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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for September 3, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

French authorities close the US Postal investigation

After nearly two years, French judicial officials have finally closed the case involving the US Postal Service team, suspected of carrying banned drugs during the 2000 Tour de France. The official word was that there was a lack of evidence, as investigators have found no proof of the charges leveled at the team in late 2000. Based on analyses of the team's blood and urine samples, they could not prove that any member of the team used prohibited substances.

The investigation started in November 2000 after France 3 TV aired footage of what was alleged to be US Postal team staff disposing of rubbish bags in a suspicious manner. Analysis of the bags revealed quantities of medical products, including Actovegin, a product derived from calves blood used to treat diabetes and considered by some to have blood boosting effects. It was not explicitly on the UCI banned list, although if it worked as it promised it would fall under the banned category of "pharmacological or chemical manipulation of a rider's blood." The team claimed that no riders used Actovegin, while one of the staff needed it for diabetes.

Since then, no new evidence has been uncovered implicating the team, and the investigation has run out of steam. At one stage it seemed as though it would never end, with judicial sources saying that it would end in a "matter of weeks" only to prolong it for many months.

The team's top rider Lance Armstrong has been openly critical of the investigation since it started, calling it a "total joke". In an interview with Cyclingnews in June, Armstrong commented that "Mr. Franchy [the Paris prosecutor] said, twelve months ago, 'the investigation will close soon'. He said that, almost a year ago. It's still open...he now says, at least last week, 'the investigation will close soon'. And then he says the investigation will close a a few weeks...the inconsistency...c'mon, it's a joke."

Nearly three months after that interview was published, the case has finally closed, and the foot thick dossier with a picture of a big syringe sticking out of Armstrong's behind can be laid to rest.

Latest UCI rankings

The UCI has updated its rankings again, a week prior to the Vuelta España, taking into account the GP Ouest France and several other highly ranked races. Erik Zabel (Telekom), winner of yesterday's Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, has opened up a bit of a gap to nearest rival Paolo Bettini (Mapei), who is now 247 points shy of the number one spot. However Zabel will have to ride well in the Vuelta in order to keep some of his points gained from three stages last year. The remainder of the pecking order is the same, with Armstrong, Frigo and Freire rounding out the top five.

Rankings as of September 1, 2002

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                        2,344.00 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                 2,097.00
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service              2,089.00
4 Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi               1,529.00
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step            1,489.75
6 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                           1,466.60
7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                     1,431.75
8 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo             1,284.00
9 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                   1,281.00
10 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca  1,275.40
11 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport            1,245.00
12 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca       1,142.40
13 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo  1,134.00
14 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                      1,088.60
15 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                      1,069.60
16 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Team Coast                        1,053.00
17 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service     1,004.75
18 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC Tiscali             1,004.00
19 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                  991.75
20 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski           965.00
Top riders of 2002
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service              2,089.00
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                        1,540.00
3 Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi               1,529.00
4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                 1,375.00
5 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                     1,276.75
6 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo   1,134.00
7 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Team Coast                         1,038.00
8 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo             1,035.00
9 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC Tiscali                993.00
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport              980.00
1 Mapei-Quick Step                                     8,169.75 pts
2 Fassa Bortolo                                        6,322.00
3 Lotto-Adecco                                         5,724.25
4 US Postal Service                                    5,487.50
5 Cofidis                                              5,354.00
6 ONCE-Eroski                                          5,133.75
7 Rabobank                                             5,122.20
8                                         5,014.77
9 Team Telekom                                         4,921.00
10 Team CSC Tiscali                                    4,843.00
Division II
1 EDS-fakta                                            2,891.00 pts
2 Bankgiroloterij                                      1,745.00
3 Palmans-Collstrop                                    1,486.00
4 Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                              1,468.00
5 De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa                           1,274.00
Division III
1 Mapei-Quick Step                                     1,231.50 pts
2 AXA-VVZ Professional Cycling Team                      414.00
3 Volksbank Ideal                                        379.00
4 Mercury Cycling Team                                   337.00
5 Mikomax-Browar Staropolski                             314.00
1 Italy                                               11,796.50 pts
2 Spain                                                9,497.07
3 Germany                                              6,619.50
4 Belgium                                              6,561.00
5 France                                               6,206.00

Full rankings

Phonak for the Vuelta

Gonzalo Bayarri transfers from Jazztel

The Phonak squad has been named for the Vuelta, consisting of a balanced line up of riders with a view to stage wins and the general classification. The GC riders will be Oscar Camenzind and Oscar Pereiro Sio, who also have ambitions to win some of the medium mountain stages together with strong man Juan Carlos Dominguez. Sprinters Sven Teutenberg and Bert Grabsch will be on hand for the flatter stages, and the team is backed by a good team of domestiques. Alvaro Pino and Jacques Michaud will direct the Phonak squad.

The team has also engaged 26 year old Spanish climber Gonzalo Bayarri, who has ridden this season for Jazztel-Costa del Almeria. Bayarri won the Subida al Naranco earlier this year, and placed third on GC in the Vuelta Pais Vasco and 5th in the Vuelta a Asturias. He is only in his third year as a professional, and is based in Valencia.

The full team is as follows:

Reto Bergmann
Gonzalo Bayarri
Oscar Camenzind
Juan Carlos Dominguez
Bert Grabsch
Oscar Pereiro
Benoît Salmon
Daniel Schnider
Sven Teutenberg

Directeurs sportifs

Alvaro Pino
Jacques Michaud

Also see: Vuelta start list

Fassa Bortolo for the Vuelta

Francesco Casagrande will be Fassa Bortolo's leader for the Vuelta España, a race that should certainly suit him as a climber. Casagrande will be looking to make up for his ignomious exit from the Giro d'Italia, where he was disqualified for behaving in an aggressive manner towards another rider. The Vuelta has always been on his program this year, and his recent form is good enough for him to be competitive.

On the sprinting side, Fassa Bortolo will have Alessandro Petacchi, who will go head to head with Mario Cipollini and Erik Zabel in an attempt to win stages. The full team is as follows:

Fabio Baldato
Francesco Casagrande
Nicola Loda
Alessandro Petacchi
Gorazd Stangelj
Paolo Tiralongo
Tadej Valjavec
Marco Velo
Denis Zanette

Also see: Vuelta start list

Vandenbroucke will not ride Vuelta

Frank Vandenbroucke has decided that he will not be riding in the Vuelta España, which starts this Saturday. The Domo rider said that his condition is "not yet good enough to ride for three weeks at a high international level."

Instead, he will ride the Tour of Poland and a few one day races, and perhaps the World Track Championships in Copenhagen. National track coach Michel Vaarten wants VDB to partner Matthew Gilmore in the Madison, as Gilmore is currently the only registered competitor for Belgium in the Track World's.

Savoldelli definite for Telekom

Team Deutsche Telekom will definitely sign this year's Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli. Despite having a preliminary agreement for some time with Telekom, the Index-Alexia rider had to keep quiet about his new team until September 1, in order not to have problems with his existing team.

Also see: Transfers page

Dierckxsens signs with Landbouwkrediet for two years

37 year old Ludo Dierckxsens has signed a two year contract with the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team, riding for them until the end of 2004. The popular rider who turned pro at an age of 29 is currently with Lampre-Daikin. He said that he had "three offers from other teams and I could also stay with Lampre-Daikin. But with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago I have the certainty that I can ride an international program for two years."

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago has ambitions for Division I next year.

Also see: Transfers page

Lotz stays in Rabobank

Marc Lotz will ride next season with his current team, Rabobank. The Limburger has signed another one year contract with the team that he has ridden for ever since he debuted as a professional in 1999.

Robert Förster to Gerolsteiner

German Robert Förster (Nürnberger) will ride for Division I team Gerolsteiner next season. The 24 year old sprinter is only in his second year as a professional, winning the toughest stage of the Sachsen Tour this July.

Also see: Transfers page

Credit Agricole signs Jegou, keeps Jenner

Roger Legeay's Credit Agricole team has signed up stagiaire Lilian Jegou (Fra) to its pro team next year. Also, Christopher Jenner (NZl) has prolonged his contract by another year.

Also see: Transfers page

Three neo-pros for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago

Team manager Gerard Bulens has contracted three neo-professionals for his team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for next season. They are Mikhail Timochine (Rus), Ruslan Gryshenko (Ukr) and Domenico Puzzovivo (Ita).

Also see: Transfers page

Jalabert to ride GP des Nations

Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) will participate in the GP des Nations time trial in Le Havre on September 21. The Frenchman who is in his last season as a pro, will be up against some stiff competition, including Mapei's Laszlo Bodrogi, Cadel Evans and Fabian Cancellara, Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel, Credit Agricole's Jens Voigt Florent Brard, Thor Hushovd and Christophe Moreau, and's Bradley McGee.

Den Braber retires, but stays with Axa

John den Braber will finish his career as a professional cyclist at the end of this season, but will stay with his current team Axa-Vvz. Team manager Ton Welling has offered him a job as a team leader, and Den Braber accepted.

John den Braber will turn 32 in mid-September, and has had a successful career as a track and road cyclist. He won the 1993 Dutch championship as an amateur, and is also an eight time national champion on the track. In 1992 he rode in the team time trial at the Barcelona Olympics, with Bart Voskamp, Pelle Kil and Jaap ten Kortenaar. He also rode in the team pursuit in Sydney 2000. On the road, he has won a record 12 stages in Olympia's Tour, and has ridden as a professional since 1996, the last five years with Axa.

One of his first duties has been to sign Peter Möhlmann (Rabobank trade team III) to the team. The 19 year old Möhlmann has signed a two year contract with Axa.

Scanlon begins trial

By Shane Stokes,

Irish national champion Mark Scanlon began one of the most important periods of his young career to date when he started a pro trial with the first division AG2r team last weekend. The former world junior champion made his debut in the blue and black of the prestigious French squad on Sunday, in the 1.3 ranked French cup race Les Boucles de l'Aulne. To his credit he finished the race in 55th position.

His trial continues with seven other UCI races in one month, including the 1.1 classed Coppa Placci on September 7, Paris-Bruxelles on September 14 and the GP de Fourmies on September 15. Scanlon will also ride a 2.3 classed stage race, the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, in Italy from October 1-4.

The full schedule is as follows (French events unless stated):

September 1: Boules de l'Aulne 1.3
September 2: Tour de Finistère 1.5
September 7: Coppa Placci 1.1, Italy
September 8: Giro de Romagna 1.2, Italy
September 14: Paris - Bruxelles 1.1, France/Belgium
September 15: GP des Fourmies 1.1
September 22: GP d'Isbergues 1.2
October 1-4: Giro della Provincia di Lucca 2.3, Italy
October 8: World under 23 championship time trial, Belgium (with Irish team)
October 11: World under 23 championship road race, Belgium (with Irish team)

Securing a trial with a first division squad is a huge boost for a rider who is still just 21 years old. Reassuringly, Scanlon reports that his form is very sharp at the moment and that he is fully prepared for the stage. Two weeks ago the Sligoman won three races in as many days - the Villeneuve les Avignon event, the GP des Cevennes and the Souvenir Alexandre Castillo, all 1.12.4 ranked races which are part of the Ronde du Gard series. Everything seems right for him to ride a strong trial with AG2r.

Despite his good condition, he is taking a very pragmatic approach. "It is hard to know what to expect," he says. "I am sure the team don't expect me to go out there and win the races, or anything...realistically, what can you do against professionals when you are just 21 years of age? I think the trial is more about showing I can fit in with the team and riding well during the races."

Is he nervous about the prospect of lining out alongside the world's top riders? "Not really," he answers, "I did a stage before with the Linda McCartney team (in 2000) and so I am not as nervous as I might be. With them I was 78 kilos going into the trial, and not really in great shape as I had only been back on the bike a few weeks after breaking my elbow. Still, I was fine in those events."

"This time, I am four or five kilos lighter and going much better - I won three races in a row recently so I know that I have good legs," he says.

Mapei-Quick Step for Schaal Sels-Merksem

Alvaro Crespi has decided the squad for the Schaal Sels-Merksem in Belgium on September 3.

Riders: Fabien De Waele, Paolo Fornaciari, Kevin Hulsmans, Pedro Horrillo, Robert Hunter, Tom Steels. DS: Eric Vanderaerden

Tour Down Under goes on the road

In a blatant attempt to whet appetites for the 2003 edition, the organisers of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under are hitting the road over the next two weeks to promote the race to cycling fans in Victoria.

Race director Mike Turtur and event coordinator, Lesley "Stuey's sister" O'Grady will be presenting the JCTDU road show, featuring highlight footage from the race; Mike's tales from the tour; and details of the new events and activities planned for the 2003 race, including a veteran's race series, break-away tour and club tour. Plus, of course, lots of information about the travel packages available to get you to this highlight of the Australian cycling calendar.

If that's not enough, there's the ultimate inducement: free vino. It is the Jacob's Creek TDU after all. Along with the show and Q&A sessions, you're invited to sample some of the sponsor's wines.

The road show runs from 7-9pm at the following venues and dates:

Tuesday, September 3: Albury, Commercial Club
Wednesday, September 4: Shepparton, Cycling Club Velodrome
Thursday, September 5: Bendigo, Golden Square Football Club
Tuesday, September 17: Ballarat, North Ballarat Sports Club
Wednesday, September 18: Melbourne, Sports Bar, Crown Casino
Thursday, September 19: Leongatha, Football Club (7:30pm start)

Also see:

New Zealand race director faces criminal charges

By Alan Messenger, Cyclingnews correspondent

The director of one of New Zealand's major cycling events "Le Race" is to face trial on a charge of causing a criminal nuisance, following the death of a competitor in last year's event. Vanessa Caldwell died after hitting a car while descending a winding hill at 60 km/h.

Astrid Andersen has been the Director of the Fun Ride/Race from Christchurch to Akaroa since it was first held in 1999. Police allege that Andersen was negligent in that competitors believed that the road over Banks Peninsula was closed for the Ride but it was not.

"Nobody in their right mind would ride down a hill into a blind corner on the wrong side of the road if they thought the road was open," the Police Prosecutor told the Depositions Hearing.

The court case will obviously be watched with interest by all cycling event organisers, and it follows a general toughening of attitude from the police and Transit New Zealand, the body governing public highways in New Zealand, on the use of highways for cycling events.

The trial is scheduled to be held at Christchurch in October.

Masters racer Uwe Stoltze dies at World Championships

40 year old German masters rider Uwe Stoltze has died in an accident at the World Masters Championships in St. Johann, Austria. Stoltze was on a training ride last Friday, August 30 when he fell heavily. He was taken to hospital but died as a result of his injuries.

Hailing from Chemnitz, Stoltze was a member of the RSC Diamant Chemnitz club, and had impressive results in the BSG cycling competitions. As a junior he won a gold medal in the DDR's two man time trial championship riding with Holger Ehnert. He followed that with several medals at the senior level.

His greatest success was winning the 83rd Rund um Berlin in 1989, aged 27, following that with a 3rd place in 1990 and 5th in 1994. From 1997 until the end of 2001 he rode for RC Charlottenburg, Berlin's oldest and greatest club, and although his cycling activity lessened, he still had ambitions for a world title at the masters level. Unfortunately, that could not be fulfilled.

Inaugural Tour d'Afrique

Billed as the "Longest and most difficult bike race of all time", the first ever Tour d'Afrique will take place in January 2003. The 10,500 kilometre race/expedition will cross the continent from top to bottom, starting at the Pyramids of Egypt on January 18 and finishing at the Cape of Good Hope on May 18 - four months in the saddle. It's open to professionals and amateurs, with the only requirement that the competitors are over 18 and are able to pass a basic medical test. It is not just an individual race, as riders can also take part in the event as a personal challenge, or part of a team, or even just ride a certain section of the course.

According to the organisers, mountain bikes are ideal for the terrain although the event is open to any human-powered vehicle. The entry fee is US$7,000, 5% of which will go towards environmental, ecological and educational charities in Africa.


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