First Edition News for February 24, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Padova prosecutor calls provocative TG2 broadcast "crazy"
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Coincidence or not, Friday's TG2 news broadcast of the hotel room surveillance tapes of Giro d'Italia cyclists has continued to cause a furor, coming as it did one day after the Florence state prosecutor Bocciolini released his list of 51 riders & team staff that could be indicted as a result of the inquest from the 2001 Giro d'Italia San Remo "blitz".
Padova state prosecutor Paola Cameran, who is running a separate inquest on doping in cycling told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Pier Bergonzi that "this (TV report) is coming from the clouds... I have absolutely not authorized any transmission of these images and I'm wondering how they have come to be in the hands of any journalists." Cameran explained that the only people who are in possession of copies of the hotel room surveillance tapes should be the defence attorneys, and she was further perplexed how releasing them to the media could help the riders under investigation. "This is crazy and it won't help our investigation," an angry Cameran told Bergonzi. "It is a very serious matter."
Amedeo Colombo, the new head of the Italian Professional Riders Association, also had strong words for the RAI2 journalists in his press release. "The TV called these shocking images, but the real shock was how TG2 just put this on the air... casual images that deserved to be explained further."
Furthermore, Colombo threatened RAI with a lawsuit, saying "they can't arbitrarily put these images on TV which are evidence in an ongoing case! Plus there was no respect for the privacy of the people who are being investigated."
Prominent among those being investigated in Padova prosecutor Cameran's inquest is two time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Gotti. Currently without a team, Gotti was in denial about the TV broadcast, saying that "I didn't even want to look at this... I asked my lawyer and he told me that in the evidence that concerns me, there are no filmed images that (prosecutor Cameran) could find (legally) compromising." However, knowledgeable sources told Cyclingnews that Gotti closely resembles the semi-nude man who had allegedly injected himself in the hotel bathroom. Gotti was hoping to race again this season, but despite the fact that he had prescriptions for any substances that he had in his possession when searched by NAS, the two-time Giro winner from Villa d'Alme may be just too hot for any team to sign right now.
Outrage crackled from Davide Rebellin over the TG2 broadcast as well. Rebellin, who was included in the initial investigation by Cameran but later cleared said that "These shots are just ads that show kids how to dope in cycling and show the most negative aspects of the situation without telling the truth. Besides that, there is the matter of privacy. Before any trial even starts, 60 million Italians can see without the correct information." La Gazzetta dello Sport's Pier Bergonzi told Cyclingnews that "these riders may not have been using banned substances at all, but these images made them look terrible without proof of any wrongdoing."
Berden to join new cyclo-cross team
Ben Berden, currently with Vlaanderen-T Interim, will join the new Belgian cyclo-cross team, John Saey-Deschacht. This team is a combination of two of the biggest elite sponsors in Belgium, and will be managed by Roger De Vlaeminck. Berden will make his debut with them at the beginning of 2004.
Roodhooft to Palmans
Palmans-Collstrop have signed former Flanders-RDM rider Christophe Roodhooft for this season, bringing the total team roster to 21.
Tour of Belgium vies for attention
Organisers of the Tour of Belgium (May 21-25) have spoken out against a request by the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon to change dates. Hoping to earn a higher UCI ranking for the event (currently 2.3), the Belgian organisers have expressed their displeasure with the possibility of more competition from other races.
"It's difficult enough to attract a top field," race director Rob Discart explained. "Don't forget that at the same time, the Giro will have started, and the Tour of Bavaria in Germany will be run in the same timeframe." Discart added that he would do whatever he could to defend his position with the UCI.
Courtesy of velo-club.net
Unipublic plans baby Vuelta
Unipublic, organiser of the Vuelta a España, is interested in creating a "Pequé Vuelta," or baby Vuelta. The race, which could take place as early as this year, would be open to young riders aged 12-15 and would run for 21 days along a similar route as the real Vuelta. Stage distances for the baby Vuelta (emphasis on 'baby') would be a mere fraction of the pro event.
Sevilla's season takes shape
Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca) will follow a similar plan as in recent years, beginning his season in mid-April. After the departure of Santiago Botero and Aitor Gonzalez from the Kelme ranks, Sevilla will take on additional responsibilities as team leader, focusing on the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. His season opener will come at the Clasica Primavera on April 13, followed by a steady buildup to the Tour which should include the Vuelta a Aragon, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Vuelta a Asurias, Classique des Alpes, and Vuelta a Catalunya.
Fernando Escartin one of the best climbers of the last decade was honoured by the President of Aragon in an official dinner in Zaragoza, Spain. Other personalities from Aragon's political and sporting circles were also present at the Hotel Boston, paying a well deserved tribute to a rider that was 3rd in the 1999 Tour de France and 2nd in the Vuelta in 1997 and 1998.
Around 170 people attended the event, organised by José Ignacio Labarta, assistant team manager of the Kelme-Costa Blanca team. "The world of Spanish cycling recognizes Fernando as a champion," said Labarta, "just take a look at the number of people here today."
An emotional Escartin expressed his appreciation for the large turnout. "All of my efforts through so many years, and all the pain, had a meaning," said Escartin. "I'm very grateful to have here all these people from the so many Aragon cycling clubs. I thank you all."
Escartin will cherish in particular his victory in stage 15 of the 1999 Tour at the ski station of Piau-Engaly in the Pyrénées, where he finished 2'10" ahead of Lance Armstrong. Escartin has mixed feelings about his retirement, as do many professional athletes. "Now that winter is here I don't feel nostalgia from my riding days. It's to cold to that," he admitted. "What I will feel the days that the Tour and the Vuelta come on my TV screen, I just don't know."
Courtesy of João Cravo
Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club
The Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club has announced its roster and sponsors for 2003. The club was USA Cycling's Regional Club of the Year in Northern California in 2002, the largest region in the US. The team was also named as the winner of USA Cycling's 2002 Annual Club of the Year contest: Women's Team, Division 1.
ISCorp Cycling Team
The ISCorp Cycling Team has announced its road team for the 2003 season. The team comprised of athletes from Wisconsin and Illinois will continue its focus on elite junior, espoirs and master's racing.
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