particularly difficult, and is strongly favoured to the sprinters. The race will start at 12.45pm and is likely to finish around 6pm.

(Cyclingnews has all the results and reports for the national championships linked from the home page.)

De Paoli ends his career on a sour note

Daniele De Paoli, the 29 year-old Italian who rides for Division 1 squad Alessio, has announced yesterday that he has chosen to end his career as a professional cyclist.

De Paoli's decision is a consequence of his temporary suspension after being found in the possession of illicit doping substances last Thursday in the Tour of Switzerland. He will still be required to face the full consequences of the Italian judicial system. De Paoli was in his sixth year as a professional.

UCI President all'attacco on Mapei boss

The president of the UCI, Hein Verbruggen, has taken the extraordinary step of publicly criticising Mapei boss Georgio Squinzi in a letter published in the Italian sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, last Thursday.

Verbruggen's letter is a response to the decision last Tuesday by Squinzi to withdraw his company's support from the Mapei - Quick Step team, one of the most successful in the sport.

As one of the major sponsors of cycling, Mapei's withdrawal will have severe ramifications not just for the sport, but also for the teams of elite Division 1 riders, and the emerging Division 3 squad, which features a plethora of talented young riders.

When making this announcement last Tuesday, Squinzi said his reasons for ending Mapei's support were due to "the current problems in cycling and sport in general", a veiled reference to the ongoing problem of doping.

Relations between two of the sport's most powerful figures have been strained in the past, but now they are clearly at loggerheads. In his letter, Verbruggen first congratulated the cycling-keen boss, stating that Squinzi's team promoted a brand that was previously unknown, conceding that "despite the differences that characterise his personal relationship with the sports institutions, cycling has benefited from the model organisation of his team."

But then Verbruggen went on the attack, and Verbruggen suggested that the damage to be done to cycling following Mapei'ts decision to withdraw may be greater than Mapei's contribution to cycling. Mapei has supported cycling since 1993 and spent around US$100 million during that time.

Verbruggen also criticised Squinzi for his intervention during the decisive moments of the 1996 Paris-Roubaix, where he dictated the order in which Museeuw, Ballerini and Tafi should finish to then directeur-sportif Patrick Lefevere by mobile telephone.

Verbruggen suggests that Squinzi's decision to quit the sport of cycling was based not due to the recent doping scandals that have tainted his super-squadra, but "was probably dictated by internal contingencies within his company, which cannot unfortunately be made public".

Further comments included claims that Squinzi had ulterior motives to withdraw its association with the UCI and had plans to ruin the sport with unfounded accusations about doping in cycling "during the sport's most difficult moments, showing no form of critical but constructive solidarity whatsoever."

In addition to being critical of Mapei's failure to withdraw Stefano Garzelli from the Giro after his first anti-doping test was confirmed non-negative for probenecid, Verbruggen accused Mapei of attempting to create a cycling monopoly, with a team so large and powerful, "ready to commit itself to a disturbing destabilisation of the market by signing up every talented young rider".

Silovs out of jail until further investigation

The Court of Appeals of Lithuania that started hearing the appeal of convicted Latvian cyclist Juris Silovs is satisfied to release him on a bail amount of 20,000 litas (5,797 euro) until the Kaunas Area Court conducts a full investigation.

It was the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee that proposed to pay the bail for Silovs, jailed on charges of large-scale money smuggling after being caught at a Lithuanian border post.

In his testimony, Silovs said he did not have the chance to become acquainted with money declaration procedure, and according to his lawyer Algimantas Dziegoraitis, the cyclist did not even realise he was involved in smuggling. Silovs was detained on the Lithuanian Kalvarija border crossing post on October 8 last year after failing to declare to customs officials that he was carrying cash in various currencies totalling 262,000 litas (75,942 euros), which he reportedly earned under contract in France riding for Cofidis. Silovs asserted that he tried to protect his money from road gangsters.

In April 2002, the Kaunas Area Court found the cyclist guilty of money smuggling and convicted Silovs to a 5-year prison term. The ruling also imposed a fine, part confiscation of his property and ordered his two cars to be impounded. And as of Thursday, the Latvian was jailed in the Pravieniskes penal colony.

The Court of Appeals pronounced two judgements: the first one orders the Marijampole district prosecutor's office to conduct additional investigation until September 15; the other will petition the Constitutional Court to ascertain whether the articles of Criminal Code, on basis of which the Latvian national was given a minimum 5-year prison sentence, complied with the Constitution. The Appeals Court has adjourned hearing the appeal until a reply comes from the Constitutional Court.

Silov's lawyer Dziegoraitis told ELTA he was happy with the rulings made by the Court of Appeals:

"The indictment contains many serious problems, as a full investigation of criminal action was ignored. Let the court figure this out. The most important thing is that he has been released," said the counsel for the defence.

Two cyclists killed after hit-and-run in Houston

Tragedy has struck two cyclists resulting from a hit-and-run accident in southwest Houston, Texas.

The victims, Grant Smith and Mark Manus, were co-owners of a popular motorbike store, Honda of Houston, and were riding their mountain bikes near the intersection of Chimney Rock Road and Kingsbrook Road shortly before 9.45pm last Thursday.

Police have told News2Houston that the two men were riding their mountain bikes, single file, down Chimney Rock Road in a marked bicycle lane, when witnesses saw a light green Ford pickup gather speed and bear down on them.

"The truck veered over into the bike lane, striking both cyclists (and) knocking them both off their bikes," Officer Rosalee Stafford said. According to the authorities, one man was killed instantly and the other was thrown 48 feet. Paramedics rushed the injured man to Ben Taub General Hospital, but he died hours later.

According to witnesses, the driver of the truck didn't slow down, and sped away into the dark.

"The bicycles took the brunt of the impact, but the vehicle will show some damage", said Officer Stafford. Police said that the damage would be on the right-front part of the pickup truck, which witnesses described as a green Ford.

The accident is under investigation. "They were always a close group. They did a lot of things like riding together - bicycles and motocross," said Ken Bodenhamer, a customer of Smith and Manus' motorbike store. "They were like a family group. Everybody was close. They were close with their customers." The hit-and-run driver could face a failure to stop and render aid charge, a driving while intoxicated charge, or a more serious charge, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Houston Police Department's Hit-And-Run Squad at (713) 247-4065.

Courtesy Mario Perez and

7000 cyclists off to the Dolimites

A record number of 7,000 cyclists will leave at 6.15am this morning from La Villa in Alta Badia in northern Italy and will head for the famous Dolimiti mountain passes that have created the rich history of past Giri d'Italia.

The participants, who have come from 31 different countries, have gathered in the region to participate in the 16th edition of the Maratona delle Dolomiti. Riders choose one of three distances: 147, 110 or 57 kilometres, with 4,345, 3,030 or 1,747 metres of climbing respectively. All riders start in La Villa and finish in the sporting region of Covara.

The Maratona delle Dolomiti will be a festive event with no time limit, and music will welcome the riders upon arrival, congratulating them as they come through.

Of the 7,000 cyclists participating (no more are allowed in this event due to security reasons), there will be 603 women facing the climbs of the Dolomiti, including Olympic champions Antonella Bellutti and Connie Carpenter from the USA, as well as local champion Maria Canins.

The event will be televised on RAI3, with commentary from ex-professionals Davide Cassani and Maurizio Fondriest, and will be the first cycling granfondo to be shown on European television.

Death by altitude

The 14th Annual Flinthills Death Ride, claimed to be one of the most difficult cycling events in the US with more than 70 miles off off-road riding, will begin on July 14 and will add a mountain bike race to the weekend's festivities.

It's quite clear from the press release what type of people this event caters to and the type of people it doesn't befit (or want):

"No complainers, whiners, or cry babies allowed! This event is not for the weak at heart. If you are not physically and mentally fit, do not even bother coming to the Flinthills Death Ride because you are not wanted. The event caters to the most insane, gruelling, determined, excited, and motivated cyclists in the country. Only 66% of the fit athletes survived last year's gruelling ride."

The ride climbs thousands of vertical feet with rough roads - although no rougher than your typical mountain bike ride. As in previous years, the Death Ride will be supported by search and rescue planes that tend to come in handy when a rider strays off course.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, go to the official Flinthills Death Ride website, for more information about the insanity that surrounds this event.

Ride (not race) across America

A group of cyclists have left from Bloomington, Indiana on an organised a ride called the deCycles, the 2002 edition of a cycling tour held each summer that brings together cyclists of all levels and ages to learn more about themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.

For the 2002 New England Tour, from June 22 - July 12, 2002, the deCycles group is riding from Bloomington and through New England to Canada. A major stop along the way will be in Manhattan at the World Trade Center site, where they will meet with NYC dignitaries, firefighters and police officials.

In past years the deCycles tour participants have ridden across America (dipping their wheels in both oceans), ridden the entire Pacific Coast Highway, and have ridden over the highest paved road in the lower 48 States.

The average length of each day's ride an about 75 miles without having to carry anything on your bike, and is fully assisted with overnight stopovers mostly prearranged, where riders sleep in school gyms, YMCA's, churches, and public facilities, making the whole trip relatively inexpensive.

If you're interested, deCycles have a website that is updated daily with more information, journals and photos at:

Courtesy Mark Zalewski

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