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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for June 19, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Bortolami to appeal; three more Italians positive

Giampaolo Caruso
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

Gianluca Bortolami (Vini Caldirola) intends to appeal his six month suspension for doping in front of the Italian cycling federation's disciplinary commission when it meets on June 27. Bortolami tested positive to Kenacort (a corticosteroid) after the second stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne in April, while wearing the leader's jersey. He was suspended for six months (April 30-October 29) by the Italian federation, but believes that there must have been an error, as his test was clean after he won stage 1. "I think that something must have been put in my food," he claimed.

In addition to Bortolami, three other Italian riders have tested positive for banned substances, and will meet the Italian federation's disciplinary commission on June 27. Alberto Loddo (Lampre) tested positive for caffeine on February 19 after winning stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve, Giampaolo Caruso (ONCE) tested positive for Nandrolone after winning stage 5 of the Tour Down Under on January 25, and Vincenzo Di Falco (Mercatone Uno neo-pro) was positive for Nesp on April 17 during a stage of the Settimana Lombarda.

The disciplinary commission will also hear the case of Massimiliano Mori (Formaggi Pinzolo) and his team director Gabriele Di Francesco, who are accused of defrauding a doping control during Tirreno-Adriatico. The alarm bells rang when a spare bidon of urine was found in Di Francesco's room as Mori was submitting a urine sample. Di Francesco claimed that he needed it to go into hospital the next day, which he did. In addition, Mori's actual sample was found to be clean. Despite this, the Italian federation has still not closed the file, and will examine it along with the other cases on June 27.

Van Goolen doesn't give up easily

Young Belgian rider Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) was one of the main animators in yesterday's second stage of the Tour de Suisse. He attacked after 45 km in the company of Mark Scanlon (Ag2r) and the pair built up a 7'25 lead before being chased down by the peloton. Van Goolen is gaining a reputation as a strong and aggressive rider, and there's no doubt he will be seen at the front more in future.

"This morning we had decided to go on the attack," he explained of the team's tactics. "As soon as this opportunity arose I went for it along with Scanlon. I decided to attack on the final climb because Scanlon is faster than me and I wouldn't have stood a chance against him during the final sprint."

Van Goolen was caught with eight kilometres to go as the peloton wound it up for a bunch sprint. "I am really happy with today's result," he added. "It certainly isn't that easy to win a completely flat stage that is obviously more suited to the sprinters. However, I tried just as I did yesterday and if the occasion arises again then I shall certainly be attempting a breakaway."

His performance meant that is now the leader in the Postfinance sprints competition and the Mountains competition.

Dutch and Belgians thin on the ground in Tour

This year's Tour de France will have one of the lowest ever participations of Belgian and Dutch riders, with a total of approximately 14 expected to be at the start in Paris on July 5. Despite having two Belgian registered teams in the race, the Belgian representation will likely be Axel Merckx, Serge Baguet, Rik Verbrugghe, Christophe Brandt (plus one more from Lotto-Domo), Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Kurt Van De Wouwer (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and perhaps Mario Aerts (Telekom). It's a far cry from 1981, when there were 51 Belgians in the Tour. The lowest since then has been nine, in both 1996 and 1997.

It's not quite as bad in the case of the Netherlands, which has as its lowest participations: 1984 (4), 1999 (6), and 1983 (7). It's expected that Michael Boogerd, Bram De Groot, Remmert Wielinga and Addy Engels will make the cut for Rabobank, Servais Knaven (Quick.Step), Leon van Bon and Koos Moerenhout (Lotto-Domo) and perhaps either Aart Vierhouten or Stefan van Dijk for Lotto-Domo.

As usual, the Italian and Spanish riders will make up the bulk of the Tour peloton, with a fairly solid representation from France and Germany. Australia will also have a relatively strong presence, with the likes of O'Grady, McEwen, McGee, Cooke, Rogers and possibly more. The USA will have at least four riders (Armstrong, Hincapie, Hamilton and Leipheimer), while Denmark should have a significant presence with the CSC team.

To an extent, the Tour peloton reflects the UCI nations rankings (with the exception of Switzerland which is ranked 5th). Nations rankings are determined by adding the points of the best 10 riders in the country, and it usually follows that a country's best riders make it into the biggest race. In turn, the UCI rankings reflect the importance of grand tours, which gives Italy, Spain and France a slight advantage in the UCI stakes, as these three countries host the three major tours. On the other hand, the classics are not rated as highly, thus Belgium and the Netherlands do not fare as well on the UCI rankings.

Evans to concentrate on second half of season

As expected, Telekom's Cadel Evans will definitely not be riding the Tour de France this year, after breaking his collarbone in a crash two weeks ago. It was the second time this year that Evans had broken the bone, and it was enough to rule him out of Tour contention.

"You have to be 100 per cent for that one," he told The Australian newspaper. "You can go some places at less than 100 per cent, but not the Tour de France. Crashing five weeks out from the race, it's just too much."

Evans will return to racing on July 23 in the Sachsen Tour International in Germany, and has set his sights on the latter half of the season. "Now I'll have to refocus on the Tour of Spain in September and then the World Championships. There are plenty of other races to keep me occupied, but when you plan your whole year around the big one, of course it's disappointing."

Knee problem for Ludo

Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet) is currently recovering from a knee injury, that forced him out of the last stage of the Tour of Austria. Ludo believes that it happened after he received a new bike at the beginning of the tour, and his position wasn't quite correct. By the time he realised, it was too late and he had a case of acute tendonitis. "With two days rest it will be fine again," said Dierckxsens to Het Nieuwsblad. "If I can train on Wednesday, then there will be no problem."

Vermaut thinking of comeback

Belgian rider Stive Vermaut is thinking of making another comeback to racing, after he was forced to stop last year due to heart problems. Vermaut is currently involved in the development of Cycling Team Menen, but still has the desire to race again. "I give myself a fifty percent chance to try again," he was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad.

Short women's Giro del Trentino

The 10th Giro del Trentino femminile takes place over just two stages this year, starting on Saturday, June 21 with a stage from Trento to Taio (103.6 km) and finishing on Sunday with a 109.6 km stage between Lavis and Cembra. The race will still attract some strong competition, with the likes of Fabiana Luperini, Nicole Brandli, Zinaida Stahurskaia and Susanne Ljungskog among the field.

World masters champion breaks back

Double World Masters sprint champion Ellen Hunter (Yasumitsu-Schlapp/Aztec/Impsport) has had her season cut short after a bad crash at Herne Hill in London recently, which left her with a broken back. Ellen, who only started track racing eighteen months ago, has been quite successful so far, being asked by the British federation to pilot the paralympic tandem at the European championships in Prague in September.

Specialising in the sprint and 500m TT disciplines because she could fit the training in around her two young children, Ellen had been getting faster, winning two masters titles already this year. Now a three week stay in a spinal injuries unit will curtail her racing, but Ellen is very keen to get back.

Ellen's husband Paul says Ellen wants to get back on the bike and the tandem as soon as she is well enough. "The injury shouldn't leave Ellen with any permanent damage and she is keen to represent her country in the future" an upbeat Paul said.

Ellen is currently in the Spinal injuries unit in Oswestry near her home. Goodwill messages can be sent to:

Ellen Hunter
Wrekin Ward, Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries
Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic & District Hospital NHS Trust
Gobowen, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 7AGM, United Kingdom

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