First Edition News for August 9, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
German track riders suspended
In the wake of their self-destructive protest lodged at the World Track Championships in Stuttgart, German track riders Daniel Becke, Jens Lehmann, Sebastian Siedler, and Christian Bach have been suspended from [track] competition for varying periods of time, which for all but Bach will likely mean they will lose their chances to participate in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Such was the announcement from the German federation, as a result of the team's withdrawal from the team pursuit competition in Stuttgart due to fierce disagreement over selection (i.e., the non-selection of Lehmann) for that race. The decision not to field a team pursuit squad was a considerable embarrassment to World's host nation Germany.
Christian Bach has been suspended until the beginning of 2004, while Siedler is out until August 31, 2004, and Lehmann and Becke are banned until August 31, 2005. Becke, who rides on the road for Team Bianchi, will lose out only in track competition, but the other three face a loss of financial backing. The German federation listened to each rider's defense before handing down the suspensions. All have the possibility to appeal.
Success of Track World's
The UCI has declared its Track World Championships a success, particularly in light of the fact that the Stuttgart venue was hastily prepared after the SARS illness forced a cancellation of plans for initial host Beijing, China.
A total of 15,000 spectators caught the racing live in Stuttgart, while 15 television networks throughout Europe, Mexico, Australia, Japan, South Africa, and New Zealand carried the competition to different extents. A total of 300 athletes from 39 countries competed in this year's World Championships.
Vervecken to miss 'cross opener
Spaar Select's Erwin Vervecken will miss the cyclo-cross opener in Zolder, Belgium due to injury. Sunday, August 10 marks the running of the Zomercross in Zolder, and a season opener in cyclo-cross mad Belgium. Along with world champion Bart Wellens, Vervecken is one of Spaar Select's key riders, but a fractured wrist sustained during the Tour du Brabant Flamand will force him to delay his season start. Currently training indoors, Vervecken expects to be present at the international season opener on September 28 at Erpe-Mere, Belgium.
Three Italians positive for EPO
The Italian Cycling Federation has handed down suspensions to three riders after they tested positive for EPO. Espoirs Alessandro Conti and Matteo Gighi were confirmed positive at the Coppa Sportivi Malvesi, while Davide Bragazzi was found positive after Bassano-Montegrappa, according to a Datasport report. Each rider's B-sample confirmed the presence of EPO.
UCI Doping report
The UCI has announced the latest series of sanctions for doping offenses, as follows:
Niels Brouzes: Disqualification from the Tour de Normandie and a suspension of one year (October 26, 2002 to October 25, 2003), plus a fine of 500 Swiss Francs
Laurent Roux: Decision from the Court of Arbitration of Sport for suspension of four years (May 23, 2003 to May 22, 2007) and a fine of 4,000 Swiss Francs
Peter Pouly: Disqualification from the MTB Coupe de France, and a suspension of 1 year (December 12, 2002 to December 12, 2003)
Reto Bergmann: Two year suspension (February 19, 2003 to February 18, 2005) and a fine of 2,000 Swiss Francs
Saiz considers other options
Manolo Saiz, directeur sportif of the Spanish ONCE team, is considering other options outside of the sport now that his title sponsor is ending its long run in cycling. Saiz has been in touch with Florentino Perez, president of the Real Madrid to discuss the possibilities of moving into the world of professional football.
"I had Florentino Perez on the phone, he listened to me attentively, and said that he wouldn't forget about me," Saiz told Spanish paper Marca. "I would gladly accept a chance to work with a football or basketball team. Plus, Perez has a habit of calling on professionals with character, so..."
Saiz is searching for a replacement sponsor to create a new team next season, but with iBanesto.com also pulling out of cycling, the market in Spain will be tighter than ever. Nonetheless, should Saiz be unable to create a new team by next season, he should be able to find his calling outside of the sport.
Barça looks to cycling
The football/cycling crossover talk continues, as former Spanish pro Melchor Mauri is working toward the creation of a new team with the backing of Barcelona's football team. Designed to follow the Euskaltel-Euskadi model of promoting and developing the sport in the Basque region, "Barça" will begin its participation in cycling to market its own products, as well as provide a foundation for the Catalonia region's cyclists. The team is expected to begin as an U23 squad, with the goal of turning professional in the next few years. Mauri, who will act as director sportif for the team, expects the group to be functional by March 2004.
After the cancellation of Postgirot Open this year, Scandinavian Open in Vårgårda outside Gothenburg remains the only international race in Sweden. 21 teams are invited to the UCI 1.5 race on Sunday, and among the Swedish favourites are recent Swedish champion Jonas Holmkvist (Team Bianchi Scandinavia) and Magnus Bäckstedt (Team Fakta) who rode an impressive Giro d'Italia earlier this year.
Team Bianchi Scandinavia has dominated the Swedish cycling scene this year, and will be the team to beat during the race. One rider particularly interested in revenge is Bäckstedt who lost the Swedish champion title to Holmkvist in a photo finish. The team Fakta roster is completed with Fredrik Modin, Tomas Grönkvist, Björnar Vestöl and Martin Rittsel, who won the Swedish Championships in Vårgårda in 1998.
Belgian second division team Vlaanderen-T Interim will send a team that includes former track world champion Matthew Gilmore, and Swedish rider John Nilsson brings his French AVC Aixois teammates to the one day race for a glimpse of the Swedish summer.
Team Trek-Åstorps CK announced their late withdraw from the race this Wednesday, because of an accident where the team's minibus crashed off the road while driving to a race in Hungary, and although the riders and staff escaped unhurt they have decided to not take part in the race this weekend.
Teams for Scandinavian Open 2003
Georgia velodrome needs your help
The Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point, Georgia is in danger of imminent closure, and the East Point Velodrome Association has issued a call for support to keep the facility open. On short notice, the East Point Parks and Recreation Department notified the association that safety concerns would prompt a closure of the velodrome after the final race of the season, the September 6th Grand Prix. A slow settlement of the retaining wall supporting turns 3 and 4 is to blame, and unless repairs are made the track will be forced to close.
The East Point Velodrome Association, a Georgia 501c3 non-profit organisation which had already begun the task of planning for facility repairs, has seen a "simmering problem" become an immediate crisis and is under pressure to solicit financial and community support for the velodrome repairs. The association is in the midst of negotiations with the city to secure a long term lease and assume greater control and responsibility for the velodrome. To date the association has been granted a lease on a year to year basis.
Aside from the traditional slate of events held at the track, of great concern is the potential loss of the Bicycle Little League, a community-based program which has been created to develop young talent on the track. The program's local focus provides a racing environment to a group of children comprised of 90% minorities, and 90% of whom are local East Point residents. No other city program exists to provide this opportunity.
The East Point Velodrome Association is appealing to potential corporate sponsors, as well as encouraging track cycling supporters to voice their concern to the city and fight to save the track. Additional information can be found at the association's web site: www.dicklanevelodrome.com. Interested parties are encouraged to sign up for the association's mailing list, and may also send questions or letters of support to email@example.com.
Track fans in the Atlanta area are also encouraged to come to East Point's last race on September 6th at 7:30pm. Directions to the velodrome are available on the website, and spectators will be treated to appearances by some worthy competitors, including Mike Tillman, Jame Carney, Jeff Hopkins, and others.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)