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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

News for October 15, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

End of an era for Laurent Jalabert

By Chris Henry

Merci JaJa
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Laurent Jalabert competed in his last professional road race Sunday, leading the French national team at the World Championships road race. Throughout the entire season Jalabert has been the focus of unending adulation regarding his storied career. Determined to end his career on not one, but a series of high notes, Jalabert this season answered each compliment concerning his past with another fine performance in the present. A second polka dot jersey in the Tour de France and a World Cup victory in San Sebastian were certainly two highlights of another exceptional year.

Jalabert wasn't able to shine on the parcours in Zolder, but there was little question he would end his days in competition in style. Full of emotion and nerves before the start, he even launched a first lap attack just to expend some energy and get himself in the right mindset for the remainder of the race. Jalabert told French sports daily l'Equipe that he likened Sunday's race to "a flat stage of the Tour de France, where everything is made for the sprinters." With speeds in excess of 50km/h and several teams controlling the race for their sprinters, there was little chance for Laurent to emerge victorious.

Career highlights for Laurent are numerous, but one must certainly recall his stage victories, green, and polka dot jerseys in the Tour de France, his national road and world time trial titles, spring classics including La Fleche Wallonne, and major stage race wins at the Vuelta a España and three successive Paris-Nice. The list is long.

Jalabert's 14 years in the pro peloton were spent riding for the French Toshiba team, the Spanish ONCE formation, and most recently CSC-Tiscali of Denmark, under the guidance of former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis. Jalabert emerged as a field sprinter, but ultimately evolved into one of the most complete riders in the peloton. Though often tipped as a favourite, he never achieved the highest step on the podium of the Tour de France (his best finish was 4th place in 1995). However, at the moment he realized that one ambition was beyond his reach, Laurent shifted his focus to stage wins and the points (and later, mountains) jersey, with quick success. Goal oriented and a man for all occasions, a combination of power, finesse, and tactical know-how led him to one victory after another.

End of the road
Photo: © Miwako Sasaki
Click for larger image

So what does the consummate professional hope to do now that his racing days are done? "Drink beer more often, eat without worrying what might be too fattening, even if I don't plan to totally let loose at meals. I still have to draw the line."

More serious pursuits are to continue his long-time relationship with bicycle and equipment manufacturer Look, as well as play some role in the development of younger riders. Jalabert has also in the past few months expressed interest in working as a directeur sportif for a women's professional team.

Like many pros, Jalabert has always cited his family as his number one focus in retirement. Having spent so much time away from his wife and four children over the years, Jalabert the superstar now assumes a new role as domestique, ready to work for the rest of the team.

"Allez Jaja."

Also see: Marion Clignet's interview with Laurent Jalabert (September, 2002)

Laurent Jalabert

Date of Birth: November 30, 1968
Nationality: France
Turned professional: 1989

Major victories (abridged)

Stage races

Points jersey in Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España
Stage victories in Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España
Mountain jersey in Tour de France 2001, 2002
Setmana Catalana (stage win and overall) 2000
Tour de Romandie (stage win and overall) 2000
Vuelta a Burgos (stage win and overall) 1997
Paris-Nice (overall) 1995-1997
Criterium International (stage win and overall) 1996
G.P. Midi Libre 1996
Route du Sud 1996
Vuelta a España (overall) 1995

Classics

Clasica San Sebastian 2001, 2002
Classique des Alpes 1996, 1998
Giro di Lombardia 1997
Flèche Wallonne 1995, 1997
Milan-San Remo 1995

Championship titles

French national champion 1998
World Time Trial Champion 1997

Ullrich not coming cheaply

Jan Ullrich's future team has yet to be decided, with negotiations with CSC-Tiscali proceeding rather slowly due to the latter's uncertainty regarding a co-sponsor next season. Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband told SID newsagency that "The team [CSC] is in contact with six possible sponsors, but he already has new offers at the moment," referring to Ullrich. "For a million euro per year, Jan will not transfer to anywhere."

Ullrich, who is suspended until March 23, 2003, hopes to recommence training in "two to three weeks" after his latest knee operation.

Brard and Bichot suspended

French cyclists Florent Brard (Credit Agricole) and Freddy Bichot (French Elite 2 Champion) have both been suspended for testing positive to banned drugs. In Brard's case, traces of corticosteroids were found in his urine during a routine test in the Tour de l'Ain in August. Brard claimed that he was using Diprostene to treat pain in his shoulder, as he was still recovering from a bad crash in the GP du Midi Libre where he broke several bones, including his collarbone and a spinal vertebra. However he did not note this in his health booklet, and was therefore breaking the regulations for corticosteroid use.

Brard found out about the positive A test on September 18, and has requested a B sample analysis. However as he did not inform his employer that he was using corticosteroids, his team has been forced to sack him. If the B sample is also positive, then he faces being suspended by the French Cycling Federation.

Freddy Bichot, who this year won the French Championship for Elite 2 riders, was suspended for similar reasons. The 22 year old claimed that he was suffering from an allergy which hindered his cycling, and was prescribed a treatment containing cortisone. A doctor injected him on June 4 with the treatment, assuring him that all traces would disappear in three weeks. However on June 28 when he won the French championship he was drug tested, and the corticoids showed up. He had also not registered the treatment on his health record and was therefore declared positive. The French Cycling Federation suspended him for six months in September and took away his title.

Sweden applies for Women's World Cup.

The only Swedish international race Tjejtrampet might become a new event in the Women's World Cup as a result of Susanne Ljungskog's World Championship title. The Swedish Cycling Federation is prepared to apply for World Cup status for 2004 according to its general secretary Bjorn Mattsson.

The race is held in late May every year hand has seen several international star riders appear with Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel winning the last three editions. The race starts and finishes quite near the centre of the Swedish capital Stockholm but since the distance is only 48 km the race will have to be altered to suit the World Cup.

Tjejtrampet is also a giant tour ride, the biggest ladies only event in the world with some 7000 participants on a shorter 25 km part of the elite parcours. Tjejtrampet is thus one of the biggest cycling promotion events in Scandinavia.

"Tjejtrampet has through the years had a very big importance for Swedish women's cycling. Now when we have a World Champion it's time for an application for the World Cup," said Swedish Cycling Federation's general secretary Bjorn Mattsson. " I would be surprised if we didn't get the event already by 2004."

Race date for nest year is May 24-25 with the Tjejtrampet one day and an omnium criterium the other.

New 'cross rules may avert Belgian World Cup boycott

A potential boycott of the World Cup by Belgian cyclocrossers may be averted due to the new rules that the UCI will implement this season. Although not official yet, it seems as though the controversial "starting order by country ranking" rule will only be used in the first round of the World Cup.

For the rest of the events this season, the rule will be changed so that the first 24 riders in the World Cup ranking will earn the best starting positions, followed by the other riders in order of UCI ranking.

Ljungqvist to Credit Agricole

Marcus Ljungqvist will definitely leave top Division II team EDS-fakta for Credit Agricole next season The Swede who is ranked 47th in the world said that he has a lot to thank EDS-fakta and its director sportif Kim Andersen for.

"I didn't even know if I was going to continue when they offered me a contract three years ago", he said. "Kim Andersen is a fantastic leader and he has made us work extremely well together."

Ljungqvist won four races this year, including Paris-Camembert (Coupe de France) 1.2, Route Adélie (Coupe de France) 1.3, and the Tour of Luxembourg (2.2) stage 2 and overall.

More World Cup races and a rumoured doubled salary were to hard to resist to Ljungqvist, who was the Swedish champion in 2001. He is also looking forward to a chance to ride in the Tour which he did in '99 for Cantina Tollo where he made his pro debut in 1998.

Farm Frites-Hartol lose Lindberg and Robb

Madeleine Lindberg and Kirsty Nicole Robb will not be riding for Team Farm Frites-Hartol in 2003. After a year with the team, Robb did not get her contract extended. Lindberg on the other hand has an offer from the German team Nürnberger. The Swede has ridden for Farm Frites Hartol for the last three years, and this year won a stage in the Grande Boucle Feminine.

Team manager Michael Zijlaard is at the moment looking for substitutes for these two riders. Last week, the team signed Junior World Champion Suzanne de Goede, as well as Christa Pirard and German Sandra Missbach.

Triple Italian program for Saeco-Longoni Sport

The Saeco-Longoni Sport team will conclude its season in Italy with the final three races on the calendar. The team will put its best riders in the lineup for Milan-Turin (Wednesday Oct 16), Giro del Piemonte (Thursday Oct 17) and Tour of Lombardy (Saturday Oct 19). The team will then end the season riding the Japan Cup on October 27.

Italian national team member Danilo Di Luca will take part in the first race and the Tour of Lombardy, the last round of the World Cup. For the Giro del Piemonte his place will be taken by Italian national champion Salvatore Commesso.

Also riding are Gilberto Simoni, second Saeco "azzurro" Fabio Sacchi, Mirko Celestino, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Alessandro Spezialetti and Gerrit Glomser. He will be replaced by Igor Astarloa for the Tour of Lombardy who will be defending his third place in the overall world Cup standings.

It is still unclear if Lithuanian rider Marius Sabaliauskas will be able to ride after his double crash at the world championships.

Milano-Torino (16/10): Bertagnolli, Celestino, Di Luca, Glomser, Sabaliauskas, Sacchi, Simoni and Spezialetti

Giro del Piemonte (17/10): Bertagnolli, Celestino, Commesso, Glomser, Sabaliauskas, Sacchi, Simoni and Spezialetti

Giro di Lombardia (19/10): Bertagnolli, Celestino, Di Luca, Astarloa, Sabaliauskas, Sacchi, Simoni and Spezialetti

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