First Edition News for June 6, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Operazione Bike: latest Italian drug blitz
In addition to placing two directeurs sportifs under house arrest Thursday (Olivano Locatelli of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and William Dazzani of Team 2002 Aurora RSM), the so-called "Operazione Bike" in Brescia, Italy has called Ugo Monsellato, physician for the Italian federation and national teams. The latest anti-doping investigation is headed by public prosecutor Mario Conte.
Among the 22 implicated, the latest blitz has also focused on women's cycling, calling four doctors, a nurse. Thus far, the only rider named in the investigation is Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's 22 year old neo-pro Santo Anzà.
Unlike recent police activity in Italy which has focused on the Giro d'Italia, a statement from the prosecutor's office indicated that the Giro itself is not the target of the investigation. "No riders who participated in the last Giro d'Italia are implicated," prosecutor Giancarlo Tarquini commented Thursday. "But this investigation shows how the doping phenomenon is anything but beaten."
Tapped phone conversations of the two directeurs sportifs implicated are reported to have revealed discussions of how to avoid doping detection procedures, as well as use of banned substances.
Classique des Alpes preview
Falling on the eve of the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré (June 8-15), the 13th edition of the Classique des Alpes provides an exciting precursor to the eight day Dauphiné, and first glimpse of who is riding well in the high mountains. With the notable exception of Lance Armstrong, the majority of top riders who choose to race the Dauphiné also race the Classique des Alpes the day before. As he did last year, Armstrong has opted to skip the race in favour of a more relaxed entry into Sunday's prologue of the Dauphiné.
Without question a course for a strong man, the Classique des Alpes includes seven categorised climbs over the course of 174.5km. The parcours begins in Aix-les-Bains and ends in the city of Chambéry. Last year saw the Kelme duo of Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla take top honours, finishing together nearly two minutes ahead of Team fakta's mountain man Jorgen Bo Petersen. Botero will not be on hand to defend his title, however. Team Telekom, Botero's new employer for 2003, has not entered a team in the race.
A junior race is also organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Tour de France just one month down the road. The junior event is a substantial test for younger riders, taking in five climbs over 118km. Last year's junior event was won by Florian Vachon of France.
Still in shock from the loss of Salanson, the Brioches La Boulangère team is uncertain as to whether or not it will contest the upcoming Classique des Alpes and Dauphiné Libéré. The team forfeited the Tour of Germany after the Salanson was found dead in his hotel room Tuesday morning, before stage 1. The team immediately returned to France after joining in a minute of silence for the rider before the stage start.
Tribute to Salanson
The tragic death of young professional Fabrice Salanson has touched many, stunned by the loss of such a young and promising rider. Marie Donné has created a tribute site for Salanson, and a guest book for visitors to send thoughts and support the rider's family. Click here to share your thoughts (the site is in French, but don't let that stop you).
UCI Plans new race series
After earlier mentions on the subject, the UCI came closer to defining its objectives for a new racing series for the European professional calendar. The initiative was outlined by UCI president Hein Verbruggen at the start of stage 3 of the Tour of Germany, with a goal of making the sport more attractive to sponsors.
A new series, which Verbruggen hopes to have in place by 2005, would include between 30 and 50 races, to be contested by 20 to 22 teams. Citing the dominance of the grand tours, particularly the Tour de France, in attracting sponsorship money, Verbruggen explained how the new series would help promote sponsorship at the middle levels of the sport.
"At the moment the sport depends on some 60 professional teams, some of which only have one sponsor," he explained. "There are less and less sponsors who can afford to invest in cycling, and they are reluctant to spend millions without knowing whether they will be allowed to enter the Tour de France."
Verbruggen's plan was spurred on by the financial collapse of Team Coast, and the failure for that team to provide adequate guarantees that it could fully support its riders and staff for the duration of the season.
"We plan to call the new series the UCI Professional Competition," Verbruggen said at a press conference, "and we want to put it into place from 2005 to 2010. Under the new system every team in the series will have the right and the obligation to enter every single event."
Hondo out after crash
Team Telekom's German national champion Danilo Hondo was forced to abandon the Tour of Germany on stage 3 after a heavy fall. Hondo suffered deep cuts and bruising after hitting a guard rail at the 53km mark of stage 3 (Coburg to Ansbach) and was taken to the hospital for examination.
"He hurt his arms, legs, and face," explained Telekom physician Lothar Heinrich. "He didn't suffer any breaks, and I think he'll be able to train again in one week."
Hondo is expected to be released from the hospital Friday.
Bianchi refines its look
At this week's Tour of Germany, much attention has been paid to Jan Ullrich and Team Bianchi. No doubt the former Tour winner commands attention at any race, but also because of the team's emergence from the ashes of the failed Team Coast. Besides the story behind Team Coast, the financial woes and the suspensions from competition, Bianchi presents the image of a proud sponsor with a rich heritage in the sport.
For that reason, the team uniforms are destined to reflect this history, which most notably harkens back to the era of Fausto Coppi. If Bianchi's uniforms look a bit drab now, they are still to undergo some modifications before the Tour de France. Partly for business reasons, partly to redefine the classic Bianchi look.
"Not all of the contracts with our sponsors have been signed, and we have to exchange all of the clothing to add the new team logos," team manager Jacques Hanegraaf explained, quoted in Thursday's l'Equipe. "There's also the jersey. It's not yet finalised; we're going to shrink the white band in the middle and also change the blue to better match Fausto Coppi's jersey."
Bianchi is certainly looking for Ullrich to once again pen his name among the greats of the sport, having first stepped in to guarantee his salary at Team Coast, then assuming the responsibility of crafting a new team in the wake of Coast's implosion.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)