First Edition News for August 7, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Llorente defends himself
Javier Pascual Llorente, who was confirmed as the rider who tested positive for EPO during the Tour, has defended himself against the damaging result, calling it a "French campaign against Spanish cycling," in comments made to Spanish newsagency EFE. "I've spoken with our doctor and he hold me that we've never used such products. Furthermore, the control was taken via the French method. The federation does not want to use this system because it's full of errors."
The Spanish federation (RFEC) is examining the Llorente case at the moment, and could impose a penalty of up to two years on the Kelme rider. The UCI may also intervene via the Court of Arbitration for Sport if it thinks the sanction is too light.
Llorente won the Tour of Murcia and the Ruta del Sol at the beginning of this year, however he was fairly anonymous during the Tour de France where he finished 27th overall at 57'00, with his best result being 12th in Stage 18.
JP Nazon to Ag2r
French sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon (Jean Delatour), winner of the last stage of the Tour this year, has signed for Ag2r-Prevoyance. He has a two year deal with Vincent Lavenu's team, and will help strengthen the team's prospects in the bunch sprints, which have relied on Jaan Kirsipuu up until now.
Santiago Botero, who abandoned the Tour de France in the third week after a forgettable Tour debut in Team Telekom colours, has decided not to contest the upcoming Vuelta a España. Botero has been diagnosed with a stomach infection, which came to light after tests were performed in Germany following his Tour abandon. Telekom team doctor Lothar Heinrich has indicated that Botero needs to rest completely to fight the bacterial infection. This could mean the end of the Colombian's brief season, and it would appear unlikely that Botero will defend his world time trial championships title in Hamilton, Canada in October.
Quick.Step interested in Dufaux
Quick.Step-Davitamon is interested in signing Alessio's Swiss climber Laurent Dufaux, who finished second behind Richard Virenque in the King of the Mountains classification in this year's Tour. Virenque himself wants Dufaux at his side, having ridden with him during his time at Festina. Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefevere has spoken with Dufaux already, but there have been no agreements to date.
"I'm not against the idea, but we need to reach an agreement," Lefevere said in Wednesday's edition of l'Equipe. Dufaux is likely to receive an offer from his Alessio team to stay, forcing Lefevere to up the bidding somewhat. Dufaux would provide additional reinforcements for Virenque in the stage races, as will new Quick.Step acquisition Juan Miguel Mercado (currently iBanesto.com). Lefevere is also reported to be interested in another Spaniard, Jose Antonio Pecharroman of Costa de Almeria.
Bobby Lea crosses over at Mt Holly
As well as a fine win by Melito Heredia (Toga/CRCA), Saturday's Mt Holly-Smithville Grand Prix saw a breakthrough ride by second-placed Bobby Lea (Team Fuji). Lea and Heredia made up the final break that decided the result, finishing 18 seconds ahead of third-placed Alvaro Tardaguila. Heredia out-sprinted Lea at the end of a race that gave both riders their the best-ever finish in a major road race.
But while Heredia is known in the region as a useful road racer, Lea is almost exclusively a track rider. By his own admission, before Saturday, he "had never even finished a road race of this level." So what's changed?
Like many young American racers looking to improve, Lea recently hopped across the pond for a spot of racing in Europe. "I think what helped me was my three weeks in the Netherlands in mid June," said Lea. "Fuji sponsors a T3 team in the Netherlands so my teammate, Kyle Wamsley and I arranged for a mid season addition to their roster."
Lea managed a fifth place while in the Netherlands, in a 185km under-23 race, but still didn't feel fully ready for Mt Holly. "I was sure I was over my head and needed to ride conservatively if I was to have any chance of having a good ride the next day in the NYC Mengoni Race. I knew I could race criteriums but a 95km road race with Pros and fast category 1 riders was quite another thing entirely."
Lea claims he was "lucky" on Saturday, and credits team-mate Jason Snow with helping him bridge across to the break and then to Heredia.
This taste of success won't see Lea abandoning the boards, however. He plans to mix road and track racing in the future, a strategy that's been successful for quite a few other riders such as Fdjeux.com's pair of Brads, McGee and Wiggins. "I am definitely looking towards more time on the road," said Lea, "but at the same time looking forward to improving my time at this year's National Track Championships. Kyle Wamsley and I are also working on our Madison - hoping to improve on last year's third place. Track racing is my first love but I am learning to enjoy the road as well."
$125,000 criterium in Charlotte, NC
A new race has been announced for Charlotte, NC next year, boasting an impressive $125,000 in prize money. The race will benefit the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas, with organisers hoping to raise $1 million through the event. Speaking on behalf of the Brain Tumor Fund, Jim Palermo, a Charlotte bank executive said "This event will do double duty: It will show all of us in the Charlotte area how exciting competitive cycling is and it will raise significant funds to fight brain tumors."
A date has yet to be set for the race, although June 12 has been tentatively put forward. Race Director, Thad Fischer, said "We are currently working with USA Cycling on an exact date for the event. We are working towards a late spring to early summer date and we expect to make an announcement on that very soon. This will be a night time criterium, set in the city center, on a course of 1.3 kilometers. The race distance is expected to be approximately 50 miles."
The organisers are looking a naming rights sponsor for the race and other financial sponsors to ensure its success.
CNN anchor pleads guilty to hit and run
The morning anchor for CNN, Jack Cafferty, has pleaded guilty to knocking a cyclist from his bike in New York on May 14 this year. The accident happened on Ninth Avenue when Cafferty turned suddenly in front of Billy Maldonado, who was thrown to the ground as a result. Cafferty continued driving, dragging Maldonado's bicycle under his vehicle and running two red lights, according to the criminal complaint. Maldonado required an operation on his right elbow as a result of the injuries he sustained.
Cafferty was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, assault and harassment. However he got off lightly, pleading guilty to "operating a motor vehicle knowing or having cause to know property damage had been caused." Cafferty's penalty was a $250 fine and 70 hours of community service. His lawyer said, "Jack acted responsibly in this, as he always has."
Seven races in 2003 WCA 'cross series
It may still be summer, but 'cross riders are already looking forward to the mud season, and the Wisconsin Cycling Association has just announced the expansion of its Bianchi Cyclocross Racing Series to seven races. The series starts September 28 at Lapham Peak State Park, Delafield and concludes November 16 with the Wisconsin State Cyclocross Championships to be held at the Angell Park Speedway, in Sun Prairie.
The series will include categories for A Men, A/B Women, B Men, C Women and Men, Juniors and 30+ and 40+ Masters Men. The C categories are intended for anyone to have a go at cyclocross, and non-cyclocross bikes are welcome. "You can race your mountain bike, just less the "pointy" bar ends. Heck, even an old touring bike or hybrid with knobby tires would be okay," say the organizers.
For the full schedule, see: www.wicycling.org/crossSchedule.htm
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)