News for May 24, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Stage 11 wrap up
Gilberto Simoni answered his critics today in an inspired win to the top of Campitello Matese, beating Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo) who had spent the latter part of the stage on Simoni's wheel after the two had broken away with 3 km to go. In the end, Simoni and Casagrande finished just 4 seconds ahead of the next small group, but it was a sure sign of the fireworks to come in the high mountains.
Then there's the case of Simoni's cocaine administering dentist, which now has the police and an investigating judge involved in his home town of Trento.
Post stage comments
Gilberto Simoni, 1st stage
When questioned on his motivation to win: "Revenge? No, not especially. I felt guilty of being negligent, guilty to have tarnished the sport I love. This is a victory that rewards the team. I spent a very bad day yesterday. The team has worked well, but I hoped in vain that Casagrande would roll through. I did not want him to win, because I did all the work before. But I was afraid for a moment that it was a feint. That's why I didn't give it everything."
"The Tour de France? I would be disappointed if I could not dispute it. I built my program according to the Giro and the Tour, and my form is improving as the Giro goes on. The Tour is difficult but there is more than a month gap between the two races. Now, everything could change."
Simoni not in the clear yet
The dentist's certificate obtained by the Saeco team on Wednesday to explain the presence of cocaine in Simoni's urine sample on April 24 did little to appease the media and the fans, who are still recovering from Stefano Garzelli's shock exit two days ago. The certificate, dated April 24 and signed by Simoni's dentist Bruno Grosselli, said that a "The patient Gilberto Simoni today underwent urgent orthodontic [sic] treatment with the local anaesthetic containing Carbocaine two percent with adrenaline."
However, the test results clearly showed the presence of cocaine (in trace amounts) and its metabolites benzoilecgonine and metalicgonine - there can be no doubt that it was cocaine and not carbocaine, which is substantially different in chemical structure and is easily distinguishable in a drug test.
Police in Trento have now taken samples of the anaesthetic used by Dr Grosselli for further analysis, and an investigation has been opened by magistrate Bruno Giardina in Trento.
Simoni was also questioned for over two hours by Italian police after he won today's stage about the non-negative test for cocaine. Simoni stuck to his original story saying that it must have come from the dentist's treatment.
Saeco issued a press release saying that it has the "maximum confidence in its rider and respects his professionality" at the same time expressing "no doubts" as to the dental certificate's reliability, including its date.
Leblanc keeps his options open
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc is keeping his options open regarding the team selection for the upcoming Tour de France. Leblanc was questioned about whether he would still keep Saeco in the 21 team lineup, should Gilberto Simoni be found positive for doping.
"If he is suspended, we have the right to reconsider the presence of Saeco in the Tour de France as the reason that they were selected on May 2 was because their leader Gilberto Simoni would dispute the Tour," said Leblanc to the Sud-Ouest newspaper.
"We will have 21 teams present in the Tour de France 2002. We would not take advantage of this affair to reduce it to 20. There would therefore be a place for another team," he added, without being specific.
Leblanc also said that Mapei's spot was not in danger, as Garzelli would not have taken part in the Tour anyway, and he felt that his case was an "isolated one".
Cadel Evans re-launches website
Cadel Evans and Mokasport have re-launched Cadel's official website, www.cadelevans.com. The site is structured to provide an "intimate insight into Cadel's life as a pro-cyclist". A special section of Cadelevans.com will be devoted to revealing Cadel's feelings, emotions, tips and tricks at selected events at which he will participate.
Cadel is currently lying in 10th position on GC in the Giro d'Italia, and is one of Mapei's main GC riders there along with Andrea Noè.
Florent Brard fractures two bones
Credit Agricole's Florent Brard is in severe doubt for the Tour de France after crashing out of the Midi Libre during the second stage. Brard hit a pole on a descent near the finish and fractured his right collarbone and anterior D7 vertebrae. He will need a month's recovery which will only give him two weeks to prepare for the Tour.
Mapei riders questioned in Belgium
Members of the Mapei-Quick Step team riding in the Tour of Belgium were questioned by police in Knokke-Heist and asked to submit to anti-doping tests after today's second stage finished there. The action follows the discovery of a suspicious looking ampoule by rider Eddy Ratti in his luggage on Wednesday night.
Ratti informed team doctor Theo Lebon, who found it contained Genotonord (growth hormone) and immediately told team leader Eric Vanderaerden, who notified the police in Oostende, who in turn notified the police in Brugge. The Mapei riders were kept awake until 3 am last night, and were questioned further today.
After Stefano Garzelli's mysterious positive test for probenecid in the Giro d'Italia, the Mapei team were alluding to a conspiracy against them. Vanderaerden will give a press conference about it later on Thursday evening.
Garzelli case to be heard on June 3
The Swiss Cycling Federation will hear the case of Stefano Garzelli, who recently tested positive for probenecid in the Giro d'Italia, on June 3. Garzelli will be heard in Lugano by the president of the disciplinary commission, although he can choose to delay it if he wishes. Although an Italian, Garzelli lives near the Swiss border and races with a Swiss licence.
Frigo taken for a ride
It has been revealed that Dario Frigo's two phials of 'Hemassist', an artificial blood substitute that he was carrying during last year's Giro d'Italia, were nothing more than salt and water. Frigo was caught with the phials as well as one containing testosterone after the massive police search of rider hotels during the blitz of San Remo on June 6, 2001. After his Fassa Bortolo team found out, they sacked him immediately and he was ejected from the race.
Frigo later admitted to taking banned substances and was given a nine month suspension, which kept him out of competition until Paris-Nice this year. At the time he said that had bought the two vials of Hemassist "through the Internet, and they were delivered to me in mid-May in Malpensa airport by a man I had never seen before."
He said that he never intended to use them, which is may have been a good thing because Hemassist needs to be kept at -60 Celsius. Also, it was withdrawn from US testing after too many people died from it.
As it turns out, we needn't have worried about his health.
The prosecutor in charge of the Giro investigation in Florence requested that the phials be examined by two French pharmacologists. They found that the colourless liquid was in fact saline solution, which probably would have done Frigo more good than the Hemassist.
He reportedly paid 1,700,000 lira for both phials.
Credit Agricole's young Norwegian Thor Hushovd might suffer from asthma, according to Norwegian daily Fædrelandsvennen. Hushovd suffered from breathing problems Monday during the GP de Villers Cotterêts. He started in the GP Midi Libre but again had problems and visited a doctor Wednesday, who told him that he suffers from asthma.
Asthma is not unusual for top athletes and it often occurs as a result of extreme physical efforts under varying weather conditions.
Jimmy Hansen off track
The Danish national track team has lost Jimmy Hansen, Team Bornholm, who was to ride Olympia's Tour in the Netherlands with the national road team. Track coach Tayeb Braikia stopped him from the Dutch race and wanted him on a training camp in the Ballerup Arena.
"It's not worth giving up the road career for a spot in the pursuit team in the World's", says Hansen who now leaves the track team all together.
Norwegian gunner takes to the road
Olympic biathlon relay Champion Frode Andresen will ride the Norwegian cycling championships in Hønefoss this summer. Andresen, who was in the Norwegian gold winning biathlon relay team in Salt Lake City this winter has trained with Team Krone, Norway's only professional cycling team. The championship parcours passes Andresen's home in Hønefoss and he has had many occasions to test the roads.
Two years ago Andresen came in 7th in the major Norwegian MTB race Birkebeiner'n. He is also considered to be one of the fastest proponents of the biathlon in the world, but suffers from an uneven shooting level. For those that don't know: Biathlon is a ski race in which the skier carries a rifle and stops several times to shoot during the races. A missed target means an added minute or added distance on a 200 metre penalty course.