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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for June 6, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Health Net welcome (again) at USPRO, sans aliens

By Gerard Knapp

Gord Fraser
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Emerging USA division 3 squad Health Net is expected to be racing this weekend at the USPRO Championships following an about-face in the ongoing battle between the race organiser and Gord Fraser, the star sprinter of the team.

Earlier, Health Net's invitation to compete in the Wachovia Cycling Series was withdrawn in response to legal action initiated by Fraser against Threshold Sports. However, in a bid to limit the collateral damage to the emerging team (as the law suit does not involve Health Net), a new agreement has been reached and Health Net will now send a team to Philadelphia this weekend, but without Fraser and other foreign riders.

"The Health Net team is racing on Sunday," said Threshold Sports CEO Dave Chauner in an interview with Cyclingnews' Kristy Scrymgeour. "They submitted their roster this morning which didn't include Gord and we accepted it. We are very supportive of the Health Net Team racing," he added.

The latest decision is yet another twist in developments which caught Health Net unaware. On April 29 this year, the CEO of Momentum Sports Group and owner of the Health Net team, Greg Raifman, was informed via email by Threshold that an earlier invitation for his promising new team to compete in the USPRO races did not extend to his star sprinter, Fraser. When Raifman suggested that team selections were his responsibility, Threshold subsequently withdrew the invitation to the entire team.

However, Health Net has accepted the terms of the latest invitation and the California-based team will be sending a squad to Philadelphia. Previously, Raifman told Cyclingnews that Health Net could not respond to a late invitation because he could not mobilise his team "halfway across the country in a couple of days".

According to Fraser, the invitation is "just for the US riders, not myself or the Belorussian members of the team. I think Threshold is helping them get over there in time."

Fraser saw the latest move by Threshold as a "good start" as he is hopeful that the preliminary hearing set down for next Tuesday will see agreement reached between himself and the defendants in his action, which includes Threshold Sports, one of its principal event sponsors BMC Software, as well as USA Cycling.

Fraser has been a regular winner at Threshold-organised events, the largest and most lucrative series of road races in the US. "I don't know if confident is the right word," he said of his chances of being able to ride in Threshold events in the near future. "Hopeful is more like it."

The rider's legal action has seen him essentially frozen out of the largest road races on the USA calendar and has serious implications for other riders seeking to resolve matters by legal process.

See full report and background.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago manager disappointed

The team manager of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Gerard Bulens, has reacted to the arrest yesterday in Brescia of one of his directors, Oliviano Locatelli, who is accused of receiving and supplying doping substances to cyclists. Locatelli was one of two team directors arrested, the other being William Dazzani of Team Aurora 2002 RSM. Also Landbouwkrediet's neo-pro Santo Anza was named as one of the 22 people under investigation by public prosecutor Mario Conte in Brescia.

Gerard Bulens is under the impression that Locatelli is suspected of having helped Domenico Romano to escape the Giro last year. Romano was wanted by police, but fled the Giro following the stage 4 finish in Strasbourg, taking advantage of the fact that he was hospitalised after a crash. However Romano gave himself up two days later and was questioned in Brescia as part of an anti-doping investigation involving some of his former teammates at Panaria. During the questioning, Romano reportedly admitted to taking doping products. He was later fired by his team.

"It would astonish me if Oliviano is mixed up in this story, since it has he who notified me of the disappearance of Romano," Bulens was quoted in La Derniere Heure. "But if there is culpability on the part of our directeur sportif, there will be an exclusion. We acted in that way with Romano. But before that, we will designate one of our lawyers to study the case."

London wants to host 2006 Tour start

The city of London has expressed interest in hosting the start of the Tour de France in 2006, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper. Mayor Ken Livingstone has contacted the organisers about the possibility, which would involve hosting the prologue, the start/finish of the first stage and the start of the second stage in Britain's capital.

The last time that the Tour visited Britain was in 1994 when stages were run between Dover, Brighton and Portsmouth. The Tour caravan used the Channel Tunnel to make the trip across to Britain, taking the ferry back to France for the return trip.

The Tour de France is well known for starting outside France, with Luxembourg playing host to the Grand Depart last year, and the Belgian city of Liege on the agenda for 2004. New York, Utrecht and Quebec have all expressed interest in hosting the start of the event in coming years.

Tour organisers A.S.O. have not ruled out the London bid, which would likely be a great occasion for the city. A.S.O. will likely discuss the project in September this year.

Klier extends with Telekom

The winner of Gent-Wevelgem this year, Andreas Klier, has followed the path of Erik Zabel in extending his contract with the Deutsche Telekom team for next year. Other Telekom riders Alexandre Vinokourov, Rolf Aldag and Steffen Wesemann are also close to signing, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

Howard to challenge RAAM competitors

Over 20 years since he first participated in the Race Across America (RAAM), American "bicyclist extraordinaire" John Howard will be back this year to challenge the field in the first 100 miles of the race to El Centro CA. The race will start at 7:00am on Sunday, June 15 in Downtown SanDiego on Harbor Dr near the Star of India. The first rider to get to the El Centro time station will receive a CompuTrainer from RacerMate - but they have to beat John to get it.

At 56 years old, John continues to be competitive and give younger riders more than they expect: John beat the field last year from Portland to the first time station by 5 minutes, and will be aiming to do the same this year.

RAAM 2003 runs from San Diego to Atlantic City, across 14 States and 2922 miles (4710 km). The solo riders will start on June 15, while Teams start on June 26. The first riders are expected in Atlantic City by June 25.

Team Animus announced

Team Animus has announced itself as a new women's cycling team in Ontario, Canada. The team is based in Toronto and features four riders: Sarah-Jane Chilton, Holland Gidney, Maogosha Pyjor, and Karina Sacca. They will compete in local and regional races, including the Ontario Cup race series and the National Road Cycling Championships, in addition to conducting a series of cycling workshops for youth. will make its official debut at the Ontario provincial criterium championship in Welland on June 8, 2003.

Full team roster

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)