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Photo ©: Sirotti

News for November 20, 2002

Edited by Chris Henry

UCI approves Gonzalez transfer to Fassa Bortolo

Aitor Gonzalez has reportedly been granted the go-ahead to join Fassa Bortolo, signing a two-year contract with the Italian team. Alain Rumpf of the UCI announced that the governing body has approved the contract with Fassa Bortolo, despite continuing objections from the Acqua & Sapone team, which also claims to have signed a deal with Gonzalez, winner of this year's Vuelta a España.

"Given the documents we now have it looks as if Aitor Gonzalez will be able to ride for Fassa Bortolo next season," Rumpf affirmed on behalf of the UCI. "Fassa Bortolo have a solid contract with the rider."

Botero set to sign with Telekom

Colombian Santiago Botero has confirmed that he is indeed set to sign a contract with Team Telekom, pending his release from Kelme. "The contract isn't signed yet, but I believe it will be a two year contract," said Botero. "An excellent team like Telekom is perfect for me."

Botero doesn't assume that he will be the team leader at Telekom, however, and notes that the team has engaged several new riders for the 2003 season with an eye on the grand tours. "The leader will be decided on the road," the rider continued. Botero has also let it be known he intends to challenge Lance Armstrong on the roads of France next July. "If I use all of my capabilities, I can beat lance. One needs only believe, and anything's possible."

Despite Botero's optimism, the transfer is not a done deal just yet. According to Telekom spokesman Olaf Ludwig, a decision on the part of the team will likely come at the end of the year. In the meantime, Telekom is examining the possibilities of recruiting Botero without having to buy his way out of his existing contract with Kelme.

Magali Le Floc'h joins Team RONA

Magali Le Floc'h, 27, will join Canadian Team RONA for 2003. Le Floc'h is the number one ranked rider in France, and has throughout her career raced primarily in her national team colours. "It was my friend Catherine Marsal who first made contact with RONA’s team manager André Aubut," said Le Floc'h. "Of course, I had heard of Geneviève Jeanson- I saw her race at the Sydney Games and at the Flèche Wallonne in 2000. I had also seen Melissa Holt race at Zolder. I can't wait to meet my new team-mates. And I'm really excited about racing in Montreal- I hear the ambience is fantastic!"

Magali won the 2002 National Championships and placed well at the Tour de l'Aude (15th in GC, three stage podiums) and the Trophée d'Or (8th in GC), as well as taking seventh place at this year's World Championships. She won the Coupe de France in 2001 and took the GC victory and a stage win at the 2001 Tour de la Drôme.

"Magali will add even more depth to the team for 2003," commented team manager André Aubut. "She's an excellent sprinter, but she can also climb reasonably well. So she'll contribute to the team's success in several ways. And she's now a mature racer, so her experience will be a great asset."

Nicole Cooke to Acca Due-O

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nicole Cooke (GBr) has signed a two year contract with the Italian team Acca Due-O. The 19 year old Welsh native thus ends her troubled relationship with another Italian team, Deia-Pragma-Colnago. During the course of the last season, Nicole encountered serious financial problems from which she hopes to recover now that she has a new contract. Cooke was world junior road race and time trial champion in 2001, the same year when she was world junior mountain bike and British elite road race champion.

Courtesy of João Cravo

Saulius Ruskys signs with Marlux

Lithuanian cyclist Saulius Ruskys has signed a one year contract with the Belgian Marlux team. "I am glad that finally I found a team for next season," Ruskys told the ELTA news agency. "I hope Marlux will be good team for next season."

Ruskys is the second ranked Lithuanian cyclist in the UCI ratings, ranked 172nd, behind Raimondas Rumsas, who is 40th.

Spanish U23 World's silver medalist faces possible DQ

Spain is in a position to lose its silver medal from the U23 road race at this year's World Championships in Zolder. Francisco Gutiérrez faces possible disqualification if further tests confirm a positive for corticoids. Gutiérrez himself was promoted from the bronze to silver medal after second place in the race Hans Dekkers of the Netherlands was later disqualified for "irregular sprinting."

Gutiérrez fractured his collarbone at the Vuelta a Vizcaya in July, and in the subsequent months had received corticoid injections to treat his injuries. However, given that corticoids can remain in the system for an extended period of time, his injections may offer an explanation of his positive test at Zolder. According to the UCI, responsibility for the investigation into the case, and any possible sanction of Gutiérrez, lies in the hands of the Spanish federation.

Sievers banned for EPO use

German rider Holger Sievers, who rode this year for Team Nürnberger, has been suspended for 12 months for EPO use. Sievers, 33, tested positive for the drug in an out of competition test in May, and has been sanctioned by the German federation. Following the initial positive, Sievers requested a second test, which was also returned positive.

Jeker injured in training crash

Swiss rider Fabian Jeker of the Portuguese Milaneza-MSS team suffered a serious crash Sunday while training in Valencia, Spain, where he lives. Jeker suffered a lesion on his right knee and was operated on yesterday morning in Valencia after obtaining the agreement of Milaneza-MSS team doctor Basil Ribeiro. Thankful at least to have suffered the crash now rather than during the season, Jeker nonetheless faces at least three weeks of recovery time off the bike.

Courtesy of João Cravo

Joona Laukka forced to retire

Joona Laukka, Finland’s best-known professional, has announced his retirement. Laukka, who rode for Jean Delatour, has been forced into early retirement due to persistent back problems. "Final diagnosis of the doctors was that my back couldn’t be operated on to [allow me to] continue racing. Of course, this is a huge disappointment, because I have to retire at the age of 30, when my best results were still to come," said Laukka in a press release.

Laukka's future is uncertain, though he hopes to remain active in professional cycling. "At the moment it seems that I will stay here in France with my family. I have already discussed with my team in Finland, TWD-Länken, about my role in helping the young riders to build up an international career. I will try use my contacts and experience for this job," said Laukka.

Laukka turned pro in 1995 and found his best performances in the stage races. Although primarily riding as a domestique, Laukka can claim a 14th place in the Giro d'Italia, and 6th place in a Tour de France stage.

Lithuania to honour Rumsas

Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas, third place in this year's Tour de France- and subject of considerable controversy since- will be awarded with the "Olympic Star" of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK), one of the highest sports awards of the country.

The award ceremony will take place in the LTOK headquarters on Wednesday. Lithuania's U23 World Time Trial Champion Tomas Vaitkus will also be present at the event. The Lithuanian and Italian coaches of both riders will be in attendance, as well as officials of the Lithuanian Cycling Federation and Professional Cycling Union.

Toys for Tots at US cyclo-cross nationals

Organizers of the Cyclo-cross National Championships will award more than medals this year. They also will give out toys to needy children in Napa Valley, California, where the race is being held. Race promoter Gale Force partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program to help needy kids enjoy the holiday.

Gale Force is asking participants, spectators and sponsors to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Cyclo-cross Nationals, which will be held Dec. 14-15. "There are a lot of haves and a lot of have-nots in Northern California. We wanted to hold a fantastic celebration of sport, but we also wanted to remember the needy kids of our host community," said Rick Sutton, president of Gale Force Sports Marketing.

Last year the Toys for Tots program in Napa Valley gathered 29,000 toys. For more information visit



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