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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for April 3, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

More Giro teams confusion: Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave waits and hopes

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Although his team is not currently selected to ride the 2003 Giro d'Italia, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave manager Stefano Giuliani was hopeful that the issue would be resolved soon. "We will approach this issue calmly and discuss things further with RCS [Giro Organizer] and I hope it can be resolved." Giuliani didn't want to address the issue of the teams selected, but his Formaggi squad is currently third in the TT2 rankings, surging from fifth place in mid-March and ahead of De Nardi-Colpack and Tenax, both invited to the Giro. Giuliani remains optimistic that the matter will be resolved with a Giro invite for Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave.

As for the current status of Formaggi rider Massimiliano Mori, he was not positive when blood-tested prior to a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, but when UCI inspectors asked for a further urine test that evening, a weird imbroglio developed over a suspected attempt to switch a urine sample. Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave manager Giuliani suspended both Mori and directeur sportif Di Francesco immediately, but said he believed their story and would await the further analysis of Mori's sample to make a final decision of the rider and DS's fate. "The (urine test) operation was done according to the UCI rules and this is backed up by the report that was signed by the rider and co-signed by the UCI medical inspectors Dr. Travaglino and anti-doping inspector Giovanni Meraviglia," according to a Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave statement sent to Cyclingnews.

Two weeks later, the UCI has still not communicated any further on Mori's sample, leading many observers to believe that no positive result will be found and Mori and Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave will be vindicated. Giuliani told Cyclingnews, "I've sent a letter the UCI to obtain the final analysis of (Mori's) test... we are surprised it is taking so long." For his part, Giro d'Italia boss Carmine Castellano justified the non-invitation of Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave to La Gazzetta dello Sport by saying, "(Formaggi) didn't come to us after the incident and say they were sorry or ask to be excused for this... that is the main reason they were not invited."

Gabrovski reinstated

Bulgarian rider Ivailo Gabrovski (MBK-Oktos) has had his racing licence returned after being suspended March 7 following the detection of a high haematocrit in a routine blood test at Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen.

Gabrovski's team manager Pascal Cordier said that "Gabrovski has a naturally high haematocrit level," and the UCI has decided that he should be allowed to return to racing.

UCI monitoring SARS hazard

The UCI is keeping a close eye on the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus after the disease caused thousands of people to become ill and several dozen deaths in China in recent weeks. With this year's World Track Championships scheduled for Shenzen in the SARS-affected region of southern China July 30 - August 8, the organization has cause for concern.

"The UCI is being kept informed by the International Olympic Committee which is in contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO)," the UCI said yesterday in a statement. "But it is obviously too early to draw any conclusions."

Concern over SARS infection has already caused the cancellation of the women's world ice hockey championships which was scheduled to start today in Beijing.

As of April 2, the WHO reports a total of 2223 cases of SARS and 78 deaths, mostly in China and Hong Kong.

Ernzer dies at 77

Marcel Ernzer, the faithful lieutenant of post-War great Charly Gaul, died on April 1 aged 77. Ernzer won Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Weekend Ardennais in 1954. He champion of Luxembourg in 1949, 1953, 1954 and 1955, won the Tour of Luxembourg in 1951 and 1960, and the Circuit des Six Provinces (precursor to today's Dauphiné Libéré in 1951.

Courtesy of Ed Buchette

Rebellin returns to racing

After his recent bout of the flu, Gerolsteiner leader Davide Rebellin will return to racing Saturday April 5 at the GP Miguel Indurain, according to the team's press agent, former pro Fred Morini. Rebellin will then ride the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) April 7-11.

Champion signs up for three more years with the Tour

French supermarket and hypermarket company Champion has renewed its sponsorship of the Tour de France for another three years, and increased its association with Tour organizer ASO to include two other events run by the same company: Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix.

Champion has sponsored the Tour's polka-dot 'maillot pois' King of the Mountains jersey since 1993 and appropriately has recruited recently retired pro Laurent Jalabert as its spokesman. Jalabert was the winner of the 2001 and 2002 Mountains contests in the Tour with a series of memorable lone attacks that cemented his place in the affections of French cycling fans.

Champion will celebrate the Tour centenary year with 1000 billboards on the theme of 'legends' and will take 15 vehicles in the 2003 Tour caravan.

Champion is the second of the Tour's four major sponsors to renew its association. The Crédit Lyonnais bank has pledged its support until 2008, while negotiations are understood to be still taking place with bottled water maker Nestlé Aquarel and car manufacturer Fiat, whose contracts expire at the end of 2003.

Inside De Rosa

Cyclingnews' Italia Bici series continues today with a look inside the factory of legendary Italian bike maker De Rosa. The family firm, which has built bikes for greats such as Eddy Merckx, opened its doors to Cyclingnews to reveal the secrets of the custom carbon fiber and titanium bicycles that are still hand-built by the De Rosa family under the watchful eye of patron Ugo De Rosa.

ONCE-Eroski for GP Indurain and Pais Vasco

ONCE-Eroski has announced the teams that will line up for the next two major Spanish races, the GP Miguel Indurain, April 5, and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), April 7-11

The squad for the GP Indurain will be: David Arroyo; Joseba Beloki; Alberto Contador; Igor González De Galdeano; Jonathan González; Joaquín Rodríguez; Marcos Serrano; and Mikel Zarrabeitia.

At Pais Vasco the team will field an almost identical squad except that José Azevedo and Jörg Jäksche will replace Alberto Conrador and Jonathan González.

Team Dried Plums/Orbitz

Team Dried Plums/Orbitz has announced its 2003 roster. The team is sponsored by the California Dried Plum board and travel website, and is focused on grass-roots development

Full roster

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)