Second Edition News for February 21, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Fifty one people wanted for 2001 Giro raids
Investigating Italian magistrate Luigi Bocciolini wants 34 cyclists and 17 other people working with cycling teams to appear in court, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The mass-summons stems from the police drug raids in San Remo during the 2001 Giro.
The accusations against the 51 people range from possession of forbidden products, attempting sporting fraud to illegal practice of medicine. They have been given 20 days to provide the court with medical prescriptions that would permit them to carry the products. Individual court appearances are expected to begin in October, and riders found guilty of the charges may be subject to criminal sentences.
There have been some suspensions already as a result of the investigation, including Gianpaolo Mondini, Dario Frigo and Giuliano Figueras. Marco Pantani and Stefano Zanini were suspended, then cleared, although the UCI has appealed to get Pantani's suspension reinstated.
Cyclingnews will have a detailed update in the next edition of news.
US Postal to Paris-Nice
The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has announced that US Postal Service will race this year's Paris-Nice, which takes place March 9-16. The addition of US Postal brings the number of teams to 21. The team will be lead by the USPS classics squad: Cruz, Ekimov, Hincapie, Joachim, Mikhaïlov, Padrnos, Van Heeswijk, and White. The race begins with a prologue time trial outside Paris in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
Contrary to some reports, Lance Armstrong will not line up for Paris-Nice. Directeur Sportif Johan Bruyneel told Cyclingnews this morning from the team car in the Tour de Algarve in Portugal that "the US Postal team will ride Paris-Nice; we have accepted an invitation from ASO, but Lance Armstrong will not ride. He will start his 2003 european season as planned at the Tour of Murcia." The Tour of Murcia runs from March 5-9.
Meanwhile, defending Paris-Nice champion Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) will begin his season at the Tour of Valencia (February 25-March 1), hoping to find the form necessary to repeat his feat at the Race to the Sun. "My primary objective for the season is still Paris-Nice," commented Vinokourov. "It's a race that suits me well and that really motivates me."
Lotto-Domo's Sergeant stays calm
Lotto-Domo team director Marc Sergeant is not yet worried about the slower start to the season this year. In an interview with Belgian Newspaper Het Volk he expressed his expectations for the classics season.
"It is true that the Tour Med was a sizzler," admitted Sergeant. Nick Gates quit the race on Stage 2 and on the next day the seven remaining Lotto-Domo riders were dropped by the peloton in the short 60 km morning stage. Then Robbie McEwen abandoned the race right near the end of stage 5.
"We got the wrong impression of the degree of difficulty of one the climbs," continued Sergeant. "We expected more results in that race, but it's only February and we are not yet keeping track of the UCI points."
On the 15th of February 2002, Lotto-Adecco already had eight victories; this year the team is only up to three. "In the Ruta del Sol the guys for the upcoming classics are at work. I see that Van Petegem, Baguet, Verbrugghe and de Clercq are clearly doing well. If we get a bashing in the Omloop Het Volk or Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, only then will there be reason to worry."
Walter Planckaert still resentful
Walter Planckaert, the former right hand man of Christophe Sercu at Lotto-Adecco, was cast aside by the new Lotto-Domo formation, something he didn't take too well. Now he's back in the picture as team director with Palmans-Collstrop, the team he originally left to join Lotto.
"I couldn't see myself working together with Braeckevelt in Marlux. I preferred to go back to Palmans then. Those people welcomed me back," he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Planckaert is talking about revenge, and doesn't have too many kind words for Criquielion. "Criquielion has to know that I'm in the game again. He shouldn't count on receiving any 'gifts' from me."
"I like clear agreements and I respect those," added Planckaert. "Team manager Hilaire Van der Schueren does not need to be worried. I would have loved to work with Marc Sergeant and Hendrik Redant in Lotto-Domo. Christophe and I agreed that I would take care of the PR work. But suddenly I stopped hearing from them. Lies and false arguments; everything was used to put me in the black book. I never expected that from Criquielion."
Criquielion reacted to Planckaert's threats with black humour. "So what, I need to take a knife or a gun with me in the car from now on?," he asked. "Before he came to Lotto, Walter Planckaert would rather see a foreign team take the win as long as Lotto didn't get it. I expect him to start that game all over again."
Criquielion doesn't understand why Planckaert is targeting him in his complaints. "Maybe Walter should ask 'his friends' in the team who wanted him out in the first place. It wasn't me, I can tell you that much. We've known Planckaert for a long time and his story has always been the same; he attacks others, the last ones were Jeff Braeckevelt and myself. Childish. I have one advantage, if working in the world of cycling suddenly comes to an end, I won't be left empty handed, the sport is a passion for me, something I pour all my soul into; but I don't need it to live happily, obviously that is not the case for everybody."
Coupe de France begins
The Coupe de France series gets underway this weekend in southern France with the Tour du Haut Var on Saturday, followed by Sunday's Classic Haribo. The series Coupe de France is a season-long series featuring 15 events open to French riders and riders on French teams.
The teams confirmed for this weekend's racing are:
Knee pain for VDB
Frank Vandenbroucke, who showed some early season promise at the Tour Méditerranéen, has returned home to Belgium rather than continue his training in the south of France, due to severe pain in his left knee. Originally scheduled to race the Tour de Haut Var on Saturday, l'Equipe reports that VDB's participation is in question pending an examination of his knee.
WADA Releases final anti-doping code
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced Thursday the release of the final version of the World Anti-Doping Code. The document, which is available online (www.wada-ama.org), will be presented for acceptance to nearly 1,000 delegates at the March 3-5 World Anti-Doping Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
WADA has also posted the draft Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping in Sport. This Declaration, drafted in consultation with governments, is the means by which WADA hopes governments will recognize and support the World Anti-Doping Code.
The code is designed to harmonize rules and regulations regarding doping across all sports and all countries. In Copenhagen, delegates will meet to agree to a Conference Declaration affirming support for the implantation of the code. The World Anti-Doping Code is expected to be in place prior to the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
Eduardo Chozas eyes Vuelta return
Former Spanish pro Eduardo Chozas, who turns 43 this year, is reportedly considering a return to competition, with a goal of racing the Vuelta a España. Chozas has ridden the Vuelta 14 times, a record he shares with Txomin Perunena and Fede Etxabe. Chozas told Spanish daily Marca that his fitness is still good, and that he's only 3kg over racing weight.
"The biggest problems will of course come in the mountain stages, because I know in the flatter stages I can use my experience to keep up," Chozas explained. "That's why I need a team to give me an opportunity to do some racing before then, to get used to the rhythm."
The Vuelta plan was spawned partly as a joke on the part of Javier Minguez, manager of the Labarca2-Café Baqué team, but it looks as though Chozas is ready for the challenge if a team is ready to take him on.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)